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ADHD: School Issues and Interventions

In the elementary years, AD/HD usually causes these problems:

  • off-task behavior,
  • incomplete or lost assignments,
  • disorganization,
  • sloppy work or messy handwriting,
  • not following directions,
  • errors in accuracy,
  • inconsistent performance,
  • disruptive behavior or spacey, daydreaming behavior, and/or
  • social interaction difficulties.
  • Around middle school and into high school and beyond, most of these problems continue. However, additional ones arise. That is because adolescents are expected to be much more independent and self-directed. They receive less supervision. Demands for concentration and more sophisticated thinking and problem solving increase. AD/HD makes it hard to meet those demands.

    Given the additional problems that seem to arise in middle school and beyond, it's not unusual to see a student who's gotten by in earlier grades dive bomb academically around puberty.

    The thinking difficulties associated with AD/HD do not have to do with intellectual ability. Instead, they arise out of problems with concentration, memory, and cognitive organization. Typically, AD/HD-related memory problems arise in two areas:

  • working memory-which helps the student keep one thing in mind while working on another, and
  • retrieval-being able to locate on demand information that has been learned and stored in memory.
  • Many students also show problems in:

  • time management,
  • prioritizing work,
  • reading comprehension,
  • note taking,
  • study skills, and
  • completing multi-step tasks.
  • Clearly, a student with AD/HD can have difficulty in any number of academic areas and with critical academic skills. Thus, it is extremely important that the school and parents work together to design an appropriate educational program for the student. This program needs to include the accommodations, modifications, and other services necessary to support the student academically and promote successful learning and appropriate behavior.

    Reprinted from National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) Briefing Paper, Revised Edition, April 2002. Contact NICHCY at P.O. Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013-1492; phone: 800/695-0285 or 202/884-8200 (Voice/TT).

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