Components of Successful Programs for Children with ADHD - Don't Forget Nutrition

I have always liked this summary of interventions for kids with ADHD. It is written by the US Department of Education. Often I refer families, especially when they are newly diagnosed, to it 'cause it is concise. Similar to Treatment Guidelines by APA, AAP etc, it addresses behavioral interventions, which I appreciate.

What strikes me is that also like accepted psychiatric and educational guidelines, it doesn't mention nutrition. Why not? We now know from research in diabetes, cancer and heart-disease that eating healthfully throughout the day is critical to our health. We also know from raising young ones that feedings every few hours maintain blood sugar and metabolism.

My suggestion is that next school year we start feeding our children a mid-morning snack to keep their fuel going. Many kids leave for school at 7:30 am and don't eat until after Noon. That is just too long, and it doesn't take anything more than common sense to know it. Let's also feed them real food for lunch instead of lunchables and juice. has great recs as does Clean Eating Magazine.

I've taken to keeping almonds and Clif Bars in my purse for days when the kids in my care are startin' to get distracted or moody. The following summary about education and ADHD is worth reading let's just not forget the role of snacktime and lunch in school for all youngsters.

There are an estimated 1.46 to 2.46 million children with ADHD in the United States, constituting 3 to 5 percent of the school student population. It has been documented that approximately 25 to 30 percent of all children with ADHD also have learning disabilities. Likewise, children with ADHD have coexisting psychiatric disorders at a much higher rate.

When selecting and implementing successful school strategies and practices for the ADHD student, it is imperative to understand the characteristics of the child, including those pertaining to disabilities. This knowledge will be useful in the evaluation and implementation of successful practices, which are often the same practices that benefit students without ADHD.

Three Components of Successful Programs for Children with ADHD: The three main components of a successful ADHD school strategy are academic instruction, behavioral interventions, and classroom accommodations. This guide outlines a series of strategies proven successful in not only educating children with ADHD but all children. By incorporating techniques from these three areas into their everyday instructional and classroom management practices, teachers will improve the academic performance and the behavior of their students with ADHD.

Academic Instruction: The first major component of the most effective instruction for children with ADHD is effective school instruction. Teachers can help prepare their students with ADHD to achieve by applying the principles of effective teaching when they introduce, conduct, and conclude each lesson during the school day. The discussion and techniques that follow pertain to the instructional process in general (across subject areas); strategies for specific subject areas appear in the subsequent subsection “Individualizing Instructional Practices.”

Behavioral Interventions: The second major component of effective school instruction for children with ADHD involves the use of behavioral interventions. The purpose of behavioral interventions in the school setting is to assist ADHD students in displaying the behaviors that are most conducive to their own learning and that of classmates. Well-managed classrooms prevent many disciplinary problems and provide an environment that is most favorable for learning. When a teacher’s time must be spent interacting with students whose behaviors are not focused on the lesson being presented, less time is available for assisting other students. Behavioral interventions should be viewed as an opportunity for teaching in the most effective and efficient manner, rather than as an opportunity for punishment.

Classroom Accommodations: The third component of a strategy for effectively educating children with ADHD involves physical school classroom accommodations. Children with ADHD often have difficulty adjusting to the structured environment of a classroom, determining what is important, and focusing on their assigned work. They are easily distracted by other children or by nearby activities in the school classroom. As a result, many children with ADHD benefit from accommodations that reduce distractions in the classroom environment and help them to stay on task and learn. Certain accommodations within the physical and learning environments of the classroom can benefit children with ADHD. Source: U.S. Department of Education. To order a hard copy of this ADD teaching report, e-mail or call (877) 433-7827.

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