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How to Support Kids with ADHD

Attention-Deficit Disorder, more popularly known as ADHD, is a common disorder found in both kids and adults. From 2016-2019, 13% of adolescents (nation-wide) aged 12-17 were diagnosed with ADHD [1]. National research into ADHD began in 1997 and since then has helped diagnose and establish essential tools to support kids with ADHD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a few school-based management strategies that children with ADHD benefit from:

(1) Behavioral classroom management or organizational training

(2) Special education services

(3) Accommodations to lessen the effect of ADHD on their learning

With these strategies in place, kids with ADHD can feel supported, understood, and well-equipped in their journey towards adulthood.

Through (1) behavioral classroom management, students receive positive feedback, which in turn results in confidence and engagement. Organizational training teaches practical skills like time management and planning. These are skills that are often overlooked in school, but that can be the missing piece for a lot of kids, especially with ADHD. (2) Special education services and (3) accommodations give extra support and amendments to the learning environment, which helps meet the needs of children with ADHD.

Inequities Kids with ADHD Face

Students with learning disabilities make up a large portion of expelled, suspended, and arrested students. Students of color with learning disabilities make up an even larger portion of expelled, suspended, and arrested students [2]. These gaps in equitable support are a major contributor to the school to prison pipeline. Built-in support ensures that schools can meet all students' needs equally and reliably. If schools fail to do so, a student could be punished or blamed for a behavior they do not have control over rather than provided proper resources and mentorship to address it.

Trauma and ADHD

Children who exhibit behavior or attention difficulties are often diagnosed with ADHD. Research has found, however, that symptoms of trauma present in a very similar fashion to symptoms of ADHD in children [3].

So, how do we properly diagnose ADHD and trauma, which will subsequently allow us to properly support our children? First, it is most important to get to the root of the behavior— by uncovering the root, you will learn what is causing the symptoms. The causes of symptoms for ADHD and trauma have clear differences. Second, learn “if they’ve been exposed to trauma, and the timeline of their symptoms” [3] and if the family has a history of ADHD. Third, take note of the symptoms that are exhibited that do not align with either ADHD or trauma symptoms. For instance, intrusive, disturbing thoughts are a symptom of trauma, not ADHD.

Building Relationships with our Kids to Offer the Best Support

Whether a kid has ADHD or not, they deserve our attention and support. Conditions like ADHD cannot be promptly diagnosed or properly treated without first establishing relationships rooted in trust and support. By understanding kids' needs and the best methods to support them, we can support every child towards their individual greatest potential.



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