Can a child with ADHD be good at school?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects behavior in children, and is especially evident at school. Many parents question given the particular nature of this disorder can a child with ADHD be successful at school?
What is ADHD?
Research shows that over 9% of American children have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a mental condition that causes impulsive behavior and hyperactivity in children (and less often in adults). The main characteristics are lack of attention and restlessness that may negatively affect academic performance.
What are the different types of ADHD?
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder occurs in the same way in all children. Moreover, there are certain behavioral patterns based on which we can distinguish between three types of ADHD:
- Inattentive type – child is inattentive, they are often late, forgetful, they have difficulties following instructions, they are fanciful and have a wandering mind, and find it hard to complete tasks that they do not find interesting. This type used to be called Attention-deficit disorder (ADD), but this term is no longer in use.
- Hyperactive-impulsive type – children with this type of ADHD are always on the go, which is why they fidget in class, squirm on their chairs, even getting up and walking around in the middle of the lesson. They also have a problem with discipline, interrupting others while talking, and generally struggling with excess energy.
- Combined type – people who demonstrate six or more symptoms characteristic of Hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type belong to the combined type. The combined type is also considered to be the most common type of ADHD.
If a child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it doesn’t mean that they cannot learn successfully and make progress. However, although this disorder is not classified among learning disabilities, it does significantly affect the child’s quality of education, which is why it is important to establish good communication with the school so as to help the child receive the best education possible.
How is ADHD treated?
It is important to know that an ADHD diagnosis is not a tragic thing. Moreover, the sooner the child’s symptoms are identified, the parents will be better able to understand their child’s needs, which usually leads to a high-quality lifestyle. After the diagnosis, parents will decide between behavioral therapies and ADHD medications, with the doctor’s advice. The medications are sometimes unnecessary, if the child successfully overcomes certain problems in therapy.
However, therapy success greatly depends on the child’s family and their determination to tackle this problem. Success is inevitable if the child is taught to eat healthy, practice regularly (sports help them to channel their excess energy), get enough sleep and don’t spend too much time on the computer or the phone. If all these requirements are met, the child will be able to focus on the positive and channel their energy in the best possible way.
How can a child with ADHD be good at school?
Children with ADHD can achieve great success in life. Moreover, the success of many celebrities, such as Albert Einstein, can perhaps be attributed to their condition. However, the road to success is long, and education and following the rules may pose a major obstacle for students with ADHD.
Parents should thoroughly investigate the conditions in which their child will be educated, and what school learning looks like. The person who usually has answers to all these questions is the child’s teacher who will familiarize the parents with the details of how to support the child, and tell them more about classroom management. Choosing the right school and applying for an individualized education program (IEP) is extremely important, because they greatly determine the child’s success at school.
So, can a child with ADHD be good at school? Various studies on ADHD have shown that these children can achieve great success if they are given adequate attention by their teachers, experts, and parents. It is particularly important that parents and teachers have good communication in order to continue successful school work at home, and vice versa. In addition, it is necessary to create a learning environment that will help the child to improve their performance and achieve success.
Reducing distractions – when it comes to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, it is necessary to create a classroom atmosphere with as few distractions as possible. Effective education of children with ADHD requires a learning environment where the teacher is clearly heard, and where the student has the opportunity to solve tests in silence or take oral exams. This is also recognized in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which clearly specifies that the child has the right to ask the teacher to repeat the instructions, and to enable him/her to take the tests in silence, without any external interference.
Advanced discipline strategies – children with ADHD often struggle to follow lessons, which may lead to conflict situations. Until recently, the common tactic for such situations in American schools was suspension from class. However, we should consider the effectiveness of suspending a child with ADHD from class knowing that they don’t see it as punishment, but rather, as a chance to indulge in their baser impulses.
Things are slowly changing in this regard, so the State of California introduced a ban on out-of-school suspension. Instead of banning them from attending classes, children remain in school, and address the issues that got them banned from class in conversations with professionals. It is very important that children use this time to face their problems with the help of professionals in order to be successful at school.
Learning support – students receive support in the learning process so as to approach their obligations calmly and without stress. There are several ways to help children with ADHD to be successful at school. Thus, the teacher can split the material by project, giving the child the opportunity to choose what they will learn at a given moment. This approach also improves student involvement in the process, which is especially important for those who cannot maintain focus and those who are always trying to skip responsibilities. Peer tutoring where good students help other children to master the material is also very effective. This way, students don’t have the negative preconception of being “forced” to do something, but study with their friends, which makes learning much easier.
Small class size – children with more severe symptoms of ADHD need more attention, and that is often impossible in larger classes. In those situations, the teacher simply doesn’t have enough time to dedicate themselves to each student, which may lead to frustration and learning problems. So, to help children, smaller classes with a maximum of 15 students are created (where possible). This way, teaching is certainly more effective and of better quality, regardless of whether it is regular or special education. Fewer students in the class allows teachers to pay more attention to each student, and implement advanced teaching methods.
Increased physical activity – inability to sit still and the lack of discipline are common for hyperactive children. Interestingly, it turned out that such incidents occur more frequently when children don’t get enough physical activity. In some cases, introducing exercises, or even getting children to play sports can be very helpful, because that way, children will spend their “excess energy” and be more focused in class.
The measures mentioned above are just some of the methods and strategies that can greatly help children with ADHD to be good at school. In time, the process becomes easier, and the child is able to successfully master their school responsibilities and collaborate with teachers.
The things that schools can offer to children with ADHD depends on the institution itself, agreed-upon individualized education program (IEP) and the expertise of the faculty and staff. Therefore, selecting the right school is crucial for the development of a child with ADHD.
Private or public school – what is better for kids with ADHD?
Selecting the right school can be crucial for children with ADHD. Due to their needs, parents often opt for specialized ADHD schools. These schools provide special education services so as to help students achieve great results, despite their condition. The good thing is that many of those schools successfully prepare students for continued education, including college. However, these schools are not available to everyone, so parents are still faced with the dilemma of whether to choose a private or public school.
On the one hand, private schools offer quality education, but they are not obligated to accommodate students with disabilities or difficulties, unlike public schools. Fortunately, there is a solution even in this case. Namely, a certain amount of government funds are redirected to private schools so as to help students with ADHD. However, these funds are often limited, which may discourage parents from enrolling their child in a private school. Many things depend on the school itself and its determination to help.
When it comes to parenting a child with ADHD, parents need to research things thoroughly so as to avoid situations of having their child expelled due to ADHD-related behavioral problems. Regardless of whether they opt for a private or public school, the professionals in these institutions who work with children with ADHD are the decisive factor. If the school’s guidance counselor and teachers possess the knowledge and the desire to help, it is a better guarantee of success than any kind of government aid.
Of course, the manner in which the education program is implemented is also important. If the school is committed to the modern approach to education, it means that lessons will be much more dynamic, and thus more interesting for children. Consequently, it will be easier to follow lessons, so children will achieve better results. ADHD affects children’s ability to follow lessons, so if it is a dynamic school that takes care of each student, daily obligations, even homework assignments will be easier to solve.
Good focus guarantees success
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder can make learning difficult, but it can also be very helpful in life. Many children with ADHD are inattentive, and unfocused, but they are also very creative, and capable of thinking outside-of-the-box which leads to ingenious ideas. The point is to learn how to balance between being focused on the teaching material, and being imaginative, and with teacher’s support, good grades will certainly come.
Fortunately, mental health has not been a taboo for a long time, so nowadays, it is much easier for children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to cope with this condition with the support of their environment. With a solid treatment plan and ADHD treatment, learning is no longer a challenge. A child with ADHD can become an A-student with serious plans for a future career!