Attention deficit disorder and its relative attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are becoming more common in our society. Such phenomena are often misdiagnosed, as is the case with pseudo autism, a condition that occurs in children due to a lack of socialization. Attention Deficit Disorder ( ADD ) can really make teaching difficult for students diagnosed with it. The students themselves have problems with focusing on the curriculum, as well as problems with performing work tasks related to them.
Pseudo autism, on the other hand, is a syndrome that has appeared in the last few years with the growth of information technologies. This is a phenomenon that occurs due to insufficient socialization of the child in the early years. Instead of communicating and playing with the child, an easier solution is to give him a tablet/computer/mobile phone and let him only watch cartoons in which there is no talking. This leads to the so-called pseudo autism, which unlike true autism can be controlled with the help of socialization.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder/Attention deficit disorder
Although there is no definitive test with which we could ascertain this phenomenon among young people, certain criteria have been established that have been improved and modernized over time. There are several symptoms that can be observed in individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A combination of these symptoms, i.e. the presentation of several of the listed symptoms, may lead us to a diagnosis of “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder”. The primary symptoms in ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Individuals may exhibit one, two, or three of these symptoms. The symptoms themselves include:
- Movement around the classroom/space
- Non-stop talking
- Inability to maintain attention until the end of the lecture
- Difficulty filtering out distracting activities
- Losing attention when a student moves or makes a movement
- Reacting without thinking
- Behavior that includes yelling or hitting.
For such children, the approach to learning is different in contrast to those students who are not diagnosed with this syndrome. So, a good approach for working with these children is to break the material into smaller parts. Thus, after finishing a part, the student can work practically on the material in order to focus his attention on the material and be able to participate interactively in the teaching. The effect of this on such students is truly surprising. Students master the material more easily and they can more easily get involved in the educational process.
Information technologies in this segment play the role of a villain at certain times. Phones and computers alone distract young people’s attention. Lacking attention, the same has been requested online on the internet through social media. This does not lead to additional problems in the curricula. Children are increasingly distracted to see what they have missed on social media. There is no solution for this type of action, that is, the only solution is the restriction of access to information technologies during class. Or, if it is necessary to use a computer during the lessons within the framework of a research, access should be limited only to web pages that can offer information to young people regarding the research. In this way, the number of distracted students can be significantly reduced .
One of the ways, as we have already mentioned, is to make small changes in the educational process, that is, the lessons, in order for students with ADHD to be able to keep their attention on the lesson being taught and successfully follow the educational process. It is important that children have enough rest between lessons. In the moments during the vacation, children socialize and such activities release chemical impulses in the brain related to memory and focus. It is important to note that these students do not have a problem with not understanding the material, but only problems with following the educational process. Another measure that can be used with students with ADHD is to have the tests held during the morning hours, when the students are rested and fresh. Tests can also be modified so that they are not monotonous. Thus, the questions can be mixed and be of different types such as: addition, rounding, definitions, etc. In this way, by playing or mixing up the type of questions, students will be able to solve the test more easily. Reducing the amount of material provided for practice to students with ADHD can significantly increase the quality of the educational process for these children.
Another measure that can be used to improve education is choosing a place where students will sit, that is, not having a fixed chair where the student will sit all the time. In this way, the monotony that can lead to inattention during the lesson will be reduced. Additionally, desks can be placed with more space between them so that the student has room to maneuver.
Interactive lectures instead of a classic lecture. In interactive teaching, students are more involved in the educational process, and they have no problem memorizing appropriate activities such as learning letters, numbers or multiplication tables. With the help of interactive teaching methods, students can connect the practical and the theoretical and learn more easily. For example, by clearly marking the beginning of the lesson, we can make all students, including those with ADHD, turn their attention to us. For the successful implementation of the lesson for children with ADHD, it is really important that the lectures are concise and filled with what is needed, as well as with interesting facts on the topic so as not to lose the student’s attention. Finally, it is nice to summarize what was done in class and to ask two to three students to repeat the material through exercises. In this way we can significantly help students with ADHD.
A new practical approach to children with ADHD and technology is gaining momentum in schools in the Republic of Macedonia as well as in the world, and that is confiscating mobile phones during class in separate boxes. This way, students don’t have access to anything that distracts them. Our school even goes a step further by asking students on their phones to turn off internet access. In this way, notifications that require the Internet have no way to reach the phone and thus distract the student’s attention.
As we already mentioned in the introduction, pseudo autism is a relatively new phenomenon among young people, especially among those in preschool age. The phenomenon itself is not fully defined, and because of this many children who in reality do not belong to the autistic spectrum are unfortunately wrongly diagnosed as autistic. This phenomenon is more frequent with the appearance of mobile phones and tablets among young people who are uncontrollably and constantly on the devices because their parents do not pay attention to them and do not control how long they use them. Children are not socialized and seem to live in their own world. Education in the period from one to six years is a critical point for young people. At these times they have wide open doors to meet the world. These children do not have creative thinking, are not interested in the environment and what is happening around them, and are easily irritable. In these children, there is even a problem with the development of emotions and speech because they do not have enough vocabulary. Due to lack of vocabulary, children with pseudo autism develop their speech later, and it is possible that at the age of 4 they still speak as if they were only 2 years old. In such children, empathy cannot be observed, and even a lack of emotion appears. This phenomenon can also be an additional cause of attention deficit and hyperactivity syndrome, because children are not taught to socialize and talk with other people.
Unlike real cases of autism, where the processes are more complex, prevention as well as rapid rehabilitation is possible here. By regulating the time spent on mobile devices, laptops and tablets, children can begin to socialize. An important role in these processes is played by parents, who must pay full attention to the individual. To actively participate in the game of young people at an early age, as well as to constantly encourage thinking. In addition, you can tell stories together and read picture books with the child in order to develop vocabulary. In this way, the problem of lack of vocabulary can be avoided and the child can be encouraged to speak. Kindergarten as an institution for young people up to 5 years old is also an excellent place where the child can socialize and encourage mental and creative abilities in order to avoid this phenomenon.
The educational process from a psychological point of view is really complex, the youth of today compared to the youth of twenty years ago really have different experiences and different tools. If only twenty years ago mobile phones and tablets were only something mentioned in science fiction and movies, now they are widely available to everyone. The growth of information technology on the one hand allows us to learn and master the materials and curricula more easily. However, on the other hand, they represent a growing problem in classrooms, especially in children with a confirmed syndrome of attention deficit and hyperactivity. Introducing appropriate measures by which students will have limited access to devices is just one of many possible solutions.
In preschool age, it is really important that children limit their use of information technologies and devices such as mobile phones and tablets to a maximum of one hour per day, and increase social activities and socializing. In this way, such phenomena as pseudo autism will be able to be removed very quickly and treated accordingly.
- Motivating the Child with Attention Deficit Disorder – How ADHD symptoms interfere with classroom expectations and what teachers can do that help . (LD Online )
- Teaching Students with ADHD: A Resource Guide for Teachers – Covers every aspect of ADHD that can affect the classroom . ( British Columbia Ministry of education )
- Teaching Children with ADHD – Includes lesson planning , instructional techniques , behavioral strategies , and communication with parents . ( Teach ADHD)
- Teaching Children with ADHD: Instructional Strategies and Practices – Tips and teaching strategies . (US Dept of education )
- Contents of the IEP Guide that developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with a child’s parents that address their educational needs . ( Center for Parent Information and resources )