Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Example of practice

Sarah is an enthusiastic Year 8 student who is highly motivated and confident with meeting new people and speaking and performing in front of others. Sarah tends to perform well academically, but can easily become distracted by other students and gets out of her seat a lot to see what’s happening both inside and outside the classroom. Sarah talks constantly about off-topic things, and this is most noticeable during quiet class activities. She often calls out answers before her teachers have finished asking questions. Turn-taking is very difficult for Sarah, and she regularly intrudes into the activities of others. Sarah was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Year 6.

1. What are Sarah's unique strengths and what has been helpful so far?

2. What is the goal and why is it important?

The goal:

  • The overall goals are for Sarah to complete tasks in realistic timeframes decided between her and her teacher, and to do this without too many distractions or interruptions. To monitor achievement of goals and behaviours, Sarah will use a self-monitoring form.

  • The ability to complete activities on time and self-monitor her progress is important for many areas of life, both currently, and for Sarah’s future independence, confidence and workforce participation
  • Personalised learning and support will ensure Sarah enjoys a rigorous and meaningful education

3. What evidence-based strategies can be used to reach the goal?

Sarah’s teachers used the secondary school students with ADHD guide to learn more about evidence-based strategies and resources. After using this resource, Sarah’s teachers identified some strategies that can be trialed in their classrooms to build on Sarah’s existing strengths and help her achieve the desired goal:

  • Sarah is enthusiastic and highly motivated
  • Sarah likes to do well

  • Sarah and her teachers will use the self-monitoring form daily/weekly to list and monitor some behaviours that will help her stay focused on tasks. Some examples might include: Today, I will “raise my hand if I have questions to ask”, “write notes in my notebook while listening to my teacher”, “move to the standing desk if I need a break from sitting”.
  • Sarah’s teachers will build self-reflection into learning tasks, so Sarah can identify what is helping her (for example; what did you do while listening to your teacher speak? How did you feel when you spoke after raising your hand?

  • Sitting Sarah at the front of the class has helped her listen and follow instructions
  • Concentrating on tasks step-by-step has been helpful when Sarah needs to complete larger or more complex tasks
  • Sarah likes making origami

  • Sarah has agreed to sit near the front of the class so her teachers can gain and maintain eye contact with her, and discreetly remind her to stay seated and on-task
  • Complex and long tasks will be broken down to multiple small tasks. A realistic time frame for each task will be established.
  • Visual support, such as a list of broken down tasks, timeframes and short, clear instructions displayed on a sheet of paper on her desk will be used
  • Sarah’s teachers will provide discreet prompts and support during independent learning tasks, such as getting Sarah’s attention using her name or placing a hand on Sarah’s shoulder or desk before giving clear and direct instructions about tasks
  • To manage the demands tasks place on Sarah’s attention and concentration levels, simpler tasks that Sarah is known to enjoy will be scheduled before and after tasks she does not enjoy as much
  • Sarah will be given short movement breaks and permission to make origami in between tasks for an agreed period of time

  • Sarah works well when paired with conscientious and studious students

  • When working in groups, Sarah will work with different small groups of students who are known to stay on-task

  • Sarah’s family is learning about ADHD and are seeking support

  • Sarah’s teacher will regularly email Sarah’s family to talk about Sarah’s strengths and progress in class