How Schools Can Better Support Children with ADHD.


New research is offering clearer guidance on how schools can better support children with ADHD to improve symptoms and maximize academic outcomes.

The study being led by the University of Exeter and involving researchers at the EPPI-Centre (University College London), analyzed available research on non-medication measures to support children with ADHD in schools. The findings published in the Review of Education, cited in the article from Science Daily, stated the interventions that improved academic outcomes included one-on-one support and focus on self-regulation.

The article goes on to state that around 5% of children have ADHD, indicating that classrooms will have at least one child with the condition.

Children that have ADHD often find it difficult to function in a classroom setting. This is due to their inability to pay attention, control their impulses, and self-regulate. These children are often very bright; however, they have weak executive function.  This makes it difficult for them to do tasks such as:

  • Control impulsive behaviors
  • Transition smoothly from one task to another
  • Regulate emotions
  • Start tasks independently
  • Follow multi-step instructions
  • Plan and organize materials
  • Self-monitor behaviors

Medication can help some students by controlling ADHD symptoms.  However, medication cannot teach the aforementioned skills or change behaviors.   

Thus, research funded by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for the Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC) has begun. The research team found 28 randomized control trials on non-drug measures to support children with ADHD in schools.

Results found that important aspects of successful interventions for improving academic outcomes were focused on self-regulation and delivered through one-on-one sessions. Meaning children needed to learn in the moment how they are feeling inside to notice triggers and avoid them, if possible, and to stop and think before responding. Research also found that daily report cards, setting goals, and reward structures, were beneficial because they gave the one-on-one support for each child specifically because we know there is not a one size fits all for children with ADHD.

Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child Psychiatry at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "Children with ADHD are of course all unique. It's a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, our research gives the strongest evidence to date that non-drug interventions in schools can support children to meet their potential in terms of academic and other outcomes. More and better quality research is needed but in the meantime, schools should try daily report cards and to increase children's ability to regulate their emotions. These approaches may work best for children with ADHD by one-to-one delivery."

Play Attention incorporates many of the successful interventions that were cited in the study.

One-on-One support and focus on self-regulation are provided in Play Attention.  Play Attention is typically done in 1:1 sessions or with small groups. You may find it useful to start students who are highly distractible in a 1:1 session. However, once the students have developed a certain level of attention and self-regulation, move them to small group sessions. Our iLab can facilitate this.

Play Attention teaches self-regulation by combining NASA inspired technology with cognitive skill training and behavior shaping.  The students are able to control all of the cognitive activities by mind (attention) alone! This makes attention concrete and controllable.  Now they can see their attention in real time, feel what they are doing, and practice skills. This process develops self-regulation because they now know exactly when they are paying attention and when they are not.  They can now better monitor their “triggers” and more importantly, know how to control their attention and reactions when those triggers occur.

The study also mentioned that a daily report card, goal setting, and rewards are all important.  These are all incorporated into Play Attention.

Our Circle of Success feature allows you to send daily reports to teachers, parents, mentors, etc. right from the student’s Play Attention session. 

Our artificial intelligence called Sheer Genius keeps track of your students’ progress and sets mini goals each session based on previous performance.  If your students reach their goals they earn a Play Attention point which can be used to purchase rewards that you have set up for them.

Play Attention is a program designed for individuals with ADHD to help them improve their executive functions and give them the ability to successfully engage in everyday activities. This is a program that will make changes in your students’ minds and motivation as well as creating life-long changes that your students will benefit from for the rest of their lives.