A Teacher's Identification Role: Getting Help for Students with ADD

How can I tell if my student has an attention deficit disorder? Who is there to help me if I suspect that my student has an attention deficit disorder?

The first step in identification is being clear as to what attention deficit disorder is and what it is not. Although the case can be made that it is more important to know how to teach a child than it is to know his or her label, teaching can be enhanced with a greater understanding of the disorder.

Attention deficit disorder is a relatively new term. It has only been in recent years, specifically with the research syntheses funded by OSEP, that a unified body of knowledge about attention deficit disorder has emerged. Thus, it is no wonder that the disorder is fraught with misunderstanding and lack of public knowledge.

Knowing as much as possible about the characteristics of attention deficit disorder and its diagnosis will assist you in working with the child. If you do not feel well versed on the topic, then ask for help. School psychologists, the school nurse, your principal, and special education support staff can provide you with information or point you in the right direction. Ask about possible conferences and workshops you might attend.

Some districts have created manuals and booklets that serve as guideposts for understanding attention deficit disorder. Find out whether your district has produced such a guide – and if not, recommend that they do!

For example, school professionals in Raleigh, North Carolina, took seriously the charge to make information available when they authorized an ad hoc group to develop the Attention Deficit Disorder Screening Procedures Manual. The manual was eventually distributed to staff throughout the district. It included the following information:

  • Recommended screening procedures for attention deficit disorder
  • General information on attention deficit disorder
  • Classroom intervention and strategies
  • Recommended home and school behavior rating scales

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