ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a controversial disorder which involves deficits in attention and behavior characterized by impulsivity and hyperactivity. By best estimates, approximately 3-5% of the population suffer from ADHD. No one knows for sure what causes ADHD, but most professionals agree that it is a neurological disorder, based on some abnormality of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neurophysiology or a combination of these. Genetics might play a role in ADHD.
According to Barcley (1991, Attention Deficit Disorder: A Clinical Workbook, NY: Guilford Press)
There are 5 features of observable behavior for someone who has ADHD:
1. Limited attention span - rapid boredom, frequent shifting form task to task, quick loss of concentration, failure to complete work assignments
2. Reduced impulse control/limited delay of gratifcation-unable to wait ones turn, living for the short-term vs long-term goal setting
3. Task irrelevant activity-fidgety, restless, excessive movement, trouble sitting still
4. Not good at following rules
5. Great variability regarding task performance- perform great one day, horrible the next on similar tasks, inconsistent
Most students with ADHD are taught in regular, general education classrooms. Some students may receive special education or other assistance. Oftentimes, an individualized education plan (or IEP) is written up by a team of parents, teachers, counselors, nurses/physicians to formalize a plan for assisting an ADHD student. Teachers should be aware of techniques to assist ADHD students in learning process. This may include: providing additional structure and consistency, allowing frequent physical movement, changing the classroom arrangement to assist the student, working with the student on learning individual behavior management techniques
Frequently, medication will be used to enhance the educational experience. Use of medication should be decided by parents and physicians, not teachers or other school personnel.