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Case Sudy of Students

Electronic Portfolio of Angelique De Mille Serrette

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an illness characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (Barkley, 1997,1998). ADHD, once called hyperkinesis or minimal brain dysfunction, is one of the most commonly diagnosed behavior disorders in young persons; ADHD affects an estimated three percent to five percent of school-age children.  It is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls (Barkley, 1998).

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is usually first diagnosed in children and adolescents. It is characterized by inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity. Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder are typically:

  • impulsive
  • forgetful
  • restless to the point of disruption
  • prone to fail
  • unable to follow through on tasks
  • unpredictable
  • moody

These characteristics appear in early childhood, are relatively chronic in nature, and are not due to other physical, mental or emotional causes. From time to time, all children will be inattentive, impulsive and/or exhibit high activity levels. However, for children with ADHD, the persistence, pattern, and frequency of this behavior is much greater. These behaviors are the rule, not the exception.

Although ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it is not a disorder limited to children - ADHD often persists into adolescence and adulthood and is frequently not diagnosed until later years.

When ADHD is left unidentified or untreated a child is at great risk for:

  • impaired learning ability
  • decreased self-esteem
  • social problems
  • family difficulties
  • potential long-term effects

ADHD is not new, though our understanding of the disorder is still developing.

Medical science first noticed children exhibiting inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in 1902. Since that time, the disorder has been given numerous names, including Minimal Brain Dysfunction or Minimal Brain Damage, and Hyperkinesis, The Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood or Hyperactivity.

 In 1980, the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder was formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 3rd edition (DSM III), the official diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Scientific studies, using advanced neuroimaging techniques of brain structure and function, show that the brains of children with ADHD are different from those of other children. These children handle neurotransmitters (including dopamine, serotonin, and/or adrenalin) differently from their peers.

ADHD is often genetic. Whatever the specific cause may be it seems to be set in motion very early in life as the brain is developing. Other problems, such as depression, sleep deprivation, specific learning disabilities, tic disorders, and oppositional/aggressive behavior problems, may be confused with or appear along with ADHD.

            It is hard trying to reflect on my past students and examine if any of them exhibited behaviours associated with ADHD.  As well as I am not one to make up a story just to impress so for the purpose of this assignment I will focus on a current student, who has recently been diagnosed (on my suggestion to the parents) with ADHD – Lishelle F. 



            Lishelle, age 10, has more energy than most girls her age. But then, she's always been overly active. Starting at age 3, she was a human tornado, dashing around and disrupting everything in her path. At home, she darts from one activity to the next, leaving a trail of toys behind her. At meals, she chatters nonstop.

Lishelle still struggles to pay attention and act appropriately. But this has always been hard for her. She can be quiet and cooperative but often seems to be daydreaming. She is smart, yet cannot seem to improve her grades no matter how hard she tries. Several times, she has failed exams. Even though she knew most of the answers, she couldn't keep her mind on the test. Her parents responded to her low grades by taking away many privileges and scolding, "You're just lazy. You could get better grades if you only tried."

            Lishelle has been a pupil of my class during this school year.  I had no idea of the behaviours associated with ADHD, however when this child came into my class I immediately labeled her as having ADHD.

            The behaviours exhibited by Lishelle were:

v     Inattention

      Often failed to give close attention to details or made careless mistakes in schoolwork and other activities

      Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks and play

      Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

      Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities

      Is easily distracted

      Is often forgetful

v     Hyperactivity

      Fidgets and squirms in seat

      Leaves seat in classroom in situations when remaining seated is required and expected

      Often on the go – can’t keep still

      Talks excessively

v     Impulsivity

      Has difficulty awaiting her turn

      Constantly interrupts and intrudes on others

For me this was totally unacceptable, so I held a parent conference with her parents in September and asked them to tell me a bit about Lishelle and what her diet consisted.  At that time I was informed that – sugar was not part of the diet so this could not be a cause for her restless behaviour.

 I then proceeded to move Lishelle from her regular seat and placed her closer to me.  Lishelle drove me crazy, she was still restless and it would seem that my use of proximity control was not working.  Instead of attempting to keep still, this gave Lishelle the license to become the boss of the class in my absence.  I also moved on to pleading with Lishelle to be still – “Keep quiet Lishelle”, “Stop moving” “Get in your seat now!”  I was quickly approach the frustration level.

I am however pleased to note, that since completing the intensive workshop on Special Ed. I have enlisted the aid of a few of the strategies in the manual.  Some have proven to be effective and others aren’t appropriate just yet.

Firstly, I like each and every one of my pupils and Lishelle knows this.  In this regard pupils are aware that they can come to me with any problems they may be experiencing and together we will work it out.

I have modified the amount of work Lishelle is required to do – immediately she started to experience success – success to Lishelle is getting everything right.  I have also placed her in a buddy group with three other pupils and together they are working quite well.

Lishelle has also been shown how to organize her daily activities, by using a Daily Planner Diary.  So far she has written down all of her activities thus far including her activities for over the weekend.

Her parents have been requested to give praise even for the smallest of improvements, instead of the harsh verbal admonishments.  I too have been singing her praises and all the time all I am seeing is a child who is constantly smiling and adjusting to her “new” environment and status.

Lishelle still has to work on keeping here workstation neat, this is a sore point for her.  I cannot allow her to move around a lot for at times she distract the other pupils who are focusing on their work.  I also cannot keep her close to me at times, because depending on the subject that is being done; there are other pupils who need my attention.

Some strategies I would like to try in the future are:  dividing the work into chunks and setting a time limit – this is important because next year March she has an examination to write and it has time limits for each of the three sections.  I myself need to establish a routine, which is easy for the pupils to follow.  At times I am so taken up with the many teaching activities that the transition from one subject to another is not done as smoothly as I would like it to be.  Just like the millions of children who have ADHD, Lishelle has to learn to live with it and try to constantly change to suit to her environment.

Because schools demand that children sit still, wait for a turn, pay attention, and stick with a task, it's no surprise that many children with ADHD have problems in class. Their minds are fully capable of learning, but their hyperactivity and inattention make learning difficult. As a result, many students with ADHD repeat a grade or drop out of school early. Fortunately, with the right combination of appropriate educational practices, medication, and counseling, these outcomes can be avoided.