When I was thinking about which topic to choose for my paper, I had no definite ideas until I looked in Schoology. The first thing I read was Achieving Success with ADHD: Secrets of an Afflicted Professor of Medicine by David B. Sachar#####. My mind was immediately made up. Why? I HAVE ADHD! I never realized it before, it has a name and it is more than some kid in your class who will not sit still who drives you nuts. Why had my parents not noticed it when I was growing up? I finally had a label for my insanity, the reason why I am constantly restless, why I lose my keys and glasses 13 times a day, why my bulletin board, report cards, emails take 3 times longer to do than my colleagues. What exactly is ADHD you askI will tell you, if I am not distracted and forget. ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a chronic medical condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, some more severe than others such as a child who can’t seem to sit still, who shouts out answers in class without raising his hand, who does not finish his homework, who appears to be daydreaming when you give instructionsjust to name a few.
ADHD makes it difficult for children to regulate their behavior and it is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. This disorder affects 4% to 12% of school-aged children. Approximately 3 times more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD. Unfortunately, ADHD can affect all aspects of a child’s life, academically as well as socially. You may notice that most children at times struggle to pay attention, follow directions, sit still, listen or wait patiently until it is their turn. Almost all children have times when their behavior gets out of control. They may run around continuously, make noise nonstop, refuse to wait their turn, and collide into everything around them. However, on the opposite spectrum, their mind wonders as if in a daydream, they cannot pay attention or finish what they start. However, for some children, these kinds of behaviors are more than an occasional problem. Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have behavior problems that are so frequent and severe that they interfere with their ability to live normal lives.
Children that display this behavior are not an uncommon occurrence in school, I have at least three students who act like this every year in my class. So, do many other teachers, unfortunately the children are red flagged and automatically diagnosed with ADHD. Even though I was happy to be labeled, unprofessionally, or courseI felt justified, I am an adult who likes to be in control, of everything! However, it is not fair to do this to students. I think teachers feel if they jump to this diagnosis, perhaps it lets them off the hook and they have an excuse for not being able to handle the situation. This is why it is important for teachers and parents both to be aware of what ADHD looks like at home and in the classroom, and how it might be confused with other things that could be influencing a child’s behavior. Another reason why it is so important to observe kids carefully, especially when they are too young to be able to express what they are feeling. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that not every bouncy or impulsive child has ADHD. This is why it is so important to get children diagnosed, so that we know we are not dealing with a behavior issue that can be handled in some other way. Perhaps when children exhibit similar behaviors that we associate with ADHD, it is important to keep in mind that they could be caused by other underlying circumstances.
A child who is inattentive could be distracted by stress for reasons unknown, or by a difficult situation at home. Perhaps a child is fidgeting when she’s supposed to be reading, maybe there is another reason causing frustration such as a learning disorder like dyslexia. Children are diagnosed with ADHD only if they demonstrate these symptoms so often that they cause definite difficulty in at least two settings, for example, at school and at home. The behavior needs to also be ongoing for at least 6 months. It’s also important, when considering a child’s behavior, to compare it to other children the same age and to other kids in the same grade or class as within any given grade, kids’ ages can differ by almost a year, and a year can make a big difference in a child’s ability to control and manage their behaviors. There were some studies done that showed that kids who were the youngest in their class are excessively diagnosed with ADHD. They show that kindergarteners who are the youngest in their grade are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest in their grade.
It does not affect just kindergarteners but that also children in middle school, the youngest children in class, were almost twice as likely as the oldest to be diagnosed with ADHD. Keeping track of kids’ behavior in the classroom is important not just because it affects their learning, and potentially the ability of other kids in the class to learn, but also because it is a window into their social and emotional development. When kids are failing or struggling in school for an extended period of time, or acting out in frustration, without getting help, it can lead to a pattern of dysfunctional behavior which becomes more difficult to break as time passes and the older the child becomes. This is why it is so important for parents to get a good diagnosis from a mental health professional who takes the time to really examine and study the overall situation. This is why it is imperative for teachers and parents both to be aware of what ADHD looks like in the classroom, and at home, and how it might be confused with other things that could be influencing a child’s behavior.
Observing kids carefully is especially important when kids are too young to be able to articulate what they are feeling. And referring struggling kids for diagnosis and appropriate support can help them succeed in school and other parts of their lives, too. Some learning issues that I have encountered as a teacher with children with ADHD are associating sounds with symbols (therefore making the reading process much more difficult), as well as sequencing together sounds in the correct order and sounding out unfamiliar words (also a problem when learning how to read) and following directions, therefore, making careless mistakes. When dealing with these issues, treatment usually includes both strengthening the skills and developing a learning strategy designed to take advantage of his strengths. And the way I handle the distraction issues that arise in class are to: !. pay attention to the child’s positive behavior 2. ignore minor misbehaviors.
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