You are on page 1of 13

© Kamla-Raj 2008 Stud. Home Comm. Sci.

, 2(1): 19-32 (2008)

Towards Helping Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity


Disorder (ADHD) to Enjoy Peaceful Schooling
Ayoka Mopelola Olusakin, Ngozi Osarenren and Florence Obi

1. Department of Educational Foundations, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos,


Akoka-Lagos, Nigeria
E-mail: mopeolusakin@yahoo.com
2. Counseling Psychology at the University of Lagos, Nigeria
3. Special Education, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
KEYWORDS Helping. ADHD Children. Schooling. Enjoyment

ABSTRACT Children could learn better when they enjoy learning. This article seeks to direct attention to the
importance of helping children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to enjoy schooling. Considering
a dearth of documented Nigerian-based research in this area (only one), the U.S. Department of Education, Office of
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs’s project report titled “Teaching
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Instructional Strategies and Practices” is condered invaluabled
for all stake holders in the lives of these childern, so it is adopted as the working paper for this article. The syptoms
of ADHD were pointed out while the specific ways in which teachers and parents could help these group of children
were discussed. Since a child with ADHD may be able to focus when he/she is receiving frequent reinforcement, the
need to work with parents and the community was emphasized.

INTRODUCTION what excites and engages them best is truly


excellent teaching, which challenges them and
Enjoyment is important for children to learn shows them what they can do. The Primary/
with ease. Children learn to love learning when Elementary education system should not write
they enjoy peace in what they are doing. They off any child through low expectations. Excellent
enjoy the richness of their learning – not just teaching gives children the life chances they
learning different things, but learning in many deserve. And they themselves will take responsi-
different ways: indoors, out-of-doors, through bility for making what they do. No matter the level
play, in small groups, through art, music and sport, the schools are now, with determination, they can
from each other, from adults other than teachers, be better.
before school, after school, with their parents According to the US Department of Education
and grandparents, formally and informally, by (2004), children with Attention Deficit Hyper-
listening, by watching, and by doing. All these activity Disorder (ADHD) and its associated
combined would help them enjoy their learning conditions frequently have problems at school
and desire to do well and also enable them to including underachievement, difficulties with
develop socially and emotionally in the cognitive, social skills and low self-esteem. They may
affective and psychomotor domains. experience teasing or bullying. Because ADHD
Every school should build on their own children look like their peers it is not uncommon
strengths to serve the needs of the children. To to find educators who consider the disorder an
do this, they would need to work with parents “excuse” for immature behavior rather than the
and the whole community; they would have to neurobiological disorder it is. Without interven-
think creatively about how they use the skills of tion, teachers and administrators may simply label
everyone in the school. the child as a troublemaker and if the condition is
It is true that children could learn better when not properly diagnosed and managed well in the
they are excited and peacefully engaged – but classroom, children can become isolated from their
peer group, and develop other problems such as
Correspondence to be addressed to:
Dr. Ayoka Mopelola Olusakin, Department of depression.
Educational Foundations, Faculty of Education, Ofovwe et al. (2006) carried out a study to
University of Lagos, Akoka-Lagos, Nigeria establish the prevalence of ADHD among school-
E-mail: mopeolusakin@yahoo.com aged children in Benin City, Nigeria using a total
20 AYOKA MOPELOLA OLUSAKIN, NGOZI OSARENREN AND FLORENCE OBI

of one thousand, three hundred and eighty four Difficulty in listening to others without being
(1384) primary school pupils, aged between six distracted or interrupting;
and 13 years, who were recruited from six primary They experience wide ranges in mood swings
schools. Teacher’s ratings of the DSM-IV and having difficulty in delaying gratification.
symptoms of ADHD were collected and analyzed Three subtypes of the disorder have been
as a function of gender and subtype. The results described in the DSM-IV and cited by Barkley
which showed that male Nigerian children who (1997) These are:
participated in the study had a higher prevalence (1) Predominantly inattentive type: (may not be
rate support a documented trend in ADHD reports hyperactive or impulsive) they may show a
that male children have a higher rate of ADHD different set of behavior patterns altogether
(Bender 1997, p. 56; Hallowell 1994, p. 18; Rief such as: Become easily distracted by any
1997, p. 12). They concluded that the results passing sight or sound; Inattentive to
strengthen earlier observations that there is no details; Makes lots of careless mistakes; Do
significant geographical variation on the not follow instructions much; Forgetful of
prevalence of ADHD if common definitions and belongings; Skips from one incomplete task
diagnostic tools are employed. They also made to another.
the assertion that their study was the first from (2) Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, type:
Nigeria and provides data for cross-cultural (may not be inattentive) Some behavioral
comparison as a prerequisite for establishing a symptoms exhibited by children in this
common knowledge of ADHD. This lack of condition include: Being restless or fidgety;
documented Nigeria-based research on ADHD Always squirming in their seats; Always in
makes this present work to be of great relevance motion, running, climbing, even in places
to Nigerians. where they have to sit still; Answering even
before the questions can be completed; Finds
Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity it difficult to wait in queues or take turns
Disorder (ADHD) (3) The combined types (who are inattentive,
hyperactive and impulsive), they show
The major symptoms of Attention Deficit mostly all of the symptoms discussed above
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are inattention, at some point in time.
hyperactivity, and impulsivity. While other children may occasionally show
According to the fourth edition of the Dia- some signs of these behaviors, in children with
gnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ADHD the symptoms are more frequent and more
(DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association severe than in other children of the same age (US
(APA) (1994: 83-85), ADHD can be defined by Department of Education, 2004).
behaviors exhibited. Individuals with ADHD In addition to having ADHD, some children
exhibit combinations of the following behaviors: have others academic or behavioral challenges.
Fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in For instance, Forness and Kavale (2001) and
their seat (adolescents with ADHD may appear Schiller (1996) have documented that approxi-
restless); mately a quarter to one-third of all children with
Difficulty remaining seated when such is ADHD also exhibit learning disabilities with
required; studies finding populations where the co
Difficulty sustaining attention and waiting for morbidity ranges from 7 to 92 percent (DuPaul
a turn in tasks, games, or group situations; and Stoner 1994, p. 46; Osman 2000, p. 52). Also,
Blurting out answers to questions before the some children with ADHD have coexisting
question has been completed; psychiatric disorders at a much higher rate. For
Difficulty following through on instructions example, the rate of conduct or oppositional
and in organizing tasks; defiant disorders varied from 43 to 93 percent and
Shifting from one unfinished activity to anxiety or mood disorders from 13 to 51 percent
another; (Burt et al. 2001; Forness et al. 1998; Jensen et al.
Failing to give close attention to details and 1997; Jensen et al. 1993).
avoiding careless mistakes; When a child exhibits behaviors associated
Losing things necessary for tasks or with ADHD, consequences may include diffic-
activities; ulties with academics and with forming cordial
TOWARDS HELPING CHILDREN 21

relationships with his/her peers if appropriate input in behavioral intervention strategies,


instructional methodologies and inter-ventions are maintaining frequent communication between
not implemented (US Department of Education parents and teachers, and collaborating in
2004). monitoring the student’s progress.
It has been documented that there are All children do not behave in the same manner
about1.46 to 2.46 million children with ADHD in in the same situation, it is important for the parents
the United States; and that these children to know from an expert about what behavior is
constitute 3-5 percent of the student population age appropriate for the child. Only then it is
(Stevens 1997) Although for years ADHD was possible to diagnose ADHD as behavior
assumed to be a childhood disorder that became inappropriate for the child of that age. Parents
visible as early as age 3 and then disappeared will need to take their children to pediatrician,
with the advent of adolescence, but it is now psychologist or psychiatrist to diagnose whether
known the condition is not limited to children their child’s suffering from ADHD or is just
alone and that while the symptoms of the immature and extra playful. Among the
disorders may change as a child ages, many pediatricians, psychologists or psychiatrists,
children with ADHD do not grow out of it neurologists and social workers, some can
(Mannuzza et al. 1998). For example, while a prescribe medication; others may use behavioral
preschool child may show gross motor over therapies to help such children. It is necessary
activity by running or climbing and frequently for the parents to know their children’s problem
shifting from one activity to another, older children and decide on the specialist most suited to meet
may be restless and fidget in their seats or play their unique needs. It is important for the parent
with their chairs and desks. They frequently fail to discuss the child’s problem and his/her
to finish their schoolwork, or they work carelessly. treatment with his teacher, so that the teacher
Whereas adolescents with ADHD tend to be less can also support the child adequately in the
communicative and more withdrawn, often classroom activities.
impulsive, reacting spontaneously without being Parents should be actively involved in making
mindful of previous plans or necessary tasks and schooling enjoyable for their ADHD children.
homework. Parents would need to help in supervising
the homework of their ADHD children. This is
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT because a child with a short attention span may
have more difficulty sitting down, turning off the
Families that have member(s) with disabilities TV and doing homework on his own. It helps to
go through a lot of challenges. The stress of have a specific time and place for the child to do
parents and siblings of the child with disabilities homework. In some cases, supportive parental
could at times be overwhelming. But the child is supervision can be valuable. This can be a
still part of the family and should be cared for. positive opportunity for the parent to see what
Parents have a critical role in the education of the child is doing academically. The parent can
their children; this is particularly true for those also go over concepts that the child may have
with ADHD (Rey et al. 2000). Among parents of missed when not paying attention.
children age 6-13 years who have an emotional
disturbance, 65 percent report their children also SOME TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR
have ADHD. Parents of 28 percent of children EFFECTING PEACEFUL LEARNING FOR
with learning disabilities report their children also CHILDREN WITH ADHD
have ADHD (Wagner and Blackorby 2002, p. 7).
To diagnose ADHD, parents must ascertain that Teachers need to develop strategies that work
the behavior exhibited by the child is inappro- with special needs children in the regular
priate for his/her age and that the behavior has classroom. What worries some teachers most
appeared early in life, before age of 7.The behavior about inclusion is the fear of being unable to meet
pattern must be consistently occurring for at least the needs of a child with a disability. Teachers
six month [American Psychiatric Association need to find ways of enabling these children to
(APA) 1994, p. 85]. Parents must be included as learn to read and write together with their peers.
partners in planning for the student’s success. Children with special needs are expected to abide
Partnering with parents entails including parental by the same rules and regulations as other
22 AYOKA MOPELOLA OLUSAKIN, NGOZI OSARENREN AND FLORENCE OBI

children. Too many special concessions teach other children in your class with those selected
children to feel different and their peers to become for the child with ADHD (US Department of
less tolerant. Education, (2004).
Students should be encouraged to take res-
ponsibility for their own work and behavior. Do THREE BASIC COMPONENTS OF
not make excuses or exceptions. Just one or two SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS FOR
children with disabilities should be integrated into CHILDREN WITH ADHD
a mainstream primary classroom at any one time.
According to the US Department of Education These components according to the US
(2004), teachers who are successful in educating Department of Education, (2004) are the physical
children with ADHD use a three-pronged strategy. classroom accommodations, academic instruc-
They begin by identifying the unique needs of tions and behavioral interventions. The strategic
the child. For example, the teacher determines integration and implementation of these three
how, when, and why the child is inattentive, impul- components of successful programs for children
sive, and hyperactive. The teacher then selects with ADHD involve the following;
different educational practices associated with
physical classroom accommodations, academic (1) The Physical Classroom Accommodations
instruction and behavioral interventions, that are
appropriate to meet that child’s needs. Finally, According to Rogow (1997, p. 33), it is impor-
the teacher combines these practices into an tant to emphasize that the context of the classroom
individualized educational program (IEP) or other is the major framework within which the teaching
individualized plan and integrates this program programs and adaptations take place. Children
with educational activities provided to other with ADHD often have difficulty adjusting to the
children in the class. structured environment of a classroom, deter-
mining what is important, and focusing on their
ASSESSMENT OF THE CHILD’S assigned work. They are easily distracted by other
INDIVIDUAL NEEDS AND STRENGTHS children or by nearby activities in the classroom.
As a result, many children with ADHD benefit
The teacher in cooperation with the relevant from accommodations that reduce distractions in
multidisciplinary team and the child’s parents the classroom environment and help them to stay
should assess the unique educational needs and on task and learn. Certain accommodations within
strengths of a child with ADHD in the class. Both the physical and learning environments of the
academic and behavioral needs should be classroom can benefit children with ADHD. The
considered using formal diagnostic assessments furniture to be used by children with ADHD need
and informal classroom observations. Assess- to be the right size; if they are not, the child will
ments, such as learning style inventories, can be be more inclined to squirm and fidget. A general
used to determine children’s strengths and enable rule is that a child should be able to put his or her
instruction to build on their existing abilities. The elbows on the surface of the desk and have his or
settings and contexts in which challenging her chin fit comfortably in the palm of the hand.
behaviors occur should be considered in the Special Classroom Seating Arrangements for
evaluation in order to select appropriate ADHD Students: One of the most common
instructional practices that will meet the academic accommodations that can be made to the physical
and behavioral needs identified for the child. environment of the classroom involves deter-
Select practices that fit the content, are age mining where a child with ADHD will sit. Assign
appropriate, and gain the attention of the child. the child a seat near the teacher’s desk or the
For children receiving special education front of the classroom. This seating assignment
services, integrate appropriate practices within provides opportunities for monitoring and
an IEP. In consultation with other educators and reinforcement of the child’s on-task behavior.
parents, an IEP should be created to reflect annual An ADHD student could also be asked to sit
goals and the special education-related services, near a student role model. This seat arrangement
along with supplementary aids and services provides opportunity for children to work
necessary for attaining those goals. Plan how to cooperatively and to learn from their peers in the
integrate the educational activities provided to class.
TOWARDS HELPING CHILDREN 23

As space permits, teachers should make Describe how students are expected to behave
available a quiet, distraction-free room or area for during the lesson. For example, tell children that
quiet study time and test taking. Students should they may talk quietly to their neighbors as they
be directed to this room or area privately and do their seatwork or they may raise their hands to
discreetly in order to avoid the appearance of get your attention. The simpler the expectations
punishment. communicated to an ADHD student, the more
Instructional Tools and the Physical Learning likely it is that he or she will comprehend and
Environment: Teachers need to make use of complete them in a timely and productive manner.
special instructional tools to modify the classroom Let the students know how to obtain help in
learning environment and accommo-date the mastering the lesson. For example, refer children
special needs of their students with ADHD. They to a particular page in the textbook for guidance
also need to monitor the physical environment, on completing a worksheet.
keeping in mind the needs of these children. Structure and consistency are very important
Teach the child to use a pointer to help for children with ADHD; because many of them
visually track written words on a page. For might not cope well with change. Minimal rules
example, provide the child with a bookmark to and alternatives could be better for these children
help him/her follow along when students are and need to understand clearly what is expected
taking turns reading aloud. of them, as well as the consequences for not
Set a timer to indicate to children how much adhering to expectations.
time remains in the lesson and place the timer at Encourage the students’ participation in the
the front of the classroom; the children can check classroom by providing them with private,
the timer to see how much time remains. Interim discreet cues to stay on task and advance
prompts can be used as well. Tell the children the warning that they will be called upon shortly.
time at which the lesson is starting and the time Avoid bringing attention to differences between
at which it will conclude (US Department of ADHD students and their classmates and avoid
Education (2004). the use of sarcasm and criticism.
At certain times, the teacher can make use of Use a variety of audiovisual materials to
music on a tape recorder to prompt children that present academic lessons and ask question from
they are too noisy. individual students to assess their mastery of the
lesson. You can ask students to demonstrate how
(2) Academic Instruction in Helping a Child they arrived at the answer to a problem, or you
with ADHD can ask individual students to state, in their own
words, how the main character felt at the end of
Children with ADHD learn best with a carefully the story. Ask for the correct answer after allowing
structured academic lesson-one where the teacher a child sufficient time to work out the answer to a
explains what he/she wants children to learn in question. Ask follow-up questions that give
the current lesson and places these skills and children an opportunity to demonstrate what they
knowledge in the context of previous lessons. know (US Department of Education 2004).
Effective teachers preview their expectations about To identify students who need additional
what students will learn and how they should assistance, watch for signs of lack of compre-
behave during the lesson. Prepare students for hension, such as daydreaming or visual or verbal
the day’s lesson by quickly summarizing the order indications of frustration. Then provide these
of various activities planned. Also review the children with extra explanations, or ask another
previous lessons on each topic. For example, remind student to serve as a peer tutor for the lesson.
children that yesterday’s lesson focused on Help students correct their own mistakes by
learning how to write a story. Make sure they have describing how students can identify and correct
learnt the previous topic before describing the their own mistakes. Help students to be focused
current lesson. and to keep working on their assigned task. For
State what students are expected to learn example, you can provide follow-up directions or
during the lesson. For example, explain to students assign learning partners. These practices can be
that a language arts lesson will involve reading a directed at individual children or at the entire class.
story and identifying new vocabulary words in Teachers of children with ADHD also need to
the story. guide them with follow-up directions.
24 AYOKA MOPELOLA OLUSAKIN, NGOZI OSARENREN AND FLORENCE OBI

After giving directions to the class as a whole, (1) Establish a fixed time each day for silent
provide additional oral directions for a child with reading as postulated by Manzo and Zehr
ADHD. For example, ask the child if he/she under- (1998) and Holt and O’Tuel (1989).
stood the directions and repeat the directions if (2) Ask the child to read a story silently while
need be. Follow-up directions could be provided listening to other students or the teacher read
in writing. For example, write the page number for the story aloud to the entire class.
an assignment on the chalkboard and remind the (3) Pair the child with ADHD with another
child to look at the chalkboard if he/she forgets student partner who is a strong reader. The
the assignment. partners take turns reading orally and
Break down assignments into smaller, less listening to each other.
complex tasks and highlight key words in the (4) Ask the child to make storyboards that
instructions on worksheets to help the child with illustrate the sequence of main events in a
ADHD focus on the directions. Prepare the story.
worksheet before the lesson begins, or underline (5) Schedule storytelling sessions where the
key words as you and the child read the directions child can retell a story that he or she has
together. read recently.
The aims of literacy instruction apply to all (6) Schedule play acting sessions where the
children because children with ADHD are more child can role-play different characters in a
like their peers than they are different from them. favorite story.
When reading, show children how to identify and (7) Keep a word bank of new or “hard-to-read”
highlight a key sentence, or have them write it on sight-vocabulary words.
a separate piece of paper, before asking for a (8) Play board games that provide practice with
summary. Monitor the noise level in the class- target reading-comprehension skills or sight-
room, and provide corrective feedback, as needed. vocabulary words.
If the noise level exceeds the level appropriate (9) Set apart specific computer time for the child
for the type of lesson, remind all students-or to have drill-and-practice with sight
individual students-about the behavioral rules vocabulary words.
stated at the beginning of the lesson. (10) Make available to students a second set of
Effective teachers conclude their lessons by books and materials that they can use at
providing advance warning that the lesson is home.
about to end, checking the completed assign- (11) Allow and encourage students to use
ments of at least some of the students with published book summaries, synopses, and
ADHD, and instructing students how to begin digests of major reading assignments to
preparing for the next activity. review reading assignments.
Provide advance warning that a lesson is Using Assistive Technology to Teach
about to end like 5 or 10 minutes before the end Phonics: All students with or without ADHD, can
of the lesson (particularly for seatwork and group benefit from the use of technology (such as
projects) how much time remains. You may also computers and projector screens), which makes
want to tell students at the beginning of the lesson instruction more visual and allows students to
how much time they will have to complete it. participate actively. Computer-based educational
Check completed assignments for at least some software can help children learn academic
students. Review what they have learned during subjects. Computer-based educational software
the lesson to get a sense of how ready the class can help children learn academic subjects. The
was for the lesson and how to plan the next lesson. best programs provide immediate feedback and
Instruct students on how to begin preparing appealing, changing visual and auditory input.
for the next lesson. For example, inform children Many feature cartoon characters that function
that they need to put away their textbooks and like an encouraging tutor. The newer educational
come to the front of the room for a large-group software allows the teacher to customize the
spelling lesson. program by changing the difficulty deleting
Language Arts and Reading Comprehension: voices, and changing the reward frequency. In
To help children with ADHD who are could not other cases, educational specialists may use
read well improve their reading comprehension software designed to remediate a specific problem.
skills, the teacher can: The use of a word processor or a voice recog-
TOWARDS HELPING CHILDREN 25

nition program can help individuals who have highlighting box to assist students in following
difficulty with getting their thoughts out on paper. along as the text is read. Text Readers are software
There are a number of excellent typing and word programs that read all the text in any given
processing programs for children. document or application and often include other
Software programs are available that focus assistive features such as word prediction and
on the development or strengthening of specific spell check. Those with a reading disability, but
skills used in reading, including phonics, decod- with adequate vision most often use them to for
ing words, sounding out words, parts of speech example;
and spelling. Read and Write: This easy to use floating
A computer can be used to provide oppor- tool bar works with any Windows software
tunities for students to drill and practice with program such as a word processor, spreadsheet,
phonics and grammar lessons. Computers can be database, and email or internet options. It has
used to promote successful and more efficient five areas of support: speech feedback, screen
reading experiences for students by offering reading, phonetic spell checker, word Text Assist
alternative strategies. Technology is seen as an is an easy-to-use application that converts text
integral support in these programs. into speech. You can use it to read e-mail messages
Some early software programs work on pre- and text documents, and even with Internet chat
and early reading language skills which focus on rooms. Simply highlight text and let it go to work.
letter identification, word patterns, rhyming and It is fully customizable, offering several different
early sound to letter associations. Children learn voices that could be modified in pitch, volume,
best when words are used within a context. and speed.
Other software programs focus on the Lexia’s phonics-based interactive reading
development and assessment of reading skills at programs are designed to facilitate the acquisition
different grade levels. Reading activities include of decoding skills. With the easy-to-use writing
recognizing, building and comprehending with Symbols word processing program, students
hundreds of new words used in context. These who cannot read can follow the pictures that
programs are good for reading practice and port- accompany any reading passage. This reading
folio assessment assistance program shows symbols of words
Series of activities for elementary students above the actual written text and also speaks the
designed to teach phonological awareness skills picture/words out loud.
through an interactive educational game format. TextAloud is a floating toolbar that lets you
Software features and programs that enhance listen to text that you copy to the clipboard. When
independent reading opportunities can make the you highlight and copy text, the program begins
computer a “virtual reading machine.” Using text- to read it back to you. You can read any email
to-speech technology enriches learning by message, text file or web page or save it to listen
having the computer highlight text and read it to later; it allows unlimited sizes so copy an entire
aloud as the student follows along eBook and save it as a file. The program uses
Talking word processors (TWP) are writing Microsoft text-to-speech capabilities.
software programs that provide speech feedback Apart from using the computer, to help
as the student writes, echoing each letter as it is children with ADHD master rules of phonics,
typed and each word as the spacebar is pressed. teach the child mnemonics that provides
Many of these inexpensive programs typically reminders about hard-to-learn phonics rules
used to assist with writing, also incorporate (Scruggs and Mastropieri 2000). Also teach the
powerful tools for reading. Students with learning child to recognize and read word families that
disabilities find that having written material read illustrate particular phonetic concepts.
aloud assists them to better edit, comprehend and Have Writing Skills: Balanced literacy
organize. Once any file (story from a book, programs look to integrate writing and reading
assignment, article, typed information, etc.) is activities in elementary classrooms. Thematic
imported into a talking word processor, the text units provide the content for both guided and
can be read aloud to the student. These TWP independent activities for learning.
programs offer other adjustments such as But, some software programs and internet
enlarging the size of the text and changing the sites contain over-stimulating graphic violent or
color of the foreground, background and sexual themes. Teachers must supervise/monitor
26 AYOKA MOPELOLA OLUSAKIN, NGOZI OSARENREN AND FLORENCE OBI

the internet use of the children. Children with Teach the child to play board games to
ADHD may be more vulnerable to the adverse practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, and
effects of over-stimulation dividing whole numbers.
Teach the child classroom standards for Guide students to perform a quick drill every
acceptable written work, such as format and style. day to practice basic computation of Mathe-
Teach the student how to describe the major matics and have them track their own perfor-
parts of a story by making use of a storyboard mance.
with parts listed for this purpose. To help children with ADHD improve their
Provide the child with a list of items to check skill in solving word problems in Mathematics,
when proofreading his/her own work. teach the child to read a word problem two or
To help children with ADHD who are poor in more times before beginning to compute the
spelling, make use of everyday events to teach answer. Also teach the child clue words that iden-
difficult spelling words in context. Assign spelling tify which operation to use when solving word
words that the child routinely uses in his/her problems. Teach students to ask guiding ques-
speech each day. tions in solving word problems.
Ask the child to keep a personal dictionary of Ask the student to create and solve word
frequently misspelled words. problems that provide practice with specific
You can use index cards of frequently operations, such as addition, subtraction,
misspelled words sorted alphabetically (US multiplication, or division. These problems can be
Department of Education). based on recent, real-life events in the child’s life.
Provide the child that has difficulty with Some children with ADHD benefit from using
writing with a special opportunity such as a special materials to help them complete their
separate table, to complete his/her handwriting Mathematics assignments, such as:
assignments. Also teach the child to use his/her Making use of number lines for the child to
finger to measure how much space to leave use when computing whole numbers and ask the
between each word in a written assignment. Ask child to use graph paper to help organize columns
the child to use special paper with vertical lines when adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing
to learn to space letters and words on a page. whole numbers. Allow the student to use a
You can also teach handwriting skills through a calculator to check computations made in answer-
structured program (Olsen 2003). ing assigned word problems (US Department of
Basic Skills in Mathematics: In teaching Education).
Mathematics, show children how to underline the Power tests may not allow children with
important facts and operations. ADHD to demonstrate what they truly know due
Numerous individualized instructional practices to their potential preoccupation with time
can help children with ADHD improve their basic limitation. Allow students with ADHD more time
computation skills such as: Teaching the student to to complete quizzes and tests in order to eliminate
recognize patterns when adding, subtracting, test anxiety, and provide them with other
multiplying, or dividing whole numbers. opportunities, methods, or test formats to
Pair up a child with ADHD with another demonstrate their knowledge.
student and provide opportunities for the partners
to quiz each other about basic computation skills. (3) Effective Behavioral Interventions
Teach the child to master the basic (not
complicated) mathematical symbols. If children The third major component of effective
do not understand the symbols used in math, instruction for children with ADHD involves the
they will not be able to do the work. Teach the use of behavioral interventions. Children with
child with real-life opportunities to practice target ADHD often act immaturely and have difficulty
money skills. For example, ask the child to learning how to control their impulsiveness and
calculate his or her change when paying for lunch hyperactivity. They may have problems forming
in the school cafeteria, or set up a class store friendships with other children in the class and
where children can practice calculating change. may have difficulty thinking through the social
Color code basic arithmetic symbols, such as +, consequences of their actions.
-, ÷, ×, and =, to provide visual cues for children The purpose of behavioral interventions is to
when they are computing whole numbers. assist students in displaying the behaviors that
TOWARDS HELPING CHILDREN 27

are most conducive to their own learning and that · Regularly review the student’s progress
of classmates. Well-managed classrooms prevent through progress reports submitted by other
many disciplinary problems and provide an teachers and will act as the liaison between
environment that is most favorable for learning. home and school.
When a teacher’s time must be spent interacting · Permit the student to meet with this advisor
with students, whose behaviors are not focused on a regular basis to plan and organize for the
on the lesson being presented, less time is week and to review progress and problems from
available for assisting other students. Behavioral the past week.
interventions should be viewed as an opportunity · Make sure the child has an assignment
for teaching in the most effective and efficient notebook to help organize homework and other
manner, rather than as an opportunity for punish- class work.
ment. · Also teach a child how to adapt instructional
Behavioral contracts and management plans worksheets. For example, the child can use a
would be needed to identify specific academic or blank piece of paper to cover the other
behavioral goals for the child with ADHD, along questions on the page.
with behavior that needs to change and strategies · Teach a child with ADHD how to take notes
for responding to inappropriate behavior. Work when organizing key academic concepts that
with the child to cooperatively identify appropriate he/she has been taught (Archer and Gleason
goals, such as managing the time effectively and 2002, p. 31).
studying well. Take the time to ensure that the · Provide the child with a checklist of mistakes
child agrees that his/her goals are important to that he/she frequently makes in written
master. Behavioral contracts and management assignments in any of the academic subjects.
plans are typically used with individual children, · Teach the child how to use this list when
as opposed to entire classes, and should be proofreading his/her work at home and school
prepared with input from parents. For example; to and provide the child with a checklist that
assist the student with ADHD who often have identifies categories of items needed for
difficulty finishing their assignments on time and homework.
are easily distracted with time management, the · Keep track of how well your students with
teacher need to: ADHD complete their assignment.
· Help him/her to improve his/her organization · Discuss and resolve with them and their
of homework and other daily assignments in parents any problems in completing these
order to save time. assignments.
· Teach the child to use color-coded folders to Making Use of Rewards to Reinforce Appro-
help organize assignments for different priate Behavior: There should be immediate
academic subjects reward for appropriate behavior so as to positively
· Assign the child a partner to help record reinforce it. These rewards can include stickers,
homework and other seatwork in the such as school emblems, or privileges, such as
assignment notebook and file work sheets and extra time on the computer play station. Children
other papers in the proper folders. Also ask should be involved in the selection of the reward.
the child to periodically sort through and clean If children are invested in the reward, they are
out his/her desk, book bag, and other special more likely to work for it.
places where written assignments are stored. Use token economy systems to motivate a
· Teach the child how to read and use a clock or child to achieve a goal identified in a behavioral
wristwatch to manage time when completing contract (Barkley 1990). For example, a child can
assigned work. Also teach the child how to read earn points for each homework assignment
and use a calendar to schedule assignments. completed on time. In some cases, students also
Provide the child with supervised opportunities lose points for each homework assignment not
to break down a long assignment into a completed on time. After earning a specified
sequence of short, interrelated activities (US number of points, the student receives a tangible
Department of Education 2004). reward, such as extra time on a computer. Token
And for a child with ADHD often has difficulty economy systems are often used for entire
in learning how to study effectively on his/her classrooms, as opposed to solely for individual
own, the teacher should; students.
28 AYOKA MOPELOLA OLUSAKIN, NGOZI OSARENREN AND FLORENCE OBI

Positive verbal reinforcement is also an impor- find that certain objects) distract the attention of
tant and effective way of strengthening students with ADHD in the classroom. The
appropriate behavior. The most common form of removal of such items is generally most effective
positive verbal reinforcement is praise given to a after the student has been given the choice of
student when he or she begins and completes an putting it away immediately and then fails to do
activity or exhibits a particular desired behavior. so.
Simple phrases such as “good girl” or “good boy” Provide calming play-stations. While some
could encourage a child to act appropriately. objects can be distracting for both the students
Praise should be given for the specific positive with ADHD and peers in the classroom, some
behavior displayed by the student. The comments children with ADHD can benefit from having
should focus on what the student did right and access to objects that can be manipulated quietly.
should include exactly what part(s) of the Play-stations may help children gain some needed
student’s behavior was desirable. Rather than sensory input while still attending to the lesson.
praising a student for not disturbing the class, Permitting students with ADHD to leave class
for example, a teacher should praise him/her for for a moment, perhaps on an errand (such as
quietly completing a Mathematics assignment on returning a book to the library), can be an effective
time. means of settling them down and allowing them to
Give praise immediately because the sooner return to the room ready to concentrate.
that approval is given regarding appropriate Students receive activity reinforcement when
behavior, the more likely the student will repeat it. they are encouraged to perform a less desirable
The comments used by teachers to praise behavior before a preferred one.
appropriate behavior should vary; when students Functional behavioral assessment which is a
hear the same praise statement repeated over and systematic process for describing problem
over, it may lose its value. behavior and identifying the environmental
Appropriate behavior should receive consis- factors and surrounding events associated with
tent praise. Consistency among teachers with problem behavior could be employed. This
respect to desired behavior is important in order involves the team that works closely with the child
to avoid confusion on the part of students with exhibiting problem behavior (1) observing the
ADHD. Similarly, students will notice when behavior and identifies and defines its
teachers give insincere praise, and this insincerity problematic characteristics, (2) identifying which
will make praise less effective. actions or events precede and follow the behavior,
Teachers need to focus their behavioral and (3) determining how often the behavior
intervention strategies on praise rather than on occurs. The results should be used to develop
punishment. Negative consequences may tempo- an effective and efficient intervention and
rarily change behavior, but they rarely change support plan (US Department of Education 2004).
attitudes and may actually increase the frequency Students should be trained to monitor and
and intensity of inappropriate behavior by evaluate their own behavior without constant
rewarding misbehaving students with attention. feedback from the teacher. In a typical self-
Moreover, punishment may only teach children management system, the teacher identifies
what not to do; it does not provide children with behaviors that will be managed by a student and
the skills that they need to do what is expected. provides a written rating scale that includes the
Positive reinforcement produces the changes in performance criteria for each rating. The teacher
attitudes that will shape a student’s behavior over and student separately rate student behavior
the long term. during an activity and compare ratings. The
In addition to verbal reinforcement, it could student earns points if the ratings match or are
sometimes be helpful for teachers to selectively within one point and receives no points if ratings
ignore inappropriate behavior. This technique is are more than one point apart; points are
particularly useful when the behavior is exchanged for privileges. With time, the teacher
unintentional or is intended solely to gain the involvement is removed, and the student
attention of teachers or classmates without becomes responsible for self-monitoring (DuPaul
disrupting the classroom or interfering with the and Stoner as cited in Shinn et al. 2002).
learning of others. Teachers could also use behavioral prompts
Remove unnecessary items. Teachers often with their students. These prompts help remind
TOWARDS HELPING CHILDREN 29

students about expectations for their learning and their classmates. One of the most important skills
behavior in the classroom. For example, teachers taught both at home and school is how to get
can establish simple, non-intrusive visual cues along with others. This may be the most important
to remind the child to remain on task. For example, skill the ADHD child has to learn. Some ADHD
you can point at the child while looking him/her individuals are naturally gregarious and popular.
in the eye, or you can hold out your hand, palm However, there are also a large number of
down, near the child. individuals who have significant social deficits.
When talking to a child, you could move to Teach children with ADHD appropriate social
where the child is standing or sitting. Your skills using a structured class. For example, you
physical proximity to the child would help the can ask the children to role-play and model
child to focus and pay attention to what you are different solutions to common social problems.
saying. Problem Solving Sessions are useful in discussing
Use hand signals to communicate privately how to resolve social conflicts. Conduct impro-
with a child with ADHD. For example, ask the mptu discussions with each of the students or
child to raise his/her hand every time you ask a with a small group of students where the conflict
question. A closed fist can signal that the child arises. In this setting, ask two children who are
knows the answer; an open palm can signal that arguing about a game to discuss how to settle
he/she does not know the answer. You would call their differences. Encourage the children to
on the child to answer only when he/she makes a resolve their problem by talking to each other in a
fist. supervised setting (US Department of Education).
In some instances, children with ADHD It is important to provide for the generalization
benefit from instruction designed to help students of these skills, including structured opportunities
learn how to manage their own behavior. for the children to use the social skills that they
learn. Offering such classes, or experiences, to
PEER MEDIATION the general school population can positively
affect the school climate.
Enabling the child to join peers helps him/her
to learn more, and the more the child learns, the MEDICATION
better interactions with peers will be. Encourage
students to work together in small groups to The number of children taking psychotropic
maximize their own and the other partner’s medication has increased substantially in recent
learning. Use strategies such as Think-Pair-Share years. That increase is consistent with the rising
where teachers ask students to think about a topic, number of children diagnosed with ADHD.
pair with a partner to discuss it, and share ideas Psychotropic medications treat a variety of beha-
with the class (Slavin 2002, p. 78). vior, emotional, and mental disorders, including
At times, teachers may adapt strategies to suit ADHD. Most children treated with medication
specific children, but they should not treat for ADHD are prescribed stimulant medication,
children with ADHD much differently than they such as methylphenidate/Ritalin. When used, the
treat their other students. Helping children with stimulant helps a child who has ADHD focus and
ADHD know that they are more like peers than reduces the child’s excess fidgeting and hyper-
unlike them will enable those with ADHD to activity. Medication alone doesn’t solve a child’s
achieve more. Giving special privileges to children behavioral problems, he argues, and therapy and
with ADHD could impede their progress toward changes in discipline at school and at home
learning and acceptance (Rogow 1997, p. 45). sometimes can be enough in themselves (Diller
Peers without ADHD could learn from children 1998, p. 55).
with ADHD even as the children with ADHD are According to Diller (2002, p. 14), the increase
learning from them, therefore inclusion could be in the number of prescriptions doctors write for
of great benefits to all children. treating ADHD is staggering and the number of
Members of a student’s peer group can prescriptions written for methylphenidate has
positively impact the behavior of students with increased by a factor of five since 1991. About 80
ADHD. Many schools now have formalized peer percent of the 11 million prescriptions doctors
mediation programs, in which students receive write for that medication each year treat childhood
training in order to manage disputes involving ADHD. In addition, production of Adderall and
30 AYOKA MOPELOLA OLUSAKIN, NGOZI OSARENREN AND FLORENCE OBI

Dexedrine, also used to treat ADHD, has risen source of support, but can sometimes also be a
2,000 percent in nine years. source of tension. Parents could feel that extended
Although Diller (1998, p. 67) prescribes family members do not understand the situation.
stimulant medication for children with ADHD, he Parents should be aware that some children
questions the large number of children currently may need medication adjustment so that they can
on the medication in the United States. focus enough to do their homework. For some
Increased Drug Use for Kids of Almost All students, particularly those with learning disabili-
Ages: The use of stimulant medication is not seen ties, the standard amount of homework is just
just in school-aged children. The number of too much. Parents could ask for extra assignments
preschool children using stimulant medication for so that the student can work at home on
ADHD has increased significantly as well. A assignments not finished during the day. Teachers
study, Trends in the Prescribing of Psychotropic can offer encouragement, support, and assistance
Medications to Preschoolers, published in the to prevent students from becoming frustrated with
Journal of the American Medical Association last an assignment. This help can take many forms,
February, found that psychotropic medication use from enlisting a peer for support to supplying
tripled in preschool children ages two to four over additional materials or information. Parents and
a five-year span (Diller 2002, p. 128). teachers can sometimes use easily available
commercial software for academic remediation and
CONCLUSIONS for enrichment.
All these put together would help the Nigerian
For effective teaching in agreement with the children (those with ADHD and others) to enjoy
U.S. Department of Education Office of Special peaceful learning.
Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of
Special Education Programs, report 2004, the three REFERENCES
main components of a successful strategy for
educating children with ADHD are classroom American Psychiatric Association 1994. Diagnostic and
accommodations, academic instruction, and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed.
Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
behavioral interventions. By incorporating tech- Archer A, Gleason M 2002. Skills for School Success:
niques from these three areas into their everyday Book 5. North Billerica, MA: Curriculum Associates,
instructional and classroom management Inc.
practices, teachers will be empowered to improve Barkley RA 1990. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
A Handbook For Diagnosis and Treatment. New
both the academic performance and the behavior York: Guilford.
of their students with ADHD. In doing so, teachers Barkley RA 1997. Behavioral inhibition, sustained
will create an enhanced learning environment. attention, and executive functions: Constructing a
These techniques are not just useful in helping unifying theory of ADHD. Psychological Bulletin,
children with ADHD, but they are as well relevant 121(1): 65-94.
Bender W 1997. Understanding ADHD: A Practical
in helping other children. Guide for Teachers and Parents. Upper Saddle River,
The academic success of a child is often NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.
dependent on his/her ability to attend to tasks, Burt SA, Krueger RF, McGue M, Iacono WG 2001. Sources
to the teacher and classroom expectations with of Co variation among Attention-Deficit/Hyper-
activity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and
minimal distraction. Such skill enables a student Conduct Disorder: The Importance of Shared
to acquire necessary information, participate in Environment. Journal of Abnormal Psychology,
classroom activities/discussions and complete 110: 516-525.
assignments (Forness and Kavale 2001). Diller LH 1998. Running on Ritalin: A Physician Reflects
Parents, siblings, extended family and commu- on Children, Society and Performance in a Pill.
New York: Bantam Books,
nity support could be quite helpful in helping the Diller LH 2002. Should I Medicate my Child? Sane
children with ADHD to enjoy peaceful schooling. Solutions for Troubled Kids with and Without
Community support is important during and Psychiatric Drugs. New York: Basic Books.
after the time of the initial diagnosis. It is easy for DuPaul GJ, Stoner G 1994. ADHD in the Schools:
a family to become overworked or overwhelmed. Assessment and Intervention Strategies. New York:
Guilford Press.
At such a point, the family might be tempted to DuPaul GJ, Stoner G 2002. Interventions for Attention
withdraw into itself just when support is most Problems. In: MR Shinn, HM Walker, G Stoner
needed. Extended family can be an important (Eds.): Interventions for Academic and Behavior
TOWARDS HELPING CHILDREN 31

Problems II: Preventive and Remedial Approaches. In: L Greenhill (Ed.): Learning Disabilities In Children
Bethesda, MD: National Association of School With a Psychiatric Disorder. Washington, DC:
Psychologists, pp. 913-938. American Psychiatric Association, pp. 33-57.
Forness SR, Kavale KA 2001. ADHD and a Return to the Rey JM, Walter G, Plapp JM, Denstire E. 2000. Family
Medical Model of Special Education. Education and Environment in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity,
Treatment of Children, 24(3): 224-247. Oppositional Defiant and Conduct Disorders. Journal
Forness SR, Kavale KA, San Miguel S 1998. The of Psychiatry, 34: 453–445
Psychiatric Co morbidity Hypothesis Revisited. Rief SF 1997. The ADD/ADHD Checklist: An Easy
Learning Disability Quarterly, 21: 203-207. Reference for Parents and Teachers. Reston, VA:
Hallowell E 1994. Driven to Distraction: Recognizing Council for Exceptional Children.
and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Robelia B 1997. Tips for Working With ADHD Students
Childhood Through Adulthood. Tappan, NJ: Simon of All Ages. Journal of Experimental Education,
and Schuster. 20(1): 51-53.
Holt SB, O’Tuel FS 1989. The Effect of Sustained Silent Rogow SM 1997. Language, Literacy and Children With
Reading and Writing on Achievement and Attitudes Special Needs, Ontario, Canada, The Pippin Teachers
of Seventh and Eighth Grade Students Reading Two Library, Pippin Publishing: Scarborough
Years Below Grade Level. Reading Improvement, Schiller E 1996. Educating Children With Attention
26: 290-297. Deficit Disorder. Our Children, 22, no.2: 32-33.
Jensen PS, Martin D, Cantwell DP 1997. Co morbidity Scruggs TE, Mastropieri MA 2000. The effectiveness of
in ADHD: Implications for Research, Practice, and mnemonic instruction for students with learning and
DSM-IV. Journal of the American Academy of Child behavior problems: An update and research synthesis.
and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36: 1065-1079. Journal of Behavioral Education, 10, nos. 2-3: 163-
Jensen PS, Shertvette RR, Zenakis SN, Ritchters J 1993. 173.
Anxiety and Depressive disorders in attention deficit Slavin RE 2002. Education Psychology: Theory into
disorder with hyperactivity: New findings. American Practice. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Journal of Psychiatry, 150: 1203-1209. Stevens SH 1997. Classroom Success for The LD and
Mannuzza S, Klein RG, Bessler A, Malloy P, LaPadula M ADHD Child. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair.
1998. Adult Psychiatric Status of Hyperactive Boys Todd, A. W., R. H. Horner, G. Sugai and J. R. Sprague.
as Grown Up. American Journal of Psychiatry, 155: 1999. Effective Behavior Support: Strengthening
493-498. School-Wide Systems Through a Team-Based
Manzo KK, Zehr MA 1998. Take note. Education Week, Approach. Effective School Practices, 17(4): 23-37.
18(3): 3. U.S Department of Education Office of Special Education
Ofovwe CE, Ofovwe GE, Meyer A 2006. The Prevalence and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special
of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Education Programs, 2004. Teaching Children With
School Aged Children in Benin City, Nigeria. Journal Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 18(1): 1–5 Instructional Strategies and Practices, Washington,
Olsen J 2003. Handwriting Without Tears. Retrieved D.C.
September 15, 2005, from http://www.hwtears.com Wagner M, Blackorby J 2002. Disability Profiles of
Osman BB 2000. Learning Disabilities and The Risk of Elementary and Middle School Students with
Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents. Disabilities. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.