Thursday, July 15, 2010
Hyperactive or all-boy? Lazy or ADD?
I once had a parent ask me if I thought her son was hyperactive. I said, “No, he’s just all boy.” Granted, he was active. He had some issues with impulse control. However, he wasn’t the most active or the most impulsive in the class. Plus his reading and math were both above grade level. That is my litmus test, because I suspect that behind the question was, “Does he need to be on medication?” I subscribe to the theory that unless a student’s inattentiveness is causing academic or social problems, there is no need to medicate. I may revise that theory in time, but for now that is where I stand.
Two types of ADHD
There are two types of ADHD. There is the hyperactive type, the inattentive type, and a combination of the two. Does that make it three types? Hmm, a point to ponder. We have all had both types in class. First there is the hyperactive type. This is the student that can’t stay seated, has little impulse control, and frequently ends up in the office. (Not to be confused with normal active, boisterous, childhood antics.) These students are usually identified and put on medication in Kindergarten or preschool.
The less obvious is the inattentive type. This is the student who is not typically disruptive, but can’t seem to get his/her work finished. They sometimes seem to be ‘in their own little world’. More severe cases seem unable to learn, simply because their mind can’t focus long enough to absorb information. Both types usually have above average IQ’s, which makes the inability to learn even more confusing. Additionally, ADD/ADHD can accompany other learning difficulties such as dyslexia.
As previously stated, I don’t believe in medication unless the child is being negatively impacted academically or socially. Therefore, accommodations should be made to help ADD/ADHD students be successful. Frequent redirection is usually necessary. I’m always walking while I teach so it is simple to discretely tap his/her paper to remind the student to stay on task. Having an active, engaging classroom is important. Incorporate movement into your lessons when possible. Let the students work at places other than their desks sometimes. Give mental breaks by incorporating humor into your lessons. These are all just good teaching practices anyway, and it gives the ADD/ADHD student more of a chance to be successful.
One thing I enjoy about the ADD/ADHD child is their ability to be creative. Have students do a Readers Theater based on a history unit you’re teaching. Then sit back and watch those creative juices flow!
I look back at my conversation with the mother, and hope I gave her the right advice. Perhaps I should have advised her to discuss it with the pediatrician. I sincerely enjoyed her son and his energetic personality. I look forward to watching him grow through the rest of elementary school and beyond. And I pray, please, please, please, don’t let anyone squelch that joyful personality.
I look forward to seeing your thoughts on ADD/ADHD in the classroom.