Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) is a behavioural disorder that affects a young child’s behaviour or development. It is not an illness or a sign of low intelligence. The 3 main characteristics are:

  1. Inattention – difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions, moving from one activity to another without completing anything.
  2. Impulsivity – talking over the top of others, having a short fuse, being accident prone.
  3. Overactivity – constant restlessness and fidgeting.

The cause of ADHD is not known, although researchers suspect it is due to a combination of factors, rather than only 1 factor. As many as 5 out of every 100 children in school may have ADHD, and boys are 3times more likely than girls to have ADHD.

These symptoms give rise to three types of ADHD:

  1. Inattentive type - where the person can’t seem to get focussed or stay focussed on a task or activity
  2. Hyperactive impulsive type – where the person is very active and often acts without thinking, they have difficulty playing or taking part in leisure activities quietly, and
  3. Combined type - where the person is inattentive, impulsive and too active.

Of course all participant, from time to time, are inattentive, impulsive, and too active. With participant who have ADHD, these behaviours are the rule, not the exception.

These behaviours can cause a child to have real problems at home, at school, and with friends. As a result, many children with ADHD will feel anxious, unsure of themselves, and depressed.

Programming Considerations

  • Keep to a routine and timetable where possible.
  • Keep rules clear and simple.
  • Give only one or two instructions at a time.
  • Make sure you have the participant’s full attention when you talk to them.
  • Encourage responsibilities, offer options and be flexible and negotiate what the limits are and how far you are prepared to tolerate behaviour.
  • Do not continually accelerate the excitement level of the program, especially before meal times.

Strategies for Inclusion

  • Focus on what the participant is good at and encourage them to develop their abilities.
  • Enlist their help for a task or errandas this provides an opportunity for positive feedback and self-esteem enhancement.

Behaviour Management Issues

  • Be clear, consistent and positive. Set clear rules for behaviour and tell them what they should do rather than what they cannot.
  • Be clear about what happens if they do not follow behaviour and have are ward system in place for good behaviour.
  • Try to ignore minor irritating behaviour.
  • Timeout by themselves is often a good coping strategy and assists them to focus on an activity when they re-join the group.
  • Breaking activities into specific steps or smaller tasks helps them to stay focussed on the task at hand.
  • If punishment cannot be avoided, make it immediate; relate the punishment to the offence.
  • Instructions and explanations may need to be repeated daily.
  • Recognise that dignified retreat is preferable to a bloody victory, be prepared to walk away rather than lose self-control.

Further information

www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au