Students with ADHD find support in the productivity circle

By Ryan Carson

Opinion Editor

In the past semester, Whistler Health Services and Academic Support and Enrichment have jointly piloted a new program to Denison’s campus called The Productivity Circle. The Productivity Circle is a program designed as a support group to help students coping with issues related to attention.

Associate Dean/Director of Academic Support and Enrichment Jennifer Grube Vestal and Sanda Gibson, MA, who is a Staff Counselor at Denison’s Health Center, guide the Productivity Circle.  The support group is rooted in Denison’s response to the differing data that Denison University has in relation to students dealing with ADHD and other attention related issues.

Specific example data of the class of 2018 provide by Vestal indicates, “During Aug O, 68 students reported having ADHD on the (anonymous) CIRP Freshman Survey. 43 students reported ADHD on their mandatory health form for Whisler and 16 registered their disability (ADHD) with Academic Support & Enrichment.”

Vestal explains that the discrepancies in the number of individuals registered with Academic Support and Enrichment and the number of individuals that self identify as having ADHD, “I suspect these students disclose because they may need to manage their ADHD with a medication and will work with the Health Center to refill and adjust prescriptions and/or work with colleagues in the Counseling Center.  Finally, students with ADHD may register with Academic Support & Enrichment with the aim of seeking reasonable accommodations in the classroom,” said Vestal.

The Productivity Circle flyer describes the group as “a weekly group meeting to help students with ADHD discover strengths and improve overall functioning and wellness.”

This past semester, The Productivity Circle has had around six members that have met regularly on Tuesday afternoons. Sanda Gibson has used her prior experience with her Doctoral Studies to help structure the meetings and the group.  “It’s just getting together with people who understand you and you feel it is a safe place,” said Gibson.

Gibson believes that the groups finds strength because it “is important for the students to get another support system to help them manage.”

During the group session the topics are focused around the issue that are prevalent on campus. “ We tend to have a theme for each meeting which is often dictated by the interest of the group,” said Vestal.

While some members of the group do have official ADHD diagnosis, Gibson indicates that you do not need an official diagnosis to attend the group sessions. “ If you are productivity issues with you are welcomed to come. The skills we teach are helpful for anybody,” said Gibson. 

The group will reopen for new members in the new semester. If an individual is interested, contact Jennifer Vestal at Vestal@denison.edu by Jan. 29.