I thought I knew and understood special needs ADHD. That was the child who bounced off the walls and couldn’t concentrate for more than two seconds, right?
Yes, and no. There are a few spectrums of ADHD. One is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The other is Undifferentiated Attention-Deficit Disorder (without hyperactivity) which denotes a more depressive, inattentive aspect. The child’s mind may drift, or jump abruptly from thought-to-thought. The third is a combination of these two, or a combined diagnosis.
I am blessed to have one of each, inattentive and one hyperactive. While one would cry that she couldn’t concentrate because the falling snow was “bothering her”, the other would be swinging from the light fixtures completely unable to focus on anything.
Special needs ADHD is NOT a learning disability, and a learning disability does not necessarily include ADHD. A learning disability is a specific language based disorder affecting reading. ADHD is an over-riding inability to focus or sustain attention. It is common, however, for ADHD students to also have learning disabilities.
If a child is not paying attention, for whatever reason, they can’t learn. Attention is critical for the other systems of learning to engage. In other words, a child can have good visual, auditory and motor processing, but not be learning or attending because of attention issues.
Conversely, attention issues PLUS an interference with one of the other systems can potentially be a challenging mountain for the child to climb.
It has only been since the early 1990s that children with ADHD were considered eligible for special education services in the public schools. In the Federal statute (IDEA) ADHD falls under the category “Other Health Impaired” and not under “Specific Learning Disabilities.” In the early 1990s the U.S. Department of Education finally recognized ADHD as an official disability. Children may receive special services in the public schools if the disorder affects their educational performance.
Consider the practicality of a classroom setting dealing with an ADHD child. Yes, they can require that the child sit closer to the teacher and have extra time and a quiet space to do testing, but these accommodations don’t always work. With all the noise and distractions of the classroom, it can be nearly impossible for a child to concentrate.
Homeschool is the perfect setting for special needs ADHD children. As the home teacher, you can vary quiet work with more moving around while learning. We will discuss these strategies in future posts.
Homeschooling can be the perfect choice for the ADHD child.