ADHD School Struggles

Strategies for Managing ADHD in School Settings

Navigating school with ADHD involves addressing various challenges such as maintaining focus, organizing tasks, and managing time. Key strategies include establishing a consistent routine, using organizational tools like planners, and seeking accommodations like extended time for assignments and tests. Collaborating with teachers and school counselors to tailor learning approaches can also significantly help. Recognizing and proactively managing these ADHD-related challenges is essential for academic success and overall well-being in educational environments.

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The School Struggles that ADHD Students Experience

How did you fare when you were a student 🧑‍🎓? For those who were already diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when they were children, is it advantageous to know that you have this neurodivergent condition beforehand? Did it significantly impact how you deal with ADHD as a student? These questions go inside my head because I envy those diagnosed early when they were a child. Not that I blame myself or the people around me for not noticing the signs; it's just that I believe that if I had been diagnosed much earlier, my academic life, and even life in general, would be different🙋‍♀️ .

For those that don't know yet, I was diagnosed in my late-20s. I have had enough of the struggles that made me feel so lost in my life. There were times when I needed to quit the courses I was taking because I realized that I wasn't interested in it all along 🤦. First was an art class that I found interesting to join, but then I encountered some difficulties and quit. Then I went on to study culinary arts, but learning everything can be pretty overwhelming. I finally accepted that I was already jumping schools and had not achieved anything😭.

I convinced myself that I needed to be successful despite the challenges I felt. I tried to study Spanish, and somehow I thought this path was the one. But yeah, I didn't finish it either. My behaviors and outlook in life were just so affected because of this “course hopping”. One day I was full of hope, and then I’d find myself in deep trouble. A lot of students with ADHD have to deal with numerous things to improve their learning and at the same time, manage their symptoms well.

The Importance of ADHD's Learning Environment

Surviving inside learning environments, such as classrooms or universities 🏫, will require sustained mental effort. After all, these are also where the struggle of many people with ADHD happens. 

We may often get too excited with our decisions and take something we don't want wholeheartedly. We may likewise get easily distracted by the classroom environment that we don't feel is conducive to learning. There are also moments when we make careless mistakes that can significantly affect our self-esteem, especially when we think we are below the standards😔.

A child's ability to learn depends on different factors. First would be their eagerness to learn by themselves. Consequently, our environment can also affect how we do our school work. The third will be the support we'll be getting to accomplish everything. But for those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, there are many things they need to factor in. Are there other processes that the school officials require of us that need extra effort? There are so many things that can affect those with neurodevelopmental disorders, and sometimes they may be disregarded🥺.

I grasped a better understanding of these thoughts the hard way. I had to experience multiple burnouts and failures with my education to find what was right for me ☹️. I had to go through different challenges to learn the lessons and how to manage every difficulty and struggle as an undiagnosed person.

The ADHD Symptoms You Need To Manage While Studying

I was mainly in the dark 🕶️ in my ADHD Journey while I was studying. I was not officially diagnosed with ADHD, but I knew back then that I was struggling. My behavior, my motivation, and even my focus were not in the right place. There's something wrong with me, and I don't want you guys to experience the same. So, here are some of the symptoms that you need to manage while studying:

Missing Deadlines and Skipping Classes

Looking back, I thought that my study skills were inefficient and nonexistent. I thought I was not smart and just lazy with all my schoolwork. When we were given homework and assignments, I didn't bother touching them until the last hours before submission. I knew I wasn't interested in doing them and I was not acting it out. 

frequently missing deadlines and skipping class

The trouble of procrastination and cramming is something I'm familiar with. I put off these activities for a while and then catch up on everything I can hours before submission. I'll end up not giving my best and getting a low rating 🈴. Or, if I'm left with no choice and haven't finished the task, I'll end up not attending class and going somewhere more relaxing. Most of the time, I tried to escape the situation instead of just facing it.

Difficulty Following Instructions from Professors

Many children with ADHD struggle with grasping instructions, especially in a fast-paced environment, like schools. Our trouble with collecting the correct information may be due to our tendency to get easily distracted. It can also be that we are not processing the information correctly or tend to forget what was said soon after😅.

difficulty following introduction from professors

I experienced difficulties related to following instruction. One time, my teacher became so furious because I was asking the instructions repeatedly. But, what could I do? I wasn't sure of the order and processes to finish the activity. I felt ashamed because it seemed to him that I wasn't paying attention, but I was all ears 👂 when he was talking. So for the last time, I made him repeat his instruction and never asked him any questions again.

Getting a Couple of Distractions in Class

Good thing that when I was younger, cellular phones 📱 weren't yet that advanced and they were not allowed in school. But if it were, another item would have been added to my distraction list. 

getting easily distracted during class

There are a lot of things that I become distracted by, especially when I am in school. The noise from other children outside playing in their free time, my classmates who were actively listening to the class while I was observing them, or my world in my daydream 💭that I often visit.

While everyone was having a good time and learning their lessons, I was seated at the far corner looking outside the window and trying to plan what I'll do after class. I envy those kids who can deal with distractions and quickly turn their attention into something needed. Because for me, every time I try to give my attention to a particular thing, I am constantly interrupted by other thoughts or ideas😵.

Losing Things Due to Lack of Organization

One of the most embarrassing experiences I had as a child who was clueless about this ADHD symptom happened inside the classroom with everyone there 🏛️. 

losing belongings due to lack of orgnization

Before the class started, our teacher reminded us to bring out our books so that we could discuss all the important lessons that day. As I was about to get my book, I didn't find it in my bag. I was shocked and panicked during that time. In my mind: there's no way I was going to be scolded by my teacher again because I forgot to bring my things.

But then my teacher noticed that I wasn't settled yet in my seat. I told him I failed to bring the book because our dog ate it 🐶. Well, he knew I was lying, but then my classmates told him they had seen my book in my locker (which I had forgotten). I ended up getting my teacher disappointed, and I became a laughing stock for a while. My parents also got called because of my behavior, and I told them that there's definitely something different about me.

Having to Participate in Group Work

Many kids with ADHD going to school are full of hyperactivity. Their behaviors are sometimes out of place, and they never run out of ideas that are sometimes out of this world. That's why sometimes, when students with ADHD are asked to join a group for an activity, it can be hard for them to find someone that can help them fit in 🧑‍🤝‍🧑. Only those who know and understand what a child with ADHD is capable of will be more patient in dealing with them.

struggling when participating in group work

Luckily, as a student, I hadn't had difficulties finding my own group when we were tasked to do something. However, all I can remember back then when it came to doing schoolwork in groups was my social skills in dealing with others. I know I can be mean in complex social situations and tend to get irritated more often. So, I was extra careful with my words and actions whenever I was in groups 😶, so that no one would get offended in case I had to say something.

Easily Forgetting the Materials You Studied for a Test

As we all know, one method teachers use to determine if their students learned anything is through examinations or tests📝. Many schools, if not all, are using this approach to gauge students' understanding. Aside from the school activities, this is how they measure success or progress.

easily forgetting the materials you've studied for a test

How will an ADHD child succeed if they often forget what they studied the night before? Other kids can do well with these tests because they tend to have a good memory and can better manage their attention. But for many children with ADHD, they'll always struggle with this kind of approach. Sometimes, a student's ability cannot be measured well on exams because we all have different knowledge and capacity.

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ADHD & Learning Disabilities

While ADHD is not considered a learning disability, it can affect our learning and the way we process information. Also, according to studies, having a learning disability can be comorbid with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This means that some people with ADHD can also develop other conditions, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.

One of the reasons for this possibility is the support we give to a child with ADHD. Sometimes, we tend to treat them like they have the same behavior, ability, and challenges as neurotypicals. But when we look closely, these children need to compensate more, work harder and act as if everything is going fine💪. They have to mask their troubles to feel included, not be called out, and avoid rejection.

This can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety, worsening their condition. So instead of putting more pressure on them, we need to give them a chance to learn at their own pace and find ways to cope. All we need is to support them and understand their situation💏 .

Additional Tips for Avoiding School Struggles

Being an undiagnosed ADHD kid 🧒 that grew up mostly without knowing the ADHD symptoms that I experienced, there are many things I wish I knew. If only I had been given a chance for an ADHD diagnosis, I would definitely grab it and embrace it. I would've known that what I was feeling and experiencing were usual for many people with ADHD.

So here are some of the things that I want teens with ADHD (even children) to know when it comes to their schooling:

  • Remember to be yourself no matter what💪. Some people may let you down because of your ADHD symptoms and behavior but don't get discouraged. Instead, make it a challenge to prove to them that you are more than the trouble you may cause.
  • Find a way for your studies that works best for you 📝. As mentioned, we all have different ways of learning and studying. So, don't force yourself to do things the way other people do if it's not working for you. You can try different approaches to study as long as you learn everything you need to.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep and rest😴. This is important for everyone. When we are tired, our symptoms tend to be worse. So, getting a good night's sleep before a big day at school is best.
  • Don't get intimidated by other people's success 🏆. We all have our own pace in life, and there are times that we go through lots of challenges and hardships before we experience success and all the good things in life. Just because other people seem to have it all together doesn't mean you're not doing great either.
  • Good behavior still matters. No matter what happens, having the right attitude and outlook in life can get you a long way. Some people with ADHD can always become grumpy and angry but try your best to act otherwise. Self-regulate your emotions and handle them properly so you won't offend anyone.
  • Capitalize your impulsivity and make the most out of it 🙌. One of the challenges we often deal with is our impulse control. Instead of going against it, why not use it to your advantage? You can channel it into something creative and productive.

Parents 💏 and teachers should serve as models in having an understanding and positive outlook on ADHD. They should also be the ones to support us in dealing with school-related challenges. They should be our number one motivator in dealing with this neurodivergent condition as a child.

When we have people supporting us and understanding what we are going through, it'll be a lot easier to face the challenges that come our way. So, if you know someone with ADHD, be there for them and help them out in any way you can❤️.

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ADHD & School Struggles: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is ADHD a learning disability?

No, ADHD is not considered a learning disability, but it can affect how we learn and process information.

Do people with ADHD do worse in school?

Not automatically. People with ADHD may face challenges at school, but they can overcome it with the right treatment, management strategies and support. ‍

How do you make the most of your education when you have ADHD?

The best way to make the most of your education is to get the proper assessment and treatment from a mental health professional. The tips above, such as being true to yourself and capitalizing on your symptoms will also be helpful.

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