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Arkansas State University

Understanding Attention Deficit Disorder

Diagnoses of attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children are on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, 11 percent of students in the U.S., have been diagnosed with ADD. As such, in order to support children with ADD in school, teachers and parents need to learn everything they can about the condition. Furthermore, every teacher should know some basic strategies for managing students with ADD in the classroom. Pursuing a master’s degree in special education online can be an efficient and effective way to acquire this knowledge without putting a career on hold or interrupting personal obligations. Learning to teach executive functioning exercises is one of the most important benefits of a master’s degree in special education; it is a proven method to help children build the skills they need for a successful education.

Helping Students Resist Impulses

Many teachers find that students with ADD have difficulty controlling their impulses. Teachers can help these students by showing them how to use objects and words to create a pause between thinking and acting, which helps students take a moment before reacting inappropriately. Some students even wear a red bracelet as a reminder. Another method to encourage a pause is for the teacher and the student to agree on a reminder word like “halt” or “pause.” Additionally, students may bring in other red objects from home that remind them to pause before reacting. These unassuming methods of helping students overcome the challenges of attention deficit disorder in children are simple, but they can make real differences in behavior and attitude.

Helping Students Create Mental Movies

Students with ADD may struggle to learn from previous experience. Explicitly teaching skills such as creating a “mental movie” of past experiences and how they resolved can be very helpful. There are many approaches to learning this strategy, and different methods will work better for different students. Teachers earning a master’s degree in special education online are commonly more familiar with these approaches, and they graduate with the knowledge necessary to help students in real time rather than consulting instructional coaches, administrators or experts after the fact.

Teaching Self-Talk

When teachers show students how to self-soothe through calming, positive language, students learn to take care of themselves, which is a skill that will benefit them beyond their time in a given teacher’s classroom. As an abbreviated form of self-therapy, self-talk helps students understand their particular challenges and how to address them better than any outside intervention can.

Getting Children With ADD to Notice Themselves

Many children with ADD do not pay enough attention to the interrelationship of their bodies and minds. By encouraging these students to pay attention to how they feel mentally and physically in certain situations, teachers help students self-monitor and engage their environment positively. This is a way to encourage empathy throughout the classroom, which promotes a positive, supportive learning environment.

Using Playacting to Practice Reactions

Finally, teachers should consider setting up simulated situations for students to act out and then discuss. Teachers might even create charts detailing how to react and which words to use when a conflict occurs. This makes important information available not only to students but also to adults who need to understand how to help children overcome the challenges of attention deficit disorder in children.

Learn more about A-State’s Online Master of Science in Special Education — Instructional Specialist K-12.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Data & Statistics — Children with ADHD

Edutopia: Strengthening Executive Function Development for Students with ADD

ADDitude: Inside the ADHD Mind

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