Differences in Classroom Interventions For ADHD Inattentive Kids

Differences in Classroom Interventions For Inattentive Kids

This is the second post in a series of posts that I am writing about the differences between combined type ADHD and the inattentive type of ADD. In my first "differences post I wrote about how people with inattentive ADD react to ADHD medications. In this post I will be writing about why ADHD classroom interventions for ADHD Combined type students do not generally help inattentive kids.

If you go to any medical or educational site and read the list of classroom management suggestions for ADHD kids in kindergarten to 8th grade you will find that some of the suggestions listed at the very top of the list involve controlling a child who is a disciplinary problem, who does consider the consequence of their own actions, or who is hyperactive, impulsive, hostile or aggressive. Further down this list you might find suggestions for improving attention.

If a classroom had only one ADHD child and that child happened to be inattentive, then teachers would likely start at the bottom of the ADHD classroom management list and implement only those interventions that helped the ADHD-I child. Unfortunately, most classrooms have at least three ADHD kids and at least two of them are combined type kids. What this means from a practical standpoint is that the teacher controls the most disruptive children in his or her classroom first by implementing the disciplinary, hyperactive and impulsive behavior controls and only when these are working do the interventions for inattention get addressed.

This is why the parenting of Inattentive ADD child is different and why a child advocate is essential. Kids with ADHD-I will happily sit back and focus on their entertaining "inner brain dialogue" while the combined type kids get disciplined. The teacher may not even recognize that they are not paying attention as kids with this type of ADHD (especially as they get older) are masterful at looking like any other non-disruptive kid in the classroom. You as a parent know that your child is spacing out so it is up to you to make sure that your kid's teacher knows this too.

The very best news about classroom intervention tips for ADHD-I is that these kids respond really well to the attention of a teacher, parent or student mentor. The attention does not even have to be constant as some people would imagine. Students with Inattentive ADD will engage if they have a reason to. Relationships can really make a difference to them. These kids are not combative or uncooperative and they do not even always need to be reminded that they are spacing out. What they do need is an attentive teacher. One really interesting study demonstrated that if a teacher engaged an inattentive child by simply acknowledging them in some way when they entered the classroom, "that shirt looks really nice on you", "I found that doodling you did on your last assignment really fascinating", their "on task" time improved from 15%-30% of the time at the beginning of the seven week study to 40% to 90% of the time by week seven.

What that study demonstrated is that inattention in a classroom can be improved if the inattentive child perceives that the teacher is paying attention to them. As I have mentioned before on this blog, this type of intervention does not only help kids with ADHD-I, this type of classroom intervention would help any child. In my next post I will explain to you what the pyshology medical literature reports on why this type of teacher intervention helps kids with Inattentive ADD.

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