How has your child’s ADHD impacted their school life?

Thanks for all your posts so far (Calvin will be back on Monday :) !

Many of you have mentioned the presence of school as a factor in your child's ADHD journey. Overall how do you think having ADHD has impacted your child's school experience and how have different schools treated your child?

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17 Replies

  • My son started school at age 3 he played up for the teachers nursery they just said he's trying his feet reception was awful teacher was useless and was forever being called into school. He would laugh in the headmaster fave is given a row. He liked school but found it boring and being stuck in class wasn't easy for him.

    When he went into next class things turned by then he was diagnosed and teachers where brilliant with him if not for them I think we would have a different child in school. It always works if a teacher gives their times to understand and help your child.

  • School has been hell. Pre school helped transition him but as soon as he arrived things turned bad. I would have to drag him kicking and screaming daily without help from any teacher. I was called in regularly but didn't get any help. Year 1 was a disaster and the same kicking and screaming and the teachers attitude didn't help, all she saw was a difficult child. By year 2 we had made our own strategies and I allowed him to take things in to distract him. I got some help as that teacher understood more. We had the diagnosis later that year but I still didn't get real help. I purchased any equipment I could to help him and pushed for intervention but it was all too late. Then we join juniors and they had a better understanding, we had transition meetings and regular contact meetings and discussions. The paediatrician helped and we had ot and psychological help but still got there's no money in the budget to have more help. This year we have worked hard to deal with emotions and he is allowed time to process changes. We are dreading next term. The schools senco hasn't been any use. His IEP and targets are a mess. I'm taking an outside voluntary group into all meetings from now on to help progress. We also pay for drum lessons to help release energy and attends a sports group after school as a release for pent up excess but all at our cost and there's only so much we can afford. I even trained as a ta in his school so that I could see what they were doing. I wish I could do more for him.

  • Teachers are very quick to complain about 'difficult children', but not so quick to work with parents to find solutions. Our SENCO has always been reluctant to help too.

  • The first teacher our son had, once we had the ADHD diagnosis, was utterly useless. Claimed that in a 30 year career she had never seen even one other child with condition. Other teachers were fantastic with him, notably the one who had grown up living at the special school where her Dad was Head Teacher. The TAs, even without training, were great. They tried very hard to meet his needs and to help adapt the classroom to him, and to help him be able to concentrate and work. However, the ADHD has made it hard for him to be part of a class without 1-2-1 support, and amplified the difficulties that his FASD brought him.

  • School have been great so far, fortunately there's no behavioural issues as such so she can be included in classes as normal with a few adaptations like movement breaks and her separate work area. It definitely makes it harder to learn new concepts as her concentration is poor. She is good at reading but maths is tricky to understand, her dad has a maths degree so I hope it will click in future. She's in danger of falling behind and isn't getting as much out of education and other activities because of her ADHD. This is why we want to try medication as soon as possible. I'm also concerned about friendships and how she will be able to maintain these as she grows up and her friends realise she's not 'normal'. I've already heard comments about her being allowed things in class - her sensory toys for example.

  • School has been and still is a nightmare,its that bad I look forward to the holidays,most parents I know can't wait for their children to go back to school,it's the opposite with me!

    When my son started primary school his ADHD started getting worse and worse to the point that school psychologist and CAHMS got involved,he was removed from his first primary school for his own and the safety of others and put in a closed specialist unit with one2one and school psych involved.The following year the local education authority tried him in another mainstream primary and within 3 months of safety issues and barricading he was removed from there for health and safety reasons and put into another unit within a primary school,with a few incidents here and there he finally managed to get through a whole year of school and I thought perhaps he was turning a corner.The following year he was put straight into a specialist unit and again with the help of CAHMS and ed psych,he managed to get through the school year with alot of one2one and steady medication.The next year should have been the big one,year 7 first year of comp.A meeting with the school to discuss him going into year 7 was held and the unit decided that he would be better off and able to spend the year at the same place with a view to readying him for year 8 the following year.

    Finally the time had arrived for him to be integrated into year 8 over a 6-8 week period,he was ok during his integration but within a week of him starting full time in year 8 the trouble started,first was a fight followed by persistent bad behaviour on a daily basis, and it was a battle to get to the end of term and hopefully look ahead to year 9 which thankfully breaks up today.This has been the worst year of my life concerning my sons school and behaviour also driven on by his age and all that being a 14 yr old brings,how he hasn't been excluded from school full time I will never know,we (myself,social worker and school) have had so many meetings about his behaviour I've lost count!

    A meeting yesterday was arranged to discuss wether him attending year ten after the holidays was happening and there is a lot going on with his key worker during the holidays to try and emphasise how important it is that he knuckles down and works on his issues.

    Let's just hope and pray I suppose 😐

  • This is a really difficult one for me because she was only diagnosed at 14, along with hypothyroidism, and the thyroid medication seemed to help her for a while. She didn't want to tell school, but if I look back she was always regarded as a bit too social. She always managed to be in the top quarter of the class and I suppose if she had taken medication at that point she might have got better GCSEs and A Levels. However, it only came to crisis point when she failed her first year at university. As she procrastinates, she didn't engage with anyone, so I phoned up the Students' Union and they got her an appointment with the additional support department. She was allowed to resit the exams she failed but being ADHD and living away from home she forgot to take her medication on the morning of her final exam and failed again.

    She took Financial Accounting for Specialists from 29% to 59% on medication. ADHD was certainly in her choice of course. There were two courses - the aforementioned one and Financial Accounting for Non-Specialists, which is the one she should have selected. However, she chose the shorter title! The Students Union negotiated that she would attend classes in the module that she failed twice so that when she came to do it in the second semester, she wouldn't be rusty. Her friends found her a job and she stayed at university. Now on medication she passed the second semester of the module, allowing her to continue on to the second year.

    She had to do some immediate oral translation in her third year and now she was more confident in asking for help. She mentioned this to the lecturer who agreed that if she needed it she could ask for the words to be repeated. This helped enormously.

    I found that support was available at university but you had to ask for it and be persistent if it wasn't forthcoming immediately.

    However, her ADHD isn't all bad. She can multi-task, concentrate on some things very well, is very sensitive to what is going on around her, sees all detail and now copes well.

  • In my experience mainstream schools have no idea how to teach or deal with kids with ADHD I found most of the teachers I dealt with had little or no knowledge about it some where downright rude .one asking me if everything was alright at home and another informing me that my son would end up in prison there was a couple of nice teachers but that was it I got very little support from any of the schools

  • We were really lucky in primary and secondary school. Within a few weeks of starting nursery, the teacher had picked up that something wasn't right and A was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum at the age of 3 years 8 months and he had one-to-one help for most of his primary school years. Before his ADHD was formally diagnosed , things were unsettled for a time and for a while our son was only able to cope with very limited hours in school as he could be very disruptive e.g. throwing chairs round etc. He was only allowed in school a couple of hours a day, but his teaching assistant would come and do work with him at home as well. Once he was on medication, his behaviour improved tremendously and he was allowed back to school full time.

    As he was statemented, he got a secondary school place at a school which was really well set up for children with special needs, particularly ASD. A managed to access the entire curriculum in a mainstream setting with support. He far exceeded our expectations and came out with a decent crop of GCSEs. There is absolutely no way he would have coped at the local secondary school where he would have gone without the statement specifying which secondary school he should attend. His sister had sailed through secondary school, but they really weren't interested in kids with special needs.

    Sixth form college unfortunately was less successful-they really seemed pretty clueless about ASD and ADHD, support was non-existent tbh.

    Having decided that the academic path wasn't for him, our son opted to do an apprenticeship and now has a NVQ in business admin. In some ways he feels he has failed as big sister ended up with a 1st from Cambridge, but we are every bit as proud of his achievements. I think we were incredibly fortunate with the support we had in both primary and secondary school

  • From when my son started school he was identified as a challenging child, he wouldn't sit still and was noisy and disruptive. In year 1 his teacher used to complain to us about him all the time. We didn't realise that there was an actual problem, because they never suggested it to us, and although he wasn't easy at home, he was manageable. By year 3 he was becoming more difficult, and used to clash with other children quite frequently, so they asked us if they could refer him to CAMHS. In retrospect he should have been referred two years previously.

    He was put on medication by CAMHS, which helped him cope at school. However we still felt that school was blaming us for some of his behaviour, and we were often called in to hear about incidents. They were still punishing him when things went wrong, and it wasn't working. Our relationship with school was poor, and he was becoming more isolated, he had no friends by year 4. They seemed to still see him as a 'bad boy'. It wasn't until things deteriorated badly this year (year5) and an educational psychologist visited, that they began to change the way they treated him. They also applied for an EHCP for him, much too late in our opinion. They are now much less punitive, and try hard to help him, he gets a lot of time outside the classroom, a lot of 1 to 1 help, and support with dealing with other children. There is now a good relationship between us and school. However ha has been excluded from school several times, and had numerous internal exclusions. He really isn't coping, and they admit they cannot manage him. He is now suffering academically. They are having meetings to discuss how to cope with him in year 6. He will have full time 1 to 1, but they feel that will not be enough. His EHCP is still not finalised. In it we, and the school have requested that he be transferred to a special school. But there are no places in the only suitable school. School admit they may have to exclude him permanently, they will only do this as a last resort, but he is disrupting the education of his whole class, and sometimes needs 4 teachers to control him. If he is excluded he will have no school to go to in year 6.

    Many of his individual teachers have been great with him, but in a class of 30 kids they have been unable to give him the individual help and support he needs. The school has had to punish him sometimes to set an example to the other children, but punishment has never worked for him. He impacts badly on he other kids in his class. One area they really cannot help him with effectively is helping him with his social skills.

    Summary: too late, he needed intervention long ago. The system has been painfully slow when he needed fast intervention. The whole EHCP system has taken 9 months, he is in limbo while we wait for the system to work.

  • After attending two schools both secondary school (mainstream education) both were very accepting of the problems and always tried to support wherever they could. This could range from weekly chats, to referrals to other agencies that they felt could help out. Maybe we faced such a positive experience because of the age that the diagnosis was give (15). Both schools do have a good reputation for mental health support.

  • We didn't really suspect my son had a condition until his preschool teachers started noting problems with his behavior this past January. He'd been "fired" by a baby sitter when he was 9 months old because he cried and wanted to be held too much. And in his first year of preschool, he had a rough start. But he went along well for about a year before trouble started coming up. He started getting really anxious in the classroom setting in January. There were around 23 kids in the class, and two teachers with hours where only a helper and a teacher was present.

    His behavior grew worse and worse. He responded negatively to the noise classmates made. He overreacted to minor teasing. He overreacted to smells, and he hated lunch time. They were about to remove him from preschool. His last day there, he made it through only because he was entirely separated from his classmates, and someone worked with him one on one. I made the call at that point to remove him from preschool. It wasn't a good experience for him or the other students.

    This summer, we struggled with him wanting to do anything remotely involving schooling. We also took him to a neuropsychologist for a very thorough, but expensive, workup, and he diagnosed David with ADHD, noting that the sensory issues were a part of that. He also noted strong executive functioning problems. We hoped to work on his attention span. No luck. There's an emotional reaction tied up in a school-like activity. He doesn't know any letters, even though he went through a year and a half of school where he was supposed to be learning letters.

    We live in Colorado, which works on a school choice basis. We didn't know he'd have this diagnosis and these problems at the time we were asked to elect a school in December and January. So, now we are sending him to an extended day kindergarten program with a teacher we know little about. We didn't know to research teachers experienced with ADHD. We didn't know to consider a half day program. We assumed he was progressing just like other children--that he might be adaptible like other children.

    He starts Kindergarten on Wednesday. He's terrified. His dad is terrified. Truth be told, I'm terrified. We are furiously trying to get a 504(C) in place since we have a diagnosis.

    At the end of the day, I worry that what he needs is something no public school can provide. An extremely small classroom with a teacher to student ratio of no more than 8 to 1. That seems like a pipe dream. Homeschool is an option we are exploring should things go downhill.

    I think a negative school interaction can be devastating to a child. I want my son to love learning. I want him to look forward to that experience. But I've seen school experiences completely change a child's personality, and I fear that.

    Advice is always welcome.

  • My daughter learned ABCs from watching "The Letter Factory" by Leapfrog. It does sounds too. Seriosly, she watched it twice and knew it. I had tried so many flashcards previously with no results. She needs songs so now I look for singing educational videos when ever a school concept is not sinking in. Keep trying with your son, he can learn just needs the right approach. Maybe draw letters in sand box since he is sensory driven. Worksheets stink for kids with ADHD. Good luck!

  • Thanks so much for the advice! So far, not so good, but I will say that his "homework" at home is going along much better. We're using the 15 minute then reward method, and he's plugging along. He has memorized his lunch number, he can identify the word "like," and he can identify his numbers. So we've got that going for us! Good luck to you, too!

  • Hi pwb. We also live in CO & have a 11yo son diagnosed with anxiety, adhd, and sensory challenges. I didn't realize how much his anxiety was affecting him until recently as he is maturing and able to talk about it. We are now in cognitive behavioral therapy $$$, which is already making a difference in his willingness to go to school and deal with his heightened sensitivities & anxiety, etc.

    I agree with you on the public school options due to student/teacher ratios. Most of my son's classes have had 30 kids. It was very hard to find the right school for my son, (4 attempts) although i can say the last 3 years have been great comparatively speaking in large part due to an elementary school that has the structure, skill, and willingness to support him. I did homeschool him one year (2nd grade) when I pulled him out of a public school that was failing him & all their students. If you live in Denver or near there is a wonderful homeschool program called Options. It is a offered 1 day a week with wonderful teachers & very small class sizes. If you go the homeschooling route it is worth exploring., although they are unable to support kids with IEPs.

    I think you are doing the smart thing by requesting a 504 from the beginning of elementary. I am just now trying to get a 504 or IEP as my son goes to middle school next year. I'm terrified for this transition, and I want my son to be supported by all. I have learned that transitions are the hardest thing for our family to weather, but it does & will get better with time, supports, and advocacy.

    Would love to hear how things are going 1 month in....

  • Pwb78,

    My now 8 year old was diagnosed with ADHD about 10 months ago. Though he was always very active, very social, talkative, disruptive, never stood still in his seat, his preschool, Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers did not pick up on his condition because he knew the basics that is required at those grade levels. Plus small class sizes do help better (he was 1 of 10 students). I used learning tools aside from his school work to help him learn his ABCs, Phonics, shapes, colors, numbers, and some math facts. If you can, I highly recommend investing on Preschool Prep Co DVDs/e-downloads and even some of their workbooks. Also, I have a 2.5 year old son and he is exhibiting some of the same behaviors as our oldest son and though we are not sure if he will also be diagnosed with ADHD I have already started teaching him his basics using So far he now knows his colors, shapes, recognizes capital and lower case letters and we are now working on his letter sounds (phonics). These learning DVDs/edownloads makes learning easy and fun for kids that have a difficult time learning it the conventional way.

  • Thank you! How is your son doing in school so far this year? Not so great in school, though yesterday was better. :)

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