The school year contains a host of challenges for every student, but some, particularly those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may face steeper challenges than others.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that ADHD affects between 4% and 12% of school-aged children. Such figures are disconcerting, particularly when considering the adverse effects of ADHD on academic performance. In fact, a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that ADHD was associated with substantially lower performance in school independent of socioeconomic background factors. The stakes are high regarding ADHD and academics, so students and their families can familiarize themselves with the condition to ensure it does not interfere with their efforts to do their best in the classroom.
What is ADHD?
The American Academy of Pediatrics describes ADHD as a chronic condition of the brain that makes it difficult for children to control their behavior. That explains why the link between ADHD and poor academic performance is so strong. The organization also notes that children with ADHD often have trouble getting along with other children and, if they have issues with attention, they can have difficulty learning.
Behavioral symptoms of ADHD
ADHD includes three distinct groups of symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Children with inattention may daydream and have a hard time paying attention, often do not seem to listen, may be easily distracted from work or play, and may not follow through on instructions or finish tasks. Children with hyperactivity may be in constant motion, exhibit difficulty staying seated, frequently squirm or fidget, talk too much, and be incapable of playing quietly. Children with impulsivity may frequently act and speak without thinking, run into a street without first looking for oncoming traffic, and frequently interrupt others.
It is important for parents to recognize that children with ADHD will not necessarily have all the symptoms. Symptoms are classified by the type of ADHD a child has ADHD cases are usually determined to be inattentive only, hyperactive/impulsive or combined ADHD, which includes symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
When should I alert a physician?
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that all children exhibit the symptoms noted above from time to time. However, a physician should be alerted when children exhibit those symptoms on a regular basis for more than six months.