Effective Intervention Strategies for ADHD in the Classroom

ADHD presents itself in a variety of forms. In addition to the conventional diagnostic categories of Inattentive type, Hyperactive/Impulsive Type, and Combined Type, there are the new diagnostic categories of ”Specified” and “Unspecified” ADHD that do not require the full complement of symptoms for a diagnosis. But it is not easy to fit all kids with symptoms of ADHD into these 5 categories. Leading psychologists have posited that there are more than 250,000 possible variants of ADHD based upon the combination of symptoms in the DSM-V diagnostic system. Obviously, one type of intervention will not fit all of these kids.

Teachers in traditional classrooms typically have at least one or two kids who are diagnosed with ADHD. Some of these kids are easy to manage and teach, but all you need is  one child with severe symptoms of ADHD to disrupt the entire classroom. Working with such children requires effective intervention strategies so that every student can learn and so you do not have to spend your entire day managing this child’s behaviour. Here are some of the most effective intervention strategies for ADHD in the classroom:

Address problem classroom behavior as soon as possible. Youngsters with disruptive behavioral issues such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder do best when expectations and rules are clear and there is close monitoring and supervision. Post classroom rules in a conspicuous place to provide concrete and visual examples of appropriate behavior. Role playing appropriate behavior could also be beneficial.

Teachers may need to redirect children to more appropriate behavior at the first sign of any inappropriate behavior. Positive behavior should be praised frequently, with rewards for  appropriate behavior in the classroom such as being the teacher’s helper, running an errand, earning a homework pass, or helping the teacher grade papers. Some children may prefer that their good behavior be acknowledged in private, rather than publicly.

Intervention strategies for ADHD include:

Provide additional structure to help with inhibitory control. Explicit and clear sets of rules and expectations are very important to help children with ADHD, Combined Type delay impulses and display appropriate behavior.

Teach techniques for response delay. Use counting strategies, stop and think approaches, and cognitive behavioral methods in which children instruct themselves to stop and think in the classroom.

Schedule the most difficult tasks for the best attention times. Students with attention problems who have difficulty staying focused on activities tend to perform best when they have the most energy for attention, typically in the morning. Students may also pay better attention when they have the opportunity to move and then are able to sit.

Develop private signals to help childen refocus. Teachers could work with students to develop a private visual signal or phrase to use to help them refocus and follow directions more effectively. This could include things such as placing a hand on a child’s shoulder or the teacher putting a finger to her/his lips. These signals could serve as reminders for children to return to the task at hand.


Featured image: Flickr user US Department of Education


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