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How Does ADHD Affect School Performance? (page 2)

— U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Jun 25, 2011

Tips for Home

Caring for children with ADHD may be challenging, but it is important to remember that these children can learn successfully. It is critical that parents remember that some of their child's disruptive behavior is a manifestation of the disability and that the challenge is finding ways to help their child change the inappropriate behavior. Key to this is remembering to focus on the need for structure and routine for your child's daily schedule and thereby reinforcing the importance of learning self-control and self-regulation. The following are suggestions for parents:

  • Focus on discrete rewards and consequences for appropriate and inappropriate behavior:

    • Tangible rewards and treats;

    • Movie night for a good week at school;

    • Removal of privileges; and

    • Time-out from reinforcing activities: the child is essentially removed from situations that foster inappropriate behavior.

  • Set a daily routine and stick to it. Bedtime and preparation for school are much easier if there is a structure already in place.

  • Have tangible reminders:

    • A big clock in the bedroom;

    • Charts for chores;

    • Assignment pad to record homework and a specific folder to put work in upon completion; and

    • Gain the child's attention before speaking to him or her. Have the child repeat back directions for things that are really important.

  • Avoid the following:

    • Repeating patterns of inappropriate behavior followed by ineffective punishment;

    • Administering consequences without prior warning or without the child understanding why he or she is receiving them; and

    • Responding inconsistently to inappropriate behaviors.

Tips for School

A student with ADHD can present unique challenges in the classroom. Inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity can be the source of frustration, but there are ways teachers can help students with ADHD to improve the educational experience and control the symptoms of the disorder. It is important for teachers to be aware of coexisting conditions such as learning disabilities, as well as reinforcing the importance of classroom and instructional structure.

The following are tips for teachers:

  • Work on the most difficult concepts early in the day;

  • Give directions to one assignment at a time instead of directions to multiple tasks all at once;

  • Vary the pace and type of activity to maximize the student's attention; and

  • Structure the student's environment to accommodate his or her special needs. For example, the student can be seated away from potentially distracting areas (such as doors, windows, and computers) or seated near another student who is working on a shared assignment.

This guide is the first in a series of three publications that address issues related to the instruction of children with ADHD. The two additional guides are A Resource Directory for ADHD and Teaching Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Instructional Strategies and Practices. Teachers and others are encouraged to consult these publications and to use them in conjunction with Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Resource for School and Home. As the documents become available, they will be listed on the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs Web site (www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html).

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