Teaching Strategies for Children with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition that causes a child to suffer from severe mood changes and behavior.   Children will present different symptoms than adults with this condition, and their symptoms can often occur many times a day.   Due to the fact that these children have these sudden mood changes, are typically anxious and easily frustrated, there needs to be specific teaching strategies for children with bipolar disorder in place.

There actually have been findings in recent studies that brains in children suffering from bipolar disorder differ biologically from other children.   The disorder affects learning in a variety of ways due to the symptoms of the condition, but also often because of the medications they are taking as well.

The condition will cause problems with learning due to difficulties in paying attention, remembering information, inability to think critically, lack of problem solving skills, problems with eye hand coordination skills, impulsiveness, being easily distracted, feeling withdrawn and unmotivated — depending on the child”s mood at the time.

Some of the most important teaching adaptations that must be implemented for children with bipolar disorder include:

·                             Flexibility.   It is important to remember that these children will have difficulty in the more structured curriculum and lesson plans, so it will be necessary to adapt assignments and lessons to allow for their differences.

·                             Tolerance and patience.   These traits will be extremely important for teaching the child with this condition.   Minor problems need to be overlooked and positive behavior needs to be properly recognized and praised.

·                             Consistent schedules.   These children need to have schedules that are made up of many breaks to help them continue to focus and stay positive.

·                             Few distractions.   Distractions can cause more disruptive behaviors and can seriously influence the child”s ability to focus.

·                             Shorter assignments.   Focusing on the quality of the work they present is far more important than worrying about the quantity that they have completed.

·                             Good communication between schools, parents and doctors.   It is important to keep the lines open and be ready to adapt and try different approaches for the child if something is not working.

·                             Safe place.   Children suffering from bipolar disorder need at least one person and place that they can go when they begin to feel overwhelmed.   These children can very often be unsure with how to deal with the intensity of their emotions at times, and they need to know that there is a place that they can go when they begin to feel like they are out of control.

Teaching strategies for children with bipolar disorder focus on helping the child to adapt and offering them room to have some control over their situations.   They will require a patient hand and an ability to adapt and try new approaches to help them learn and grow.


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