Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Teaching Kids with ADHD

If I had a dime for everytime I heard one of these phrases... I would be a millionaire by now!

"He has shown me he can do it, he just chooses not to."
"He can do it if he wants to."
"He has a hard time getting started."
"He has a hard time staying on task."
"He keeps getting up and walking around, touching things he shouldn't be touching."
"He isn't paying attention and looking around."
"He is playing with instead of doing his work."

and the list goes on... I am sure you all could add a few to the list of things that teachers say when they just don't understand.

Then, because the teacher thinks that the child has control over the situation at all times, they see it as a behavior that they must eradicate and the negative consequences begin. The teacher is convinced if they are just firm and swift with consequences, they will just snap out of it!

The snowball effect takes over and picks up speed as it goes down the ADHD hill... the child is very intuitive and starts to believe that the teacher doesn't like them, or thinks that the teacher thinks they are stupid. They give up trying at school, because after all, what's the point? They are getting in trouble for something they can't control and it affects their self confidence. They want so badly to please the teacher and do what is right, but they just can't control it 100% of the time.

This is a scene that is played out every day for so many kids around the country. It breaks a mother's heart to know their kid endures this kind of treatment at school. They try and stand up for their child and request that the school make accomodations for their child to help them be successful. Sometimes they are met with willing participants and many times it is a no win battle. As a parent, we can never give up and we must persist until the school does what is right for our child. I have lived through this far more times than I would like to count (and my son is only in 3rd grade!) I know that the battle will continue for many years to come... but what if teachers were better educated? What if they understood what ADHD means for a kid in the classroom? What if they could implement effective teaching styles that would help ALL kids learn better in the classroom?

Who is going to do this educating of the teachers? Who is going to stand up for our kids and make sure teachers understand? It is our responsibility as their parents to educate the teachers. It shouldn't be this way, but unfortunately it is. I decided to go searching for information on how to teach kids with ADHD in an effort to help my son's teacher understand better how to help him. I found that there is not much information out there about teaching kids with ADHD... lots of documents on identifying ADHD, possible accomodations for ADHD kids, but what about classroom strategies that help? I did find one document on the Department of Education's site that would help a teacher get started.

It talks about Academic Instruction, Behavioral Interventions, and Classroom Accomodations. The great thing is that it gives teachers practical things they can implement in their classrooms to make it easier for kids with ADHD and all the other kids in the class.

There is another website that I think all teachers should go through that helps them understand what it might feel like to have ADHD... I would highly recommend sharing it with your child's teacher. It is a site put together by PBS called "Misunderstood Minds".

On the left hand side there are different areas where ADHD kids struggle - ie. Attention, Reading, Writing, Mathematics. If you click on each of those, there are examples and simulations of what it feels like to be a kid with ADHD. It was very eye openning for me, and really helped me better understand what it feels like for my son.

I have thought about creating a 30 minute talk about ADHD, what it means for a kid, and practical things that teachers can do to help... then setting up a "Lunch & Learn" for teachers during their lunch break or staff meetings to start educating teachers on ADHD. If I could just help a couple of teachers understand, imagine how many kids I could help!

"When you're a kid, school is your career. And if you go out of business in school, if your business goes bankrupt, if you're not having any success, you're left with almost nothing. You are poverty-stricken. Where do you go from there?"
--Dr. Mel Levine (Founder of All Kinds of Minds)


Penny Williams said...

Oooooh! Your note about the PBS site about seeing things from an ADHD kid's perspective made me think of a video. I would love to see a moving video created of what it's like to be ADHD, from the children and then info instructing teachers how to help these kids in their classroom. It could be distributed nationwide. My excitement is ramping up! Then I think how the heck could I make this happen?

Great post! I am posting a link on my fan page.

Sarah said...

Thank you for that link. My daughter is only in kindergarten and I was fortunate enough to get her into a class that is mixed special ed. and regular ed., so she has the best of both worlds this year. She has 16 children and 4 adults in the room, and her teacher is a special ed. teacher trained to deal with difficult behaviors so Sadie doesn't even phase her. I am getting a little nervous about 1st grade already.

The Glasers said...

I think the biggest problem we face is the drive to have a standardized, one-size-fits-none approach to education that values force-feeding facts more than finding meaning and connections. No Child Left Untested is creating such a burden on parents, teachers, and students, creating a system that is inhumane.

I think my 17yo son might have been labeled ADHD had we not homeschooled him. I know now that he is not, but as a child he was active enough, especially when bored.

I share in your frustrations!!!

Hua said...

This is a great post, thank you for sharing and informing me. I really enjoyed your links as well.

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