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ADHD at School

A pupil diagnosed with ADHD  and any other pupil who is seriously inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive though without a diagnosis, will find it difficult to:

  • Concentrate on anything that is not really interesting to him/her
  • Keep still, or stay in one place for long
  • Remember what task to be doing, start on time and complete in time
  • Speak and act appropriately
  • Be quiet and not to call out answers
  • Cope with change, stress, disappointment or delay.

Pupils with ADHD may, therefore, fall behind academically and socially.

They may also have other learning problems. 

The challenge of Understanding ADHD

for teachers and other school staff

ADHD varies from child to child and may even seem to vary from day to day in the same child. It can be difficult to distinguish won’t behaviour from can’t behaviour, but it is best to keep a disability perspective towards the child.

We’re not used to thinking of lack of self-control (needed for concentration, learning and good behaviour) as a disability, but for ADHD children it has not developed naturally, and maybe a lifelong difficulty. This does not mean they cannot concentrate on things they find absorbing such as computer games, whose high-intensity stimulation cuts through the ‘fog’ and over-rides other distractions.

Managing ADHD in school

1. Praise is essential. Look for opportunities, however small. Catch them being good.

2. Describe and comment on the behaviour you WANT - not the behaviour you don’t want.

3. Give strong incentives for desired behaviour. Rewards work better than punishment.

4. Give short achievable targets. Give frequent and immediate positive feedback.

5. As far as possible ignore unwanted behaviour if not disruptive. Give positive feedback if they return to task.

6. Alternate sitting-down activities with more physical ones.

Give frequent opportunities to get up and move around. Include the whole class in short exercises or stretches.

7. Allow fidgeting or standing up, if this helps the child to persevere with a task. Allow space for movement.

8. Give directions singly and repeat calmly as necessary.

Get child’s attention first, with eye contact. Get child to repeat out loud, what he/she is going to do. Use visual reinforcement.

9. When whole class teaching, seat close to you or try different places to see which works best, e.g. next to sensible children, or at the back where others are not distracted and the child has room to fidget. Use visuals and movement to keep attention.

10. Plan ahead for difficult situations.

Have alternative activity ready. Allow a time-out period in a quiet corner. Accept a shorter concentration time.

11. Try to give the ADHD child some responsibility in the classroom. When possible let them help another child.

12. Give warning of change-over times coming up.

Be sure the child has heard and understood. State the behaviour expected during change-over, in simple clear language.

13. Do not value neatness over content and effort.

The handwriting of ADHD children is frequently slow and poor. Remember that the effort involved for ADHD children is far greater than their output would lead us to believe. Allow other methods of recording.

14. Remember to report to parents and other staff the child's

positive incidents and achievements.

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