Individuals with ADHD usually experience interpersonal problems. Consequently, they suffer from social rejection. A teacher may see their student as deliberately annoying others; a parent may see their child as arguing or defying adults; a third person, an outsider, may find them angry and defensive for no reason apparently. Of course, if people know it takes about three times as long for a student with ADHD to do the same job in a home environment as in a school setting or that they have trouble making friends, then things will be different. Here are some tips to help people looking out for ADHD individuals in whatever capacity they can.
Learning and homework tips
- Is homework really important? If yes, include more one-word question/answer or multiple choice questions than essays.
- Can bonus points be given for doing more? It will serve as an additional incentive for the student to complete the task.
- Writing is challenging for many ADHD students. Use technology to assist them with their homework.
- Should students stay at school to complete their assignments during the day? Making the student complete homework assignments at school, where there will be more structure and less distractions, may be more efficient.
- Can parents be allowed to be an ‘assistant’ for students with writing difficulties? Technology will not be suitable in some situations and so if writing is a problem then we can have a parent to write down student’s opinions but certainly not to spoonfeed them.
- Have clear expectations and rewards for academic and development goals.
- Make sure they are clear that they are responsible for their actions regardless of “he/she started it”, “I’m sleepy”, etc.
- Be consistent in your approach and handle disruptions without getting aggressive.
- Praise them do it properly.
- Search sometimes for a middle ground. Narrow down choices for hyperactive kids.
- Use decisiveness as opposed to violence but exclude sarcasm and other types of put downs.
- Do not ask the question “Why?” Instead, ask “What?” For example: “What are you supposed to do now?” Use when/then and either/or. For example: “Shahid either put the phone on my desk or inside your bag”; “Abida when you put the chair under the table, you may go”.
- If the class doesn’t work, get to know them better. Find out what motivates them.
Socialisation and friendship tips
- Unstructured break times can be difficult parts of day unless the amount of free time and groups, which students with ADHD access, are carefully considered. Creating options for indoor activities and clubs is a good idea.
- Assign a partner to an ADHD student to help out with study and socialisation.
- Teach about variations in learning styles to other students. All students should be presented with information about problems such as ASD and ADHD and how they affect individuals.
- Provide specific support and preparations for events such as field trips and sports.
- Carefully plan groups. Students with ADHD do well in a 1-to-1 setting so often a team of two is the best arrangement.
- Teach interpersonal skills. It takes time to help students recognise their need for impulse control and listen more effectively, but this will ultimately help build successful friendships.