Interventions selected for the Upper School student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) varies from student to student. This variability is due, in large part, to the finding that the majority of students with ADHD have at least one other condition (i.e., learning disability, anxiety, depression). Some students can be effectively treated with behavioral or environmental interventions, while others need medical and/or educational interventions.
Since the symptoms of ADHD are very similar to those with executive function deficits, intervention also needs to focus on attention, self-management, time management, inhibitory control, long-term projects, cognitive flexibility, and working memory. In the Upper School, the standards for high school graduation are not modified, but additional remedial interventions, accommodations, and other supports allow students to graduate and move on to college.
Upper School supports and interventions provided during the school day include the following:
- Personalized learning that focuses on each student’s strengths, skills and needs
- Positive behavioral supports, such as
- greeting students at the entrance to school and to class
- positive relationships between faculty and student
- Daily Report Cards (DRC) if needed
- brain breaks
- flexible seating
- talking through and reflecting on behavioral concerns one-on-one.
3. Academic remedial classes for those who need additional support in
- written language
4. Academic accommodations, such as
- extended time on tests
- use of the computer and numerous apps, such as Kami
- learning demonstrated in various ways
- many short quizzes rather than one big one at the end of a unit of study
- audio books
5. Individualized Learning Plans (ILP)
6. Building powerful mentor relationships
7. Small-class size
8. Environmental management strategies such as
- instructional agendas
- desk placement
- predictable schedules
- quiet environment without sensory overload
9. Mentor groups to support students social-emotional and executive function skills
10. Teaching and modeling social-emotional learning, using the RULER curriculum developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
11. Executive function skill development, which includes
- goal setting
- use of a planner
- help with long-range projects
- scaffold note taking
12. Teaching students self-advocacy skills, which includes student-led conferences
13. Freshman seminar to help with successful integration into high school
Occasionally, some lifestyle changes may be needed to improve the impairments associated with ADHD. These may include 1) reducing time in over-stimulating activities, such as television and video games; 2) ensuring that students eat healthy and get sufficient “good” sleep; and 3) ensuring that students get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
ADHD is a legitimate condition that requires a collaborative effort among the student’s physician, parents, teachers, and sometimes a mental health professionals to be successfully managed. With these collaborative and proactive efforts, outcomes for the student with ADHD are much improved. By developing personal strengths and acquiring strong academic skills while in their teen years, students can become successful students and citizens.