Although ADHD shows up in all areas of life, there’s often no place where the effects of ADHD are more obvious than in the classroom. For better or for worse, it’s teachers who find themselves on the front lines of helping children manage diagnosed or undiagnosed ADHD.

ClassroomAccording to one group of Spanish researchers, this means teachers are perfectly situated for spotting the signs of ADHD before things get out of hand. Rather than wait for students to fail and then try to figure out what’s going on, these researchers argue, we should have teachers proactively look for signs of ADHD so kids can get help before they veer far off course.

With this idea in mind, the researchers ran a study to develop a short screening tool that helps teachers identify students with possible ADHD.

The questionnaire includes five basic questions. Teachers consider a given child’s behavior over the last six months, then determine whether each of the following applies “never or rarely,” “sometimes,” “often” or “very often.”

  • Easily distracted
  • Loses concentration to extraneous stimuli, even insignificant ones
  • Fails to give close attention to details
  • Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork because of difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Doesn’t think about the consequences of actions before acting

Of course, this is a brief screening questionnaire – it’s not a tool for diagnosis. And the researchers point out that it’s important to look at other areas of children’s lives too. If a student only has these issues at school and is perfectly fine everywhere else, something other than ADHD might be going on.

On the other hand, ADHD symptoms sometimes show up in their most vivid form in the classroom because school is pretty much unique in the demands it makes on kids’ focus, self-discipline and organizational skills.

This questionnaire seems like it could be a great tool for spreading awareness. Many teachers still know next to nothing about ADHD. Give teachers a list of five concrete behaviors that can indicate the presence of the condition, and parents, students and teachers themselves will only end up more informed as a result.

Image: Flickr/Paul Hart