Schools failing to support students with ADHD

Schools failing to support students with ADHD

(District of Columbia) A significant number of students with ADHD are not receiving needed classroom services, and many of them also come from low-income families or are English learners, according to a new study.

Overall, at least one in five students diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder receive no school support, a research team led by George DuPaul, a professor of school psychology and associate dean for research at Lehigh University, reported this week.

“We found that although the majority of students were currently receiving one or more school services, only a minority received support to manage their behavior, and at least one out of five students did not receive any school support despite experiencing significant educational impairment,” DuPaul said in a statement. “The gap between impairment and service receipt was particularly evident for adolescents with ADHD and for youth with ADHD from non-English speaking and or low-income families.”

The findings are based on data collected on nearly 2,500 students with ADHD from age 4 to 17, living in all parts of the U.S. The study, which was published this week in the Journal of Attention Disorder, also received support from the University of Maryland and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ADHD is one of the fastest growing learning disabilities in the U.S. The CDC estimates that 11 percent of American children, ages 4 to 17, had the attention disorder as of 2011—which is an increase of 42 percent between 2003 and 2011.

ADHD is covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act within the Specific Learning Disability category, which includes a number of disorders where basic psychological processes are challenged in understanding or in using spoken or written language.

Research shows that students with ADHD are at higher risk for grade retention, underachievement and high school dropout. Children with ADHD can also have difficulty interacting with peers and adults, and often have trouble sustaining friendships.

The types of support that the research team was on the lookout for included tutoring and extra help from a teacher, as well as preferential seating, extra time to complete work, or being enrolled in special education. Parents were also asked if their child had an Individual Education Plan, as defined under IDEA; or 504 plan, which can also be used to identify educational accommodations under federal civil rights law.

In addition to finding schools often overlook the needs of students with ADHD, the study also found that nearly one in four students had repeated a grade, and one in six had been expelled from school. They said that middle and high school students with ADHD were significantly less likely than elementary school students to receive any type of school service.

“We expected that most students with ADHD would be receiving some form of support, but were surprised that so few were receiving services to manage their behavior,” DuPaul said. “We expected that there would be disparities in service receipt based on age and race or ethnicity; however we were surprised with the extent to which these gaps were evident and the magnitude of the disparities.”

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