Interview

ADHD

  1. Understand that there are different types of ADHD. There are those with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) who primarily exhibit inattentive behavior with no/limited impulsive or hyperactive behaviors. There are those with HD (Hyperactivity Disorder) who primarily exhibit hyperactive/impulsive behaviors; and some with both. Do not assume that both are present, so ask for further clarification.
  2. Children with ADD/ADHD can be using various types of medications (e.g. Ritalin) which are taken daily. Be aware of the schedule of this medication and its effects before scheduling an interview for this child.
  3. Room set-up and location is critical. Consider carefully the location of the interview room, i.e. Is it near a window with distracting noises, people passing? Are there distractions in the room (e.g. crayons, papers, toys) that could make it more difficult for a child to focus on the task at hand? Is your table surface clear and uncluttered? Providing sufficient space for the child to get up and move around will be important to consider as well.
  4. Individuals with ADHD have trouble concentrating for an extended period of time. Make sure to structure in breaks during the interview process. Having a child stretch, get up and move to another part of the room is also helpful.
  5. Individuals with ADHD often have impaired executive function, i.e. difficult for them to think ahead, organize, control their impulses, and follow through with tasks or directions. So, it will be important to be patient with them when interviewing, but more importantly to recognize good behavior out loud to help them understand what is being expected of them. For example, "Good job sitting here for so long. Thanks for waiting quietly while I wrote this down."
  6. Try to maintain focused eye contact while interviewing an individual with ADHD. This helps the child to concentrate and direct his/her attention on what you are saying to them.
  7. When asking questions, it is important to be clear and consistent. Better to wait than to ask the question again right away if the child does not immediately answer. Positive feedback for appropriate behaviors (e.g. "Thanks for sitting down again. A Good looking at me.") can help to refocus the child.
  8. Visual supports can help a child with ADHD stay focused on the topic at hand. A visual support can be anything from a checklist of question topics, crossing out each one as they are answered, to a visual picture/representation of a topic category that are placed in front of the child reminding them of the area being discussed. (See Jargon for more information) Remember, that the child with this type of a disability can have Executive Functioning deficits (#4) which can prevent the consistent answering of questions without some visual supports
  9. Patience and Observation is critical. Your ability to assess the child's focus and engagement is key to achieving a positive outcome.

QUESTION TO ASK:

Is this environment optimal for a positive response from a child with ADHD?

Remember...environment includes not only physical space, but your timing and and responses to the child and his/her behaviors.