Beyond the Pill:  ADHD Interventions

› Interventions

When teachers talk about ADHD interventions, we need to focus on how we can improve a child's overall school experience, heal emotional wounds caused by a student not feeling "good enough" and perhaps even look at our own instructional practices as a mode for change.

Students with attention disorders can have many problems in the classroom. They are expected to attend more to tasks, organize information, manage their time and turn in homework.  These are extremely difficult tasks for most kids, let alone those who struggle with focusing.

Another sign of ADHD in children can be in social skills, which is the life-blood of the school experience for most young people.

Both of these problems can also seriously impact the quality of life in a family.  Think about how those kids go home feeling, how the parents feel when there is nothing good happening for their's really tough.  So here's how we can help them.

Stand Up School Desks

These desks are awesome! Kids can stand to learn, there is a foot swing, and they are virtually indestructible. The desks are expensive though, so grab the grant opportunity sheet at Stand Up for Learning to apply if you want some for your room.

We weren't meant to sit all day - that's like a death sentence for so many kids.  If you can't get one of these, at least provide the option to stand or move around the room.  


If this type of desk isn't possible for you, a great alternative is to use an exercise band around the legs of the chair or desk.

The student can put his or her legs into the band and kick away without disrupting anyone.  It is a super helpful and cheap alternative to more expensive solutions. 

Ask your OT (occupational therapist) about this - I would be surprised if she isn't aware of this intervention.

ADHD Behavior Modification Intervention: Organization

Doesn't do homework
  • Incentive system
  • Supervised study hall
  • Alternative homework assignments
  • Self-designed homework
Loses homework/possessions
  • Daily check-ins (home/school)
  • Organizational tools (reminders, routines, checklists)
  • Incentive system
Is not prepared for class
  • Case manager
  • Spare materials for student to borrow
  • Incentive system
Disorganized notebooks
  • Monitoring system
  • Do not penalize with grade modifications
Messy work
  • Computer use
  • Clear criteria on a rubric
  • Modify expectations

ADHD Cognitive Interventions: Remembering

Handing in assignments
  • Case manager to monitor
  • Incentive system
Knowing when things are due
Facts, Steps or Rote Memory tasks
  • Mnemonic devices
  • Personalized templates or manuals
  • Reduce expectations

ADHD Content Area Interventions: Writing

Poor fine motor skills
  • Dictation of written responses
  • Use of computers
  • Reduce writing requirements
  • Provide notes with blanks to fill in for lectures
Difficulty organizing thoughts
  • Prewriting activities
  • Post-its or outlines
  • Brainstorming activities
Word Retrieval
  • Vocabulary charts
  • Quick-write brainstorming
  • Oral discussion of story/responses prior to writing
  • Close-ended writing activities
  • Spellcheck
  • Personalized dictionary
  • Partner proofread
  • Proofreading checklist

ADHD Social Interventions: Social Skills

Skill Consider the following for all issues:

ADHD Interventions: Test Taking

Careless mistakes
  • Allow test re-takes
  • Post It note with time allowed to turn in the test
Cannot finish within time limits
  • Allow extra time
  • Frequent breaks
  • Practice multiple times how to take the test
  • Relaxation strategies
  • Test in a quiet room
  • Open book tests
  • Test taking strategies

Reference: Interventions for Students With Attention Disorders. December 1995.

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