Foreman defines a disability as “the functional consequence of an impairment- an abnormality in the way organs systems function” (Foreman, 2011, pp. 3). In 2009 Australia’s population had approximately four million people registered as to having a disability. Of those four million people, 7.2% were children aged between 0 and 14, the age that the child would be attending primary school (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2012, Disability rates over time, para.1). The most common disability in Australia that affects 3-5% of all children is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (ADHD, 2010, para.1). This paper will elaborate on ADHD in general as well as any tasks that a child with ADHD, may or may not be able to complete and finally, what teachers should do to manage a child with this form diversity.
The topic of ADHD can be very debatable as “controversy about ADHD receives much attention in the mass media” (Bowd, 2006, para. 7). One of the many controversy stories asks the question should ADHD be a form of disability and therefore recognised as one? In Australia “ADHD is recognised as a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act, 1992 (DDA)” (The Australian guidelines for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, 2009) therefore answering and exposing the truth about this controversy story.
The DDA was set up to help eliminate and protect anyone with a disability against discrimination and exclusion working parallel with the Disability Standards for Education. Set up in 2005, the Standards clarify and elaborate on the DDA in relation to education, with a big focus on the idea of inclusion (Disability Standards for Education, 2005, para. 3). By law, teachers are required to comply with these standards and can be done so through reasonable adjustments to the curriculum. Ruddock and Bishop stated “an education provider is required to make … reasonable adjustments … where necessary so that the student with a disability is treated on the same basis as a student without the disability” (2005, para. 8). Adjustments are commonly made through the teaching approach of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Course curriculum is typically designed for a homogenous group of students, making it nearly impossible for some students to meet the criteria. UDL consists of the designing and redesigning of course content and materials to suit a broad range of learning styles, including any students that may suffer from a disability. These include having multiple entrances, pathways and exits to each assessment piece, allowing students to complete the task, as they desire. (Garrick, 2013, slides 23-28). The adoption of this teaching approach into a classroom will help promote practices that create flexible goals and adjust to the individual needs of all students. This allows each child to be able to work with their strengths to build upon their weaknesses, thus enhancing their education.
A person who suffers from ADHD can find it hard to sit still, control behaviour and pay attention. From these main symptoms doctors and scientists have established three types of ADHD- the inattentive type, the hyperactive-impulsive type and the combined type (Currie & Stable, 2006). For the purpose of this paper, the type of ADHD that will be examined is the combined type. The combined type of ADHD has numerous symptoms from both the inattentive type and hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD (Spedding & Dally, 2011). A child that suffers from combined ADHD may have symptoms including fidgeting/squirming; running around or climbing constantly; cannot pay close attention to details or instructions; and gets distracted easily.
The affects of ADHD vary for each individual as some may have all symptoms present, while others may have only a few. Although, what students with ADHD have in common are their high intelligence levels, creative minds and the determination to work hard and succeed (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 2012). Therefore, this makes a person who suffers from ADHD able to problem solve, debate and hold a conversation extremely well. With every positive, however, there is always a negative. People with ADHD are renowned for procrastinating; poor organisational skills; becoming ‘locked into an activity’-and not being able to transition to a new task easily; and low attendance rates (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 2012). This can then lead to missing assignment deadlines and the feeling of disorientation.
Due to the high number of ADHD cases in children, teachers can expect at least one child to have this particular diversity in their classroom (Simon, 2012). Children with ADHD have behavioural concerns that can affect not only themselves but also their peers. These concerns need to be managed by the teacher and possible adaptations put into place. A person who suffers from ADHD can have sudden outbreaks in impulsivity. One way that the teacher could manage this behaviour is to read the warning signs from the child before he or she has an outbreak. To do this the child could have different coloured blocks or paper sitting on their desk, with each colour meaning a different feeling. A red piece of paper, for example, could connote that the child is stressed out and needs to have a break, while a blue block could imply that the child is relaxed and eager to learn. This will give the teacher a clear understanding on how the child is coping without constantly asking them and hopefully minimise behaviour outbreaks. Another way to reduce these sudden outbreaks in the student’s behaviour is to constantly praise the child for doing the right thing (Dunne, 2007). By praising and rewarding the child for doing the appropriate behaviour can help the student learn what is right and what is wrong.
High amounts of movement and the inability to sit still is another issue that teachers have to manage. Segal and Smith state “strategies for combating hyperactivity consist of creative ways to allow the child with ADD/ADHD to move in appropriate ways at appropriate times, this could be as simple as letting the student run small errands for the teacher” (2013). When teaching a child with ADHD it is important to be flexible when the child needs to have a break. Giving the opportunity to complete work standing or moving around the classroom is a way to reduce hyperactivity. Alternatively the teacher could set up a quiet space in the room that the child with ADHD can move to and continue to work at. This adaptation specifically set up for the child, can also help the student from being distracted from the noise and activities in the class, letting them focus on their current task.
A child with ADHD is commonly distracted because of the inability to process instructions and directions. To help a child understand instructions there are numerous steps that a teacher can undertake. The first, being to keep all instructions brief with only one direction at a time (Garrick, 2013). This allows the student to complete one task before moving on to the next. Another way to manage this issue is to sit with the student, after the class has started working, and ask the student to repeat the instructions. This provides a clear understanding to the teacher that the student knows exactly what the task is asking. Having clear and precise instructions helps all students to develop stronger organisational and time management skills.
Poor organisational and time management skills can lead to missing assignment deadlines and potentially affecting final grades. If a teacher has a student with ADHD in their classroom, adjustments need to be made for this child so that these skills are taught and assignment targets are met. These adjustments can include introducing a homework diary to the class so that students can cross off tasks after they are completed, helping to colour code materials for each different subject or simply giving the children a five-minute warning before moving on to a new task (Garrick, 2012). This warning allows the child with ADHD, to disengage from the current task, have a break from academic work and start to refocus ready for the second activity. Adjustments and adaptations should be made with the correct teaching strategy to greater the chance all children, not just students with ADHD, to succeed in their educational career.
In today’s modern society, classrooms are filled with a diverse range of students, including those from other countries, and those with learning difficulties and disabilities. Different teaching strategies need to be implemented into the classroom to cater for this wide range of diversity. The class list, provided, displays students from non-English speaking backgrounds, students that have different impairments and students with a range of different needs to be able to feel included and valued within the classroom. The next section of this paper, will discuss teaching strategies that are suitable, increase student knowledge and cater for children who have ADHD or other forms of disabilities that could affect their learning.
Simulation, similar to role-play, is a teaching strategy that involves students taking on the roles of real or fictional characters to show their attitudes, values and beliefs (Perry, 2009). This type of teaching strategy works well in today’s diverse classrooms as it uses the UDL approach to teaching. When designing this task teachers need to let students base their scenarios on anyone they choose (multiple entrances), use a diverse range of language or text to convey their meaning (multiple pathways) and finally let the scenarios be at varied lengths of time (multiple exits). Designing the task this way allows the students to work to their strengths to build upon their weaknesses. A student, for example, may pick their favourite superhero as they already know what the character’s attitudes are, allowing the student to focus on their weakness of performing in front of a group.
For the class from an urban state school, simulation is one of the best teaching strategies a teacher could use. First of all this teaching strategy is suitable for students from working to middle class backgrounds as it does not require any extra materials (such as technologies or textbooks) that the family may not be able to afford. Simulation also works well with students from different cultures. The scenario that students create does not have to contain the English language or even speaking. Therefore, helping any students who have English as a second language (ESL) or have any difficulties comprehending the English language. The student who is gifted and talented has a high capacity in acting and creative arts, therefore making simulation one of the best strategies for this child. As simulation does not require text, it becomes a suitable strategy for any students with vision impairment that find it difficult to read a passage of text from a distance. Finally, the teaching strategy of simulation is one of the most appropriate for a student with ADHD. This is because it contains a high amount of movement, compared to a strategy such as direct instruction. Simulation also allows students to work at their own pace, giving the teacher enough time to sit with the student that suffers from ADHD to make sure he or she fully understands the instructions.
Teachers need to use a variety of different teaching strategies to let students learn and experience. Similar to explicit teaching, the instructional technique of scaffolding lets the teacher model the desired style of learning before gradually transferring the responsibility to the students (Perry, 2009). As the name suggests scaffolding is not a permanent strategy, it is implied to students who are not quite capable of completing the task individually. This strategy provides clear directions and clarifies any expectations that students are required to meet.
Scaffolding is another strategy that could work in the provided classroom. Having no extra expense to families, scaffolding is an ideal way of teaching for the students from working to middle class backgrounds. This strategy gives clear, precise and easy to follow instructions on academic work. Thus, making it a suitable teaching method for those children who are from an ESL background, struggle with English or suffer from ADHD to understand the work that is required. As scaffolding keeps the students on the on right track, it is a great strategy to use with all children at the start of any new topic.
Teachers in today’s society need to strive to meet the needs of children to achieve the best possible outcomes in their educational career. The DDA and Disability Standards for Education 2005 protect students with any form disability against discrimination and exclusion within the classroom and wider community. This paper has examined the most common disability found children, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Students who suffer from this form of diversity have behaviour outbreaks that need to be managed by the teacher to protect the child and their peers. When teaching in a diverse classroom it is important that teachers adopt the UDL approach to teaching and make reasonable adjustments to the curriculum where necessary. Adaptations should be used with a wide range of teaching strategies to let students reach their full potential in every task. Finally, teachers need to recognise that ADHD is now a common diversity found in nearly all of today’s modern Australian classrooms.
ADHD-An overview. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/ADHD_an_overview/ Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). (2012) Retrieved from