More on Keeping ADHD Students Focused...
ADD ADHD Students using medication to treat attentional problems will have their optimal attention effects for Methylphenidate (Ritalin) 45 minutes to 2 2 hours after taking the medication. Other medications differ, and it is best to check with the physician about the time of maximum medication effects. If possible, try to schedule the most attention-demanding tasks for the ADD ADHD student during this medication window. Work with parents to coordinate this.
An individualized plan that emphasizes stimulating reinforcers on a consistent basis has a good chance of success. Consequences and reinforcement should be as immediate as possible. Changing the reward periodically is usually necessary.
If your ADD ADHD students believe that you are on their side, and that you really want them to be successful, then your behavioral plans will probably succeed. If they believe that you are out to get them, then they will view your behavioral plans as punitive and manipulative. Same plan, different interpretation and results. You must be on the ADD ADHD child's side. You must convince the child with attention deficit disorder that you what him to succeed.
Rewards and verbal praise on a continual basis will change the attentional problem the most effectively. One suggested system is the "point system". Feedback that is delayed or variable is problematic in that your student may have difficulty in correlating delay and gratification. Your student may begin to make faulty behavioral connections in these situations.
ADD ADHD students respond well to rewards that they experience as highly-stimulating. Computer games, artistic media, and action-based play (sports or other physical activity), building sets, and activities outside of the school setting, can be effective.
Ask your attention deficit student what he would like to earn. Your ADD ADHD student is the best source of identifying the reward.
Rewards should be changed frequently to maintain their "novelty power".
It is important in any behavioral system that your ADD ADHD student finds early success to "buy in" to the program.
One of the characteristics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is the variability of work performance across settings, tasks, and over time. In other words, ADD ADHD students have good days and bad days, good hours and bad hours. Rather than take high performance on some tasks as an indicator that low performance on other tasks is due to low motivation and willfulness, it is important to understand this as the nature of attentional problems. Your ADD ADHD student will do better on tasks he finds inherently interesting and stimulating. He will tend to do worse on tasks that required sustained attention and are boring.
If you bore your ADD ADHD students, they will perform poorly. When they perform poorly, you might quietly ask yourself if your lesson was boring.
Your ADD ADHD student may have difficulty with tasks that require complex problem-solving strategies. There is continued difficulty with the "executive processes" (strategies that are used to organize and monitor thinking and action). Your ADD ADHD student may not learn from his mistakes, and may just keep guessing until he gets the right answer. Help your attention deficit student to develop problem solving strategies.
Although your ADD ADHD student may seem to be verbally expressive (he may talk a lot), he may still be poor in putting down his ideas in written form. Sometimes it is a long journey from the brain, down the sleeve, to the hand, and finally to the pencil and paper. The mouth is a lot closer to the brain. Help the attention deficit disorder child with his writing skills.
My ADD wife is verbally expressive. However, it can take her an hour to write a simple thank you note. This has always been the case for her, and as a result, school was very frustrating for her. Show great wisdom with your ADD ADHD students when it comes to writing assignments. Teach necessary skills, and encourage the attention deficit students.
In assignments that require research reports and creative writing, have the student dictate the words to someone rather than writing it down. The ADD ADHD student can then copy the words using the word processor. This technique will yield greater output on tasks requiring expressive written language skills by removing the written component.
Assignments that require extensive fine motor skills are difficult.
Give seat work one sheet at a time, if possible. This will prevent your ADD ADHD student from feeling overwhelmed. This is also a helpful technique in testing him.
Identifying your attention deficit student's goals with his involvement is effective. Goals should begin by being simple and easy to understand. Two to three goals are enough.
The criteria for success (or earning points) should be simple and clear. Successful goal attainment early in the process is critical. Ask your ADD ADHD student to generate possible goal areas or have him choose from a menu that the teacher has created. The larger the role that he has in identifying the goals, the greater investment he will have in reaching them.
Have someone actively monitoring your ADD ADHD student during tests, especially multiple-choice, fill in the "bubble" tests. He can get off-track and fill in the wrong places or become so frustrated that he might answer at random to simply complete the test.
Emphasize that part of the work routine is to "check your work". Attention Deficit students tend to complete work and turn it in without checking it over. Give the ADD ADHD student some instruction in how to check his work and practice it with him.