Understanding ADHD in children

Boy looking fed up
Understanding how ADHD affects your child at school, and the type of support that should be in place, will make it easier for you to help them through their education, writes Shivon Genus.
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ADHD can have a huge impact on a child’s learning, causing educational, social, emotional and psychological problems. A high percentage of children with ADHD are pupils who are underachieving because of their disability.

What’s the problem?

ADHD in children causes numerous problems which include lack of concentration, failure to consider actions, low self esteem, depression, poor team working abilities, lack of organisational skills, and difficulty getting on with peers.

Unfortunately though, children with ADHD often don’t get the additional support they need, mostly due to lack of funding. Parents have to be an advocate for their children as help and support is not always readily accessible. It can help to understand what should be happening in the classroom and at policy level within your child’s school so that you can fight for it.

ADHD in the classroom

Positive Relationships

Teachers should avoid focusing on failure and give as much praise as possible. They should have an understanding of ADHD in children and how it affects learning. Your child’s teacher should give frequent and immediate feedback and avoid embarrassing the child. Many children with ADHD have poor motivation therefore teachers need to work on this with the pupil.

Environmental Setting

This should be a safe, clean, organised and structured classroom. Children with ADHD are easily distracted therefore it is imperative to ensure that they are seated in the classroom near the front of the class and at a place which is free from distraction. For example, sitting near the window or door would not be helpful.

Behavioural strategies

Schools should have a behavioural policy in place so that the pupils and their parents know what is expected of them. They should work in partnership with parents and form a home to school communication (such as a school/home diary) to keep parents informed of their child’s progress at school. This will help highlight any problems before they become major concerns.

Because children with ADHD are easily distracted, where possible, lessons should include some fun elements to gain the child’s attention. It may help to give the child a responsibility, remembering to break tasks down into small stages and to repeat instructions slowly.

Interventions for children with ADHD

These may include:

  • SEN support at school.
  • Psychological/Psychiatric intervention. Medication can be given if recommended by a doctor.
  • Parent training/counselling, if needed.

Who can help?

ADHD in children cannot be cured but it can be effectively controlled with the correct treatment, intervention and strategies. If you feel you need support in managing your child’s condition try speak to one – or several – of the following:

  • SENCO School Nurse
  • LEA – Special Educational Needs Department
  • Educational Psychologist
  • GP, Paediatrician, Child & Adolescent Psychologist/Psychiatrist
  • Social Services
  • ADHD Support Groups

Other resources:

ADDISS - The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service