ADHD is characterised by a range of behaviours including impulsivity, levels of concentration, time awareness and over activity. Studies suggest that ADHD is still relatively under-recognised and under-diagnosed in most countries, particularly in girls and older children (1).
Features of ADHD
- Not everyone experiences ADHD in the same way. It is usually diagnosed by a medical expert, after observations and discussions with the child and family.
- Behaviours include a short attention span, restlessness, being easily distracted, and constant fidgeting, poor self-organisation
- To gain a diagnosis of ADHD the child or young person would generally display the behaviours consistently for at least a period of 6 months, in a least two different settings, e.g. home and school.
- Life is considerably difficult on several levels, i.e. socially and academically.
Treatments for ADHD
- There are several medical treatments for ADHD, all of which should be accompanied by psychological, educational and social therapies.
- Medication can be prescribed by a psychiatrist and monitored by a GP.
- The medication allows periods of time where someone with ADHD can concentrate better and be less impulsive; they may feel calmer and better able to learn new skills.
- Programmes for children and families can also be helpful. For example, active social skills training can better equip a child or young person to manage socially and at school.
- Parent training and education programmes can help families work together on behaviour management techniques.
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programmes (CBT) may help a child or young person manage their impulsive behaviour and help develop concentration skills.
- Clear classroom routines
- A well-organised learning environment
- Clear classroom rules
- Advanced warning and planning for out of classroom activities.
- Buddy support
- Home -school diary/ communication system
Support for written tasks
- Limit amount of work per page
- Allow extra time for completing tasks.
- Plan in work breaks
- Allow student to type or to use speech-to-text software.
- Reduce the length of written assignment
Behaviour management strategies
- Lots of praise to reinforce positive behaviour
- Use of choice as a reward
- Seat away from distractions (door, window)
- Use of timers to help structure work tasks
- Use clear and direct language or discrete (agreed) non-verbal cues for redirection if they become distracted.
- Making and keeping friends can be difficult, a buddy system and planned break-time activities can help reduce feelings of isolation and help develop social skills.
- A social skills group or a chance to practice ahead of an important event or situation can be helpful.
(1) ADHD in children and young people: prevalence, care pathways, and service provision
Prof Kapil Sayal, Vibore Prasad, Prof David Daley, Prof Tamsin Ford, Prof David Coghill 2018