Helping students find a way to learn - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Helping students find a way to learn

Putney, Vermont - May 11, 2010

When it comes to academics, 22-year-old Sallie Banta has a lot to be proud of. She's maintained a 4.0 GPA for the last three semesters and was recently honored by both the English and Humanities departments at Landmark College. But learning has not always come easily for her.

"Constant stress and anxiety around school work," she said.

At a very young age, Banta was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, better known as ADHD. She has been on medication since the third-grade, but Banta says it wasn't until high school when she really started being affected by the learning disability.

"I was an active participant in class and I did the reading and I was interested and engaged in class," she said, "but you know I was just so far behind."

Banta says that during her five semesters at Landmark, she learned how to make school work for her; how to organize and plan effectively to become a successful student-- defying the stigma normally associated with ADHD.

"There is this idea if you have ADHD or a learning disability, you can't do hard work," Banta said.

"Feeling more confident has made a huge difference in her ability to achieve," said Lyn Sperry, Banta's academic coach.

Banta attributes much of her success to her coach, Sperry, who is provided by the college to help students find methods to overcome their disabilities.

"Sallie is incredibly determined and has been from the moment she got here," Sperry said.

It's estimated that one in ten people suffer from ADHD. And while statistics show that males are three times as likely to be diagnosed as females, experts in the field say that may not always be the case.

"We are still stuck in a mindset that sees ADHD primarily as the kid who is bouncing off the walls, can't sit still and acts out all the time," said MacLean Gander, who focuses on research and training at Landmark College.

Gander feels women are just as likely as men to suffer from issues like ADHD, but are underdiagnosed.

"A young girl with ADHD is much more likely to be compliant, maybe a little more distractible. Maybe she has trouble with focus, she may have trouble with reading, writing and math but she is not getting the same kind of behavioral attention and consequently, oftentimes goes unnoticed," Gander said.

But Banta is not one of those women and offers this advice to other girls who may be plagued by the same problems: "You definitely can learn the skills you need to succeed and I didn't know that."

And now the rest of us know as well.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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