Organizing the Environment for Attention Challenges
After spending my life immersed in education, I find it difficult to turn my back on thoughts about special children. This post focuses on adjusting the learning environment to help children with attention challenges. I invite homeschool parents and all other teachers to consider the thoughts below.
Whether you teach in a regular school environment or in a home school setting, you want to do everything possible to help an ADHD student stay focused. The following ideas will help.
- Keep the environment surrounding the student as clear from distractions and movement as possible.
- Display five or fewer “expectations” or rules. Too many rules overwhelm a child.
Years ago, I worked with a young boy whose labels included gifted and talented, learning disabled, and ADHD with hyperactivity. One morning while waiting in the cafeteria for school to start, this boy turned over an entire cafeteria table with seats attached. The principal, in an effort at fairness and understanding, said, “Bob, I know your medication had not taken effect. It’s OK.” What happened? Was it really OK given the child’s disabilities?
Imagine a filter in the brain. The filter screens out excess sensory input. In most people, the filter works automatically when needed. Children diagnosed with ADHD have sluggish filters. Even when bombarded with excess noise, sights, or feelings, the filter does not do its job. The child feels flooded with sensations.
Stimulants such as caffeine and drugs such as Ritalin give a boost to the sluggish portion of the brain. One perplexed teacher offered a warm cup of coffee to a hyperactive child who mellowed out rather than becoming more active. With the jump-start, glucose utilization improves and the child with ADHD reacts more normally in terms of attentiveness, impulsivity, and excessive movements. Continue reading