The following tips for dealing with students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) were provided by Linda Classen, consultant on ADHD for the Austin (Texas) Independent School District, during the National Conference on Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers in Ft. Worth, Texas, this March. 1. Don't nag
The cardinal rule of behavior management with children with ADHD is, "He who nags most loses." The more the adult talks, the more his or her voice becomes the white noise of the refrigerator motor. They tune you out. What you say matters very little. It's what you do that counts. Therefore, act, don't yak. 2. Don't argue
Cease and desist arguing with an aspiring attorney. These kids will argue with a tree stump. It's important to remember that an argument absolutely requires the participation of two people. Shut down your half. You already have authority on your bus. It's not necessary to have the last word. 3. Chill first in a crisis
Upset children usually become significantly hearing impaired. Save problem solving until all have calmed down. It's a waste of time and energy to try to reason with them at this point. 4. 'Speak and Spin'
Quietly and calmly (practice getting the emotion out of your voice) use exactly two words to name the inappropriate behavior: "That's arguing," or "That's whining." At the same time, put your hand out with the palm facing the child to give the visual cue of a stop sign. Next, use only three or four words to tell the student the exact behavior you want to see instead: "Show me listening," or "Show me waiting." For the "spin" portion of "speak and spin," break eye contact with the student and, in looking or walking away, convey: "My friend, this conversation is over." 5. 'Let's make a deal'
Most kids will not give up after the first attempt. If the behavior continues, quietly and calmly repeat the name of the inappropriate behavior, "That's arguing." Follow this with a deal: "If you [fill in the desired behavior], you can have [fill in the reinforcer/reward you can deliver]. If I have to ask you again, you will lose [privilege you can take away]." Set a very short time limit for the student to begin compliance. Once the deal is made, do not discuss it further. 6. Pick your battles carefully
It is possible to reinforce any behavior, appropriate or inappropriate, by paying attention to it. It's important to ignore insignificant, nuisance behaviors. 7. Target behaviors
The two significant behaviors to target are "on task" and "appropriate talk only." If a student is "on task," many of the usual problems, such as bothering other students, will not happen. Giving students with ADHD a job to do while onboard could help them stay on task. Targeting appropriate talk helps eliminate insulting, teasing, burping and other disruptions. Targeting more than three behaviors makes a behavior plan complicated, unwieldy and likely doomed to fail. 8. Choose reinforcement carefully
For a reward or reinforcer to have any chance of being powerful enough to shape and change behavior, it must meet two criteria: 1) It must be a passion, something the child wants very much. 2) It must be something the child cannot have any other way than via the plan. The right to play video games or participate in some other onboard pastime are popular rewards for children exhibiting good rider behavior. 9. Create bus rider 'currency'
One type that is useful and fun is when you copy a real dollar bill and replace George Washington's picture with a picture of the child, reducing the size to that of "play money." This money can be used by the student to purchase rewards or privileges.