Teaching Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Teaching may be regarded as providing opportunities for students to learn. It is an interactive process as well as an intentional activity. However, students may not always learn what their teachers intend and they may also learn notions which their teachers did not intend them to learn. The content of learning may be facts, procedures, skills, and ideas and values. A teacher's goals in teaching may be gains in knowledge and skills, the deepening of understanding, the development of problem solving or changes in perceptions, attitudes, values and behavior. Students' goals, on the other hand, may be more pragmatic, such as passing examinations. Given that teaching is an intentional activity concerned with student learning, it is sensible that teachers spend some time on thinking and articulating their intentions in teaching a particular topic to a group of students and on checking whether those intentions are realizable.

The effectiveness of teaching is best estimated in relation to a teacher's own goals of teaching. Therefore, what counts as effective in one context may not be so in another. Generally speaking, in order to be effective teaching has to be systematic, stimulating and caring. According to official statistics, a large number of elementary school students have a condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This disorder can create problems for the ADHD student, for other students in the classroom as well as for the child's teachers.

ADHD is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, an inability to concentrate, difficulties in social relationships, and a lack of self-control. Hyperactivity is defined as excessively or abnormally active. This condition has been defined as deficits in sustained attention, impulse control and the regulation of activity level to situational demands. Researchers in the United States appear to be in close agreement in estimating that the condition affects between 3 percent to 5 percent of the population, with some estimates as high as 10 percent. Although the condition has not been closely studied in many countries, it is thought that ADHD can be found in the student populations of most countries and in all ethnic groups.

To identify ADHD children, teachers must be familiar with the symptoms of the condition. The most common traits of children experiencing ADHD include hyperactivity, excessive movement, unexpected action and a short attention span. Other characteristics include a lack of social skills, insubordinate and disruptive behavior, frustration, learning difficulties, variability in behavior and coordination difficulties. More concrete examples of classroom behavior of ADHD students include the child's inability to remain in their classroom seat, to reply at appropriate times and to cease inappropriate talking. Such children frequently alternate inattentiveness with a focus on a particular task that becomes so intense they cannot switch their attention when directed to do so by the teacher. Frequently, these students have learning disabilities that range from mild to severe.

Without an awareness that this condition is present, teachers cannot take the steps to get the professional help the student needs, or teachers cannot initiate an instructional program that meets the needs of the student. In addition to the characteristics of an ADHD student as previously listed teachers should also look for the following behavioral characteristics: frequent loss of personal items, such as pencils, lunch money, or notes; failure to finish assigned tasks; failure to listen in class; and continually talking or moving.

Educators play an important role in diagnosing and treating children with ADHD. Several types of treatment are available that lessen the effect ADHD has on children including stimulants, antidepressants, behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. The first thing teachers need to do is to develop an understanding of ADHD behavior so they can help in the diagnosis of the condition. Teacher training programs should include sufficient information to help identify possible cases of ADHD. However, taking into account that ADHD encompasses so many different behaviors and symptoms, teachers must avoid a premature conclusion that a disruptive student has ADHD and try not to form the opinion that the only behavior change needed is an increase in a student's level of effort. Although an ADHD student has greater difficulty starting and completing educational tasks, the teacher must take the actions necessary to make it easier for the ADHD student to become better organized. The teacher can make a positive start by having the ADHD child sit close to the teacher's desk and by surrounding the ADHD student with children who will serve as positive role models.

Teaching Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Selected full-text books and articles

Educating Children with AD/HD: A Teacher's Manual By Paul Cooper; Fintan J. O'Regan Routledge/Falmer, 2001
Rethinking ADHD: Integrated Approaches to Helping Children at Home and at School By Ruth Schmidt Neven; Tim Godber; Vicki Anderson Allen & Unwin, 2002
Students in Discord: Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders By C. Robin Boucher Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Attention-Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity"
Educating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Children By McFarland, Dianna L.; Kolstad, Rosemarie; Briggs, L. D Education, Vol. 115, No. 4, Summer 1995
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Implications for the Classroom Teacher By Reis, Elizabeth M Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 29, No. 3, September 2002
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Making Sense of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder By Carol R. Lensch Bergin & Garvey, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "Studies on Interventions for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder"
Handbook of Pediatric Psychology in School Settings By Ronald T. Brown Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 22 "Assessment and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Schools"
The Effects of Self-Monitoring of Academic Performance on Students with Learning Disabilities and ADD/ADHD By Shimabukuro, Serena M.; Prater, Mary Anne; Jenkins, Amelia; Edelen-Smith, Patricia Education & Treatment of Children, Vol. 22, No. 4, November 1999
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Teacher Perceptions of the Incidence and Management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder By Glass, Cynthia S.; Wegar, Katarina Education, Vol. 121, No. 2, Winter 2000
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