ADD and ADHD from a Teachers Perspective

ADD and ADHD from a Teachers Perspective

This article is intended to be the “Reader’s Digest” version of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I am not someone who is certified to diagnose either of these disorders, but I am a person who has made my profession dealing with them.

The most important thing to remember is that ADD has NOTHING to do with over-activity. The attention deficit in this case can sometimes go unnoticed. Sometimes parents and teachers say that these students “zone out”. They can miss entire portions of lectures or miss time in class to complete assignments because of their inattention. This will affect all aspects of life. Even as adults people with ADD have trouble “remembering” things. It really isn’t a memory issue; it is the lack of attention when the information was presented.

ADHD differs from ADD in that there is a component of hyperactivity. People with ADHD lack attention and tend to be impulsive. Acts of inattention are not usually intentional. The impulsivity in some cases is uncontrollable.
ADHD makes it extremely hard for people to sit for long periods of time.

Things to consider in dealing with people with ADD/ADHD:

First, remember the nature of the disorder is biological. There is a medical issue in existence and it is not a decision made by the person. Second, for students with these disorders it might be helpful to break assignments into smaller parts. For example, if there is an essay due, break it down to parts: 1. An outline due, 2. Rough draft due, 3. Revisions, 4. Final copy. This helps to limit the amount of time the students needs to think ahead. Next, encourage people with these disorders to form routines and use agendas or day planners. These organizational modifications will really help in the long run. Lastly, you can seek medication from a doctor if nothing else has worked. In my opinion, there are very effective medications that really modify the inattentive behaviors. Just keep in mind it takes a while to get the right dose and that once you start you should not stop during breaks or holidays. The medications need to be at certain levels in the system to be effective. If you remove the medication it will take weeks to work again. Many parents take their children off the medication over the summer, but in many cases this makes the first quarter of the school year a disappointment. It is 9 weeks of medication adjustment.
I hope this gives parents some insight about ADD/ADHD. I would be happy to answer any questions that I can. If you suspect that your child has ADD or ADHD see your doctor. They have very simple ways of determining if there is a problem.

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14 thoughts on “ADD and ADHD from a Teachers Perspective”

  1. Excellent article! As a teacher I found these pointers that Stacie recommends work great and additionally I often use hands-on activities reinforced with repetition to keep students focused and on task.

  2. Interesting article. Stacie, when you say simple ways of determing…does this mean testing in the office? I guess I am asking what are the simple ways?

    1. In my experience a doctor can use a “check off list” to determine if there is suspected ADD or ADHD. There can be follow-up testing done too, but the first step is a questionnaire. The doctor distributes it to parents, teachers, etc. and that can help determine if additional testing is needed. The questionnaire is based on behaviors that the child exhibits and the severity. Most chceklists have rating scales.

  3. Good tips for teachers. Our Music classes are “mainstreamed” and we teach ALL of the children. It is difficult for the students with “HD” particularly to concentrate, especially the little ones. A reward system seems to work for a few weeks but then, the thrill is gone and we have to reinvent ourselves for another few weeks.
    Thanks for an enlightening article. Many adults are now facing the fact that they, too, are ADD or ADHD which may or may not have been diagnosed as such when they were students and are now looking into some of the things you mentioned to help them focus.
    Thank you, Stacie.

      1. We alter the rewards system in several ways. The point system works for a while. They recieve so many points for participation and attention to what we are doing in class. They can “cash” them in for a treat, or something like MUSIC game days (which is what my Music dept. partner uses) or for a Music film, or sometimes tapes or CD’s depending on the level of the class. The students do try to cooperate and work for points or toward a goal. This works especially for the younger children. Even point keeping on the board helps get them into the swing of cooperation. We include ALL the students in buying into the system so that the ADD /ADHD students do not feel singled out. Mostly we use rewards for training students to cooperate, participate, appreciate and “celebrate” when they accomplish their feats.
        When we ask the other students in the class to help and contribute to the success of children who are having some difficulty coping in class it is very gratifying to see their helping one another and “pulling” for them and encouraging them to meet their goals. Most of the classmates are loving and want to help others. It is very touching and exciting, really!.

  4. Thank you so much for such a well written article on ADD/ADHD. I have worked with many children over the past fourteen years who have had ADD or ADHD. I certainly can relate.

    I have found that the quiet ADD sometimes can be hard at first to detect and sometimes will go unnoticed for a time. When the work assignment aren’t turned and you see an increasing pattern of this going on, it is time to fill out a questionnaire to see if the child is ADD. These children sometimes have a hard time understanding what is happening with them and get quite upset. Often a parent will say they do not have good self esteem. The student needs to know that they are not in this by themselves and that there are other students who have had similar problems. With the help of a professional doctor, parent support, and teacher all lending a hand the situation can be improved upon.

    Like the article said organization seems to be a key to guiding these children in the right direction. Remember again it takes parent and teacher working hand in hand. I know one parent who was so good at organization for her child that the child was able to function on his own with out any crutches from the educational system. The parent also watched her child’s diet making sure it was nutritional, yet allowing him ordinary snacky foods once in awhile. We wish all children could miraculously step away from the ADD/ADHD label. Remember he has learned how to cope. Many of us may not have ADD or ADHD, but we have had to use coping mechanisms to get through life.

    As a teacher dealing with ADD/ADHD in the classroom, I have found a few things to be helpful. I have found that having the child do errands for you can help relieve some of their high energy. I have given them stress balls. (Make sure you tell your other students what its for so no one will be upset at not having one.) Other teachers have placed velcro on the inside of their desk so they can run their fingers back and forth over it. Most of my ADHD students have enjoyed hands on activities or reports where they can do a demonstration.

    I have also found many of the ADD/ADHD students have wonderful stories to tell but seem to get lost when they have to write their stories, because they are unable to focus on the topic at hand. When I have scribed for them the stories seem to bubble out. Those who can illustrate love to write and those that don’t I have had them incorporate photos.

    The ADD/ADHD students and all the other students need to have successes. With parent and teacher working together the steps to success can be achieved.

    1. your sharing such insightful thoughts with all of us.

      Do you think specific reading materials have any affect. For instance “The Chronicles of Narnia”, by C.S. Lewis (my favorite) and other like material?

      1. Good literature often role models what we want students or readers to learn. If the book is of high interest to a student they will read and gain insight into real life situations. If the student is unable to read the book on their own, the teacher/parent could read the book to the student or take turns reading the book.

        During reading, a teacher will have the student make life connections as they read. A parent could read and do the same thing with their child. At the end of the reading the teacher/parent could have the child come up with what I call a “light bulb question”. This question is a debatable question thus lending itself to a number of different responses.

  5. As a special education teacher, I have found that students with ADD/ADHD are confused with students that have behavior problems. If this occurs, it might be beneficial to involve more professionals, for example, the school counselor, principal, family physician, etc. Documentation of the student’s behavior may be beneficial to determine if there are certain situations that precipitate inappropriate behavior or task performance.

    As a member of the School Level Building Committee, I have often heard our school’s speech therapist state that processing difficulties can be mistaken for ADD/ADHD. A screening can be done by the speech therapist to determine if there is a processing problem. The speech therapist can initiate therapy to address this problem.

    Through the years, I have had numerous students develop excellent compensation skills which enabled them to become successful students. These students usually exit special education programs and function successfully on their own.

      1. Often students will use;
        scratch paper
        peer tutoring- having someone else help check work or bookbag to make sure the students has correct books
        using bookmarkers while reading
        folding paper so just one problem or sentence is visible at one time
        fold sheet of paper length ways put vocabulary word on one side and definition on the other side
        some student figure out, on their own, when is the best time for them to do homework, study, etc.
        some students realize they must be in a quiet place, different desk or may be even standing up to do assignments
        students will come in at recess to complete unfinished assignments
        if possible, all students seem to enjoy writing using computer or some type of work processor
        always having a friend to call at night if homework or a book is forgotten
        Just a few things I have noticed students doing through the years!!!

      2. Kathy, you mention that the student’s environment or surroundings (such as a quiet place etc) can impact their performance. As a horticulture teacher and former horticultural therapist, I have seen this to be true also. Gardening and related plant activities change behaviors,emotions and attitudes.
        The National Gardening Association posted research documentaion on their website in 2005 saying:
        “Children with ADD can concentrate better when they spend time in natural, green settings. The 10% of children with ADHD who do not respond to medication showed significantly reduced symptoms after taking part in green outdoor activities (Taylor et al., 2001).”
        My students with ADD and ADHD frequently take a ‘green break’ in a ‘green space’ either working with plants in the greenhouse or outdoors and can then return successfully to their reading and written assignments with a fresh and renewed focus.
        Thanks for your compensation skills ideas. I was not familiar with that term but am glad to understand it now. Your information and insights have been very helpful. Thanks!

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