Classroom Strategies That Work for ADD

Classroom Strategies That Work for ADD
Children with Attention Deficit Disorder are often given medication to help with focus and behavior in the classroom. Researchers concluded that non-pharmaceutical interventions in a school setting can help kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder be supported in the classroom. These researchers, who were led by the University of Exeter Medical School, looked at 54 studies. These included 15 non-randomized studies and 39 randomized studies that looked at supportive strategies for improving outcomes in the classroom. This was research conducted from 1980-2013.

Here are some of the strategies that they looked at:
* consistent and regular feedback
* daily report cards filled in by teachers and parents
* study skills training
* organizational skills training.

As far as I'm concerned, their findings were disappointing. They concluded that there were too many variables in implementation, individual attitudes, and the ways that results were measured to objectively decide which strategies work best. More research needs to be completed. Researchers want to find out "more rigorous evaluation, with a focus on what works, for whom and in which contexts."

As a seasoned special education teacher, I do know that context plays an important role in working effectively with children who have Attention Deficit Disorder. The first thing that an educational professional needs to do is to build a relationship with the student. Talk to the student. Discover his likes and dislikes. Find out the ways that he learns best. Provide the material in ways that he can easily access it.

Praise the student for effort. Don't expect perfection immediately. Reward his effort with reinforcers that the student wants. It is not a reward if the student does not want it. Give the student adequate opportunities to practice the skills. Develop natural ways for the student to display what he has learned. One example of this would be to teach other students how to do the skill. Don't yell or harangue the student. Never assume that he could do the skill if you have never seen him do it. Start with something that is slightly easier than what the student can do, and move him along through more difficult work. Success breeds a feeling of accomplishment.

Don't punish the student for mistakes. Mistakes are, after all, just learning tools. Celebrate mistakes, because this means that the student is doing hard work. Just make sure that they correct their mistakes. Give credit for the corrections, even if it takes multiple times to get it right. I would give 100% for getting a problem correct on the first trial, 75% if they corrected a mistake the first time, and 50% if the correction took more than one try. They would get that half credit, even if it took 10 tries to get the problem right. This teaches persistence to task. It lets them know that they can succeed, even if the effort is a strain for them. Make it difficult for the student to fail.

These techniques worked well for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder and kids without ADD. They also worked for kids who were not in special education and kids who were on the autism spectrum. In fact, I found only a handful or kids over a 20 year period who did not benefit from these strategies.

Sometimes, I think that we need less studying about a problem and more working on it. Many kids who have behavioral problems in the classroom do so because they have been so unsuccessful for so many years. Help them find their success, and they have better behavior.

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