A Holistic Approach to ADHD, PART 4
Create a highly stimulating educational environment. Research suggests that kids labeled ADHD do better under high-stimulation than low-stimulation conditions (e.g., use role playing, field trips, project building, music, humor, expressive arts, etc.).
Use attention-grabbing strategies, such as a hand signal or musical cue to alert students to the need to begin cleaning up for lunch.
Employ computer software that is interactive, colorful, provides immediate feedback, and is instructionally sound.
This list provides a far richer storehouse of interventions than the instructional strategies given in the mainstream ADHD literature—for example, seating the child next to the teacher, posting assignments on a child’s desk, maintaining eye contact, and breaking up assignments into small chunks. A deficit-oriented perspective gives differential treatment to the “ADHD child.” Most of the above strategies, in contrast, are good for all children. Thus, in an inclusive classroom, the child labeled ADHD can thrive with the same kinds of nourishing and stimulating activities as everyone else and be viewed in the same way as everyone else: as a unique human being.
The Creative Roots of ADHD
Research has long suggested that many children labeled ADHD are actually under-aroused (Zentall, 1975.) Ritalin provides enough medical stimulation to bring their nervous systems to an optimal level of arousal, but a strength-based approach makes more sense than a deficit-based one. By providing these students with high-stimulation learning environments grounded in what they enjoy and can succeed in, we are essentially providing them with a kind of educational psychostimulant that can work as well as Ritalin but is internally empowering rather than externally controlling.
Remember that a hyperactive child is an active child. These young people often possess great vitality—a valuable resource that society needs for its own renewal. Look at the great figures who transformed society, and you will find that many of them had behavior problems or were hyperactive as children: Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Pablo Picasso, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Friedrich Nietzsche (see Goertzel and Goertzel, 1962). As educators, we can make a big difference in the lives of these students, if we stop getting bogged down in their deficits and start highlighting their strengths.