Lauren, in Year 2, was getting into trouble in class. She had recently been given a diagnosis of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and her class teacher and TA needed some support in managing some of her behaviours.

Lauren didn’t really see what the problem was, or how her behaviour affected others. She needed clear, unambiguous guidance on what was expected, a chance to practise these behaviours with an adult and in a small group, and a motivating reward system to keep her on track.

We started by introducing a reward chart, where Lauren earned smiley faces when she demonstrated positive behaviours. These added up to a daily reward, such as some computer time or extra time in the playground. This gave her a personal goal to work towards, rather than having to complete adult-led tasks just because the teacher asked, which she had found difficult before.

We also introduced a laminated task planner that could be written on and wiped clean again. The planner provided three simple steps for completing a learning task for structured work in the classroom. Once the task was completed, the planner provided an opportunity to factor in a reward. Lauren knew what the task involved and what to expect once the task was completed. Crossing off each step as it was complete avoided a major issue for Lauren, who never knew how long she had to keep working on a particular task. It felt like forever to her, and so she often avoided the task altogether!

Lauren also needed opportunities to practise her social skills 1:1 with an adult, who would explain what behaviour was expected in a situation, and why it was important. Lauren was then able to practise the skill in a small group with her classmates. This provided Lauren with a ‘safe’ environment in which to develop her social interaction skills, before being expected to generalise these new behaviours in a whole class situation.

In the small group, Lauren also had the opportunity to practise her problem-solving skills. Previous assessment had shown that this was a difficult area for her. Working on this in a group environment gave Lauren the opportunity to hear how her classmates might tackle a problem, consider the alternatives and to see a solution from another’s perspective.

Lauren will probably continue to need some adult support while she is in primary school, particularly as the learning tasks become more demanding, and play and interaction with peers becomes more language-based and socially complex. Implementing some simple supports, however, have helped Lauren to begin navigating school-life more independently.

Read Shelley’s Interview online at

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