Teachers dealing with children with Attention
Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, as well as other neurodevelopmental
disorders must be aware of how these different disorders can affect any child
in the classroom,and develop educational strategies to deal with them.
which neurodevelopmental disorders a child has
ADHD, ADD, Aspergers, Tourette’s,
Sensory Integration, giftedness... These
are some of the areas that are discussed and addressed in the diagnosis and
management of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. It is just as important to rule out, as well
as rule in, disorders.
children with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders
How are you meant to teach a child with
many of these interlocking difficulties?
As ADHD exists in a variety of ways, it is important to recognise that
everyone is an individual, regardless of if they have the label of ADHD or not,
and therefore need to be taught to their specific skills.
ADHD can present itself in many
different ways. Individuals with
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can experience difficulties
which impact on their inability to pay attention, inability to control
impulsive behaviour and show excessive hyperactivity. ADHD effects individuals of all ages, with
prevalence levels as high as 14% of the general population with 70% of these
individuals continuing to show symptoms into adulthood, affecting four times
more males than females (Vernon, Frick & Gruzelier, 2004). ADHD is understood to be a genetic condition
linked to abnormalities in dopamine levels among neurotransmitters which are
involved in the regulation of behavioural responses (Fuchs, Birbaumer,
Lutzenberger, Gruzelier, & Kaiser ,
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often coexists with other neurodevelopmental
ADHD is often found co-existing with
other neurobiological conditions including Autism, Tourette Syndrome,
Depression, Learning Difficulties, Oppositional Defiant Disorder among
others. If a child has ADHD, they are
more likely to have other co-existing psychiatric conditions. Consequently, it is important that individual
symptoms are teased out to get a better understanding of the difficulties the
individual is encountering. Furthermore,
these complications, and high intelligence, can mask the underlying
difficulties and makes confirming a diagnosis more challenging (Biederman,
Newcorn, & Sprich, 1991). A further
associated difficulty with ADHD includes cognitive deficits. These difficulties range from gross and fine
motor co-ordination to planning, organisation and time management difficulties
(Barkley, 2003). All of these
difficulties make it a tough task to determine what is the main area of concern
and how to manage the behaviours.
the individual needs of children with ADHD in the classroom
There is a great demand on teachers of
large classes to meet the individual needs of the class and to ensure that they
are all achieving to their relative potential.
There is little teacher training focusing on children with special educational
needs, but teachers are still expected to effectively teach these individuals.
It is therefore important to be aware
of how these different disorders can affect any child, how it may present
itself, and how to manage the difficulties in terms of educational
strategies. If a teacher has concerns
about a child, he/she should speak to the parents and suggest the possibility
of an assessment. Teachers should also
research the area themselves. The better
understanding they have about the difficulties and how they affect the child,
the more positively they can teach the individual.
It is always extremely important to
emphasise to teachers that ADHD is not an excuse, it is an explanation for the
behaviours. Thus putting in place
accommodations and strategies to counteract the difficulties and try to prevent
them occurring again is essential, rather than the child being placed in
detention or punished for his disorganisation.
A book written specifically for
teachers for tips in the classroom is the “100 Ideas for Supporting Pupils with
ADHD” by Dr G Kewley and Mrs P Latham.