Tag Archives: ADHD

Teaching pupils with ADHD

Here are some basic strategies which have been proven to help pupils with ADHD in the classroom.  Remember: don’t panic!  Many children with ADHD will show great enthusiasm and energy for learning at times too.

  • Try to seat pupils close to teacher and away from windows or doors or other obvious sources of distraction
  • Try to sit pupil beside others who are good role models.
  • Use worksheets which have broken the tasks down into simple bite-size steps.
  • Try to alternate lessons, physical with sitting down activities.
  • Set short, achievable targets and give immediate rewards on completion.
  • Use large type and provide only one or two activities per page. Avoid any unnecessary illustrations.
  • Keep classroom rules clear and simple.
  • Give the child responsibilities; use him/her as a volunteer to write on board etc.
  • Use praise and attention when behaviour is good.
  • Maintain eye contact with the pupil during verbal instruction, but do not insist on the child making eye contact with you
  • Encourage the child to verbalise what is to be done, first to the teacher and then to him/herself.
  • Use checklists for each subject which the child can tick on completion.
  • Try to provide a visual timetable of lessons or activities; children with ADHD like predictability. You could perhaps have the timetable symbols on velcro and when that activity is finished actually remove the symbol and place on the finished or done side. This gives a reminder of what has already happened and what is to come; it also allows for quick substitutions for the suddenlys. Build in a choice or two along the way to give the child some element of control.
  • Use consistent routines for getting out and putting away equipment.
  • If child has a temper tantrum, take him/her aside or remove him/her from class as quickly as possible. Remain calm, talking quietly. Do not let him/her see you are upset.
  • Some pupils with ADHD will be helped by listening to soft music on headphones, although there are possible implications for the rest of the class
  • Consider having a seat/area for a pupil with ADHD to move to for individual work but try to ensure that there are also plenty of opportunities for social interaction/ group work too.
  • Remove all objects not required for the task from the pupil’s desk
  • Assist the pupil with personal organisation as much as possible.  This is especially an issue in post-primary schools where pupils may have a wider range of subjects and associated books to remember.
  • Make sure that the instructions for homework are clear and that the pupil has correctly noted what is required before leaving.
  • Maintain close communication with parents/guardians who can assist in organising the child for the day ahead (correct books, homeworks etc)
  • Reward appropriate social behaviour whenever possible

Further Information

An excellent guide to ADHD and how to facilitate learning in the classroom for pupils with ADHD is provided in the 2004 publication of ADHD: A Practical Guide for Schools (see http://www.deni.gov.uk/adhd_-_a_practical_guide_for_schools.pdf )

A short but very insightful Teachers’ TV video looks at the challenges of meeting the needs of children with ADHD in a primary classroom (see http://www.teachers.tv/videos/primary-behaviour-adhd-in-the-mainstream)

Checklist for ADHD indicators (source: Questions Publishing)
Teaching Children with ADHD

Some questions to consider (Please post a comment):

  1. In your experience which of the above strategies are most effective in working with children with ADHD?
  2. Are there any further strategies you would want to add to the list?

Tourette’s Syndrome

  • Usually begins between 5 and 11 with an upper limit of 18
  • Can be suppressed so may appear different in one place (e.g. school)
  • Different degrees of severity; from mild to socially debilitating.
  • 3 times as common in males
  • symptoms can increase or decrease or even go into remission
  • condition usually improves after adolescence

What to look for:

This condition causes sufferers to have an overwhelming compulsion to produce (usually facial) tics or to make or say uncontrolled noises or words. Sometimes the sufferer can be seen to be repeating phrases or mimicking gestures. Often is accompanied by ADHD. In severe cases there is involuntary use of obscenities, either vocal or gestural. This is called coprolalia and about 25% of people with Tourettes have this condition. The symptoms are likely to be at their most pronounced during puberty.

The symptoms of Tourettes are not always present. There can be periods of weeks when no symptoms appear. Some children may also have specific problems with organising work, memory and copying. Copying information quickly and accurately from the blackboard can be particularly difficult. Maths may cause special problems. There may also be difficulty understanding and remembering class work or homework

Case Studies
Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource

Further Information



ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

  • Is a developmental disorder
  • Is often hereditary
  • Affects children at all stages of education.
  • Estimates suggest it could be as common as 3-6% of the school population
  • The Hyperactive-Impulsive type is more common in boys
  • Can be co-morbid with other disorders

What to look out for:

It should be noted that many children show weak concentration, act without thinking or become over-excited at times.  However there are some children whose difficulties are exceptional in relation to inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity.  These difficulties impinge on their learning and the children themselves are often unable to control them.

Some typical manifestations of ADHD include the following:

The child doesn’t seem to be able to control his activities or attention.  He/she has poor concentration, finds it hard to settle down and is always on the go.  He/she is not good at organizing things, finds it hard to take part in anything requiring sustained effort and will not wait for others.  He/she often acts or speaks without thinking; has difficulty following instructions or completing tasks.

The behaviour will occur in more than one situation, e.g. at home and at school.  He/she may also have poor sleep patterns and difficulties interacting socially.  Due to his/her inattention he/she often underachieves and reading difficulties are common, although his/her academic ability can be low, average or high.

The diagnostic criteria for ADHD are those found in DSM-IV (APA, 1994).  Diagnosis depends on observation of behaviour and there is no one single test to aid with diagnosis.  Often teachers, parents, educational psychologists, paediatricians, GPs and/or psychiatrists are all involved in making reports but the final diagnosis is usually made by a paediatrician or child psychiatrist.

The DSM-IV (APA, 1994) has suggested that there are three types of ADHD:

  1. ADHD (Inattentive type)
  2. ADHD (Hyperactive-Impulsive type)
  3. ADHD (Combined type)


1. Medication: Ritalin and Dexamphetamine are used as stimulants to increase the neurotransmitter levels in the brain.  The effects only last for about fourhours and it is likely that the medication will need to be administered during the school day according to the school policy.  The first dose is usually given after breakfast as these medicines tend to decrease appetite when present in the body.  By waiting till after breakfast the child will not lost their appetite for an important pre-school meal.  Since these are stimulants, some children will experience insomnia if they are given more than two doses per day.

Case Studies
Teaching Strategies

An Article Explaining Why It Seems They’re Not Listening

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher

Further Information



Questions to consider (Post your comments below):

  1. In your experience is there now a greater acceptance of ADHD among teachers than in the past in NI/Rep of Ireland?
  2. Do some common myths about ADHD persist among some teachers/in society? (e.g. that ADHD is due to poor parenting)