When a child with ADHD reaches school age there are a number of issues which need to be taken into consideration so that they are allowed to reach their full potential. These children need to have a lot of structure and routine, placing them in a class that is constantly having to use supply teachers it not very helpful as they will not be able to cope with the constant change to their routine. They also need to be able to learn in the method they can understand the best, they are very tactile learners so a lot of hands on learning is far better than sitting in front of the blackboard copying or being told lots of facts and figures and expecting them to be able to write them down for themselves and remembering them.
In the US these children are protected under the IDEA Act and Section 504. Please see the Wrightslaw website by Pete and Pam Wright for more information on education in the USA. In England these children may be entitled to special provision under the Education Code of Practice, this will involve an assessment for Special Needs by approaching the Local Authority for a Statement of Need. Contact your local Support Group or Special Needs advisor for further details. In Scotland things are slightly different again and a good resource for information is www.childreninscotland.org.uk
The following are 10 very basic points which schools can easily implement to help children with ADHD:
l. The ADD child needs to be placed to work alongside those of
similar abilities, not only educationally/academically, but
maturity levels also. The ADD/ADHD child is more likely to be
immature compared to his peers. A graded system of class
structure would suit better than open plan, parallel streamed
or composite, as they find it hard to cope with changes in levels
2. A firm but fair structure is essential for daily activities and
routine should be strictly adhered to. This enables the child to
know what is expected of them, knowing that their work is closely
monitored. Sufferers generally respond well to the three "R"'s, Routine,
Regularity and Repetition. They quite often have very low self
esteem and therefore tend to be a "loner", frequently isolated
and at the risk of victimisation by others. Alternatively they
can be aggressive with their peers and need careful monitoring to
ensure these times are kept to a minimum. Distraction onto
another completely different task in this situation is
normally the best way to handle this. Their lack of ability in
coping with change used in a positive way, to help them out of a
potentially difficult situation i.e. they're so busy trying to
come to terms with a new task they forget about any battle they
might have started. This tactic often works to overcome many
potential problems that might arise.
3. The teacher must be firmly in control of the class, whilst
being a sympathetic and warm person. ADD/ADHD children generally
are very emotional and loving. They respond well to praise and
individual attention. Praise should be little and often rather
than one pat on the back at the end of the day. Negative
attitudes can be very harmful, particularly to a child with
already low self esteem. Where possible try and maintain the same
teacher/s throughout the year. Eye contact needs to be
established when giving instructions. Break these instructions
down and deliver them in small segments, giving the next segment
when the previous one has been completed. Get the child to repeat
each segment back to you, to make sure they know what is expected.
4. It would be useful if the system allowed children to repeat
years if needed. This would allow the child to interact with
others of similar abilities and not have to constantly compete
with their own peer group.
5. Small class size is beneficial for these children as they offer
less distraction, allowing them a better opportunity to build
relationships with their peers and the teacher. Sit them at the
front of the class or facing a wall . This helps to cut down on
6. Remedial facilities are an added bonus, not only for those
with learning difficulties but also those gifted children with
ADD/ADHD who need help to channel their intelligence. Speech
therapy and Occupational therapy would be beneficial within the
school environment for those who require it.
7. Medication is part of every day life for many ADD/ADHD
sufferers. Teachers must assist in making sure this medication is
taken. This MUST be done quietly and sensitively. We heard
recently of a teacher announcing to the whole class that it was
"time for X's mental pill". There is no difference between a
child taking medication for ADD/ADHD, and a child requiring
medication for diabetes, epilepsy, asthma or any other long term
8. A variety of choices is generally beneficial at senior school.
Many of these children achieve their best doing manual tasks
rather than verbal. By achieving in manual subjects, their self
esteem is being built up, enabling time for their nervous system
to mature. As a child enters senior school they are often
confused by the constant change of teacher and room. Help to
assist in coping with this is essential. This may take the form
of a classroom assistant who remains constant, moving from class
to class with the child.
9. The lack of organisation, planning skills and ability to
assess what is important and what isn't, puts the ADD/ADHD child
at a disadvantage in an exam situation. The best form of
assessment for these children is continuous assessment of
coursework, followed by shorter exams.
10. Learn to enjoy these children, they have a lot of hidden
talent and a lot to give.