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teacherwriter teacherwriter is offline
 
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ADHD behavior vs. misbehavior
Old 02-24-2018, 04:01 AM
 
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This is going to sound stupid, but here goes. How do you reliably differentiate between ADHD behavior (involuntary, impulsive bad choices) and willful misbehavior (deliberately making mischief and being rude)? And how can I extinguish the misbehavior while accommodating the ADHD behavior?

The students in question (upper elementary) do have ADHD diagnoses, but are not on medications. Yesterday I stopped a lesson and separated the students for silent reading because they were so disruptive. (They were shouting out guesses to questions without even trying to listen to or retain the concepts or look at the anchor chart posted three feet away from them.) They require many redirections to get back on task. They fidget a lot, but they don't hear instruction and directions, so the fidgeting doesn't help them focus. There are lots of goofy looks at each other, and always, always talking. One student recently took apart a cushion during our read-aloud time by picking, picking, picking at a thread until the pillow came apart.

I'm working in as much physical movement and different activities as I can, but activity doesn't help calm them. We review and repeat a lot to accommodate poor understanding and retention, but the students require so much repetition and work so slowly that we can't get much done. (One student has mastered the art of looking busy at various organizing tasks in order to delay work. His parents agree he does it.) So I really think I'm dealing with willful misbehavior most of the time.

I sent home a note Friday to parents describing the behaviors and talking about how these are not appropriate learning behaviors. But I doubt I'll get much parental support; these students don't get support at home. So I need to go in Monday with a strategy that rewards effort (not perfection--these are students with ADHD, after all) and extinguishes the willful misbehavior. Any suggestions?


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Answering my own post!
Old 02-24-2018, 04:46 AM
 
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https://www.additudemag.com/download/

In poking around for ideas, I came across this. I'd heard of the magazine, but didn't realize they offered so many free downloads. Might be something on there that others are interested in...
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Old 02-24-2018, 08:23 AM
 
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I haven't clicked on your link, but plan to do so, so thank you for sharing!

My goal with my ADHD/ODD/Behavior kids is to help them figure out what their bodies need and make adjustments (themselves) accordingly. It takes some time, but gradually, they begin to learn to read their own bodies and take action so that they don't get "in trouble" so often. Doing this blends the ADHD and behaviors together, so that it doesn't matter what is causing the behavior (the ADHD or the behavior), what matters is what THEY are going to do about it, based upon being in tune with their bodies.

Examples:

Yesterday, a student who is ODD and often makes noises raised his hand. He asked if he could have a piece of gum to help him not makes noises!!! I was so thrilled because I have been working with him on this for months! His noises irritate me, and the whole class and oftentimes, I forget to give him a piece of gum/remind him (because I don't want to do it in front of the whole class), so instead I get "mad" at him...the ultimate goal is for him to be in tune and ask...that way I don't get mad, he doesn't get into trouble, and he learns to advocate/take care of his needs.

Another example:

When I see this student, or another ADHD student wiggling excessively, I ask them what they need. Do they need a lap? Do they need a brain break (we have various options in our school). Now, my kids are starting to advocate for themselves and ask to take a lap or something else. This helps me not get them into trouble, and seriously, the brain break takes all of 1-2 minutes. Then, they are right back to learning.

The other behaviors...same thing. If I see 2 students messing around at clean up time (putting away chairs and balls are a big issue in my class), rather than get them into trouble (because yes I know they are just goofing around!!!), I tell one of them to take a lap because obviously their body needs something different.

My class is pretty good at completing work, staying on task, so I don't have that issue, thank goodness. When I do, they just stay behind to finish it as I send the others to recess at 11:45 or 2:30...because they know this, it doesn't happen too often.
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Great magazine!
Old 02-24-2018, 11:10 AM
 
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We are a small town with a small town library (they are in the middle of expanding and moving to a larger location), but they carry this magazine. I read it ALL the time. Will have to check the free downloads.

Eliza4one has some wonderful ideas.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:15 PM
 
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I'm not an expert in this area, at all. But in many ways it seems that it doesn't matter a great deal whether the behavior results from choices or from ADHD. Either way, you are trying to decrease that behavior.

Being matter-of-fact, rather than labeling and judgmental about the behavior can help. Rather than telling a student to quit messing around and get to work, state that he needs to focus on finishing the math assignment and ask what would help. Definitely avoid getting into power struggles.

Perhaps with the help of the student come up with a toolkit of possibilities--take a lap, get a drink of water, move to a different desk, chew that gum. And then meet with the student to talk about which ones work and when, and which don't. Add or subtract strategies.


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TAOEP, you have my vote!
Old 03-01-2018, 09:04 AM
 
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Quote:
I'm not an expert in this area, at all. But in many ways, it seems that it doesn't matter a great deal whether the behavior results from choices or from ADHD. Either way, you are trying to decrease that behavior.
Wow... do I wish more people got that basic truth. Too many times I see people offering ADHD or some other condition as justification for behavior rather than trying to change the behavior. I have actually seen parents explain to a child how they are expected to behave because of their condition!

We need to find some balance in this. If we're going to let Johnny go for a walk around the school when he feels the need, why not let all the kids do it? I'm obviously being a bit facetious -- or am I? When we bend over backward to accommodate behavior we are cheating everyone--including the child who is (for example) ADHD. (Actually, I wish we could say "has" rather than "is." These conditions should not be the identity of the child.)

In the example of Johnny, I subbed in his room one day and the para was absent with no sub. He didn't need a walk once that day. I know the difference between incidents and conditions, and I know that tomorrow could be different, but I let him know at the outset that we had to have higher expectations of ourselves than usual. He didn't meet those expectations, he actually exceeded them.

Teacherwriter, you too have my vote. I think many of these kids are learning to work the system and are out-managing us, if not engaged in willful misbehavior. What kid wouldn't love to go for a walk around the school whenever he/she felt like it?

I'll acknowledge that working with these kids this way takes huge energy and is draining--one reason the expectations often stay low and where the "choose your battles" advice comes from.

Let's give these kids a chance.
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Good Points
Old 03-02-2018, 07:59 AM
 
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I do like the reminder that we want to stop the behaviors either way - but I also get the question because the best method to stop each one may be different depending on whether it stems from the ADHD or simple mischief.

I love getting the child involved in figuring out what works, and I tell them the goal is to "find something that helps you without hurting anyone else."

Of course, there will be a few kids who try to abuse accommodations, but I think most are sincerely interested in figuring out how to act just like the other kids.


As to the specifics, if I had to guess:

Quote:
Yesterday I stopped a lesson and separated the students for silent reading because they were so disruptive. (They were shouting out guesses to questions without even trying to listen to or retain the concepts or look at the anchor chart posted three feet away from them.)
This could be either. Shouting out answers is often impulsivity, but it sounds like they might have been showing off for a laugh too. - I can't tell without being there and seeing their faces. (But you did the right thing by separating them in the short term either way!)

For small group, you might try "answer tickets" that they need to hand you each time they answer. Each kid gets a few at the beginning of the lesson. Tying the response to a more "connected" movement than just the hand raise sometimes helps (plus it reminds me who I haven't called on yet).

Quote:
They require many redirections to get back on task. They fidget a lot, but they don't hear instruction and directions, so the fidgeting doesn't help them focus.
Having directions repeated is a very common accommodation, so I expect this started as an ADHD symptom. (Whether it has evolved into laziness as well is another story, and also very possible!) Obviously, use oral and written directions when you can, so you can refer them back (because they'd probably rather listen the first time than read it on their own!) But I also like to make sure there is an example they can look at (like doing the first one with them, on their paper) so they can check the format as they go.

Encourage them to try different fidgets out as well. Some work better than others for each individual (just like people gravitate toward different music) and sometimes it's good to rotate them (often, they loose their power after they lose their novelty).

Quote:
There are lots of goofy looks at each other, and always, always talking.
"Thinking out loud" can definitely go along with ADHD, but the goofy looks at each other means it has taken on a social mischief component as well. Follow up this one with whatever your room consequences are, but at a good opportunity, brainstorm with each kid separately some ways to "turn down the volume."

Quote:
One student recently took apart a cushion during our read-aloud time by picking, picking, picking at a thread until the pillow came apart.
Probably an ADHD thing (that he wasn't even aware of at first) but still important to remove the pillow as soon as you see this start! - It falls under the "without hurting anyone else" (or in this case, anything else) clause.
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