October is ADHD Awareness Month, 2016’s theme is to help raise awareness of ADHD. By helping parents seek the care and support their children may need; it’s better for young adults to know about their ADHD so they might arrange for appropriate accommodations in school or the workplace; and that it’s better for adults to recognize their ADHD instead of feeling destined to a life of underachievement and frustration. At Summit, we are raising awareness of how parents and teachers can set-up students with ADHD for academic success.
7 Tips to Help ADHD Students Succeed
The classroom environment can be a challenging place for a child with ADHD. The very tasks these students find the most difficult – sitting still, listening quietly, concentrating – are the ones they are required to do all day long. Perhaps most frustrating of all is that most children want to be able to learn and behave like their unaffected peers. Neurological deficits, not unwillingness, keep kids with attention deficit disorder from learning in traditional ways. But with support at home and teaching strategies at work in the classroom, there is no reason why kids with ADHD can’t flourish in school.
- Communicate with Teachers – For your child to succeed in the classroom, it is vital that you communicate their needs to the adults at school. It is equally important for you to listen to what the teachers and other school officials have to say. Plan to speak with a teacher or counselor and create goals together. Discuss your hopes for your child’s school success. Together, write down specific and realistic goals and talk about how they can be reached.
- Develop a Behavior Plan – Children with ADHD are capable of appropriate classroom behavior, but they need structure and clear expectations in order to keep their symptoms in check. As a parent, you can help by developing a behavior plan for your child. Whatever type of behavior you put in place, create it in close collaboration with your child’s teacher and your child. You’ll find that students with attention deficit disorder respond best to specific goals and daily positive reinforcement as well as worthwhile rewards.
- Reduce Distractions – Students with ADHD may be so easily distracted by noises, passersby, or their own thoughts that they often miss vital classroom information. Helping children who distract easily involves physical placement, increased movement, and breaking long work into shorter chunks. Some things to consider include sitting the child with ADHD away from doors and windows, putting pets or other distractions in another room or a corner while the student is working, dividing big assignments into smaller ones, and allowing frequent breaks.
- Prevent Interruptions – Students with ADHD may struggle with controlling their impulses, so they often speak out of turn or while others are speaking. These outbursts may come across as aggressive or even rude, creating social problems as well. The self-esteem of children with ADHD is often quite fragile, so pointing this issue out in class doesn’t help the problem and may even make matters worse. Reducing the interruptions of children with ADHD should be done carefully so that the child’s self-esteem is maintained, especially in front of others. Develop a “secret language” or discreet gestures to let the child know they are interrupting. And remember to praise the child for interruption-free conversations.
- Combat Hyperactivity – ADHD causes many students to be in constant physical motion, making it a struggle for these children to stay in their seats and difficult to teach. Strategies for combating hyperactivity consist of creative ways to allow the child with ADHD to move in appropriate ways at appropriate times. Releasing energy this way may make it easier for the child to keep calmer during work time. Consider asking an ADHD student to run an errand or do a task, even if it just means walking across the room to sharpen pencils; encourage them to play a sport, and make sure they never miss recess or P.E.; and provide a stress ball, small toy, or other object for them to squeeze or play with discreetly at their seat.
- Make Learning Fun – One positive way to keep an ADHD student’s attention focused on learning is to make the process fun. Using physical motion in a lesson, connecting dry facts to interesting trivia, or inventing silly songs that make details easier to remember can help your child enjoy learning and even reduce their symptoms. Children who have ADHD tend to be “concrete” thinkers. They often like to hold, touch, or take part in an experience in order to learn something new.
- Create Structures for Homework – Getting homework done every night can often be a challenge. But consistent structure may help ADHD students cross that finish line. This can be as simple as picking a specific time and place for homework that is as free as possible of clutter, pets, and television; allowing breaks as often as every ten to twenty minutes; teaching a better understanding of the passage of time by using an analog clock and timers to monitor homework efficiency; and setting up a homework procedure at school by establishing a place where the student can easily find his or her finished homework and picking a consistent time to hand in work to the teacher.
Fast Facts About ADHD
ADHD is real. Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States long ago concluded that ADHD is a real, brain-based medical disorder. These organizations also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment.
ADHD is a common, non-discriminatory disorder. ADHD affects people of every age, gender, IQ, and socio-economic background. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of children in the United States who have been diagnosed with ADHD is now 9.5%. Boys are diagnosed two to three times as often as girls.
Diagnosing ADHD is a complex process. In order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be considered, the person must exhibit a large number of symptoms, demonstrate significant problems with daily life in several major life areas (work, school, or friends), and have had the symptoms for a minimum of six months. No single test will confirm that a person has ADHD. Instead, diagnosticians rely on a variety of tools, the most important of which is information about the person and his or her behavior and environment.
Other mental health conditions often occur along with ADHD. Up to 30% of children and 25% to 40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder. Experts claim that up to 70% of those with ADHD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives.
ADHD is not benign. Particularly when the ADHD is undiagnosed and untreated, ADHD contributes to problems succeeding in school and successfully graduating; problems at work, lost productivity, and reduced earning power; problems with relationships; and problems with overeating and obesity.
ADHD is nobody’s fault. ADHD is not caused by moral failure, poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. Instead, research shows that ADHD is both highly genetic (with the majority of ADHD cases having a genetic component), and a brain-based disorder (with the symptoms of ADHD linked to many specific brain areas). The factors that appear to increase a child’s likelihood of having the disorder include gender, family history, prenatal risks, environmental toxins, and physical differences in the brain.
ADHD treatment is multi-faceted. Currently, available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, education or training, and educational support.
Summit Academy is Honoring ADHD Awareness Month All October
Check back on our website and social media all month for great book recommendations, therapeutic tips, and so much more! (Link to facebook)
Sources include ADHDAwarenessMonth.org and HelpGuide.org