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									                                      CHAPTER I

                                    THE PROBLEM


                There has been a large amount of information with varying

conclusions and recommendations published about AD/HD (Attention Deficit /

Hyperactivity Disorder). More and more research is being conducted in the

medical and educational fields, but data among the various research groups is

conflicting. The “Disorder” has become a topic of controversy among medical

professionals and educators. There also has been a tremendous amount of media

coverage on the medicated AD/HD child which includes one-sided accounts,

hearsay, sensationalism, misconceptions, and unsubstantiated claims causing a

whirlwind of rumor, speculation, and confusion about the disorder. Battle lines

have been drawn, and caught in the middle of this controversial cyclone are the

student with AD/HD, his parents, and the teacher (responsible for the education of

the student with AD/HD and the other students of varying learning styles and

differences in the classroom).

                  The first day of a new school year signals the beginning of the

 teacher’s quest to uncover and identify the different student learning styles and


preferences represented in the classroom. No two students display identical

learning personalities. Individuals perceive and process information in many

different ways.   The teacher crafts his/her lessons plans to enhance student

learrning perception, feeling, creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and

problem solving skills. The classroom reflects the appropriate visual stimuli to

engage student learning. A variety of course delivery modes and activities are

included in the curriculum mix to stimulate the various learning styles of all the

students. The classroom’s instructional climate is at the proper textbook settings

for nurturing and cultivating a successful learning classroom learning


                  During the first day assessment of the various learning

differences and styles of the students, the teacher discovers the presence of a

student diagnosed with Attention Deficits Disorder (AD/HD). Suddenly, it seems

as if the bottom has fallen out of the painstakingly prepared lesson plans. The

school year takes a detour down a more challenging road. There is no predicting

how the student with AD/HD will react to the classroom, the course structure, and

the other students in the room. There is no predicting how the other students will

react to the student with AD/HD.

                  The teacher’s responsibility in the classroom, as defined by Randy Lee

Comfort (1992), is to prepare the environment for children to learn through active

exploration and interaction with adults, other children, and materials. “The caring

classroom is one which affords an opportunity for a child to learn with an adult who

provides security for every student at whatever level the child may be developmentally.”

However, when faced with the reality of a classroom filled with

various learning personalities and learning differences, including one or more AD/HD

student(s), Comfort’s textbook statement seems rather lofty and ideal.

            The AD/HD student presents a unique set of challenges to the teacher. Children

with attentions deficits learn best in very small, controlled settings in which there are few

distractions. The ideal classroom structure and environment for the more traditional

learner, with a variety of visual and auditory stimuli, is probably the worst for the

AD/HD student. Colorful walls decorated with posters, maps, and charts may be

stimulating to most students, but they are a distraction to the student with attention


                    The AD/HD student does not retain course instruction delivered in a

straight lecture format. Even the traditional student will struggle with lecture-style

instruction. Only 15 % of the student population tend to be auditory learners; and,

according to statistics, students retain only 26% of what they hear (Rief 1993). The

student with AD/HD will retain far less from lecture-style delivery. He may to fidget and

make sounds that distract the other students in the class. He is not doing this on purpose.

He is unaware of his actions.

                    Learning stations and centers with different activities, sounds and

movements simultaneously taking place throughout the room become overwhelming for

the student with AD/HD. AD/HD students tend to be concrete learners and succeed in a

learning environment that is consistent and predictable. Providing a consistent learning

environment for the AD/HD student, without detracting from the learning environment of

the others in the classroom seems an insurmountable task.

Not only does the AD/HD student become overwhelmed in the classroom environment,

the teacher equally becomes overwhelmed attempting to provide a stimulating learning

atmosphere for all the students in the classroom.

The Definition of AD/HD

        Since 1990, the total number of students diagnosed with AD/HD has

increased from 900,000 to approximately 7 million (Jensen 2000). Sandra Rief, M.A.

points out that many children with this disorder slip through the cracks.

   AD/HD is diagnosed between 3 to 9 times more frequently in boys than girls.
   It is believed that many more girls actually have AD/HD and aren’t diagnosed
   because of then they exhibit fewer of the disruptive behaviors associated with
   hyperactivity and impulsivity. Many girls have the predominantly inattentive
   type of the disorder and are likely not being identified and diagnosed. (Rief 1998)

        AD/HD affects approximately 3% to 5% of the school-aged population.

These estimates rise to 6.8% - 10% when comorbid symptoms (the presence of

more than one mental disorders), along with learning and behavioral differences

are added to diagnosis. Other estimates put the percentage of school-aged

children affected with AD/HD as high as 23% (Bender 1997). It is estimated that

at least one student with AD/HD is present in today’s classroom.

Through his work and research on AD/HD, Dr. Sam Goldstein, University of

Utah and the University Neuropsychiatry Institute, contends, “AD/HD is a very

common condition, affecting at least one out of twenty kids to

a significantly impairing degree.” No two students diagnosed with attention

deficits interact and learn the same. Dr. Goldstein (2001) points

out, “in school settings, children with AD/HD demonstrate a normal range of

intellectual ability. Thus 2 % of the population of children receiving a diagnosis

of AD/HD suffers from sub-borderline intellectual ability with 2 % demonstrating

gifted intellect.” Many times the gifted AD/HD masks learning disabilities and

other disorders such as anxiety, oppositional behavior, and depression. A student

often is labeled inconsistent and lazy by the classroom teacher. One day the child

performs brilliantly, the next day she is dull and unresponsive. This labeling adds

to the AD/HD student’s low self-esteem and self-doubt.

        AD/HD is not a learning disability. It is classified as a neurological or

mental disorder. To be tagged with a mental disorder further contributes to low

self-esteem and self-doubt, particularly in older children and adults. Dr. Larry

Silver, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at

Georgetown University Medical Center, defines AD/HD as a neurologically-

based disorder caused by a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter in a specific

set of brain circuits:

   AD/HD is categorized in two types, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
   Disorder (AD/HD) and Undifferentiated Attention Deficit Disorder
   (AD/HD/WHO – Attention Deficit Disorder Without Hyperactivity).
   The diagnosis is determined by three behavior categories, Attention Span,
   Hyperactivity, and Impulse Control. Specific behavior characteristics are
   listed under each category. An AD/HD student might fall into one category,
   but it is possible for the student to display characteristics from all three.
   The AD/HD student might talk excessively and be disruptive, or quiet and shy.

   It might be hard to draw the student into a class discussion or the student may
   be impatient, unable to wait his or her turn, and blurt out answers. (2001)

Thus, it becomes more of a challenge for the teacher to define the typical AD/HD

student’s learning personality. There is no such thing as a typical, textbook

AD/HD student.

        There are some commonalities that seem to prevail among AD/HD

students in general. Unimportant sights and sounds tend to be distractions, and

drive the student’s mind to jump from one thought or activity to the next. How

the student reacts to this tendency is different from individual to individual. Some

students become restless and disruptive; other students drift off and daydream.

Whatever the reaction, attention and the ability to focus and organize are

requirements for success in school. Here lies the challenge for the classroom

teacher. When faced with a classroom of 30 students with multiple learning

differences and personalities, some difficult to identify, as is the case with the

student diagnosed as AD/HD; how can learning activities and exercises be

worked into lesson plans that meet the needs of each individual student? The time

factor alone makes it impossible. Many educators are discovering that meeting

the learning needs of the students isn’t in varying the lesson plans, but in the tools

available to assist each individual student to receive, organize, process, and retain

information. In the same manner many that coaches of youth sports, through the

use of various motivational methods and assistive skill building devices, strive to

create an equal and level playing field for the young participants of varying

physical abilities; classroom teachers must strive to create an equal and level

learning field for their students of varying learning styles and abilities. More and

more teachers and school administrators are turning to multisensory instructional

methods and assistive technology devices to establish an equal and level field of

learning for all the students in the classroom, including the student with AD/HD.

Definition of Assistive Technology (AT)

        The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act

of 1988 defines an assistive technology device or tool as any item, piece of

equipment, or product that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the abilities

of people with disabilities. AD/HD affects the student’s ability to focus, organize,

listen, process information and communicate. Assistive technology tools have

been proven to greatly improve the student’s reading, writing, spelling, and math

skills, and the ability to achieve success in school. Functioning as a bypass, AT

helps the student work around or compensate for learning or attention deficits.

From highlighting markers to mind mapping and outlining software, AT devices

help the student with AD/HD rely less on others and more on themselves to

successfully complete their work. Electronic devices such as computers, word

processing software with spell checkers, pocket organizers, and calculators have

made it possible for many AD/HD students to focus, organize, complete

assignments and effectively accomplish tasks and assignments in a variety of

classroom settings. Affordable and available, assistive technology tools help

students of all ages and learning styles to learn, practice, and use skills essential to

becoming a successful learner.

        Assistive technology tools also serve as tremendous aides in helping the

classroom teacher provide a variety of learning activities and exercises specific to

the various learning personalities and differences of the student population. Not

only can AT tools help the students learn, but various tools and devices help the

teacher plan and organize lesson plans, delivery the course information, construct

and administer assessment, calculate and organize student grades, and display

course materials and resources. The use of assistive technology devices in the

classroom can benefit both teacher and students; but, the use of the devices

depends on how willing the teacher is to accept, learn, and include the various AT

methods, formats, and tools into the general classroom curriculum.


                 The purpose of the study is to identify relationships between the

unique educational challenges presented a teacher by the presence of an

AD/HD student in a traditional classroom setting, the perception/attitude the

classroom teacher has toward the student with AD/HD, and the use of readily

available assistive technology devices by all students in the classroom.

                 Assistive technology devices are not cures for learning problems,

such as AD/HD, they are tools. The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

defines a tool as a “device that aids in accomplishing a task”.( 2001) Research

studies have documented the effectiveness of AT devices as aids for empowering

the student with learning problems.

                 Devices and software such as electronic spell checkers and

calculators, speech recognition software, word processing software, audible

electronic dictionaries, book scanners, and screen readers can be used by students

as a byway to accomplishing tasks in reading, writing, spelling, and math.

Studies involving the use of assistive technology in the classroom generally have

centered on the learner. It would be of compelling interest to look at the benefits

assistive technology devices lend the classroom from the standpoint of the person

responsible for creating and maintaining a successful learning environment, the

teacher. The investigation into the effects of the integration of assistive

technology devices with the curriculum on the teacher confronted with the

challenge of meeting the unique learning needs of the AD/HD student, along with

the learning needs of the other students in the classroom, would be of powerful

significance in promoting the use of AT for the empowerment of both teachers

and students. Studying the ways the use of assistive technology devices can

enhance the ability of the teacher to create an equal and level learning venue for

all students, lessens the possibility of inadvertently allowing a student with the

unique learning differences associated with AD/HD, to slip through the

educational system’s cracks.

                             Statement of the Problem

        The problem of this study is to determine the relationship between the

use of assistive technology devices included in the general course curriculum and

lesson plans with the unique challenges the teacher encounters when attempting to

meet the learning needs of all students, including the special needs of the student

with AD/HD included in the traditional classroom setting. Further, the study

attempts to investigate the impact the teaching challenges created by the unique

learning differences of the AD/HD student in the classroom has on the teacher’s

perception of AD/HD and the teacher’s attitude towards accommodating the

special learning needs of the AD/HD student. The study will determine the

relationship between the use of assistive technology devices in the classroom and

the teacher’s attitude towards accommodating the student with AD/HD.

                               General Hypotheses

        The objective of this study is to demonstrate the correlation between the

challenges the AD/HD student brings to the traditional classroom settings, teacher

attitudes towards the provision of special accommodations, and the inclusion of

assistive technology in lesson plans. The following hypotheses were developed:

   1.)      There is a significant relationship between the unique teaching

challenges the classroom teacher must meet due to the inclusion of

the AD/HD student in the traditional classroom setting, and the use of assistive

technology devices in course activities.

   2.)     There is a significant relationship between the attitude of the teacher

forced to adjust the classroom environment and make special

accommodations for the AD/HD student, and the availability and use of assistive

technology devices in the classroom.


                 The scope of the present study is to determine the degree of teaching

challenges presented by the AD/HD student as it relates to the availability and use of

assistive technology in the classroom. The focus of this study is to examine the

differential relationships between specific teacher attitudes when faced with the challenge

of meeting the unique learning needs of the AD/HD student in the classroom and the

effects the incorporation of assistive technology devices in with the course curriculum

has on empowering the teacher to successfully meet the challenges and establish an equal

and level learning field for all the students in the classroom.

     1.)     Data will be collected from a survey distributed randomly to teachers

           (Grades Pre-K – Postsecondary Grade 16) in Northeastern Ohio, Central

           Ohio, and Southern Ohio.

    2.)    The survey will be distributed in three formats: 1.) personal interview;

           2.) hard copy; and, 3.) online. Participants will be encouraged to comment

           on each question and the survey topic in general

                        Definitions and Operational Terms

                 A number of frequently used terms are defined below to provide

a better understanding of the study.

    AD/HD - Term used for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, can be

used to describe the disorder with or without hyperactivity.

Assistive Technology (AT) – any item, piece of equipment, or product that is

used to increase, maintain or improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities:

tools to promote independence across all areas of daily living. AT devices may

be categorized as high technology and low technology. Many low-tech devices

can be purchased at a hardware store, selected from a catalog, or fabricated using

tools and materials found in home workshops (Franklin,

1991). Examples might be note-taking cassette recorders, pencil grips, NCR

paper/copy machine, simple switches, head pointers, picture boards, taped

instructions, or workbooks. High-tech devices frequently incorporate some type

of computer chip, such as a hand-held calculator or a "talking clock." Examples

might be optical character recognition (OCR) calculators, word processors with

spelling and grammar checking, word prediction, voice recognition, speech

synthesizers, augmentative communication devices, alternative keyboards, or

instructional software.

    Attention Deficit Disorder - a specific neurological difference for which

there is no cure. Individuals with the disorder have decreased activity in the

regions of the brain responsible for regulating their impulses, memory, and

planning ability. AD/HD is not a learning disability.

    Comorbid - The presence of more than one disorder. Example would be an

individual having both AD/HD and depression.

    Learning Disability (Difference) - Could be any number of disabilities that

affect an individual's ability to learn.

    Learning Preference - A particular way or method in which an individual

prefers to learn or study.

     Learning Style - A particular way in which an individual learns. Examples

include: Physical, Mathematical, Visual, Linguistic.

       Multimedia - The use of computers to present text, graphics, video,

animation, and sound in an integrated way. Long touted as the future revolution

in computing, multimedia applications were, until the mid-90s, uncommon due to

the expensive hardware required. With increases in performance and decreases in

price, however, multimedia is now commonplace. Nearly all PCs are capable of

displaying video, though the resolution available depends on the power of the

computer's video adapter and CPU. Because of the storage demands of

multimedia applications, the most effective media are CD-ROMs.


                Chapter 1 introduced a recent analysis of the goal for the

classroom teacher to prepare the classroom environment for students to learn and

the challenges in meeting that responsibility with the inclusion of an AD/HD

student in the mix; and the impact assistive technology devices can make on

successfully achieving that goal. The textbook role of the teacher is compared to

the reality and challenge of creating a stimulating and productive classroom that

“affords an opportunity for a child to learn with an adult who provides security for

every student at whatever level the child may be developmentally.” (Comfort)

          Chapter 1 established the fact that Attention Deficits Disorder (AD/HD)

 is not a learning disability. It is classified as a mental disorder, and to be labeled

as having a mental disorder often time causes low self-esteem and self-doubt in

older children and adults. The challenge for the teacher to define

the typical AD/HD student’s learning personality is impossible in that there is no

such thing as a typical AD/HD student. AD/HD falls into three behavioral

categories and many times the symptoms overlap in individual cases. When

comorbid symptoms or learning and behavioral problems exist along with the

AD/HD, any advance curriculum planning designed to compensate for AD/HD

students becomes a challenge.

        The purpose of this study was to identify the unique challenges a classroom

teacher encounters when attempting to create a stimulating and productive learning

environment for the entire classroom, and the effect assistive technology can have on

easing the burden and helping the teacher achieve successful learning outcomes for all

students, including the AD/HD student. The study focused on the effectiveness of

incorporating assistive technology methods and devices into the course curriculum to

include the entire student population, rather than specific individuals with

learning differences; and the teacher’s attitude and willingness to enhance the curriculum

with AT methods and devices. These factors will be investigated to conclude the use of

assistive technology in the course instruction and activities can empower the teacher in

the cultivation and maintenance of an equal and level learning field designed to empower

all students with the means to achieve academic success. Finally, a list of operational

terms and definitions has been included to aid in the understanding of the research.
                                      CHAPTER II

                           REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

                Volumes of documented research exist on how the brain work and

what factors affect learning. The volumes of literature on AD/HD demonstrate and state

the unresolved controversies that feed on the issue. Once called hyperkinesias or

minimal brain dysfunction, AD/HD is one of the most common mental disorders among

children and adults. Opinions on AD/HD/AD/HD range from complete denial to as many

as 23% of all children having the disorder (Bender 1997).    Eric Jensen (2000) cites

estimates ranging from 2 to 10 percent of American children and 15 to 20 million

Americans of all ages as being affected by the disorder. Jenson cites the following


    It impacts five times as many boys and girls and twice as many Caucasians as
   African Americans. Prescription medications are three times more likely to
   be used in the treatment of boys than girls, and, as children with AD/HD age,
   the use of medication increases. By the fifth grade, 19 to 20 percent of
   Caucasian boys were taking a medication for AD/HD, and some middle schools
   report as many as 50 percent. ( Jensen 2000)

                Much of the controversy surrounding the disorder centers on the methods

and the validity of diagnosis, and the medications prescribed as treatment for the

disorder; however, there is a large amount of educational material and available support

systems for the promotion of a healthy, supportive relationship between the student with


AD/HD, her parents, and the teacher. Also, literature reveals the use of certain assistive

technology devices and techniques help level the field of learning for the student with

AD/HD; and enable the student to become a participating and contributing member of the

traditional classroom and learning environment. Literature also indicates that when both

low end and high end AT devices are incorporated in with the curriculum and made

available to all students, the classroom learning environment noticeably is enhanced.

                 The chapter is divided into five categories. The first category

defines the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and provides an overview of

the diagnosis process. The second category examines the various challenges the

student with AD/HD, the parents, and the teacher face on a daily basis.

Guidelines and practical advice for teaching the student with AD/HD is included

in this section. The third category looks at various assistive technology devices

known to aid and empower the student with AD/HD in various subjects and

learning disciplines. The fourth category examines Gardner’s Multiple

Intelligence theory, multisensory instructional methods, and the AD/HD learning

style. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) theory as applied to the

use of the computer as a “more capable peer” or assistive coach for the AD/HD

student is considered in the fifth category.

The Characteristics and Symptoms of AD/HD and the Diagnosis

                Today, more and more students in the United States are diagnosed with

Attention Deficit Disorder as an answer to poor performance in school and classroom

social and behavioral problems. As the rate of diagnosed students

steadily increases, so does the controversy over the cause, diagnostic procedure,

treatment, and existence of the disorder.

                AD/HD is not a new phenomenon. On the Web site, when

asked by a reader where AD/HD came from, Valerie de Armas pointed out that “AD/HD

symptoms were recorded in the mid 1800s in children with nervous system injuries and

diseases. In 1848, a German physician wrote a children’s’ story, “Fidgety Phil”,

describing hyperactive behavior.” She went on to answer:

   British pediatrician, George Frederic Still was probably the first to do
   any comprehensive observations of AD/HD children. He reported his observations
   in a series of lectures at the Royal College of Physicians in 1902. He described the
   children he observed as aggressive, defiant, lawless, overactive, attention
   impaired, dishonest and accident-prone. He also described them as having a
   “defect in moral control”. He didn’t paint a very pretty picture of the disorder for
   sure! His observations went on to note that the behavior was biological rather than
   a result of poor parenting. He theorized that the behavior was either inherited or
   the result of an injury at birth. (Armas 2001)

                The widely accepted psychiatric definition of AD/HD is from the

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, DSM-IV:

   AD/HD: a persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity or
   both, occurring more frequently and severely than is typical in individuals at a
   comparable level of development. The illness may begin in early childhood, but
   may not be diagnosed until after the symptoms have been present for many years.

     The prevalence is estimated to be 3% to 5% in children; data for adults are available.

The DSM-IV lists the origin as unknown; “however, the disorder may reflect a

deficiency in neurochemicals that influence functions of the reticular activating

system of the brain.”

                 The cause of AD/HD is unclear. Many myths and

misconceptions about the cause circulate throughout the media, the educational

system, and general uninformed coffee clutch conversations. Research shows that

AD/HDD is not caused by poor parenting, too much television, or too much sugar

or poor diet. Genetic and environmental factors are at the center of AD/HD

research. Physiology - Scientists have found an approximately 10% reduction in

the size and activity of specific areas in the frontal lobe and basal ganglia of

AD/HD patients. Chemical Dysregulation - Some research cites insufficient

amounts or the restricted flow of the neurotransmitter dopamine to the basal

ganglia and prefrontal cortex (PFC) part of the brain. Frontal-Lobe Symmetry -

AD/HD research has cited over-symmetry between the left and right frontal lobes

in the brain. The left frontal lobe is more involved with approach behaviors and

the right frontal lobe with avoidance behaviors. The right frontal lobe is a bit

larger than the left in research cases involving subjects with AD/HD. Heredity –

Genetic researchers have discovered a link between the DRD4 repeater gene and

AD/HD. The studies suggest that up to 80 percent of the variance in the traits or

characteristics associated with AD/HD due to an inherited biochemical. Head

Injury – Injuries caused by falling from a bike, a car accident, a sports injury, a

fight, physical abuse, etc. can cause damage to the prefrontal cortex. This area of

the brain is most susceptible to injury and puts the student at risk for developing

learning and conduct problems as a result. (Jensen 2000)

                 Attention Deficit Disorder (AD/HD) typically has been

categorized by three characteristic-types (Bender 1997) (Barkley, 1990; Maag &

Reid, 1994):

   Inattentive Type (inappropriate levels of attention)
     Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in
       schoolwork or other activities
     Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
     Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
     Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish
       schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not because of
       oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
     Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
     Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require
       sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork and homework)
     Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g., toys, school
       assignments, pencils, books, tools)
     Often is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
     Often is forgetful in daily activities

  Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
    Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
    Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining
     seated is expected
    Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which such
     behavior is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to
     feelings of restlessness)
    Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
    Often is “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
    Often talks excessively

    Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed

       Often has difficulty awaiting turn
       Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g. “butts into” conversations and

                 Eric Jensen (2000) puts forth theory about AD/HD characterizing

the condition into two categories, impulsiveness and time

disorientation. “Current evidence suggests that AD/HD is not so much a problem

of attention or skill, but of performance (i.e., impulse control).”

   For example, Johnny may know what 5x3 is, but when asked to complete
   a problem on the chalk board, he may be unable to perform on the spot.
   Essentially, the student may be learning but cannot always be evaluated in
   the traditional sense. In AD/HD subjects the prefrontal cortex, the
   brain’s “executive” area, is ineffective in the following functions:
     *Separating external (environmental) from internal (mental)
     * Moving from other-directed to self-directed
     * Distinguishing the present from the future,
     * Delaying immediate gratification. (Jenson 2000)

                 No two students with AD/HD display the same characteristics or

identical behaviors as a result of the disorder. Not all symptoms apply to each

student and symptoms vary in the degree or manner in which they affect each

person. Sandra Rief points out “each child is unique and displays a different

combination of behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, interests, talents, and skills.”

She emphasizes:

       It is important to recognize that any one of these behaviors is normal
       in childhood to a certain degree at various developmental stages. For
       example, it is normal for a young child to have difficulty waiting for his/
       her turn, to have a short attention span, and to be unable to sit for very long.

      However, when a child exhibits a significantly high number of these
      behaviors when they are developmentally inappropriate (compared
      to other children their age), it is problematic. These children will need
      assistance and intervention. (Reif 1993)

                 AD/HD often is confused as a learning disability. It is classified

as a neurological inefficiency in the area of the brain which controls impulses and

aids in screening sensory input and focusing attention (Rief 1993). The lack of

dopamine, the neurological chemical with transmits neurosensory messages

also is cited. Genetics is thought to be a chief cause. Studies have shown a

child with AD/HD has a family member with similar learning and behavior


                 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),

formerly P.L. 94-142, the Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA), define a

learning disability as a "disorder in one or more of the basic psychological

processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language,

which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read,

write, spell or to do mathematical calculations." In a recent interview, Dr.

Kenneth DeLuca explains, “In the case of a learning disability, the student needs

the switch flicked a few times in order for the light to the psychological process

involved in accomplishing a task to go on.” In the case of AD/HD, the switch

won’t work, the light won’t go on. DeLuca states, “When the student with

AD/HD says he can’t, it’s not because he won’t, it’s because, at the moment, he

can’t.” Many times teachers have a hard time understanding this because one day

the student can perform and complete the task in a brilliantly creative manner, and

the next day the student falters, becomes frustrated, and avoids the task altogether.

                 Many times AD/HD also tags along with specific learning

disabilities. Sandra Rief (1993) reports at least one third to one-half of her

students with learning differences “display the behaviors and characteristics

associated with AD/HD, even if they do not have the medical diagnosis or receive

medical intervention.” According to some researchers, the presence of

learning disabilities with attention deficits could be as high as 30 to 40 percent

(Lisa J Bain 1991).

                 To add to the confusion and challenge faced by the student,

parents, and teacher, and can be accompanied by other mental disorders.

Depression and anxiety are common companions. Eric Jensen (2000) explains,

“Comorbidity (or overlapping conditions) is common in AD/HD sufferers.”

   In fact, some studies suggest that only 3 percent of sufferers over
   the course of their lifetime have AD/HD alone. Conversely,
   about 56 percent of AD/HD sufferers have four or more
   psychiatric comorbidities throughout their lifetime.
   About 11 percent of AD/HD sufferers experience one other
   psychiatric condition and 18 percent have three. Men with
   AD/HD experience higher rates of Conduct Disorder,
   Antisocial Personality Disorder, alcohol and drug dependence,
   and stuttering than women. But, women with AD/HD experience
   higher rates of depression, Bulimia Nervosa, and simple phobias.
   Because of this high rate of comorbidity, the risk of
   misdiagnosis and undiscovered problems is high. (Jenson 2000)

                 The National Attention Deficit Disorder Association presents

literature that emphasizes the concern of AD/HD not only disrupting the learning

and behavior control in the school-age child, but, “as a critical neurobehavioral

condition, it can profoundly compromise functioning in multiple areas throughout

the life span. The concern is paradoxical in that “AD/HD is both incorrectly

diagnosed when it is not present and under diagnosed when it is present; and is

both incorrectly treated and under treated.” Research and clinic experience

suggest that AD/HD difficulties can lead to significant educational, health, social,

and economic problems.” (1998) The NADDA advocates the establishment of a

standard of care for the diagnosis and treatment of AD/HD, pointing out that

though “controversy abounds about aspects of its diagnosis and treatment, the

research and clinical experience over the past few decades have been sufficient to

begin to identify certain principles regarding the evaluation and treatment of

AD/HD.” (1998)

                The association outlines eleven Guiding Principles for the

Diagnosis and Treatment of AD/HD: 1.) Evaluate and treat the whole person; 2.)

AD/HD should be suspected but not presumed; 3.) AD/HD may present across the

life span; 4.) A comprehensive assessment is necessary for an accurate diagnosis;

5.) The evaluation and treatment of AD/HD should be conducted by a qualified

professional; 6.) Response to medication should not be used as the basis to

diagnose AD/HD; 7.) Diagnosis should be based primarily upon the SDM-IV

AD/HD criteria; 8.) Diagnosis and treatment of AD/HD should involve others

familiar with the person undergoing the evaluation; 9.) Treatment should often

involve more than one discipline working cooperatively; 10.) Stimulant

medications are the benchmark of treatment for most AD/HD patients; 11.)

Practitioners should become familiar with current research and diagnostic tools.

                 The diagnosis of AD/HD is a complex process done a time period

of at least 6 months. Some of the criteria for diagnosing the disorder include the

symptoms or behaviors appear or were present before the age of

seven and last at least 6 months. Also, the levels of interference or disturbance

caused by the symptoms are more severe and frequent that the norms for the

person’s represented age group; and that the symptoms or behaviors caused by the

symptoms create a real disability in at least two areas of the individual’s life, such

as school, home, the work place, or social settings. Sandra Rief (1997) makes

note that, “Just meeting the criteria in DSM-IV does not confirm a diagnosis of

AD/HD. It is just the beginning of the information–gathering process.” She lists:

1.) the history of the child’s medical, developmental, school, and family; 2.) other

information gathered through interview and questionnaires with parents, other

family members, and teachers; 3.) behavior rating scales filled out by the parents,

classroom teachers, and other adults that work frequently with the child (school

counselor or special education teacher); 4.) gathering and reviewing information

that must be supplied by the school such as work samples and other evidence of

academic, behavioral, and social/emotional issues; 5.) a review of school records

(report cards, citizenship grades, teacher comments, standardized school

achievement tests, anecdotal records, etc.); 6.) an observation of the child

functioning in various school settings; and, 7.) assessments (academic

achievement testing, intelligence testing, and a physical examination).

                 It is the treatment of the disorder that causes the greatest

controversy and misconception of AD/HD. The media has done its share in

publishing and broadcasting on both useful and helpful information, along with

harmful and misleading information on the cause and treatment of AD/HD.

Unfortunately, the general public, teachers included, tend to listen to the media

before listening to the professionals in the field of neurological disorders and

special education.

The Challenges of Learning with AD/HD and Assisting the Student with
AD/HD to Learn

                 To learn is to gain knowledge or understanding of a skill in by

study, instruction, or experience (Merriam-Webster 2002). In order to learn, a

student must be able to pay attention to the instruction and follow the steps

involved in processing the information to be learned. The PBS series and Web

site, Different Minds, defines “paying attention” as “the brain's ability to take all

of the stimuli around us, immediately categorize and organize information as

relevant or irrelevant, and focus the mind on one thing.” (2001) The site allows

the visitor to experience, first hand, the challenges and frustrations a student with

AD/HD faces in the classroom on a daily basis. “For a child in a classroom,

paying attention to the teacher means filtering out as many as 30 other students

and the dynamics between them, visual or outside distractions, noises, and more.”


                 KidSource Online describes what it is like to have Attention

Deficit Disorder:

  Imagine living in a fast-moving kaleidoscope, where sounds, images, and
  thoughts are constantly shifting. Feeling easily bored, yet helpless to keep
  your mind on tasks you need to complete. Distracted by unimportant sights
  and sounds, your mind drives you from one thought or activity to the next.
  Perhaps you are so wrapped up in a collage of thoughts and images that you
  don’t notice when someone speaks to you. (2001)

You became so lost in your collage of thoughts that you didn’t hear the

teacher repeatedly call on you. The other students laugh. You are tagged an

airhead or a space cadet. This is what a student with AD/HD encounters in the

traditional classroom setting on a regular basis. Some days it isn’t as bad; some

days it is worse. The longer the student is required to sit still, focus, and listen,

the worse the distractions become, and the degree of stress and anxiety increase.

Depending upon the characteristics and symptoms of AD/HD experienced by the

student, she may drift off into a dream-like state or he may begin to fidget and

distract the rest of the class. Some students with comorbid AD/HD characteristics

may become angry and agitated. Others may become emotional and cry.

However, the student with AD/HD reacts to the situation; it is clear, the student is

overwhelmed at the moment and is not learning.

       The student with AD/HD is at risk for experiencing low self-esteem, often

times viewing herself as a failure. Teachers may describe the student with the

following phrases:

      “Why can’t she follow directions like the other children?”
      “I never know what to expect from him!”
      “He doesn’t sit still!”
      “She can’t seem to concentrate.”
      “He doesn’t turn his papers in, even when he has them.”
      “He can’t stay focused on the discussion.”
      “She interrupts with irrelevancies in the class.”
      “He is like a cyclone; when he comes in, everything is disrupted.”
       “Sometimes I wonder how the other students concentrate at all when I
       constantly have to call on him to be still.”

Her peers may describe her with the following remarks:
    “She’s just dumb.”

      “He can’t even do the work on the board.”
      “She’s mean. She doesn’t understand when she hurts other people’s
      “Why do I have to be a field trip buddy with him?”
      “He never gets his work done.”
      “I don’t want her on my team.”
      “Why does he have to be in our group for the project?”
      “He never tries to get his homework in.”
      “Can’t we choose someone else?”

And her parents may describe her with these terms:
    “Why can’t she get up, get dressed, and get to the breakfast table without a
      fuss or constant reminding, like my other two kids?”
    “What is it with this kid?”
    “How can he lose one of every pair of shoes we buy?”
    “Whose turn is it to help Jamie get out of bed?”
    “How does all the extra time she requires affect out other kids? Is this fair
      to them?”
    “I never know with this one. Sometimes it is do draining working with
      him.” (Bender 1997)

         Experts advocate and encourage the teacher and parents to focus on the

positive side of the child’s nature and strengths. lists 10 positive

characteristics of the person with AD/HD: 1.) Endless Energy; 2.) The ability to

Hyperfocus; 3.) Energy and Hyperfocus combined (if the individual with AD/HD

is able to focus and find an interest, there is no stopping him.); 4.) Great

Imagination; 5.) Creativity; 6.) Humor; 7.) Ahead of Establishment Thinking; 8.)

Creative Thinking and Problem Solving; 9.) Spontaneity; 10.) Great Passion for

Interests. (2001)

        Eric Jensen (2000) explains that successful (experienced) educators

“by virtue of necessity, have learned to accommodate the AD/HD learner.”

   What do they do? First and foremost, they maintain a positive attitude.
   (I like AD/HD learners; they have more energy and enthusiasm!) They
   also have learned to tweak the balance between control/direction and
   student empowerment, and to identify the difference between AD/HD and
   AD/HD combined with other more serious disorders. Lastly, when they
   are in over their head, they make the appropriate referral. The
   accommodations you learn to make for the AD/HD learner also benefit
   the rest of your students. Managing AD/HD effectively requires good
   basic teaching skills. (2000)

                 Jensen’s statement is a recurring theme in most of the literature

on including and teaching the student with AD/HD in the traditional classroom

environment. Teaching the student with AD/HD requires an educator to reaffirm

why he became and educator, to think and teach at times “outside of the box”, and

to utilize good basic teaching skills. Jensen states, a positive attitude benefits the

student with AD/HD, as well as all of the students in the classroom.

Assistive Technology: Empowering the student with AD/HD

                 Statistics show that the majority of us are visual learners. Sandra

Rief (1993) cites statistics that show the majority of learn best through visual and

tactile/kinesthetic input. Only 15 percent of all learners tend to be auditory. She

emphasizes the importance of these statistics particularly for the secondary or

post-secondary teacher that tends to be more lecture-based with teaching style.

She warns, “With you doing all the talking, there are a high percentage of students

you’re not reaching.”

Statistics show students retain:

      10 percent of what they read;
      26 percent of what they hear;
      30 percent of what they see;
      50 percent of what they see and hear;
      70 percent of what they say; and
      90 percent of what they say and do. (Rief 1993)

                 Dr. Rita Dunn defines learning styles as “the way in which each

learner begins to concentrate on, process, and retain new and difficult

information.” Much of the literature on the subject describe learning styles as the

way an individual perceives and processes information as he or she deals with

daily tasks and situations. Statistics show:

      One third of our students do not process auditorily.
      Over 60 percent of our students prefer and perform better with a tactile-
       kinesthetic learning activity.

      At least 50 percent of our students are frustrated by left-brain, sequential-
       type assignments and are global, holistic, and random in their organization
       and processing of information.
       (Sally Botroff-Hawes 1988)

                 Research and studies show all students, regardless of learning

styles or learning differences, learn best when they are engaged in their own

learning. Students need hands-on experience and the change to review and talk

about what they are learning throughout the school day. Rief advocates

cooperative learning situations with students working together with their peers in

groups. She couples the cooperative learning situations with multisensory

instruction methods. Auditory techniques such as rhythm, melody, song and rap;

Visual and Tactile materials, games, and computer software; Spatial

designs, colored visuals and manipulatives (students with AD/HD and other

learning disabilities many times have significant weakness with left

brain/sequential tasks; but are gifted spatially); Verbal re-enforcement and review

through group interaction, electronic devices, and computer software; and

Conceptual games, software, and activities; are incorporated into the course

delivery and activities, giving all students with their varied learning styles and

preferences, the equal opportunity to learn effectively. Rief emphasizes that

teachers must recognize that students do learn differently and multisensory

techniques provide a variety of approaches to aid the teacher with the enormous

task of recognizing and meeting the learning style and preferences of every

student in his classroom, including the student with AD/HD.

        Reif gives examples and suggestions of various multisensory activities

using both low and high end assistive technology devices from colored markers to

word processing software with spell checkers to tape recorders and calculators to

computer games and other interactive learning e-devices to the World Wide Web

and search engines. Rief advocates that all new information be presented to the

students through multisensory instruction. “Involve all of the sense, providing

auditory, visual, and tacitle-kensthetic input.” She encourages the teacher to

reteach information in a variety of different ways:

       For visual learners, supply maps, graphs, pictures, and diagrams and write
        on overhead/board with colored markers, pens, or chalk.
       Point, highlight, model, and demonstrate.
       Teach through clustering, mind mapping, and other graphic organizers.
       For global learners who need to see the whole picture before making
        sense of the parts, show the end products.
       For auditory learners, read aloud, paraphrase, employ music, rhythm,
        melody, discussion, and tapes
       It is very helpful to have material that students need to learn on tape so
        they can listen to it. Allow students to bring in small tape recorders to
        record teacher lectures (to supplement note taking).
       For tactile/kinesthetic learners, provide lots of hands-on experience that
        promotes learning by doing. Use manipulatives for teaching math, role
        playing, dance and movement, acting-out.
       Use computers and games.
       Offer many choices (for example, book reports, science projects, oral
        reports). (1993)

“Hook the students in the instruction emotionally.” Rief emphasizes the use of learning

aids (assistive technology devices) to accomplish student involvement into their own

instruction according to their own style of learning.

                 Research has shown assistive technology (AT) empowers students with

learning problems to work and learn. Christopher Lee (1991) emphasizes that learning

problems are not cured or outgrown. For instance, one of the myths about AD/HD is that

the child outgrows the disorder as he enters into adulthood. Whether a learning problem

or neurological disorder, research shows these conditions continue on in adulthood. It is

though that the reason many people believe AD/HD disappears in an adult is because by

the time the person with AD/HD has entered adulthood, she has made compensations for

the effects the disorder has on her and made the proper adjustments to carry out her day-

to-day tasks. Assistive technology provides a means for the person with learning

problems to adjust and accomplish tasks independently.

   Whether it is organizing a class report, writing a letter to a friend at home with
   the assistance of a word processor, checking for spelling errors in a memo
   to a co-worker, or using a calculator to help keep score in a card game,
   assistive technology devices may provide the needed support to accomplish
   effectively tasks in a variety of contexts and settings. (Lee 1999)

                Lee clarifies the term assistive technology. “Tools or assistive

technology are devices and equipment designed to make your life easier or to help you

perform a specific task.

   Everyone uses tools. A dictionary is used to spell a word. Color high lighters are
   used to help people pick out important words in a book. If you are one of more
   than 49 million Americans with disabilities, matching the right tools with your
   disability can give more options for greater freedom in your life. These
   assistive devices help you become more involved at work, at school, or in
   everyday living. Tools are for people of all ages and with all disabilities,
   illnesses or impairments.” (Lee 1999)

AT devices are able to empower us all People of all ages, abilities, and needs benefit

from assistive technology.

                 Literature on teaching to the student with AD/HD or learning differences

in the classroom emphasizes the use of color to differentiate and organize information.

Lee emphasizes color-coding using both low end and high end technology. “Color-

coding on files, drawers, and clothing help a person with a learning disability to

remember something important.” Lee states that just by changing a computer monitor’s

background color can assist greatly a students reading ability. “Workers (students) with

learning disabilities can make their work (learning) more efficient by altering colors, font,

or print size on a computer screen.” Using color to emphasize and organize information

and material is inexpensive and effective.

                 Many different AT devices are available to assist students with

organizing their schedules and accomplishing their assignments and tasks. For instance,

most students with AD/HD are inconsistent with their grammar, spelling, vocabulary,

writing and reading. The degree of the abilities varies from day-to-day. Simple spell

checkers included with word processing applications ease the frustration for a student that

has trouble with grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Free dictionary and thesaurus

applications found on the Web, such as Atomica ( help the

student check a word just by placing the cursor it, holding down the Alt key, and clicking

the left mouse button. Up pops a window with the spelling, definition, synonyms, and an

audible pronunciation of the word. There also is an encyclopedia feature providing a

background on the word’s definition. “This Web-based tool is so low on overhead that it

doesn’t even require a browser. It’s a free, downloadable utility that resides in the

Windows system tray, where it is available whenever you are connected to the Web,

whether you’re using, for example, an e-mail client, a word processor or a spreadsheet.”

(Lee Sherman 2000)

                Students with AD/HD tend to display dyslexic symptoms. A convenient

and practical proofing tool is the Qucktionary Reading Pen, a portable assistive reading

device to help the student with reading and spelling difficulties. It can go and be used

anywhere. “With the Quicktionary Reading Pen you can scan a printed word and see its

definition displayed on the built-in LCD screen. It will also read out the definition. An

earphone is included, so you don't disturb other people.

                There are devices and software, such as Voice Xpress or TYPEIT4ME,

which recognize speech and enable the user to dictate to the computer, converting oral

language to written text. You talk to your computer instead of typing. “You can talk to

Internet Explorer e-mail chat and just about any program you normally type in. It's

easy just install the program teach the program how you speak and begin to

dictate.” (Dealtime 2002)   Tape recorders help students review class materials and can

be used in conjunction with speech recognition software that converts the audio into text.

Software, such a WINN with optical character recognition capabilities allows the student

to scan a book or other written material and convert the text to speech (audio). Out

Spoken and JAWS are screen reading programs that allow you to use most PC programs,

read what is on the screen, and provides a keyboard alternative to the mouse pointer.

Write Outload is an easy-to-use word processor and screen reader for the MacIntosh.

The Ultimate Reader scanner is a scanner-text-speech processing program in which text

can be transferred from the scanner or other files into the reader program. “Special

features include the capability to change text, background color, and highlight colors. It

also extends to the computerized speech, allowing a user to change pitch, frequency and

modulation to whichever sounds clearest”. (Christopher Lee 2000) WebSpeak is a non-

visual Web browser that provides the student with efficient and direct access to Web

pages and the resources of the Internet. The program understands HTML, interprets the

Web pages and then lets the student brows through the pages by reading them back to the

student. The student controls the pace as which the program reads.

                Another program that can be downloaded for free from the Web is HELP

Reader. This program helps teach students to read by reading along with the student.

“Whether you’re younger or older, new to reading or have your own library, HELP Read

should be able to help you read more and understand more of what you read.” The

program is part of the Hawaii Education Literacy Project (HELP):

   Over the last eight years it has remained apparent that the need to be literate is
   a core ingredient in almost every pursuit of ones education and lifestyle. With
   the increase demands of a modern era, today’s literacy has experienced the
   added challenges of understanding computers, the internet, and the
   accompanying technically specific language added to the common terms
   of everyday communication. With education resources already stretched,
   there is no wonder that results are slipping. Still, social evolution beckons
   changes while education struggles to teach along its same old standards.
   In itself a fixed position might pose enough of a crisis were it not for the fact
   that so many suffering the categorization of the slow-to-learn still do not
   have enough in the way of adaptive and assistive learning tools. (HELP 2000)

Christopher Lee points out that these tools appeal to the multi-sensory style of learning

incorporating Auditory, Visual and Tactile, Spatial, Verbal Re-enforcement and Review,

and Conceptual instructional techniques with electronic devices and software.

                 A device like Hewlett-Packard’s CapShare 920, the size of a CD player,

allows the student and teacher to capture, store and share paper documents while away

from school. Palm devices provide the same capability along with the ability to use a

multitude of other learning and organizational software designed for the individual and

the entire classroom. Many teachers are incorporating the devices and software into their

curriculum for use by the entire class. The various software and educational programs

can be found at Palm’s educational site at For instance,

fourth and fifth graders in Connecticut created a virtual field guide of local rivers and

uncover creative ways to use Palm handhelds in all subjects. (Palm 2002) Derby High

School’s, Derby Connecticut, music director, Brandt Schneider finds that handheld

computers provide access to technology students who might not have access to computers

at home and offer them new opportunities for learning. "Kids can have their own world

on a handheld and they get more excited about school. For many students, these

opportunities are helping them to be more involved in their own learning and to develop

their self-esteem." (Schneider 2002)

                 Many teachers are incorporating the use AlphaSmart 3000 boards (or

like devices such as Dream Writers and eMates) in with their classroom instruction and

activities. The introduction of these writing devices provides schools with a more

affordable option to the PC, and allows each student the use of a word processor in their

own classroom. Boston College undertook a year-long study researching the use of

AlphaSmart boards in the classroom that included observations before and after the

AlphaSmart ratio was increased, student interviews, teacher interviews and student

drawings. The study focuses on how teaching and learning changes when each student

in the classroom is provided with his/her own AlphaSmart “In other words, what

classroom practices change, if any, when the ratio of students to technology is increased

from about 3 to 1 to 1 to 1? Specifically, what kind of changes occur in the way that

students produce work, interact with each other, and interact

with their teachers when they are provided full access to their own AlphaSmart.”

        The study cites previous research on computers and writing:

   The research on computers and writings suggests computers may
   help students produce better work. Although much of this research
   was performed before large numbers of computers were present in schools,
   formal studies report that when students write on computer they tend to
   produce more text and make more revisions. Studies that compare student
   work produced on computer with work produced on paper find that for
   some groups of students, writing on computer also has a positive effect on
   the quality of student writing. This positive effect is strongest for students
   with learning disabilities, early elementary-aged students and college-aged
   students. Additionally, when applied to meet curricular goals, education
   technology provides alternative approaches to sustaining student interest,
   developing student knowledge and skill, and provides supplementary
   materials that teachers can use to extend student learning. As one example,
   several studies have shown that writing with a computer can increase the
   amount of writing students produce and the extent to which students edit
   their writing. (Dauite, 1986, Vacc, 1987; Etchinson, 1989), and, in turn,
    leads to higher quality writing (Kerchner & Kistinger, 1984;
    Williamson & Pence, 1989; Hannafin & Dalton, 1987).
    (Russell, Bebell, Cowan, Corbelli 2002).

Even though the research was limited to three classrooms, the research showed

that even though AlphaSmarts were designed for word processing only, the use of

one AlphaSmart per student led to increased use of desktop and laptop computers.

“This increased use seemed to increase students comfort and skill with technology

which in turn decreased the amount of time teachers spent providing students with

technical support. Full access and subsequent increased use of technology also led

to an increase in peer conferencing and individual instruction as well as a

decrease in whole group instruction.” The findings of the study suggested a

positive impact on the use of technology in the upper elementary classroom when

each student has individual and full access to a word processor. When each child

had individual and full access to their own AlphaSmart and was able to take

the machine home to do homework assignments, there was “a greater sense

of student ownership, responsibility, independence and empowerment.”

   The participating teachers all noted in the post-study interview that the
   that the technology was a motivational tool for the students and that
   by providing each student with their own AlphaSmart to use, each
   student exhibited a greater sense of importance towards their work.
   All three teachers spoke of how the students became more responsible
   empowered when they had their own Alpha Smart.
   (Russell, Bebell, Cowan, Corbelli 2002)

Behavioral problems decreased and ease of classroom management increase.

Students were free to create their own individual work spaces by taking their

AlphaSmarts to corners of the classroom, out in the hallway, or to the library to

write and compose, use iBooks, or complete their assignments. Students could

use their “own” AlphaSmart at all times in the classroom and take their machine

home in the evenings or over the weekends. The team from Boston University


   Given the relatively low cost of AlphaSmarts and the resulting benefits
   of providing each student with their own AlphaSmart found in this study,
   we strongly encourage technology leaders within schools as well as policy
   makers to consider policies and practices that promote full access to
   AlphaSmarts in upper elementary classrooms. While access alone will not
   guarantee that technology will be used, for those teachers who either

   advocate or have actively attempted to use technology for instructional
   purposes, full access to word processors eliminates many
   of the managerial and technical issues that impeded regular use of
   technology in the classroom. (Russell, Bebell, Cowan, Corbelli 2002)

                 Using a computer or an electronic device, such as an Alpha

Smart, with specialized software for writing makes the writing process easier

for most students, especially students with learning differences, and allows the

students to visual organize their thoughts and write more in a shorter amount of

time . The way to learn how to write is to do a lot of writing, and using a

computer and software for writing can make the process of practicing writing

easier. The same applies to any academic discipline such as math, reading,

science, the acquisition of a foreign language; the way to learn is to practice.

The computer and specialized software makes it faster

and easier to practice and learn; and facilitate the teacher’s ability to meet all

the learning styles and difference in the classroom, including the student with


                 Assistive Technology devices provide various means and

methods for presenting learning materials and assignments in new and different

formats. AT devices incorporated in to the curriculum make it easier for the

teacher to create a learning environment for ALL students, regardless of the

different learning styles and differences represented in the classroom. Varying

methods of course delivery and assessment has shown increased motivation on

the student’s part to participate and successfully complete learning modules and


Students in a Denver, Colorado “alternative” high school science class for at-risk

children were assigned a project of creating wetlands on the border of the school’s

property. They were to design the wetlands and make observations in water

quality and bio-diversity as the wetlands developed and progressed. Each

student was given a hand held data grabbing device (The Trekker) for collecting

data from soil analysis to the bio diversity of the developing wetlands. The

project-based learning experience was designed to examine the impact this

learning format had on the students’ ability to understand and explore science,

and on their motivation to learn. Two versions of Colorado’s eighth grade science

achievement test (pre-test/post-test) were used to evaluate learning outcomes. A

control group from a “regular” high school that included high-risk students using

in-classroom, simulated wetlands learning modules and labs with no hand held

data grabbing devices or other assistive technology devices, was used as a

comparison for the project-based group’s learning outcomes.

                The study found “the combination of PBL (Project-Based Learning),

inquiry approaches in science, and the use of technology” resulted in students at the

alternative high school becoming more motivated and engaged in their project-related


                They work on the project after classes are over, during other
                classes, and on holidays. This is quite unusual since the
                qualifications for students to come to this high school include
                that you have already dropped out of school at least once.
                (Orey, Winward, Distefano 2001)

                 The study also was conduct within the “regular” high school in

the context of the general classroom. The comparison group used thermometers

and stops watches for their data sampling, while the in-classroom study group

used the hand held Trekkers.

                 One class used The Trekker to record temperatures in
                 a beaker of ice water as it was heated to boiling. This
                 was repeated on the subsequent class using salt ice water.
                 The comparison class used regular thermometers and
                 a stop watch. (Orey, Winward, DiStefano 2001)

Teachers found that the students using the Trekker devices were “more engaged in the

experiment than their thermometer counterparts.” The teachers felt the devices motivated

the students to participate, but weren’t sure if that would have an effect on their

performance on the SCAP test.

                 Christopher Lee (2000) points out that learning differences not only

affect reading and writing abilities, but also affect math skills and social perception, as

well. The above-mentioned devices and software aid students with math, organizational,

management, and social skills in the same manner as reading and writing skills. Lee lists

and gives overviews of many low and high end assistive technology devices and tools in

the areas of reading, writing, math, and social difficulties. Lee concludes that assistive

technology extends beyond the classroom. “Assistive technology is a lifelong process.

Decide what you want to do better. Then decide if assistive technology can help you do

it better.” The teacher is able to start the AT decision process in a student’s life by

incorporating assistive technology devices and methods of instruction in with the

methods of course material delivery, activities, assignments and assessments; and

allowing the student to match and adapt the tools to their own particular learning style

and preferences.

Multiple Intelligences, Multisensory Instruction with Assistive Technology
Devices and the AD/HD Learning Style

                   Howard Gardner, developmental psychologist, originally

theorized that humans have seven intelligences, but has since included an eighth

(Gardner 2000): 1) Linguistic – syntax, phonology, semantics, pragmatics; 2)

Musical – pitch, rhythm, timbre; 3) Logical mathematical – number,

categorization, relations; 4) Spatial – accurate mental visualization, mental

transformation of images; 5) Bodily/kinesthetic – control of one’s own body,

control in handling objects; 6) Interpersonal – awareness of other’ feelings,

emotions, goals motivations; 7) Intrapersonal – awareness of one’s own feelings,

emotions, goals, motivations; and 8) Naturalist – recognition and classification of

objects in the environment. He divided them into three main groups: 1) Object-

related intelligence - mathematics and logic; 2) Object-free intelligence - music

and language; and 3) Personal intelligence - the psychological perception we have

of our individual selves and others (Gardner 1983). Developing the classroom

activities and lesson plans to include each of the eight intelligences, can assure a

stimulating and engaging learning environment that meets the needs of all the

learners in the classroom, including the student with AD/HD.

                 Gardner points out that our schools focus on and teach to the

linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. He advocates equal attention

and esteem be given to individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences such

the artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, naturalists, designers, dancers, and others

who enrich the world in which we live. (Persons with AD/HD excel and make

significant contributions in the aforementioned career fields.) Unfortunately,

many children who have these gifts don’t receive learning reinforcement in

school, and their unique talents, skills, and ways of learning are overlooked by a

heavily linguistic and logical-mathematical public school system. (Gardner 2000)

       Sandra Rief, educator and resource specialist in the area of learning

disabilities and AD/HD, advocates the recognition of Gardner’s Multiple

Intelligences in curriculum planning through the use of multisensory instruction in

the classroom. Students with AD/HD learn best in a multisensory learning

environment in small groups with their peers (Rief

1998). Multisensory instructional methods include: 1) Auditory techniques such

as rhythm, melody, song and rap; 2) Visual and Tactile materials, games, and

computer software; 3) Spatial designs, colored visuals and manipulatives; 4)

Verbal re-enforcement and review through group interaction, electronic devices,

and computer software; 5) Conceptual games, software, and activities (Rief

1993). Technology devices and software adds a different and engaging

dimension to multisensory instruction in the classroom for all learners, especially

the student with AD/HD. Including assistive technology in the standard

curriculum enhance the classroom learning atmosphere and “help students with

cognitive disabilities achieve in a challenging curriculum” (Warger 1998)

                 Learners with AD/HD many times are gifted spatially, but will

display significant weaknesses when performing left brain/sequential tasks

(linguistic and logical mathematical intelligences). However, many times the

learner with AD/HD easily becomes intrinsically motivated, undertaking “an

activity for its own sake, for the enjoyment it provides, the learning it permits, or

the feelings of accomplishment it evokes” (Lepper 1988) in linguistic and logical

mathematical subject areas through social interaction with a capable peer or adult

role model. The students with AD/HD thrive, learn, and master difficult skills

from positive attention and re-enforcement through social and learning

relationships with capable peers, teachers, and family members.

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and the Use of Technology
as a “More Capable Peer”

                 Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development centers on learning

and the mastery of specific cognitive skills through social and intellectual

partnerships and interaction. He theorizes that an individual’s cultural and

cognitive development starts “on the social plane and then on the psychological

plane”, appearing between people as an “ interpsychological category”, then

within the individual as an “interpsychological category”, especially in the areas

of voluntary attention, logical memory, the formation of concepts, and the

development of volition (Tharp and Gilmore 1991). These are cognitive areas in

which the learner with AD/HD finds difficult to master without the help of a

capable peer or adult. The term “coach” is a popular term for a “capable peer or

adult” as it relates to the person with AD/HD. Vygotsky terms this social

intrapsychological to individual interpsychological process as internalization.

The distance between the levels of the learner’s assisted performance of a task

(done with the support and guidance of capable others) and the level of the

learner’s unassisted performance of the same task is the Zone of Proximal

Development. “It is in the proximal zone that teaching may be defined in terms of

learner development” (Tharp and Gilmore 1991). Defining and monitoring the

learner with AD/HD’s ZPD in difficult subject areas, and providing assistance

from a coach in the learner’s environment will help with the internalization of the

skill and the ability to perform the task will become part of the learner’s

“independent developmental achievement” and allow the learner to perform

unassisted on a higher cognitive level (Tharp and Gilmore 1991).

                 In a study by Globerson and Guterman (1989), computer tools

(software) were used to provide assistance and guidance within the learner’s zone

of proximal development as part of the internalization process in developing

reading competencies and reading-related metacognitions. The study “was

designed to test the general hypothesis that intellectual partnership with a

computer tool that provides reading-related, metacognitive-like guidance leads to

the internalization of the guidance, which, in turn, facilitates better text

comprehension and transfers to writing ability. The study’s hypotheses were

supported, which suggests that a computer tool can serve as a “more capable

peer” (Vygotsky, 1978) or assistive coach in a learner’s zone of proximal

development and can thus facilitate the development of competency. (Globerson

and Guterman 1989

                 Assistive technology (AT) empowers students with learning

problems to work and learn. (Lee 2000). Technology exists that can substitute

and serve as an assistive peer or coach, and meet the needs of learners having

difficulties with reading, writing, math, organizational and social skills. The

integration of assistive technology to meet the learning needs of all students

in the classroom makes the goal of creating a stimulating and engaging classroom

learning environment easily attainable for the teacher.


                 Chapter II reviewed the literature and research regarding the

possible causes, characteristics, symptoms and diagnosis of AD/HD. The unique

learning style and behavioral characteristics of the student with AD/HD were

identified and compared with progressive course delivery methods such as

multisensory instruction. Assistive Technology devices were examined and

related to the various student learning preferences associated with multisensory

instruction. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory was examined and related to

the learning styles associated with the AD/HD learner. The use of assistive

technology devices, particularly the computer, was further explored as research

related to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development theory and the computer

serving as “a more capable peer” was examined and related to the present concept

of a “coach” to train and assist the person with AD/HD in learning and acquiring

positive organizational, learning, and life skills. The literature review presented

compelling evidence of the use of assistive to technology in the classroom to ease

and facilitate the efforts of the teacher to meet the learning needs of all students,

including those of the student with AD/HD.
                                       CHAPTER III


                 This chapter provide an overview of the procedure used in this

study to determine if a relationship exists between the teacher’s integration of

multisensory instructional methods through assistive technology devices and tools

in with the course curriculum and a noticeable easing of the burden and challenge

experienced by the teacher in academically stimulating and teaching the learning

styles and preferences of all the students in the classroom, including the student

with AD/HD and/or other learning differences; and the teacher’s perception and

attitude towards the AD/HD student and the challenge of accommodating the

student in the classroom.

                 1. Does the use of assistive technology devices incorporated into

the course curriculum and lesson plans ease the burden and challenge of

recognizing and meeting the needs of all learning styles and preferences in the

classroom, including the student with AD/HD; making it possible for the teacher

to meet the learning needs of all students?

                 2. Is there a significant relationship between the positive or

negative nature of teacher perceptions and attitudes towards the student with

AD/HD in the classroom to the frequency in which the teacher includes assistive

technology devices in methods of instruction and general lessons plans in the



                                 Research Design

        Ex post facto research is used in this study due to the self-selected levels

of independent variables involved in teacher attitudes towards the AD/HD

student, the number of covarying extraneous variables, and the uncontrollable and

varied scope of the area of inquiry. The variables are not manipulated. This is a

correlation study designed to identify the relationship between the classroom

teacher, the use of technology, and the student with AD/HD. This study will lend

itself to the generation of further theory and research into the cause and effect of

these relationships. Diem (2002) states “An ex post facto study is used when

experimental research is not possible, such as when people have self-selected

levels of an independent variable or when a treatment is naturally occurring and

the researcher could not control the degree of its use.” Diem cautions, “It is

important to recognize that, in a relational study, “cause-and-effect” cannot be

claimed but only that there is a relationship between the variables.” Variables that

are completely unrelated could vary together due to nothing more than


       Newman and Newman (1994) maintain:

   To assume a causal relationship, one must have internal validity (all other
   explanations for the effect on the criterion [dependent variable] are
   controlled for and the only possible explanation for changes in the
   dependent variable must be due to the independent variable under
   investigation). Only with true experimental design does one have the
   experimental control to achieve internal validity. (p 114)

When investigating causation, ex post facto research is inappropriate; however, if

the research deals with relationships, ex post facto procedures are acceptable.

         The study involved a large number of randomly selected participants.

Keys points out the relationship between the subject selection and the external

validity of the ex post facto study. Differential selection of the subjects

determines how the findings can be generalized. Subjects selected from a small

group or one with particular characteristics would limit generalizability.

Randomly chosen subjects from the entire population could be generalized to the

entire population. (Keys 1997) Also, the ability to generalize to the entire

population increases with the number of subjects or participants. The ability to

generalize lends to the external validity of the research; the larger the field

of randomly selected subjects, the greater the ability to generalize findings to the

entire population.

         This study deals with the relationship between the classroom teacher,

assistive technology devices incorporated in with the curriculum, and the AD/HD

student; and will be used to establish theory and further research on the cause and

effect of attitudes within these relationships.


        The subjects who participated in the survey were randomly selected from

three defined regions in Ohio, Northeastern (Cleveland and surrounding

areas), Central (Columbus and surrounding areas), and Southern (Cincinnati and

surrounding areas). Five hundred-seventy five (575) teachers varying in teaching

experience, computer training and skills, grade level, areas of specialization,

classroom population, and the number of computers in their classroom were

surveyed. Forty-eight (48) of the surveyed subjects were interviewed and

observed in the classroom.

                 The nonprobabilistic, theoretical sampling for this study involves

a large number of randomly selected participants. A probability sampling is the

best method for this qualitative research, in that the study is designed to identify

relationship problems linked to occurrences between the teacher and the AD/HD

student, not to answer or solve them. The purpose of this qualitative, ex post

facto study was to identify more theories of cause for further quantitative

research. “Theoretical sampling is the process of data collection for generating

theory where by the analyst jointly collects, codes, and analyzes his data and

decides what data to collect next and where to find them, in order to develop his

theory as it emerges.” (Merriam 2001, page 63) The theoretical method of

sampling a broad base of teachers or instructors, Pre-K – 16, is used to identify

general teacher attitudes towards the AD/HD student, and build a base of

categorized data to generate theories and further research as to the causes and

occurrences that contribute to negative classroom attitudes and relationships

between the teacher and the AD/HD student.

The subjects for this study were randomly chosen from a large and wide spread

teacher population in order to generalize the data over the entire population (the

larger the field of randomly selected subjects, the greater the ability to generalize

findings to the entire population). “In purposeful sampling the size of the sample

is determined by informational considerations. If the purpose is to maximize

information, the sampling is terminated when no new information is forthcoming

from new sampled units; thus redundancy is the primary criterion.” (Merriam

2001, page 64) Redundancy in the responses to the survey questions became

apparent after 500 surveys were completed. The study used 575 completed

surveys for the data comparison and analysis.


The survey instrument used in this study consisted of 23 questions. The survey

was designed to gather information on the teacher’s

attitude and perception of technology in the classroom, the student with AD/HD,

and how the teacher recognized and considered the learning styles and

preferences of all students in the classroom, including the student with AD/HD.

The first questions established the demographics of the survey. Questions         -

established teacher knowledge and attitude concerning AD/HD as a disorder.

Questions -     addressed teacher knowledge and attitude towards the various

individual student learning styles and preferences represented in the classroom.

The final questions surveyed the use of assistive technology devices in the


                              Statistical Treatment

                Demographic data of the teachers completing the survey were

examined and established. The demographic data was broken down into

categories: 1.) Mode of Response (Interview, Hard Copy, and Online); 2.)

Regions (Northeastern, Central, and Southern, Ohio); 3.) Degree; 4.) Grade

Level (PreK- Postsecondary 16); 5.) Years Teaching (1 – 21+), 6.) Courses

(Subjects) Taught; 7. ) Size of Class; and 8.) Computers in the Classroom.

(See Appendix B) Data from questions 8-15 (Teacher Use of Technology),

questions 16-20 (AD/HD in the Classroom), and questions 21-26 (Assistive

Technology in the Classroom) were compared against the data from the

established demographic data; and averages were calculated and charted on tables

(see Appendix C). Additional comments from the participating teachers

regarding the individual questions were considered when studying the data and

forming conclusions. Comments and data averages from questions 8-15 (Teacher

Use of Technology), questions 16-20 (AD/HD in the Classroom), and questions

21-26 (Assistive Technology in the Classroom) were further compared against

one another and charted. (See Appendix D) The averaged comparisons were

used to determine the predominate teacher attitude and perception of the AD/HD

student in the classroom; and to establish if a relationship existed between the

teacher attitude and perception the AD/HD student and the use of assistive

technology in the classroom.


                 Although the survey specifically addresses the factors that researchers

have shown to have a direct impact on the use of assistive technology in the classroom

and facilitating the teacher’s a ability to meet the learning needs of students with learning

differences in the traditional classroom, the study presents some limitations. Ex post

facto research designs are weak due to the inability to control the variables. The subjects

may not be representative of the entire teaching population. Therefore, the sample size

and area sampled was large in an attempt to strengthen the study. Most teachers did not

identify their school district, so the enrollment and economic status of the schools

represented by the participating teachers were unknown (except for the 48 teachers

interviewed and observed)’ and the exact number of schools represented could not be

determined. The race, gender and age of the teachers (except for the 48 teachers

interviewed and observed) also were unknown. For this reason, the actual number of

students with AD/HD in the classrooms, actual AD/HD classifications, and student

achievement data could not be gathered.


                Chapter III presented the questions and lay-out of the survey used in this

study. The ex post facto research design was explained, and a brief definition was

included to point out the weaknesses of the study. The participants were identified as a

random selection of 575 teachers in Northeastern, Central, and Southern Ohio. The

survey instrument used in this study was identified as a survey consisting of 26 questions

that address three specific aspects affecting the education and academic experience of the

student with AD/HD: 1.) teacher training and use of technology; 2.) teacher

understanding of AD/HD; and, 3.) the use of assistive technology devices in the

classroom. Participating teachers were encouraged to comment on any or all of the

questions. The statistical treatment and presentation of the data were explained, and the

limitations of this ex post facto study were identified, defining the specific weaknesses of

the study.
                                   CHAPTER IV

                            RESULTS OF THE STUDY

                 The study attempted to identify teacher perception of the AD/HD

student in the classroom. It was felt, after a review of the literature and an

investigation of research findings documenting the positive impact assistive

technology devices has on the AD/HD student’s ability to learn and adapt to the

traditional classroom, that teachers incorporating assistive technology devices into

their general classroom learning activities, events, and assessments, would have a

more positive perception of the AD/HD student in the classroom. Teachers of

grade levels Pre-K through Post- Secondary 16 were invited to participate. A

printed survey consisting of 28 questions was distributed and returned by teachers

in the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati areas. An online version of the

survey also was available. Some of the respondents personally were interviewed

by assistants at Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland), Ohio State University

(Columbus), and The University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati). The survey was

divided up into three sections. The first 16 questions established the

demographics of the population responding to the survey. The next 5 set of

questions established the understanding, opinion, and perception the responding

population had towards AD/HD. The remaining 7 questions established the

attitude of the teacher population responding to the survey towards the


recognition of different learning styles in the classroom and the use of assistive

technology devices in the general curriculum. The teachers were given the

opportunity to comment on any or all of the questions and statements. They were

encouraged to provide additional comments at the end of the survey. See

Appendix A.

                               Statistical Data Results

                    The random sampling consisted of 575 subjects (48 interviewed,

282 returning hard copies of the survey, and 245 submitting the survey online).

See Appendix B. The questions that evoked additional comments seemed to be

the key questions in identifying the overall teacher perception of the AD/HD

student in the classroom and the use of assistive technology devices in the general

curriculum. They were as follows:

1. Do you feel the number of computers in your classroom is adequate to

meet the needs of your students?

  Total       Yes       No

 575           9%      91%

          11 of the teachers in Grades 6-12, answering YES, identified themselves

as resource and technology lab instructors. 5 of the schools are in partnership with

local industry. 6 additional Grades 6-12 teachers commented on the use laptops in

their room, 1 of which also used palm devices for science and math projects.

        Commenting post-secondary instructors felt it's the responsibility of the

students to research and complete assignments on their own computer or a tech

lab computer on campus. A few commented on requesting computer labs for their

classes and were unhappy with the lack of availability of open labs. The

responsibility was on the student.

       Veteran teachers (21+ years) commented on being unsure of how the use

of computers, outside of the student typing his/her own paper, would enhance

their curriculum. One commented, “If it isn’t broke, why fix it.” The 9 veterans

taught English on the senior high grade level. All 9 disapproved or were skeptical

of the use of the World Wide Web for research.

       2 General and Physical Science teachers answering YES (they had an

adequate amount of computers in their classroom) took matters into their own

hands and wrote grants for laptops and palm devices in their classrooms. They

commented on the ease of finding and receiving the technology grants.

2. Was the use of technology included or required in your personal college

curriculum towards your degree?

    Total      Yes         No

     575       87%       13%

        Recent education graduates answering Yes mentioned the emphasis on

computer software innovations on the PreK level and the emphasis on technology

in their college curriculum; while post-secondary instructors answering NO, in

general, commented that technology was used to complete their assignments, but

it wasn't emphasized in their course of study.

       All teachers with 1-5 years of experience felt technology was emphasized

in their college education courses. All of them cited required technology courses

in their college curriculum in the space provided for comments.

3. Have you attended seminars or training emphasizing technology in

education since your college graduation?

    Total      Yes         No

     575       96%        4%

       All teachers answering the online survey answered YES. Technology is

interpreted as limited to computer-related equipment and software. Some

instructors on the post-secondary level commented on their used technology,

however their knowledge of particular software was self taught. Again,

technology is perceived as computer-related.

       All teachers with 10 years experience and under have received some

technology training after their graduation from college. In-service was cited.

Most school districts require so many in-service hours of technology based

training per year per year. However, many of the teachers with 21 years or more

of service stated they have not attended technology training sessions.

4. Are you comfortable using technology to enhance your curriculum?

    Total        Yes         No
     575        89%         11%

         Those answering the survey online had the highest percentage of “Yes”

answers. Instructors on a postgraduate level were less willing to revise their

curriculum to include various technology formats. One reason cited was the

cumbersome curriculum review process at most colleges. Many said it wasn't

worth the frustration. Others felt it was the students’ responsibility to use

technology to the best of their own abilities and needs.

         Teachers and instructors with 10 or less years of experience (regardless of

grade level) had no problem with incorporating technology (computer-based) into

their curriculum.

5. What would prevent you from pursuing further training in technology

formats designed for the classroom?

 Total   Time   Equipment    Funds   Administration   Other

 575     100%       91%      98%     0%               2%

         9 teachers cited they had no need for further technology training. All 14

teachers answering in the "others" category felt it wasn't necessary for their

particular area of study or that it suited their teaching methods and style. 283

teachers (Grades 4-12) made mention of the government's emphasis on the

proficiency tests as a contributing to the "lack of time" factor. Many faulted the

pressures caused by the proficiency tests requirements and rankings as

monopolizing the teachers' time and efforts.

       Out of 575 survey participants, 0 answered Lack of Administration

Support. Those who commented felt the administration encouraged them to

further their training in the area of technology. Most of the K-12 districts

required 3-6 hours (average) of in-service training in technology for their faculty

and staff. However, comments were made on sport activities, such as football,

that seemed to be the administration’s budget priority. Those that commented felt

the sports programs were top priority in the allocation of funds for equipment and

staffing. Technology came second and the arts were at the bottom of the list. One

comment stated, "They'll (the school board) will approve a state of the art

Stairmaster in the state of the art weight room before they'll approve a laptop to be

shared by the 30 students in my classroom."

6. Have you taken a course or attended a seminar in which AD/HD Learning

Styles have been studied or discussed?

    Total       Yes        No

     575       38%        62%

       Teachers (Grades K-12) commented that they have attended in-service

seminars on learning disabilities, but there wasn't an emphasis on AD/HD in the

material. The disorder was discussed in work groups, but it was mostly supported

by teachers’ experiences, hearsay, and opinions. Many commented on broadcast

and print media as a major influence on their opinion regarding the AD/HD

student’s ability to learn and participate in the normal classroom setting.

       PreK had a high percentage of NO answers. Levels of education and

degrees weren’t a factor.

       Post-secondary instructors commented that by the time the students

entered college, they should be responsible for dealing and adjusting with their

individual learning difficulties on their own. 4 of the post-secondary instructors

answering YES taught child development courses and units on AD/HD were

included in their course text and supplemental materials.

7. In your opinion, is AD/HD over diagnosed?

    Total       Yes         No

     575      100%          0%

       This question was answered YES by all respondents. Most everyone had

a comment or opinion. Those interviewed displayed negative movements or

expressions when asked the question (rolled their eyes, shook their head, breathed

a deep sigh, etc.). The hard copy comments reflected the same frustration only in

phrases such as "confusing to parent, teachers and students", "used as an excuse

for bad behavior", "latest psych ed fad", etc. The online responses were brutal.

Some respondents used more earthy vocabulary to express their frustration. One

named a local Northeastern Ohio doctor and called him a quack “making money

off of parents who don't know how to parent”.

         Very few of the respondents to this survey knew enough about AD/HD to

distinguish the three diagnostic categories of the disorder. Most described the

hyperactive and impulsive characteristics when referring to and decribing the

student with AD/HD. 38% of the respondents to this survey felt the problem was

not a disorder, but poor parenting skills. Other comments included too much

sugar and poor dietary habits. A few comments were made regarding too much

television and not enough family interaction. One comment was made on

obsessive use of hand held video game devices.

8. Is AD/HD a learning disability, mental disorder, or both?

  Total        LD       MD       BOTH

   575        93%       6%        1%

         Most teachers thought AD/HD was a learning disability. A few

commented that they didn’t believe the disorder existed citing poor parenting,

poor diet, and excessive viewing of television. Again, the hyperactive and

impulsive characteristics associated with the disorder were given as examples of

typical AD/HD behavior.

         Most of the teachers and instructors knowing that AD/HD is a

neurological/ mental disorder were in special education and psychology. 2

teachers mentioned they were diagnosed AD/HD and knew it was a

neurological/mental disorder. Some teachers, knowing that AD/HD is a

neurological/mental disorder, preferred to use neurological and omit the mental

tag. They felt the term "mental" gave a negative connotation and AD/HDed to the

misconceptions most people have of AD/HD, since most people have

misconceptions on mental disorders.

9. Does it make a difference to understand and recognize how

AD/HD/AD/HD is classified (LD or MD) when teaching a student with

attention deficits?

    Total      Yes        No

     575        7%       93%

       All Special Education and Psychology educators answered YES. Many

emphasized the danger in recognizing and treating AD/HD as a learning

disability. One commented, “Treating AD/HD aggravates the problem for the

student with AD/HD. AD/HD is not a learning disability.”

       In personal observations and interviews with teachers, I noticed a

“stubborn resistance” to facts and medical information about AD/HD. It didn't

matter what medical or educational research has discovered and documented

about AD/HD. Many had formed their own opinion regarding AD/HD from their

personal experiences and the opinions of other educators. Media misconceptions

played a factor, also. Many cited and trusted media reports over medical findings.

The broadcast news anchor was more credible in this area than the neurologist or


When asked if a student with AD/HD told them she can't do the task; many

replied she could if she tried, she just doesn't want to try hard enough.

        Many commented that the students with AD/HD were over-medicated.

Some commented on the medication prescribed for the student with AD/HD

student using terms such as "doped up" or "out of it" to describe the condition of

the medicated AD/HD student. A few of the teachers interviewed refused to

believe the medication prescribed to a student with AD/HD was a stimulant.

Medical information was shown to the teachers stating that the stimulant has

nothing to do with sedating a student. “The stimulant acts on the area of the brain

that causes a person to focus on a task.” The medication causes the student to

focus. So if the student was hyper and fidgety prior to the medication and after

taking the medication becomes quiet and calm, that is because the student has

become focused on his/her task. The medical information was refuted and

rejected by some of the teachers. 23 of the interviewed teachers cited negative

and misleading information heard on media magazine shows, such as 20/20, to

refute the medical information and research on AD/HD. 16 of the 48 interviewed

teachers, when asked which source was more credible, the AMA (American

Medical Association) or 20/20, choose 20/20 as the more reliable source for

accurate information regarding AD/HD.

10. Do you find it challenging to accommodate the AD/HD/AD/HD student?

    Total       Yes           No

     575       86%        14%

       Comments in the YES column were mixed. Most were negative in nature.

Most were frustrated with the impulsive, hyperactive AD/HD student. A majority

of the teachers stereotyped the student with AD/HD with the impulsive and

hyperactive characteristics of the AD/HD diagnosis. They didn't recognize the

AD/HD student with attentive disorders as AD/HD. AD/HD students with

attention problems were termed daydreamers, inconsistent, and lazy. Students

with attention problems weren’t considered by some of the teachers as being

AD/HD. Many commented that those students “just didn’t want to try hard


       The positive YES comments came from the Special Education teachers.

Once commented, "It is challenging because on-going assessment is needed in

order to figure out what works for the child. Finding and accentuating the

AD/HD student’s strength and accommodating for the weakness and learning

differences are essential."

       Many answering NO were post-secondary instructors. Again, many felt

that by the time the student enters college, the students should be aware of their

learning differences and make their own accommodations.

         Others in the NO column commented that their areas of study (such as Art,

Music, Information Technology, Vocational Ed) were engaging to the students

with AD/HD. No accommodations were necessary.

         Again, in personal observations and interviews with teachers, I noticed a

stubborn resistance to learning and receiving the facts and information from the

medical and educational research on AD/HD. Most teachers commenting on

AD/HD have formed their own opinion as to the cause and effects of AD/HD. As

stated above, poor parenting was cited as the chief cause behind the behavioral

problems associated with the student with impulsive and hyperactive AD/HD

characteristics. 12 of the interviewed teachers commented that the AD/HD

diagnosis was used as an excuse for behavioral problems and poor academic


         The medication controversy was brought out again with this question.

One online respondent commented that it was “impossible to accommodate

"doped up" or "drugged out" students whose parents don’t give a damn about

them”.    One of the interviewed teachers, after being shown AMA (American

Medical Association) and APA (American Psychology Association) literature on

medication (stimulants) prescribed to persons with AD/HD commented, “I see

what the medication does to students in my class, and nobody can tell me the

medication doesn't act as a sedative. Those kids act as if they were in a drug

induced stupor, like they were smoking pot or something."

             It was interesting to note, that teachers being interviewed and asked the

survey questions (in person) were guarded and professional when expressing their

frustration with the concept of AD/HD. They were not as frustrated with the

students as they were with the AD/HD diagnosis and medication. Teachers

returning their responses in the hard copy format were a bit more expressive and

less reserved when describing their experiences and frustrations with the students

diagnosed with AD/HD. Many of the comments from those responding online

were uninhibited and unprofessional. Some of the comments could be considered

free and expressive venting of teacher frustration and disgust towards the AD/HD

issue. As with the interviewed and hard copy respondents, the online

respondents’ anger was more towards the medical professionals and their

diagnosis and treatment of the disorder than towards the students. However, the

online respondents displayed less decorum when expressing their thoughts on the

AD/HD diagnosis and treatment. Some of the online comments were offensive

and crude.

11. Do you use assistive technology devices or multimedia formats in any

area of your course curriculum and classroom activities (course planning,

organization, instruction, activities, assignments, presentations, student

interaction, or assessments?)

    Total         Yes        No

     575         85%       15%

        All teachers in grades PreK-8 used assistive technology devices and

formats in their planning, instruction, activities, and assessments. Most

considered assistive technology devices as computer-related hardware or

software. One hard copy comment questioned "highlighters" as being considered

an AT device. An assistive technology device was considered electronic.

       Most post-secondary instructors welcomed the use of assistive technology

devices in their classroom, but that was a student option. One instructor

acknowledged the use of Microsoft Word and Excel software as a requirement for

completing assignments, but was hesitant to say he was incorporating assistive

technology into his curriculum. The Information Technology instructors were

hesitant to use the term assistive technology when referring to the use of the

computer and the Internet in their courses. The IT instructors didn't feel the use

of the computer and Internet as falling into the category of assistive technology.

Assistive technology devices in the IT classroom were considered software such a

JAWS (audible screen readers) and WYNN (scanning and reading literacy


       A professor of math at a Northeastern Ohio community college

commented on his redesigned algebra course centered on the use of Microsoft

Excel spreadsheets for calculating problems. Students did their assignments and

assessments using Excel software. He hesitated to say that this was assistive

technology, but he did note that students seemed to have an easier time

understanding and successfully completing his course after he redesign the

instruction to include Microsoft Excel software. He noticed the percentage of

students successfully completing his course rose from 58% to 80%.

       The terms technology and assistive technology were thought to be

electronic by most educators. The Smart Board and laptops were on "The Most

Wanted" list by teachers K-12. Teachers and instructors with 5 or less years of

teaching experience were more willing to acknowledge the use of assistive

technology devices in their curriculum.

       A majority of the teachers that answered NO to the use of assistive

technology had computers in their classroom and used a personal computer to

plan and keep records, but didn’t consider them assistive devices. One teacher

commented that when she thought of assistive technology, she thought of devices

used by the severely mentally or physically challenged.

       Teachers with 16 or more years of experience were less likely to use the

term assistive technology when referring to devices used in the classroom that

enhanced the instruction and learning environment of the classroom. Many of the

teachers with computers in their classroom commented that they used technology

to enhance their curriculum, but not assistive technology devices.

12. Do you use forms of assistive technology in your own (personal)

curriculum and lesson plan development, building student assessments,

record keeping, and organization of your course?

    Total          Yes        No

      575         94%         6%

           When the term technology was used in conversation, the interviewed

teachers were open about the ways the devices and software they used to plan and

organize their course or classroom. When assistive was added, they became

confused. Many commented that assistive technology were devices for those with

disabilities, and not related to the general student population.

           Again, many of the teachers with computers in their classroom

commented that they use technology to plan and organize their curriculum, but

they would not consider the computers or software assistive technology. Some

commented that they changed their answer from NO to YES after they reviewed

the operational definitions at the beginning of the survey. Most commented that

when they think of technology, they think of something that has to do with a


13. It is important to recognize the learning styles and preferences of all the

students in the classroom, including those with nontraditional learning

differences, and adjust my lesson plans and assessments accordingly.

   Total       St. Agree   Agree   Disagree   St. Disagree   Unsure

   575           30%       41%      22%       4%             3%

           Instructors in higher education disagreed or strongly disagreed with this

statement. It was felt that by the time students enter into post-secondary

education, it was their own responsibility to recognize their own learning styles

and preferences, and adjust to the course delivery style and assessment procedures

of the professor.

14. Do you believe Assistive Technology tools and techniques are useful for

supplementing your course delivery and enhancing individual student

learning capabilities?

   Total       St. Agree    Agree   Disagree   St. Disagree        Unsure

   575           30%        41%      14%       4%                  10%

           Instructors in higher education disagreed or strongly disagreed with this

statement only because they felt it was the student’s responsibility to use whatever

tools or devices necessary to enhance their own learning capabilities.

15. I believe Assistive Technology formats and techniques incorporated into

my curriculum help me meet the learning styles and preferences of all my

students, and support classroom management.

    Total       St. Agree   Agree   Disagree     St. Disagree        Unsure

      575           30%       41%       14%                   4%         10%

        Instructors in higher education disagreed or strongly disagreed with this

statement.   It was felt that it was the student’s responsibility to understand the

syllabus and follow the syllabus. At the post secondary level, there should be no

need for classroom management methods or devices.

16. What assistive technology devices do you use in your classroom?

       All 575 respondents to the survey check at least 4 devices. The top 10,

overall, AT devices used by teachers in their classroom were

1.) Computers - 533,

2.) Videos (Cams, Tapes, and VCR) - 507,

3.) Educational Software - 479,

4.) Electronic Games - 578,

5.) WWW Search Engines (Portals) - 472,

6.) Highlighters - 448,

7.) Overheads and Transparencies – 407,

8.) Calculators – 397,

9.)   PowerPoint Presentations – 393,

10.) Class Web site – 370.

       The technology device found most on teachers’ "Wish Lists" (mentioned

in many of the comments), were the Smart Boards and projectors. For a

breakdown of assistive technology use in the classroom by grade level and

academic specialization see Appendix C.


                 The teacher’s knowledge and use of technology in the classroom

seemed to have no effect or influence on their perception of the AD/HD student in

the classroom. Those teachers using assistive technology and multisensory

instruction in their classroom admitted the AD/HD student wasn’t disruptive; but

their perception of the disorder was still negative. When comparing questions 4

(Are you comfortable using technology to enhance your curriculum?), and 12.

(Do you use forms of assistive technology in your own (personal) curriculum and

lesson plan development, building student assessments, record keeping, and

organization of your course?) with question 10. (Do you find it challenging to

accommodate the AD/HD/AD/HD student?); 89% of the teachers were

comfortable using technology to enhance their curriculum, and 94% of the

teachers used forms of assistive technology in their classroom; 86% found it a

challenge to accommodate the AD/HD student in the classroom. Though 81% of

the teachers strongly agreed or agreed (question 13) that it is important to

recognize the learning styles and preferences of all the students in the classroom,

including those with nontraditional learning differences, and adjust lesson plans

and assessments accordingly; 93% of the responding teachers (question 9) felt it

didn’t make a difference, when dealing with the AD/HD student in the classroom,

to understand and recognize how AD/HD/AD/HD is classified (LD or MD) when

teaching a student with attention deficit disorders? 38% percent of the teachers

commenting on the over diagnosis of AD/HD strongly believed the disorder

didn’t exist and was attributed to poor parenting. See Appendix D for


                A majority of the Pre-K – Grade 5 teachers surveyed found the

AD/HD student to be a challenge. A high percentage of teachers specializing in

Math, English, Social Science, History, Political Science, and General/Physical

Science found the AD/HD student difficult to accommodate in the classroom;

while teachers specializing in Visual Art, Music, Philosophy, and Psychology had

the least amount of trouble accommodating the AD/HD learning style. At larger

percentage of teachers with the least amount of teaching experience found the

AD/HD student more difficult in the classroom that the veteran teacher with 21

years or more experience. . Though teachers recognized the importance of

recognizing and accommodating all learning styles and preferences represented in

the classroom, the AD/HD learning style seemed to be excluded. Negative

comments focused on the over diagnosis of the disorder and the medication

controversy. The use of assistive technology and multisensory instructional

methods incorporated into the curriculum didn’t seem to influence or positively

impact the teacher’s perception of the AD/HD student in the classroom.


                A teacher may teach, but that does not ensure
                that the child will learn.

                                       - Weiss and Weiss

         The student diagnosed with AD/HD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive

Disorder) is perceived as a challenge to the typical traditional classroom teacher at

all grade levels. The random survey revealed there is more to the negative

perception of the AD/HD students, then the every day classroom challenges

teacher’s experience with these learners. There is an underlying misconception as

to what causes AD/HD. The additional teacher comments to this survey, for the

most part, were negative and conveyed tones of resentment. The use of assistive

technology devices and multisensory instructional methods in the classroom did

not lessen the negative perception of the disorder. It seemed the negative

perception was fueled by hearsay and the media’s focus on the medication

prescribed to the person with AD/HD.

        The key to reaching and teaching the student with AD/HD is the same for

reaching and teaching any style learner in the classroom. The student with

AD/HD is a disruptive force in the classroom due to the fact the teacher’s focus is

on that disruptive force. As with any student, the student with AD/HD has a

unique learning personality. The challenge for the classroom teacher is to see past

the labeled AD/HD peculiarities and characteristics, and recognize the unique

individual learning styles and preferences of the student.

Instead of focusing on the negative characteristic, it makes a tremendous

difference in the teacher/student relationship to focus on the AD/HD student’s

ability to put forth endless energy and to hyperfocus on a subject or project when

motivated. AD/HD students are driven by intrinsic motivation factors. They are

critical thinkers and problem solvers, usually thinking ahead of the establishment.

Their imagination, creativity, humor, and spontaneity is noted as boundless.

They are the future artist, politicians, inventors, journalists, novelists, industrialist,

athletes, musicians, and scientists of the world. The AD/HD/LD Institute posts on

their One AD/HD Place Web site a list of famous people "officially diagnosed"

with AD/HD; along with others not "officially diagnosed," but exhibiting the life

style characteristics of AD/HD.

Albert Einstein               Thomas Edison                     Gen. Westmoreland
Galileo                       Gen. George Patton                Eddie Rickenbacker
Mozart                        Agatha Christie                   Gregory Boyington
Wright Brothers               John F. Kennedy                   Harry Belafonte
Leonardo da Vinci             Whoopi Goldberg                   F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cher                          Rodin                             Mariel Hemingway
Bruce Jenner                  Thomas Thoreau                    Steve McQueen
Tom Cruise                    David H. Murdock                  George C. Scott
Charles Schwab                Dustin Hoffman                    Tom Smothers
Henry Winkler                 Pete Rose                         Suzanne Somers
Danny Glover                  Russell White                     Lindsay Wagner
Walt Disney                   Jason Kidd                        George Bernard Shaw
John Lennon                   Russell Varian                    Beethoven
Greg Louganis                 Robin Williams                    Carl Lewis
Winston Churchill             Louis Pasteur                     Jackie Stewart
Henry Ford                    Werner von Braun                  "Magic" Johnson
Stephen Hawkings              Dwight D. Eisenhower              Weyerhauser family
Jules Verne                   Robert Kennedy                    Wrigley
Alexander Graham Bell         Luci Baines Johnson Nugent        John Corcoran
Woodrow Wilson                George Bush's children            Sylvester Stallone
Hans Christian Anderson       Prince Charles
Nelson Rockefeller
                                                                       (Petty 1998)

                  As with any learner, no two students with AD/HD learn the same.

There are general characteristics of the learner with AD/HD that can help the

classroom teacher recognize the individual learning personality of the student.

When mapping the learning personality of an individual student with AD/HD, the

attention factor is the focus. Motivating and stimulating the attention of the

student with AD/HD does not have to be a negative challenge. Understanding the

neuropsychological factors of AD/HD is important, but teaching to the cognitive

and metacognitive characteristics of the learner with AD/HD is vital for the

learning success of individual students with AD/HD. For instance, taking into

consideration the general characteristics of AD/HD and applying Gardner’s

Multiple Intelligence Theory; and/or recognizing Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal

Development and his theory on internalization is a start for turning the negative

into the positive challenge. Research and theory on intrinsic motivation concepts

related to the students innate preference to learn and absorb or assimilate

information (Ryan and Deci 1999) when considered in relation to the general

psychological characteristics of AD/HD can eliminate that disruptive behavioral

factor attributed to the student with AD/HD in the traditional classroom.

                 The inclusion of the student with AD/HD should not be a

frustrating challenge or negative experience for the teacher or the student. By

integrating multisensory methods of instruction and assistive technology devices

and software into the general classroom curriculum to meet the needs of all

learners, including those with unique learning differences, such as the student

with AD/HD, an engaging atmosphere of learning and social interaction can be

maintained easily by the teacher in the classroom. Classroom activities and

assessments that include and accommodate Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences;

and using assistive technology devices to aid in teaching within the zone of

proximal development of each student assures a positive learning experience for

all students, and promotes the achievement of unassisted student performance in

all subject areas to progress to higher cognitive levels.

                  The key is knowledge and understanding of the disorder. This

study warrants more research on educating the classroom teacher on the positive

characteristics of AD/HD student. The study points to a need to redirect the

classroom teacher’s focus on the overdiagnosis and overmedication issues

associated with AD/HD to the positive and unique learning style and preferences

of the student with AD/HD.      If the use of multisensory instructional methods and

assistive technology devices were incorporated in with lesson plans and classroom

activities that include all of Gardner’s multiple intelligences and taught within

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development for each student, would medication

be necessary?

         The original hypotheses of this study,

   1.)      There is a significant relationship between the unique teaching

challenges the classroom teacher must meet due to the inclusion of

the AD/HD student in the traditional classroom setting, and the use of assistive

technology devices in course activities; and

   2.)      There is a significant relationship between the attitude of the teacher

            forced to adjust the classroom environment and make special

           accommodations for the AD/HD student, and the

           availability and use of assistive technology devices in the classroom;

must be rejected at this time. The results of the random survey warrant more

specific qualitative and quantitative research in the area of educating the

classroom teacher on the positive characteristics and unique learning styles of the

student with AD/HD.


                 This study investigated teacher attitudes and perceptions of the student

with AD/HD in the classroom, and attempted to identify the relationship of those

attitudes and perceptions with the use of assistive technology devices in the classroom.

Prior research and studies have proven the incorporation of assistive technology devices

in with the general curriculum, course delivery, lesson plans and classroom activities

facilitates the teacher’s ability to meet the learning styles and preferences of all students,

eases classroom management, and improves overall student academic outcome. Assistive

technology devices have been proven to empower student with learning differences and

AD/HD, and improve their ability to organize, control negative behavior, and complete

tasks and assignments. With this in mind, the study attempted to establish a positive

relationship between readily-available assistive technology devices for teacher and all

students in the classroom, and a positive teacher attitude and perception of the student

with AD/HD included in the classroom.

                 The study consisted of an ex post facto research design and participants

were a random selection of 575 teachers in Northeastern, Central, and Southern Ohio.

The survey instrument used in this study was a questionnaire consisting of 26 questions

(see Appendix A) that addressed three specific aspects affecting the education and

academic experience of the student with AD/HD: 1.) teacher training and use of

technology; 2.) teacher understanding of AD/HD; and, 3.) the use of assistive technology

devices in the classroom. Participating teachers were encouraged to comment on any or

all of the questions. The questionnaire was distributed and collected in three formats: 1.)

personal interview and observation; 2.) hard copy (printed); and, 3.) online. A difference

in the formats regarding the tone and professionalism was noticed concerning the

comments. The tone and professionalism of the comments deteriorated as the anonymity

of the participant increased. Comments by the responding online participants tended to

be less reserved than the hard copy and interviewed respondents, and voice of decorum

and political correctness. The demographic data was identified and categorized, and the

data from the three categories of questions were compared and charted. The data

suggests there exists a lack of understanding by the teachers regarding the disorder and

the AD/HD learning style, and that the overall teacher attitude and perception of the

student with AD/HD is negative. There is no relationship between the use of assistive

technology in the classroom and the teacher’s attitude and perception of the student with

AD/HD. The data also suggest confusion over the definition of assistive technology and

the use of readily-available assistive technology devices for all students in the classroom.

                   Finally, the original hypothesis was rejected and implications for

further research should be focused on teacher education on AD/HD and the positive

attributes and learning styles of the student with AD/HD. The conclusion implied that

beyond the use of assistive technology devices in the classroom, there is a need for

members of the academic community to see past the controversies and misconceptions

surrounding AD/HD, and develop a greater understanding of the disorder and the unique

learning style and positive attributes of the students with AD/HD. Further theories

regarding the relationship between the teacher and the student with AD/HD will be

developed and more qualitative and quantitative research pursued on the causes and

effects of the negative perceptions and attitudes of teachers towards the student with


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