Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD or ADD, is a disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate difficulties with impulsivity, attention, organization, and distractibility. Hyperactivity may or may not be present. Symptoms are present before age 7 and are persistent over the years. ADHD/ADD is diagnosed by a physician or psychologist through careful review of background/history, observations of the student, and behavior reports from parents, teachers, or others who know the student well.
Research has shown that the most successful treatments for ADHD/ADD consist of both medication and behavioral techniques. Medications which included Ritalin, Dexedrine, Cylert and Concerta help the child focus and benefit from instructional and behavioral supports. However, medication alone is often not sufficient aid for the child with ADHD/ADD. Classroom environmental and instructional changes such as preferential seating, shortening of assignments, peer tutoring, and rule reminders, in combination with powerful external reinforcement such as token economies and behavior charts and contracts should also be implemented.
There are a number of interventions which parents can use in the home to assist children with ADHD/ ADD. Children with ADHD/ADD typically respond best to simple routines like a regularly scheduled time for completing homework. Work should be completed in a clean area away from other distracting stimuli (e.g., television, other children playing). Parents are encouraged to break the child’s assignments into 10-15 minute chunks with short breaks between. Direction should be given one or two steps at a time, and the child should re-state the directions before beginning. If possible, check the child’s work after he/she has completed the first few problems/questions to prevent the child from practicing errors. As children with ADHD/ADD often have difficulty with organization, it is recommended that parents help their child organize homework, notebooks, and backpacks on a daily basis if necessary. Finally, frequent and immediate reinforcement is especially important when working with a child with ADHD/ADD.
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