Impulsivity: The Unrecognized Aspect of Attention Deficit Disorder

by Elizabeth Elgin
Special Education
Faculty advisor: Dr. Robbie Ludy

Impulsivity is a commonly cited characteristic of children with special needs.  It impacts children in two ways - how they do things and how they think.  Both types of impact have a direct relationship to performance in the classroom.  My poster session was focused on the impact of impulsivity in the classroom and what types of conditions or antecedents a teacher could control which would have a direct impact on student behavior and academic performance.

There are many things teachers can do to help students with impulsivity in the classroom.  Teachers can organize the learning space so that students are pointed in the direction that they need to focus.  Limiting decorations helps those with impulsivity focus their attention.  With the curriculum, teachers can highlight the main points for students so they don't get caught up or overly focused on details.  Limiting the print on each page so tasks appear more manageable is also beneficial.

To address cognitive impulsivity, educators must help students become more aware - and thus in control - of their thinking.  It is important teachers state expectations and explain why those expectations exist.  Teachers should establish clear routines for students and teach students to regulate themselves.  As students grow older, they should be taught transitional planning.  They should learn to advocate for their selves and be able to self-monitor.

It is important students with impulsivity are not seen as problems.  Rather, the teacher needs to be aware of elements with impulsivity and work to change the environment so the students can succeed.


"This project started as an assignment to do an in-service.  This in-service was designed as a way to teach teachers or other professionals about impulsivity and what they can do in their classroom to help students."