Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms or can we call it “Ants in the pants” behaviour?
Posted on November 30th, 2014

Dr Hector Perera         London

A child’s teacher may be the first person to suspect that a child has ADHD, especially if he is hyperactive and often disrupts class. As an experienced teacher, I must say that I have come across a number of such cases but they had to be dealt very tactfully. If I were to mention such cases individually probably it takes a longer time to write this article so I avoid mentioning such individual cases.  However, parents may notice signs of ADHD before the child begins school, such as problems with social skills and disruptive behaviour. Alternatively, parents may realize that their child is having problems if she does poorly at school. If you or your child’s teacher suspect your child might have ADHD, your child should be assessed by a doctor or psychologist.

ADHD is very common in England especially in London schools but I must say that I really didn’t hear that term while I was in Sri Lanka. The disruptive behaviour of children were seen there while I was a student in Sri Lanka but I cannot remember anyone mentioning this ADHD term.

Public caning was allowed

While I was studying for SSC in Kandy Dharmaraja College, those so called naughty boys were punished in the school assembly by the Principal. Again this was not an everyday incident and only one or two were canned in front of the whole upper school students. I think in a way that was a good example for the rest of the students who might have misbehaved in the classroom or elsewhere. The rest of the students evidently see what would happen if they misbehaved. Apart from that there was that strict but excellent Physics teacher Mr Amarasena who sometimes canned a few students in order to maintain this valuable discipline. I must say those days that kind of simple punishments set examples to others to behave. I am sure many would agree with my idea otherwise the things could have gone from bad to worse like the behaviour of some students in inner London schools.

 Some Signs of ADHD behaviour

In England it is estimated that between 5% and 12% of children have ADHD. For this reason, a doctor or psychologist will consider ADHD when they see a child who: is doing poorly or failing at school, disrupts class, cannot sit still or is hyperactive, acts without thinking, does not pay attention or does not seem to listen, cannot concentrate, daydreams, has problems with friendships and other social relationships also has low self-esteem.

Detention room or punishment room

I have noticed in some cases the teachers have to shout at them to behave but how many times it can be done and to how many of them it can be done. If the teacher gest distracted from the lesson to shout at those unruly students, the other student’s lesson gets disrupted. In some cases one or two children are withdrawn from the lesson and sent to a place called detention room for the attention of another teacher.  I must say those students were never canned unlike in Sri Lanka in the good olden days to bring the so called behaviour to others as well but simply send to a detention room where he or she just sits and hardly do any work. I also had the duty of this detention class and I have frequently seen the same students almost every day, sitting there hardly doing any useful work.

True story of an innocent student

Once I talked to a student who comes to this place almost on regular basis. He was not wearing any clean shirt or trousers, looks very disappointed. I never shouted at him or punished any further like asking him to write lines or stand up in the corner and face the wall for hours. I have seen that kind of punishments by the other teachers who monitored the place. As a parent and a teacher, I talked to him to find out why he behaves that kind of manner. He told me a very sad story but let me just write a brief summery.   

Take your bike out and go”, says his mum

When he gets home his mum frequently asks him to eat a takeaway than giving him a home cooked meal so he ate burgers, sausages and chips or chicken or fish and chips then drank a can of coke as the supper. Sometimes he had that meal at the takeaway itself or somewhere outside the house than sitting down at home and watching the television like most students do. Very often his mum said to him, Take your bike and go, don’t come home until late”. He had to go out even in rain or shine that was his mum’s order.

No home cooked food but junks only

He had no choice, he ate takeaways, drank fizzy drinks and wonders off with children in the area on the road. If you have seen only this kind of gang style bikers on the road or in parks then only you believe this kind of behaviour. In some housing estates there are gangs of all nature and this so called poor child had been a victim for no reason. He has been wearing the same shirt and trouser for almost a week or more. I asked Why your mum didn’t see you come to school that way”. He says his mum slept while he left home and hardly gets any breakfast either so she hardly seen him going to school that way. She shouts while still sleeping, Shut the door on your way out”.

No breakfast either

Thankfully he had free school meal and that must be the only proper meal for the day. When he gets home, if his mum was not at home, he just take the bike and joins with the gang and wonder off to somewhere until too late because that was the order from the mum. I am sure very often he does not get any proper supper either. Definitely he comes to school without any breakfast. Honestly I felt so sad to listen but what else I could do? It is no point to mention about his homework or any other studies. How would that poor innocent child concentrate on studies? All he gets is daily punishment of sitting in the detention room doing nothing.

He begged me not to send again

Once he was misbehaving in one of my classes and he begged me not to send him to the detention room because he was warned if gets any further continuous detention that he would be excluded from the school, so I never let it happened. This is a case from an inner London state school.

Private schools also had ADHD children

You might think by sending to private school some children get better educated, yes it is correct but how many can afford the fees. When I was teaching in a private College near Holborn underground station that is in central London the teachers were paid on the basis of number of students. I came to know that only very rich people’s children attended that college. I have seen some children were dropped at the College by chauffer driven posh cars. Most of them are from very rich families such as from rich Arab’s children. They have money to burn so they can afford any fee. I think even in today’s standard, the fees were very high and the teachers were paid fairly well.

Didn’t pay any attention

Once a student was send to me for chemistry tuition on the basis of one to one. He came to the room and immediately put his feet on the table, chewing something and drinking a can of coke. Then started to look around the room, not paid any attention to what I was talking about or explaining. When I asked him to make a note of something I talked, he virtually wrote them like scribbles. I was wondering how I would teach this person.

My method helped to come up in studies

I had my method so I tried it. After few minutes I told him, Let me see what you wrote”. He showed me the book but I didn’t understand anything. I told him, Your work is really good, can I photocopy this good work to show other students”. Then he told me, I can write better if you wanted to show my work to others”, then he put his feet down, took off the hat and wrote it nicely. I praised his work even though it was no better than double Dutch. I am sure he believed me and since then he better behaved and listened carefully and worked much better. Very often I gave a list possible questions and answers for the exam by looking at past papers so he had less work to do other than remembering that work. I kept on parsing him and always tried my tricks then he gradually improved. Actually there was a big improvement in his work.

When the results came, he had a C grade [credit pass] pass for chemistry. I was surprised that my method worked. His mother telephoned the College and spoke to the office then she cut the line and redialled again because she couldn’t believe herself. She thought it was the results of a different student then another senior officer reconfirmed that it was the results of her son.

Later the office told me that a few teachers refused to teach him then send to me. Anyway my tactful technique worked to achieve him an excellent result when compared to his situation. Have I not brighten the future of another child? I am sure he must be another ADHD kind of student who was expelled from a state school and send for private College at a large expense. Your comments are welcomed [email protected]

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