ADHD, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most common childhood behavior disorders. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2011, approximately 11% of children 4 – 17 years of age have an ADHD diagnosis. In 2003 the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD was 7.8%. This increase is startling!
Is the increase due to better diagnosis or is it due to expecting kids to be sitting at attention for longer periods of time without recess or physical education? Or is it due to a combination of the two? I'm not sure that we can pinpoint exactly why, but what we do need to do is to understand that more children are being identified as having ADHD and we as educators need to address and instruct our children so they can succeed in the classroom and in life.
This common incidence of ADHD is juxtaposed with rising expectations for all students. Due to Section 504 of the Vocational and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) of 1997, there are also increased expectations for the use of classroom interventions for students with ADHD.
Just a quick reminder, ADHD symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, disruptive classroom behavior, and problems with executive function.
Can Children with ADHD Diagnosis Thrive in School?
After teaching students with ADHD for several decades, I’ve discovered that although they have distinct learning differences, they can transcend their challenges and learn successfully. We just have to find the door in to the way each child's brain works. All students can learn, and when you use specific strategies, ADHD students thrive and succeed!
Executive Function and ADHD Diagnosis
For example, acknowledging that poor executive function is an intrinsic component of ADHD, we then know we need to begin teaching executive function skills to our ADHD students. It isn’t just ADHD students who need more practice with the planning skills involved in executive function, though. With executive function taking until about age 25 to fully develop, all students benefit from increased focus in this area. Everyone benefits!
[Every person with ADHD has problems with executive function, however, everyone with executive function problems are not necessarily ADHD.]
Executive function is one's ability to analyze a task that needs to be done and actually carry out the task. For example, write down a homework assignment, gather the books you need to do the assignment. Place them in the backpack, take them home. Then you need to plan the time to do the homework, do it in a timely fashion, shift any steps around, put the homework assignment back into the backpack. And finally you need to take the backpack back to school and actually turn in the assignment.
Solutions to Teaching Students with ADHD or Executive Function Problems
Taking advantage of new technologies, I have just written a new eCourse, ADHD Classroom and Teaching Strategies, that explores best practices for ADHD students. It covers what ADHD is exactly, how we learn, executive function, inclusion, differentiation, specific classroom strategies, the ADHD diet, medications and alternatives to medications, and mobile apps for those with ADHD. [The course is approved by the University of the Pacific for CEU Units and the Texas Education Agency for Continuing Professional Education.]
Our ADHD Classroom and Teaching Strategies eCourse is specifically designed to help parents, special educators, and general educators gain a better understanding of ADHD and inclusion. Inclusion is one of the current educational movements that advocates educating students with disabilities, including ADHD, in general education classrooms.
Our eCourse will help the learner achieve a better understanding of ADHD and intervention strategies that facilitate positive student learning in the inclusive classroom. Parents will learn what can be done in the classroom or during homework time to help their ADHD child succeed and thrive. Educators will gain specific tested strategies to use with their ADHD students.
Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET, Board Certified Educational Therapist #10167, is considered one of the top experts in the country in helping teachers and parents identify their students’ learning disabilities/learning difficulties.
She’s been an educator, learning disability specialist, and educational therapist since 1973. Ms. Terry gives teachers and parents the ability to give their child a 2 – 4 year advantage in just 20 minutes a day. She’s a contributing author to education journals. She’s a popular national and international speaker.