I have been amazed, over my years of working in and with schools, at the impact that a diagnosis of inattentive ADHD can have on a student (just remember that diagnoses should always be carried out by specialists!).
The word revolutionary is not too much of an exaggeration.
With effective support, an inattentive ADHD student can achieve in many areas, through an improved sense of self-worth and a higher motivation level.
As with so many SEN issues, the goal is to include the student in the classroom and to promote understanding and skills in staﬀ to be able to deal with challenges before it reaches a point where the student is sent to a pastoral leader for not complying or concentrating.
Trust me: as someone with undiagnosed ineffective ADHD, I know that my school years would have been a whole lot more fun and enjoyable if my teachers had understood how to help me. I used to wish that they could just understand that I simply wasn’t like my mates.
So, here are my Top Ten Tips to help teachers to support an inattentive ADHD student in the classroom (whilst still being able to provide fully for the other 29):
- Focus on building self-worth, motivation and belonging – this will be your gateway to enthusiastic, eﬀective participation. This applies beyond measure to students who feel ‘not good enough’.
- Avoid saying to him anything that could come across as a criticism, like ‘pay attention’. Your aim is to motivate him to engage with his teacher, and to make him feel that you are on his side.
- Adopt a strategy and stick with it.
- Regularly chat with him – encourage him to feed back if the strategies are helping him, and work together to continually improve his situation.
- Use buddies who can sit with and ‘hang out’ in the playground with your target student. This will address the issues of loneliness and poor self-esteem, and provide someone with whom to check task instructions.
- Allow him to ﬁddle with something, like some sticky tack, to help focus his concentration.
- Give him up to three areas of responsibility in the classroom. The student should tick them oﬀ as they go. This gives a model for task-completion and esteem for participating in their own way – and, of course, provides another opportunity for you and others to bestow speciﬁc praise.
- Agree together on a sign that indicates when he needs to pay attention, like a gentle tap on the shoulder or a hand gesture from the front of the classroom.
- With the support of home and the SENCO, guide him to develop his own self-management/coping strategies. These will help him in class and in future situations.
- When something goes wrong, like (commonly) forgetting homework, work with home and the student to come up with creative and bespoke solutions, such as the student putting each subject in a diﬀerent-coloured ﬁle.
If you can keep these tips in mind, you will have a significant impact on the student, both during his school days and as he adapts to an often-unsympathetic world once he leaves education.
These top tips were compiled in partnership with Ann Freeman, author of Help Me Understand ADHD.