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Regular education and special education teachers are challenged daily to maintain the attention and compliance of a few, shall we say, spirited children. The garden variety of attention deficit disorder is not one of misbehavior per se. These students wear a label that wrongly denotes an inability to attend to structured classroom activities. What these kids have is NOT a short attention span, but a hypersensitivity to ALL stimuli.

They turn their heads like little cows at the slightest sound, movement, or visual distraction within their stimulus range, which is usually a five mile radius. EVERYHING is interesting to them. They LOVE lights, buzzers, buttons, motion, talking, playing, fiddling, building, and daydreaming. Daydreaming is the biggie, too. Kids can go for a ride in their own cerebral fantasyland faster than you can say Mickey Mouse. They crave excitement and action. Their brains are on hyperactive overdrive, and they cannot help it.

They still have to do their spelling. They still need to finish the math test. What can be done to keep the teacher¡¦s hair intact while motivating Mr. or Miss Wiggleworm to stay focused on the lesson and complete the assignments? The answer lies in simple reinforcement. All students love getting something. They don¡¦t care what it is, either. It makes them feel special, and when they feel special they will do back flips for their teacher. Well, sometimes they will. They are consistently inconsistent.

The important thing is to reinforce desired behavior while ignoring (or disciplining, if necessary) the undesired behavior. There are many positive reinforcers that can be used. Be sure the student knows that you like what you¡¦re seeing. Be specific, too. If you want the student to repeat the behavior, you will want to be very consistent about doling out the reward. Change your preferred reinforcer as well. Students with ADD/ADHD thrive on variety, just don¡¦t overstimulate or overwhelm the senses or your strategy will have backfired. Here are some examples of simple rewards to do when the students do your bidding:

Smile ļ
Verbal acknowledgement (¡§Great job ________, Jane!¡¨)
Check mark on an index card on their desk (If on-task when you walk by, put a check down. I know it sounds crazy, but they LOVE it!)
Sticker on a behavior chart
Phone call home to parents
Allow to go to kindergarten to read a book to the kids (prearrange)
Special pencil
Extra time on computer
Extra time doing something the student loves
Allow to get up and stretch at specific intervals if on-task
Allow to clean the counter/rearrange shelves/water plants (They think it¡¦s a reward!)
Send on an errand
Use your imagination! The possibilities are limitless!