ADHD and the classroom

In today's diverse classrooms, educators encounter students with a wide range of learning needs. One such group is learners with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

ADHD and the classroom
Image credit: Tara Winstead

In today's diverse classrooms, educators encounter students with a wide range of learning needs. One such group is learners with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In this article, we will explore the concept of ADHD, discuss strategies for identifying ADHD using the ADHD Rating Scale, examine the strengths and weaknesses of learners with ADHD, and provide practical guidance for educators in dealing with ADHD in the classroom.

💡 Lessons learnt: The heart of being an educator is the ability to adapt to different learning needs.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that significantly impact an individual's daily functioning and academic performance. It affects both children and adults, and its prevalence is estimated to be around 5-10% of the population. Learners with ADHD may struggle with sustaining attention, organizing tasks, following instructions, and managing impulsivity, which can pose challenges in academic settings.

While learners with ADHD face unique difficulties, they also possess valuable strengths that, when harnessed, can contribute to their success. Some common strengths observed in ADHD learners include creativity, high energy levels, and the ability to think outside the box.

Identifying ADHD - The ADHD Rating Scale

One commonly used tool is the ADHD Rating Scale, which helps assess the presence and severity of ADHD symptoms. This scale incorporates information from multiple sources, including teachers, parents, and self-reporting by the student. Some commonly used ADHD testing scales specifically designed for children:

  1. ADHD Rating Scale-5 (ADHD-RS-5): This scale assesses ADHD symptoms in children and adolescents aged 5 to 17. It provides separate measures for inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity and can be completed by parents, teachers, or clinicians.
  2. Conners' Rating Scales: The Conners' scales offer different versions suitable for various age groups, including the Conners' Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scales (CBRS) for ages 6 to 18, the Conners' Early Childhood (EC) for ages 2 to 6, and the Conners' Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) for ages 4 to 8.
  3. Vanderbilt Rating Scales: The Vanderbilt Assessment Scales include parent and teacher rating forms designed for children aged 6 to 12 years. They assess ADHD symptoms, as well as other behavioural and emotional problems.
  4. SNAP-IV Rating Scale: The Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham Rating Scale (SNAP-IV) is suitable for children aged 6 to 18 years. It evaluates ADHD symptoms and oppositional defiant disorder and can be completed by parents or teachers.
  5. Behaviour Assessment System for Children (BASC-3): The BASC-3 offers a range of scales for different age groups, including the Parent Rating Scales (PRS) and Teacher Rating Scales (TRS) for children aged 2 to 21 years. These scales assess various aspects of behaviour, including ADHD symptoms.

Dealing with ADHD in the Classroom

To create an inclusive and supportive classroom environment for learners with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), educators can implement evidence-based strategies that have shown positive outcomes. Drawing from various research studies, this section explores practical approaches for managing ADHD in the classroom.

  1. Establishing structure and routines: "Creating a structured and predictable learning environment can be especially helpful for students with ADHD" (CDC, 2021). By providing clear expectations, consistent routines, and visual schedules, teachers can help students with ADHD better manage their time, stay organized, and reduce distractions.
  2. Providing individualized support: Teachers are entreated to work with students with ADHD to identify strategies that promote their success. This may include providing preferential seating, using assistive technology, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and offering frequent check-ins and feedback.
  3. Incorporating active learning strategies: "Incorporating active learning strategies can enhance engagement and attention among students with ADHD" (Wolraich et al., 2019). Incorporating hands-on activities, interactive lessons, and movement breaks, can help students with ADHD stay engaged and focused during class.
  4. Implementing behaviour management techniques: "Teachers can use behaviour management techniques to reinforce positive behaviours and provide consequences for inappropriate behaviours" (NIMH, 2020). Strategies such as rewards systems, token economies, and behaviour contracts can help promote self-regulation and reduce disruptive behaviours.
  5. Collaborating with parents and support professionals: "Teachers should maintain regular communication with parents and collaborate with support professionals to ensure consistent strategies and support" (Wolraich et al., 2019). By involving parents, school counsellors, and other support professionals, teachers can gain valuable insights, share information, and coordinate efforts to meet the unique needs of students with ADHD.



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