Ask the Teacher: ADD

When my husband and I went to our son’s spring conference, his teacher said that she thought my son had ADD. I just do not see the busyness in him that I associate with that. Should I have my son tested?

We tend to use the acronym ADD to refer to all attention problems. However, while Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) both result in a child’s struggle to attend to a task, they each manifest themselves differently. A student with ADD often operates under the radar because he tends to be quiet and get lost in thought; he may appear to just “zone out.” ADHD is more obvious, as the child struggles to sit still or even to stay seated at all. If he stays seated, he may be fidgety and easily distracted by anything and everything.

To have a solid understanding of what is happening with your son, ask his teacher to elaborate specifically on what she is seeing in class. Is there a predictable time of day when she observes the behaviors she describes? Can he focus better in the morning or in the afternoon, or does he struggle all day? Ask the teacher to have a counselor or special education professional observe your son for a block of time and record everything he does so that you can see beyond the generalization offered by the teacher.

Ask what strategies have been used to help encourage his attention. Simple things like changing where your son’s desk is relative to the teacher’s point of instruction or implementing a behavior plan with specific steps to achieve appropriate goals should be attempted before concluding that a disorder might be present.

If the problem persists after changes like these have been made, talk to your pediatrician. After a checklist evaluation is completed by you and his teacher, the pediatrician can determine an appropriate course of action and whether or not a disorder is indicated.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]

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