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There is a built-in contradiction in North American education that particularly affects students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): the tendency to teach everyone as if their brains all worked the same way, when the reality is that they do not. The social crisis of the growing number of children whose educational needs the present school system simply does not meet is translated into a medical problem. Even worse is when the ADHD child is reduced to a problem of discipline and behavior control. (Taylor, 1990)
The goal is to teach children to take responsibility for their own learning in a positive way. In attempting to do so, the teachers have no easy task. With hyperactive children, teachers face almost ceaseless disruption of the classroom order. They are up against the ADHD child's difficulties, low self-esteem, and social anxieties. They may also be up against their own lack of preparedness.
In our schools today there is too much imposed structure and discipline, not enough freedom for individuality and self-expression. The lesson plans are based on what the teacher has been told to teach, not necessarily on who the students are and what, at any stage of their lives, they need to learn. Some teaching methods do not take into account the emotional and cognitive realities of the student. Many children are left out of the loop: the ADHD child is almost guaranteed to be.
For most students with ADHD, the regular classroom is very busy and distracting because of all the posters, different colors, all the other students, and just the way the class is set up. Children with ADHD learn best when they don't have any distractions. That is why teachers must make some exceptions to the rules when they have a child with ADHD or any learning disability children in their classroom. When teachers and other staff in a school do not take the time to help these kids adapt in their classrooms, they are setting the children up for disappointment in their schooling, which in turn can affect their lives outside of school. It puts these children at risk for being picked on and bullied at school, not really caring about their schoolwork and grades, which in the long run may increase their chances of dropping out. There are many things they, as teachers, can do to make that child feel welcome and to succeed in the classroom as well as in life.
For some children, the regular classroom will not be as good a choice as a specialized placement in a smaller, more structured setting where the teacher is especially knowledgeable about teaching strategies for children with ADHD and learning disabilities. For any number of reasons, the child may not meet the criteria for a full-time specialized class placement even though he needs specialized help. Although the student may qualify for resource help several hours a day, that may not be sufficient to overcome his problems. At this point, as a parent and/or teacher, you want to look for other opportunities for tutorial help after school or a full-time private special education alternative.
As a teacher, you must understand the student in your class that has ADHD and most importantly understand what exactly ADHD is and how you can help the child grow and mature developmentally. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, there are three subtypes: ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type; ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type; ADHD, Combined Type. The diagnostic criteria for each type are:
Diagnostic Criteria for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:
a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
b) often has difficulties sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
f) often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
g) often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools)
h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
i) is often forgetful in daily activities
(2) six or more of the following symptoms or hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least six mon
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