By: Jennifer Mandato, LAC
For a child with ADHD, navigating the school environment can be a scary place. Everyday tasks such as organization, time management, peer interactions, and remembering to visit the school nurse can be a struggle. Often they are faced with many new battles throughout the day.
Unfortunately, mental health diagnoses, including ADHD still have a negative stigma attached to them. In reality all it really means is their brain works differently and they will need extra support. Along with school accommodations, medications are also sometimes used. This is not without its own negativity; it can subject not only the parent but child to bullying. Parents can be seen as not knowing how to handle or discipline their child. In turn, many parents do not confide in family or peers for support. For the child, it can result in being teased for the struggles they have and “fake” friends using them for access to medications.
For a child with ADHD, sustaining attention is a constant challenge. Their impulsivity may cause them to be disruptive to others. This can make navigating peer relationships difficult. They may not understand the social boundaries which can push peers away. They may talk over or interrupt their peers and their peers may find this annoying and begin to separate from them. Peers may tease them for their loud tone or their inability to engage in a conversation with them.
How can we help?
Keep the dialogue open with your child. Talk to them about school, their teacher and their friends. Be mindful of any changes in their demeanor or avoidance of the topic when you bring them up. If they go from being enthusiastic about school to changing the topic when it is brought up, inquire deeper. If they express to you something is happening at school or you suspect something, reach out to their counselor or teachers.
Involve them in social skills groups. Working with peers their own age with similar challenges will help normalize their experience as well as know they are not alone in this world. These groups will help guide them through social boundaries and interacting with peers.
Work with an executive function coach to help them with their school work. A coach can assess their executive functioning profile and see the challenge areas to work on. This can include giving them an organizational system for school, time management or study skills.
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles