Common School Problems Faced By Children With ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD (hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention) often lead to under-achievement in school for the child. Below you will find a list of common learning problems experienced by most children diagnosed with ADHD.  Keep in mind that every child is unique and may have some, but not all of these challenges.

Poor Concentration: Includes difficulty with listening in class, daydreaming, lack of attention to detail, missing content of lesson, highly distractible, and inability to finish tasks.

Impulsivity: Includes rushing through work (e.g., careless errors), does not read directions, difficulty waiting, and lack of thinking before acting.

Language-related Problems: Problems include slow information processing (e.g., cognitive processing speed), slow retrieval of information, reading comprehension weaknesses, oral expression problems, and written language difficulties (e.g., getting thoughts down on paper).

Poor Organizational Skills: Includes losing homework, difficulty getting started on assignments, problems with multi-step problems (e.g., what goes first), problems organizing thoughts, and inability to plan ahead.

Poor Concept of Time: Includes lack of awareness for the passage of time, often late, problems anticipating how long assignments will take, difficulty planning ahead, does not manage time well, and homework takes forever.>

Forgetful: Includes forgets what is for homework, does not take appropriate books and study materials home to complete homework, forgets to turn in completed homework, forgets long-term projects, and forgets teacher and parent requests.

Problems with Working Memory and Recall: Includes difficulty holding facts in mind while manipulating information (e.g., doing complex math problems in their head), and problems following multi-step instructions. Working memory skills are essential for anticipating what will happen next, avoiding repetition of mistakes, and planning for the future.

Poor Fine Motor Skills/Coordination: Includes poor handwriting, writes slowly or avoids writing in general, prefers to print rather than write cursive, and in terms of coordination can be clumsy.

Low Frustration Tolerance: Includes difficulty controlling emotions, loses temper easily, quick to give up in the face of challenging tasks or ones that take more effort, blurt out things that they do not mean to say, can be argumentative with others or talk back, transitions are often problematic, and changes in routine are difficult.

In closing, it is important to keep in mind that difficulties in school may be caused by a combination of several learning problems.  Early identification of learning challenges is critical for the implementation of appropriate accommodations in the classroom setting.  Keep in mind that educational accommodations are a necessity for children with ADHD.  They do not behave in challenging ways deliberately; instead they struggle to function smoothly on a day to day basis without assistance.

Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Posted 10-25-10