Universal Interventions for the Inattentive ADHD Classroom

In the mid-1980s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set out to find a way to protect health care workers from the risk of AIDS. In 1987, the CDC started promoting Universal Precautions, a policy that dictated that all bodily fluid would be assumed to be infectious and that all health care workers would use precautions when handling body fluids.

I think we need to adopt Universal Interventions for our classrooms. Classroom interventions that help kids with ADD, Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-PI) help everyone in the classroom. Every student benefits from the interventions that have been found to help the kids with the poorest attention skills.

I wish that a system of universal interventions would be implemented in all classrooms so that ADHD kids in school with any type of learning difference would be able to get the most out of their 6-7 daily hours in the school setting. Many of the best schools discovered years ago that there were classroom interventions that helped everyone including kids with learning problems. I am lucky that my children attend a school that has used a universal intervention style of teaching for as long as my kids have been at the school.

Some of these ‘best school interventions include:

  • Making Classrooms that feel welcoming and that allow teachers to engage easily and have personal interactions with every student. Education is personal and a classroom should feel to the students like a place where they want to be. 
  • Having a classroom white board or blackboard that posts all upcoming activities and assignments. 
  • Scheduling the most mentally demanding activity (Math) for first thing in the morning followed by reading or another demanding task. 
  • Having a portion of the room away from doors and windows and relatively free of objects that are bright, loud or otherwise distracting' so that lecturing can be done in an area free of competing stimuli. 
  • Having quiet 'nooks' in the room where the child can go to relax and regroup. 
  • Having the teacher keep an eye on all the students while teaching and walking around the classroom to engage the students who seem to be off task or losing focus. Sometimes a simple touch will do, sometimes handing the child something to fidget with (like a ball or piece of piece of cloth) will work. 
  • Taking frequent breaks. 
  • Promoting high protein snacking and fruit breaks. 
  • Scheduling outside time. 
  • Having rich and diverse curriculum that allow teachers to find every child's "Islands of Competence" 
  • Using experience teaching, group teaching, student teaching and self discovery as much as possible. 
  • Taking field trips related to the lesson and then teach the lesson. 
  • Rewarding often.
  • Considering playing classical music in the classroom. 
  • Doing meditation or mindfulness exercises during the school day. 
  • Allowing headphones with music if a student attends to tasks better when they are wearing them. 
It does not take much imagination to understand why these interventions would be beneficial to all students even those without attention issues and the universal use of  classroom interventions such as these would go a long way to making all students feel at home and welcome in our classrooms.

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