ADHD & Failing in School

Parents and teachers understand the difficulty of managing a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with ADHD have problems with focus and hyperactivity. This not only affects social development with peers, but also academic achievement. According to an article on the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website, “Your Child: ADHD,” attention deficit hyperactivity disorder occurs in 3 to 5 percent of children. Understanding the connection between this disorder and failing grades can help parents improve their children's success in school.

Inability to Complete Assignments

Staying on task is a challenge for children with ADHD. The article, "Your Child: ADHD," reports that noises and outside stimuli often distract students with this disorder, which makes it difficult for them to maintain attention in class. As a result, the child will often produce below grade-level work or turn in assignments that are not complete. For example, a book falling on the floor or a multimedia classroom assignment can cause a child with ADHD to lose focus because too much information is coming in for them to process. Because noise easily distracts the child, she may not listen carefully to the teacher's instructions. This can affect the child's ability to finish assignments.

Impulsiveness in School

Impulsiveness is a common characteristic among children with ADHD. When a child is unable to control his impulses, it causes behavioral problems in class, which can affect his grades. According to the article, "Your Child: ADHD," some common examples of impulsive behavior in children with this disorder include:

  • constantly interrupting the teacher during lessons
  • talking out of turn
  • frequent fidgeting
  • disrupting other children

Teachers may give a child with ADHD detentions or they may expel the child. Disruptions in learning and absences from class cause the child to fall behind in school and ratcheting up the cycle of failure.

Poor Social Skills

In addition to attention issues and impulsive behavior, children with ADHD face isolation from their peers because of undeveloped social skills. According to the article, “Your Child: ADHD,” children with the disorder have poor social cues and are unable to interpret situations and modify their behavior. Some children may alienate peers by being overly aggressive, or by being pushy or bossy during sports and during classroom group activities. For example, children with ADHD tend to get their peers in trouble they might disrupt the class by throwing objects in the classroom or disrespecting the teacher with derogatory words. These children may not understand when their behavior is inappropriate. The ADHD child's inability to judge social situations and adjust her social behavior ostracizes the child from her main peer group. Often, children with the disorder find themselves with fewer friends and this can cause depression, low self-esteem and anxiety. With low self-esteem, the child loses confidence and this affects academic achievement.

Modifications to Improve Grades

According to an article on the LD Online website, "ADHD: Building Academic Success,” at least 30 percent of the children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have learning disabilities in subjects such as reading and writing 1. Students with ADHD have trouble comprehending what they read because of their inattention. Providing accommodations to help children with this disorder can improve academic success. Modifications can include offering a smaller structured environment for the child to learn, re-explaining homework or class assignments and creating instructions that are more step-by-step so that the child can process them more easily.