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ADHD affects behaviours such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, inattentiveness. This often leads to difficulties with everyday functioning and completing tasks, but as an educational professional, there are lots of things you can do to help your students with ADHD get the most out of school life.
We know that children and young people with ADHD often thrive in an engaging, active environment, whereas long, drawn-out tasks with no breaks or opportunities to move can lead to problems.
But with their inbuilt curiosity, children and young people with ADHD are naturally equipped with a fantastic toolkit for learning. This is why it's so important to understand their requirements and make any helpful adjustments.
Below, we've outlined some general guidance to help school professionals support children and young people with ADHD. Please remember that all recommendations need to be used consistently and alongside any other treatments or recommended medications.
These can be used both at home and at school. Positive behaviour should be consistently praised and negative behaviours ignored as far as possible. Consistent boundaries should be applied but always with a clear explanation. There should be an emphasis to avoid negative responses from developing as this can lead to further behavioural difficulties.
Ideally, teachers who spend a lot of time with the student should endeavour to equip themselves with adequate knowledge of ADHD. And it's important that any support given is at the right level to support the child's specific challenges.
Children with ADHD usually manage much better with one-to-one attention. If possible, we recommend using an experienced learning support assistant, who will often provide a higher level of one-to-one help.
Children or young people with ADHD often cope much better when tasks are broken down into bite-sized chunks. Similarly, instructions need to be broken down to help them better process information. The student may benefit from instructions being provided more clearly on a one-to-one basis and, if necessary, repeated several times.
They may also benefit from the use of visual strategies. This can help to clarify instructions, such as tasks they can cross-off once completed.
It's important for all educational professionals working with the student to have a clear understanding of their diagnosis. Allied staff at the school who come into contact with the child, such as lunchtime supervisors and administrative staff, should also be made aware of the diagnosis.
All educational professionals should try to remove and avoid any obvious distracting stimuli in the classroom environment. Sitting next to a window, for example, is an obvious distraction. It often helps to sit children with ADHD at the front of the class and away from other groups of children who could act as a distraction.
It can help students with ADHD to face a blank wall so that they are shielded from active distracting stimuli. However, if using this strategy, please take care that the child doesn't feel singled out or isolated.
Children and young people with ADHD often have hyperactive and impulsive behaviours. We recommend giving them the opportunity to effectively stretch their limbs at regular intervals. Ideally, regular breaks should be provided during lessons, allowing the student to leave the classroom and have a few minutes to stretch their arms and legs.
Please remember that these behaviours make it very difficult for the student to sit at a desk for long periods of time. Try to be sympathetic to this and make the appropriate adjustments. How often the child or young person needs a break will vary according to their needs.