Archives for posts with tag: ADHD

by the National Resource Center on ADHD

It’s heartbreaking for parents and teachers to watch a child with ADHD struggle in school, especially when there are innovative teaching techniques and strategies that can maximize learning for kids with ADHD in the classroom.

CHADD’s National Resource Center on ADHD has produced four videos that highlight techniques and ideas that teachers (and parents) can use right away to improve communication, executive skills, and overall learning for kids with ADHD. The videos are short, each around three minutes long, and cover the following topics:

  • Homework Modifications that Make a Difference
  • Creating a Positive Dialogue with Parents
  • The Difference Between School Accommodations and Interventions
  • Executive Functions in the Classroom

Watch the series today and share the videos with a parent or teacher who wants to learn more about teaching kids with ADHD effectively.


Frequently in our classrooms we come across a topic or exercise that appears simple in its content, but for some reason, the students (or some of them) just don’t get it. This month I’d like to share an experience with you that walks through how my ADHD brain collided with another’s and how we solved the problem.

My client Susie is a very inattentive 20-year-old with inattentive-type ADHD, and we are working on getting her ready to take the Georgia driving exam. How hard can that be? Susie reads well, but only if you consider word pronunciation, pausing at commas and stopping at periods. She has learned the technique. However, content understanding is so missing. She daydreams, thinks of other things, like wondering if the Braves will play a good game that night, whether her dog dug out of the back yard, and whether she feels ill, so she doesn’t have to do work! Remind you of anyone you know?

The issue isn’t one of lack of intelligence. Perhaps some passive-aggressive tendencies interfere due to fear of failure. You can explain material to her until you are blue in the face, but the wandering attention and lack of focus get in the way, and you wear out long before she does. She responds best to visual prompts and remembers most clearly when she is actively involved in the learning. A real take on our learners who need active involvement to stay engaged. Therefore, how do we approach this in the most efficient way so that learning takes place?

Spinning the disks in my own ADHD brain, I came up with designing a game to make the concepts clear, the need for action inherent, and the approach energizing to retain focus. Printing off the Driver Manual, it became evident that it was written by politicians on the State Transportation Committee, and edited by a lawyer with an expertise in legal-eze.

Turning Right at a Red Traffic Signal
“Before turning right on red, drivers must come to a full and complete stop before the crosswalk. Do not block the crosswalk when waiting to make a right turn at a red light. This puts pedestrians at risk, forcing them to walk around your vehicle. After looking to your left to find a gap in traffic, you must look to your passenger side to ensure a pedestrian is not crossing in front of your vehicle.” – GA DDS 2009 Driver’s Manual, p.93

The first issue was to turn some high verbal, overly lengthy description into a simple step-by-step explanation.  Make it short and to the point – Keep It Straightforward and Simple.

1. Come to a complete stop.
2. Do not block the crosswalk.
3. Do not obstruct pedestrians.
4. Look left; find a gap in traffic.
5. Look right; check for pedestrian traffic.
6. Proceed cautiously into a right turn checking oncoming traffic.

The second step was to determine how to operationalize the information so it is interesting, has multiple possibilities of demonstrating competency and makes learning operational and fun. As students with ADHD tire easily using only one approach, varying modes of responses were developed to make the game fast, fun and constantly changing. The name of the game soon determined the multiple operational styles.

The word DRIVE becomes the acronym for the various styles of responses the player would perform.

D – Demonstrate
The player will nonverbally role-play the situation presented on a card. Other players may be called upon to assist so the situation can play out successfully.
5 points for a successful demonstration

R – Reflect
The player will give a presentation as to why a particular driving rule must be followed and the consequences of failing to do so. Statements should be convincing and clear.
5 points for a successful demonstration (1 point per fact given)

I – Instruct
Using printed street plots, the player will demonstrate the situation presented on the card. Some situations will relate to rules of the road, others will relate to common courtesies needed to be a good driver.
5 points for a successful demonstration

V – Visualize
Using printed icons, drawings and other available objects, the student will show using their own imagination and skill, how to relate and pictorially represent a situation and its outcome.
5 points for a successful demonstration

E – Examine
The player will examine a scenario and determine whether or not the situation was legal, proper for a driver to have done, or some part of the event needed to be done differently. Clear and concise understanding of good driving habits should be used.
5 points for a successful demonstration

Instruction cards will be drawn for each play. The color on the card will indicate the type of activity requested. Materials necessary for play will be in boxes, sorted by the type of play.

Actual road scenes, cars, school buses, railroad crossings were captured from Google Images to assist in demonstration. I felt that the closer to reality the visuals became, the more realistic the image reinforcement, the more serious the output. For consequential learning, scenes from automobile accidents and other serious outcome images were used, with tact and appropriateness, of course.

For the Demonstrate phase, a collection of hats, scarves, sunglasses enhances the ability to role play.

Scenario: Darin and Phelicia are walking across the street. Susie is approaching the intersection and intends to turn left. Portray the scene and demonstrate the correct safety precautions and procedures for the left turn.

For the Reflect phase, a simple microphone or podium sets the scene.

Scenario: You are at a party with a bunch of your friends. Some of the kids begin drinking beer and appear drunk. What do you say to them to be sure you all arrive home safely that night?

For the Instruct by showing phase, craft magnets were glued to colored blocks with stickers to represent various cars, trucks, buses. Using a simple cookie sheet, street plots with were placed on the cookie sheet. Adding pedestrians, trees to obstruct the view, cars traveling in various directions, you can easily create a motoring situation to address. The materials were easy to find, easily obtained through the internet, big box and/or art store, and in a short period of time, the highly verbal confusing text of the drivers’ manual has become an operational game.

Answer these questions: What do the signs tell you about how you should drive? Indicate the outcome if you do not obey. Show the outcome.

Instructions: Using the mountain road scene, instruct the proper way to navigate this pass using the car and the truck. On your tray portray what you should do. Can you pass safely? What do the lines in the road tell you?

For the Visualize phase, a box of drawing paper, color markers, icons of signs and vehicles printed on sticky labels assists those who are grapho-motorically delayed. Everyone has a chance to succeed.

Instructions: Draw a picture showing what you should do as you approach a schoolbus loading children.

An easy way to develop stickers or icons is to import simple Google images into an Avery label frame. Stickers can easily be removed and placed on diagrams, avoiding the need to draw with accuracy, enhancing the feeling of success.

For the Examine phase, pictures of auto accidents, judges, court scenes, police all help the player to bring his/her message home.

Answer question: When an officer approaches your vehicle, what violations will result in your immediate arrest?

is not completed yet, unfortunately, but using the DDS Manual, having Susie describe events as we wander through the manual, it is a work in progress. Demonstrating, Reflecting, Instructing, Visualizing, Examining all enhance the learning process.

Teaching is a challenge, especially when our learners hit a brick wall.
I hope this gives you some idea as to how to take one simple subject, and by presenting it in multiple ways, create an exciting learning outcome. I’ll let you know how the game develops as our time together progresses.


How often have you as a teacher heard these words? Students and parents come to you with their stories and you are in a quandary. You haven’t observed the incident reported, and yet you feel what they say is true. Your school has a no-bullying policy and you want to respond.

This month I want to address some of the facts on bullying and help to make you aware of the plight of the youngsters in your class who are affected by ADHD. Students play many roles in the bullying cycle. Sorting out each role can be difficult, as many of the bullying episodes are carefully carried out behind your back and out of the sight of any adult.

How prevalent is bullying?

Bullying has become a crisis in this country and across the world. It is listed as the number one cause of school absenteeism in the United States, and is closely linked to teen depression and suicide. In a Harvard interview of high school students, ninety-six percent reported having been bullied at least once in their lives, eighty-five percent reported witnessing bullying, and forty-six percent indicated that they refused to go to extracurricular activities because the bullies are there. Sadly, two percent of their classmates committed suicide after consistent bullying.

Other studies report that 282,000 students are physically attacked in our secondary schools each month. It is a sad reflection to learn that at least one event of bullying occurs every seven minutes. It is appalling to note that adults intervene in only four percent of these cases. Peers help eleven percent of the time, leaving eighty-five percent of the victims on their own with no assistance.

How do we define bullying?

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior that is intentional, hurtful or threatening, and persistent. This aggression can be physical or psychological, and it is repeated. There is an imbalance of strength, allowing one individual power and dominance over the other.

Where is the line between friendly teasing and bullying?

The bully intends to harm, intends to create fear, and intends to keep repeating the behavior. He or she is delighted with the power of intimidating another lesser-powered youngster. The key words here are intends harm and delights in control by power.

When the situation is one that involves teasing, both youngsters come to the situation with the same power or sense of ability. They banter about an issue and laugh at the outcome.

When the abuse becomes willful, the situation changes into bullying. Bullying is unfair and one-sided. It leaves the victim feeling hurt, frightened, threatened, left out on purpose. There is a line between rough play and bullying when the one with the power sets out to hurt the other. It is a power play. Hitting, teasing, taunting, spreading rumors, gossiping, stealing, excluding, and intending to harm are all means of exercising power. When the activity is repeated and the thrill of the power is accelerated, the attacker is a bully on a quest.

Bullies seldom own up to their behavior. They make excuses to adults for what happened. They play innocent, insisting that it was an accident. They explain that they had no idea that the victim wasn’t having fun, or felt embarrassed, intimated, or hurt.

Bullies target their victims. They want the power, so they look for and target students who are smaller, younger, or less adept. They seek out those who exude a lack of self-confidence. The shy child, the one with slowed speech, someone who walks awkwardly, wears glasses, keeps to himself or herself—all these children unfortunately become prey.

Students with ADHD are often targeted due to their acting-out behaviors. Sometimes they are cultivated as a friend and then attacked. Their impulsivity is seen as vulnerability; the bully taunts until the child with ADHD retaliates, and then the bully retreats so the child with ADHD is caught in the act and takes the brunt of punishment. After frequent attacks, the child with ADHD often turns and becomes the bully, reveling in the power of finally being in control. The cycle is vicious and needs to be diffused and understood.

Who is the bully?

Many folks associate the bully with a ruffian from the wrong side of the tracks, a child from a poor family who has a history of violent behavior. This may be true, but not always. It is true that boys tend to be more physical, obvious, and direct in their tactics. Girls on the other hand tend to be more verbal and secretive, and enlist others to help do their dirty work.

Bullies come from all walks of life. Some are the most popular leaders of the schools. Some are those who are aggressive and want more. Some are driven by impulsive behavior and find ways to gain recognition, although through the wrong means.

Students with ADHD are recorded as being four times more prone to bully. We must examine each case, however, to determine how the bully process emerged. We are not making excuses, just trying to see the process of this behavioral development. Those with learning differences are more likely to be both the victim and the bully as they try to defend themselves and retaliate. Thirty percent of children with learning differences find they are victims of peer rejection, and therefore are vulnerable targets.

Bullies frequently emerge from victims who have had enough. The child who is being picked begins to have violent feelings. Retaliation at all cost becomes his or her new mantra. Witnessing physical abuse at home or being abused leads to lashing out at others. The power gained by bullying creates a rush that develops into a need for more power.


Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the age of modern technology turns against us. Everyone knows a fourth grader is more competent with a computer than we are. When we interview computer-savvy teens, we find that forty-two percent have been bullied online, and twenty-one percent report receiving messages that were threatening. Yes, messaging is a way of life, but fifty-eight percent of teens admit to sending mean and threatening responses to one another. Of course, the “don’t-tell-an-adult” rule is alive and well. So teacher, you are purposely kept out of the loop.

Our ability to communicate instantly and respond in seconds makes the instant-messaging world a ripe field for attack, smear, and harassment. Unfortunately, anything in print is taken as gospel truth, so rumors can become rampant. Many times the cyberbullying victim is the last to know the ugliness written about him.

Attacks through technology come in two guises—direct attacks and attack by proxy. Direct is as it sounds, a frontal-attack text harassment, perhaps created through a blog or website. It is easy to slander by sending pictures, broadcasting internet polls or surveys, creating malicious codes, porn, impersonation. Intimidation by proxy involves getting someone else to do your dirty work. This includes, but is not limited to, passing slander between cyber buddies for an attack.

For example, a bully arranges a group attack by sending a widespread message to harass a student at lunch by ignoring her, bumping into her, and spilling food on her. This message is sent to many students and results in an unexpected, underhanded unstoppable catastrophe. Being aware of the power of such messages, teachers soon suspect cyberbullying when they see students ganging up on someone.

Cyber messages may be just rude or vicious and are often written without truth. Passwords can be hacked, leaving the bully an open field to impersonate their victim. The reader has no idea the message was a fraud and the perpetrator cannot be tracked. There is no limit to the damage a true cyber bully can produce.

Why doesn’t the victim just stand up for himself/herself?

Remember, this is a situation of power. Victims want to please. They frequently believe that what has happened to them is really their fault. They have been told to behave, and try to. Their parents and the school forbid fighting, and they try not to.

If the victim does fight back, the bully is savvy enough to back away, leaving the victim to take the blame for the altercation. The victim is told to ignore the bully, but the bully knows from the look of fright in the victim’s eyes that he or she has won. The more scared the expression, the stronger the taunt, leading to greater bully power. Often the abuse accelerates to a level of danger. The victim’s safety is in jeopardy and there is the possibility of a tragic outcome. The media circus begins, but the damage is done.

Who can change this challenge of power?

We’ve talked about the bully and the victim, but we have ignored the other players in this saga, the witnesses.

Seldom does a bullying event occur without witnesses. The bully needs someone to see how powerful she is and to verify her existence. She wants a following, to be a hero, so someone must see and tell. However, these witnesses, or bystanders, come in many “flavors”:
• First there is the vanilla bystander. This youngster watches and sees, but does nothing. He is just there.
• Then there is the strawberry witness who continues the harassment, encouraging and cheering on the taunting.
• Next is the neapolitan, who takes on the flavor of the most popular. This bystander is afraid of making his own decision or taking a stand. He is unable to be anything but what someone else tells him to be or do.
• Then comes the blueberry witness. This bystander comes waving a flag for the victim. She boos the bully and sides with the victim. This show of force rolls over the bully, diffusing the strength of power that the bully is fighting for.

As teachers, we need to encourage the role of the blueberry witness. We need our students to feel empowered by befriending the victim. We need to assist our students in identifying the roles of bully, victim, and bystander. We need to give each student a right to be safe and secure in our schools. We need to instruct and encourage students to support one another. We need to make it acceptable to report bullying as inappropriate behavior. Developing a safe environment, we need to encourage the loners to stay on the more traveled paths, to encourage them to have someone with them, especially the supportive blueberry variety. Being safe is to be less vulnerable.

Now, how does one stand up to a bully?

We’ve already determined that running from the bully is not the answer. Changing schools is not the answer. Make your school the safe environment where bullying ceases. A different school may only shift the child’s vulnerability to the next bully. Instead, let’s give our children survivor tools. But how?

Change their mindset

First of all, the vulnerable child needs to get over the idea that he or she should be a victim. He or she did not create this abuse, and it is not his or her fault. Sensitive children feel that they caused the abuse and that no one can come to save them and make it right. Some become so frustrated they react just as the bully expected. This makes them doubly vulnerable. Victims are not to suffer in silence and be pounded into submission. Lastly, they must not feel they can ignore the taunts of a bully and make them go away. That gives the bully the message that he or she has won.

Bullyproofing comes with an “I can and I will” attitude

One of the best preventive interventions is body language. Help your students create an assertive stance. Show them and help them practice. Make this into a classroom activity. This pride in self will support a student for a lifetime. Rehearse until every child in your classroom can produce a look of confidence, by learning:
• To look the bully directly in the eyes.
• Not to hang their heads.
• Not to look at the ground and mumble.
• To make sure of their movements.
• To make their movements crisp and sure.

Talk to your students about personal hygiene and the ‘put-together’ look. When you look good, you act good, and you show you are invincible. Your students may be at the sloppy age and careless about their appearance, but encourage them that a change in appearance may be a first line of defense against being attacked.

Comeback lines

No one has the right to talk down to your students. Help them to learn appropriate assertive comeback lines to use in vulnerable situations. Help them learn to use the comeback statements wisely, so they do not backfire.

Remember, some of our students with ADHD are not readily aware of social situations and need direct instructions for those times when they just don’t get what is happening. Teach them that their whole presence is their best defense:
• Remain cool at all cost.
• Avoid the temptation to throw in the next barb and foil with the next sword.
• Instead use a comeback line.
• Your line must be brief and to the point, giving the message that he did not get to you.
• Look him in the eye.
• Have a poker face that shows no anger. Having hurt or anger on your face makes you vulnerable. Practice making a blank face in front of a mirror, a poker face that does not reveal any of your feelings.
• Don’t trade insults.

Encourage students to use these sample comeback lines wisely, to think carefully as to when they may be appropriate:
    Oh, get a life.
    How does it feel to be this mean?
    Are you talking to me?
    You’re wasting your breath.
    If you say so, okay.
    I hear you, but I don’t care.
    Are you finished?
    Are you satisfied?
    I hope your nasty attitude makes you feel better.
    I could care less.
    Keep talking. I’m not listening!
    Congratulations for being the King of Putdowns.
    Are you bored yet?
    You should be making me feel bad, but you are not worth it.
    I should report your behavior, but you’re not worth it.
    Mission accomplished, so move on.
    You are really just wasting my time.

Put STOP into action

Now that your students have developed these vital skills, teach them to use the STOP method to put the skills into action.

Begin bullyproofing by looking your attacker Straight into his or her eyes. Hold your head high and stand with confidence, even if you are shaking.
Next, be sure no emotion shows on your Totally poker face. Remember showing emotions makes you vulnerable.
With a strong voice state your Opinion with your comeback statement.
Now that you have shown your strength, Pretend the bully does not exist. Totally ignore her.

Here is a chart to help you remember the STOP method:
Straight into the bully’s eyes
Total poker face
Opinion—state your comeback
Pretend he is not there—total ignoring

What are the consequences of bullying?

Victims of bullying are at risk for social, emotional, and psychiatric problems that may persist into adulthood. They tend to internalize their problems and are faced with bouts of depression. They feel insecure, cry easily, and are anxious and withdrawn, as well as feeling weak and submissive. Being unhappy leads to withdrawing from friends. Victims stop participating in extracurricular activities and feel unsafe in school. Often their grades drop, creating another issue that compounds their problem.

The bully loses his sense of life’s balance and is often disruptive, hyperactive, aggressive, and depressed. Needing the feel of power she develops social anxiety, has difficulty concentrating, is highly impulsive, and becomes more distracted, inattentive, hyperactive, and socially maladjusted.

Both the victim and the bully experience an emotional interference and often have symptoms of reading and writing problems. If a learning difference exists, these symptoms are compounded. These students often experience elevated anxiety and have a greater risk of dropping out of school. The stigma of the bully cycle increases the incidence of drug and alcohol abuse. Adolescents displaying these behaviors are four times more likely to be convicted of a crime by age twenty-four. There is no winner in bullying.

Is your school truly involved?

As we know, a lot of bullying happens in or around school property and involves student to student interaction. Many schools have a no-bullying policy and really want to enforce it. Many times action is impossible, as teachers do not witness the events, students have difficulty relaying what happened, and many denials and twisting of the facts occur. Schools that make a difference use a preventive approach.

David Olweus has made a study of the school community and created the most impressive bullying prevention program to date. Students discuss and define bullying. They are encouraged to make a commitment to speak up when they witness a bullying event and to befriend and stand up for the victim. They are helped to express their feelings and to speak openly and candidly through role-play and interactive activities. When the whole community works together, a difference can be made.

Assess the program that is in place in your school. What interventions have been put into action? What more can you do?

I’ve prepared an outline of resources and programs that I’ve collected during my search for answers. You may know many more to share. I hope you will reflect on the involvement you and your school have had in stopping the bully cycle. I look forward to hearing from you.

Remember, there is a positive message for us all:
• The student who bullies and who receives help can become aware of his or her behavior and change his or her focus on life. Of course, the earlier the intervention begins, the better.
• The student who is bullied can be empowered to assert himself or herself, move beyond the attacker, and heal.
• Bystander witnesses can learn to become empowered to care and stand up against bullying.

We can change the bullying cycle if we all work together.


Let me introduce myself. I’m Joan Teach, and yes, I married the name less than a month after graduating from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, with a brand-new teaching certificate. I had a passion to teach and make a difference, and that passion remains today.

I am a teacher at heart and I love kids, even teenagers and young adults. I am also fascinated by the many facets each of us finds necessary to use in order to learn. Being an adult affected by ADHD myself, I am on a constant quest to discover how my brain works, and I am sensitive to the differences I see in others. To me, ADHD provides some of the deepest mysteries observed in styles of learning.

I am opening this blog in partnership with CHADD to provide a forum for teachers. Of course, parents are welcome too! As a former teacher, special educator, administrator, consultant, and counselor, I am sure I do not have all the answers. I am a mother as well as a grandmother, with both adopted and inherited ADHD in my family. So I see the ADHD problem as a family/education problem. It is my hope that together we can learn from each other, explore the questions you have, and provide for a better understanding.

TEACHERS: I applaud your concern for the child with ADHD in your classroom. Each child comes with his or her own set of behaviors, and unfortunately, no repair manual. The techniques needed for our youngsters are often found in the pile of creative innovations that help all children to learn. Come with us as we explore things that work, behaviors that need to be understood, and innovations that make us all feel better about who we are.

PARENTS: I know it is day-to-day survival when you are raising a child with ADHD. It is the constant quest to understand what the child is dealing with in the classroom. It is the struggle of getting through homework on a daily basis trying to survive once more till the weekend. It is the social miscues and misunderstandings that bring me to this blog.

SCHOOL PLAUDITS: I am here to create a dialogue and one of the best ways to start is to send praises, for we hear so few.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Holt McDougal, Holt Rinehart Winston, and other publishers are making e-copies of their textbooks available to schools. Internet access to children’s literature, science, social studies, and math enables any student to:

1. Have a textbook for homework, even when it is left at school. Innovative!
2. Have the ability to print pages to fill in the answer, i.e., math problems that some students spend many hours copying. Awesome!
3. Have a text read to him or her. A boon for those with poor reading ability, and of course, attention problems! When the printed words provide an ongoing struggle, many students can listen and understand. What a relief!
4. Have the directions read to him or her. The core of a child’s difficulties in school may be reading the directions. If you understand the question, the answer may just be waiting to be told. A way of knowing!
5. Answer questions online and submit them directly to the teacher. What a plus, especially for backpacks that “eat” homework!

Teachers in many schools have created websites to benefit their students and help success to happen. Plaudits to school systems that are using technology to heighten stimulation, reinforce reading for students who process slowly or have a difficult time decoding language. The combination of the electronic charm and stimulation partnered with the reinforcement of a spoken language text provides a win/win situation for many youngsters. Attention is increased, the ability to “read” without errors and stumbles over large words and terminology is a boost to any learner. Using a multimedia approach to learning is a great way to enable students.

DOWNSIDE: As in any situation, there is a downside. Some families do not have Internet access, computers with high-speed access, or printers. Libraries have access available for some, but not all families have the transportation or the time to go to the library.

Some systems have these supports available, but the parents do not understand they are available, or do not know how to use them.

And then there is the winsome, electronics-savvy child who appears to go online to work the system for homework—and seems to get off onto another dimension entirely! So much for our techno-savvy kids.

CHALLENGE: Let me pose three questions to you.

• How can we get all school systems to address the multidimensional needs of our students with ADHD?
• How can we support our local systems to come onboard with technology?
• How can we make e-support available and understood by all?

Post your comments (click on that little comment icon under the title of this post) and let’s dialogue. And while you’re at it, be sure to let me know what other topics you’d like to discuss!


P.S. A day-long Teacher to Teacher workshop will be held following CHADD’s annual conference in Atlanta this November. You will learn evidence-based interventions to manage every aspect of AD/HD in the classroom, and you will receive continuing education credits. Click on the link for more information. I hope you can attend!