ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom

ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom

A Teacher's Guide to Helping Kids Diagnosed with ADD or ADHD that Empowers Not Controls.

What does it mean to a kid to be labeled attention-deficit disordered (ADD)? Or to have "hyperactive" added to the label (ADHD)? What can teachers do to boost the success of students with attention and behavioral difficulties? Are we relying too much on medication for these kids and not enough on new perspectives on learning, child development, the child's socioeconomic and cultural background, biological and psychological research, and the learner's emotional and social needs?

In ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom, Dr. Thomas Armstrong urges educators and parents to look for the positive characteristics in learners who may carry the ADD/ADHD label. Are they bursting with energy? Are they intensely creative? Do they enjoy hands-on learning? Are they natural leaders? Are they unusually introspective and reflective?

We need to look beyond a "deficit" approach and embrace a more holistic view of learners that includes teaching to their multiple intelligences, learning styles, and other brain-friendly approaches. For example, here are some classroom activities for kids who "can't sit still": Learning spelling words by having kids jump up out of their seats on the vowels and sit down on the consonants. Mastering the multiplication tables by forming a conga line, moving around the classroom counting from 1 to 30 out loud, and on every multiple of 3 shaking their hips and legs. Showing patterns of molecular bonding in chemistry class through a "swing your atom" square dance.

For information on ADD/ADHD for parents, see my book The Myth of the ADHD Child:  101 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion. 

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About the Book

Ncolor graph of heart shape with images of healthy life style embeddedow that the COVID-19 pandemic is making us all more conscious of our health, well being, and lifestyle, a new study involving 3000 5th grade students in Nova Scotia, Canada, reveals that those kids who met at least seven of nine healthy lifestyle recommendations had a substantially lower incidence of ADHD compared to their counterparts who only met between one and three of the criteria. The lifestyle habits included factors like exercise, a healthy diet,  good sleep hygiene, and limited screen time on media.

Senior investigator on the study Dr. Paul Veugelers, at the School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, commented:  “The evidence is there to show that the association between lifestyle and physical health exists. Now it seems that these same recommendations also protect children from developing ADHD. The more factors they comply with, the less likely they are to develop ADHD. To date, no other study has really considered all these lifestyle factors simultaneously.”

Those readers who are familiar with my writings on this topic know that for the past twenty-five years I have been advocating for an approach to ADHD based upon a holistic model grounded in just these types of healthy lifestyle choices. I’ve argued that we rely too much on medications as a front-line defense against the symptoms of ADHD, whereas we should be looking at the sorts of factors that bolster health for all kids, including getting outdoors frequently (sunshine, nature, and exercise all have independently been validated as preventive factors for ADHD), having nutritious meals instead of junk food, limiting the time that kids spend on online media, nurturing positive family connections, and empowering kids at school.

These factors have not been sufficiently explored up until now because the medications ”work,” (in most cases), because they have the imprimatur of the medical profession behind them, and because their use is being driven by a multi-billion dollar a year pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, what doesn’t receive enough attention is the fact that these medications also have side effects, some of them quite serious, though rare.

It’s time that parents and teachers woke up to this issue and began to rethink the labels and drugs that are being used to treat their ADHD-diagnosed kids and students.  It’s easy to give a drug, but harder to institute the wholesale lifestyle changes in a family that this study endorses, and yet the benefits of doing this are far more rewarding in and of themselves.  In other words, you should do it for your whole family because it’s good for all of them, and your ADHD-diagnosed child may be the greatest beneficiary of all.

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Genre: Education
Tags: ADD, ADD/ADHD, ADHD, attention, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, classroom management, disabilities, education, learning differences, learning strategies, neurodiversity, progressive education, special education, teacher training
Publisher: ASCD
Publication Year: 1998
Format: paperback
Length: 126 pages
ASIN: 0871203596
ISBN: 9780871203595
List Price: $11.94
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