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ADHD and Student Success in High School

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Published: Mon, 02 Apr 2018

In June 2013, a Catholic High School in New Rochelle was closed by the Archdiocese of NY due to low enrollment. Parents, faculty and staff were disturbed by its closure and with good reason. The school was diverse in every way. The school had high achieving students however there were a small percentage of students that one period a day went into a small classroom with a teacher for what some students believed was for private tutoring by a “special teacher”.

I was a senior in high school and had always been struggling with English. I wanted special tutoring because if I didn’t pass English I wasn’t graduating from high school. Finally, I asked one of my friends, “How do I get into your tutoring class?” He replied, I get extra help because I have ADHD.” The teacher was known as a resource teacher and she specialized in helping students with ADHD and other learning problems. In addition to the fact that these students were struggling academically, they could be seen sitting outside the Dean’s office awaiting their fate because they had gotten in to trouble.

Some people think that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a name that teachers and doctors have given for kids who need an “old fashioned whipping” because they lack discipline. There are some parents will refer to their own children as being “lazy” and/or they don’t stay still. They continue to think that “too much sugar is causing is the problem and they need to stop giving the child candy and soda.

The problem is more than lack of discipline or too many bags of skittles. ADHD is being diagnosed in children and young adults more and more every day. Most people have heard the term but don’t know what ADHD is and what can be done to help students in and out of school.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines ADHD as a “common childhood brain disorder”. (NIMH). The individual with ADHD has difficulty focusing, paying attention and suffers from having poor impulse control (Penny, 47) This type of child probably has difficulty not only making friends but keeping them. Because they are sometimes not liked or thought of as” wierd”by their peers, these children are insecure and are self-conscious about how to interact with people (Kauffman, 187). In order for a child to be successful in school their emotional being and social skills must be considered important (Kaufmann, 149).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health scientists are still trying to figure out what causes ADHD (NIMH). They believe that heredity is a big part of the puzzle along with the environment, brain injuries, nutrition and social environment a contributory factor (NIMH). It is also believed that the problem is related to the abnormalities neurotransmitters (Kauffman, 195). Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that send messages between the neuron and brain (Kauffman, 195), Both serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters. (Kauffman, 195) The abnormalities in either on or both of these neurotransmitters can be why a person has ADHD (Kauffman, 195). Research has shown that neurological dysfunctions can be inherited (Kauffman, 186)

One of the many struggles that parents have with children with ADHD is how to help them succeed in school. Some people believe that ADHD justaffects a student’s reading comprehension but they can also have problems in math (Kaufmann,149). If their reading comprehension is not good then it is also going to difficult to solve word problems in math. If they can’ pay attention and they don’t behave the child is not going to do well. ADHD is not something that gets cured with medication or goes away as a person gets older (Kauffman, 187).

It is for life. Unfortunately, these students have to work harder than students who do not have ADHD (Kauffmann,149) However, what can be done is to teach these children how to live with their disability so they are able to cope with it on a daily basis (Kauffman, 147).

Not every child is the same which means that no two kid with ADHD are going to act the same way. Luckily there are different treatments for ADHD. These treatments include but are not limited to medicines, behavior training, counseling and changes at school and/or at home (Krull), For some children one method maybe good for getting the ADHD under control or a combination of the different treatments that are available maybe best (Krill). It all depends on the child’s needs and the situations they are dealing with.

One of the many treatments available for ADHD is the use of medications. Doctors often recommend medication which help control the impulsiveness and helps the child focus (Penny.53). The child takes a pill and life becomes more pleasant for all involved Treating ADHD with medication can seem like a quick and easy fix. However, is prescribing ADHD medication necessary or is it a quick painless way to get children to stay still and focus.

The use of medication to treat ADHD needs to be discussed within the family unit along with the family physician. Many people believe that medications for ADHD are overprescribed (Penny, 54). The medications given to a child for treatment of ADHD depend on certain criteria (Krill). Somehow despite all precautions there has been research done that questions whether or not ADHD is over diagnosed and whether ADHD medications have been overprescribed. A research article “ADHD Among American Schoolchildren” discusses these concerns. The research found that that how ADHD is diagnosed and treated is different from one community to the next (LeFever). It could be that in some communities the diagnoses of ADHD can be accurate (LeFever). However that shouldn’t be a general indication that other communities are right on target with diagnosis (LeFever). Without having a definite way of knowing whether a child definitely has ADHD it is important to be cautious about prescribing ADHD medication in addition to making sure that concerns about a child having ADHD doesn’t go unnoticed.

(Lefever). It is not surprising children with ADHD are being overmedicated. We are society of instant gratification. We want things taken care of quickly and if giving a child to help them focus in school and prevent them from getting in trouble in school, someone will surely choose “the magic ADHD pill.”

For a child to be successful in school structure at home and at school are important (Tresco). Students with ADHD may be found to be frequent vistors’ to the Principles office and/or to see their Guidance Counselor. It is difficult for these students to deal with people in authority. (Friend, 240) Rules and expectations should be known to by the student and it should be written somewhere so that they can see it on a daily basis (Tresco). These basic principles can be found in the article that discusses the psychosocial interventions that will help students with ADHD do better in academically and also improve behavior (Tresco). In the article “Psychosocial Interventions to Improve the School Performance with Attention Deficit/Disorder they discuss academic interventions and the use of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) (Tresco). Two important federal laws, the Individual with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are responsible for providing students the opportunity to have a plan to get help (Tresco) . The article states that data must be collected and looked at in order to come a decision for the need of academic and /or behavioral intervention I, what type of intervention and the amount of intervention (Tresco)

What is an IEP? And how can it help a student with ADHD? Most of us in 2014 know what a GPS is. We put it in our car to help us get us where we need to be. An IEP is an educational GPS for the student and teachers help a student to meet their goals. The student is expected to meet certain goals by a particular time. The school helps the student by putting into operation the accommodations that the student needs based on a meeting with parents and other professional (Bursuck, 4). In an IEP there are specified approaches that can be used to help the ADHD student based on their individual needs. (Bursuck, 242).

The article also discusses the use behavioral principles (Tresco). Behavioral therapy which is a type of psychotherapy helps the child change their behavior (national). The goal of behavior therapy for a student would be to help them learn new behavior in order to bring about positive results.

The procedure that is used in behavior therapy is different for everyone depending on why they need the therapy and what they want to change (Corey, 261.). Research has suggested that certain interventions at home and school would benefit a student with ADHD. In the article titled “Psychosocial Interventions to Improve School Performance of Students with Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder behavioral interventions such as reinforcement and punishment are also discussed. The idea of reinforcement and punishment is to change the behavior of the student by showing them that there are consequences to their behavior (Tresco). Negative reinforcement does work sometimes but the positive reinforcement should be tried first.

(Bursuck, 392). The point is not to make a threat or give them the feeling that they are being threaten in order to get the positive outcome (Tresco).

Students with ADHD are smart, intelligent and they have dreams of being successful.

ADHD affects how they learn (Penny, 47). Because the needs of each ADHD child is different, it may be that a combination of medication, changes at school with the help of an IEP and behavior therapy may be the way to go. Medication by itself will help the symptoms. Even though it is thought that ADHD medication is overprescribed it may help to be a little conservative and start the child off at a low dose of an ADHD medication. to see how the child reacts at home (Krull). It is also important to inform the school in case the teachers notice a difference in the way a child behaves.

Teachers are trained to see the signs and behaviors that will raise a flag that something is “wrong” with a student. Getting an Individualized Education Plan is a combined effort between doctor, therapists, school and parents. Teachers and must come together in a joint effort to find out what needs to be done in order to have the student succeed, It may be that the students behavior and academics is serious enough that other people need to be consulted to get the student special education services. (Friend,48.) .

A child with ADHD should be in counseling where they are able to overcome behaviors that is holding them back and gives them opportunities to learn social skills (Corey, 259).

Using behavior therapy and behavioral interventions helps students to focus on positive changes and create positive goals. (Corey, 262). This will help their self-esteem and provide them with more confidence so they can take an active role in their education.

All these treatments are available however, there is one thing missing and without it none of these treatments are going to work. ADHD students must take responsible for themselves (Penny, 63). They must learn to navigate their world along with their ADHD so that it will become second nature to them. Having ADHD is challenging but that doesn’t mean that living life has to have limitations. ADHD students have to be involved in educating themselves about their didability. This knowledge will give them a sense of control about how to handle their problem their treatments and their success. They can’t look at themselves as victims. They need to maximize on their strengths and help strengthen their weakenesses so they don’t feel so different. It is up to parents ,teachers counselors and doctors to help, support and encourage these students so that can go out and become productive members of society.

Marilyn, F., & Bursuck, W.D. (2012). Including Students with Special Needs: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.

Gerald, C. (2001). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (6th ed.). Belmont: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.

Daniel P., H., & Kaufman, J.M. (2003). Exceptional Learners: Introduction to Special Education (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Krull, K.R. (n.d.). Evidence-Based Clinical Decision Support at the Point of Care | UpToDate. Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-in-children-beyond-the-basics

Lefever, G.B., Arcona, A.P., & Antonuccio, D.O. (n.d.). Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice. ADHD among American Schoolchildren. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.srmhp.org/0201/adhd.html

Penny, H.P., & Gerson Tuttle, C. (2006). Learning Disabilities: The Ultimate Teen Guide (Vol. 1). Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Tresco, PhD, K.E. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Psychosocial Interventions to Improve the School Performance of Students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2998237/

(n.d.). NIMH Home. NIMH Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml#part2

ADHD and Student Success in High School

Student: Robert Gracia

Course: PSYN 263BXA Psychology of Adolescence

Professor: Mark Ransom

Mercy College

 


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