By Rhian Uptegraft
What is AD/HD?
ADHD is a Disruptive Behavior Disorder
characterized by the presence of a set of chronic and
impairing behavior patterns that display abnormal
levels of inattention, hyperactivity, or their
combination. (According to the 1994, Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Ed. IV,)
Characteristics & Facts
Symptoms -- AD/HD has 3 major subtypes
AD/HD - Primarily Inattentive Type:
• Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless
• Has difficulty sustaining attention.
• Does not appear to listen.
• Struggles to follow through on instructions.
• Has difficulty with organization.
• Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
• Easily distracted.
• Forgetful in daily activities.
AD/HD - Primarily
• Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
• Has difficulty remaining seated.
• Runs around or climbs excessively.
• Has difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
• Acts as if driven by a motor.
• Talks excessively.
• Blurts out answers before questions have been
• Has difficulty waiting or taking turns.
• Interrupts or intrudes upon others.
AD/HD - Combined Type:
Meets both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive
Because everyone shows signs of these behaviors at
one time or another, the guidelines for determining
whether a child has AD/HD are very specific.
In children, the symptoms must be more frequent or
severe than in other children of the same age. These
behaviors must create significant difficulty in at least
two areas of life, such as home, social settings and
Symptoms usually appear before
the age of seven
This means all teachers must be prepared to encounter
students with AD/HD.
Many students will enter kindergarten already carrying
a diagnosis of AD/HD.
However, as teachers, we must also be prepared to
recognize the symptoms of AD/HD in other students
who have not been diagnosed, but are exhibiting
There is not single test for diagnosing AD/HD.
It takes many steps by trained professionals to make a diagnosis of AD/HD.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),published by
the American Psychiatric Association, is the guide that lays out the criteria to
be used by doctors, mental health professionals, and other qualified clinicians
when making a diagnosis of AD/HD.
A good evaluation should first look to rule out other causes for the behavior of
The evaluation should involve a clinical assessment of the child’s school, social
and emotional functioning and developmental levels.
The child’s family and the teacher should maintain a detailed chronicle of the
child’s daily activities.
If possible, it is good to have the child also track their own history.
It is the responsibility of the professionals to determine the diagnosis.
It is the most commonly diagnosed
psychiatric disorder in children
It affects at least 3-5 percent of children in the world.
Roughly 4.5 million children in the U.S. (about 7
percent of that age group) have been diagnosed with
Breaking that number down shows that 11 percent of
the boys in this age group have AD/HD,
while 4 percent of girls have been diagnosed with
That means boys are almost 3 times as likely to be
diagnosed with AD/HD as are girls.
(AD/HD) is a neurobiological disorder
Neurobiological disorders are problems that affect the
peripheral and central nervous systems of an
The nervous system comprises the spinal cord, the brain,
peripheral nerves, cranial nerves, the autonomic nervous
system, nerve roots, muscles, and neuromuscular junction.
There are more than 600 neurological disorders ranging
across a wide spectrum including Alzheimer's disease,
epilepsy, migraines, Huntington's disease, muscular
dystrophy and AD/HD that have been recognized.
Several areas of the brain may be affected by AD/HD
according to modern research models describing what is
happening in the brains of people with AD/HD.
The exact cause has not been
Unlike many diseases and disorders, there are no genetic
markers, physical characteristics or simple test that can
identify a child as having AD/HD.
Researchers have not identified the exact causes, but they
are certain that heredity plays a major role.
When heredity can be ruled out, difficulties during
pregnancy, prenatal exposure to alcohol and tobacco,
premature delivery, significantly low birth weight,
excessively high body lead levels, and postnatal injury to
the prefrontal regions of the brain have all been found to
contribute to the risk for AD/HD to varying degrees
AD/HD has been studied and
documented for over 100 years
AD/HD is not a modern phenomenon.
It has surely been around longer than recorded history.
The key point is that it has gone through a curve of
being recognized and defined that has included
several name changes.
The first mention of a disorder that was surely AD/HD
was in 1798. Sir Alexander Crichton describes "mental
restlessness" in his book An Inquiry Into the Nature
and Origin of Mental Derangement.
Multimodal treatment is the most effective form of treatment for
children and adolescents with AD/HD.
This treatment approach includes multiple elements which work
best together and support each other.
The elements of the multimodal treatment approach include:
Parent and child education about diagnosis and treatment
Specific behavior management techniques
Appropriate educational program and supports.
The level of response or non-response to any or all of these will be
unique to each individual and cannot be predicted.
Working closely with health care providers and school personnel,
treatment should be tailored to the unique needs of each child and
Psychosocial treatment is a critical part of treatment
Behavior modification is the only nonmedical
treatment for AD/HD with a large scientific evidence
Behavior treatment involves both social and
A detail article explain Behavioral Modification can be
Children outgrow AD/HD in adolescence
It was believed for a long time that people outgrow
AD/HD as they mature. This is not true.
It is more common in boys than in girls
Boys are more than twice as likely to have AD/HD.
However, some studies suggest that at least some of
the difference is based in biases of the referring
teachers. Do not assume that a child does not have
AD/HD simply based on their gender.
People with AD/HD cannot be successful as adults
Not true! Look at these famous people:
Vincent Van Gogh, Terry Bradshaw, Pete Rose, Mark
Twain, Emily Dickenson, Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Wolfgang Mozart, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford,
Christopher Columbus, Ann Bancroft, Jim Carrey, Jack
Nicholson, Elvis Presley, Justin Timberlake, Robin
Williams, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin,
Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, John F.
Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
provides educational accommodations for students
with ADHD who don't qualify for special education
That means we can all expect to encounter students
with AD/HD during our tenure as teachers.
Lesson Plans and Instruction
Use visual aids. Put objectives on the blackboard
Try pair-share between students with 504 Plans and
student peers in the classroom
Written outlines or lesson outcomes
Diversify learning modalities in the presentation of
instructions and material
Incorporate technology in instruction
Divide lessons into smaller chunks of material
Employ a variety of assessments to verify
understanding and mastery of learning objectives
Plan the seating to make learning more accessible.
Seat the students with 504 Plans with their student
helpers whenever needed
Use proximity in lesson delivery
Reduce classroom distractions to help minimize
Try group configurations with 4 students to a group
Provide extra time as needed for processing
information and turning in assignments
Present smaller chunks of learning to aid in simplicity
Use a resource room to provide organizational and
Do pre and post diagnostic assessments to validate
Allow students to use computer software to assist
learning and writing assignments
Provide the students feedback and appropriate
Encourage students to reflect and journal at the end or
beginning of the class period
Give students proactive feedback when they engage in
Use non-verbal cues if possible for students if they
Post rules and consequences for the classroom.
Provide students with time-outs and teacher
interaction when needed
Resources for additional
www.chadd.org -- Children and Adults with
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
http://www.help4adhd.org – National Resource
Center on AD/HD
http://www.nimh.nih.gov – National Institute of
http://www.adhdsupport.com – AD/HD Support
National Resource Center on AD/HD
Resources for additional
df -- CDC info, very detailed and informative.
d-definition.php - The National Association of Parents
with Children in Special Education