10 Things Parents and Teachers Should Know about ADHD

Core symptoms of ADHD

  • Hyperactive- impulsive: impaired ability to slow down and hold back
  • Inattention: impairments in prioritizing what to pay attention to, maintaining focus, block out distractions, remembering. Symptoms of inattention are usually most persistent and most problematic.
  • Symptoms get worse in situations that require sustained attention or mental effort or those that lack novelty and personal appeal (listening to teachers/ parents, classroom seatwork, homework, lengthy reading or listening activities, monotonous, repetitive tasks) .


The symptoms of inattention are most prominent

Many people think that all persons with ADHD have hyperactive impulsive behaviors that they have difficulty controlling. In fact it is the persons problems with focusing, concentrating, listening to directions, blocking out distraction, staying organized and working within time constraints that usually have the biggest interference with a person’s functioning.



ADHD is a spectrum disorder. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Key part of assessment is determining how much the symptoms have a negative effect on social, school or occupational functioning.


 ADHD people need more scaffolding than average

Scaffolding refers to a variety of instructional techniques used to move students progressively toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in learning. In early childhood, caregivers perform functions for the child. Showing, directing, helping, reminding, coaching and critiquing are means of scaffolding. Examples include, walking, getting dressed, crossing street, riding bike, driving car. Scaffolding is gradually withdrawn, as child becomes able to (or is forced to) perform these functions for self. In adolescence and adulthood scaffolding provided by: friends, teachers, coaches, spouses, supervisors and computers.



Prevalence and demographics of ADHD

  • All level of IQ, but most would be average or above
  • 70%- 90% male
  • Found in all countries and ethnic groups
  • Highly heritable (87%)


Types of proven treatments for ADHD


  • Parent/ Teacher training about ADHD
  • Parent training in child management (young children)
  • Parent/ Teacher training in behavior management
  • Adult input with self monitoring
  • Medication



Important considerations for teachers


ADHD is a biologically based disability that is treatable, but not curable. The goal of school intervention is to contain and manage the symptoms. ADHD is not due to lack of skill or knowledge, but is a problem of sustaining attention, effort, and motivation and inhibiting behavior in a consistent manner over time. ADHD symptoms are particularly bad when consequences are delayed, weak or absent and material is perceived as uninteresting. It is harder for ADHD students to do the same social behavior expected of other students. ADHD children need increased adult direction, structure, more frequent and salient

consequences, and accommodations, for assigned work.  The most effective behavioral interventions for improving school performance are those applied within the school setting.


What can teachers do to help?

  • Keep a disability perspective (an explanation, not an excuse)
  • Interact on positive level as frequent as possible (immediate, frequent, consistent feedback about behavior and performance)
  • Anticipate problem situations and structure for success
  • Make sure you have attention before giving directions (say child’s name before giving directions to the group)
  • Use desirable activities as reinforcer for work production and appropriate behavior
  • Break things into small units (less problem on a page)


Importance of Behavioral and Combination Interventions

Ongoing behavioral interventions may increase the possibility of tapering off medication if it is being used or stopping them as children age.



What to do if I feel someone I work with has ADHD and needs help?

  • Consult with colleagues and see if they see the problem as well
  • Suggest professional assessment and describe observed problems in specific behavioral terms
  • Don’t get caught up in deciding what treatment should be obtained
  • Teachers should not tell parents their child needs medication.