Back to School news article

Born To Be ADHD

Authored by: Born To Be ADHD on October 5, 2018

Summer is a great opportunity for children to kick back, relax, sleep late, and have fun. But now the summer’s over it’s time to get back into the school mindset and settle back to the routine and structure of the school year. With nerves and anxiety levels running high, this can be daunting for any child, but for those with ADHD, going back to school can be even more challenging.

It is currently estimated that around three to five percent of school-aged children are affected by ADHD. In the UK this equates to over 300,000 children and young adults, virtually one child in every classroom.i,ii The symptoms of ADHD, including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, can be challenging for students and for teachers, taking time away from teaching and often causing disruption to the rest of the class. While students with ADHD want to be able to learn and behave like their peers, their ADHD can often make it difficult for them to focus and achieve their potential.

Parents of children with ADHD also have a lot to think about. While most children occasionally have difficulty in the classroom, the thought of the new school year can be especially stressful for parents of children with ADHD. From behaviour to medication to homework, there are lots of things to consider. As a parent, the earlier you can help address your child’s challenges and difficulties, the more likely you will be able to prevent potential school and social problems such as poor self-esteem and difficulties at school. Although life with your child may at times seem more difficult, as a parent you can help create supporting home and school environments that may improve your child’s chances of success. This guide for parents may help provide some useful information around how best to manage your child’s ADHD and provide some coping strategies.

However, while ADHD can cause some challenges, people with ADHD are often highly creative, divergent thinkers, and excellent problem solvers.iii Research has shown that in certain situations individuals with ADHD outperform their peers by generating more creative ideas and are therefore more likely to find a correct solution to a problem.iv Children with ADHD have incredible potential and, when given the correct care and support, they can go on to become important and creative contributors to society.

For children with ADHD the concept of moving from a primary school setting to a secondary school can appear to be very challenging. This is largely due to the fact that they are changing from an environment where they are used to one teacher with whom they are very familiar, to a setting where they have multiple staff and multiple classroom situations and this can feel very unsettling. In addition to this, they are faced with a reduced number of support staff as well as increased workload pressure. Helping to ease children into school and slowly implement new schedules before class starts can make the changes less stressful and help students to better cope with studying and the school day. Behaviour and learning specialist, Fintan O’Regan shares his top tips for children with ADHD that are moving on from primary school into secondary. Check these out here.

In addition, ‘A young person’s guide to thriving with ADHD’ can be downloaded here. This includes top tips on how to manage ADHD at school, including:

Get organised Help stay on top of homework by:

  • Keeping a calendar or daily planner
  • Keeping a second set of pencils and pens in the locker in case they are forgotten
  • Having a desk organiser and storage bins for school supplies to keep the study space neat and free from distractions
  • Having colour-coded folders or a multi-pocket binder to keep assignments straight

Medication A move to a new school may mean a change in medication routine. Often new routines or pressure from friends to do other things can make it difficult for children to remember to take their medication. Phone reminders and a note on the school planner can help make this process easier.

Homework There are several ways to help with the challenges of homework when moving to a new school or going into a new year. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Write down your homework instructions properly
  • Ask your teacher if you can record homework instructions on a smart phone
  • Use a computer to type up school work rather than handwriting
  • Get into a routine of homework first/play second
  • Go for after-school homework sessions, if available

References

i Royal College of Psychiatrists. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults. Available at: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/adhdinadults.aspx Last accessed August 2018. ii Department of Education. Number of schools, teachers and students in England. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/number-of-schools-teachers-and-students-in-england/number-of-schools-teachers-and-students-in-england. Last accessed August 2018. iii White HA and Shah P. Uninhibited imaginations: Creativity in adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Personality and Individual Differences 2006; 40: 1121-1131. iv Kuester DA and Zentall SS. Social interaction rules in cooperative learning groups for students at risk for ADHD. The Journal of Experimental Education 2012; 80(1): 69-95.