ADHD in School: A Prediction of Failure?


For a lot of parents, an ADHD diagnosis can be a prediction of doom; ADHD in school is often viewed as a synonym for “failure”. Is that an accurate representation of children with ADHD? Keep reading to find out how ADHD can affect your child’s performance in school.

Some of the defining symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Unfortunately, these traits do not mix well with a classroom. It is therefore no surprise that children who suffer from ADHD struggle to concentrate and pay attention during lessons. Furthermore, they find it difficult to sit still and work in the conventional manner that is necessary in a classroom environment. This can not only be detrimental to their own education, but it can also serve as a distraction for the students around them. With these qualities, it is easy for children with ADHD to just give up, and it is in these cases that they fail in school.

An unfortunate fact is that ADHD is often comorbid with other conditions, including anxiety, depression, disruptive behaviour disorders and learning problems. The combination of these problems can be a very difficult reality for a child. Suddenly they not only have to deal with their inability to concentrate and “behave” as a child is expected to, but they also find themselves in a situation where they have to deal with more problems. Anxiety and depression can be a very difficult thing to handle in a school environment, where you are expected to interact with other students and teachers. Children with these mental health problems alone are more prone to failing in school, and that is without considering ADHD added to the mix.
While the symptoms of ADHD alone are difficult to deal with, a lot of children also face the struggle of the stigma that surrounds it. Children tend to make fun of those that are different, and a hyperactive child ticks that box. Furthermore, a lot of teachers tend to look down on children with ADHD and treat them differently. They refer to them as troublemakers and consider them to be nothing but a disruption to their well organised class. Not only that, but children with ADHD tend to grasp concepts in a unique way. Their minds work differently, and typical ways of teaching often doesn’t work for them. Once teachers realise this, they tend to write the children with ADHD off as slow and expect them to fail in school, which can easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When taking all of these struggles into consideration, it is no surprise that a study done by Joshua Breslau revealed that between 32% and 35% of children with ADHD will fail or drop out of school, as opposed to the 15% of neurotypical children. This is a depressing fact, and one that many parents of children with ADHD have to face every day.

Unfortunately, the minds of children with ADHD is often simply not fitting for a school environment. That is not to say that your child is slow and will never be a success; on the contrary, a lot of children with ADHD are particularly smart (in areas they are interested in). You just have to figure out a way to get through to them and teach them in a method that they understand. Studies show that between 30% and 40% of children with ADHD require special education. This is a way to avoid failure on your child’s part and can provide them with a sense of belonging.

ADHD is not a synonym for failure, and you can rest assured that your child is not doomed to fail at school. You might have to adjust the learning methods to better suit your child’s needs, but there is hope after all. Finally, keep in mind that statistics are just numbers; you know your child best, and you can decide what is best for them.

Mieke de Muelenaere