Why do teachers need to know about ADHD? How well do you want your child to do in school this year? Teachers need to know what ADHD is, what the different types are, its symptoms, the medications available, what non-medication interventions are available, how students with ADHD act and learn, what they can do to facilitate better learning, along with coordinating with parents and specialists to make the school year as productive as possible for a student with ADHD.
What is ADHD, and What are the Causes and Symptoms?
At the beginning of each school year, parents all over the country introduce their children to their new teachers. Some of these conscientious parents take the time, while introducing little Sarah or Josh to the teacher, to explain that their child has been diagnosed with ADHD. Why should teachers know about their students ADHD?
Because ADHD affects areas of the brain and this impacts how Sarah, Josh, and other children behave at their desks, pay attention (or not), and learn their lessons (or not). If the teacher doesn’t know that Josh has ADHD and she catches him gazing out the window as she is teaching three-digit addition or about prepositional phrases, she is going to become impatient with him, thinking he doesn’t like school and doesn’t care to learn. If the teacher has to stop Sarah from banging her desk with her foot 10 times in one morning because Sarah can’t stop fidgeting, she is going to send a note home to Sarah’s parents asking why Sarah can’t sit still.
If Josh’s and Sarah’s parents had taken the time and trouble to say, “my child suffers from ADHD and this is how it impacts him/her”, the teacher would have been a little better armed, knowing her students have a difficult time paying attention or sitting still.
The teacher needs to know that her students with ADHD and may have trouble focusing on tasks, sitting still, and may have a hard time thinking before speaking. She needs to know that ADHD can cause learning problems for her students, even if they have no other learning disorders, according to Health.com.
Types of ADHD
ADHD presents in three basic types. Teachers need to know these are the “inattentive,” “hyperactive-impulsive,” and “combined” types.
In the inattentive type, the student doesn’t seem to listen when being spoken to, doesn’t pay very close attention to the teacher or to details in class work, and makes “careless” mistakes. He may also fail to complete homework assignments and when he does, he may frequently fail to hand these assignments in. He may dislike doing work that requires sustained mental efforts (homework and classwork), loses papers, school supplies, and books and may have a hard time with organizational skills. The teacher also needs to know that the student with inattentive ADHD is afflicted with “ . . . Oooh, look, a shiny . . .,” according to Keep Kids Healthy.
Types of ADHD, cont.
The teacher also has to know that her students with hyperactive ADHD will fidget and squirm incessantly. These students frequently get up from their desks, needing motor activity, and go to the pencil sharpener repeatedly during the day; they run around the classroom, talk excessively, interrupt others, and seems to be powered by an “internal motor.”
Teachers with ADHD students may also have students diagnosed with an ADHD combined type. These students have at least six symptoms of the inattentive type and at least six symptoms of the hyperactive-impulsive type, according to Kids Health. This diagnosis may complicate the teacher’s work with these students.
Treatments and Medications
Teachers who have ADHD students in their classrooms need to know what treatments and medications their students are receiving. The medications include stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), Adderall, and Concerta.
These medications help the students control their activity level, impulsivity, and improve their attention spans. While these prescription medications help control the symptoms, they are not the complete answer; again according to Kids Health.
Children with ADHD benefit from non-medication therapeutic interventions, including behavior modification, cognitive behavioral therapy, and individual therapy. Again, why do teachers need to know about ADHD? Because these special students may receive special education services, meaning the special education department develops an Individualized Education Plan for the child.
This involves the teacher, who has to follow each intervention set up in the IEP. She may be required to assist in the classroom with the behavior modification, rewarding her students, breaking instructions down into simpler steps, and imposing immediate consequences.
How to Get the Most out of School
Teachers with ADHD students should team up with the students’ parents, discussing how to help the child succeed in class. The parents can tell Josh’s or Sarah’s parents what has worked for their child at home, as well as what has not worked. The teacher can let them know when Josh or Sarah has a difficult day or a particularly good day.
Teachers are busy all day long, working with students and preparing upcoming lessons, but if they take a little time to educate themselves about what ADHD is and how it affects their students, they can help their students learn more effectively.
Keep Kids Healthy: Attention Deficit Disorder
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