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Student Needs Accommodations for ADHD

May 4, 2012

Question: My fifth-grader, who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has a difficult time staying still in the classroom. My son does it all -- he fidgets, squirms and wiggles. His teacher definitely has problems with this. Do you have any ideas to help my son move less? -- ADHD

Answer: If your son has either an individual education plan (IEP) or a 504 plan, these plans should include some accommodations that his teacher can use to help him move less in the classroom. If there isn't an IEP or 504 plan in place, bring in all your documentation from his doctor. This should help you and the school develop a plan that works for him.

Talk with the teacher about the accommodations your son needs. The more physical outlets for his pent-up energy, the less likely he will be to move so much. Your son could be a message runner, sit in the back of the room and then stand up when he feels restless, or leave the room and walk up and down the hall. Some teachers let students walk around briefly between lessons, and a few even have mini-trampolines in their classroom or exercise balls instead of chairs for restless students.

Nowadays, not just ADHD children, but all children, are more restless in the classroom because of fewer opportunities to move around during the day -- limited recess and P.E. time. Fidget toys can help them, because they let children burn energy and concentrate on the main tasks at school. Before sending your children to school with one of these toys, make sure their teachers approve. Here are some suggested toys: worry beads, small rocks, Nerf balls, beaded bracelets and paper clips (can be bent into interesting shapes).

Chewing gum often helps reduce restlessness. And many students may do better on tests and concentrate on their reading if they can listen to music while doing these activities.

Question: My parents think that we are overdoing the amount of praise that we give our children. Could they be right? -- Too Much Praise

Answer: Most parents believe that when they praise their children they are building up their self-worth and helping them become more confident. However, an article in New York Magazine titled "How not to Talk to your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise" references a study conducted by psychologist Carol Dweck. The article explains that research proves that it is not good to praise your child for being intelligent; conversely, it is great to praise the child for the hard work that he or she puts in. The brain is a muscle, and the harder children work the brain, the better it will develop.

You need to praise your children for specific things; meaningless praise is just that -- meaningless. Did you realize that children as young as 7 years old know the difference between praise that they have earned through hard work and just praise for nothing specific?

There is danger in too much meaningless praise; it can turn children into non-learners. Your parents are right if your praise is not for effort and meaningful accomplishments.

Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, in care of Mahoning Valley Parent, 1 North Illinois Street No. 2004, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or log on to, or email



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