One of the questions I was asked during my presentation Learning Disabilities and ADHD: An Insider’s Perspective was how do you tell if a student really has ADHD. I was also asked about the clinical definition of ADHD.
Personally, I have never been one for labels or official diagnosis. Instead I tried to find ways for all of my students to be successful. My prime directive is that if a student was willing to invest the time and energy to passing my class then I would find a way to help them succeed. As a result I was open to trying many strategies. I have learned that many methods that help those with learning disabilities and ADHD succeed are also good for other students. It is better to provide as many channels for learning as possible.
Also, I believe it is important to teach students how to succeed. As educators we need to not only teach content but instill in our students the skills and tools needed to become independent learners.
One comment I often hear is that ADHD is used as an excuse to get out of school work. ADHD can and often interferes with daily life including school work. However it should never be used an excuse. It may be use as an explanation for why a task is hard or must be done differently. For example, because I have ADHD it is often hard for me to keep up with tasks like the laundry, dishes or other housework. I know it is a problem so I use cleaning checklists, timers and routines to help me stay focused. There are times I don’t feel like controlling my ADHD and dealing with things. I know what I need to do to handle my ADHD either I choose to do it or not. If I fail to do the things needed to control my ADHD that is my choice and there will be consequences.