Children around us with ADHD

Lenka Cetkovská

This article deals with issues of ADHD and difficulties children suffering from this disorder have to face. It will discuss, for instance, misconceptions about ADHD in society, low self-esteem resulting from poor academic performance, criticism from parents and teachers, refusal on the part of peers and other social consequences. The emphasis is put on a brief illustration of typical symptoms and behaviour of children diagnosed with ADHD as well as an explanation of reasons for this behaviour. This article will attempt to change readers’ attitude towards this topic. Furthermore, it is intended to raise awareness of the negative effects their reactions may have on children diagnosed with ADHD. According to recent studies, ADHD is the most common childhood neurobehavioural disorder and the number of the diagnosed individuals has a growing tendency (Miller et al 7). Therefore, ADHD is worthy of a few pages showing the findings of researchers which the general public has no idea about. 

Firstly, let me explain the term ADHD itself. Capellini describes the syndrome ADHD as follows: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder characterized by persistent and pervasive symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity” (13). We may encounter this phenomenon in many parts of the world, although it is most widely recognized and treated in North America and the United Kingdom (Miller et al 7).

The first prejudice I would like to disprove in this article is the idea of ADHD children being less intelligent than other children. “ADHD children are individuals with near-average, average or above average general intelligence with certain learning or behavioural difficulties ranging from mild to severe, which are associated with deviations of functions of the central nervous system” (Rapoport 13). From this citation it is clear that ADHD has nothing to do with intellect or mental capacity of the brain. The reasons for this diagnosis result from genetic and neurological foundations. Unfortunately, this may manifest itself by various combinations of impairment in perception, conceptualization, language, working memory, control of attention, impulse or motor function (Rapoport 13). 

The second most popular misconception about ADHD is that it is caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline. As Selikowitz states, children with ADHD frequently act faster than they think (8). Rapoport points out that they are often found to take unnecessary risks, behave tactlessly or answer without being asked. For these reasons, many people may think that ADHD is caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline (11). In fact, children with ADHD often know how to behave correctly. However, they are not able to do so, nor are they able to learn from their mistakes. Moreover, they may be very apologetic after the event. Their inappropriate behaviour is based on lack of self-control. As Selikowith explains: “The mechanisms that control behaviour in the brains are unreliable in the child with ADHD” (8). Children with ADHD appear to be “distracted, confused, angry and disrespectful, talking endlessly with high energy which is not an easy condition for them, their families, or their schools to deal with” (Rapoport 9). If children with an ADHD diagnosis do not learn how to reduce or self-regulate these symptoms, they may face the consequences of their behaviour throughout their lives (Rapoport 14).

Another prejudice about ADHD is that it is caused by laziness. Procrastination, chaos, being disorganized and lack of persistence are typical symptoms of this disorder. As Selikowitz states, lack of persistence is often connected with being disorganized, which again requires the supervision of children with ADHD by parents and teachers (7). This may, of course, be exhausting. Unfortunately, it is accompanied by lack of concentration, which is probably the most typical feature of ADHD. According to Selikowitz, children with an ADHD diagnosis cannot concentrate on tedious tasks because their attention is inefficient (6). Their work is characterised by many careless errors, such as lack of precision and attention to detail, which is caused by their focus on many distractions. Furthermore, their concentration tends to fluctuate during the school day because of their tiredness. This encourages their tendency to procrastination, particularly in respect of work assignments and homework. For these reasons, they may seem lazy to their teachers or parents.  

The last prejudice, which I find appalling, concerns the view of some teachers that these children are ineducable. The teacher may be one of the people who notices the defiant behaviour of a child with ADHD. According to Hanks, many children diagnosed with ADHD are inefficient learners at school. Although their actual learning is impaired, they are mostly intelligent and capable. Unfortunately, their abilities and intelligence do not surface because they are concealed by symptoms of ADHD (86). This often causes frustration to learners with an ADHD diagnosis, who have to face a lot of criticism for their behaviour. Furthermore, as Hanks points out, the mood of children diagnosed with ADHD is changeable (86). Ability to concentrate on a task fluctuates during the day, which may present the teacher of a learner with an ADHD diagnosis with a confusing profile. Many teachers expect from their learners an ability to concentrate on a task for the duration of a lesson, which is not possible for this kind of learner. This may lead to a teacher-student conflict. The negative profile of the child with an ADHD diagnosis may be also supported by conflicts with peers. As Hanks explains, children diagnosed with ADHD are frequently rejected by their peers because of their frequently inappropriate behaviour caused by ADHD. These children often have difficulty with team activities, and what is more, to many of their schoolmates they are incomprehensible. They may be verbally and emotionally impulsive and may not obey the rules. This may lead to explosive situations and many disciplinary problems. As a consequence, they may become unpopular, rejected or even bullied. However, they desperately need to learn how to socialise in a conventional way. For this reason, they need an adult guide (teacher) to support them. Individual or semi-individual activities within a club are beneficial for these children. These tasks may focus on art, photography, a craft activity, learning an instrument, etc. (86-87).

Children diagnosed with ADHD do not learn these skills as easily many other children. Easily distracted, they can learn positive social skills but they need their and the teacher’s assistance. “However, our education system does not prioritise teaching social skills to children with ADHD” (Rapoport 2). On the contrary, our education system emphasizes academic achievement and technological expertise. Achieving good social skills is one of the tasks that a good teacher should consider integrating into his/her lesson plans. This could encourage the development of self-esteem in a child with an ADHD diagnosis, enabling him/her to communicate freely with schoolmates without fear of being ashamed. This may have a positive effect on the development of learning skills of such a learner.

In conclusion, it is necessary to concede that working with children with an ADHD diagnosis is difficult, mentally challenging and exhausting. These children have very specific needs, and these must be considered. Nevertheless, they are perceptive, creative and may often surprise us by their atypical subjective view of the world. 

Works Cited

Capellini, Simone. A Handbook of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the Interdisciplinary Perspective. Bentham Science Publishers Ltd, 2016.

Hanks, Richard. Common Sense for the Inclusive Classroom for the Inclusive Classroom: How Teachers Can Maximise Existing Skills to Support Special Educational Needs.Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2011.

Selikowitz, Mark. ADHD.2nd ed., Oxford UP, 2009.

Miller, Naomi, and Thompson Russell. ADHD: Cognitive Symptoms, Genetics and Treatment Outcomes. Nova Science Publishers,2013.

Rapoport, Esta M. ADHD and Social Skills : A Step-by-Step Guide for Teachers and Parents. 2009.