In our previous conversation with Dr. Anupama Sethi, founder Executive Director of EmpowerKidz, we talked about what motivates her to do so much for the kids with learning disabilities, dyslexia, slow learning skills, ADD/ADHD and/or moderate autism. This remarkable lady has been helping kids from 1993 to achieve their full potential in life and has experimented with research based new developments in the area of education and the science of teaching.
Today in our conversation we are going to discuss the role of schools and teachers to help out students with LD-ADHD and slow learners. Here are the excerpts from our chat with Dr.Anupama Sethi, she truly sets an example for a lot of people and proves that 'All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them'.
1. What should be the key qualities of teachers who teach kids with ADHD?
Think of what the school setting requires children to do: Sit still. Listen quietly. Pay attention. Follow instructions. Concentrate. These are the very things kids with ADD/ADHD have a hard time doing—not because they aren’t willing, but because their brains won’t let them. That doesn’t make teaching them any easier, of course.
So how do you teach a kid who won’t settle down and listen? The answer is, with a lot of patience, creativity, and consistency. As a teacher, your role is to evaluate each child’s individual needs and strengths. Then you can develop strategies that will help students with ADD/ADHD focus, stay on task, and learn to their full capabilities.
Your most effective tool, however, in helping a student with ADD/ADHD is a positive attitude. Make the student your partner by saying, “Let’s figure out ways to help you get your work done, together.” Assure the student that you’ll be looking for good behavior and quality work. When you finally see a positive outcome, reinforce that behavior with immediate and sincere praise. Finally, look for ways to motivate a student with ADD/ADHD by offering rewards on a point or token system.
2. Classroom accommodations for students with ADD / ADHD
As a teacher, you can make changes in the classroom to help minimize the distractions and disruptions of ADHD.
- Seat the student with ADD/ADHD away from windows and away from the door.
- Put the student with ADD/ADHD right in front of your desk unless that would be a distraction for the student.
- Seats in rows, with a focus on the teacher, usually work better than having students seated around tables or facing one another in other arrangements.
- Give instructions one at a time and repeat as necessary.
- If possible, work on the most difficult material early in the day.
- Use visuals: charts, pictures, color coding.
- Create outlines for note-taking that organize the information as you deliver it.
- Create a quiet area free of distractions for test-taking and quiet study.
- Create worksheets and tests with fewer items; give frequent short quizzes rather than long tests.
- Reduce the number of timed tests.
- Test the student with ADD/ADHD in what he or she is the best at, such as orally or by filling in blanks.
- Show the student how to use a pointer or bookmark to track written words on a page.Divide long-term projects into segments and assign a completion goal for each segment
- Let the student do as much work as possible on a computer.
- Accept late work and give partial credit for partial work.
- Have the student keep a master notebook, a three-ring binder with a separate section for each subject, and make sure everything that goes into the notebook has holes punched and is put on the rings in the correct section.
- Extra point
- Provide a three-pocket notebook insert for homework assignments, completed
homework, and “mail” to parents (permission slips, PTA flyers).
- Color-code materials for each subject.
- Allow time for the student to organize materials and assignments for home. Post steps for getting ready to go home.
3. What is special about Empowerkidz? Why is it better than other organizations?
EmpowerKidz is special and different from other organizations as we provide many services in this area. Some of them are:
- A holistic approach for assessing, evaluating and diagnosing the reasons why the children are struggling in schools and providing concrete customized, comprehensive treatments and interventions based on Structure of Intellect Theory of Intelligence (SOI Systems) along with Multi-sensory Remedial education interventions for English and Hindi.
- EmpowerKidz is the first center in India to have a SOI-IPP (structure of Intellect-Integrated Practice Protocol) Lab to provide mind and body integration exercises for sensory integration.
- EmpowerKidz is also unique in the sense that we provide special education services using Montessori program for children with special needs. A lot of Experiences of Practical life (EPL) Materials and lessons along with Sensorial materials from the Montessori are used for children with Autism for their Activities in Daily Life and Sensory Integration. Further, Montessori Math program is also used with slow learners and children with learning disabilities.
4. What are some of the challenge kids face with regular schools?
Students with ADHD face many challenges in the classroom mainly because of the misdiagnosis and overlapping.
- The most important factor of ADHD is how it can affect a child's ability to learn. While ADHD is not a learning disability, its symptoms can impact a child's performance in school. This can be compounded when a child is either “gifted and talented" or has a learning disability.
It can be tough to determine the cause of a child's academic problems because many of the behaviors are the same. Children with ADHD, learning disabilities, and those who are gifted and talented may have:
- Poor attention
- Problems with daydreaming or inattention
- Power struggles with people in authority
- High activity levels or impulsivity
Many of the main symptoms of children with ADHD are also seen in children who are either gifted or have learning disabilities.
Research shows that up to 50% of children with ADHD will also have a learning disorder. But learning disorders and ADHD are not the same. Each is diagnosed and treated differently. It is important to have your child evaluated by a trained professional for each condition. Many children have learning disorders. They can include:
- Speech disorders
- Language disorders
- Academic disorders (e.g. reading, writing, arithmetic)
As with ADHD, some students with learning disorders may act out. They may do poorly in classes like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Because the behaviors are often similar, parents need to pay special attention to the duration and location of their child's behaviors. This can help identify whether the problem is ADHD, a learning disorder, or often both.
Identifying if a child is ADHD, gifted, or both can be a very difficult task. Your child's health care provider and teachers may run a number of tests. Tests can include ADHD behavior scales, intelligence and learning disability tests.
To complicate matters, a child can also have ADHD, be gifted, AND have a learning disability. These gifted children will fail to meet their potential when left undiagnosed and untreated. Just imagine what it might be like to be inattentive, impulsive, hyperactive, have an IQ of 140 AND dyslexia - extremely frustrating.
Students with ADD/ADHD present the following challenges for teachers:
- They demand attention by talking out of turn or moving around the room.
- They have trouble following instructions, especially when they’re presented in a list.
- They often forget to write down homework assignments, do them, or bring completed work to school.
- They often lack fine motor control, which makes note-taking difficult and handwriting trial to read.
- They often have trouble with operations that require ordered steps, such as long division or solving equations.
- They usually have problems with long-term projects where there is no direct supervision.
They don’t pull their weight during group work and may even keep a group from
accomplishing its task.
Students with ADD/ADHD pay the price for their problems in low grades, scolding and punishment, teasing from peers, and low self-esteem.
5. How can regular schools help kids with ADHD feel more comfortable at their academy?
Role of Schools to make children with ADHD comfortable at their Academy:
- Creating awareness among the teachers to identify the children with ADHD and refer them for a professional diagnosis.
- Training the teachers appropriately to work with students with mild issues within the regular classrooms with the support of special education staff in the school.
- Providing inclusive education with the support of special education teachers to work in collaboration with the regular teachers.
- Providing activities and therapies for children with ADHD in the inclusive school environment.
- Helping the parents by providing them appropriate information about their children and guiding them for the professional help whenever needed.
6. Lastly, is there a message you would want to send out to the people who are helping kids with ADHD.
Kudos to all the people who are working with children with ADHD and making a positive change in their lives. It is a great job which needs a lot of patience and the right training to handle children with ADHD and help them improve.
One request to all professionals working with children with ADHD (for practical reasons anybody working with all children) is to be truthful to themselves, to the children and try to provide best services to our knowledge and keep ourselves updated with the latest development going on in our area of work.