A Special Education Success Story With Add And Adhd

A Special Education Success Story With Add And Adhd

The Problem
In our rapidly moving culture, special education students, diagnosed with ADD or​ ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder or​ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are an​ ever-increasing challenge for teachers. Having taught in​ some capacity for nearly 40 years and being a​ parent of​ an​ active little boy, I have studied these conditions with immediate personal interest.

Holding Their Attention?
Early in​ my work with the attentionally challenged, I observed that if​ the learning activity were engaging enough, many of​ these students could hold attention for long periods. Special Education students diagnosed with ADD or​ ADHD often have the ability to​ attend for long periods working with computers or​ video games. I wondered, could the problem lie more in​ the pace of​ the learning activity?

Give Them What They Need
Subsequently, I began to​ provide activities in​ my classroom that had some of​ the same qualities of​ the immediate response achieved in​ those computerized attention-holders. One of​ the most successful of​ these was the excavation of​ fossils.

The Setup
Fossil excavation was a​ 6-week class - more of​ a​ club, really – in​ which students excavated a​ real fossil fish from a​ soft rock matrix. This time the class was made up of​ many special education students with various learning challenges, especially ADHD. The outcome of​ the class was remarkable.

Getting Their Interest and Attention
We started with a​ sort of​ guessing game involving fossils hidden in​ velvet bags and moved quickly into individual excavation of​ the fossils. Within minutes, my work was done; the students worked independently for the remainder of​ the two-hour class. My hardest work that day was to​ enforce clean-up-the students simply didn’t’ t want to​ stop working.

Tools And Supplies
The only tools needed for this activity were small screw drivers-the sort that are available from any hardware store in​ a​ set of​ increasing sizes beginning with an​ eye-glass tool . I also provided magnifiers of​ varying types. The most sought after were the dissecting microscopes, which gave the individual the best view of​ the fragile fossil. However, much of​ the work could be easily accomplished using the naked eye or​ a​ magnifier in​ a​ stand, just to​ leave the hands free.

And Then There Are the Behavioral Challenges
I was presented with a​ new challenge about halfway into the second class: a​ behaviorally disruptive student who had been removed from another class. I did what I could to​ introduce him to​ our work and bring him up to​ speed. His initial work was little more than digging a​ hole through his rock, paying little attention to​ the fossil it​ contained.

Then a​ wonderful thing happened. Another boy, a​ challenging special education student who generally had little academic success, began to​ teach. You see, this boy was enthralled with digging out the fossil and he was having incredible success. He single-handedly took over and my work was done.

Students Give Rave Reviews, Almost
The final endorsement came at​ the end of​ our 6-week class. Throughout the period, I had rarely interrupted their work, but I had shown a​ couple of​ videos to​ give the students some additional detail about fossil preservation and excavation, geologic history and so on. at​ the last class, I asked the students to​ verbally evaluate the class. When I asked how I could improve the class, all agreed: Only show the videos if​ we can continue excavating our fossils during it!

This is​ a​ true story of​ success. in​ this six-week project middle school children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and receiving special education services enjoyed the same success, if​ not more than, the other students.

Even the most absorbing tool, the TV, was not high on these students’ list of​ significant work. as​ a​ teacher, I felt I had been given a​ great gift of​ learning about how to​ support these special students. I encourage you to​ try it!

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