We Need to Understand the Challenges Kids With ADHD Can Face at School


My son has ADHD and sensory processing disorder (SPD). Many people are misinformed or just have some preconceived notion of what ADHD is, so here is a brief description.

ADHD is not:

  • Just being hyperactive and unable to sit still.
  • A behavior problem.
  • Caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline.
  • Magically treated by medication.
  • Something small children just outgrow.
  • Treated with sports or other physical activities.
  • Just a child being “lazy.”

ADHD is:

  • The inability to regulate one’s emotions.
  • An inability to identify and pick up on general social cues.
  • An inability to filter out the input around you, therefore, causing extreme distractibility.
  • An inability to control impulses.
  • Difficulty organizing and staying on task. 

This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics that are associated with this disorder. A child can have some, many or all of the characteristics. Additionally, any one of the characteristics may be more present and cause greater challenges than others. 

My son has begun first grade this year, and the transition has been difficult. In kindergarten, he was able to have some freedom to play and roam; the expectations were not as high. Now, in first grade, he is expected to sit still for longer periods of time and do much more class work. Pressures have increased 100-fold. He is facing challenges under these pressures.

There are social situations that he seems to perceive or interpret incorrectly. Every day he fights against his own brain and body to tune out the world around him, sit still and focus. He often comes off of the bus tired and wounded from that day’s war. Some days it is so difficult that he just gives up and refuses to do any work altogether. This, consequently, elicits more negative penalties and additional demands from his teachers to try and work harder. I worry that the day is soon coming where he will just refuse to get on the bus and go to school altogether.  

There are times when he calls out so often that no other student can get a word in edgewise. He is smart, brilliant even, and he has ideas that need to be heard. Waiting his turn to share his thoughts can be challenging for him.

I want to help my sweet boy. I want him to feel smart, for he is truly brilliant. I want him to feel socially accepted, for he is the nicest, kindest, most loving child.  

I want him to feel happy every day, because that is what a 6-year-old deserves. I’m not sure I know how to do that right now, and it terrifies me.

I wish society understood this disorder and its challenges more. I want parents to understand that it’s not that our children are “undisciplined” or “lazy”; they actually work twice as hard as a “typical” child to function day to day. 

I want schools to begin to design programs that work for children who are wired this way. Why is my child made to feel less-than every day because he cannot fit into the mold of current educational expectations? We have to do more for children as a whole.

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