About ADD/ADHD Learning Disabilities Attention Deficit Disorder

Rick Pierce, The Hyperactive Teacher.  is a regular ed teacher with ADHD.  Treat your teachers to an entertaining and highly practical keynote or inservice

Rick Pierce is

Athletic coaches and military drill sergeants have known for years that one of the best ways to get someone to be more receptive to training is to have them run a few laps or drop and give them twenty.
Physical exertion is a very positive way to increase the adrenaline and therefore the dopamine levels in the brain.  Many of our best athletes have ADD.  They have used activity to self-medicate.  Not only does the ADD athlete gain from the increased dopamine, but the fitness also aids in a more efficient use of the  body's resources. 
However, when an ADD person is having difficulty in school or with behavior, one of the first ways both schools and parents try to deal with the problem is to take away athletics.  I would suggest more physical activity as a method of helping the student, not less.  However, I know that some sports can be so demanding on time and energy, that this may be the only reasonable solution.  Be careful, because that sport might be the only way this child gets success and might be the only reason to keep trying in school.
I know a teacher who gets permission from parents to use physical exercises like push ups for disciplinary purposes.  The students respond well to this method.
I had an ADD student who had such a difficult time sitting still during an assembly that I had him and me run around the school twice before we went back in and sat down.
This type of immediate approach also allows the student time away from the stimulus that caused the problem, thus reducing the need for the additional neurotransmitters.
In Modesto, California,  a physical education teacher came to me during a break at an in-service I was giving at his school.  He said that he has had problems with certain students who purposely confronted him, the other coaches and players.  He had heard me say that the best thing to do when a student is becoming confrontational is to find ways to de-escalate by backing off, softening your voice, and providing space to calm down.  He expressed concern that if he backed down from the student, that the student would use confrontation to manipulate every situation.  I impressed on him that it would be wrong to back down, but


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letting the situation cool before administering discipline will help the student learn from the situation and learn that confrontation does not work.  Eventually, confrontations should decrease because he is not achieving the goal of boosting the neurotransmitters and thus he does not gain control using this method.  Time outs are definitely one of the best ways to achieve calm in a classroom.  The best discipline for an ADD person is one that is immediate, does not allow for increase of tension and allows the emotions of all involved to subside.  However, time outs should not be long in duration.  Five minutes is usually enough.  The real correction occurs at the moment of being separated from the rest of the class.
One time one of my students refused to go outside for time out.  I sent the rest of the students outside for a five minute time out.  He did not like the isolation and tried to come out with the class.  He never tried that again!
Another approach to de-escalating a situation involves providing specific options or choices. Since ADD people have a difficult time thinking and acting especially in stressful moments, providing limited choices helps them think while allowing them to keep a sense of control.  For example, if a child is not doing his work properly, a teacher could give her the option to work right or take a time out.  The choices do not have to be equally good.  In fact, it is best to make the right choice obvious and the wrong choice distasteful.  However, be willing to let the child choose the wrong one.  Otherwise, it would not be a choice at all.
By keeping in mind that ADD people are seeking balance and control, we can learn to respond positively and provide options which can help them achieve balance without self-destructing.  It is my greatest hope that no person give up on success.

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