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Classroom Modifications for Students with ADD/ADHD

Is your child struggling in the classroom and unable to stay focused? Ask his teacher to try these eight tips with your child.
By: the Council for Exceptional Children

Is your child struggling in the classroom and not able to stay focused on his schoolwork? Ask your child's teacher if she can try these tips from special education teacher Francisca Jorgensen with your child.

1. Make sure your child has an "advantageous" seating location. This may not always mean placing her in the front and center of the classroom. Her teacher needs to find the most productive "fit" for your child.

2. Provide an individualized, written schedule that your child can refer to when needed.

3. Assign your child a "study buddy" if he needs one-on-one attention to complete assignments.

4. Stabilize the school environment as much as possible, making sure that school supplies are in the same location each day.

5. Provide a second set of textbooks for your child to keep at home.

6. Consider keeping your child in the same classroom all day or moving her learning environment as necessary, depending on her needs.

7. Provide technological accommodations such as a laptop computer. This might lessen your child's tendency to lose papers.

8. Appoint a single person, such as an instructional aid, to whom your child reports to for help.

The medication question
Sometimes, modifying your child's school environment does not work and he continues to fall further behind. At this point, it may be necessary to consider Ritalin or other medication for ADD/ADHD. If you decide to use medication, Ms. Jorgensen recommends that a team should be implemented to gauge your child's new productivity levels. Team members should include you and your child's teachers, along with a doctor's close supervision. This process helps ensure an appropriate dosage of the medication and an individualized schedule for your child.

This medical strategy, coupled with environmental controls and solid teaching practices, often yields compelling results. Although the use of Ritalin is not always necessary, for some children it is the difference between learning and failing.

Ms. Jorgensen is a special education teacher in the Arlington County Schools in Virginia. These tips were excerpted from her testimony before Congress on the use of Ritalin to help students with ADD/ADHD.

Source: Adapted from "Advocacy in Action" and "Classroom Modifications for Students with ADD/ADHD" published by the Council for Exceptional Children in CEC Today, June/July 2000.

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