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Understanding ADHD…for teachers.

Posted on: December 30th, 2019

I have been fortunate to have had positive teacher experiences when advocating for my children’s needs at school.  While I have found that most teachers are open and receptive to learning about ADHD and making adjustments to accommodate children with these needs, this remains an area of need.  Here are a list of things that teachers do that an ADHD child appreciates:

  • Preferential Seating (away from distractions)
  • A consistent place to find daily HW or classroom notes.  Many kids with ADHD miss visual or auditory information due to distractibility or tracking issues.  (Unfortunately, peers are not consistently reliable as a resource.  Many kids with ADHD face more peer rejection than typical kids.)
  • Eliminate distractions.  Testing in an environment with fewer people make s huge difference.
  • Regular check-ins for organization of materials, reviewing the child’s agenda or schedule.
  • Chunking or breaking down of larger assignments.  Kids with ADHD struggle with attention, organization, long-term planning, and time management.  They tend to procrastinate.
  • Look, rephrase.  Be clear and specific.  Be patient.  Don’t criticize.  An ADHD child is usually doing the best they can.  Be sure your expectations are reasonable. 
  • Be mindful of your own triggers and overreactions.  Yelling, ignoring, sudden or harsh consequences, making comparisons, nagging, negative labeling, and lecturing help the child underachieve.  A defiant child with ADHD may avoid work because it requires sustained mental effort.  This child may also lack emotional intelligence.  The ability to be self-aware, to manage mood, self-motivate, have empathy, and manage relationships is immature. Instead create a calm emotional atmosphere for learning.
  • Prepare for changes and transitions.  Kids with ADHD lose track of time and have difficulty understanding directions.  This cannot be fixed with punishment.
  • Use of fidgets to improve focus, attention, and to discharge heightened energy.
  • Breaks during times of frustration.  Understanding that frustration is very real when work is too hard, too easy, too long, or not stimulating.
  • Being understood.    A child with ADHD struggles with daily challenges, bombarding thoughts, and emotions.  A sense of helplessness can occur when overwhelmed.  Negative feedback diminishes self-esteem.  Instead, be calm, firm, and non-controlling.
  • Expect setbacks.  Help the child cope with setbacks and making mistakes.  “Let’s figure out to succeed next time.”
  • Praise, positive reinforcement, rewards or incentives for their efforts, not outcomes.
  • Avoid power struggles.  Free your mind of the need to win.  Pick your battles wisely.  Offer choices.  Use humor. Empower the child.  

Teachers are great role models.  However, they are not immune to feeling drained or overwhelmed by kids having ADHD.  Consult others who are knowledgeable.  Stay proactive and involved.  Contact me at SHCS for more information.