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Learning with ADHD

Learning with ADHD

“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a condition, usually in children, characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.”42 ADHD is one of the most common learning disorders in students in classrooms across the country. 9.4% of children in American are diagnosed with ADHD, compared to 7.2% worldwide. It can be very difficult for these students to succeed in the classroom. There are some genetic and environmental factors that can affect this; low birth weight, smoking while pregnant, drugs or alcohol use during pregnancy, lack of oxygen at birth, or possibly epilepsy.43 These students can be extremely disruptive both at home and in the school community. In addition to the behavioral issues there can be a delay in language and other developmental challenges. has several key statistics for teachers and parents to be aware of when it comes to ADHD: 

• ADHD occurs more in men (12.9%) than women (4.9%). 

• Parents of a child with ADHD bear five times more costs than those without them. 

• Children are most usually diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of six and eleven—9.6%. 

• Over 40% of children with ADHD also have a parent with this disorder. 

• About 35% of teens with ADHD drop out of school. 

• As many as 27% of teens who have a substance abuse disorder have ADHD. 

• Around 51% of teenage girls with ADHD have self-injured. 

• Severe ADHD cases might reduce your life expectancy by 25 years. 

• Astoundingly, 41.3% of adult ADHD cases are considered severe. 

• One in four women with ADHD has attempted suicide.44

The best approach with a student that has been diagnosed with ADHD is a team approach. School administration, teachers, and parents must be on the same page when it comes to helping the student not just learn but thrive socially as well. There are some medications that have been helpful to improve focus and concentration, that would be something that the family would need to investigate. 

In the CCS school community there are many things that the teachers and staff can do to help these students be successful. Communication is once again the most valuable piece of the puzzle. The teacher and parents must be in constant communication with each other to monitor progress or discuss regression. Letting the parent know what works at school and the teacher know what works at home is a key ingredient to help support the student in learning. 

The student with ADHD has multiple hurdles to overcome when it comes to learning and it can be challenging for the teacher in the classroom setting. We must come up with strategies that will help manage expectations and behaviors. In the classroom, the behavioral management system should focus on the positive behaviors, reward systems should be daily, and focus on increasing academic engagement. Teachers can incorporate strategies in the way they deliver the lessons each day; have some type of signal at the beginning of the lesson, make regular eye contact with the student, outline the lesson on the board, let the student know exactly what the expectations are and clearly state what materials they will use in the lesson or work. During the lesson, teachers use simple instructions, vary the pace of the teaching, give breaks when needed, and use a non-distracting cue to remind them to stay on task. When the teacher ends the lessons, it is helpful to should summarize the key points, ask several students to repeat them, and be specific about what should be taken home or the assignment if necessary. The classroom should be a place where there are minimal distractions and time built in for movement and brain breaks. 

There are many ways that teachers can help both the parents and the students not simply survive school but thrive at CCS. Some good strategies to use are to set a timer this will help keep them on task and not become overwhelmed by the whole project. Knowing what triggers a student, being honest about distractions can help a student avoid them. Technology can be a useful tool when used wisely. For the student with ADHD a routine can be helpful, it makes managing school much easier. 

Teach strategies to children with ADHD that they can carry with them throughout life. Help them plan, prioritize, and pause. Plan what they need to do, what they must do, make a list, and write it down. Prioritize the tasks that they need to do, recognize what must be done first and what can wait, and set reminders to help stay on track. Pause, it is important for students to plan breaks, take breaks, and have a balance between work and play. Routines for students with ADHD are important tools in everyday life. 

When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, parents can be overwhelmed and lost in all the information and misinformation that is available. Many parents feel that the disability is somehow their fault, and while it is genetic, it is no one’s fault. Often, the child is exhibiting the same behaviors at home and school. Students will often act out the most where they feel most comfortable.

Improving communication is a huge tip for parents, students must be taught coping skills that help them to express their frustrations and concerns in a constructive way. Social skills must be intentionally taught since they do not naturally develop them like their peers. Parents need to monitor triggers and anticipate problems before they arrive, this helps avoid being reactive to a problem. Avoiding lectures is a key component of communication, speak with clarity and use concise language and instructions. 

Parents must teach their children with ADHD effective day-to-day skills. This comes with consistent rules with the ability to be flexible if necessary. Organizational and time management strategies are beneficial for students with ADHD to learn. As children grow and mature, parents need to review the strategies and make changes if something is not working any more. Above all parents need to be patient with their child, identify their strengths and recognize their weaknesses, helping them to develop personal responsibility. 

“ADHD doesn't cause other psychological or developmental problems. However, children with ADHD are more likely than others to also have conditions such as: 

• Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), generally defined as a pattern of negative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures 

• Conduct disorder, marked by antisocial behavior such as stealing, fighting, destroying property, and harming people or animals 

• Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, characterized by irritability and problems tolerating frustration 

• Learning disabilities, including problems with reading, writing, understanding, and communicating 

• Substance use disorders, including drugs, alcohol, and smoking 

• Anxiety disorders, which may cause overwhelming worry and nervousness, and include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 

• Mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, which includes depression as well as manic behavior 

• Autism spectrum disorder, a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others 

• Tic disorder or Tourette syndrome, disorders that involve repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can't be easily controlled” 45 

Students with ADHD face a world of challenges and it can be difficult to navigate, but it is not impossible. All children should be defined by the unique, amazing qualities they possess not by a learning challenge they have. The student needs to know that they are valuable and can have a great impact on the world around them. 

ADHD can be treated with proper diagnosis and regular checkups with their doctor. Education about the disorder is key to understand the treatment goals. Medication is one of the ways this disorder can be managed, but there are alternative treatments that have also helped children with ADHD live with and overcome their challenges. Some of the alternative ways to treat ADHD that have been effective are vitamins and minerals, meditation, massage therapy, diet modification and exercise. 

It is common with people diagnosed with ADHD to have low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.46 These fats help the body operate at an optimal level. They improve brain function, memory, concentration, and focus. Vitamin B-6 produces myelin and serotonin and norepinephrine; theses are chemicals in the brain that help to stabilize moods and reduce impulsivity. Magnesium is mineral that supports mental lucidity and eases nervousness and hyperactivity. Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the symptoms of ADHD, it strengthens the immune system. 

Meditation can help a student relax and gain control. Massage therapy, when combined with other treatments were effective. Some children benefit from diet modification, eliminating foods with artificial food additives, colors, and preservatives has shown significant improvement in the symptoms of the disorder. Increasing daily exercise has the benefit of producing extra neurotransmitters that help reduce impulsive behaviors.47 

When it comes to learning and living with ADHD every day can be an adventure in controlled chaos. Teachers need to stop seeing these students as broken and start recognizing the strengths that they possess. They were born to succeed; they just need a little extra push. Know that these students want to be seen as the person they are not the diagnosis they have. They get frustrated easily trying to be the square peg. They are harder on themselves then any adult could be, they want to stay on task and focus, they just have a hard time. 

“I’m not flighty! My mind in simply attracted to looking at everything and finds beauty in all moments, so much so that it distracts me all the time. There is beauty in ADHD if you will only recognize it! I wish the world knew that I’m not debilitated by my diagnosis, but empowered and proud to name it. I own ADHD and am a better person because of it. I wish the world knew that I’m excited to see where this journey will take me! ADHD doesn’t define me, but neither does it limit me!”48 


42, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, 2022. 

43 Positive Action Staff, “Teaching Students with ADHD in 2021 (A Complete Guide)” 

February 1, 2021. 

44 Hermina Drah, “31 ADHD Statistics and Facts to Raise Awareness in 2022.”

45 Mayo Clinic Staff, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Children,”

46 Elizabeth Hawkey and Joel T. Nigg,” Omega-3 Fatty Acids and ADHD.”

47 Positive Action Staff, “Teaching Students with ADHD.” (Accessed Jan. 2022)

48 “10 Things I Wish the World Knew About ADHD,” March 2, 2021, 

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