View Full Version : How to teach an ADHD child


luv2teach
09-02-05, 03:10 PM
I am a first year high school spanish teacher and I have a student in one of my classes who has ADHD. He is a very lively student and loves to talk which is very important in a language classroom. However, his attention is starting to leave the lecture and activities and has become more focused on talking to his neighbors. I was wondering if you had any suggestions or methods that might help me to get him back on task when this occurs. He is also very energetic even when on meds. What can I do to keep him calm and under control during class.
The school I teach at has block scheduling which means that there are 4 classes a day for an hour and a half each. I'm sure this doesn't help the matter at all either. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Imnapl
09-02-05, 03:23 PM
Here is one resource.
http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/adhd/

ms_sunshine
09-02-05, 04:02 PM
Hi Luv :) Don't despair...block scheduling can be used to your advantage much of the time with an add/adhd student. My hat is off to you for taking the time to consider how to best meet your student's needs at the beginning of the year!
Some things to consider:

Have you researched the type of medication that your student is taking? I would highly recommend you do so.

What time of day does he have your class? Earlier in the morning could be effected by whether or not he's had breakfast, as well as what he had to eat. If he took his medication with orange juice, or something citrus, it can mess with the absorption rate of the medication, making it less effective. Consider having peanut butter crackers on hand--or other high protein snacks, with his parents' consent, and providing he doesn't have a peanut allergy. The protein in the peanut butter is good brain food for someone with add/adhd (see books by sari solden and kathleen nadeau on this if you need further information). If he has your class after lunch, find out what he's eating, or IF he's eating, because this could effect his level of hyperactivity.
Does he take a time release medication before he gets to school? Does he have to take an early afternoon dose? If he has your class toward the end of the day, his medication could be wearing off, he may not have eaten enough, or the best choices of food (again, peanut butter crackers could provide a boost).
How do you have your classroom seating arranged? Sometimes, it's helpful for an add/adhd student to be seated closer to the teacher's desk. Sometimes, it's not. Consider how he may "see" things in your classroom. As he looks around the room from his seat, how close is the clock that he will likely be able to hear clicking? How close is his seat to the hum of the heating or cooling system? Will he be able to see everyone who passes the doorway, even if the door is closed via a small window? Will sitting near the windows cause him to daydream instead of listening? ASK him if these types of things are negative distractions for him. The clock may drive him nuts, but the humming of the heater may actually HELP him focus. If you utilize music in your room, that could be helpful for him, but on some days, it might be unnerving. Perhaps he could utilize headsets in your class to filter out external distractions, such as the clock, etc. If he is allowed to use a headset, and a school approved cd (g rated lyrics), he could listen to that while he works, and this may help him stay on task more when he is supposed to be working independently. It could also filter out the sounds of his classmates clicking their pens or tapping their pencils.
When you are instructing, there are class presentations, guest speakers, whatever, be aware of these noises...if a student is doing the tapping-clicky thing, as you walk around the room, keep instructing, and without skipping a beat, gently take the pen or pencil from the student's hand and place it on the desk. This gesture, plus eye contact with a smile can send a very subtle message, without bringing a ton of attention to it.
How often do you have the students rearrange their seating during the school year? This can be a great thing in that it keeps things fresh for your add/adhd student (and the other kids tend to like this as well). It can be disrupting if he's not great with change. This will depend upon his adaptability to change. Do you utilize cooperative learning strategies? See how he does during these exercises, because the moving from station to station may help him adapt faster to change. It may also serve as an indicator to you on how he will do with quarterly seating changes.
Does your student have an iep, and if so, is there anything in there regarding behavioral goals such as redirection through predetermined cues. For example, you can let him know when he needs to redirect without bringing attention to his peers by closer proximity, or by gently tapping his text book, as you walk around the classroom. If you see he is getting restless, diffuse problem situations by finding him busy work. Passing out papers, taking something to the office. Sending him out on a constructive mission will help with his need for attention, keep from distracting the other students, and redirect him more often than not. You would be amazed at how many times I just HAD to have a new box of chalk, or a container of paperclips, or a specific type folder...See what I mean? ;) The key is patience and diffusing situations before they happen.
That's all I can think of right now, but it should help get you started, I hope. The more you understand about how your student's add/adhd affects HIM, the more effectively you can adapt your plans to accomodate him AND the other students. Creativity is key, and letting him feel as if he has a part in it cannot hurt. Block scheduling allows for projects in stations around the room. There's a lot you can do with this, and the best part is it won't just enhance his learning experience...it will benefit your entire class.

Best of luck to you!

luv2teach
09-02-05, 09:04 PM
I do know that he is on Ritalin and he does not have an iep. I have him 3rd block which is from 10:34 to 12:34 but a half hour of that is there lunch. They have B lunch so they have a half hour of class, go eat lunch, then come back for the last hour of class.

ms_sunshine
09-02-05, 09:13 PM
Oh I despise those split classes. They are barely on task when it's time to leave, then they eat, and then they come back off task, and hyper (even the non add kids). Which type of ritalin...the short acting, or the long acting?

What did his records indicate, regarding his grades?

luv2teach
09-02-05, 09:19 PM
Yes when he comes in it takes a while for me to get him completly on task and by the time I get him working it is time for lunch. He is always hyper when he comes back from lunch and it takes an even longer time getting him on track.
I'm not sure how I can get him on task faster. I need to find a way to get him to calm down after lunch.

Scattered
09-02-05, 10:55 PM
Is there anyway for him to get in a 5 or 10 minutes of vigorous exercise before coming to class? (short run, jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.) Exercise can make a huge difference in attention and activity level immediately following by getting more blood and dopamine to the brain.

Scattered

ms_sunshine
09-02-05, 11:20 PM
Have you tried utilizing that energy in a way that would be less disruptive for the class?

Have him pass out papers, or pencils. Have him help with set up or take down of units. If you have bulletin boards ask him to participate in setting them up if he's artistic. Have him be part of the dialogue skits (if you do those in your spanish class...I recall doing them when studying french). No matter how small the task, give it to him as often as possible, especially when you can see his restlessness is escalating.

I had a boy who was really one of my favorites. He was so adhd he may as well have been the poster boy. He was not diagnosed. The other teachers had decided he was just a discipline issue. I wasn't buying that.

I heaped praise on him. I gave him a chance to interact w. his peers, but he knew that if he started to distract them, he would be moved to a seat right next to me immediately. My absolute FAVORITE threat to make to kids is, "don't make me hug you." The look on most teen boys' faces to this statement is priceless. (no i would never hug a student without first asking their permission.)

I really think he found it a challenge to see what he could do to get a detention. Many of the things the other teachers wrote him up for were so minor and ridiculous...and whenever I saw him waiting for his turn to see the principal day after day, I would say, "ah geez...what now?" He would look at his shoes and say what he had done. He was not then nor is he now a bad kid. Last year, his mom came to me (our daughters know one another), and said, "two of your kids are adhd right? I think my son is adhd, but everyone else says no." I referred her here, and to her family doctor. I also told her that in spite of his over exuberant behavior, I had never once had to give him a detention. He worked for me. He stayed on task for me. And he knew he was one of my favorites.

LOL he once came to class (AGAIN) without anything to write with...and was begging for pencils. his classmates all said, no way, we'll never see it again. Finally, he came to me and politely asked to borrow a pencil. I said, "take off your left shoe, please." :)) He had brand new tennis shoes. A pencil on loan for a tennis shoe. He got it back when he returned the pencil. His seat was right in front of the teacher's desk. He never talked back to me, and bc we had block scheduling, there was often no homework out of class. We got it done via guided practice. It was the same issue only this was seventh grade, as far as the split in the academic block for lunch.

I found out what his interests were, and found ways to include these things in the lesson. I included and encouraged his participation in constructive ways. I utilized a lot of cooperative learning projects where everyone in the team had a specific task. I made a habit of catching him doing things the right way, and praised him for it, sometimes just with a ty, sometimes with candy, etc. I took the time to ask him about his life, and listened while he told me. As often as possible, I put him in situations where I knew he would succeed.

It's a struggle, but stick with it. The teachers I most remember are the ones who went the extra mile to help me understand and succeed. I'll never forget them.

I have to believe that you see something in this boy that you want to fight for, because you took the time to come here looking for options that would help him. He needs people like you to champion him, until he is able to do this for himself. :)

luv2teach
09-06-05, 09:43 PM
OK I moved seats around today and put him right up front where I am most of the time and it is a lot easier on both of us. He concentrates better and I can see what he is doing at all times. I can even see the words he is writing on his paper and tell if he is right or not. A couple times I noticed he was completly off and helped him out with it. He seems to stay calmer up front also.
One thing he is still having trouble with is staying focused. He gets distracted by every little thing around him. I get him started and make sure he knows what he is doing and he is fine for a while. When I walk away he almost always gets distracted by something and cant get back on track. I have to go over and get him going again in order for him to continue working. How can I minimize this?

ms_sunshine
09-06-05, 10:46 PM
Redirection via close proximity and/or predetermined cues would be my best suggestions, but it really will depend upon your student. As I suggested in an earlier post, sometimes, standing near the desk helps redirect, other times, a quiet tap on the desk will do the trick, as you walk past. Other times, the student will require to hear you speak their name sternly, yet quietly. It all depends upon the individual needs of the student.

He needs to know what the cues will be for him, and noone else in the class needs to be aware of them. It's often set up as a part of the behavioral goals in an IEP. So and so will be redirected by the following things (specifically stated) x percent of the time, with (a specific amount of times) redirecting. Then if it doesn't work after the set time, specific consequences are also clearly stated in the plan.

Discuss this with one of the special education teachers at your school. They may have a template of these types of redirection cues for you to use as a guide. :) I am happy to see he is responding favorably to what you have already implemented. Congrats! Please keep me posted.

livinginchaos
09-06-05, 10:54 PM
You are a great teacher, luv2teach! It's so nice to hear a teacher taking such an active interest!

Great advice, ms_sunshine! I hope other teachers in this forum read your suggestions.

scuro
09-06-05, 11:07 PM
Basically yes to all of those good ideas. Keep things moving from one task to another constantly in your class. It's good if there are lots of things to do and not a lot of time with you up at the front...unless you are riveting.

Here is an excerpt from Russell Barkley, the leading expert on ADHD. From his lecture in San Francisco 2000, that deals specifically with incomplete work
and time management. As educators his science based research and
conclusions are well worth our consideration.

ď....Time is the enemy of anybody with this disorder. The more you give
them a task that involves organizing over time, the more you disable them.
You need to think about AD/HD and about life in general as a three-part
system. There are Events, there are Responses to the events, and there
are the Outcomes that occur as a result of those responses...As long as
the E and the R and the O are right next to each other in time, AD/HD kids
act normal. The minute you put a time lag between the E and the R and the
R and the O, you disable them...Get those Eís and Rís and Oís as close as
possible. Take the time out of the equation, or minimize it as much as
you can. How could you have approached that book report? You could have
said this. ďI want you to sit down right now. I want you to read three
pages right now. Then write me two sentences right now. You will earn 15
points for doing so.Ē I just put the E and the R and the O right next to
each other. I took the long future task, I split it up into tiny little
daily E, R, Oísólittle steps across the gap in time, and I solved the
problem. But I canít solve it by b*%#@ing, by whining, by moaning and
appealing. ďYou got a book report due in a week and a half. You better
start your reading. Oh, that book reportís just three days away and you
havenít been doing your reading.Ē

Listen to what we do. We whine, we appeal, we cajole, we plead. When
instead what you should have done all along is to split it up into daily
units and do a step across time every day. That is what we mean by
bridging time, doing little bits of the future all along the way, so when
the future gets here, youíre ready. As opposed to expecting them to do
all of that on their own with no assistance. Remember, if there is one
purpose to this front part of your brain that is so uniquely us, it is the
organization of behavior across time to meet the futureócross temporal
behavioróand they canít do that very well.

Now letís go back to the question I asked before. There were nine symptoms
on that DSM attention list, which we said you had to have six out of the
nine to be called AD/HD. And I told you, you could not call that list a
list of attention symptoms because thereís no evidence that itís attention
thatís the problem. AD/HD kids pay attention to the environment just
fine. What are they not paying attention to? The future. Time in the
future. Future-directed behavior is called intentional behavior. And if
AD/HD kids are not paying attention to the future, they donít have an
attention deficit, they have an intention deficit. AD/HD is an intention
deficit disorder. They are inattentive to the future, to where they
should be going as opposed to where they are now. Thatís what that list of
symptoms is all about. Canít follow through with rules and instructions.
Forgetful in daily activities. Skips from one incompleted activity to
another. If theyíre inattentive, itís inattentive to the futureĒ.

The original 40 page document can be found here:
http://www.schwablearning.org/resources.asp?g=1

Further reading from Barkley.
http://www.continuingedcourses.net/active/courses/course003.php

Imnapl
09-06-05, 11:20 PM
Token Economy? Break the work down into intervals with an appropriate "reward", such as helping the teacher, for completing tasks.

Some kids prefer to work at a study carrel.

Scattered
09-07-05, 11:49 AM
Thanks Scuro! Great explanation of the problem and good examples. :)

Scattered

Jami Lea
09-07-05, 01:39 PM
Wow Congrats to you teacher! Spanish teachers were always the best =)

luv2teach
09-07-05, 03:28 PM
OK, bad day today. He was fine before lunch but when he came back from lunch he was absolutly out of control. I dont know what happened at lunch but nothing I did would calm him down. I gave a 15 question quiz after lunch and he got to number 3 in 15 minutes of working. He was talking during the quiz and instead of taking the quiz I moved his desk right up against mine so he could only talk to me if he needed to and nobody else. It didnt work, he just couldnt get focused he was still tapping his pen and leaning back in his chair, nothing I did worked. I even sent him to pick up my attendence sheet out of my mailbox from the office and I didnt see him again for 10 minutes.

scuro
09-07-05, 07:02 PM
Try 6 ADHD kids in the same class and then you would be a Spec ed teacher. lol

There is no way to make a disruptive kid perfect and that is one reason that 1/2 of all ADHD kids don't graduate. The other reason is lack of productivity as you observed today.

It's like living with a bear. If you're lucky you can both inhabit the same area in peace. You do this by trial and error and finding what works best with the kid. Each kid has a "key" and you usually find that through knowledge and understanding. Coming here was a good step. Read Barkleyís taking Charge of ADHD. Talk to him...and let him tell you what works. Go back and read the posts....reconsider, re-evaluate, and discard what doesn't work.

I have found that not only having the kid near you but working with him as much as possible helps. Sometimes all you have to do is get him started. It's hard, I know,...because of the other kids in the class. Every bit of attention helps. Sometimes, if you're lucky, another kid can play that role. Reward both of them if that is the case.

And what ever you do, donít nag....act instead...right in that moment. If this isnít working...distract him, speak sternly, refocus him, work with him, joke with him, have him get up and move, ...what ever...just change it up.

Finally, if he likes you half the battle is over...above all connect with him. There are few ADHD kids who don't like personalized attention...at least at that grade.

Imnapl
09-07-05, 08:54 PM
luv2teach, I'm sorry, I just reread your first post in this thread and I must have forgotten you were speaking of a high school age child. I thought we were discussing a primary school student.

luv2teach
11-04-05, 04:49 PM
We were doing good for about a month but these last 2 weeks things have started to fall apart again. I'm not sure what happened but it has been chaos lately with him. I have been using your suggestions and they seem to have been helping alot but I need some more advice.
I was considering having a talk with him. Maybe about what he thinks I can do to help him more in class. See if there is anything that would help him that I can do or if anything I do now helps him at all. I'm not sure if he will talk to me about this subject so I have been holding off on it. I know some people wouldnt feel comfortable talking to someone about this so I havnt done anything yet.
What do you guys think?

Jaycee
11-09-05, 01:32 AM
I'm not sure what level of Spanish he's taking but what I find helpful is as note card with an attention clue on it. I keep it uncluttered and bright with something like.."Focus finishes work"..You could also print it in Spanish on one side. A bright clue card is unobtrusive and just acts as a visual reminder. It reduces the time you spend walking to that students desk, which high schoolers DO notice. I started this system with some students who are pretty severe (not medicated with emotional issues) and my other students started asking for cards. (I teach high school)
I throw in some positive ones too, and just hand them out periodically depending on what behaviors I see. It works rather well. I would make all of the positive cards with only spanish so that the students try to translate. You might also try starting that class with a lower light setting ( I turn off one row or go to my overhead light setting)...especially after the break....and "heavy work" like passing out books is great to help calm too. If students start looking sleepy, you can always turn the lights back up.

ms_sunshine
11-14-05, 01:34 PM
Jaycee, I'm loving the idea of the cards. I also love how you throw in positive things. May I borrow this? *grins broadly*

Luv, talking with him and asking for his input can only be a good thing, I believe. A student is often more directed when he/she is given a voice in his/her own development.

It could be any number of things, from school, to homelife stress, to an after school job, to an issue w. girls, to peer things, to...just about anything under the sun. In addition to being adhd...he's also a teenaged boy.

I don't know about your district, but we began our second quarter on October 31st. Midterm grades are due on/about December 2nd. If he's falling behind with you or other classes, or has a combination of other external factors on his plate...talking with him to let him know you care might be just the trick to get him reinvested your class. Try coming to a mutually workable decision before Thanksgiving break. :)

Keep Ruby Payne's book in mind. If you teach in Ohio, I'm betting you've read it! See if anything from it might apply here. :)

As always, I wish you the very best!

Cynde

ADDitives
12-23-05, 08:49 AM
Try 6 ADHD kids in the same class and then you would be a Spec ed teacher. lol


There is no way to make a disruptive kid perfect and that is one reason that 1/2 of all ADHD kids don't graduate. The other reason is lack of productivity as you observed today.

It's like living with a bear. If you're lucky you can both inhabit the same area in peace. You do this by trial and error and finding what works best with the kid. Each kid has a "key" and you usually find that through knowledge and understanding. Coming here was a good step. Read Barkleyís taking Charge of ADHD. Talk to him...and let him tell you what works. Go back and read the posts....reconsider, re-evaluate, and discard what doesn't work.

I have found that not only having the kid near you but working with him as much as possible helps. Sometimes all you have to do is get him started. It's hard, I know,...because of the other kids in the class. Every bit of attention helps. Sometimes, if you're lucky, another kid can play that role. Reward both of them if that is the case.

And what ever you do, donít nag....act instead...right in that moment. If this isnít working...distract him, speak sternly, refocus him, work with him, joke with him, have him get up and move, ...what ever...just change it up.

Finally, if he likes you half the battle is over...above all connect with him. There are few ADHD kids who don't like personalized attention...at least at that grade.
3 or more ADHD kids is standard in a primary (elementary) classroom here - even upto that 6. and this is in a mainstream classroom. adhd kids arent put into special ed classes here, and most schools dont have them.

scuro
12-23-05, 09:12 AM
We don't segregate all of our ADHD kids either. We just seperate the cream for some special attention. :p