ERIC Identifier: ED313868
Publication Date: 1989-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and
Gifted Children Reston VA.
Teaching Children with Attention Deficit Disorder. ERIC Digest
Attention deficit disorder is a syndrome characterized by serious and
persistent difficulties in the following three specific areas:
1. Attention span.
2. Impulse control.
3. Hyperactivity (sometimes).
ADD is a chronic disorder that can begin in infancy and extend through
adulthood, having negative effects on a child's life at home, school, and within
the community. It is conservatively estimated that 3 to 5% of our school-age
population is affected by
The condition previously fell under the headings, "learning disabled," "brain damaged," "hyperkinetic," or "hyperactive." The term
attention deficit disorder was introduced to describe the characteristics of
these children more clearly.
There are two types of attention deficit disorder, both of which are
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)
to the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(3rd ed., rev.) (American Psychiatric Association, 1987), to be diagnosed as
having ADHD a child must display, for 6 months or more, at least eight of the
following characteristics prior to the age of 7:
1. Fidgets, squirms or seems restless.
2. Has difficulty remaining seated.
3. Is easily distracted.
4. Has difficulty awaiting turn.
5. Blurts out answers.
6. Has difficulty following instructions.
7. Has difficulty sustaining attention.
8. Shifts from one uncompleted task to another.
9. Has difficulty playing quietly.
10. Talks excessively.
11. Interrupts or intrudes on others.
12. Does not seem to listen.
13. Often loses things necessary for tasks.
14. Frequently engages in dangerous actions.
UNDIFFERENTIATED ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
In this form of
ADD the primary and most significant characteristic is inattentiveness;
hyperactivity is not present. Nevertheless, these children still manifest
problems with organization and distractibility, and they may be seen as quiet or
passive in nature. It is speculated that undifferentiated ADD is currently
underdiagnosed, since these children tend to be overlooked more easily in the
classroom. Thus, children with undifferentiated ADD may be at a higher risk for
academic failure than those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
ESTABLISHING THE PROPER LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
with ADD near the teacher's desk, but include them as part of the regular class
Place these students up front with their backs to the rest of the class to
keep other students out of view.
Surround students with ADD with good role models, preferably students whom
they view as significant others. Encourage peer tutoring and
Avoid distracting stimuli. Try not to place students with ADD near air
conditioners, high traffic areas, heaters, or doors or windows.
Children with ADD do not handle change well, so avoid transitions, physical
relocation (monitor them closely on field trips), changes in schedule, and
Be creative! Produce a stimuli-reduced study area. Let all students have
access to this area so the student with ADD will not feel different.
Encourage parents to set up appropriate study space at home, with set times
and routines established for study, parental review of completed homework, and
periodic notebook and/or book bag organization.
GIVING INSTRUCTIONS TO STUDENTS WITH ADD
contact during verbal instruction.
Make directions clear and concise. Be consistent with daily instructions.
Simplify complex directions. Avoid multiple commands.
Make sure students comprehend the instructions before beginning the task.
Repeat instructions in a calm, positive manner, if needed.
Help the students feel comfortable with seeking assistance (most children
with ADD will not ask for help).
Gradually reduce the amount of assistance, but keep in mind that these
children will need more help for a longer period of time than the average child.
Require a daily assignment notebook if necessary:
(1) Make sure each student correctly writes down all assignments each day. If
a student is not capable of this, the teacher should help him or her.
(2) Sign the notebook daily to signify completion of homework assignments.
(Parents should also sign.)
(3) Use the notebook for daily communication with parents.
Give out only one task at a time.
Monitor frequently. Maintain a supportive attitude.
Modify assignments as needed. Consult with special education personnel to
determine specific strengths and weaknesses of each student. Develop an
individualized education program.
Make sure you are testing knowledge and not attention span.
Give extra time for certain tasks. Students with ADD may work slowly. Do not
penalize them for needed extra time.
Keep in mind that children with ADD are easily frustrated. Stress, pressure,
and fatigue can break down their self-control and lead to poor behavior.
MODIFYING BEHAVIOR AND ENHANCING SELF-ESTEEM
Supervision and Discipline:
Remain calm, state the infraction of the rule, and avoid debating or arguing
with the student.
Have preestablished consequences for misbehavior.
Administer consequences immediately, and monitor proper behavior frequently.
Enforce classroom rules consistently.
Make sure the discipline fits the "crime," without harshness.
Avoid ridicule and criticism. Remember, children with ADD have difficulty
staying in control.
Avoid publicly reminding students on medication to "take their medicine."
Reward more than you punish, in order to build self-esteem.
Praise immediately any and all good behavior and performance.
Change rewards if they are not effective in motivating behavioral change.
Find ways to encourage the child.
Teach the child to reward himself or herself. Encourage positive self-talk
(e.g., "You did very well remaining in your seat today. How do you feel about
that?"). This encourages the child to think positively about himself or herself.
OTHER EDUCATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS
psychological, and/or neurological testing to determine learning style and
cognitive ability and to rule out any learning disabilities (common in about 30%
of students with ADD).
A private tutor and/or peer tutoring at school.
A class that has a low student-teacher ratio.
Social skills training and organizational skills training.
Training in cognitive restructuring (positive "self-talk," e.g., "I did that
Use of a word processor or computer for schoolwork.
Individualized activities that are mildly competitive or noncompetitive such
as bowling, walking, swimming, jogging, biking, karate. (Note: Children with ADD
may do less well than their peers in team sports.)
Involvement in social activities such as scouting, church groups, or other
youth organizations that help develop social skills and self-esteem.
Allowing children with ADD to play with younger children if that is where
they fit in. Many children with ADD have more in common with younger children
than with their age-peers. They can still develop valuable social skills from
interaction with younger children.
American Psychiatric Association. (1987).
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed., rev.)
(DSM-III-R). Washington, DC: APA.
Barkley, R. (1981). Hyperactive children. New York: Guilford.
Canter, L., & Canter, M. (1982). Assertive discipline for parents. Santa
Monica, CA: Canter & Associates.
Friedman, R. (1987). Attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. Danville,
IL: Interstate Printers and Publishers.
O'Brien, M. (1986). Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity: A review.
Journal of Special Education, 20(3), 281-297.
Parker, H. (1988). The ADD hyperactivity workbook for parents, teachers, and
kids. Plantation, FL: Impact Publications.
Phelan, T. ADD-hyperactivity. Carol Stream, IL: Author.
Silver, L. (1984). The misunderstood child. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wender, P. (1987). The hyperactive child, adolescent and adult. New York:
Oxford University Press.
For more information on ADD, write to:
Children with Attention Deficit Disorder
1859 North Pine Island Road
Plantation, FL 33322
Contact your local school psychologist, examiner, or personnel in charge of
assessment and diagnosis in your school district for specific information and