Addressing Behavioral Challenges in Children with ADHD

Students with ADHD often struggle with the following:

  • Speaking out of turn, resulting in interpersonal difficulties 
  • Problems following instructions, especially if they are presented with multiple steps   
  • Forgetfulness across settings
  • Problems starting and completing large or long term projects without direct supervision   
  • Difficulty participating effectively in group products due to distraction and/or impulsivity   
  • Deficits in organization of possessions   
  • Problems in logical analysis and problem solving  
  • Delays in academic progress
  • Inconsistent performance from day to day, which may lead to inappropriate expectations

Students with ADHD often pay the price for their problems in low GPAs, scolding, punishments, repeated detention, and teasing from their peers. Children with ADHD often experience low self-esteem because of their difficulty succeeding at every day activities.

Supporting Students with ADHD in the Classroom 

1. Seating:  

  • Seat students with ADHD away from windows or doors.
  • Students with ADHD can benefit from being put close to the teacher’s desk, so they are less distracted by other students.
  • Align chairs and desks in rows rather than tables.
  • Create a quiet, distraction-free area for test taking and quiet study or activity time.

2. Information Delivery:  

  • Give instructions one at a time and repeat if necessary. Students with ADHD may be unable to follow detailed instructions that are given all at once.
  • If possible, work on the most difficult material early in the day. Individuals with ADHD may become very fatigued as the day goes on, making it even more difficult for them to focus and learn the material.
  • Use visual supports whenever possible, such as written instructions, checklists, charts, pictures, color coded instructions, timers, etc.

3.  Student Work: 

  • Create worksheets and tests with fewer items on each page to decrease the stimulation. It can be helpful to give frequent short quizzes rather than long tests and reduce the number of timed tests.
  • Test students with ADHD in a way that works best for them, such as orally or filling in the blanks.
  • Divide long-term projects into segments and assign a completion goal for each segment.
  • Be lenient about late work and accept partial credit for partial work completed, and give reminders as needed.
  • Understand that a strong, focused performance one day does not mean the student can perform that way every day.

4. Organization: 

  • Help students keep a master binder for all of their classes. Separate each class with different colored tabs and make sure that all necessary items are put in their binder at the beginning and end of each day. Keep this binder in the same spot at school and home so they can easily access it and will not forget it.
  • Ensure that the student has a system for writing down assignments important dates. Help them to remember to pull it out often and look at it.
  • Allow extra time for students to be able to organize their material and assignments for home.
  • Parents should have a consistent location for all school materials to be kept. Materials for school should be prepped the night before.

5. Structuring the Day:  

  • Create a signal that class is starting. This can be done with a timer, a visual cue, and/or an auditory cue.
  • List all activities and the steps needed to complete the activity on the board so it easily accessible to the individual with ADHD.
  • Keep instructions simple and structured. Use props, charts, or other visual aids.
  • Allow students with ADHD frequent breaks, especially if you recognize they are overstimulated and completely off task.
  • Avoid asking very long-winded and difficult questions that they are required to discuss in front of the class. Their difficulty focusing on the question and answer can lead to embarrassment.


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