• Attention Deficit Disorder

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder




    What is ADD/ADHD?

    Attention Deficit Disorder is a condition characterized by symptoms including:

    ·                 An inability to concentrate,

    ·                 Impulsivity, and sometimes,

    ·                 Hyperactivity.

    This disorder disrupts a child’s ability to concentrate and can interfere with his or her performance at home, at school, and in the larger community.


    Students find it hard to focus on their teacher, have trouble remaining seated, following directions, concentrating on a single task, waiting for their turn in any activity, and finishing assigned work.


    Children with ADD are often withdrawn while those with ADHD are often aggressive and rejected by their peers.


    Scientists who’ve studies the brains of children with ADD/ADHD have found that there are differences in the brains of children with the disorder but as of now have been unable to identify the causes of these differences.  It’s thought that genetics as well as environmental factors help determine the specific behaviors in individual children.


    It’s been estimated that between three and five percent of this country’s student population is affected by ADD/ADHD.  Boys are diagnosed with ADD anywhere between four and nine times more often than girls. 


    While originally thought to be a childhood disorder, it’s now recognized that many children with ADD do not outgrow it as they age.  One third to one half of children with ADD continue to show signs of ADD as adults.  While they may gain greater ability to focus their attention, their level of impulsive behavior remains inappropriate for their age.  They are frequently unorganized, forgetful, and less productive than their peers.   It is hoped that in diagnosing children at a young age, they will have years to learn coping skills so that it’s effect in later years is minimal.



    What Behaviors are Associated with ADD?

    While many of the behaviors associated with ADD are also found in children without ADD, what’s different is that the behaviors in children with ADD tend to be exhibited in extremes in a variety of settings and situations over a long period of time.
      In general, a child with ADD seems immature, his or her behavior resembles that of a younger child.


    Behaviors identified by the American Psychiatric Association as caused by ADD include:

    ·                    Fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in their seat.

           (in adolescents this might look like restlessness)


    ·                    Difficulty remaining seated when required to do so.


    ·                    Difficulty sustaining attention and waiting for a turn in tasks, games, or other group situations.


    ·                    Difficulty following through on instructions and in organizing tasks.


    ·                    Shifting from one unfinished activity to another.


    ·                    Failing to give close attention to details and avoiding careless mistakes.


    ·                    Losing things necessary for tasks or activities, and


    ·                    Difficulty in listening to others without being distracted or interrupting.



    How is ADD Diagnosed?
    Very young children may show characteristics of ADD.   Some of these behaviors are normal for their age.  Environmental factors may also produce behaviors resembling ADD.  A diagnosis of ADD is the result of a team of professionals including the child’s physician, his teachers, and parents.  A diagnosis is made after information is gathered from parents and teachers and other possible diagnoses are ruled out.  Parents and teachers are asked to complete a form asking them to measure and rate the frequency and severity of the child’s behavior according to a fixed rating scale.


    Through observations, tests, and other measurements gathered from parents, teachers, psychologists, physicians, and the child it is possible to make an accurate diagnosis.


    On the next page you’ll find an example of a questionnaire representative of what a doctor might have a teacher fill out when gathering information on a student being assessed for ADD/ADHD.



    How is ADD Treated?

    The treatment for ADD is dependent on the child, the severity of the disorder, and whether or not the parents and the physician choose to incorporate medication as part of the treatment plan.
      When medication is used, it is generally in the form of stimulants such as Ritalin, Dexadrine, Adderall, and Cylert.  These stimulants allow the brain and central nervous system to communicate with the rest of the body more effectively which improves attention span, concentration, motor control, and on task behavior while reducing hyperactivity.  Some of the medication last between three and four hours, others as long as 24 hours.


    It’s important to understand that medication will not cure ADD.  To be effective it needs to be used in conjunction with behavior modification as well as  education so that the student learns to make accommodations for the disorder that will allow him or her to function at a higher level.


    There are also side effects related to the use of medication including loss of appetite, weight loss, and insomnia.



    Some Suggestions for Working with Students with ADD/ADHD


               The Leaning Environment

    ·                    Seat students with ADD near the teacher’s desk, but include them as part of the regular class seating.

    ·                    Place these students up front with their backs to the rest of the class to keep other students out of view.

    ·                    Surround students with ADD with good role models.

    ·                    Encourage peer tutoring.

    ·                    Avoid distracting stimuli.  Try not to place students with ADD near air conditioners, high traffic areas,  
     heaters, or doors or windows.

    ·                    Transitions can be difficult.  Be as consistent as possible.

    ·                    Encourage parents to set up appropriate study space at home, with set times and routines established for 
    study, parental review of completed homework, and periodic book bag organization.



            Giving Instructions to Students with ADD/ADHD

    ·                    Try to make eye contact during verbal instructions.

    ·                    Make directions clear and concise.  Be consistent with daily instructions.

    ·                    Simplify complex instructions.

    ·                    Calmly repeat directions if necessary.

    ·                    Because most students with ADD will not ask for help, help them feel comfortable asking others for help.

    ·                    Use a daily homework log if necessary.



        Modifying Behavior and Enhancing Self-Esteem

    ·                    Enforce classroom rules consistently.

    ·                    Praise any good behavior and performance.

    ·                    Change rewards if they’re not effective in motivating behavioral change.

    ·                    Avoid ridicule and criticism.  Remember, children with ADD have difficulty staying in control.

    ·                   Avoid publicly reminding students to “take their medicine”.



    Other Educational Recommendations

    ·                    Have a sense of humor!

    ·                    Promote high self-esteem: be friendly, respect opinions, provide immediate feedback, and give 
     reinforcement  for any improvement.
    ·                   Establish control: be consistent, follow definite rules, discipline offenses immediately, offer explanations for 
    what rule was violated and be willing to listen to their side of the story.
    ·                    Maximize academic improvement: allow for flexibility in amount of time needed to complete a project, offer 
    alternatives to writing (ex. typing), establish small tasks leading up to the completed project, break it down.
    ·                    Schedule activities to accommodate student's fluctuating energy levels: intermix high and low energy 
    activities throughout the day, send student on errands if he or she has energy to burn, encourage active 
    ways of answering questions during discussions.
    ·                    Provide organizational tools: create checklists in order of priority, develop routine, and label anything that is 
    to go home.
    ·                    Open up communication lines with parents: engage in frequent correspondence, encourage parental 
    monitoring of homework, provide parents with a schedule of student' assignments.

    ·                    Reward success: use stickers, post points on a chart, shake hands, smile, and use verbal praise.

    ·                    Utilize group work: encourage problem solving, teamwork, and cooperation.

    ·                    Grab the student's attention: eye contact, give short, easy-to-understand instructions, insist that students 
     repeat back information, use non-verbal cues to quite the students such as raising a hand or blinking the 
     lights, give private cues that student is off-task such as a hand on their shoulder.
    ·                     In general: provide variety with learning centers and group projects, test material learned and not attention 
     span, respect students' input.

    Books Related to Attention Deficit Disorder

    Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
    Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos
    Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention: A Book for Kids about ADD
    By Kathleen Nadeau, and Ellen Dixon
    Shelly: The Hyperactive Turtle by Deborah Moss
    The Best of Brakes: An Activity Book for Kids with ADD and ADHD by Patricia Quinn and Judith Stern
    Taking ADD to School: A School Story about Attention Deficit Disorder by Ellen Weiner and Kim Gasselin
    Help is on the Way: A Child’s Book about ADD by Marc Nemiroff
    The ADD Hyperactivity Workbook for Parents, Teachers, and Kids by Harvey Parker
    The ADHD Parenting Handbook: Practical Advice for Parents from Parents by Colleen Alexander-Roberts
    Jumpin’ Johnny Get Back to Work! by Michael Gordon

    My Brother’s a World Class Pain by Michael Gordon