Dealing with ADD, ADHD, and ODD


I was contacted by a reporter from CBS News who was inquiring about the reported increase in oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) ) of students in a major eastern coast city.

The reporter had heard that teachers are having a frustrating time dealing with students who have ADD, ADHD, and now ODD. How can teachers teach, prepare students for high stakes testing, and individualize programs for all their “disordered” students?


I informed her that the designation of ODD at one time was referred to as “passive-aggressive” behavior but had been re-designated by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994. In that year, the association published their “DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS – FOURTH EDITION (DSM-IV). This is the main diagnostic reference of mental health professions in the United States.

Designations such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are just that—designations. People who display certain characteristics are labeled. For example if you display inattention, destructibility and/or impulsiveness, you could be labeled ADD. If hyperactivity were included, you could be labeled ADHD.

It is important to note that no biological proof of these designations exists as they do with physiological designations such as influenza, pneumonia, or tuberculosis.

Although the intentions to label students are admirable, the results are counterproductive to both students and teachers. Labeling gives students an excuse. Labeling encourages victimhood thinking. And, as indicated, labeling puts an additional, unnecessary burden on teachers.

How do you treat these kids?

Be positive with them, encourage them, and empower them with choice. Don’t try to coerce them; instead influence them through the use of reflective questions. In addition, establish procedures with them to assist in their learning.

I then tossed in a little commercial: How to do all these is described inf my book.