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Portrait of Anna Liuzzo in her school classroom.

Published February 19, 2019

UB professor receives grant to help meet the goals of ADHD children

Fabiano working with ADHD students to complete daily classroom goals

A $3.3 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences was awarded to Gregory Fabiano, professor from the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology to connect the educational goals of ADHD children’s special education programs with their daily work supervised by their classroom teachers. Fabiano will work with Jihnhee Yu, associate director of the UB Population Health Observatory, and William E. Pelham Jr. and Nicole Schatz of Florida International University.

“The issue is that ADHD is a psychiatric diagnosis, but one of the main impacts of ADHD is school impairment,” said Fabiano. “Therefore, there is no ‘ADHD special education category,’ so children with ADHD often receive support through other categories, such as health impairments and learning disabilities.”

Fabiano notes that since ADHD is a psychiatric diagnosis, there is sometimes a disconnection between the services needed and the services received in school. As a result, the child continues to have school problems, such as disrupting the classroom with interruptions and repeatedly getting out of their seat.

For this grant, Fabiano and Yu reached back to earlier research in which they assessed the value of taking the goals and objectives in the students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), which are academic programs required for students who are classified as needing special education. These IEPs are typically evaluated monthly or yearly by a child’s classroom teacher, but Fabiano and Yu are working to turn these IEPs into daily goals that the teacher could measure and monitor each day instead of monthly or yearly.

This low-cost intervention could potentially help the vast numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD. Fabiano notes that approximately 5 to 10 percent of the general education student population has ADHD.

Study participants will be students in kindergarten through sixth grade from schools in Western New York and South Florida. The students will be randomly assigned to either a “school as usual” designation or a “daily report card” approach that links the IEP goals and objectives to regular classroom behavior.

“If we can show that this approach results in better outcomes, it is potentially a low-cost intervention that can be integrated into the school supports used for children with ADHD in special education,” Fabiano said. Anyone interested in learning more about the study can call the study number at 716-829-2024.

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