What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) is the most commonly studied and diagnosed behavioural disorder in the UK. ADHD affects between 3-9 % of school-aged children and young people, mainly boys.
ADHD is typically diagnosed by a medical expert, after observations and discussions with the child and family. Some of the behaviours include a short attention span, hyperactivity or acting impulsively. Children may fidget constantly or be easily distracted. For a true diagnosis of ADHD, these symptoms must begin by age 6 to 12 and be present for more than six months.
ADHD causes many difficulties, both socially and academically. In school-aged individuals the lack of focus often results in poor school performance. There is no cure for ADHD, but it can be managed through a combination of counselling, lifestyle changes and medications. Medications are only recommended for children who have severe symptoms. The long term effects of medications are not clear and they are therefore not advised for pre-school aged children. Adolescents and adults tend to develop coping skills, e.g. taking notes and making lists to create order in their day.
ADHD & School
School presents multiple challenges for kids with ADHD but there are practical learning strategies that can be implemented both inside and out of the classroom to help your child thrive at school.
The classroom itself can be the biggest challenge as children are required to sit still , listen quietly and concentrate for long periods. These simple tasks are harder for a child with ADHD and can keep them from learning in the traditional way. At home, you can support your child by equipping them with learning strategies for the classroom and at school, communicate with their teacher about how your child learns best.
Children who have attention deficit disorder are usually "concrete" thinkers. They prefer to hold, touch, or take part in an experience in order to learn something new. Playing games can make numbers fun or using visual aids will help kids understand new concepts. Silly songs or acronyms are another good way to make details easier to remember.
Recognising how your child likes to learn can have a big impact on their progress. When children are given information in a way that makes it easy for them to absorb, learning becomes a lot more enjoyable.
Auditory learners learn best by talking and listening. Reciting facts to a favourite song or letting them pretend they are on a radio show are excellent ways of learning
Visual learners learn best through reading or observation. Coloured flash cards work well. Allow children to write or draw their ideas on paper
Tactile learners learn best by physically touching something or moving as part of a lesson. Using playdough, making collages or providing sweets for counters can help. Dressing up to act out literature or history involves an ADHD child
Reading tends to be a struggle for children with ADHD but there are many ways to make reading exciting. All children enjoy stories and interesting information. However, an ADHD child will find it more difficult to sit still and may become distracted so it is important to engage them from the outset.
Find the right book. If your child enjoys a particular subject, ask you local librarian or bookseller for ideas and recommendations. Or take a look at our recommended reading lists HERE
Read Aloud. Read with your child and make reading time quality time with you
Make predictions or 'bets'. Constantly ask your child what they think might happen next
Act out the story. Let them choose a character and use funny voices to bring it to life