Attention Deficit Disorder in Children
Attention Deficit Disorder is a mental illness that is associated with lack of attention. It is usually first noticed when children enter preschool and experience social and behavioural problems. Children affected by this, show inattentive behaviour, slow learning, poor grades and inadequate interaction with adults and peers.
We can help these children by behaviour management plans, social skills training and counseling for both the children and adults caring for him.
Suggested efforts for helping children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Nothing should be presented to them, in the same pattern. Even their name should be pronounced in different tone.
- Anything that is read to them should be in parts. While reading they should repeat whatever is being read.
- Any teaching should be enacted.
- Only one instruction should be given at a time.
- Voice modulation for different instructions helps in attracting the child’s attention.
- Teaching should be done by creating really imaginative situations where the child can dream about it.
- Pause and create suspense by looking around before asking questions.
- Randomly pick reciters so that the children cannot time their attention.
- Always move around and appreciate the work of an inattentive child.
- Teach them the methods of self- check and self-analysis.
- Develop a private running joke between you and the child that can be invoked to re-involve you with the child. Secret codes should be created between the teacher and student for giving hints.
- Always reward the child after the completion of the task. Groups should be created for doing any task as it helps in the completion of task by looking at each other.
Strategies for Cognitively Impulsive Children
These children usually exhibit twin characters. Their physical activities are different from what they are instructed to do. Their cognitive ability does not match with their motor ability. The following attempts can help these children to perform better.
- Encouragement is the best tool to teach these children.
- Teach the expected behaviour by demonstrating it.
- Give instructions very slowly so that they are grasped well.
- Make them repeat the lesson frequently for better learning.
- Various listening activities should be introduced.
- Spend personal discussion time with these children emphasizing the similarities between the teacher and child
- Get in the habit of pausing 10 to 16 seconds before answering.
- Probe irrelevant responses for possible connections to the question.
- Limited and short assignments with diagrams and flow chart.
- Role-play should be encouraged for teaching.
- Evaluate your own tempo as a teacher.
- Clocks, calendars, charts and pictures should be used for explanation and better understanding.
- Remove un-necessary stimulation from the classroom environment.
- Written projects should contain elements that are ‘true’, ‘could happen but didn’t’ and pretend, can’t happen.
- Children should be encouraged to talk about themselves.
Suggested Classroom Accommodations for Specific Behaviours
- Difficulty in following a plan but aspires to have the highest goal
+ Keep asking questions till adequately right answer is given.
+ Keep hinting to the student so that he starts thinking in the right direction.
- Switching from one activity to another without completing any one
+ Explain the importance of completing an activity.
+ Set an award for every complete activity like a red star on the class board or a big round of applause by other students.
- Difficulty in memorizing
+ Use visual aids related to the concepts to be learnt.
+ Memory techniques like numerous repetitions, oral rehearsal, mnemonics should be used.
- Difficulty in sequencing and completing steps to accomplish specific tasks (e.g. writing a book report, term paper, organised paragraphs, division problem, etc.)
+ Break up the task into steps and number them. These steps should be displayed.
+ Provide examples with pictures to accomplish a task.
- Difficulty in sustaining effort and accuracy over time.
+ Reduce assignment length and strive for quality (rather than quantity).
+ Increase the frequency of positive reinforcements (catch the student doing it right and let him know it).
- Difficulty with test taking
+ Allow extra time for testing; teach test-taking skills and strategies; and allow student to be tested orally.
+ Use clear, readable and uncluttered test forms. Use test format that the student is most comfortable with. Allow ample space for student response. Consider having lined answer spaces for essay or short answer tests.
- Losing things necessary for task or activities at school or at home (e.g. pencils, books, assignments before, during and after completion of a given task)
+ Help students organise their belongings. Frequently monitor notebooks, pencil pouch, locker, book bag, desks. A place should be provided for everything.
+ Provide positive reinforcement for good organisation. Provide students with a list of needed materials and locations.
- Difficulty prioritizing from most to least important.
+ Prioritise assignments and activities.
+ Provide a model to help students and refer to it often
- Difficulty following through on instructions from others
+ Gain student’s attention before giving directions. Use alerting cues. Accompany oral directions with written directions.
+ Give one direction at a time. Quietly repeat directions to the student after they have been given to the rest of the class. Check for understanding by having the student repeat the directions.
- Difficulty completing assignments.
+ Enlist, display and keep announcing all the steps necessary to complete each assignment.
+ Reduce the assignment into manageable sections with specific due dates.
+ Make frequent checks for assignment completion.
+ Arrange for the student to have a ‘study buddy’ with phone number in each subject area.
- Poor use of time (staring into space, doodling, not working on task at hand)
+ Teach reminder cues (a gentle touch on the shoulder, hand signal, etc.).
+ Tell the student your expectations of what paying attention looks like. (You look like you are paying attention when…)
+ Give the student a time limit for a small unit of work with positive reinforcement for accurate completion.
+ Use a contract, timer, etc. for self-monitoring.
- Frequent self-putdowns, poor personal care and posture, negative comments about self and others, low self-esteem
+ Structure for success.
+ Train student for self-monitoring, reinforce improvements, teach self-questioning strategies (What am I doing? How is that going to affect others?)
+ Allow opportunities for the student to show his strength.
+ Give positive recognition.
- Poor adult interactions. Defies authority. Sucks up. Hangs on.
+ Provide positive attention.
+ Talk with student individually about the inappropriate behavior (what you are doing is…, a better way of getting what you need or want is…).
- Frequent excessive talking
+ Teach student hand signals and use them to tell student when to and when not to talk.
+ Make sure the student is called when it is appropriate and reinforce listening.
- Inappropriate behaviours in a team or large group sport or athletic activity (difficulty waiting turn in games or group situations)
+ Give the student a responsible job (e.g. team captain, care and distribution of the balls, score keeping, etc.); consider leadership role.
+ Have the student in close proximity of the teacher
- Poor handwriting (often mixing cursive with manuscript and capitals with lower case letters)
+ Allow for shorter assignments (quality vs. quantity).
+ Allow alternate method of production (computer, scribe, oral presentation, etc.).
+ Use pencil with a rubber grip.
+ Answers should have diagrammatic representations.
- Poor self-monitoring (careless errors in spelling, arithmetic, reading)
+ Teach specific methods of self-monitoring by observing, understanding and repeating
+ Have student proofread finished work when it is completed.
- Poorly developed study skills
+ Teach study skills specific to the subject area – organisation (e.g. assignment calendar), textbook reading, note taking (finding main idea / detail, mapping, outlining), skimming, summarising).
- Low fluency or production of written material . Slow writer (takes hours on a 10 minute assignment).
+ Allow for alternative method for completing assignment (oral presentation, taped report, visual presentation, graphs, maps, pictures, etc. with reduced written requirement).
+ Allow for alternative method of writing (e.g. computer, cursive or printing, or a scribe.
+ Provide attractive material like pencils, pens or crayons to write.
+ Plan the use of different pens or pencils for writing headings.
+ Different colors can be used to underline and make the presentation of the work attractive.
- Apparent Inattention (underachievement, daydreaming, mentally not present) Difficulty in participating in class without being interruptive; difficulty working quietly.
+ Get student’s attention before giving directions (tell student how to pay attention, look at me while I talk, watch my eyes while I speak).
+ Ask student to repeat directions.
+ Attempt to actively involve student in lesson (e.g. cooperative learning).
+ Involve the students in some physical activity like clapping or sit-stand.
- Frequent untidiness or sloppiness.
+ Teach organizational skills. Be sure that the student has daily, weekly and/or monthly assignment sheets; list of materials needed daily; and consistent format for papers. Have a consistent way for students to turn in and receive back papers; reduce distractions by planning short, to the points activities.
+ Give reward points for notebook checks and proper paper format.
+ Provide clear copies of worksheets and handouts and consistent format for worksheets.
+ Establish a daily routine; provide models and audio visual aids to help the student achieve the desired goal.
- Difficulty sustaining effort and accuracy over time.
+ Reduce assignment length and strive for quality (rather than quantity).
+ Increase the frequency of positive reinforcements. Be near the student to pat him for every right effort and help when distracted.
- Difficulty remaining seated or in a particular position when required.
+ Reward attention. Break up activities into small units. Reward for timely accomplishment.
+ Use physical proximity and touch.
+ Narrate work related stories to hold their attention.
- Frequent fidgeting with hands, feet or objects, squirming in seat.
+ Break tasks down to small increments and give frequent positive reinforcement for accomplishment.
+ Allow physical movement when possible by changing the seating arrangement or by involving in some other activity.
Dr. Prabhat Kaushik is a Master Trainer, CBSE, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, Director General, Zee Learn Ltd, International Trainer & Assessor, Motivator , Educational Catalyst and International leader.
Dr. Prabhat is highly passionate about rekindling education. He is one of the most sought after educationists for gifted and talented children and has extensively travelled globally for the same. At the global level, he has established a large number of schools and is on the governing body of many organizations.
Dr. Kaushik is an International Leader, British Council (U.K.), for sharing educational best practices in British schools and benchmarking with Indian schools including exchange programmes and training for all stakeholders.