Many students with ADHD are receiving no help at school
A large number of children growing up with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) receive little to no assistance in school despite the widely recognized effect that ADHD can have on a child’s schooling and social ability.
Most troubling, a new study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, indicates that children from non-English speaking or lower-income families were least likely to receive school services to assist with ADHD.
“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,” said lead author Dr. George DuPaul, professor of school psychology and associate dean for research in the College of Education at Lehigh University.
“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 researchers evaluated a wide range of school services, including educational support such as tutoring or extra help from a teacher, as well as classroom management assistance such as rewards systems, behavioral modification strategies, or a daily reward card.
Parents of the 2,495 children included in the study were also asked if their children had an individualized education program (IEP) or specific educational accommodations under the federal disability civil rights code (504 plan).
Based on the findings, the researchers say that approximately one-in-three students living with ADHD were receiving no school-based interventions, and two-in-three receiving no forms of classroom management.
Most concerning, nearly one-in-five students with ADHD who reported significant academic and social difficulties were receiving no school services.
As a result, nearly one-in-four students with ADHD had repeated a grade while one-in-six had been expelled from school.
The study also found that the situation tends to worsen as students progress through school. While students with ADHD were more likely to receive some form of school services in elementary school, the availability of these services decreased in middle and high school – despite impairment rates remaining largely similar as individuals with ADHD age.
“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 (the latter being the primary difficulty that students with this disorder experience),” DuPaul said.
“We expected that there would be disparities in service receipt based on age (ie. teens received less support) and race/ethnicity; however we were surprised with the extent to which these gaps were evident and the magnitude of the disparities.”