I was recently asked to tape a lecture for California State University, Long Beach. I’ve been giving this lecture for two years now, in person, but my trips to Southern California don’t always match up with the unit that is taught twice a year. One of the things mentioned (that was also mentioned by a recent audience of teachers and school counselors) is that they students want more examples of “interventions” for ADHD/ADD and special needs kids.
The words “Accommodation” & “Intervention” makes me squirm
The need for interventions and accommodations is clear to me and one would be hard-pressed to argue against them. But, as a teacher, school counselor, and someone with ADHD myself, I wonder if we’re limiting ourselves with these terms.
For instance, I can totally see the word “accommodation” in terms of creating desks for students in wheelchairs. Desks aren’t made for kids in wheelchairs. Or having an interpreter for a deaf student. Teachers aren’t required to learn sign language to communicate with deaf kids. So when we say that our ADHD children need accommodations, we are saying that schools and classrooms aren’t optimal settings for our kids, and that is stunning. In this, we admit that schools are not “one size fits all” and that in order to have a good public education, a teacher must do something different (BTW, I include Gifted Kids in this mix of “Special Needs”).
So when someone insists that I offer interventions, I squirm because I know that what it really means is “What do I do when the ADHD student [inevitably] disrupts the class, because I’m not really teaching that student, I’m teaching the students who can sit still, be quiet, and pay attention.”
In legal terms, we definitely need accommodations, schools being what they are. But philosophically, this stings. I don’t want to be thought of as the “trouble-maker” as I was thought of. I don’t want to be the one that stands out because “the desk” doesn’t accommodate my “wheelchair.”
Teachers need to create classrooms that serve all students, not just the ones that “have to be there because this is ‘public education’.”
That being said, over the next week I will offer some accommodations, interventions, or changes that teachers and parents can make to support children with ADHD.
Copyright 2016 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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