“Living with ADHD is like being locked in a room with 100 Televisions and 100 Radios all playing. None of them have power buttons, so you can’t turn them off and the door is locked from the outside”. – Sarah Young
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD is a condition that affects the executive functions of the brain i.e. areas that control focus, organization, short term or working memory, data processing, emotional regulation etc. Its a common childhood disorder that, as of now, has no determined cause. ADHD is a neurological condition; difficult to diagnose as there are no specific tests or indicators for the condition. Diagnosis is usually arrived at through the use of rating scales for symptomatic severity or direct child observation. For an actual diagnosis to be arrived at the symptoms require to be severe enough to cause challenges in daily life functioning, however given the right support and patience the symptoms can be managed to a great extent…
Muktangan Case Study:
Ankit (name changed) was enrolled to the Muktangan programme at the Kindergarten level. Soon after, his teachers noticed that he was different from the rest of his classmates. He couldn’t sit still for more than a minute and regularly engaged in disruptive/excited behaviours such as hitting, hair pulling, jumping and throwing objects when agitated. By the time he progressed to the first grade Ankit showed signs of developmental delay. At age seven he still functioned at the level of a three year old with respect to how he processed information and communicated his needs and wants.
Intervention step one
Krishna, a teacher from Muktangan’s Learning Resource Group, LRG was assigned to Ankit as a support teacher. Krishna and the LRG faculty understood that in order to help Ankit progress academically and socially a customized intervention plan needed to be formulated…
The first step was to reduce Ankit’s hyperactivity and get him to sit still for more than just a minute at a time. This was done by allowing him to exert himself physically as much as possible, usually by running. Krishna continued this routine for six months leading to Ankit calming down for longer lengths of time, subsequently allowing her to move to further intervention activities. Once calm enough, Krishna introduced Ankit to simple puzzle games and string beads this got him to focus on tasks at hand while simultaneously strengthened his fine motor skills.
Ankit was, by this time, able to sit still for a 20 minute stretch without getting distracted.
Intervention step two
The next step was to get Ankit to learn words and numbers by working with objects, in this case fruits and animals, that he was already familiar with through his home and school environment. The teacher used cardboard cutouts of fruits and his favorite picture book to relate objects that he already recognized, to objects/concepts he was unfamiliar with. A cardboard watermelon for example was used to relate to the object name and the letter ‘W’. Cardboard cutouts were also used to help Ankit first trace the shape of fruits followed by writing the alphabet in free hand.
The same technique was used to introduce numbers using counters and plastic figures. The teacher tried to have him form letters using modeling clay, this didn’t meet with much success, as Ankit disliked the clay sticking to his fingers.
Three months after Krishna began working on Ankit’s reading and writing skills, he began showing drastic improvement in both aspects. From having no written or conceptual knowledge, Ankit is now able to recognize numbers from one to 12 and recognize 10 to 12 english alphabets and understand their use. He is also able to to write his own name.
Intervention step three
Krishna slowly continued working on Ankit’s social skills by carefully reinforcing socially acceptable behaviors and responses. For example when he tried to jump on someone to say good morning she would gently hold his shoulders and calmly respond to the greeting making him conscious of his actions and directing him respond appropriately.
Ankit has made considerable progress with his social responses. He is now able to sit in a class group for 10 to 15 minutes when before he found peer interaction be extremely irritating. He is improving his behavior when communicating with peers and teachers. Where before he would hit, jump and pull hair to get attention he is now able to ask for what he wants using calm verbal communication most of the time.
The severity of Ankit’s condition still requires him to continue taking medication to reduce his hyperactivity. His parents have also yet to come to terms with his condition making them impatient at times. This has made it difficult to maintain consistency with interventions, especially those that require time to show results. Muktangan’s LRG team has undertaken counseling interventions with them to facilitate the acceptance of Ankit’s ADHD and continuously share intervention progress updates. Ankit currently only attending school for 1 and half hours per day but Krishna and the LRG faculty plan to extend this time based on his progress.