Classroom Management Differentiation Student Engagement

How to be Identifying Students with ADHD in Primary

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ADHD affects 5.3% of children globally.  Kind of. That is just an estimate, and low estimate,  for us to keep in mind when identifying students with adhd in primary 

In Canada, where I live, the numbers  vary from province to province, but the estimated prevalence is approximately 8.6%.

In the United States the estimate is 10.2%.

For it to be 5.3% of a primary classroom, like the one I taught, means that I would see a case of ADHD in a 6 year old at least once in each group of children I taught. 

However, if you are a teacher in the US, where estimates are higher, you would likely have at least two students with diagnosed ADHD.

This ain’t goin’ away folks.  We need to talk about identifying students with ADHD in primary settings and how to support them.  🥴

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There are many factors that influence this number, and the number is likely to be much higher. More importantly, students in a primary classroom are less likely to have received this diagnosis.

Numbers are, to me, a bit dry, but the disparity between different regions does beg a few questions.

So, let’s chat for a wee moment about why the differences in the numbers. 

The cause could be as simple as insufficient practitioners to diagnose ADHD.  More research is needed too.  

Studies determining estimates need to include estimates relative to age, gender, ethnicity, geographical region, socioeconomic status and access to mental healthcare coverage.  

So, . . . how often is ADHD undiagnosed? The prevalence that I mentioned initially is the beginning of the conversation on identifying ADHD in the primary classroom, not the end of the conversation.  

Before I dig in to identifying students with ADHD in primary . . . 

As I have mentioned in earlier blog posts, I am Canadian. 

However, I also know that I have readers from all over the world, and I typically draw primarily from North American research and resources. 

This is important to identify because  there are entire nations that do not recognize things like ADHD, never mind the treatment of adhd in school settings. 

This definitely impacts global calculations, and I recognize that the information for your context may vary from what I share.

As I researched this blog post I am dancing back and forth between the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance (CADDRA), Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and the site The Hallowell ADHD Centers.  

You may want to bookmark those websites as references for identifying ADHD in the primary classroom, and to find resources for teaching students with adhd.

I have also been drawing from ADHD 2.0 by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey .  That is not an affiliate link, but it is a fantastic resource. 

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As teachers it is our responsibility to report symptoms or indicators to parents, but we do not have the training or expertise to diagnose ADHD in students.

There are several symptoms for identifying students with adhd in primary.

Inattentive Symptoms of ADHD:

  • careless mistakes  or details are overlooked in schoolwork
  • distractible 
  • difficulty with following instructions
  • may not appear to be listening when spoken to directly
  • poor organization
  • chores or work in the classroom may not be completed
  • tasks that require sustained mental effort may be ignored or avoided  
  • loses  homework assignments books, jackets, backpacks, and sports equipment frequently 

Hyperactive or Impulsive Symptoms of ADHD:

  • fidgety or squirmy
  • has difficulty trouble staying in his or her seat
  • runs and climbs in inappropriate places.
  • playing quietly is a challenge
  • has a hard time waiting for his or her turn
  • “restless”, “on the go” or “driven by a motor”
  • excessive talker
  • Interrupts with an answer before a question is completed
  • may interrupt others or intrude during conversations, activities
  • may not recognize boundaries with the  possessions of others.

These behaviours just look like kids being kids to me. The question is how extreme is the action or behaviour relevant to their same age peers?

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When considering indicators for ADHD in students it is important to consider these indicators relevant to same age peers. Are these behaviours typical for a child of this age?

Identifying students with ADHD in primary – ADHD and me!

Have you heard me mention before that I have ADHD?  I was diagnosed as an adult, and the diagnosis answered a LOT of questions.

A few, but not all, of my siblings were diagnosed as adults as well.  We have different takes on the impact of ADHD on our lives and our approaches to management. 

We all have different takes on whether or not to take medication. All of that is to say that  managing ADHD in young child is a very personal thing. 

What you want from the parents may not be the same as what they want for their child.    

Because I was not diagnosed as a child I have developed any number of strategies over the course of my life time without meds.

Because of that I know how much can be done without meds. 

The impact of ADHD on my life is evident to me, and I do wonder about the potential impact an earlier diagnosis might have created. 

I have tried medication more than once. There are potential benefits for my life, and I love some of the ways it makes me feel.  

However, I would absolutely say that, because of some of the ways it makes me feel, I would not ever try to insist anyone else take ADHD medication.  

As teachers we don’t  have the right to do that, nor is it appropriate to attempt to do that. And for  20% of people it is not effective.

Therefore we need to address what the treatment of ADHD in school settings looks like with or without medication.

When identifying students with ADHD in primary, who decides?

ADHD is a medical diagnosis. 

We, teachers,  can’t diagnose ADHD, but we are responsible  to implement strategies for supporting students with adhd.  And often we initiate the diagnosis by providing parents with what we identify with 

The goal of the diagnosis is to help change the direction of the child’s life, not solely to have the child medicated to make the classroom simpler to manage. This can change their lives.

According to CHADD early diagnosis and treatment of a student with ADHD can lead to:

  • improved functioning in early childhood
  • fewer behavioral problems as identified by the teacher
  • higher academic skills as identified by the teacher
  • lower child-report risks for risky behaviors and drug use.
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When talking to parents it is imortant to have tools that will help you to communicate objectively, clearly and effectively. This may be a difficult conversation for the parents.

How do I communicate to parents about identifying students with ADHD in primary?

There are many forms available out there, and forms that are intended for teachers to fill out when a doctor is considering Identifying students with adhd in primary.  

I find some of these forms are a good, objective student adhd checklist that provides  a bridge when communicating with parents.

A student ADHD assessment can take some of the potential perception of bias away for teachers and parents.

Some of the student adhd assessment and student adhd checklist options:

Please remember, none of these student adhd assessment and student adhd checklist options in and of themselves are a diagnosis of ADHD. 

Once you have completed the form . . .

These student ADHD assessment and student ADHD checklist forms are only a tool, and they need to be considered by a medical professional. 

Once you have completed the student ADHD assessment or student ADHD checklist options you find to be relevant, invite the parents in for a meeting, and share your findings  with them.  

Be gentle, be sensitive, be kind, be compassionate.

This is their child, and everyone does their best.  

If the parent has ADHD themselves, they may be overwhelmed by their child’s behavior.   😟

They may also consider the child’s behavior to be typical.

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With or wihout a diagnosis, you, the teacher, will need strategies to support the student with ADHD in the classroom. Whether or not the parents choose medication for their child, a student with ADHD will need strategies that support them.

At the risk of being very repetitive, regardless of parent or medical involvement you are likely to be already managing ADHD in school.

Identifying students with ADHD in primary and classroom management

As I shared earlier, I was not diagnosed as a child, and you will likely have students who are undiagnosed.

. . . Or parents who refuse to consider diagnosis because they are concerned that they will have to put their child on meds.

. . . Perhaps the doctor looks at the student adhd test and disagrees with your “assessment”, and the child is not medically diagnosed with ADHD.

Regardless of parent involvement and medical diagnosis the outcome of Identifying students with adhd in primary, means the next step is managing ADHD in the classroom.

Join me on my blog next week as I share, ‘Unraveling ADHD: The truth about Managing ADHD in School’.

green background, text overlay reads Download the FREE classroom management checklist here. Images of the pages of the checklist.

Blog Posts referred to in this article:

What is classroom management? Why is it Important?

FREE classroom management checklist

What is the positive reinforcement students need to thrive?

7 Easy Ways to Boost Your Classroom Management Styles

13 Transformative Classroom Management Techniques

What is the positive reinforcement students need to thrive?

Eleven Important Examples of Classroom Expectations and Rules

How to Strategies for Student Engagement

Tales of : Why is Differentiation in the Classroom Important?

10 Powerful Ways to Implement Differentiation in Classroom

What Does Social Emotional Learning Mean for Your Class?

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