Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Critical Factors in Working With ADD/ADHD Children

Just as I am having a melt-down over the loss of Amanda's cell phone, I receive this email from my dear friend who works with children with special needs. Does God know exactly what we need, when we need it and how we need it?! The guidance counselor called today to see when I could meet him (he's new) and the team in regards to updating her 504 Plan. I guess we are blazing the trail for an ADHD child who will be in their class next year.

From Sandra Rief:

Teacher flexibility, commitment, and willingness to work with the student on a personal level. This means putting forth the time, energy, and extra effort required to really listen to students, be supportive, and make changes and accommodations as needed.

Training & knowledge about ADD/ADHD. It is essential that teachers are aware that this problem is physiological and biological in nature.

Modifying assignments, cutting the written workload! What takes an average child 20 minutes to do, often takes an ADHD student hours to accomplish (particularly written assignments). There is no need to do EVERY worksheet, math problem, or definition. Be OPEN to making exceptions. Allow student to do a more reasonable amount (eg. every other problem, half a page). Ease up on handwriting requirements and demands for these students. Be sensitive to the extreme physical effort it takes these children to put down in writing what appears simple to you.

Limit the amount of homework. Be flexible...cut homework down to a manageable amount. If student is not able to complete classwork, do not send home in addition to homework, as it is unlikely student will be able to complete it that evening. You will need to prioritize & modify.

Providing more time on assessments. These students (often very intelligent children) frequently know the information, but can't get it down, particularly on tests. Be flexible in permitting students with these needs to have extra time to take tests, or/and allow them to be assessed verbally.

Teacher sensitivity about embarrassing or humiliating students in front of peers. Self-esteem is fragile; students with ADD/ADHD typically perceive themselves as failures. Avoid ridicule. Avoid projecting failure. Perservation of sef-esteem is the primary factor in truly helping these children succeed in life.

Assistance with organization. Students with ADD/ADHD have major problems with organization and study skills. They need help and additional intervention to make sure assignments are recorded correctly,their work space and materials are organized, notebooks and desks are cleared of unnecessary collections of junk from time to time, and specific study skill strategies are used.

Value students' differences and help bring out their strengths. Provide many opportunities for children to demonstrate to their peers what they do well. Recognize diversity of learning styles and individual approaches in you classroom.

Belief in the student---not giving up when plans A,B,and C don't work. There are always plans D, E, F,...Success will require going back to the drawing board fequently. These children are worth the extra time and effort! Example - Plan A is for Amanda to bring her calculator to class. Plan B is for parents to send an extra calculator to be kept in the classroom for Amanda to use, if/when plan A fails.

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