Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

According to Dr. Joseph Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, ADHD may be one of the costliest medical conditions in the United States: “Evaluating, diagnosing and treating this condition may not only improve the quality of life, but may save billions of dollars every year” (Biederman, 2005, para. 2). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has affected millions of children throughout the years in academics, home life and peer relationships.

I researched the question “How does ADHD affect children in the classroom and how can I as a teacher respond? and was enlightened to very interesting information that will not only make me more aware of the disorder and it’s daily effects on the lives of children, but will also help me to be an understanding and effective teacher when I have my own classroom. ADHD has a big effect on children in the classroom academically, socially and emotionally. It will be my responsibility as a teacher to learn how ADHD affects children and their peers. I will also need to learn how to use different techniques and accommodations in the classroom to help these children be successful and to demonstrate that I fully believe in them.

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When most people think about ADHD, they probably assume that students with ADHD have below-normal intelligence and lack motivation in the classroom because they are constantly causing trouble and performing poorly in school. It is understandable that people may think this way because some of the appearances of ADHD are inattention and lack of motivation. It is important to not look only at the outward appearances but to take things from the student with ADHD’s perspective and try to understand his or her struggles.

ADHD affects students in the classroom in many ways that may disrupt the teacher and be a distraction to the classroom activity. The three most common noticeable effects of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsivity. This shows up in the how students with ADHD perform academically. Many have difficulty organizing their assignments and end up doing things in a very disorganized manner (How does ADHD affect school performance, 2012). Many students with ADHD often spend several hours at home attempting to complete their homework, only to forget to bring it to school the next day (Attention, 2000).

If this happens often, this may cause the student to get in trouble with his teacher multiple times. This is very hard for the student because he may have spent countless hours struggling over homework and trying to do a good job on it, only to make a simple yet costly mistake. Another big effect that ADHD has on students in the classroom is the constant distraction they experience by external stimuli (Nichols, 2013). For a student with ADHD, it may take him a lot of effort to not listen to the air conditioner in the room instead of the teacher.

That air conditioner that is usually only a background noise for typical learners may take up the majority of the attention of a student with ADHD. That student is probably struggling to not make the external stimuli the focus of his attention, and it will be an internal battle for him to listen to and process what the teacher is saying because the external stimuli may be as loud as the teacher to him. This inattention can have a very bad effect on the student’s school performance because he may not take notes or hear anything the teacher is saying.

This will result in poor grades for the student, which may make him very unmotivated to do his homework. Students with ADHD are known to be very impulsive in the classroom and may fidget a lot in their seat or even stand up and walk around at an inappropriate time (How does ADHD affect social life, 2012). Most often, students have trouble paying attention to what the teacher is saying because their mind and thoughts are somewhere else. Students with ADHD often only pay attention to activities in the classroom that they find interesting and stimulating.

If they are not paying attention, they are most likely daydreaming about something very unrelated to what the teacher is saying. Because of these inattentive and impulsive tendencies, students with ADHD have more poor and failed grades, a high dropout rate from school, and a lower rate of college completion (How does ADHD affect school performance, 2012). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder does not affect students merely academically, but it also has a big affect on their social interactions. It is very common for students with ADHD to act without thinking beforehand and do many socially unacceptable things in the classroom.

The other students in the classroom most likely always notice this and do not want to interact with them (Nichols, 2013). Students with ADHD very often have trouble following social rules and they do not pick up on social cues. This affects them in the ways that they interact on the playground and in the classroom because they often notice that other children do not treat them the same way as other children, and they may become very shy and withdrawn, or even aggressive (Roizen). This may be unappealing for other children and they may try to not interact with students with ADHD.

Since children with ADHD act without thinking and do unacceptable things in the classroom, they are often singled out and called out by the teacher because their problems with inattention and hyperactivity affect the teacher’s lesson and is very distracting to the other students (Nichols, 2013). Being singled out in front of other students may make students with ADHD very self-conscious because the other students in the classroom are noticing their behavior and seeing them get in trouble. Because of this, these students may begin to feel like outcasts in a place where they should be very accepted (Roizen).

Students with ADHD struggle inwardly in the way that they view themselves because of all the negative feedback they receive from peers and teachers. They can begin to feel very inferior to their classmates because even though they may be trying very hard to act normally, they always seem to be a few steps behind the children around them (Nichols, 2013). These students end up becoming very frustrated with their school and social performance because even though they try and try, they often still mess up (How does ADHD affect school performance, 2012).

This can cause big self-esteem problems in the student’s life because they may have gone through years of struggling in school and still not feeling adequate. Many children with ADHD bring these negative feelings about themselves and low self-esteem into adulthood, and this can affect many things about their adult life (Bailey, 2013). Children and even adults who have ADHD often deal with anxiety and depression because they can never seem to “get it right” or act like their peers (Roizen).

Even though all of these emotions can have a very negative effect on many students’ lives and actions, the parents and teachers of students with ADHD can play a very important role in working to counteract these effects. Teachers can dramatically alter the way that students with ADHD view themselves and consequently, how they perform in school. Students with ADHD are very capable of succeeding in school and doing well in social situations, but they need a lot of extra help by parents, specialists and teachers.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimates that all teachers have at least one child with ADHD in their classroom (Dunne, 2013). Since ADHD interferes with a child’s ability to listen, stay on task and perform well in school, their teachers need to understand and be prepared to help students be successful (Dunne, 2013). All children from time to time fidget in their chair and do not pay attention in school, but in general, most typical learners only need a gentle nudge to remind them to get back to work (Dunne, 2013).

Students with ADHD usually need more than merely a small reminder to stay on task, and many students benefit greatly from social skills training. In their therapy sessions, they can learn the appropriate ways to communicate and act in school and other social situations (Roizen). With good social skills training, children with ADHD can learn what is and is not appropriate socially, and they can end up having very fulfilling friendships and relationships (Roizen).

It is important for teachers to reinforce appropriate classroom and social behavior to students with ADHD. It is very helpful for students with ADHD to receive positive feedback and be reassured whenever they do something good in the classroom (Chaban, McAuley, & Tannock, 2009). It is important to point out successes to students and make sure they know when they have done something well (Dunne, 2013). Teachers should gently remind their students with ADHD of their responsibilities in the classroom while helping them feel capable of accomplishing things themselves.

Teachers need to make students feel important and needed in the classroom. This is very helpful for the self-esteem of a student with ADHD. Since they are constantly receiving negative feedback from their peers, they need to know that there is someone who believes in them. A teacher can play a very important role in the life of his or her students by simply giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are able to succeed. There are many ways that a teacher can take steps to make her classroom friendly for students with ADHD.

The classroom should be structured well and should have consistent rules with regular routines (Dunne, 2013). This helps students become confident and feel capable once they begin to understand and remember their routine. If teachers can create a positive learning environment and help students to feel connected to the school and their classroom, it is much more likely that the students with ADHD will begin to make better social relationships and even achieve better academically (Chaban et al. , 2009).

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can alter the way a student performs academically and socially, and can even make him feel inadequate and not good enough for other people. Many children with ADHD have experienced a lot of negativity in their lifetime because of their impulsivity and hyperactivity. When a teacher or another student is able to make sure children with ADHD know that they are important and needed in the classroom, it can speak volumes to the children and give them the confidence they need to keep trying their hardest and not give up.


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