Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Understanding and Managing Students With ADHD

Aggressive... Impulsive... Disorganized... Impulsive... Absent-minded... Daydreamer... Delinquent... Bully... Mental case... Brain damage... Kulang sa Pansin... Low IQ...

These words are just among those that are usually attached to children with ADHD, especially if not yet diagnosed. Unknown to many, these words are mere "judgements" with unreliable bases. It is indeed true that our society still needs to be informed of this condition that affects millions of the Philippine population and other countries including the United States. With further education, judgements and mishandling of ADHD students in the educational setting and any other social functions can be lessened, and hopefully soon be eradicated.

To begin with, what is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. According to studies, ADHD is more prevalent among males than in females. In an article by Yam dela Cruz (2010), the statistics from the ADHD Society of the Philippines says that

80% of the adolescents have the symptoms of ADHD

60% of adults have the symptoms of ADHD

40% - 50% of children with ADHD have learning disabilities

30% - 50% of children with ADHD engage in disorderly conduct and exhibits signs of anti-social behavior

35% of children with ADHD do not finish high school

25% of children with ADHD oftentimes fight with other kids

20% - 25% of children experience hyperactivity

3% - 5% of the world population has ADHD

ADHD is not a product of an unhealthy environment, parenting gone wrong, poverty, stress, poor diet, laziness, and many other myths that most people concocted based on the child's behavior.

Although there is no definite cause for it yet, experts say this condition involves the brain mechanism, specifically how it receives and delivers signals from the brain to the other parts of the body and vice versa, which greatly affects one's behavior. Many factors were discussed by professionals on how this happened in the human body such as trauma, fetal disposition in the mother's womb, mother's diet during pregnancy, illnesses, and genes.

How can you tell if a student has ADHD?

Formal tests are conducted before a student may be said to have ADHD. These tests are done by neuropsychologists. However, family members and teachers can watch out for these symptoms and note the frequency of occurrences for certain situations:

a. inattentive

b. forgetful

c. disorganized

d. easily distracted

e. squirmy and fidgety

f. talks too much

g. unable to stay in one place

h. acts and speaks without thinking

i. blurts answers

j. impatient in waiting for turns

k. interrupts conversations or class discussions

How can teachers and family members make use of the characteristics of their ADHD child for success?

In any kind of set-up, an ADHD kid benefits from structure and sincere understanding. Remember, this condition is not something they put themselves into. In addition, even if students have ADHD, it doesn't mean they have low comprehension levels. Many personalities became successful despite having ADHD. As a matter of fact, most of these people with ADHD have their condition to their advantage. On the other hand, there is still a great number of students with ADHD that are heading for academic failure, which affects their emotional disposition. That is why it is important to provide the needed structure for learning and behavior management in school and at home.

Here are some tips on how to manage children with ADHD:

a.Set it straight. Be clear and specific.

Teachers/Parents together with the ADHD student must work together in identifying acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Having identified these behaviors, it is also important to set goals with the child, which he or she must work on. In doing so, make sure instructions/wordings used are specific, short, and clear to avoid misunderstandings.

b. Keep it quick yet effective.

Activities must be given in a checklist or schedule. It is a way to give the child a set of tasks to look forward to. This is done to avoid inattention and distractability while on-task. Furthermore, to be able to sustain their attention span, activities must be quick but still suitable for your objectives/goals. It also helps to make the students aware of the amount of time they are expected to finish the task. Assist in keeping track of time by showing a countdown on the board and announcing it to the class.

c. Utilize the multisensorial teaching and learning approach.

Making activities very engaging and dynamic can greatly support child's involvement further ensuring comprehension and mastery of skills. Take advantage of their energy by constructing activities that allow them to use most of their senses together. This way, the ADHD students will be occupied learning through the set-up activities.

d. Post rules and reminders inside the classroom.

Reminders to monitor their behavior must be given when needed. For students with ADHD, reminders are always needed. This is to keep them on top of the situation, and to avoid impulsive actions resulting to misunderstandings. Posters or visual cues of the set of rules must also be verbalized to the students to keep them further reminded about it even if they're on their own.

e. Lessen distractions.

ADHD students are easily distracted even by the most minute detail that attracted their senses, thus it is important to organize their learning centers more effectively. It is a matter of placing the things inside the classroom in the appropriate places. Colorful visual aids can get their attention, but hopefully not to the point of focusing solely on the object itself disregarding its purpose. Multimedia presentations can promote comprehension among students just keep it direct to the point.

f. Acknowledge behaviors.

To acknowledge desirable and undesirable behavior, it is important to keep the students aware of the consequences of their actions through "processing" or "one-on-one talk". Give praises where it's due, and avoid reprimanding a child in front of the group because they easily get discouraged by that.

g. Model.

Modeling the appropriate behavior sets the child's mind and environment in doing the same behavior. The more they get to observe such behavior, the greater the possibility of acquiring it themselves.

h. Processing.

Always see to it that for every misbehavior done by the child, a processing must be done. Corporal punishment is not an option because it can only lead to trauma for the child. Hearing out the child's side, and explaining why his/her actions are unacceptable is more effective if the goal is to instill in them the awareness and application of desirable behaviors. Discuss with the child what happened, his/her reason/s for reacting in such a way, what he could have done in the situation, and what he/she can do to make it better. Processing behaviors must be immediate to avoid the chance of forgetting about the specific details leading to further misunderstandings.

There are tons and tons of videos, articles, books, and journals on how to understand and manage ADHD children in school and at home. All of these can provide helpful information for everyone, especially teachers and parents. With this article, it is in great hope that ADHD students can find more people and institutions that can provide them with the most effective structure and well-deserved understanding to aid in their goal to be successful in life just like everyone else that have DREAMS.

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