Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a neurobiological disorder that causes children to have difficulty focusing in school. Children with ADHD may have short attention spans, become easily distracted, have trouble following directions, frequently forget things and behave impulsively. Symptoms are often more noticeable at school than at home, simply because children are usually asked to sit still and be quiet for long periods of time at school.
Strategies for Managing ADHD
Simple things you can do with your child to make managing ADHD easier include:
- Helping him organize his school work
- Giving him folders of different colors for each class
- Helping him schedule his time; for instance, planning a break after school before beginning homework and planning breaks during homework sessions if he has a lot of homework
- Helping him break down large assignments or projects into manageable parts
- Providing a quiet study area free from distractions
- Providing a white noise machine, fan or other source of background noise in the study area if your child finds that helpful
- Providing a stress ball for your child to squeeze while working to decrease other fidgeting and help him focus
Individual Education Plans
If students with ADHD need special help, they can receive special education services from their schools. All special education students must have individual education plans. An individual education plan (IEP) identifies specific educational goals for each student and also lists the special accommodations a school is to provide for each student. An IEP should be developed with input from you, your child, your child’s teachers, other relevant school stuff such as a school psychologist and/or guidance counselor, and any other professionals working with your child, such as a medical doctor, psychologist or other counselor, and/or a tutor.
If your child has an IEP, it should include accommodations that will help him succeed in school. Some accommodations that might help students with ADHD include:
- Providing a quiet area for taking tests, free from distractions
- Giving shorter tests and/or homework assignments
- Giving extra breaks during the school day
- Providing a second set of textbooks to be kept at home so students don’t have to remember to bring home the books they need for their homework
- Allowing students to sit on exercise balls during class, instead of sitting in chairs
- Allowing students to wear headphones and listen to white noise, soft classical music or nature sounds while doing quiet work in class
Medication is often prescribed for children with ADHD and in some cases, it can help a lot. Children often only take medication when they are going to school, not on weekends or during vacations, because they usually don’t need to sit still, be quiet and focus for long periods of time at home. Stimulants are commonly used to treat ADHD. That might sound odd, but they tend to have the opposite effect in people with ADHD. Instead of revving them up, stimulants slow them down a bit. Between 70 and 80 percent of children with ADHD respond well to stimulants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other non-stimulant medications may also be prescribed.
Work closely with your child’s doctor if you want to try medications for ADHD. They don’t work well for everyone and they can have undesirable side effects. Some children are able to do all right in school without medication.
Psych Central. 8 Ways to Help Kids with ADHD Succeed in School.
National Center for Learning Disabilities. What Is an IEP? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. My Child Has Been Diagnosed with ADHD – Now What?
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