By Emsie Martin
How do you help your child if you are battling to understand ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) yourself? There is so much information available online, but it is not always easy to understand.
Inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity are the key traits of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be inattentive and overactive at times and to act impulsively on the spur of the moment, but in the case of children with ADHD this type of behaviour is more intense and occurs more frequently. To be diagnosed with this disorder a child must have been showing symptoms of ADHD for six months or longer and must have it in a worse degree than other children of the same age.
In children with symptoms of inattentiveness:
- Their attention can be easily distracted;
- They cannot notice small detail;
- They forget things and often switch from one activity to the other;
- They may find it difficult to concentrate only on one thing;
- After only a few minutes they can become bored with doing one task, unless they are busy with something they really enjoy;
- As learners they may have difficulty to complete and submit homework, and they tend to lose things easily such as pencils or written instructions they need to complete their assignments or activities;
- They do not seem to listen when spoken to;
- They often live in a haze and can easily get confused;
- They cannot process information as quickly and accurately as others;
- They struggle to carry out instructions.
Children with symptoms of hyperactivity:
- Cannot sit still on their chair;
- Cannot stop talking and talks incessantly;
- Are running around and need to touch everything and play with everything they set eyes on.
- Struggle to sit still at a table, at school and while stories are being read to them;
- Must be on the move all the time;
- Struggle to perform tasks or activities that must be performed in silence.
Children with symptoms of impulsivity:
- Can be very impatient;
- Can blurt out improper remarks;
- Show emotions without restraint and act without considering the consequences;
- Can find it hard to wait for things they want, or if they have to wait their turn when playing;
- They often interrupt conversations or other activities.
Dreamers may seem to be paying attention because they are so quiet when in fact they are in a world of their own. And children with the hyperactive and impulsive forms of ADHD may be seen as little rogues who merely have emotional and disciplinary problems.
NB: The diagnosis must be made by professional who is trained in the identification and treatment of ADHD. Effective treatments are available.
How do you deal with a child with ADHD in the classroom?
Dr S.T. Potgieter, a registered psychologist practicing in Belville, gives a few guidelines the teacher can follow in the classroom.
Dealing with an ADHD child:
- It is never easy to manage these children.
- They need calm and ongoing encouragement on a one-to-one basis. It is very difficult to achieve this in a class with many children but try as much as you can to achieve it, nevertheless.
- Children with ADHD like uniformity and firmness. Create a structure and routine that stay the same all the time. These children have a problem with change.
- Be firm yet flexible. Know when to leave the child alone.
- Try to let the child sit in the front in the class and seat him among children who are quiet and calm.
- Table and seating arrangements: Let the child face forward towards the teacher.
- Making eye contact with the child is important.
- Instructions should be clear and simple and be given while making eye contact.
- Have few rules, but they must be applied. Remind the child regularly what the rules are. Special rules can be made for the ADHD child, but those rules must be discussed and dealt with privately.
- Teach the child to work according to a list, to check and to plan.
- Use a lesson framework the child will understand. ADHD children are forgetful and disorganised, and a framework can structure their thinking.
- Teach the ADHD child how to organise his time.
- It is difficult to keep an ADHD child’s attention. Use keywords, variety and short step-by-step instructions and assignments that are short and to the point.
Children must be helped to stay organised and to carry out instructions. Stick to the same routine every day, from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. Be organised so everything has its place and keep everything, such as clothes and toys, in their place. Be clear and firm. Children with ADHS need consistent rules that they can understand and follow.
Praise or reward the child when rules have been obeyed. These children are often criticised, and they expect to be on the receiving end of criticism. Make a point of noticing good behaviour – and do not forget that proverbial pat on the back.
My kind het AGHS. Wat nou?
Based on an article by the National Institute of Mental Health / U.S. National Institutes of Health.