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Case Study
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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in Mathematics Learner’s Response towards Synchronous Online Class

Heidemae R. Remata , Laila S. Lomibao
American Journal of Educational Research. 2021, 9(7), 426-430. DOI: 10.12691/education-9-7-5
Received May 22, 2021; Revised June 28, 2021; Accepted July 07, 2021

Abstract

Developing basic mathematics skills for all children especially those who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and math disability is not easy. And the sudden shift from face-to-face classes to online instructional delivery due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge to them. Hence, this qualitative descriptive-exploratory case study was undertaken to explore the response of a learner with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) with impairment in mathematics towards a synchronous online Orton-Gillingham Math intervention in terms of working behavior. The participant was chosen purposively based on the diagnosis, arithmetic calculation level, and unfamiliarity with the OG-Math intervention. The participant was taught using the OG-Math approach via an online platform for twice-a-week for 4 weeks. The online classes were recorded then transcribed with consent from the participant’s parent and school. The data were analyzed using trustworthy thematic analysis to ensure validity and reliability. The analysis revealed five (5) emerging themes namely symptoms of inattention, symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity, lowered vigilance, emotional understanding and reactivity, and active class participation. Despite the existence of these responses, the participant was still able to participate actively in synchronous online class and showed emotional competence. It can be concluded that learner-participant with ADHD-SLD with impairment in math can thrive in synchronous online class given her short attention span.

1. Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unexpected challenge for schools across the world. It made the educational system take implementation adjustments. Governments have allowed the continuation of education with strict adherence to safety and health protocols. In other Asian countries, for example in Indonesia, they implemented the non-conventional delivery modes through online classes 1. In the Philippines, the Department of Education (DepED) allowed schools to choose from the different learning delivery modalities either through distance learning using printed modules or blended learning modality utilizing accessible media, such as TV, radio, and online synchronous or asynchronous classes 2.

However, the sudden shift of the learning delivery modes has been a challenge for both typically developing learners and those with special needs. According to a recent study conducted, students with special learning needs are struggling with the distance learning setting. It was also observed that most of them have a shorter attention span 1. With this, teaching mathematics online to learners with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) would be a challenge. Teachers should bring mathematics lessons to learners diagnosed with ADHD considering the learners’ short attention span.

Teachers should have strategies to teach mathematics for a student with ADHD that are different from strategies for other mainstream learners 3. Developing basic mathematics skills for all children especially those who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and math disability is not easy 4.

Children with ADHD are considered to have a neurological disorder that may manifest itself with hyperkinetic activity and/or a difficult time concentrating. They tend to have inattentive and hyperactive or impulsive behaviors that often require support from caregivers and treatments such as medication or behavioral interventions 5. Moreover, they have very poor sleep patterns, and although they appear not to need much sleep, daytime behavior is often worse when sleep is badly affected 6. Further, children with Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) with impairment in mathematics are observed to have patterns of difficulties in problems processing numerical information, learning arithmetic facts, and performing accurate or fluent calculations 7.

On one hand, Brandon 8 conducted a study on the effectiveness of the Hill Model of instruction on children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders’ mathematics fluency. Hill Model is a methodology utilized by the Hill Center, an educational program for children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders in Durham, North Carolina. She incorporated the components from the Orton-Gillingham (OG) model of instruction in her model, such as multisensory instruction, mastery learning, and formative feed backing. It was found that there is a positive modest growth in a learners’ mathematics fluency.

With these aforementioned points and as attested by Sheffield 9 stating that all Orton-Gillingham programs can be effective, as one of the implementers of the Orton-Gillingham approach, the researcher explored how an ADHD with Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) with an impairment in math diagnosed learner responds in her terms of working behavior towards online OG-Math intervention.

2. Theoretical Framework and Related Literature

This study is anchored on the behaviorism of Pavlov and Watson 10 learning theory. It focuses on how the learner as a participant of the study responded and behaved when subjected to stimuli. The study evolved around how the teacher’s actions through instruction during an online class produced working behavior response through the learner’s immediate reactions. More specifically, how the learner behaved during the online OG Math class as the stimulus and when this was repeatedly introduced throughout the observation period. Since the learner-participant is diagnosed with ADHD with Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) with impairment in mathematics, and the class was conducted online where the learner was not accustomed and familiar with, behaviorism was most appropriate and applicable to observe how the subject responded to the introduced stimuli.

This study is also grounded on Witzel’s 11, Concrete, Representational, Abstract (CRA) instructional framework, which is one of the main features of OG Math. OG Math process for teaching and learning mathematical concepts started with the manipulation of concrete materials such as the OG colored bars, chips, and toys and gradually progresses to the representational level. This second stage of the learning process is where the conversion of concrete concepts to representations through drawing of bars and lines. Then, it peaks at the abstract level, at which numbers and symbols are used to demonstrate understandings. The CRA instructional framework uses explicit instruction, which is recommended for an effective mathematics pedagogical approach for students with disabilities 12. The use of manipulatives in instruction is one strategy commonly used to encourage learners to become more actively involved in mathematics. Henceforth, the active engagement of the learner on the manipulation and construction of representations will give enough opportunity to observe responses and physiological and social reactions from the learner diagnosed with ADHD with SLD in mathematics.

Moreover, this study is also founded on a multisensory approach as the other main feature of OG-Math. According to Chacko, Underman, Feirsen, Bedard, and Marks 13, CRA model is categorized as a multisensory approach because it integrates visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile interactions with content through the direct handling of objects and matching of graphic designs. These two main features of OG Math were found to be of help to children with disabilities in learning math.

On the other hand, the growing presence of K–12 online education programs is a trend that promises to increase flexibility, improve efficiency, and foster engagement in learning. Students with disabilities can benefit from dynamic online educational environments, but only to the extent that they can access and participate in the learning process 14.

However, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic where schools around the world were forced to rapidly transition from face-to-face learning environments to online learning, students with special learning needs are struggling with the distance learning setting. Most of these learners with special needs have a shorter attention span. Though teachers and learning support teams periodically checked in with the learners, parents would mostly have to spend time assisting or monitoring these students' learning at home 1.

According to Grover and his research team 15 online classes have a negative impact on the behavior and physical health of the children in which suggests that the level of learning with regular classes, cannot be matched by the online classes. Teachers, students, and parents need time to adapt to the new learning system 1.

3. The Method

The researcher employed a qualitative descriptive-exploratory case study. One learner-participant was chosen based on the criteria - diagnosis, arithmetic calculation level, and unfamiliarity with OG-Math intervention. The learner-participant was taught basic operation addition skills for twice-a-week for four weeks using the Orton-Gillingham Math approach. The primary source of data for this research study included: (a) the evaluation from the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician of the participant, (b) the teacher-researcher assessment, and (c) the recorded observations during the implementation of the OG-Math intervention. The intervention was implemented through an online platform due to restraints in movement brought about by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The learner-participant was provided with OG manipulative-colored bars, flashcards, whiteboards, and markers. The online classes were recorded with consent from the participant’s parent and school. The data gathered from the recorded online classes were transcribed then coded together with the data gathered from the evaluation of the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician.

The recorded videos from eight online class sessions were transcribed. The videos provided data that could reveal how the learner-participant responded to a class delivered through an online platform.

The researcher used the 6-phase trustworthy thematic analysis outlined by Nowell et al. 16 which is a practical and effective procedure for conducting thematic analysis that aims to meet the trustworthiness criteria by Lincoln and Guba 17. A trustworthy thematic analysis was employed to ensure the validity and reliability of the research findings. Following the 6-phase trustworthy thematic analysis, the researcher first read and re-read the data several times to gain familiarity with the data. Also, the researcher stored raw data in well-organized archives. Furthermore, the researcher documented thoughts about potential codes/themes. Second, after the researcher gained ideas of what was in the data and interesting about them, the production of initial codes was made. During coding, the researcher identify important sections of text and attached labels to index them as they related to a theme or issue in the data 18. The transcribed data were coded using working behavior, addition skills, and mathematics concepts. The researcher extracted the significant statements and observation which were coded under working behavior and re-coded them into the codes under the formulated meanings and organized in a table. The significant observation and statements which occurred repeatedly were only noted once when presented in the table.

4. Results and Discussion

Depicted in Table 1 are the initial codes describing the working behavior of the participant based on the extracted significant statements and observations from the transcribed recording of online classes and the participants’ Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician. On the same table, generated clustered themes derived through a deductive analysis were also presented.

The researcher gave theme names that were impactful and would immediately give the reader a sense of what the theme was about and considered how each theme fitted into the overall story about the entire data set concerning the research question as suggested by Braun and Clarke 19. There were five (5) emerging themes generated after the trustworthy thematic analysis was employed namely, symptoms of inattention, symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity, evidence of lowered vigilance, emotional understanding and reactivity, and active class participation as shown in Table 2.

4.1. Symptoms of Inattention

The observations from online classes revealed that the participant with ADHD and SLD with impairment in mathematics showed symptoms of inattention. Several observable behaviors often happened during the OG-Math online intervention. She could be observed looking at her left and right instead of looking at the screen. She would often not respond to the teacher when asked questions or when talked to. Moreover, she often could not follow the instructions which were already simplified for easy understanding and even when she was reminded about it. She would tend to perform a task that was correct but was not asked for her to perform. Furthermore, she had a tendency to avoid tasks which she found difficult. These observations were similar to the symptoms of inattention observed by Grover, Goyal, Mehra, Sahoo, & Goyal 15 in their explorative study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online home learning in primary schools in Indonesia. They found out that most of the students with special learning needs have a shorter attention span in an online class.

4.2. Symptoms of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity

The observations from online classes also showed that the participant with ADHD and SLD with impairment in mathematics showed symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. The participant was observed interrupting the teacher’s discussion by doing irrelevant things and blurting out answers before the questions were completed. These observations confirmed Youn's 5 findings that children with ADHD tend to have inattentive and hyperactive or impulsive behaviors that often require support from caregivers and treatments such as medication or behavioral interventions. These hyperactive and impulsive behaviors came out during OG-Math online intervention.

4.3. Evidence of Lowered Vigilance

The teacher observed that the participant would always rub her eyes, yawn and stretch her arms whenever she was sleepy. This is an example of motor restlessness which is the most obvious evidence of lowered vigilance. It could be observed that the participant became sleepy after an average of 39 minutes. During the first day of online class, she showed gestures of being sleepy after 50 minutes and 54 seconds. On the second, third, fourth, fifth, and eighth day, she showed sleepiness at 52:39, 35:28, 38:23, and 39:05 respectively. Problem such as difficulty staying awake (drowsiness or sleepiness) can be the result of disturbed vigilance. When vigilance is lost, the individual has difficulty sustaining attention. The words sleepy and drowsy are used synonymously to denote decreased (negative) levels of attention 20.

4.4. Emotional Understanding and Reactivity

The participant expressed three dominant feelings during her online classes - feeling happy, sad, and apologetic. The participant displayed sad gestures when not being able to get the correct answer or when making a mistake. She was also apologetic.

S1: “Sorry”

She constantly said “sorry” every time the teacher told her to try again after committing mistakes.

S1: “Yes, I’m happy”.

Meanwhile, whenever she got the correct answers, she would always display her happiness by swinging, waving, and raising her hands happily. She would also dance on her chair and tell the teacher that she is happy. The participant displayed matched expressions and situations which is a sign of emotional understanding and reactivity. She was also able to label her emotions.

4.5. Active Class Participation

The learner-participant’s participation in the online classes was through two communication behaviors namely verbal and non-verbal. She would answer questions verbally and non-verbally. She also volunteered in answering some of the problems by raising her hand. She would often nod her head to show that she understood the lesson. Despite the existence of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and lowered vigilance, she was observed to have eye contact most of the time by looking at the presentation shared on the screen.

5. Conclusions

This study examined a learner’s responses towards online OG-Math intervention to be; inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, lowered vigilance, emotional understanding and reactivity, and active class participation. Despite the existence of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and lowered vigilance, the participant was still able to participate actively in online class and showed emotional competence. Based on the findings, this current study concluded that learners with ADHD-SLD with impairment in math can thrive in online class given their short attention span.

6. Limitation of the Current Study and Implication for Future Study

In the current study, only one participant was involved as suggested by Boddy 21. The impact of online classes on the working behavior of the participant could be better investigated if there were more participants to identify commonalities among them. Given this limitation, it can be implicated for future study to consider three to four participants diagnosed with ADHD and SLD with impairment in Math as suggested by Creswell 22.

References

[1]  Putri, R. S., Purwanto, A., Pramono, R., Asbari, M., Wijayanti, L. M., & Hyun, C. C. (2020). “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online home learning: An explorative study of primary schools in Indonesia”. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(5), 4809-4818.
In article      
 
[2]  Department of Education of The Republic of the Philippines Secretary Briones, L., “Adoption of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan for School Year 2020-2021 in the Light of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”, 012, s. 2020.
In article      
 
[3]  Marlina, R., Budiyono, & Usodo, B. (2019). “Shadow Supervisor Strategy on Student with ADHD in Mathematics Learning Activity for Inclusive Secondary Class of Elementary School”. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1227, 012016.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Platt, A. (2016). “ADHD and Math Disabilities: Cognitive Similarities and Instructional Interventions”. Teachadhd. Retrieved from http://www.teachadhd.ca/images/ADHD_and_Math_Disabilities.pdf.
In article      
 
[5]  Youn, C. (2021). “Using Health Data to Provide Better Emotional Assistance to Children with ADHD”.
In article      
 
[6]  Harpin, V. A. (2005). “The effect of ADHD on the life of an individual, their family, and community from preschool to adult life”. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 90(SUPPL. 1), 2-8.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[7]  American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013
In article      View Article
 
[8]  Brandon, M. (2012). “Effectiveness of The Hill Model of Instruction: A Program Evaluation of the Greenville Learning Center”. Retrieved from https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu.
In article      
 
[9]  Sheffield, B. B. (1991). “The structured flexibility of Orton-Gillingham”. Annals of Dyslexia, 41(1), 41-54.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[10]  Schunk, D. H. (1996). Learning theories. In Printice Hall Inc., New Jersey (Vol. 53, Issue 9).
In article      
 
[11]  Witzel, B. S. (2005). “Using CRA to Teach Algebra to Students with Math Difficulties in Inclusive Settings”. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 3(2), 12.
In article      
 
[12]  Bourgeois, F. S., Lippiatt, N. R., & Powell, M. S. (2015). “Introducing the concept of mechanical texture in comminution: The case of concrete recycling”. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 136, 7-14.
In article      View Article
 
[13]  Chacko, A., Uderman, J., Feirsen, N., Bedard, A. C., & Marks, D. (2013). “Learning and cognitive disorders: Multidiscipline treatment approaches”. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 22(3), 457-477.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[14]  Hashey, A. I., & Stahl, S. (2019). “Making Online Learning Accessible for Students With Disabilities”. Teaching Exceptional Children.
In article      
 
[15]  Grover, S., Goyal, S. K., Mehra, A., Sahoo, S., & Goyal, S. (2021). “A Survey of Parents of Children Attending the Online Classes During the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic”. Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 88(3), 280.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[16]  Nowell, L. S., Norris, J. M., White, D. E., & Moules, N. J. (2017). “Thematic Analysis: Striving to Meet the Trustworthiness Criteria”. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1-13.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. G. (1985). “Naturalistic inquiry”. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
In article      View Article
 
[18]  Cassell, C., & Symon, G. (2004). “Essential guide to qualitative methods in organizational research”.
In article      View Article
 
[19]  Virginia Braun & Victoria Clarke (2006) “Using thematic analysis in psychology”, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3:2, 77-101.
In article      View Article
 
[20]  Mesulam M-M. “Attention, confusional states, and neglect”. In: Mesulam MM, ed. Principles of behavioral neurology. Philadelphia: FA Davis, 1985:125-68.
In article      
 
[21]  Boddy, C.R. (2016), “Sample size for qualitative research”, Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 426-432.
In article      View Article
 
[22]  Creswell, J. W., Hanson, W. E., Clark Plano, V. L., & Morales, A. (2007). “Qualitative Research Designs: Selection and Implementation”. The Counseling Psychologist, 35(2), 236-264.
In article      View Article
 

Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2021 Heidemae R. Remata and Laila S. Lomibao

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Normal Style
Heidemae R. Remata, Laila S. Lomibao. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in Mathematics Learner’s Response towards Synchronous Online Class. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 9, No. 7, 2021, pp 426-430. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/9/7/5
MLA Style
Remata, Heidemae R., and Laila S. Lomibao. "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in Mathematics Learner’s Response towards Synchronous Online Class." American Journal of Educational Research 9.7 (2021): 426-430.
APA Style
Remata, H. R. , & Lomibao, L. S. (2021). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in Mathematics Learner’s Response towards Synchronous Online Class. American Journal of Educational Research, 9(7), 426-430.
Chicago Style
Remata, Heidemae R., and Laila S. Lomibao. "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in Mathematics Learner’s Response towards Synchronous Online Class." American Journal of Educational Research 9, no. 7 (2021): 426-430.
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  • Table 2. Emerging Themes on the Participant’s Response Towards an Online OG-Math Intervention in Terms of Working Behavior
[1]  Putri, R. S., Purwanto, A., Pramono, R., Asbari, M., Wijayanti, L. M., & Hyun, C. C. (2020). “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online home learning: An explorative study of primary schools in Indonesia”. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(5), 4809-4818.
In article      
 
[2]  Department of Education of The Republic of the Philippines Secretary Briones, L., “Adoption of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan for School Year 2020-2021 in the Light of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”, 012, s. 2020.
In article      
 
[3]  Marlina, R., Budiyono, & Usodo, B. (2019). “Shadow Supervisor Strategy on Student with ADHD in Mathematics Learning Activity for Inclusive Secondary Class of Elementary School”. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1227, 012016.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Platt, A. (2016). “ADHD and Math Disabilities: Cognitive Similarities and Instructional Interventions”. Teachadhd. Retrieved from http://www.teachadhd.ca/images/ADHD_and_Math_Disabilities.pdf.
In article      
 
[5]  Youn, C. (2021). “Using Health Data to Provide Better Emotional Assistance to Children with ADHD”.
In article      
 
[6]  Harpin, V. A. (2005). “The effect of ADHD on the life of an individual, their family, and community from preschool to adult life”. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 90(SUPPL. 1), 2-8.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[7]  American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013
In article      View Article
 
[8]  Brandon, M. (2012). “Effectiveness of The Hill Model of Instruction: A Program Evaluation of the Greenville Learning Center”. Retrieved from https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu.
In article      
 
[9]  Sheffield, B. B. (1991). “The structured flexibility of Orton-Gillingham”. Annals of Dyslexia, 41(1), 41-54.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[10]  Schunk, D. H. (1996). Learning theories. In Printice Hall Inc., New Jersey (Vol. 53, Issue 9).
In article      
 
[11]  Witzel, B. S. (2005). “Using CRA to Teach Algebra to Students with Math Difficulties in Inclusive Settings”. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 3(2), 12.
In article      
 
[12]  Bourgeois, F. S., Lippiatt, N. R., & Powell, M. S. (2015). “Introducing the concept of mechanical texture in comminution: The case of concrete recycling”. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 136, 7-14.
In article      View Article
 
[13]  Chacko, A., Uderman, J., Feirsen, N., Bedard, A. C., & Marks, D. (2013). “Learning and cognitive disorders: Multidiscipline treatment approaches”. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 22(3), 457-477.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[14]  Hashey, A. I., & Stahl, S. (2019). “Making Online Learning Accessible for Students With Disabilities”. Teaching Exceptional Children.
In article      
 
[15]  Grover, S., Goyal, S. K., Mehra, A., Sahoo, S., & Goyal, S. (2021). “A Survey of Parents of Children Attending the Online Classes During the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic”. Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 88(3), 280.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[16]  Nowell, L. S., Norris, J. M., White, D. E., & Moules, N. J. (2017). “Thematic Analysis: Striving to Meet the Trustworthiness Criteria”. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1-13.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. G. (1985). “Naturalistic inquiry”. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
In article      View Article
 
[18]  Cassell, C., & Symon, G. (2004). “Essential guide to qualitative methods in organizational research”.
In article      View Article
 
[19]  Virginia Braun & Victoria Clarke (2006) “Using thematic analysis in psychology”, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3:2, 77-101.
In article      View Article
 
[20]  Mesulam M-M. “Attention, confusional states, and neglect”. In: Mesulam MM, ed. Principles of behavioral neurology. Philadelphia: FA Davis, 1985:125-68.
In article      
 
[21]  Boddy, C.R. (2016), “Sample size for qualitative research”, Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 426-432.
In article      View Article
 
[22]  Creswell, J. W., Hanson, W. E., Clark Plano, V. L., & Morales, A. (2007). “Qualitative Research Designs: Selection and Implementation”. The Counseling Psychologist, 35(2), 236-264.
In article      View Article