Educating The ADHD Child Without Medication
Van Gogh's Starry Night
ADHD: Medication As A Last Resort
ADHD is an affliction that affects 9% of American children to varying degrees. The letters stand for "attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" and it is characterized by an inability to pay attention and an inability to stay still for long periods of time. There is no single test that doctors use to diagnose this problem, rather they use a combination of psychological tests and anecdotal evidence from a wide variety of sources. It began to come to the public's attention about 25 years ago and, as a result, became a catch-all diagnosis for many behavioral problems. Now, teachers and parents are more cautious before suggesting that a child be tested for ADHD. In general, a child must exhibit six or more specific symptoms, for a period of six months, with two or more specific episodes, to be considered ADHD. Symptoms can include; constant motion, squirming, listening problems, difficulty playing quietly, incessant talking, interrupting, being easily distracted, and have trouble finishing tasks.
It sounds like I have just described 50% of American children, but the key is that all of these traits must be unusually excessive. That is one reason why professionals are reluctant to diagnose children under six, although it can happen. The symptoms above make it clear why educating a child with ADHD could present a challenge.
Educational Tools For The ADHD Child
The most important strategy is to have a positive attitude. That will put the child at ease and, as a result, he may be more willing to participate in the education planning. Then, the teacher can ask the student to help figure out ways together that will make learning easier. In addition, good behavior can be encouraged through positive reinforcement and disruptive behavior can be ignored. Seat the student away from as many distractions as possible and repeat instructions as many times as is necessary. The teacher can use visuals while teaching and be flexible in the testing methods. Obviously, these are only general guidelines, each child may have individualized needs.
Treatment And Education
Treatment for a child with ADHD can consist of medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. Only in the most severe cases should medication be considered. Studies have shown that, for the most severe cases, a combination of medication and therapy works best. Once the ADHD is under control, or at least being treated, then the focus turns to the child's education. There are a few options that are available for such a child. One, there are special boarding schools that admit only ADHD diagnosed children and all of the school's resources are focused on the education the ADHD child. These teachers have a specific specialty and do not have to divide their energies, thus, the children are in a more suitable learning environment. Two, a parent can elect to place their child in private school where the teacher-student ratios are lower. Three, parents can elect to home-school their child, which comes with it's own set of problems. Many times, parents are not in a position to consider these options, so they will turn to the public school system.
Within the public school system, there are a few more options. If the parents and the school administration can agree on a strategy, it will be more helpful to the child. If not, the child can be assigned an educational advocate whose only concern is the welfare of the child. Sometimes, that can turn out to be the best option.
Some ADHD students are eligible for specialized educational services. If so, they will be enrolled in an " Individualized Education Program". (IEP) This program is for any child who may not benefit from the standard curriculum. With this program, parents and teachers work together to implement the most suitable curriculum for the student. In the event that the ADHD student is streamlined into a regular classroom, there are classroom strategies that a teacher can implement to allow the child to assimilate.
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© 2009 Mary Krenz