ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity. ADHD begins in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. As many as 2 out of every 3 children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as adults.
Symptoms of ADHD can differ from person to person, but there are three basic types of ADHD. Each one is identified by the symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. When the main symptoms are inattention, distraction, and disorganization, the type is usually called primarily inattentive. The symptoms of hyperactivity and possibly impulsiveness appear to diminish with age but are seen in the primarily hyperactive/impulsive type. The third type has some symptoms from each of the other two and is called the combined type.
Children with ADHD often have trouble functioning at home and in school and can have difficulty making and keeping friends. If left untreated, ADHD may interfere with school and work, as well as with social and emotional development.
ADHD is more common in boys, whose impulsivity and hyperactivity may appear as disruptive behavior. Inattentiveness is a hallmark of ADHD in girls, but because they aren’t often disruptive in the classroom, they may be harder to diagnose.
If your child or a child you know is diagnosed with ADHD, be patient. Even with treatment, symptoms may take time to improve. Instill a sense of competence in the child or adolescent. Promote his or her strengths, talents and feelings of self-worth. Remember that the side effects of untreated ADHD (such as failure, frustration, discouragement, social isolation, low self-esteem and depression) may cause more problems than the disorder itself.
Information taken from WebMD.
ADD / ADHD AND SPECIAL EDUCATION:
“Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADD) and “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD) are included in the list of conditions that could render a child eligible for special education services. However, this does not automatically mean that all children with ADHD qualify for an Individual Education Plan or other provisions under IDEA.
While IDEA does offer help for eligible children with ADD / ADHD, not all children with ADD or ADHD are eligible. Even a medical diagnosis does not necessarily guarantee eligibility of services. To qualify for special education, the ADHD must adversely affect a child’s educational performance.
ADD and ADHD have various levels of severity. For some students, it is completely debilitating, requiring extensive accommodations and other interventions. Other students are more successful at managing their ADHD and have little trouble in the regular classroom. Decisions about the need for special services and/or accommodations are supposed to be made on an individual basis, with considerations given to the specific needs of the individual student.
When would an ADHD student qualify for special services under IDEA?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, children with ADD / ADHD may be eligible for services under the following categories, depending on their unique characteristics and identified educational needs:
Other health impairment. Most children receiving special education services for ADD / ADHD alone will likely be classified as “Other Health Impaired” due to their “heightened alertness to environmental stimuli… results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment,” impairing school performance.
Specific learning disability. Children with ADHD may be eligible for special education in this category if they have coexisting learning disabilities, involved in understanding and using language that impairs the ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. In some cases, ADD / ADHD alone could generate the type of impairment that would cause a child to meet criteria under this category—especially the Inattentive Type, which has been linked to deficits in mathematics and sensory information processing. Recent brain-imaging studies and current understanding about ADHD’s effect on executive functions (and hence on information processing) also underscore this category’s continued relevance.
Emotional disturbance. Children with ADHD sometimes have coexisting emotional and mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, behavior disorders, anxiety disorders, or depression, that can adversely affect educational performance and make them eligible for special education services. Characteristics of emotional disturbance under Part B include (1) an unexplained inability to learn or to form and maintain satisfactory relationships with teachers and peers, (2) inappropriate behavior and feelings, (3) general depression, and (4) physical symptoms or fears resulting from personal or school problems.
Developmental delay. IDEA offers a noncategorical option — developmental delay — for children aged 3 through 9 who exhibit delays in physical, cognitive, communication, emotional, social, or adaptive development. At the discretion of the state and local educational agencies, schools can use this option to serve children within the specified age range who need special education and related services because of such delays. Children with ADHD often seem immature for their age — lagging behind peers up to 30 percent — and have been found to score below average on tests used to identify developmental delays. These results are consistent with neurological findings that are leading researchers to view ADHD as neurodevelopmental disorder. Some functional areas in which delays are evident include socialization, communication, daily living, and self-control. Social failure is so prevalent with ADHD that it is considered to be characteristic of the disorder.