Even though ADHD is not a learning disability, it might greatly impact your child’s learning and present a number of problems, academically and socially. It might show up in inappropriate behaviors or your child might be thought of as lazy, inconsiderate or defiant. Because every child with ADHD is different, the symptoms can show up in different ways. The following are some common ways ADHD symptoms show up at school.
**Easily distracted **- Students who are easily distracted often miss important information. They might only hear a portion of the teacher’s lesson and miss details about what work is to be completed. They might become distracted when completing seatwork or taking tests and not finish in the allotted time.
**Disorganization **- Many children with ADHD are disorganized, with papers stuffed inside folders or backpacks. They often lose things and spend time searching for their homework or supplies. Disorganization makes it harder to study for tests because their notes are not in a neat, legible and organized fashion. They might have a difficult time organizing books and supplies to bring home in order to complete homework. They might fall short of responsibilities when doing a group project.
Forgetfulness - Children with ADHD frequently have problems with working, or short-term, memory. Once another thought pops into their mind, the previous thought is gone - and totally forgotten, for example, your child might have every intention of studying for tomorrow’s test but as soon as he arrived home, the test was gone from his mind.
Making careless mistakes - If your child is impulsive, he might make careless mistakes, rush through work and have sloppy work and illegible handwriting. He might hand in work without proofreading it, leading to lower grades.
**Impulsive behavior **- Impulsivity is one of the main symptoms of ADHD and can cause behaviors such as blurting out the answer before the teacher calls on your child, having difficulty waiting their turn and interrupting others. Impulsivity can impact both learning and social interactions.
**Keeping track of time **- Your child might think only a few minutes have passed when a much longer period of time has passed. Your child might be late getting to school or always be late returning to the classroom after lunch.
**Difficulty associating work with a grade **- In school, the reward for hard work is a good grade. But a grade often comes much later, sometimes much later, such as on a report card. Your child might have trouble associating a test in September with a report card grade in November.
**Social interactions **- Many children with ADHD have trouble making friends. They might be overbearing, talking excessively, interrupting others or not listening. They might be withdrawn and shy and be afraid of initiating conversations. They might miss social cues, such as not being aware of personal space and react inappropriately. These behaviors can leave a child with ADHD feeling alone and left out.
Emotional outbursts - Children with ADHD might have trouble regulating emotions. They might have emotional outbursts when frustrated. This can lead to problems socially and increase a child’s feeling of loneliness.
**Executive function **- Many children with ADHD have executive function deficits. Executive function is necessary for organizing, planning, shifting attention from one task to the next, regulating emotions, self-monitoring and working memory. All of these areas are necessary for learning.
ADHD doesn’t have any impact on intelligence. Children with ADHD are often very bright but symptoms of ADHD interfere with their ability to sit still, stay on task and listen. In addition, many children with ADHD also have a learning disability. If you currently have an IEP or Section 504 for your child, think about the ways ADHD impacts your child during the school day. Talk with your child’s teacher about some of the common problems associated with ADHD. At your next IEP or Section 504 meeting, talk about these specific areas (IEPs and Section 504s can address social issues) and come up with strategies to better help your child in the classroom.
"Learning Problems Commonly Associated with ADD and ADHD," Teaching Teens with ADD, ADHD and Executive Function Deficits: http://www.woodbinehouse.com/excerpt/teaching_teens_excerpt1.pdf
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.