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ADHD Accommodations

By November 14, 2008

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A grandparent writes: "My ten year old grandson has ADHD, and he is not taking medication. He is doing okay in school most of the time but is having a hard time staying on task to get his work done. Do you have suggestions for us?"

Ann's answer: It is great that your grandson is doing well despite his ADHD. The inattention youíve described is common with ADHD. Even with medication, often children need additional adaptations and accommodations to succeed. I have some suggestions to share, and you should carefully consider whether they may be appropriate for your child. With any of these recommendations, it is important for you to discuss them with his teachers, school psychologist, or counselor. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • A reward incentive can be an effective way to increase your grandson's awareness of his inattention and encourage him to monitor and change his own attention behaviors.
  • Try seating near the teacherís desk at the front of the room.
  • Seating near peers who model strong attention skills.
  • Working with a timer on homework.
  • Breaking assignments down into smaller parts to prevent him from feeling overwhelmed. For example, he may do a worksheet with half the assignment on it, take a stretch break, and then work on a second sheet with the other half of the problems on it.
  • Small group work with good peer role models may help him stay on task and attentive.
  • Discuss the possibility of periodic prompts from the teacher that praise him for working and remind him of the need to get his work done when he is off task. A prompt can be as simple as a pat on the shoulder as the teacher circulates the room.
  • If the school district has a psychologist on staff, it may be helpful to discuss your childís needs with him or her. The psychologist may have additional suggestions that will work well within that particular classroom.
  • A device Iíve used with some children is the Motivaider - http://www.habitchange.com/education/index.php This may or may not be appropriate for your grandson, but you may want to check the website and discuss it with his teacher, the school psychologists, and the school counselor to determine if it would be appropriate. This device is basically a timer that vibrates at intervals you select. It can be used for a number of behaviors, but for inattention, the vibration can be used to prompt the child back to task at regular intervals. As the childís attention improves, the interval would be gradually increased until it is no longer needed.
ADHD Resources
November 21, 2008 at 11:37 am
(1) Frederick says:

I don’t see how you can believe in Behaviorism and rewarding a student for what is expected. How much money should we give this child for each passing test grade? What do you do when $1 isn’t enough money to bother studying for a test? It escalates and never stops.

Any timer, from the Movitaidor you mention to a $10 chronograph, can be used as an attention-checker. The intrinsic reward from being on task when the beeper sounds is much more effective than an extrinsic reward, and there isn’t any management issue: the child can deal with a watch himself/herself, fostering autonomy instead of relying on the teacher or aide to “check me” for behavior. Also, children too often think about the reward instead of the learning.

November 21, 2008 at 9:56 pm
(2) Ann Logsdon says:

I respect your opinion Frederick. There are many who would agree with you. My personal opinion is that with the broad range of needs we see in the public school system, we need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to help kids learn. Research supports behaviorist methods in many cases. Of course, as with any intervention, fading the behavior intervention system is always a goal. We ultimately want the child to develop intrinsic motivation. Some kids just need more support to develop intrinsic motivation.

November 21, 2008 at 9:58 pm
(3) Ann Logsdon says:

P.S…..Oh yes, and thank you for pointing out that the timer I mentioned is not the only way to go. By all means, try something less expensive if available and effective.

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