How to Help a Child with ADHD

March 14, 2012
Kira Wright, CCC-SLP

Chances are good that you have students on your caseload who struggle with attention issues or have been diagnosed with ADHD. Speech and language disorders occur in up to 17-38% of individuals with ADHD.

Many of the same behavioral issues that arise in the classroom for these students also make behavior management in the speech room difficult and can limit progress made on language goals.

5 Ways to Help a Child with ADHD

Try some of these behavior modification techniques:

1. Positive Reinforcement

Be quick to reward what they're doing right instead of punishing what they're doing wrong

2. Contracts

A written (and signed) document outlining in positive terms what you want the student to do and the rewards (and consequences) associated.

3. Token Program

The student receives a token (star, sticker, penny) immediately after demonstrating the desired behavior. Tokens are collected and later exchanged for a prize or privilege.

4. Response Cost

Take away previously earned 'tokens' or reinforcers - but make sure there are more opportunities for success than for failure!

5. Redirection

Distract them from the inappropriate behavior and encourage them to focus on something that will help them behave correctly. Instead of punishing, give an opportunity for success!

Also, think about your therapy space.

  • Can you de-junk and un-clutter the space so it is more free from distraction?
  • What kinds of structure, routine, and repetition can you provide?

Find more information in this ASHA Technical Report and at the Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder National Association.

SLPAs and paraprofessionals should always operate within the scope defined by state and national licensing organizations and should only conduct allowable tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.