Strategies for Parents & Teachers of Students with ADHD and ODD

Defining ADHD and ODD

ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) is a controversial psychiatric disorder affecting an estimated 3 to 5 percent of children around the world. It is a neurobehavioral disorder described as ongoing impulsiveness and lack of attention. Some people diagnosed with the disorder suffer from a factor of hyperactivity and some do not. About twice as many boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD. Research has projected that about 35 percent of children with ADHD also experience ODD.

ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) is a behavioral psychiatric condition. It is characterized by the following behaviors in a child when they are excessive and constant, as compared to other children of the same age and developmental stage. Children with ODD may have frequent temper tantrums, defy rules, and question and argue with adults. They are often described as mean when upset, spiteful, revenge-seeking, and blame others for their mistakes and actions. Children with ODD tend to steal, lie, and cheat more frequently than other children. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry between 1 and 16 percent of school age children have ODD.

The causes of ADHD and ODD are both unknown. It is believed that biological, psychological, and social factors play a role in the cause of these disorders. Many parents and educators have to cope with children who display the behaviors of ADHD and ODD and find ways to manage and effectively teach them. Children are resilient and, fortunately, with intervention, medication, and positive support many children with these disorders find coping mechanisms that allow them to function like anyone else as they enter adulthood.

Strategies for Parents and Teachers to Help Children with ADHD and ODD

There are many strategies that parents and teachers can use to help children with ADHD and ODD work effectively at home and in the classroom. Below are a few of the strategies that both parents and teachers can use to ensure academic and behavioral success for students with ADHD and ODD.

1. Be Positive. Reinforce good behavior with praise. Show appreciation for appropriate behavior especially when you know it was difficult for the child.

2. Work with a team. Having a team to help you with your child (spouse, relatives, other teachers, aides, and support staff if you are the teacher) can help you avoid too much stress from dealing with the child. It can help your relationship with the child because it gives you an opportunity to de-stress, get energized, and get tips or feedback from others who know the child.

3. Create an environment that allows the child to focus. Busy decorations or doing school work in a high-traffic area will be extremely distracting to the child.

4. Give the child an outlet. Allow the child and opportunity to partake in sports, music, or art. This can be therapeutic as it gives the child something to put energy or frustration into.

5. Behavioral contract. Set up clear rules, expectations, and goals. Be sure the child is aware of consequences that will arise if the rules are broken. It can help to have a special treat or reward if the child meets goals.

6. Encourage time-outs or breaks if the child is having a difficult time dealing with a situation. Pushing the child to do more or getting into a screaming match will only make things worse.

Remember, each child is different so add to and disregard the strategies that do or do not work. A child with ADHD and ODD can be difficult at times but, like all children, they are still an amazing blessing and gift to the world. Take care of yourself and gather all of the resources and support you can to make your job easier and less stressful.