No Two Children are the Same

Fintan O’Regan, a professional expert in the field of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), was invited by DAS to give Singapore school teachers a talk on the new developments of the study of ADHD on 14th February 2012. He also emphasized on ways to help children with ADHD improve on their social and behavioural problems.

3 Main Types of ADHD

  • The Inattentive – This type is often overlooked, especially when inattentiveness cannot be observed by the naked eyes.
  • The Hyperactive and Impulsive – They display symptoms like fidgeting, running around a lot, having difficulties sitting down, talking excessively and are often impatient.
  • The Inattentive and Hyperactive – This is a combination of both which is the most severe case.

Nature v’s Nature

“ADHD is in fact hereditary,” said Fintan “It is very important to see beyond a child’s ADHD label, and not call the child the ‘ADHD kid’, but a ‘child with ADHD’.”

Parents, caregivers, or educators should not aim to change a child’s ADHD behaviour completely. Instead, they should work around his or her unique personality, and help him or her adapt to the environment to better suit them.

No two children with ADHD are the same

No two children with ADHD functions the same and that is why parents, caregivers and educators need to come up with individualized approach to help each child succeed in life. During the course of behavioural management, it is important to take into consideration the different co-morbidities that a child might have.

Fintan stressed that, “ADHD is not an excuse for bad behaviour. It is also not an excuse for not performing well in school or doing homework.”

For severe cases of ADHD, medication such as Ritalin might help a child focus better in school. However, parents are strongly encouraged to incorporate education and behavioural strategies to help children cope with ADHD.

The SF3R Method

Fintan invented a useful strategy, the SF3R Method, to teach children the appropriate ways for learning and right behaviours. Below is a brief description of what SF3R stands for:

  • S refers to Structure. Parents, caregivers, or educators have to make known to their children a set of rules and expectations that they would not compromise with their children.
  • F refers to Flexibility. Some flexibility have to be implanted when it comes to disciplining their children such as allowing them to fiddle, or letting them get up and walk around during breaks.
  • The first R refers to Rapport. Parents, caregivers, or educators must seek to understand the child’s point of view and build trust by engaging in active listening.
  • The second R is Relationships. It is necessary to help a child understand that building a good relationship with their peers is important. Some key lessons include teaching them to take turns and getting them to understand their peers’ needs.
  • Finally, the last R refers to Role Model. Parents, caregivers and educators must be a good example of how they want their child to act so that the child can imitate and eventually incorporate that practice into their own behaviour.

Fintan gave a great example of how parents, caregivers, and educators shouted at the child to stop him or her from shouting. This is a bad practice because parents are unconsciously modelling their child’s behaviour. It is vital that parents or teachers be patient at all time.

Helping a Child with ADHD to Study At Home

It is crucial for parents to place their children with ADHD in a friendly and non-distractive environment when they are doing their homework at home. The buzzing sound of the air conditioner, computers, toys and windows are sources of distractions that children with ADHD should stay away from when they are studying.

For children with short attention span or difficulty concentrating, limit the number of questions at one go. Have the child complete one or two activities per page instead of all the questions.

Taking regular breaks also helps increase the child’s productivity and attitude towards the task. Parents or teachers are encouraged to use a timer to help regulate breaks.

Fiddling or Doodling Helps

“Fiddling or doodling might help the child concentrate and manage their behaviours,” added Fintan.

He emphasized that it is important to create a structural activity and enforce rules in favour of the caregivers. For example, if you are introducing a fiddler to a child, be sure not to take it away immediately if you see no immediate results. Instead, give it some time for it to work. Fintan discouraged the use of blue tacks and stress balls as fiddlers because it could cause disruptive behaviours in some children. Instead, tangle toys or concentrators are some good alternatives.

Fintan also reminded all parents, caregivers, and educators to set rules and regulations when it comes to playing with tangle toys to prevent children from throwing or hitting other people with it.

To help children with ADHD improve their handwriting, papers with printed lines and margins help the child align their handwriting.

Creating daily assignment schedules such as a timetable would be a great way to get children organised. To help them organise their homework, it is useful to provide different folders for each subject. Colour coding books and colour folders would help the child organise better. Another way to improve a child’s organisational skills is to keep post-it notes to allow children and their caregivers to write down their thoughts and daily tasks.

About Fintan O’ Regan:

Fintan O’ Regan is one of the leading specialists in learning and behaviour in the United Kingdom (UK). He was originally trained as a Secondary Science and Physical Education (P.E.) teacher and went on to become Headmaster of the Centre Academy School, “regarded as the fist specialist school within the UK for children with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) from 1996 to 2002. He is currently a behaviour and SEN consultant for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) and an associate Lecturer for Leicester and Brunel Universities, the National Association of Special Needs (NASEN) and the Institute of Education. He is the also an educational consultant for ADDISS and the Chairman of the European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.

(adapted from:

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