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Article of Interest - ADHD

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Students With ADHD Need Special Approach to Education
AScribe Newswire, July 5, 2005
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Teachers and parents need to learn new methods to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, according to a Purdue University educational researcher who pulled together 30 years of research in a new book.

"Fads and 'how-to lists' are more prevalent than methods based on educational research," said Sydney S. Zentall, professor of special education and psychological sciences in the College of Education. "But because students who have ADHD spend the majority of their time in general educational settings, it's critical to get scientific information to the people who are going to help them learn how to live in society."

Zentall's book, "ADHD and Education: Foundations, Characteristics, Methods and Collaboration" ($28), will be released by Merrill Education/Prentice Hall on July 13.

The three main symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, and may be displayed in the form of fidgeting, failing to pay attention or misbehaving. These children are more sensitive to the loss of stimulation and get bored easily, Zentall said.

"These are children with invisible disabilities. They look like normal children, but often don't have adaptive mechanisms. Teachers need to learn how to show these students ways to get stimulated in more appropriate ways," Zentall said.

Part of the reason for the scarcity of information on ADHD in textbooks is that it has not been categorized as a disability in special education until recently, which limits the amount of funding given to research in the area. Examples of other
disabilities are learning disabilities, behavioral/emotional disabilities and mental retardation.

Because of the gap in data, teachers have had to rely on treatments from research on learning or behavioral disabilities that might not address the particular academic problems of students with ADHD. Zentall encourages educators to learn how ADHD is
different from these related areas so they can identify teaching methods that target that population.

"When people observe a child with ADHD, they might be prone to blame the behavior on bad parenting," Zentall said. "We want to help them see that there's potential for people with these characteristics, and we can start with educational options first."

Zentall lays the foundation in the book with a discussion on legal issues and the limitations and controversies related to this complex disorder. She features methods and strategies so teachers can independently design their own practices, and offers techniques on how to collaborate and consult with other teachers, personnel and family members.

Zentall said the book is designed to help educators successfully teach students with ADHD, but will appeal to a much wider population because this disability touches so many people.

"A lot of successful people are ADHD," Zentall said. "My research offers parents and children ways to tap into that success."

Zentall is an internationally recognized authority on hyperactivity and ADHD. She developed a groundbreaking theory in 1975 called Optimal Stimulation Theory that suggested hyperactive children might have a greater need for stimulation and would benefit from a more active learning environment.


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