ADHD And Its Impact On School Success: Tips For Teachers And Parents

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ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a condition that impacts your behaviour, potentially causing restlessness, difficulties with concentration, and impulsive actions.

Symptoms of ADHD become noticeable early and often intensify when a child enters school. Most cases are diagnosed in children under 12, but adults sometimes receive diagnoses if their condition goes unrecognised in childhood. While the symptoms of ADHD might improve or become more manageable with age, many adults continue to face challenges. Further, ADHD can accompany other problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders. Keep reading to learn about how you can support your children or students with ADHD.

Supporting children with ADHD

Caring for a child with ADHD can be demanding, but it's crucial to recognise that they cannot control their behaviour. This condition can affect various aspects of daily life for both parents and children. Parents may encounter difficulties in ensuring their child gets a good night's sleep, getting them ready for school on time, ensuring they listen to and follow instructions, maintaining organisation, navigating social events, and managing shopping outings.

These challenges do not vanish in adulthood. Adults with ADHD may struggle with similar issues, such as organising their lives and managing time effectively, following instructions, staying focused and completing tasks, coping with stress, experiencing restlessness and impatience, and engaging in impulsive and risk-taking behaviours. Some adults may also face problems in their relationships and social interactions.

In the face of these challenges, support from teachers and parents becomes pivotal. Understanding the nature of ADHD and providing the necessary assistance can significantly improve the quality of life for those with this condition.1

Definition and common symptoms of ADHD

ADHD is a mental health condition characterised by persistent issues with paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviour. These challenges can lead to unstable relationships, poor performance in various aspects of life, low self-esteem, and other problems.

ADHD symptoms encompass difficulties in various aspects of daily life. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and include:

  1. Impulsiveness: acting without thinking things through.
  2. Disorganisation and task prioritisation problems: struggling with managing tasks and setting priorities.
  3. Poor time management: struggling to use and manage time effectively.
  4. Trouble focusing: finding it hard to concentrate on a specific task.
  5. Multitasking issues: struggling to juggle multiple tasks.
  6. Excessive activity or restlessness: being restless and having difficulty sitting still.
  7. Poor planning: struggling to make and follow plans.
  8. Low frustration tolerance: being quick to irritate or impatient.
  9. Frequent mood swings: frequently experiencing changes in mood.
  10. Problems completing tasks: difficulty following through and finishing tasks.
  11. Struggles coping with stress

These symptoms, which vary in intensity, can make everyday tasks a challenge for individuals with ADHD, impacting their daily lives and interactions.2

Prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that has a significant global impact, affecting between 5% and 7.2% of children and 2.5% and 6.7% of adults worldwide. Recent estimates suggest even higher prevalence rates, especially in the United States, where around 8.7% of children are affected - equalling approximately 5.3 million children.

While ADHD has historically been associated with and diagnosed in childhood, it's essential to note that up to 90% of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms as they transition into adulthood. Moreover, obtaining a diagnosis in adulthood is entirely possible. In one study, it was found that 75% of adults with ADHD had not received a diagnosis in childhood.3

In childhood, there's a noticeable difference in the prevalence of ADHD between genders, with four times more cases being assigned in individuals assigned male at birth than those assigned female at birth. However, as individuals grow into adulthood, this ratio becomes closer to 1:1.

Knowing that ADHD can affect people throughout their lives makes it very important for everyone, including individuals, parents, teachers, and healthcare providers, to learn how to deal with and help manage this condition effectively.

Causes of ADHD

The exact causes of ADHD remain a subject of ongoing scientific research. While there is no definitive cause, scientists have identified several factors to be potential contributors to the development of ADHD. Indeed, current research strongly suggests that genetics play a significant role in the development of ADHD. There is a hereditary component, and studies have linked specific genes to the disorder.

In addition to genetics, scientists are exploring other potential factors that might increase the risk of developing ADHD. These include:4

  • Brain injury: certain brain injuries or abnormalities may be associated with ADHD.
  • Exposure to environmental risks: exposure to substances like lead during pregnancy or in early childhood may be linked to an increased risk of ADHD.
  • Maternal substance use: use of alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy has been examined as a possible risk factor.
  • Premature delivery: being born prematurely has also been studied as a potential risk factor.
  • Low birth weight: babies with low birth weight may have a slightly higher risk of developing ADHD.

Many people believe that eating too much sugar, watching too much TV, or the way parents raise their children can cause ADHD. However, there isn't a strong scientific proof for these ideas. While these things might make ADHD symptoms worse for some people, they are not the main reasons why someone has ADHD. It's important to keep researching what really causes ADHD due to its complex nature.

The impact of ADHD on school success

Many adults with ADHD might not realise they have it, and this can make school, work, and other commitments quite challenging. 

Challenges in school

Going back to school as an adult with ADHD comes with its own set of difficulties, like:

  • Struggling to meet assignment and project deadlines.
  • Finding it hard to focus during classes or exams can lead to lower grades.
  • Dealing with erratic schedules, which might mean irregular sleeping and eating times.
  • Battling self-doubt and managing emotions, especially stress and worry.
  • Feeling a drop in self-esteem and dissatisfaction with academic performance.
  • Trouble working with peers on group projects.
  • Feeling isolated and avoiding social interactions which can lead to poor social connections.

Challenges at work

ADHD can impact your career as well, resulting in:

  • Difficulty holding down a full-time job.
  • Frequent job changes.
  • Struggles with meeting work deadlines.
  • Forgetting important dates, meetings, or details.
  • Difficulty following instructions and paying attention to details.
  • Conflicts with colleagues or difficulty controlling anger in the workplace.
  • Feeling easily stressed and overwhelmed to the point where you can't seem to move forward.

But here's the good news – many adults with ADHD have successful careers. In fact, some aspects of ADHD, like the ability to intensely focus on interesting projects or generate creative ideas, can be real assets at work.

Relationship challenges 

Maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family, or a partner can be tricky for someone with ADHD. Relationship struggles might include:

  • Difficulty paying attention during conversations, making others feel ignored.
  • Accidentally saying hurtful things in the heat of the moment.
  • Forgetting important dates, like anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Dealing with emotional outbursts and finding it hard to discuss conflicts calmly can lead to unresolved issues.
  • Struggling to complete chores causes frustration for partners who have to pick up the slack.

Despite these challenges, a person with ADHD can still be a fantastic parent, spouse, or friend. Learning to communicate, handle conflicts, and overcome challenges in positive and productive ways can help you build lasting, healthy relationships with the people you love.5

Tips for teachers

Classroom treatment strategies for ADHD students

To effectively support students with ADHD, schools can employ behavioural classroom management and organisational training. Behavioural classroom management encourages positive behaviours through rewards or daily report cards, reducing negative behaviours and enhancing academic engagement. 

Organisational training helps students with time management and organisation and aims to minimise distractions. These strategies require trained staff, including teachers, counsellors, or school psychologists, to implement and support positive behaviour.

Teachers play a crucial role in assisting children with ADHD. Here are some classroom tips for success: 


  1. Offer frequent feedback on positive behaviour.
  2. Be aware of how ADHD can affect emotions and self-esteem.
  3. Provide warnings before transitions and routine changes.
  4. Understand that children with ADHD may hyper-focus on activities of interest and may need help transitioning.

Assignments and tasks:

  1. Ensure assignment clarity and check for understanding.
  2. Offer choices to demonstrate mastery.
  3. Keep assignments manageable in length.
  4. Allow breaks and opportunities for physical activity.
  5. Minimise classroom distractions.
  6. Use organisational tools to help students manage their tasks.

Develop a child-centred plan:

  1. Observe and discuss with the student what aids or distracts them.
  2. Maintain regular communication with parents.
  3. Collaborate with school counsellors or psychologists.

Close collaboration between the school, parents, and healthcare providers is essential to ensure children with ADHD receive the right support for their success.6

Special education services

Most children with ADHD receive school services and accommodations governed by two federal laws: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Depending on their eligibility, students may be offered an individualised education program (IEP) or a 504 plan. IEPs offer individualised special education services, while 504 Plans modify the learning environment to meet the child's needs equally with other students.


Both IEPs and 504 plans can provide accommodations such as extra time on tests, tailored instruction, positive reinforcement, technology support, breaks, environment modifications, and assistance with organisation.

Tips for parents

Parenting plays a vital role in ADHD treatment. How parents respond can significantly impact the course of ADHD, for better or worse. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, here are essential steps:

Be involved:

  1. Learn about ADHD and follow your child's healthcare provider's recommendations.
  2. Attend therapy visits and administer ADHD medication as prescribed. Keep medications secure.

Understand how ADHD affects your child:

  1. Recognise the specific challenges your child faces due to ADHD.
  2. Work with your child's therapist to gather tips and techniques for improvement.

Focus on one thing at a time:

  1. Avoid trying to address everything simultaneously. Start with one goal.
  2. Acknowledge your child's efforts and progress.

Collaborate with the school:

  1. Communicate with your child's teacher to determine if your child should have an IEP or 504 plan.
  2. Maintain regular contact with teachers to monitor your child's progress and assist them effectively.

Seek support and awareness:

  1. Join ADHD support organisations like CHADD to stay informed about treatment options and resources.

Discipline with purpose and warmth:

  1. Learn effective discipline approaches for children with ADHD.
  2. Seek guidance from your child's therapist on responding to behaviours. Encourage rather than punish, as kids with ADHD might be more sensitive to criticism.

Set clear expectations:

  1. Discuss behavioural expectations with your child before outings or activities.
  2. Focus on teaching what to do, rather than reacting to what not to do.

Talk about ADHD:

  1. Engage in open conversations with your child about ADHD.
  2. Help them understand that ADHD is not their fault, and they can learn to manage its challenges.

Spend quality time together:

  1. Allocate time for meaningful, relaxed interactions with your child daily.
  2. Offer your full attention and provide positive feedback for good behaviours.

Prioritise your relationship:

  1. Show patience, understanding, and acceptance to protect your child's self-esteem.
  2. Let your child know you believe in them and focus on their positive qualities.

Your relationship with your child is of utmost importance. By being patient, supportive, and loving, you can help your child build resilience and navigate the challenges of ADHD successfully.7


  • ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, affects behaviour and can be noticeable in childhood or adulthood, often persisting throughout life.
  • Symptoms include impulsivity, poor time management, and difficulty focusing, which affect school, work, and relationships.
  • ADHD affects both children and adults, with many childhood cases continuing into adulthood.
  • Genetics and environmental factors contribute to ADHD, and common misconceptions about its causes should be addressed.
  • Effective strategies for managing ADHD include support at school, clear expectations, and positive parenting approaches, with collaboration among individuals, parents, teachers, and healthcare providers.


  1. Arnold LE, Hodgkins P, Kahle J, Madhoo M, Kewley G. Long-term outcomes of adhd: academic achievement and performance. J. Atten. Disord. 2020;24:73–85. 
  2. Cheesman R, Eilertsen EM, Ayorech Z, Borgen NT, Andreassen OA, Larsson H, et al. How interactions between ADHD and schools affect educational achievement: a family‐based genetically sensitive study. J. Child. Psychol. Psychiatry. 2022 Oct [cited 2024 Feb 12];63:1174–85. Available from:
  3. Henning C, Summerfeldt LJ, Parker JDA. Adhd and academic success in university students: the important role of impaired attention. J. Atten. Disord. [Internet]. 2022 Apr [cited 2024 Feb 12];26(6):893–901. Available from:
  4. Jangmo A, Stålhandske A, Chang Z, Chen Q, Almqvist C, Feldman I, et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, school performance, and effect of medication. J. Am. Acad. Child. Adolesc. Psychiatry. [Internet]. 2019 Apr [cited 2024 Feb 12];58(4):423–32. Available from:
  5. DuPaul GJ. Promoting success across school years for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: collaborative school-home intervention. J. Am. Acad. Child. Adolesc. Psychiatry. [Internet]. 2018 Apr [cited 2024 Feb 12];57(4):231–2. Available from:
  6. Baweja R, Mattison RE, Waxmonsky JG. Impact of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder on school performance: what are the effects of medication? Pediatr. Drugs. [Internet]. 2015 Dec [cited 2024 Feb 12];17(6):459–77. Available from:
  7. Carrasco KD, Chuang CC, Tripp G. Shared predictors of academic achievement in children with adhd: a multi-sample study. J. Atten. Disord. [Internet]. 2022 Feb [cited 2024 Feb 12];26(4):573–86. Available from:

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBBS, Alexandria University

Marina Ramzy Mourid, a diligent medical student at Alexandria University in Egypt, has a strong passion for neurology and a keen interest in research. With a love for science communication, Marina excels not only in her studies but also as a prolific medical writer and author. Her track record speaks volumes, having clinched numerous competitions in article writing over the years.

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