Flexibility requires being able to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information, or mistakes. A young child can adjust to a change in plans -- a substitute teacher coming in when the regular classroom teacher is absent -- without distress. A high school student can accept an alternative, such as a different job, when the first choice is not available. For some kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), though, dealing with unexpected change is a problem. Many can’t deal with open-ended tasks -- ones for which there are no single right answers, no well-defined starting points, and no obvious end. They can’t determine what’s important and what isn’t, making it hard for them to take notes or to study for tests.
Adapting to Change in the Classroom
Prepare students for changes in schedules and routines whenever possible. If you know you’re going to be absent, lay down some ground rules for behavior in your absence.
Put in place a “default” strategy if a routine has to be changed unexpectedly. The strategy might be having the student check in with a designated person, so that he can be walked through the revised plan.
This article appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of ADDitude. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.