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Which School? for Special Needs April 16, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in New releases, Special Educational Needs.
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The 19th edition of Which School? for Special Needs, our annual guide to Special Needs education in the UK is back from the printers and in the John Catt warehouse, ready to be distributed to bookshops, Local Authorities and key reference points around the country.

Apart from the comprehensive directory of independent and non-maintained schools and colleges, the guidebook also features some excellent editorial from leading figures in the field.

In this edition, editor Wendy Bosberry-Scott has featured articles from organisations such as the National Autistic Society, the British Dyslexia Association and the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities.

The spring 2010 issue of is (International School) magazine, which we publish in association with ECIS, also features an interesting article by Fintan O’Regan, on Teaching Children with ADHD.

Fin is a a former secondary science teacher and was the Headmaster  of the Centre Academy School, regarded as the first specialist school within the UK for children with ADHD/ODD from 19996 -2002.

He is currently a Behaviour and Learning Consultant for a number of organisations and lectures for Leicester University, the National Association of Special Needs and the Institute of Education. He has written a number of published articles on the subject of Behaviour and Learning and is the author of the T.E.S. award-winning book Educating Children with ADHD (2000) – so you could say he knows what he’s talking about.

Here we reproduce the first part of Fin’s excellent article: click on the link at the bottom to read the rest on our ezine.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a term used to describe children who are hyperactive, impulsive and/or mainly inattentive. It is said to affect up to 5% of the child population and may also be evident in adulthood. In the first of two articles, Fintan O’Regan covers a range of common issues.

Students with ADHD often challenge teachers in three main areas: activity level, attention span and impulsivity.
Activity level

Whether it is with their body or their mind many children with ADHD appear unable to control their activity level, as do other children. How to teach them to do this can be a difficult process but strategies do exist and they can be fun as well.

One technique for younger children to help them to sit still is called ‘playing statues’, where the child sits like a statue for a certain time. The period of time can be increased and progress shown on a bar chart or rewarded by stickers. In essence it is about focusing the child and helping them to control their bodies and by a self-taught system.

Played alongside a stopwatch and recorded in terms of a visual presentation, it can provide long-term benefits to improving activity level. Variations on this involve playing games called ‘Catch me if you can’ and ‘Beat the clock’ which would be approaches to limit extraneous movement and focus tasks against a set of expectations for working in the classroom or an activity set against a timed upper limit.

With older students we are talking about much longer periods of sustained controlled activity levels, which we could call endurance training. These involve lengthening the time and improving the skills in sitting still in a variety of settings.

As a result the child will often need to have the session broken down for them for example, in a 40-minute lesson.

To sit still during the five to ten-minute intro to the lesson, teacher indicates part one over.
To focus on the task until the group discussion, teacher indicates part two is over.
To get through the group discussion, teacher indicates part three is over.
To keep it together during the clear-up time, teacher indicates part four is nearly over.

All of these games or techniques to harness activity level will need to be practiced, however, and feedback on success and failure on the initial trials will be crucial to determine long-term outcomes.

Improving attention span

Without a doubt it is the issue of poor attention span that is the most damaging feature for children with ADHD and attempts to improve this will be the most vital issue in long-term educational success.

First, we cannot assume that a child understands what paying attention really is, as for some children this is not a process that is either natural or appears problematic. As a result a series of roleplay activities between you and the child may need to take place, for example during a taped story where you, the supervisor, provide a series of incidents or examples so that you did not hear or understand what the story had been about…

Click here to read the remainder of Fin’s article on the is (International School) ezine website…

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