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Working with Students Diagnosed with ADHD in General Education Classes

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 9/11/2012

While some students diagnosed with ADHD end up in Special Education, many other will end up in general education. How do we as general education teachers deal with this in the classroom.

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    Students Diagnosed with ADHD

    Students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are many times placed in special a education classes. There are times though when the child with this diagnosis will remain in a general education class. One scenario may be if you work as a teacher for a private school which does not offer special education classes. Another scenario may be if the child diagnosed with ADHD is mainstreamed into the general education classes. Either way there may come a time when you as a general education are met with the task of teaching a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

    Simply put individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD have a difficult time focusing and staying on task, have feelings of restlessness, and have issues with impulse control. These behaviors can be very disruptive to the teacher as well as the class as a whole. So what can you do to help keep this student succeed in a general education class?

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    1. Break down steps. When the child is given work to do in class on his or her own, ensure that you have broken down the steps so it will seem like a less daunting task. For instance if the student must summarize a reading which has been assigned you can outline on the board what you want done:

    • Read pages 5-10
    • Highlight important points
    • Summarize (put into your own words) the important points you have highlighted.

    By breaking one task down to three the child will have a better chance to work more effectively and more successfully.

    2. Use positive reinforcement. Children diagnosed with ADHD have impulse control issues. Perhaps the student is constantly out of the seat or maybe he does not raise his hand, instead just shouts out answers. Leave a jar of candy or prizes o your desk. It can be jelly beans, licorice, or maybe cool looking erasers. Everytime he does the correct thing (such as raise his hand before answering) ask him to come up and get a prize. Of course keep the prizes to a minimum (allow the student to know he will not get a prize “every time" but most of the time) and include all students in this reward system. Try to set rules for the day such as two prizes per student each day.

    3. Allow time for stretching. Most of my elementary teachers use to use this trick with their students. Every child gets a bit restless in school, now imagine a child diagnosed with ADHD…very restless. Every so often when you see the student may be getting restless and need to move around calla time out or a break. Have all students stand next to their desks for a stretch or maybe do the “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes “song. This will allow a break from schoolwork and allow for the student to move around a bit.

    These are tips which can help you succeed with students diagnosed with ADHD. Actually these tips can help with any general education student as well. Remember to be patient and stay optimistic. Also remember you are not going it alone, more likely than not there may be a paraprofessional in the room to help.