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Heads Up Helping: Teaching Tips and Techniques for Working With ADD, ADHD, and Other Children With Challenges

Heads Up Helping: Teaching Tips and Techniques for Working With ADD, ADHD, and Other Children With Challenges
by Melinda Boring

Heads Up Helping is the story of a mother's journey as she observes her son's special learning challenges and responds with love and dedication. Drawing on her years of experience as a speech pathologist, Melinda begins her pursuit of educational methods and materials that will help her son achieve the potential she is convinced exists. With fierce determination, Melinda sought information to help her son Joshua both accept himself and find areas in which he could excel despite his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social difficulties, and sensory issues.

    Over time, and with much experimentation, Melinda recognized which strategies, materials, and instructional approaches were most effective for her son and other children. By becoming an astute observer and student herself, she gradually distinguished those techniques that worked most frequently out of the multitude of ideas she tried and those successes are shared in depth throughout her book.

    Melinda offers practical strategies from both her personal and professional experience in helping children with auditory and visual distractibility, sensory issues, fidgeting and hyperactivity, daydreaming, and social communication difficulties. She offers teaching tips and information on how to effectively reach students in ways that are compatible with brain-based teaching techniques. The suggestions for modifying curriculum and adapting the learning environment are easily implemented and applied.

    With heart-wrenching honesty and with humor, Melinda's real-life examples reveal the trials and joys of teaching and parenting a child with challenges. Heads Up Helping is sure to be a wealth of encouragement and practical support for parents, teachers, therapists, and others who are devoted to helping all kinds of special children.




Excerpted from Heads Up Helping: Teaching Tips and Techniques for Working With Add, Adhd, and Other Children With Challenges by Melinda Boring. Copyright 2002. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I remained convinced that my son was bright in some ways, and I also knew that this was not readily apparent to others. This was especially true when Josh was seen in a group setting. I did not want Josh growing up believing he was inherently inferior to others. I did not want him negatively mislabeled because he was different than most his age. I wasn't sure exactly what was causing the differences with Josh, but I was committed to helping him succeed in every way he could. (p. 18)

* Often I would be in the midst of teaching when Josh would suddenly ask, "What was that?". Josh had a need to identify every sound he heard - and he seemed to hear sounds that most people were unaware of unless they were concentrating intently on hearing them. Not only did Josh hear the sounds, he felt the need to identify their source immediately and often imitated the sounds he heard. I had to laugh one day when I heard a vaguely familiar noise and realized Josh was imitating the sounds of our neighbor's leaf blower! He could also make a close approximation of a vacuum cleaner noise, although such loud noises bothered him and he often covered his ears in the presence of loud sounds. By imitating noises and drawing my attention to even the softest of sounds, Josh demonstrated that he was highly attuned to some auditory stimuli even from a young age. (pp. 40-1)

* When Beckie was three years old, I took her to a craft show with me. I knew that there would be many items at her eye level, so before we entered the room with the craft booths I instructed Beckie to "Look with your eyes, but do not touch anything." Beckie looked up at me with a combination of sadness and bewilderment as she said, "But Mommy, to touch IS to look." Finally, I made the connection and realized that Beckie was a strongly tactile learner. She had been giving me cues all along. (p. 58)

* Beckie's fidgeting took the form of continuous movement. Even while sitting in a chair, she was continually changing positions. She rarely sat with good posture, feet flat on the floor. She shifted from side to side, sat on one foot or both feet, and squirmed. Sometimes I would catch her sitting on the arm or even the back of the chair, which was especially disruptive during mealtimes. She constantly fidgeted even while sitting on my lap, although she frequently sought out the opportunity to sit with me. Her relentless wiggling and writhing made it increasingly uncomfortable to hold her. (p. 73)

* I have found two general approaches to working with my hyperactive children, and tend to alternate between them as I see what works on a given day. The approaches can be categorized as those that attempt to direct or subdue actions, and those that attempt to provide a release or outlet for the bursts of high energy that occur. (p. 86)

* There are times when my children are giving indications that they need to be in motion, and I am reluctant to stop the educational flow for another break. I have a number of activities that allow for movement to be incorporated while still working on an academic task. This accommodates my goal of accomplishing a set amount of work while also accommodating their need to move around. (p. 90)

* Even though Josh could tell time, he didn't have a good internal sense of time passing. When he was engaged in a highly interesting activity, time seemed to speed by. Likewise, a low interest activity felt like hours to him when in reality only minutes had passed. The timer with the visual display helped him see for himself the passage of time. It was also an objective source difficult for Josh to argue with, unlike his responses when others tried to persuade him regarding the passage of time. (p. 99)

* I wouldn't say that Josh completely lacked social skills as a youngster. It was more a matter of his responding to people in ways that were neither predictable nor conventionally accepted. Josh genuinely liked people and showed great interest in their activities. But certain social skills that came naturally as part of development in most children eluded him. (p. 107)

* My own preferred style both for teaching and for learning is to advance in a sequential manner, starting at the beginning and following a linear progression to the conclusion. I like to finish what I start before moving on to another subject area. Whereas Josh loves experimenting, possibilities, risk-taking, and alternatives, I like details, predictability, and structure. In other words, Josh and I could not be much more different in our approaches to tasks. My way of learning did not work for Josh, and just led to frustration for us both. Beth could learn from my step-by-step way of teaching, but fortunately she could also adapt to learn alongside Josh as I made changes in how I presented some subjects. In order to truly connect with Josh as a teacher to a student, there were a number of alterations I needed to make. (pp. 138-9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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