Diversity is not just limited to ethnicities and geographies. Diversity also extends to our minds that weave their own unique patterns of experiences and thoughts. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) struggle with creating these simple patterns.
ADHD’s impact on everyday life may be broad and varied. However, in the context of education, the neurodevelopmental disorder is particularly significant. Through this blog, we will help you understand the characteristics of ADHD students in the classroom, effects of ADHD on learning, and ADHD behavioral problems at school. Additionally, we will also help you formulate strategies to support your child or student with ADHD. So, if you are a parent, teacher or an educator, this blog will be particularly useful for you.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is one of the most common childhood developmental conditions. It affects a child’s ability to control their spontaneous responses. It can also result in behaviors such as inattentiveness, inability to follow instructions, a dislike for routine, and a tendency to blurt out remarks.
Children with ADHD may also display hyperactive behavior. This can appear like –
- Difficulty in sitting still
- Impulsively interrupting others
- Constantly fidgeting
Symptoms of ADHD in children
A few instances of inattentiveness do not necessarily indicate ADHD. But, if your child or student consistently displays any or a combination of the below symptoms, then we advise consulting a developmental paediatrician as soon as possible. Generally, children with ADHD are likely to appear tuned out or bored when expected to follow a routine or complete tasks that they do not like. Typical ADHD symptoms you need to watch for are:
- Appearing demotivated and ‘spaced out’
- Trouble paying attention to anyone task for too long (leaving a puzzle/book/painting midway)
- Jumping from one activity to another or skipping steps in longer procedures
- Difficulty completing projects, especially ones that they perceive as boring (similar to symptom no. 2)
- Trouble concentrating in a noisy environment; can get easily distracted
- Difficulty following instructions or remembering things like chores
- Difficulty organising personal space and planning ahead for things like homework
- Tendency to fidget when expected to stay still
- Tendency to misplace personal items
- Hyperactivity, such as moving around, fidgeting constantly, or talking too much
Characteristics of ADHD students in the classroom
In the above segment, we touched upon the most common symptoms of ADHD in children. Here, let’s dive a little deeper and understand how the disorder manifests in the classroom.
Inattention in ADHD students may appear like:
- Inability to sustain attention and stay focused on tasks, be it completing assignments or listening to the teacher
- Poor organisation skills and lack of preparedness; some students may forget to bring their books or complete their assignments
- Inability to follow instructions, especially multi-step instructions
Hyperactivity-Impulsivity in ADHD students may appear like:
- Excessive talking
- Blurting out answers or making impulsive decisions
- Interrupting the teacher or other students
Note to teachers: Careless mistakes is a phrase teachers often use when their students make errors in their schoolwork. But sometimes, what may be the obvious answer to us, may not be the same for a student with ADHD. So, if you find these careless or “silly” mistakes are recurring, please bring it to the attention of the child’s parents and guide them to take the right decision by their child.
ADHD behavior problems at school
ADHD related behavior problems can present challenges for both teachers and students with ADHD. Such behaviors can impact the child’s social interactions, academic performance, and general well-being. In addition to the characteristics of ADHD students in the classroom, below are some more the school authorities should watch for:
- Inability to remain organised
- Inability to remain seated for long periods of time
- Messy desks
- Lost assignments
- Failure to complete tasks
Other challenges may be categorized under:
- Inability to form and maintain friendships
Many students with ADHD are rejected by their peers for their behavioral patterns. This lowers their self-esteem and leads to social isolation and bullying.
- Homework difficulties
- Lower grades
Teachers become frustrated with the disruptive behaviors of students with ADHD. This often leads to disciplinary actions which can be counter-intuitive.
- Low self-esteem
It is important to note here if ADHD is left unaddressed, it can lead to long-term academic challenges, and also increases the risk of co-occurring disorders, such as depression and other mental health challenges.
Strategies for supporting students with ADHD
In India, the Right to Education Act and Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act protect the interest of children with developmental disorders such as ADHD. Upholding India’s vision of inclusive education, the Acts ensure children with ADHD also have access to mainstream education by promoting the integration of these children into regular classrooms and schools.
Equal and non-discriminatory opportunities in education is the constitutional right of every child.
But what can the schools do at their level? Plenty!
While Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) have not been properly standardised in India, our schools have provisions for individualised support and educational accommodations, such as extended time for assignments, preferential seating, etc.
Most modern classrooms and schools are equipped with the following:
- Classroom Modifications: Visual schedules, clear and simple instructions, periodic breaks, and similar classroom strategies are implemented to help ADHD students.
- Parent-Teacher Collaboration: Open and effective communication between parents and teachers help create a supportive environment. Parents are also given regular updates of their child’s progress and challenges they are facing, to help them devise suitable intervention strategies with teachers and therapists.
- Behavioral Therapy: Many schools have behavioral therapists and psychologists who devise coping strategies and help children develop self-regulation skills.
Things teachers can do to help children with ADHD
As a teacher, it is important to recognise the characteristics of ADHD in students, understand why they behave in a particular manner, and ensure the school has the necessary resources to offer essential support to the child. Additionally, the teacher should also:
- Remain calm
- Always be empathetic
- Keep themselves updated
- Manage their expectations
- Offer frequent breaks
- Do not overload or overstimulate the child
- Encourage peer support and positive relationships
- Appreciate positive behavior
- Reduce distractions (loud noises, bright lights, too many materials, etc.)
Therapy for ADHD at Plexus
At Plexus, our team of highly-skilled therapists offer a customised therapy program that is a combination of:
- Occupational Therapy: This approach works to improve coping mechanisms, improves time management and organisational skills, and enables a child to lead a full life.
- Behaviour Therapy – This is predominantly behaviour management, which teaches good behaviour and manners through rewards for completion and progress.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This approach teaches children how to rethink their attitude to a situation and thus modify their behaviour.
- Parent Training Programmes – These are to educate parents with specific ways to talk to and play with children so as to encourage positive behaviour in them.
- Social Skills Training – This approach uses role-play to teach children how to behave in social settings.
- Psychoeducation – This involves both children and their parents talking about ADHD so as to properly come to terms with it.
How do students with ADHD learn best?
Simple instructions, with a few visual aids such as props and charts help children with ADHD in the classroom. It is recommended to wait until the child has completed one activity/task before assigning another one to them.
What are the problems with ADHD in classrooms?
Most common ADHD problems in the classroom are inattention and hyperactivity-impuslivity.
Can a child with ADHD go to a normal school in India?
Yes, the Right to Education Act and Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act mandate that no child can be denied admission to a school, college, or any other institution of education on account of their disability. A child with ADHD has the constitutional right to go to a regular school in India.
What kind of school is best for a child with ADHD?
Schools that have a more hands-on-approach to learning and follow a remedial system are best suited for children with ADHD.
How do students with ADHD act in the classroom?
Being restless and fidgety, interrupting the teacher, keeping a messy desk, not completing assignments or activities, are some examples of students with ADHD behaving in the classroom.
What is behaviour therapy for ADHD?
Behavior therapy or behavioral therapy for ADHD helps the child improve their self-control, instills self-esteem, and encourages postivie behaviors through a rewards system.
What teaching style is best for ADHD?
If you are a teacher, then the best way to support your student with ADHD is by not overloading them with activities, ensuring less distractions, offering periodic breaks, and also managing your own expectations. Your student may not be able to sit in their seat for the entire class. And that is OK. You can offer them regular free play activities by even keeping a box of study and non-study materials in the classroom.