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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in the Classroom

By Douglas Cowan, Psy.D.

Since one out of twenty children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the US, it is important for teachers to understand both the myths and realities of the disorder. Here are some thoughts that teachers should consider:

1. Don't buy into the line, "He'd behave if he wanted to." That may or may not be true. He may behave just fine from time to time, and if you encourage him, he may do well for long periods of time. But his problem is not that he does not want to behave, rather his problem has a medical basis which makes it hard for him to sustain self-control.

2. Understand that of all of the kids with ADD, about 60% or so are hyperactive, and that 40% or so are not hyper at all. Also know that about 60% are male, and about 40% are female. Not all kids with ADD will cause problems. The rest will just sit and stare. Only one out of three with the Attention Deficit Disorder will ever get help from a professional.

3. Don't dismiss the behaviors as either poor parenting or poor classroom management.

4. Before talking to the parents, get a second opinion from another teacher, the school psychologist, etc. When you do meet with the parents, make a list of the behaviors that you are concerned about. Don't try to diagnose the child yourself, as this will simply make the parents defensive. Instead, just report the observed behaviors adn ask the parents to get it checked out.

5. Invite the parents to come in to your class and observe. More than one visit may be required, as often having the parent present the first time creates a "unique" situation which stimulates the child to do better than normal.

6. Be aware that the ADHD child often does very well in unique or novel situations, or in one-to-one situations. This would include a visit to a physician or a therapist to diagnose a problem. Also be aware that the worst place for an ADHD child is in the classroom setting. There are dozens of distractions, pressures, and rules that can be difficult for the child. And teachers, please be sure to visit us at to find over 500 classroom interventions to help children with ADHD be more successful in school. Good luck to you and your ADHD kids!!! Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of Incorporated. Article Source:

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