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Working with the ADHD student.

It is estimated that between three and five percent of children--or approximately two million children in the United States--have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This means that in a classroom of 25 to 30 students, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD.

Those statistics come from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), which also points out that while a child with ADHD faces a difficult task in achieving his or her full potential, the task is not insurmountable. Since ADHD often continues into adulthood, it is important to help children learn to deal with it early on, and that takes teamwork from parents, guidance counselors, teachers and school administration.

According to NIMH, it is the school's obligation to evaluate children it suspects may have ADHD. The diagnosis is becoming more common, however, and children may come into the classroom having already received treatment such as behavior modification and medication--as well as an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).

The Nemours Foundation, publisher of KidsHealth, puts the estimated rate of ADHD in children even higher than NIMH--four to eight percent. According to Nemours, there are three subtypes of ADHD.

Signs of the inattentive type include inability to pay attention to details, difficulty with sustained attention, apparent listening problems, difficulty in following instructions, problems with organization, distractibility, and forgetfulness.

The hyperactive-impulse type exhibits signs such as fidgeting, difficulty remaining seated, excessive running or climbing, excessive talking, difficulty waiting for a turn or in line, and problems with interrupting or intruding.

Signs of a combined type involve a combination of the first two types. The combined type of ADHD is the most common.

The Nemours Foundation offers suggestions for managing ADHD students in the classroom that include reducing seating distractions, breaking down assignments, giving positive reinforcement, teaching good study skills, and being sensitive to self-esteem issues.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services/Office of Special Education Programs has several publications that address issues related to the instruction of ADHD students. Among these is Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Resource for School and Home. The publication offers the following tips for teachers:

* Work on the most difficult concepts early in the day.

* Give directions to one assignment at a time instead of directions to multiple tasks all at once.

* Vary the pace and type of activity to maximize the student's attention.

* Structure the student's environment to accommodate his or her special needs (seating the student away from distracting areas such as doors, windows and computers, or seating the student near another student who is working on a shared assignment).

The National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), is developing a section of its Web site specifically for teachers and other school personnel, but it also has a list of resources that can be helpful in the meantime.

Managing a classroom with one or more ADHD students can be a frustrating experience for both the teacher and the other students. As the U. S. Department of Education publication notes, a student with inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity can present unique challenges, but there are ways teachers can help such students.

According to the publication, "It is important for teachers to be aware of coexisting conditions such as learning disabilities, as well as reinforcing the importance of classroom and instructional structure."

At some point, it is likely that almost every career and technical educator will be faced with the problem of one or more ADHD students in the classroom. It is a difficult situation, but helping improve the educational experience for these students will help them learn to deal with a condition that they will probably carry with them into adulthood.

Help with ADHD

The following resources offer advice and tips on managing a classroom with one or more ADHD students.

The National Institute of Mental Health

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services/Office of Special Education Programs

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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