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ADHD Awareness Month: What Are The Teaching Strategies?

Child with ADHD falling asleep in school

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects people of all ages around the world, so raising awareness of the condition is important, which is why from the 1st to the 30th of October it will be National ADHD Awareness Month. 

What Is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is classed as an SEN (special educational need).

ADHD affects people’s behaviour. For example, they may appear restless, have trouble concentrating or remembering things, be quick to anger, or be hyperactive and impulsive. 

Most cases of ADHD are diagnosed in children between the ages of 3 and 7. However, some people aren’t diagnosed with ADHD until later in life. 

The symptoms of ADHD can improve with age, but it isn’t always the case, particularly if an individual was diagnosed with ADHD from a young age.

ADHD can affect other areas of a person’s life, such as their sleeping patterns and their moods. Often, adults with the condition suffer from anxiety or depression.

The condition is thought to be genetic; however, there are other factors, such as being born prematurely, which can also contribute to a person suffering from ADHD.

What Is ADHD Awareness Month?

Along with increasing people’s awareness of the condition, National ADHD Awareness Month helps to emphasise the number of people that are affected by ADHD. In turn, this helps to reduce the stigma attached to the disorder as well as highlighting the support that is required to build environments where everyone can thrive, such as in schools and businesses.

Additionally, National ADHD Awareness Month encourages people to celebrate their differences and for those diagnosed with ADHD to recognise that they have unique talents that, with the right support, they can use to help them achieve wonderful things. 

Teaching Strategies For Children With ADHD

Since ADHD can affect an individual’s ability to concentrate as well as their short-term memory, relevant support is particularly important for those in learning environments, such as schools and colleges. This is where SEN (special educational needs) teachers/teaching assistants can play a big part.

SEN teachers/teaching assistants work with children who require extra support due to physical disabilities or behaviour and emotional difficulties that can have an impact on their learning. SEN teachers/teaching assistants are fundamental to helping children, such as those with ADHD, reach their individual learning goals.

These goals can only be achieved through varied skills acquired by SEN teachers/teaching assistants as well as ADHD classroom strategies that they’ve tried and tested throughout their experience of supporting students with learning difficulties.

1) Limit Distractions 

In an SEN school, teachers should try to limit distractions in the classroom – this is beneficial for children with ADHD as well as those with other learning difficulties that affect their ability to focus.

For example, the classroom should be a calm environment, free of loud noises, and posters/displays should be appropriate, providing the material that students can refer to when learning, but not withdraw their attention unnecessarily.

Additionally, students with ADHD should be seated in quiet areas of the classroom and away from windows or doors where they can’t be easily distracted. However, before any changes are made, the other students should be considered, and their learning needs catered for and not impacted by any alterations that are made.

To assist all students with their concentration levels, white noise can be played in the classroom; this is an effective way to drown out distracting sounds. It is also worth noting that music is another effective SEN tool.

2) Reward Good Behaviour

Rewarding children who suffer from ADHD (and those who don’t suffer from ADHD for that matter) when they have worked hard or achieved a goal, will help to build their confidence, emphasise how far they’ve come in their learning, and, most importantly, motivate them to want to keep learning. 

The type of reward should be altered frequently; this helps to prevent students from becoming bored.

On the other hand, if a student with ADHD is struggling to focus in class more than usual or they are displaying poor behaviour, then encourage outside activities. It will enable them to burn off some energy which will help to boost their concentration levels when they return to the classroom.

3) Don’t Overload 

Child frustrated in school

Children who have ADHD can become easily overwhelmed when presented with information. This can lead to sleep problems which can then affect their behaviour as well as make it more difficult for them to focus in a learning environment. To help combat this, teachers should break down classroom material into short, simple sections. 

Additionally, worksheets should be handed out to go along with the relevant topic and a variety of learning should be implemented, such as encouraging students to collaborate in groups, interact with any displays, or read in quiet, designated areas.

When ADHD students are learning new topics, SEN teaching assistants are vital since they can provide extra support to those who require it, helping them to remain focused on specific areas that they are struggling with.

4) Break Time 

Children with ADHD usually find it difficult to sit still for long periods which then affects their ability to concentrate. This is why frequent opportunities should be provided to allow students to burn off some energy. 

These opportunities for students to stretch their legs don’t always have to be outside (since it isn’t always possible); students could be encouraged to help with tidying the classroom, or even a simple game that gets them moving. 

Now that you understand a little more about ADHD, spread the word about National ADHD Awareness Month to help eradicate the stigma attached to this worldwide condition.

If you are experienced at working with SEN students and have a passion for helping children with learning difficulties meet their goals, then see the SEN Jobs that are currently available.

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