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Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) affects 3-5% of school children in Canada. It is often described as a neurological disorder that is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. It commonly affects more boys than girls. Here are some typical symptoms of ADD released by the British Columbia Department of Education:

· Fails to give close attention to detail

· Makes careless mistakes

· Work appears as messy

· Doesn't follow instructions

· Fails to finish things

· Has difficulty moving onto a new activity

· Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

· Avoids sustained mental effort

· Loses things

· Easily distracted

· Forgetful

· Fidgets or squirms

· Leaves seat in classroom

· Runs and climbs when inappropriate

· Has difficulty playing quietly

· Talks excessively

· Has difficulty awaiting turn

· Interrupts others conversations.

Beware of being too quick to apply such labels to pupils. Sometimes children who are in fact gifted have been given the ADD label. Other conditions that may give rise to symptoms similar to and including those of ADD include:

· Hyperthyroid· Diabetes· Fetal Alcohol Syndrome· Bipolar disorder· Lack of sleep· Family disruptions· Anxiety· Has trouble seeing· Has trouble hearing· Intellectual disability· Abuse or neglect.


Bad Diet and food allergies can also have a huge effect on a child's behavior. Two Canadian scientists have discovered that too much saturated fat may affect the brain as much as it does the heart and the arteries. They note impaired memory and concentration in rats on a high fat diet when performing tasks compared to rats on a low fat diet. (NZ Herald 9/3/01) Too much sugar can also give rise to hyperactive type behavior such as fidgeting and squirming and the inability to sit still for long periods of time.Allergies can also give rise to ADD type symptoms. Common food allergies include whepeanuts, and dairy products. 


If you suspect your child has ADD it is important to have a professional diagnosis. ADD is a label and this label may be made to fit individual's whose symptoms are the result of quite different causes with the best of intentions. Bear in mind that each different manifestation of ADD depending upon its causative factor will need a different form of treatment. For example, one child diagnosed with having ADD (i.e. displaying symptoms typical of other children to whom we give the label ADD) may have genuine problems with the synapses in the brain, another may be suffering anxiety (that could be the result of a number of different factors), another may be suffering from depression, another may have gaps in his learning, another may have difficulty regulating input from the senses and another may be suffering an allergy to wheat or some other food making them restless and irritable.


Here are some tips to help teach a child who has been given the label ADD.

Create a structure for your lessons.

Give an overview of what you are about to do before each lesson. Keep sessions brief and interesting.

Praise more frequently.

Instructions may need to be given in writing as well as spoken.

Set short-term goals together.

Use systems such as ReadingMaster that utilize accelerated learning formats. E.g. flashcards, accelerated learning music, etc for maximum retention.

But most importantly try to get to the root cause of the behavior. If your child is given the label ADD, that is just the beginning not the end. If you can locate the cause of the behavior, there is a large chance your child will show dramatic improvement. Please know that approximately 50% of children with ADD improve markedly as they enter adulthood.

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