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Managing children with ADHD (Part 1)

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By Ahmer Zuberi
Fri, 11, 19

HEALTHWISE

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition that can be diagnosed and is used to describe children who typically exhibit overactive behaviour (hyperactivity); impulsive behaviour; and have difficulty in paying attention. This impacts their education and make many of them underachieve at school.

How do we know it is ADHD?

There are a number of risk factors attached to ADHD. It is often inherited and there is an increased frequency among the first-degree relatives.

Other risk factors include low birth weight, smoking, taking opioids or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, brain injury, lack of oxygen at birth, and some conditions such as epilepsy.

It is important to recognise that not all children with ADHD have all the symptoms.

Hyperactivity

  • Fidgets and can’t sit still in place
  • Can’t stop talking
  • Runs about when it is inappropriate

Inattention

  • Difficulty following instructions or completing tasks
  • Easily distracted and forgetful
  • Often doesn’t listen when spoken to

Impulsiveness

  • Interrupts others
  • Blurts out answers without waiting for the question to be finished
  • Difficulty in waiting or taking turns

What problems can ADHD cause?

A diagnosis of ADHD will often lead to children being labelled as “difficult and demanding”. They struggle to ‘fit-in’ at all stages of development.

Also, a child with ADHD may suffer from other conditions, such as:

  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (the child often loses his/her temper, etc.)
  • Conduct Disorder (there are problems such as persistent and repetitive lying, bullying, vandalism, etc.)
  • Learning Disorder
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (coordination difficulties)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder/ Asperger’s Syndrome (social and communication difficulties)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Tourette’s Syndrome (the person has tics, involuntary and uncontrollable movements)
  • Sleep problems

Children with severe ADHD can:

Teaching and managing students with ADHD

One of the most important stages in teaching and managing a student with ADHD is to try and understand how they see the world around them.

Students who have ADHD explain that they get lots of different thoughts at the same time. They feel unpopular and know that sometimes they are difficult to like. From their perspective, nobody seems to understand them.

From a teacher’s perspective, yes, it can be frustrating when a student is constantly fidgeting and disrupting the whole class. However, let’s see it this way: a student with ADHD presents every teacher not just with a challenge, but also an opportunity to find new ways of teaching and managing their student successfully.

The key is to accept that the student is not doing it on purpose. It is a genuine medical condition, which requires specific support depending on severity of the symptoms. Students with ADHD can become defiant and hostile when faced with criticism. This damages their whole attitude towards learning. Although some teachers will find it difficult to see situations in this way, this approach will help maintain a positive relationship with students with ADHD.

On the flip side

  • Think of the student who is easily distracted as having high levels of awareness and observation.
  • Think of the restless student as being energetic and lively.
  • When the student with ADHD goes off at a tangent, see it as a sign of individualism and independence.
  • If the student starts interrupting, think of it as enthusiasm to contribute.
  • When work is sloppy, look for signs of effort despite difficulties.
  • Look on a student’s apparent selfishness as single-mindedness in pursuit of goals.
  • Try to reward good development while ignoring other mistakes.