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Project Three

Randi Swann
P254, Educational Psychology
Kathleen Burger, Instructor
Project 3- Video Project

There is a serious disorder rampant among children in classrooms in the United States and abroad. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, and about 2 million American children. Two to three times more boys than girls are affected. On the average, at least one child in every classroom in the United States needs help for the disorder. It often continues into adolescence and adulthood, and is the cause of much emotional pain in many adults. The disorder is called ADHD.

ADHD is not a new problem for children. It has existed under various names throughout history and has been recognized as a disorder since the early 1900s. Common names are now Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People with ADHD have an inability to focus, pay attention, and organize as well as others their same age.

The cause is possibly an insufficiency of chemicals called neurotransmitters which carry messages between brain cells. If brain cells cannot communicate effectively, the child cannot organize and focus intellectual resources. Some factors linked with ADHD are heredity, perinatal factors such as mother's age, extended pregnancy, toxemia, poor maternal health, fetal distress, congenital problems, prenatal exposure to smoking, alcohol, and other drugs.

Sugar, food additives and other dietary elements are not responsible for ADHD. Also, ADHD behaviors are not usually the result of neglect or poor discipline. These children tend to behave unacceptably because they are difficult to discipline by even the best parents. Recognizing ADHD

One of the difficulties in diagnosing ADHD is that it is often accompanied by other problems. For example, many children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability (LD), which means they have trouble mastering language or certain academic skills, typically reading and math. ADHD is not in itself a learning disability, but because it can interfere with concentration and attention, ADHD can make it doubly hard for a child with LD to do well in school.

Nearly half of all children with ADHD, mostly boys, have another condition called oppositional defiant disorder. These children overreact when they feel bad about themselves. They may be stubborn, have outbursts of temper, or act defiant. Sometimes this progresses to more serious conduct disorders. Children with this combination of problems are at risk of getting in trouble at school, and even with the police. They may take unsafe risks and break laws.

Three types of behavior generally associated with identifying ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Inattention can be identified by things like becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds, failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes, rarely following instructions carefully and completely, or losing or forgetting things like pencils, books, and tools needed for a task.

Signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity are feelings of restlessness, fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming, running, climbing, or leaving a seat, in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected, and blurting out answers before hearing the whole question.

ADHD children have difficulty paying attention, focusing, and staying on task. It is most noticeable in academic settings that require listening in class and completing written work. Usually the children can't stick with school assignments. They have trouble paying attention and following directions. They are easily distracted by their surroundings or by their own thoughts. There is no single test, either medical, neurological, or psychological which can identify the presence of ADHD in a child.

In the last decade, scientists have learned much about the course of the disorder and are now able to identify and treat children, adolescents, and adults who have it. A variety of medications, behavior-changing therapies, and educational options are already available to help people with ADHD focus their attention, build self-esteem, and function in new ways.

ADHD is not curable. Treatments are often combinations of parent education, medication, behavior modification strategies, and counseling. To be most effective, these strategies should be used at home and at school. The methods can work for all ages. Two common types of medication are psycho-stimulants like Ritalin, Dexedrine, or Cylert, and antidepressants like Tofranil or Norpramine. Psycho-stimulants are the most common and work best for most children. They help increase attention and decrease distractibility and impulsivity. Anti-depressants improve attention, and decrease aggression as well as anxiety or depression. ADHD medications are not addictive and do not lead to later drug use. Drug use and dependency are no higher in children who have taken the medication than in the general population.

Some children may be ashamed of or scared to take medication every day. Help children view the medication in a positive way by comparing the pills to eyeglasses, braces, and allergy medications used by other children in their class. Explain that their medicine is simply a tool to help them focus and pay attention. You can also point out that they're lucky their problem can be helped. Encourage them to identify ways the medicine makes it easier to do things that are important to them, like make friends, succeed at school, and play.

Behavior Management

Since these children can't control their own behavior, adults must "shape" it for them. A good way to start is by praising good behavior. Start, if necessary, by praising something even close to what you want. Praise immediately for specific things like doing a job right. Praise randomly for "normal" things another child might do anyway, like starting work without being asked. Praise often, as long as the behavior is appropriate. Be specific and say exactly what was done well, so the child will know you really mean it and will know what to do again.

Use rewards, but don't "pay" for staying out of trouble. Allow child to earn something tangible for learning positive behavior. Praise for doing the opposite, such as saying "Thank you for closing the door quietly," if the child usually lets it bang. Use positive language by saying what to do, not what to stop. ƒnƒnGive one instruction, then have the child repeat instruction, complete task, then check with you for the next task.


About 80% of ADHD children do best in regular mainstream classes, with cooperative support from teachers and parents. The mainstream class has role models for behavior and study habits which the ADHD child needs to acquire. Federal and state guidelines determine which children with unique needs should be offered special education classes.

Initiate a conference with the parent. Ask how the school staff can help and have frequent parent/teacher conferences. Try to get the parent interested in behavioral and academic progress, and let the child know of the parent”„s concern.

Children with ADHD often need some special accommodations to help them learn. Seat the child in an area with few distractions, provide an area where the child can move around and release excess energy, or establish a clearly posted system of rules and reward appropriate behavior. Sometimes just keeping a card or a picture on the desk can serve as a visual reminder to use the right school behavior, like raising a hand instead of shouting out, or staying in a seat instead of wandering around the room. Reviewing instructions or writing assignments on the board, and even listing the books and materials they will need for the task, may make it possible for disorganized, inattentive children to complete the work.

Many of the strategies of special education are simply good teaching methods. Telling students in advance what they will learn, providing visual aids, and giving written as well as oral instructions are all ways to help students focus and remember the key parts of the lesson.

Students with ADHD often need to learn techniques for monitoring and controlling their own attention and behavior. Teach students several alternatives for when they loses track of what they”¦re supposed to do. They can look for instructions on the blackboard, raise their hand, wait to see if they remember, or quietly ask another child. The process of finding alternatives to interrupting the teacher will make them more self-sufficient and cooperative. And because that child now interrupts less, he will earn more praise than reprimands.

ADHD is a serious problem for children and adolescents today. It is important to know the signs of ADHD and to find aide for those who live with it as soon as possible. Many people see those with ADHD as failures and immediately say that they are lazy, unmotivated, or just stupid. With proper treatment, those with ADHD can function just as well as, if not better than any other person living without it.

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