One of the hardest things about teaching is understanding students with learning disabilities that you’ve never had yourself. Many people who have never had ADD (attention deficit disorder) may wonder why the student can’t just pay attention and follow along with what the teacher is saying. It can lead to a lot of frustration and resentment for the teachers. Some teachers become so negative about it that they say things like, “You’re mother should pay me for babysitting.” These types of things are very inappropriate and can be harmful to a child’s enthusiasm for school, causing the child to drop out of school as a teenager.
The best way to overcome the frustration is to learn what it’s like for the student. One person with ADD (now an adult) described it this way: I’d be sitting there listening to the teacher when something the teacher said would trigger a thought about something I’d seen or heard or learned about previously. My thoughts would totally shift to this new thought exploring it. Sometimes 15 minutes would pass by before I realized that my mind had wondered and I’d totally missed what the teacher had been saying and when this happens, it’s very difficult for me to understand what she or he is now talking about.
Medication can help, but it’s not for all students â€” especially for young children who may experience extreme side effects. Teachers can do a lot to help their students. Here are some basic ideas:
Keep the front of the room basically clear of anything that would be distracting including brightly colored paper around the chalkboard. This will help the student concentrate on the teacher.
Put the child in the front row and use row seating instead of clustered seating. Clusters can cause the student to be distracted easily by other students.
Give students with ADD a shortened lesson that can be accomplished in the same amount of time as the other students so he or she doesn’t feel stupid and has accomplished something.
Lay out assignments step by step so they’re easily “digestible” by the student.