*For the purpose of this paper, we will use a fictional child named Cody as an example to explore ADHD interventions in the classroom.*
The Importance of Consistency
Cody is a complex child whose development would best be supported by the adults in his life consistently working together to ensure his healthy growth. With Cody’s ADHD, this is something that affects all aspects of his life, including the relationships he creates, his schoolwork, and eventually his professional life as he grows older. This is why the importance of all adults in his life working together is so emphasized. Consistency is key here, and if his mom and psychologist are working tirelessly to help put Cody on a positive trajectory, but not receiving the same efforts from his teacher at school, this could potentially disrupt and even compromise the entire treatment process. It has been discovered that individuals with ADHD who are left untreated face poorer life outcomes than individuals who receive treatment (Shaw et al., 2012).
Proposed ADHD Treatment Strategies
In order to best ensure Cody’s success within the school setting, he would most likely benefit from a variety of treatment options, which include medication, behavior therapy, and educational interventions. It is also imperative that all of the people in Cody’s life are consistently involved in all areas. Some are hesitant to recommend medication to children due to the potentially harmful side effects, which can include loss of appetite, lethargy, and mood changes. Some children can lose weight, become depressed, experience difficulty sleeping, and some even report feeling like a “zombie”, interfering with their social interactions (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2013). However, it has been found that a child’s brain on ADHD medication more closely resembles that of a child without ADHD (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2013). It is important to find the right medication for Cody so we can ensure the benefits outweigh the unwanted side effects.
Behavioral strategies are also an effective way for Cody to learn how to cope with his symptoms of ADHD without relying entirely on medication. In the classroom setting, this could look like implementing reward-based behavior charts and other point-systems that allow Cody to feel rewarded for his positive behavior without feeling excluded because it would include the entire classroom. Other strategies include daily report cards, praise, peer mediation, parent conferences, self-regulation, ignoring unwanted behaviors, providing outlets for children to release energy, removing behaviors, special seating, and exercise balls (Shaw, et al., 2012). Strategies implemented within the classroom setting that involve the entire classroom have been proven to benefit children with ADHD, however, the teacher’s consistent implementation of these strategies must exist, otherwise it makes the positive developmental growth of the child to be disrupted (Shaw, et al., 2012).
The Point System (Token Economy)
The point system or token economy is a popular and effective way of supporting children with ADHD in improving their behavior. This occurs with the awarding of objects such as a green/red card or stickers which can be exchanged for a desired object or activity. Another aspect of this system involves response cost, where a loss of privileges acts as a consequence for unwanted behaviors (Shultz, et al., 2012).
Daily Report Card
The daily report card is another strategy that has been found to be effective when used in school for children with ADHD. It allows the teacher to document the highlights and low points of the day and present it to the child’s parents in order to further adapt the plans/preset goals in a way that better suits the child (Shaw, et al., 2012). It is worth noting that this strategy can lead to adding more stress and responsibilities onto a teacher’s plate, however, teachers are required to follow IEP instructions in order to provide educational accommodation for children who are eligible for special education services and require special accommodations (Shae, et al., 2012). It was also discovered that this technique was effective in improving children’s academic performance as parents and teachers were able to communicate on a daily basis and work together to better support the child (Shaw, et al., 2012).
Praise is an effective tool used to encourage desired behaviors in children with ADHD. This involves the acknowledgement and positive response to desired behaviors in at attempt to continue those behaviors in children with behavioral disorders. Often times, children become so used to only hearing from their parents when they are doing something negative, but rarely hearing from them when they do something positive. This technique can help children with ADHD build that confidence back that is necessary to change their outlook on their behaviors as they experience being told that they are capable of demonstrating positive behaviors, and not only negative ones (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2013).
Many symptoms of ADHD are typically treated with behavioral interventions. Because of this, many schools primarily focus on behavioral interventions as opposed to focusing on the academic engagement of students with ADHD (Shaw, et al., 2012). Many individuals with ADHD also experience academic challenges in school and require extra support in comparison to children without ADHD (Barkley, 2011). Some strategies used to support children with ADHD in an academic respective include offering organizational strategies for them to incorporate into their daily routine, peer tutoring, meeting with teachers, and using technology to assist their learning.
Many students with ADHD struggle with organizing their schoolwork, time management, note-taking, etc. This can look like struggling to organize a folder or binder, backpack, and locker. It has been revealed that these problems can be combated when students are provided with ways to help them maintain organization throughout the schoolyear (Evans, et al.,
In order to best support Cody’s learning and development, it is imperative that all adults in each domain of his life work together to follow the same plan objected at helping Cody manage his ADHD symptoms in the school setting. Many interventions and strategies have been proven to be effective when treating children with ADHD such as educational interventions, behavioral therapy, and medication. These interventions combined can greatly support Cody in school and place him on a positive trajectory, one that leads to a successful future.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Producer). (2013). Kids on speed: Episode 2 [Video file].
Barkley, R. (2011). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, self regulation, and executive functioning. In K. Vohs, & R. Baumeister, Handbook of Self-Regulation: Research, Theory, and Application (pp. 551-563). New York: Guilford Press.
Evans, S., Owens, J., & Bunford, N. (2014). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 527-551.
Shaw, M., Hodgkins, P., Caci, H., Young, S., Kahle, J., Woods, A. G., & Arnold, L. E. (2012). A systematic review and analysis of long-term outcomes in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Effects of treatment and non-treatment. BMC Medicine, 10, 99.
Schultz, B., Storer, J., Watabe, Y., Sadler, J., & Evans, S. (2011). School-based treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 254-262.