Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a neuro-biological,disruptive behavior disorder characterized by inattention (difficulty concentrating on schoolwork), impulsivity (frequently interrupting conversations or activities), and overactivity (difficulty remaining seated when required to do so) that are well beyond what is expected and appropriate for a childs age.

AD/HD is one of the most common childhood disorders and affects approximately 5-7% of school-aged children in the US. The disorder historically was referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); however, researchers in the field changed the name to include the hyperactive component. Currently, there are three types of AD/HD: Predominantly Inattentive (overactivity is not a primary concern), Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive (inattention is not a primary concern), and Combined (inattention and hyperactivity are present at significant levels). What are the symptoms? It is important to keep in mind that each student will be individual in what symptoms or characteristics are present. The following, though not an exhaustive list, provides some common symptoms:

Inattentive Symptoms:

  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (sights, sounds, movement)
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Significant difficulty sustaining attention and level of alertness
  • Often loses his or her place when reading
  • Cant stay focused on what he or she is reading
  • Forgetful
  • May appear spacey
  • Great difficulty in initiating or getting started on tasks
  • Fails to finish work
  • Difficulty working independently
  • Does not pay attention to details-may make many mistakes
  • Disorganized

Hyperactive/Impulsive Symptoms:

  • In constant motion
  • Restless
  • Always seems to need something in hands-fidgety
  • Makes inappropriate/odd noises
  • Has difficulty playing quietly
  • Intrudes on other peoples space
  • Blurts out verbally
  • Has difficulty raising hand and waiting to be called on
  • Cant keep hands/feet to self
  • Cant wait or delay gratification
  • Accident prone
  • Hurries through tasks

Other Common Symptoms:

  • Easily angered
  • Moody
  • Irritable
  • Has difficulty relating to others
  • Difficult to discipline
  • Poor handwriting
  • Receives a lot of negative attention 

What can be done at school? Interventions in the following categories are common suggestions for improving classroom instructional time for students with AD/HD:

  • Classroom Management
  • Environmental Strategies
  • Tips for Giving Directions
  • Tips for Dealing with Challenging Behaviors
  • Social Skills
  • Engaging Student Attention
  • Presenting Lessons
  • Organization
  • Reward and Reinforcement Ideas
  • Do’s and Don’ts

Myths about AD/HD:

  • The symptoms of ADHD represent normal childhood behavior and are indicative of immaturity, not a disability. 
  • ADHD affects only boys. 
  • All children with ADHD are hyperactive. 
  • Medication is all that is needed. 
  • Children naturally outgrow ADHD. 
  • ADHD resolves by puberty. 
  • ADHD is over diagnosed and over treated. 
  • ADHD is caused by too much sugar/caffeine. 
  • Poor parenting is responsible for ADHD behaviors in children. 
  • ADHD is a U.S. cultural phenomenon rather than a legitimate medical condition.