John Gunn, RS Teacher at WHS, reviews Fintan O’Regan’s article about ADHD learners. O’Regan is a leading author and behaviour and learning specialist in the UK

O’Regan’s article ‘DEAR MR O’REGAN…PLEASE FIND MY LAUNDRY ENCLOSED’ focuses on children with ASD and ADHD during Coronavirus lockdown when schools were closed. He notes that, “for many families, weekends and holidays supporting children with conditions such as ASD or ADHD can be very stressful so this unexpected and unplanned extended period of time [Covid lockdown] may appear extremely daunting.”

He recollects a previous experience of a mother helping her son with ADHD complete some science homework, which took four hours to complete rather than the expected 20 minutes. She attached a note to her child’s teacher saying she was “enclosing her laundry” – presumably in recompense for the time she took helping with the Science homework! O’Regan states that, “…no amount of positive reinforcement or consequences for non-completion appeared to have any effect [for the boy].” Knowing that the child in question was “fine in class”, but “had major difficulties with organisation”, it is surprising that it took time for O’Regan to make the connection between the positives of structured learning and the negatives of unstructured learning for certain pupils.

The tips he suggests for parents read clearly, though whether they are practical is another matter. With regards to T&L for ADHD students at WHS, the article helps as a useful reminder of setting manageable tasks, allowing for breaks in between tasks, but most importantly the need for clear instructions and time allowance which all too often we may not specify clearly. There are obvious cases where pupils can manage their time well, especially with clear guidance from parents. What is possibly lacking is where such guidance is not forthcoming from staff setting work with such broad parameters.

At KS3, I’ve stopped saying ‘use your device to research’. Instead, I spend time looking at one or two websites or online documents which are not only suitable for the age group, but are easily accessible as well as useful. With clear guidance as to where to look (and indeed how to look on a particular website), how long to spend (set yourself a timer), and the limit of how much to note down and what to note down (set clear tasks and limit the space or word count), will not only help pupils with ADHD, but also pupils who do not have learning, behaviour or socialisation issues.