Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ten Traits of Terrific Teachers

by Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC

Although this blog is addressed to parents, I hope teachers will identify and agree with the traits I describe.

Is your child struggling at school? What is his or her relationship with the teacher like?

Recently I was reminded of how NOT to teach students. My teenage daughter told me about an incident at school in which her feelings were quite hurt. Her teacher approached her and asked: "How did YOU get into Honors English? What kind of grade did you get in English before?" Ironically, my daughter has a solid "B" in the class, which isn't too bad.
Perhaps you have encountered a teacher like this one before. Now if this particular teacher thought that she was encouraging, I've got news for her. You cannot hurt someone's feelings and then expect him or her to work harder. It usually doesn't work that way. In my opinion, the best teacher is someone who helps rather than discourages, who brings out the positives and is flexible to different learning styles.

In reality, the best teacher for a child with ADHD is someone who:
1. Is a good role model and is firm and fair to all students.
2. Has a positive attitude and tries to bring out the best in students.
3. Has a well-structured classroom with an environment that is safe and comfortable.
4. Is able to assist students with transitions and help them maintain focus and attention.
5. Is flexible to different learning styles.
6. Provides a high level of expectations yet is able to assist students to achieve success when they face new challenges.
7. Provides predictability in routines and schedules.
8. Is able to provide accommodations for students with special needs.
9. Emphasizes improvement and personal best efforts
10. Offers a lot of "hands-on," engaging instruction.

Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan that has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for over eleven years. He is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy and the Coaches Training Institute and serves as vice president of the board of directors of the ADHD Coaches Organization. He is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Dr. Dickson speaks regularly on ADHD and has been interviewed locally and nationally on radio, television, and CHADD’s Ask the Expert online. Dr. Dickson and his wife of 32 years have two teenage children, both of whom have ADHD.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Using Codewords

by Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC

As long as I can recall, in our family we’ve used codewords to ease communication. When my kids were really little, they were visual cues, like reminders to use a fork or requests to lower the volume. As they grew older, they became verbal cues to help our kids learn to manage the intense emotionality that often comes with ADHD and anxiety.

Codewords are cues that we all agree upon in our family, words that we use to communicate with each other succinctly. Like a family whistle peeling through the air in a public space, codewords help us get to the heart of a matter quickly. Better yet, they help us avoid unnecessary meltdowns.

For example, “bubblegum” is a word we’ve used for about fourteen years. It means, “Brace yourself, because you might not like what I’m about to tell you.” Broccoli ice cream” has been around even longer. It means, “Someone is losing the ability to cope because s/he’s hungry. Stop everything, now, and get some food!”

Much like crying “uncle” when you’re ready to give up a wrestling match, codewords communicate big concepts in a flash. “Rope” in my family means, “Okay, everyone, back off because I’m trying really hard not to lose my cool.” And “Don’t poke the bear” (okay, it’s a codephrase), means, “leave your sister or brother alone because she’s really not in the mood right now to be messed with.”

What triggers in your family could be avoided with a few well-chosen codewords? If you’re not sure, ask your kids. Not only will they probably know, but they’ll likely do a better job of naming them than you. After all, would you ever have come up with broccoli ice cream?

Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, is the cofounder of ImpactADHD.com. Her website offers support for parents of children with ADHD, including tips, strategies, and coaching to make family life work. Whether new to the world of ADHD, or worn out from managing it, Elaine helps parents improve family life. Visit www.ImpactADHD.com.