How to deal with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in learners

1457465407Christine-Osae
Christine Osae

You probably have these kids in your class: their eyes gawk at everything else but you. Even if you used super glue, they wouldn’t be able to keep their bottoms in the chair. I am talking about those students whose hands go up before the question is asked, and will answer the question, “Who can tell me what a noun is?” with “Mrs. M, do you dye your hair?” They solely display the hallmark symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It gets more frustrating with the knowledge that the brainpower is there but just can’t seem to focus on the material you’re working diligently to deliver. 

In spite of your patience and motivation, such students can easily arouse frustration in you. Most teachers end up reprimanding or even punishing them, not knowing that attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) is an undeliberate disorder. Students with ADHD pay the price for their problems in low grades, scolding and punishment, teasing from peers, and low self-esteem. Meanwhile, you, the teacher, wind up taking complaints from parents who feel their kids are being cheated of your instruction.

The ultimate question then is: how do you teach a kid who won’t settle down and listen? The answer: with a lot of patience, creativity, and consistency. As a teacher, your role is to evaluate each child’s individual needs and strengths. Then you can develop strategies that will help students with ADHD focus, stay on task, and learn to their full capabilities.

Teachers at schools must understand the struggle a student with ADHD goes through and make certain that an ordered, safe, predictable classroom environment is set for such students. Educators should equally establish a gallant, working relationship with the student’s parents. Learn about their child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and achievements outside the school.

Similarly, teachers should be aware of the teaching methods which are most effectively used at home by the parents. If teachers can communicate often and send encouraging notes home so that the parents are aware about the progress of the child, the results would be remarkable. However, it must be said that this depends on the mutual aid of the parents.

Further still, you can decide together on a sign or a code that you can use to remind the child to focus on the task. For example, make eye contact with the child or pick up a particular object to signal the child for attention.

Nonetheless, this can only work if they are looking at you. With their inattentive tendency, you may have to call on them most of the time to get their attention.

Teachers should avoid criticizing the child in front of his or her peers. Instead, they can use a point system, tokens, stars, or other methods to reinforce and appreciate appropriate behaviour in the classroom. Notice and provide feedback on any improvement, however slight, in the areas of behaviour and academics to the parents.

One other important thing that teachers should see to is giving directions in simple, concrete terms and simplifying instructions, tasks and assignments. Always get the child to complete one step before introducing the second step. Divide lessons into relatively short segments and use a variety of teaching aids such as movie clips, audio lessons, and group workshops to reinforce the child’s interest in the lesson.

Besides, you can also modify required homework to accommodate students who are severely impacted with ADHD. Avoid giving them long home or class assignments. Pause before asking questions or ask the inattentive child a question to gain his or her focus. Always Use the student’s name while addressing a question to him or her. Walk around the room and pat the child gently on the shoulder or tap the place in the child’s book that is being read to help him or her stay focussed.

Seat the ADHD child in close proximity to you and in the area that has the least amount of distractions for example doors, windows and naughty students. Watch for signs of increasing stress in a hyperactive child. You may want to reduce the workload or provide an opportunity for the child to release some energy. For example, have the student assist you in carrying books to the staff room, minding the class, or running errands for you. Provide opportunities for physical activity. Choose the hyperactive child to hand out note books ,collect assignments or do other classroom jobs that can help release pent up energy and contribute to his or her feeling of self-worth.

Dear Teachers, ADHD children can perform better within a familiar, consistent, and structured routine at school with positive reinforcements for good behaviour and subtle consequences for bad. Communication between parents and teachers is especially critical to ensuring an ADHD child has an appropriate learning environment. The key factor for handling such children is PATIENCE.

The writer is a lecturer at The Adventist University of Central Africa