The Challenges ADHD Students Face

Janelle Cox
Janelle Cox
M.S. in Education

Students living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often experience a good chunk of frustration. This is largely because their thoughts are going faster than their bodies. This can present a challenge for students to do well in the classroom. To meet the needs of children diagnosed with this, teachers can provide and use specific accommodations for ADHD students, ensuring they are succeeding in school.

How Does Learning Differ for ADHD Students?

Learning for students with ADHD is much different than that of a general education student. Hyperactive children with ADHD have a hard time sitting still, which means they spend a lot of their time trying to satisfy their need to get up and move. Children with more inattentive ADHD struggle with zoning out.

Students living with ADHD also find it difficult to filter out distractions such as the tap of a pencil or the movement of a chair. This can be quite difficult for children to complete assignments or pay attention to a lesson in a full classroom. The frequency of these breaks in attention, whether from hyperactivity or distraction, often mean they’re missing out on critical instruction.

Lastly, ADHD students often find it difficult to demonstrate their understanding of concepts in school, so they may not complete assignments on time and may even fail tests due to this learning disability. This frustration can lead to negative self-talk, anxiety, and feelings of stress.

What Challenges Do ADHD Students Face?

Children with ADHD experience more challenges in the classroom than their peers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, ADHD symptoms, such as the inability to pay attention, problems with hyperactivity and impulse control, and difficulty regulating emotions, make it difficult for children with ADHD in the classroom.

How to Help Students with ADHD in the Classroom

Children diagnosed with ADHD, have unique needs in school. Here are some strategies for students with ADHD strategies you can use to help them succeed in your classroom.

Encourage Positive Behaviors

One strategy that has proven to be effective with students diagnosed with ADHD is to create a behavior classroom management system, such as a rewards program. The Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology explains that behavior management programs focusing on incentives and rewards are shown to increase academic engagement in children with ADHD. This teacher-led approach, although tested in elementary schools, has been shown to work with students of all ages.

Develop a Student Plan

Talk with the student to develop a plan that will suit their specific needs. For example, if they tend to get distracted easily, a fidget tool may help them focus better on schoolwork and lessons. If the student has a difficult time sitting still, then maybe using a stand-up desk or balance ball as a seat would benefit them.

Take the time to observe and talk with the student to determine how their needs can best be met in your classroom; not all ADHD students’ needs present the same.

Allow Time for Breaks

Paying attention takes a lot of extra effort for children with ADHD, so allowing time for breaks throughout the day would be a welcomed opportunity for students. Breaks can be physical, such as having students wiggle out their energy through a quick series of exercises or running errands throughout the school. They can also be something as simple as telling them to take a bathroom or water break to step away momentarily from the lesson, physically and mentally.

Be Flexible

Students with ADHD tend to have a pattern of inattention, or hyperactivity-impulsivity, which means oftentimes they can be restless in the classroom. If the standard rules don’t seem like they “fit” with the child diagnosed with ADHD, then you must be flexible.

For example, if the classroom rule is to stay in your seat, a child with hyperactive ADHD may find that difficult to do, so you can give the child alternative seating, such as a balance ball seat, or allow them to stand up when needed. A student with inattentive ADHD may be more productive listening to music, or away from disruption of other students. Being flexible when teaching students with ADHD means you may have to allow them more time to complete work or more precise instructions to better help them understand classroom expectations.

Assist with Organization

One of the symptoms of ADHD is the inability to hold attention. To help minimize the distractions and disruptions of the ADHD mind, you can help the students stay organized. For example, you can help them color code materials for each subject, provide a pocket insert or folder for important information, give them a student planner and allow time each day to write down important dates and assignments.

Help Manage Impulsivity

Some children with ADHD act without thinking. When this happens, it can create difficult situations within the classroom. To help manage this impulsivity, you can have a written behavior plan posted where the student can see it. You can also be very specific in explaining expectations and giving consequences as soon as you see any misbehavior.

Another helpful tip is to have the daily schedule written on the board or on a piece of paper for the student to check off as each task is completed. This will help them know what to expect, as well as help them to gain a sense of control within their day toward staying on track. These modifications for students with ADHD can be extremely helpful.

Understanding the effects this has on a student’s performance in the classroom will help you take a proactive stance to find specific strategies and tools that can help students living with ADHD succeed in the classroom.

Have a passion for helping students with learning and behavioral disabilities? Check out our available graduate programs and get started today!

graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?