As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day I came across a heartfelt post from my friend whose child struggles with ADHD. That struggle has led to a lot of emotional trauma due to having ADHD in the classroom. It was such a well thought-out post and with it being ADHD Awareness month, I immediately asked if I could share this with my readers.
How ADHD in the Classroom Affects the Child
My friend, Mandie, is a mother to three boys (one of which has ADHD) and she is a teacher at a private Christian school. So not only is she able to see things from a mother’s perspective but she also understands what it means to teach a child with ADHD.
Here are her thoughts:
*This is a generalized statement about education in general, not one specific school. We have had some really great teachers for our kids. I’m commenting on things I have seen in my own life, my children’s lives, and the lives of other students I know personally and professionally. This morning my heart was just weighed down from the week and I had to share my thoughts on students with ADD and ADHD. It’s fitting as this is ADHD Awareness month.*
I just want to say that having ADD or ADHD sucks. And I’m so over people who see it as an excuse, and I’m so over people who count things against you that are part of a medical disability.
Especially students who are trying their very best to keep up with all the papers, assignments, and busy work at a school. These kids are not lazy.
They are not trying to disrupt your class by being impulsive. They aren’t purposefully forgetting things. Their lockers aren’t unorganized because they need to “get it together”. Their brains are broken and they are coping the best they can.
Don’t assume they “need to be on meds” or they aren’t trying. You don’t just get meds and are suddenly fixed. It takes a LONG time to find the right ones and even then THEY STILL HAVE ADHD. They will always have it. It is a medical condition that affects the way their brain develops and processes information.
And guess what? They hear teachers talk to other teachers about them, they see teachers roll their eyes when they are missing another worksheet, and they know they are going to lose more points for skills they struggle with.
They know that the education system is not built for kids like them. That they aren’t “the good kids” because they can’t perform to unrealistic school and teacher standards.
And you know what else? It hurts them.
They cry every dang night about how hard school is, how they got in trouble AGAIN, how they never get whatever reward the “good” kids are getting, and how they lose recess (which by the way negatively impacts their ADHD and classroom behavior so teachers are punishing themselves).
They HATE themselves and ask why God made them this way, and they ask why is it so hard and will it ever get any better. Eventually most of them DO give up and become lazy because when they were trying and struggling IT NEVER MATTERED.
Instead of taking things away and punishing these kids, why aren’t we more supportive?
Why don’t we help them? Not just “show them grace” but look at the root problem and help them?
Not just give them the grade, I’m not saying that. Be honest with grades, but if grades are reflecting an issue, why don’t we find out the reason?
Why don’t we MAKE SURE they get recess no matter what because it helps their brains and bodies? Why is recess only for the kids that have it together?
Why don’t we send home gold stars for the things they get RIGHT?
How ADHD in the Classroom Affects the Parents
You probably think I’m just a mom who wants her kids treated special. Or that I’m overprotective of my snowflakes. Well you are wrong.
I want my kids treated how they should be treated in order to learn to cope with a disability they will have their whole lives. I don’t care if they get A’s or if teachers “like” them.
But I want them to try their best without being punished for things outside of their control. And I want them to view school as a positive opportunity and not another way they have failed.
I’d love it if my kids (and others I know) weren’t depressed and in counseling because they don’t like who they are, they don’t fit in, and they can’t keep up.
And I was that child. I was a girl in the 80’s and 90’s in school with undiagnosed ADD because GIRLS DIDN’T HAVE IT THEN.
ADHD was for boys.
I was very intelligent but I hated school because my teachers labeled me as trouble, annoying, and a “bad kid”. I hated myself because I couldn’t figure out how to be a “good kid”, how to “get it together” or how to shut up.
I never got a “1” on my report card for behavior or citizenship and spent most recesses sitting on the curb for talking in class or missing work.
The worst part is I BELIEVED THESE PEOPLE. It took YEARS of therapy and medication before I was not severely depressed and I still don’t like myself and struggle to accept God loves me.
I’m so tired, but I can not give up on my kids. I will keep pouring into them regardless of what a broken education system says to them; they are not broken individuals.
I will continue to tell them that I don’t care about their grades if I know they are trying. If they quit trying, I will know that and we will talk because lazy isn’t an option.
I will keep saying that ADD and ADHD is NOT an excuse – it just means we have to work harder to do some things and they will have to learn ways to make life work for them and learn coping skills.
What ADHD Kids Need in a Teacher
And I will fight for your kids. The ones that are diagnosed and the ones that aren’t.
As another parent AND as an educator. I will find ways for my students to learn without punishing them for things outside of their control.
I will set them up for success in the real world. And I will celebrate their victories with them. When they struggle I will keep pushing them to work hard, and I will be there when they need someone to just listen.
I’m sorry. This school year has been TOUGH; for me, my kids, my friends’ kids, and students I’ve had in class. My heart is just so heavy and saddened by watching the struggle and seeing kids full of life be so drained.
I just want them to enjoy being kids without carrying the same weight I carried until I was 30 years old. If you made it this far, thanks for letting me rant. I’ll get it together someday – or maybe I won’t.
Share Your Knowledge!
I know there are many other mothers out there who feel the same way as my friend when it comes to the struggles your child has at school. To me this post is a great opportunity to bring awareness of the learning difficulties that all children have in a school setting.
Speaking of awareness, if you are looking for ways to spread awareness this month, this post will give you some ideas on how to celebrate the causes that are near and dear to your heart!
If you know of any simple ways to help ADHD children in the classroom, share them below! Or if you have some encouraging words for the parents of ADHD kiddos, feel free to add those too. Let’s be a blessing to others by leaving little nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. It could be just the thing that a desperate heart-broken momma needs to hear.
Mandie Lincoln is a mom to three rowdy boys. She has been married to her best friend for 15 years. She works full-time with high school students and she is in college full-time to finish her bachelor’s degree in Middle-School Education: Language Arts. In her free time she likes to be outdoors with her family, or reading a good book.