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Compiled By: shapingminds

There are usually many students in the classroom who have been diagnosed with ADD and/or ADHD. Here are some tips that may help you better understand their disability and provide you with some teaching strategies that will help you and the student have a successful year.

Posted by: Steven

First off, a couple of things. ADHD is split into two parts. There is the hyperactive component (ADHD) and the attention component (ADD). They are both generally put under ADHD but are two seperate things. Usually they are both present at different levels.

"If a child can behave one day (in your case after a bad day) he or she can do it any time, they are just choosing not to. "

ADHD diagnosis
Posted by: Julianne

Some parents (and some teachers) will try to label all exuberant behavior as an attention problem. It's easier than trying to figure out what might really be going on with that child, I think. A real diagnosis for ADHD or ADD takes careful consideration. One component of a proper diagnosis is a checklist for the teacher, one for parents, and one for a psychologist who needs time to evaluate the student in their classroom. Without this kind of careful observation it is too easy to slap a label on a kid and ask that he be medicated.

Another indication is in how many settings a child exhibits attention problems. If he's a real cut-up in class, but has no troubles getting his chores done at home, his room is tidy, his scout master enjoys him, then it's probable that his problems stem from something other than attention deficit. But if he is suffering attention problems in multiple settings there's an increased probability he could benefit from medication.

A last test of whether we're doing the right thing by medicating a child comes after they are on an attention prolonging drug. The teacher and other adults should make every effort to continue to monitor the child and see if he improves. It's been my experience that a child who can benefit from being medicated will dramatically improve when he receives an appropriate dose of medication. If the child doesn't improve, or improves only minimally, it may be time to look for other causes of his school troubles.

When my son was placed on medication (after following all the above advice from a wonderful, caring teacher) he told his teacher, "My mind is like my messy room, and the ritilin is like my Mother who comes in and cleans it up so I can tell where everything is." Now I call that a difference!

We're seeing this more and more
Posted by: Caye

The number of ADHD kids in the classroom is seriously on the rise. In my own class I have 3 kids who are on meds for ADHD, one who is supposed to me but whose mom took her off, and two more that need to be really bad. The one whose mom took her off is completely out of control and won't do any work at all. Like your situation the office will do nothing. Thing is, the ones in my room who are on meds still act out constantly and are always disrupting class. As teachers, we cannot tell parents their kids need to be on medicine. We're not doctors. I'm not even sure medicine is the answer. I think for a lot of these kids it's an excuse not to behave. "I can't help it." Seems to be my students' favorite phrase. The parents too act as if their kids can't help it. My question is "what is causing this rise in ADHD?" I know at our school, school lunch is packed with empty carbs. Everything is a sugar or a starch. No wonder these kids can't concentrate when they had sugar coated choco bombs for breakfast, chocolate milk, corndog, fries, icecream, and cookies for lunch. Some of my most hyper kids' moms send candy for snack - HELLO! Many of these kids are at school from 7:15am - 6:00PM. They never get to play and run off their energy. When they are at home they are watching TV or playing video games. They have never been taught how to sit still. What I find is these kids have little to no supervision at home, and simple lifeskills like sitting quietly have never been taught to them. At school, there is too much movement and too many distractions. In our effort to teach every child, and make learning meaningful, we have produced over-stimulating classrooms. Some of these kids desperately need the old desks in rows, everyone working quietly in their seats class.

Sorry my reply is so long, but as you can tell, I am frustrated too. I feel as if I simply do not know how to teach these kids. Our society is creating kids who are increasingly unteachable.

ADHD--a behavior problem?
Posted by: Carolyn

We certainly can't group all behavior problems into ADHD, and we should never, ever suggest to a parent that their child has ADHD. As teachers we can only SUGGEST to a parent what the problems we are having with the child are. We have to leave it to the medical experts to make the decision about diagnosis. Also, I have been told that you can't suggest to a parent that their child needs Ritalin. That places the responsiblity of paying for the medical treatment into the hands of the school. Parents have to make the decision themselves about what they will do with their child. Unfortunately, I have kids with ADHD in my classroom who are not treated and have never even been to a doctor to determine if this is a possibility, and it is so painfully obvious to me that their behavior--both social and academic--could be drastically improved if only they had medical help.

Posted by: alemankf

I think I agree with everybody in some respect. I've only been teaching for two years, but in those two years I've had more than 20 students whose parents claimed that they were ADD or ADHD. Now some of those students truly did have ADHD or ADD. And many of the ones who truly did came from stable homes. The ones that concern me are the students who will look you dead in the eye and tell you "I can't follow directions because of my ADD/ADHD." This is a problem. If the students are using this as an excuse then someone has told them that they can. Many of the students who tell me this also had parents who tell me the same thing.

I truly believe that ADD and ADHD are medical conditions that can be treated, but I think that at the same time all young children are hyperactive at times. Just because a child is hyper at times does not make them ADHD and it is sad when a parent uses this as the only basis for wanting a child diagnosed. I am perfectly aware that ADD and ADHD are real and difficult for parent, child, and teacher alike to cope with. It does sadden me however to see that there are parents out there who will enable their child to use this as a way to skirt around the rules and regulations set up in a classroom. When these students become adults an employer is not going to look at them and say "Oh, you have ADD... well of course you don't have to go by the same guidelines as the other employers." I believe that, as parents or teachers, it is important to help these students find ways to cope with this and continue to learn and grow.

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ADHD kids
Posted by: sj

I was the mom. I became--because I'd studied it--the teacher of many ADD and ADHD kids. The last poster's advice is very important. Medication adjustments are ongoing, and your input to parents is some of the most important in helping adjust dosages. These children need STRUCTURE. They do best when they know the routine and are not overly stimulated by changes and transitions, as the other poster stated. Don't just accept misbehaviors. Try to anticipate them and redirect before they happen. If you know the activity will be stimulating, take Johnny aside and tell him what to expect, step by step. The less surprised he is, the more able to handle it he will be.

Many ADD, ADHD children are above average in intelligence and are very aware that you are letting them push the boundaries. They want to be able to control themselves, so your job is to help them do so. Give them small chunks of time to be successful and praise the small successes. These are the most likely of all your students to become discouraged, later angry, misfits, dropouts, and the research I've encountered usually reports about 85-90% of all prison inmates are either ADD or ADHD. I am so glad you are at the beginning (Kinder) end and caring. As this child becomes older--I speak now from the Mom experience--teachers become less interested inhelping and more irritated with the child. High school was a nightmare because teachers expected behaviors to be in place that the ADD/ADHD student often continues to need help managing (such as assignment sheets, keeping up with papers, finishing reports, talking out in class, etc) Our high school experience ended with dropping out, drugs, and eventually jail. Teachers along the way had tried to help, but sadly, more simply helped to chip away at my son's self esteem until he actually believed he couldn't fit in to society, and decided to be successful at someting--NOT fitting in. He wasn't one of the children with home/family to blame, and he and our family had early intervention and counseling, medication, the works. I fully understand the frustration of the teachers, as I assure you I felt more than any of them ever did!, but I am convinced now at the end of the public education road that the greatest contributors to my son's negative self image were his teachers. More important than anything you do--help that child feel good about himself and help him to be able to be successful. Stand by him during transitions, put your hand on his shoulder, talk to him. Prepare him for changes. Keep your routine as constant as possible. Understand that his mind has 5 channels and they may all be open at once, or may sometimes open and shut arbitrarily. That means that he may seem fully capable one day and then totally incapable the next. That is where the teacher frustration builds, because you KNEW he knew it. He still does, but he can't always open the proper channel of his mind to retrieve it upon command. Two analogies that seem very appropriate: He is like a child without eyeglasses; he sees it, but can't always focus on it. He is getting information over a radio with static; the static is unpredictable, so his intake as well as his output are likely to be filled with static as well. Just think of how irritated you would be if you listened to important information all day long on a radio that had intermittant static! No wonder they act sometimes like they're crawling with fleas! Kudos to you for wanting to help this kid. I wish more teachers had cared about mine.

Working with the ADHD
Posted by: Stacey

Well I work in a very structured class setting what you need to do is make sure that you even the structure out with a little bit of class gruop sessions. I also know that working with children who have ADHD is a very very time consunming commitment do activities that support the activeness of the child.also when the children become argumentitive have the class sit in a circle and play the i like game and what this is its a positive game where you students sit and go around the cirle and say one nice thing about the friend sitting next to them. guarenteed to spark up an interest also remain calm with these adhd children and your patience is very much needed so good luck let me know if this game works

Posted by: Kathleen

I have a student who is ADHD fetal alcohol syndrome and non medicated. I give him a few minutes to draw at the start of class. Then I set a timer for ten minutes. He knows that he is to work for me for the ten minutes and at the end he gets 4 minutes drawing time. At first I thought this will not work or that it is too hard to monitor but it wasn't and it worked. He can now set the timer and sometimes he is so involved with the lesson that he skips his four minutes of drawing. You need to find out what reward will work with the child. Play some quiet music in the background I use American Indian flute music as there are no drum beats and it is soothing. This helps all of my students to focus better.

Picture a train going 100 miles an hour and you are examining everything in every car at every minute this is ADHD. I have ADHD and I understand how the kids feel. My brain is going eighty miles a minute and one thought will lead to another. Try a simple reward system that you and the child set up. The child that I am working with is an 8th grader and he did nothing but disrupt the classroom. We worked up to ten minutes and soon he knows that he will have to work for 15 minutes still getting only 4 minutes to draw. Our goal is to work for the whole 55 minutes class period 2nd and 3rd. (I have him for two 55 minute classes in a row).

Posted by: Sarah C

I'm a Special Ed teacher and also have a class full of students with ADHD this year. "Chunking" their work does help. It helps keep the students calm and keeps them from getting so nervous and overwhelmed.

Frequent breaks and/or some type of frequent movement is also a great idea. Keeping with this idea (especially if movement isn't possible, assemblies, etc.) I let the students wear one rubber band around the wrist to give them something to occupy their hands. This may sound scary, but so far every student has done a nice job with this. No one has shot any across the room! Try to keep your room as structured as possible. Most ADHD children lose it in unstructured situations.

How about this...
Posted by: Caroline

I find that fidgety kids who people like to label ADD simply need to run around the track a few times. They have a lot of energy, just like my dog I take her out for a jog, and she calms down and sits quietly in the corner! Same with the roudy kids!

Next time for PE, do something very active, and make sure the hyper ones get a lot of good running in!

a little help
Posted by: Shirley

It is not uncommon for children with ADHD to have good days and bad days. It is often the case. What I have found to work best for me is to allow for a certain amount of movement between tasks. I try to keep the task length short as well. You might try dividing papers into smaller amounts. For example, if you are doing a math assignment with 20 problems, fold the paper in half. Allow him to do something else when he has finished one half of the paper. If he does ok on those, grade them and call the assignment complete. If he has missed any, he does that many on the bottom half.

Also, I'd try to keep paper/pencil tasks to a minimum on days when he is really having trouble. Do you have a computer in your class? Try using it as a reward for finishing something independently.

begin documentation right now
Posted by: pjm

First begin documenting everything you see about this child, keep a log with dates. Yes, contact the mom today, note that in your log also. If the mom were to reqeust that her child be tested your school psyc would have to begin testing the child within 30 school days. You'll want to get this testing going because I know our school has a cut off date of March 31st...most schools do.

Does your school have a child study team? Ask your principal, most schools do have them, this child should be brought up to the team. In my school we have levels of accommodations that you need to do in order to get the child to team, see if your school does and begin on this immediately if it does.