In today’s society, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become commonplace in schools. Many teens are living with ADHD, and it is being diagnosed earlier and earlier. Living with this neurodevelopmental disorder is a challenge for them as they have to adapt to all areas of society, including school. While graduating from high school can be difficult for these young people, the fact remains that if we effectively meet their needs, most of them will be able to achieve goals that are based on their abilities.
ADHD is a persistent and lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that results in severe difficulties with concentrating and paying attention. People with this condition are very often distracted, impulsive and hyperactive. Some people with ADHD may even exhibit aggressive behaviour.
ADHD can also manifest itself through frequent forgetfulness, difficulty in getting organized, losing materials, constant fidgeting, difficulty staying quiet, excessive chattering, restlessness (often seen more in teenagers), squirming, difficulty waiting for one’s turn to speak and answers given too quickly.
Teens with ADHD face many challenges in all spheres of their lives because they have to learn to behave appropriately and assimilate knowledge as effectively as possible despite their disorder. Family members must also adapt to a teenager who may be seen as “different” and who is often a real ball of energy. Learning to live with ADHD or living with a person with ADHD requires time, patience, adaptation and a lot of letting go!
Schooling is a big issue for young people with ADHD. Sitting in a chair for a long stretch, paying attention for a long time, listening without talking… These are all tasks that can be challenging and often lead to academic difficulties.
The current school system does not allow teens with ADHD to learn according to their needs. Fortunately, there is an intervention plan in the form of a detailed document that proposes a number of measures and actions to facilitate the learning of these young people and promote their success. All school personnel (teachers, principals, special education technicians, psychoeducators) as well as students and parents play a part in developing this intervention plan. The plan must then be followed and revised as needed. This document will accompany the student throughout his or her schooling.
In some cases, adolescents may be placed in a special education class in which they can generally learn at their own pace and receive even more support than if they were in a regular class.
These are all positive measures which should continue to exist. However, some teens may not have an intervention plan or be in a special education class. It is therefore essential for all school personnel to understand what ADHD is, to know the students and to take into account their unique needs in order to adapt their teaching and intervention methods appropriately.
School officials dealing with teens with ADHD should prioritize certain actions in order to encourage them to gain respect and self-esteem and to feel supported and sustained. These concrete actions will enable students to improve their academic progress and perhaps even help them take more enjoyment in their school experience.
It is essential that the education system not overlook students with ADHD. They deserve their place in society and in the school system as much as everyone else. While there is no doubt that the academic journey of these students will continue to be arduous and complex, it is also likely to be smoother and more harmonious with proper supervision.
*Some conditions and limitations apply.