Some differences are directly related to ADHD. Others are the result of secondary characteristics. In special education these are characteristics of a student that result not from the disability but from how the disability plays out in an academic and other settings. For example, a student with a speech impediment may be very timid and anxious in situation in which he or she may need to speak.
In math a major secondary characteristic is math anxiety. This is a performance issue vs an ability issue and it must be addressed as a legitimate obstacle for the student. I work with graduate students who still suffer math anxiety years later.
In the effort to assess student ability performance factors are likely present. It is incumbent upon the educators to mitigate the performance issues to assess true ability.
For example, I conducted an evaluation on a student in middle school who has ADHD. All of her testing records indicated that she would lose focus during the assessment and that the focus was problematic for testing. Before we met I surveyed her on her favorite snack (didn’t know Sour Skittles is a thing), brought this reinforcer along with a bottle of water. She sat through an entire 1 1/2 hour KeyMath Assessment without incident.
Painting the letters on the ground is a performance point for the person responsible for this task. The task was discussed at some other time and location. Performance points, as explained in another post, are the situations or locations or times that a person has to perform a task. For students with special needs this is where special education gets real. It is where the supports play out. For students with more severe disabilities, e.g. ADHD, Autism or Down Syndrome, most if not all performance points require some support so identifying these points is important and often overlooked.
Below are a list of performance points students encounter in k-12 education.
transition between classes
using a hall pass
arriving or leaving school
riding a school bus
transition to and from lunch
transition to and from specials
entering and starting class
packing up and leaving class
transition between activities during class
choice or down time during class
following directions given in class
retrieving, using and returning class materials
asking permission to use a pass
identifying appropriate reasons to use a pass or to ask a question
responding to questions or participating in class discussion
paying attention to presentations
studying for an assessment
bringing materials to class
organizing notebook and book bag
using a notebook effectively, e.g. finding and following examples
interacting with classmates in a socially appropriate manner (during classwork, free time, down time, in the hallway, at lunch, at recess) – note: socially appropriate would need to be defined with observable behaviors
empathizing with others
reciprocating in a social conversation
curtailing behavior when presented with negative feedback
greeting others appropriately – initiating and responding
identifying non-verbal cues and communication
Certainly there are more. Please comment below if you want me to add anything to the list.
In the photo above you see a contrast between how children learn and how educators often teach necessary skills. Children learn to ride a bike by actually performing the target skills. This is a performance point – the setting in which the child actually performs. In school students are often taught necessary skills in isolation, away from the performance points. Imagine teaching a child to ride a bike by having him sit at a desk while the parent points out all the steps for riding a bike.
Often accommodations and supports are provided in isolation or out of context. Students with autism have lunch buddies in a contrived setting with an educator leading conversation. Students with ADHD have a weekly time to organize their notebooks. Students who have trouble functioning in a general ed classroom may be pulled out as a result.
Below are a couple of examples of how support can be provided at the points of performance. The photo below shows a checklist I used for a students with autism in my algebra class. They would follow the checklist and self-evaluate by checking off each step as it was completed. They were learning how to perform necessary skills at the point of performance.
Another overlooked point of performance is in organizing a notebook. Students should organize a notebook while IN CLASS and on a DAILY basis. I use the rubric below to help support students with this task.
Dr. Russell Barkley, an expert on ADHD, talks about performance points for students with ADHD in his book and in his ADHD Report. This focus at the “points of performance” can and should apply to any student with a disability (and students in general).