In their growing years, an individual goes through many developmental stages. These stages not only involve physical and mental landmarks but also social and emotional growth as well as development. Taking the example of popcorn, which gets prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, in the same oil, all the kernels do not pop at the same time. Similarly, the time and pace for these developmental stages might vary from child to child. Some children may reach a stage earlier than others but may not necessarily reach another stage at a similar pace, just like there are others who reach these stages later. However, these ‘developmental delays,’ although used interchangeably, are not the same as developmental disabilities. This euphemistic term can be very misleading. After all, a train that’s delayed does finally arrive at the station - and delayed gratification isn’t the same thing as NO gratification. (Logsdon, 2019).
Developmental Disabilities, are an umbrella term used to refer to neurodevelopmental disorders and behavioral disorders that start manifesting from an early age. One such disorder is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that affects the areas of the brain responsible for planning, focusing, and executing various tasks. People living with ADHD have trouble with managing impulse- controlling, focusing, and organization. It can be accompanied by hyperactive behavior, marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
ADHD symptoms vary by sub-type — inattentive, hyperactive, or combined — and are often more difficult to diagnose in girls and adults, as it is generally mistakenly believed that only young boys get diagnosed with ADHD. As ADHD significantly impacts a person’s ability to carry out day to day tasks with as much ease as a typical person would, it becomes all the more important to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with it, in order to facilitate proper treatments and support. Some of the more evident symptoms include difficulties or inability to concentrate on a task, constant fidgeting or squirming, facing trouble sitting in one place, talking excessively or inability to keep quiet, constantly demanding attention, trouble following instructions, forgetting to do assigned work, having problems working without supervision, lacking proper motor control, and so on and so forth. This list is not exhaustive or include a common set of symptoms that will be exhibited in the same way by all people who go through this condition. It may vary depending on the subtypes or from individual to individual.
Our education system is difficult as it is, combining that with the daily struggles ADHD presents to students, can further amplify the difficulties experienced by the students with ADHD. From being forced to sit still, follow instructions to concentrating, and paying attention, the very thing students with ADHD struggle with. It is important to understand that these students do not do that in defiance or because they are disobedient and will “comply,” with stricter punishments, scolding or beating them up. This is not something that can be “fixed,” or “cured,” neurological deficits, not unwillingness, keep kids with attention deficit disorder from learning in traditional ways. In fact, ADHD usually persists through the life cycle of an individual, and can only be ‘managed’ through proper treatment and support.
As teachers, there are some techniques and strategies that can be used to help students with ADHD overcome learning challenges and stay focused. This can be in the form of Accommodations, or understanding what you can do to make learning easier for students with ADHD and being open to accommodate them. Instructions, or using short, easy to understand sentence while teaching. And, Intervention, how you can react to behaviors that disrupt concentration or distract other students.
With support from parents and special educators, our educational systems can become a much more inclusive space for people coming from all sorts of backgrounds and accommodate them in an accepting and open space. While we do that, it is important to be mindful of the fact that individuals with developmental disabilities, including those with the most severe developmental disabilities are capable of self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life, but often require the provision of community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance. And, thus it is
important to amplify their voices, and acknowledge their competencies, capabilities, and personal goals, and should be recognized, supported, and encouraged, and any assistance to such individuals should be provided in an individualized manner, consistent with their unique strengths.
- Logsdon, A. (2019, November 07). Common Developmental Disabilities in Children. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-are-developmental-disabilities-2162827
- National Institute of Mental Health. (USA). Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd-the-basics/index.shtml
- The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. Administering for Community Living. Retrieved from: https://acl.gov/about-acl/authorizing-statutes/developmental-disabilities-assistance-and-bill-rights-act-2000
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html