Prevention is the best option

What can parents do to help a child or teenager with ADHD?

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Children and teenagers with ADHD can have serious difficulties in their academic performance. Multi-modal treatment offers the best results. This means coordinating pharmacological, psychological and psychopedagogical treatments.

Parents and teachers are key to helping to minimise the symptoms and effects of these treatment methods on academic performance. Below, we offer some advice both for parents and schools with the aim of improving learning.



What can schools do to help a child or teenager with ADHD?

  • Define the rules clearly and simply. If the child or teenager breaks the rule, speak to them in private, avoiding embarrassing them in front of their peers.
  • Orders should be direct and specific.
  • Use behaviour change techniques such as time-outs or positive reinforcement.
  • Set goals together with the pupil.
  • They should only have items on the table that they need for the work they are doing at that time. When classes change, give them time to gather and put away items that they no longer need and prepare the next items.
  • Make the surroundings suitable and monitor the level of distractions in the classroom. Try to place a pupil with ADHD far away from stimuli that may distract them, such as windows or doors. Choose a place where the teacher can easily maintain visual contact.
  • Assess the pupil's level in the different subjects, as their performance may vary greatly. Apply suitable adaptations on that basis.
  • They work better if they are in a small group of pupils with a positive working environment.
  • Adapt tasks to the characteristics of the children, simplifying instructions. It is better if instructions are short, simple and specific.
  • Complement information given verbally with visual reinforcement.
  • Adjust assessment methods, changing the way tests and exams are delivered and marked. Depending on the difficulties presented, they may need more time, shorter tests, space set aside for each question, capital letters or text in bold for the salient parts of the question, oral tests, etc.
  • Help the pupil to control their diary and complete tasks. Use the diary as a means to praise and positively reinforce the pupil.
  • Plan tasks in which pupils have to move and which foster ownership, such as going to find or put away an item in another classroom.
  • Help them with self-control, for example, if they make small noises or movements while seated, agree with them some type of signal (such as touching their shoulder) that reminds them that sounds can distract other pupils.
  • Try to maintain a good level of motivation in the pupil, offering frequent positive reinforcement when they improve or make an effort.
  • Foster activities that increase social integration of the child with ADHD within the class, such as games, team work, etc.


What can pupils with ADHD do?

 . Use self-instruction strategies, which are messages that we give to ourselves internally and that allow us to modulate our behaviour. Some examples:

  • I am listening and paying attention
  • I am reading carefully
  • I am thinking about what I have to do
  • I can do it well
  • I am doing the exercise carefully
  • I am checking the exercise carefully
  • I have done it. Very good!
  • Avoid arguing about school equipment, for example by packing a school bag the night before, thus avoiding having to do it in a hurry in the morning.
  • Divide tasks you find complex into simpler sub-tasks and ask for help when required.
  • Prepare work and exams in advance.
  • Leave your mobile, tablet or computer in another room or switch it off when you don't need it to avoid distracting stimulating.
  • Sleep the right number of hours.
  • Stick to timetables for eating and follow a healthy diet.
  • Pick a physical activity that you like and practise it regularly.
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