Can’t Pay Attention

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I sit in class, cant exactly focus and I don’t seem to be able to understand what i am a supposed to be learning. I sit there and all i can think about is when i am ever going to use this later in life. I am also one of the intellectually smartest people i know. I can process a million things in my head at once but can’t seem to put them on paper, (Which is why i got a zero on the last test, even though i had every question right) Is there anything that can help this? I also can’t ever seem to sit still unless i am very sleepy. always tapping my feet. I don’t remember things unless they seem interesting to me despite how hard i try, in algebra i don’t remember the steps to do a problem, but i get them right anyway. And sometimes when i am answering questions, like i said i cant seem to spit the idea out of my mouth or write it down. Most of these only occur in math classes, when you have to take multiple steps to solve something, not in any other because there is only one way to get the answer, (World Geo, Chemistry, English) Is all about memorization, I do not struggle whatsoever in those classes. I would rather take one test to sum up all of school instead of learning at such a slow pace. IE Homeschooling or Online Courses. If any of you are online, just wondering if there is anything wrong with this :)

A: It’s really hard for me to help you with a problem like this since I can’t sit down and really, really get to know you. There are a number of possibilities, of course. You may be very, very smart but still have a learning disability. You may have ADHD – which makes it hard to stay focused or to sit still. You might have an anxiety disorder. Or you might simply be mega-bored!

I think the thing to do is to ask to see the school psychologist if there is one. School psychologists are trained to do testing that helps determine how a person learns. If the school doesn’t have a professional on staff, you might ask your parents if they would help you find a psychologist to figure this all out. It’s important. Your high school years are ahead. With new information, the school could give you needed supports, or change your placement, or give you new options, etc. so that you can take full advantage of your classes.

What I would hate to see happen is for you to continue being as disengaged and discouraged as you are right now. If that keeps up, you’re going to be wasting the next four years instead of stretching that brain of yours.

I’m impressed that you wrote to us instead of just shutting down and doodling or something through the rest of the year. Follow up now and ask for the help you need to make your high school years all they can be – both academically and socially.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Can’t Pay Attention. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/16/cant-pay-attention/

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