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My upcoming webinar on Teaching Kids with ADHD & EF Impairments

This is just a reminder for anybody who is still interested in registering for the webinar:

On Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm Eastern Time (EST) I will be presenting a webinar on helping students with ADHD and Executive Function impairments to achieve school success. For additional information about the webinar and to sign up, please click on the link below.
* Special offer: Anyone registering for my upcoming webinar on November 4th using the folowing link will receive a free copy of my DVD (ADHD & LD: Powerful Teaching Strategies and Accommodations) in addition to the CD-ROM of the recorded webinar.
Please click on the folowing link to receive the Special offer :…/adhd-teaching-executive-function-…/…

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The ADHD Book of Lists, Second Edition




I’m happy to announce that my new edition to The ADHD Book of Lists just came out this week!  It is completely revised and updated from the first edition.

Please click on the following for more information about this book:

Table of Contents







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My upcoming ADHD & Executive Function webinar

On Tuesday, November 18th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm (EST) I will be presenting a webinar on helping students with ADHD and Executive Function impairments to achieve school success. For additional information about the webinar, please click on the link below.  If interested in signing up, please enter the code Rief1118 in the “order notes” box and you will receive a free copy of my DVD (ADHD & LD: Powerful Teaching Strategies and Accommodations) in addition to the CD-ROM of the recorded webinar.

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National Resource Center on ADHD Webinar with Sandra Rief



I will be presenting a 1-hour free webinar for the National Resource Center on AD/HD, a program of CHADD, on Wednesday, February 26, at 7:00 P.M. (Eastern Time).   This is part of their “Ask the Expert” webinar series.

Topic:  ADHD in the Classroom: Management Strategies and Student Supports


Pre-registration is required for this free chat.   Go to

If you are unable to attend, the webinar recording and my PPT slides will be available a few days after the webinar on the website of the National Resource Center on AD/HD at




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New Understanding of ADHD – It’s an “Executive Function” Disorder



In recent years, there have been fundamental changes in our understanding of ADHD due to the tremendous advances in just the past decade of scientific research (numerous genetic and brain imaging studies ).  Although the theory that ADHD is really a disorder in the development of executive functions has been promoted for many years by leading ADHD researcher, Russell Barkley, Ph.D., and others, it is now the accepted belief by most ADHD experts in the field.


What does this mean to parents and teachers?  It means that ADHD is far more than a disorder of the three core symptoms (inattention, impulsivity, and sometimes hyperactivity).  It is not just a neurobehavioral disorder.  It is far more complex than that.  ADHD is really a disorder in the developmental of the child’s executive functions – the management functions and range of central control processes in the brain…the self-directed actions a person takes to achieve their goals and solve problems.  Kids with ADHD are developmentally delayed by a few years (about 30 percent) in their executive function and self-regulation abilities.

What are executive functions?  We don’t know exactly all of the components, but most experts agree they involve:

  • Inhibition (impulse control, ability to stop and think before making a response)
  • Working memory (the very short term memory used for holding information active while working with other information)
  • Planning, Prioritizing, and Organizing
  • Arousal and Activation (being able to arouse effort and motivation to start or initiate tasks)
  • Sustaining Attention (resisting distractions, especially when the task is tedious or not of interest)
  • Emotional self-control
  • Time Awareness (of how much time has passed, how long things take, keeping track of time)
  • Goal-Directed Persistence (perseverance and follow through with actions needed to achieve goals)
  • Shifting/Flexibility (adaptability and making adjustments when needed in thinking or behavior)
  • Self-monitoring/Metacognition (being aware of and self-checking one’s own behavior, thought processes, and performance;  strategy monitoring and revising)


See my blog of July 2012 that includes an excellent 5 minute video on the development of EFs, from The Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University.  Watch for future blogs of strategies, supports, and resources that parents and teachers can use to help children and teens with executive function (EF) weaknesses; as well as those found in my books and other resources


by Sandra Rief, 2014


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15 Tips for Dealing with Your ADHD Child’s Challenging Behavior



1.   Kids with ADHD seek stimulation.  When your child’s behavior is pushing your buttons, avoid an explosive and emotional response…which is very stimulating.  If you react with a highly charged response, you will actually be rewarding and reinforcing your child’s misbehavior, and you can expect that the undesired behavior will continue to occur.


2.   Try your best (as difficult as it may be) to remain calm.  To help do so: Take a few deep breaths.  Relax your jaw. Uncross your arms and lower your voice.  If need be, take a break and leave the room to gain your composure.


3.   When delivering consequences (e.g., time-out, loss of privilege, fining) for the misbehaviors you need to address,  use a neutral, matter-of-fact voice with as few words as possible.


4.   Avoid nagging, scolding, lecturing, or threatening.


5.   Realize that you cannot control your child’s behavior. Change what you can control…yourself (your attitude, body language, words, tone and volume of voice, strategies you use, consistency and follow-through).  In doing so, it will have a direct, positive effect on your child’s behavior.


6.   Disengage from power struggles.  Do not take the bait.  Remember that you cannot be forced into an argument or power struggle.  You only enter into one if you choose to do so (it takes two).  Say calmly, for example, “I am not willing to argue about this now.  I will be free to discuss this later if you wish (and set a time to do so).”


7.   Affirm and acknowledge your child’s feelings (“I see you’re upset.”  “I understand that you are angry now.” “I can see why you would be frustrated”).


8.   Avoid “why” questions (e.g., “Why did you do that?”).  If your child is impulsive and lacks inhibition, there typically isn’t a “why” behind the behavior.


9.   Use “what” and “how” questions: “What are you supposed to be doing right now?”, “What is your plan to solve the problem?”, “What can I do to help you?”, “How would you like me to remind you?” ,“What would you like to see happen?”, “What do you think will be the consequence if you continue with this behavior?, “What are you risking by doing that?


10.   Send “I” messages.  (“I feel ____when you ____ because ____.”   “I want/need you to ___”).


11.   Provide choices:  “I can’t make you ___.  But your choices are either ___ or ___.”  You may want to give 3 choices ( A, B, or C) so your child feels he/she has more control.  For example:  A. “You do what I am asking right now.” B. “You choose not to do it and _____.” (negative consequence will occur).   C.   I set the timer for x minutes and you do it as soon as the timer goes off.”  “Your choice.”


12.    For those misbehaviors you need to address, it is important to respond and follow-through with whatever appropriate consequences you establish (e.g., loss of privilege, loss of points, time-out, loss of access to a favorite item or activity), and not be deterred by your child’s arguments,  crying, or promises that they won’t do that (behavior) again.  So, be sure the consequences you choose are realistic and enforceable.


13.  Remember that children with ADHD require much more frequent and stronger rewards for motivating them to change behavior (specific behaviors that are problematic and need improvement).  Incentive systems and behavioral programs that other children typically don’t need are likely necessary for your ADHD child.


14.   Above all…FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE!   Make a conscious effort to pay attention to, compliment, and reinforce your child when he/she is cooperative and behaving appropriately.  Noticing, praising, and recognizing your child at these times is very important.  Make sure you are giving your ADHD child far more positive feedback and attention (at least 4-5  times more) than negative.


15.   Be aware…Kids with ADHD receive  a much higher degree of criticism, reprimands, and negative feedback than other children typically do throughout the day – at home, school, and other settings.   This is very demoralizing and can be damaging to their self-esteem.  Focusing on creating an abundance of positive interactions and nurturing a loving, respectful relationship with your child is the most important thing to attend to as a parent.




The content of this blog is adapted from my books:   The ADHD Book of ListsHow to Reach & Teach Children with ADD/ADHD, 2nd edition, and The ADD/ADHD Checklist, 2nd edition


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Noise Control Strategies for the Classroom


Getting students to quiet down quickly and quietly, be aware of noise level expectations at different times of the day, and modulate their voices accordingly is important for effective classroom management.  Here are some strategies and tools for doing so:


Teach and Implement Quiet Signals

1. Auditory Quiet Signals


When teachers need students to stop talking in order to focus their attention on what the teacher is about to say (e.g., give directions), a good “quiet/focus” signal is needed.  There are a variety of techniques and tools that can be used as quiet signals.  Whichever one is chosen, as with any procedure – students need to be taught (through clear explanation, modeling and practice) to respond to the signal quickly.  Clapping patterns (e.g., 2 slow, 3 fast) and students repeat the pattern back to you, a clear verbal signal (e.g., “Popsicles…Freeze!”), the sound of some instrument (e.g., chimes, xylophone, rainstick), a squeeze toy or other noisemaker that makes a novel sound, etc. are all possibilities – depending upon the teacher preference and age level of students.


 2. Visual Quiet Signals

There are several visual signals that can be used to get students’ attention and to cue them as to appropriate noise level.

To get their attention:  Teachers may use visual techniques such as: flashing the lights or raising their hand to signal students to raise their hands and stop talking.

Charts such as these great examples posted on Pinterest are wonderful visual cues for indicating the acceptable noise level in the classroom (or other school environments).    Of course, students need to first be taught that different volume levels are appropriate depending on the activity or location, and what each of the levels are on the chart.  Then, throughout the day or class period, the chart can be the tool used to remind and signal students about appropriate noise/voice level permitted for each activity.






3.Cool apps and online noise control tools


Check out these free apps that monitor noise level in a classroom, available from iTunes.  I haven’t personally used these apps or seen them in action, but from what I’m reading about them online, they sound interesting:

Too Noisy


The “Too Noisy App” has been designed to assist a teacher keep control of general noise levels in a classroom (and have students self-monitor their own noise levels) using a visual stimulus. As the noise level in a classroom increases beyond an acceptable level the noise level meter dynamically indicates the level of noise, and the background graphics within the app change to reflect the noise levels.  Students are also able to self-monitor their own noise levels.

This free app can be run directly on the ipad or displayed on the classroom interactive whiteboard.

When the noise level is in appropriate level the background is blue, the face is smiling, and the dial is in the green zone.


See what happens when the volume is too high.






The TooLoud! app records decibels, displaying the volume levels in numbers.  Teachers can use  it to let the class know when they cross the auditory line.  Hook your iPad up to the projector and manage the working noise level in class by letting the students see the feedback for themselves.  The data is also visualized in a live graph and in a sliding bar that indicates the rising levels of clamor and babble.  Watch out for the red zone…time to bring the level down!




See more on this topic in my books and Pinterest Classroom Management board.






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October: ADHD Awareness Month


October 2013 is ADHD Awareness Month.   The mission to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and dispel the myths about ADHD is very important.  If you haven’t already done so, check out the website  to see the many events taking place during the month, and find free, wonderful resources and  information to share with others.  Be sure to also go to these websites for valuable information about ADHD:

National Resource Center on ADHD

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)

Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).

ADDitude Magazine

ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO)

I highly recommend the free webinars on several topics of interest by ADHD experts available through ADDitude Magazine , CHADD and the National Resource Center on ADHD.    If you miss the webinars when they air, you can still listen to the recorded webinars at a later time.



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A Great Classroom Management Strategy (My Point/Your Point)


I really like this class management strategy which has a number of variations in how it is implemented by teachers.  It’s a simple but effective technique that most kids buy into, and that requires no preparation time. Basically, the way it works:

The teacher keeps a visible tally (e.g., on the board) of teacher points versus student points. When the kids are on-task (or demonstrate any specific target behaviors the teacher wants them to improve), they get a point. When the kids are off-task or fail to demonstrate the target behavior, the teacher gets a point.   At the end of the day, class period, or other designated time,  if the students earned more points than the teacher, they are rewarded in some way.   If the teacher had more points/tallies than the students, the kids would lose out on the reward/privilege.

In her blog  DownEastTeach , Cathy shares how she uses this technique in her classroom:


When students are on-task, she just walks over and puts a tally mark in the student column.  If they are loud, off-task, or not following directions, she makes a tally under the teacher column.  She says that often all she needs to do is walk towards the scoreboard if the students are being too loud, and they immediately quiet down without her having to say anything.  At the end of the day, whoever has more points earns 5 minutes.  If students win, they get to put the 5 minutes toward Friday afternoon’s Choice Time.  If the teacher has more points, she keeps the 5 minutes for learning (as that means the class had been off-task during the day and had lost learning time they need to make up).  Sometimes she allows individual students to earn a point for the entire class.  I love this option of enabling individual students (e.g., those with ADHD) to be a class hero and earn a point for the class.  Read more at her website:  (

Individual/Group Post-It Tally  vs  Teacher Tally

One variation of this system was shared with me by Glenda S., a university student of mine.   Her students are seated in table groups.  The students each have a 2×2 or 3×3 post-it note on their desks with a T-chart on it.  On the left side of the “T” is their name and the other side of the “T” is their group number.  Throughout the period when an individual or the group demonstrates “on-task” behavior, they get a point and can put a tally mark on their individual or group side of the “T”.   If an individual or group is off-task,  a teacher tally mark is put up on the board.  The goal is for each student to have more tally marks (individual and group tally marks combined) than the teacher.  When introducing this strategy and teaching her expectations for on-task behavior, Glenda awards points/tallies very frequently and for short segments so students experience success.   Then gradually the criteria gets harder and she scales down the frequency of giving points.




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