Friday, September 16, 2011

Accommodations for Students with ADHD

Classroom accomodations can make a huge difference for students diagnosed with ADHD. With effective planning and a patient teacher, students with ADHD can flourish in the classroom. Parents can work with their child's IEP team to be sure that appropriate accommodations are in place for their child. Here is a list of classroom accommodations and suggestions that can may make the learning environment more manageable for students diagnosed with ADHD.

-- Seat the student near the teacher's desk avoiding distractions such as windows and doors
--Simplify complex directions and avoid multiple commands
--Have the student utilize a daily assignment notebook. It may be a good idea for the teacher to initial this notebook at the end of the day, and have the parents initial it at home
--Reduce assignments to the chid's attentional abilitiy (consider a 30-50% reduction)
--Allow additional time to complete assignments
--Allow sensory or movement breaks
--Provide a "fidget" at the student's desk such as putty or a squeeze-ball
--Break long term assignments into shorter assignments
--Give the student immediate feedback and immediate consequences
--Provide the student with an extra set of books at home
--Have extra materials/supplies available for the student in the classroom
--Provide the student with a copy of the class notes to highlight as he goes along
--Allow homework and assignments to be typed if handwriting is an issue.

These are just some suggestions. Be sure that the accommodations are appropriate and individualized to the child's specific needs. For more ideas and suggestions, check out this website. Good luck!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Checklist for ADHD Symptoms in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a treatable disorder which affects approximately 8% of the population. There are three types of ADHD:
1) Predominantly Inattentive Type- these children have problems with inattention and are easily distracted
2) Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type- these children fidget, can't sit still, run, jump, are restless, hyper-verbal, interrupt others, and are possibly accident prone
3) Combined Type- these children present with a combination of the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms

Boys with ADHD tend to out number girls by 3 to 1, although it is believed that ADHD in girls is under-diagnosed. What follows is a checklist for ADHD symptoms in children. If a child demonstrates 5 or more of these behaviors, you may want to speak to your pediatrician:

__Excessively fidgets or squirms
__Difficulty remaining seated
__Difficulty awaiting turn in games or activities
__Easily Distracted
__Work is messy
__Blurts out answers to questions
__Difficulty following instructions
__Difficulty sustaining attention
__Daydreams or gets lost in thoughts
__Shifts quickly from one activity to another
__Difficulty playing quietly
__Often talks excessively
__Often interrupts
__Frequently doesn't listen to what is said
__Constantly loses things necessary for tasks
__Often engages in dangerous activities
__Fails to finish what he/she starts

It is important to remember that one doesn't have to be hyperactive to have ADHD. A large number of children with this disorder are not hyperactive or impulsive at all, but they still have a great deal of trouble with focusing and paying attention.

Reference: Parker et al. (1991). Medical Management of Children with ADD Commonly Asked Questions. Chadder.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Assistive Technology for Special Needs Students

    Alphasmart offers a family of portable word processing devices that can be useful for upper elementary, middle, and high school students, such as the Neo, Neo 2, and Dana. The machines are fairly inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to carry.  If a child has difficulty with basic fine motor skills, such as writing or note taking, an Alphsmart device can make a daunting task less stressful. Rather than focusing on the motor planning aspect of the writing process, a student can focus on content and composition when using an Alphasmart device. For students with learning disabilities, the devices also have spell-check and word prediction technology available. These tools assist students in constructing complete and grammatically correct sentences. There is also a typing tutorial available. 
     There is also another word processing device called a Fusion. These devices are more fragile, but offer text-to-speech and speech augmentation capabilities. There are many different types of technology available for special needs student, and these are just a couple of suggestions that parents, therapists, and teachers might want to consider. If parents feel that their child might need one of these devices in order to meet his or her IEP goals and objectives, they should discuss this with the IEP team.