ADHD at Highschool

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What is ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common neurological disorders. ADHD is characterized by a consistent pattern of difficulty focusing, hyperactivity, and impulsivity or lack of self-control. These characteristics can cause trouble in school and relationships. 

ADHD at Leesville 

Many Leesville students struggle with ADHD at school. In an Instagram poll, 4 out of 40 Leesville students had been diagnosed with ADHD. 

Sophia, a Leesville senior, has been diagnosed with ADHD since fifth grade. As she has gotten older, the ADHD symptoms have become more manageable. However, they still present themselves in the classroom. 

“I struggle to focus a lot in the classroom. Sometimes nothing helps, I just sit there annoyed with myself,” Sophia said. 

This lack of focus manifests itself as a lot of stress. Sophia grows frustrated when she fails to focus on the lesson despite wanting to. Also, it leads to a lack of motivation. She feels too overwhelmed with her work to the point she will give up.

“It’s not that I don’t want to do the work, I just can’t.”

This absence of drive leads to extreme procrastination and a battle to meet due dates. Sophia attempts to combat this struggle by prioritizing specific classes.

“I start with the easier work first so it gets me in the zone. It also leads to less of a pile of work when I eventually get overwhelmed with more complicated assignments,” she said. 

This method does not always work. Sophia struggles to meet deadlines now and then. She does a good job of advocating for herself, though. If she knows she can not meet a deadline due to an ADHD issue, she will email the teacher and explain the situation.

“My teachers have been pretty accommodating. They usually will allow me an extra day to get my work turned in,” she said.

Another problem ADHD brings up for Sophia is her energy levels. Sophia has been on ADHD meds since elementary school. While they have helped a lot, they do have side effects.

“They make me really tired sometimes, it makes it harder for me to focus in class when I am nodding off,” she said. 

Among other symptoms, ADHD creates a struggle in the classroom for students. 

504 plan

There is a plan that offers official accommodations in an attempt to make classes easier for those struggling with ADHD. 

The 504 plan offers several different accommodations customizable to a person’s needs. 

“It is so customizable- it is not like a blanket. It is not the same for every student, it is extremely tailored to a student’s needs,” said Mrs. Feeney, an LRHS school counselor. 

It requires a very lengthy process to obtain one. And, there are chances that after going through that process a student might not be able to get one. It also requires an ADHD diagnosis which not everyone has access to. However, this lengthy process is there to make sure the system isn’t taken advantage of. This does make the 504 less attractive to those who need it. 

“It’s not like a cookie jar, and we just hand them out,” Feeney said. 

While it is a selective plan, it does have success. It has helped many students especially because of how tailored it is to them.

However, the 504 can’t help all students. Hannah, a senior, has had a 504 plan since elementary school. 

“It helped initially, but became useless in high school,” Hannah said.

Contrary to what Sophia said, Hannah does not think teachers are helpful with ADHD.

“I ask for extra time on assignments and they don’t take me seriously,” Hannah said. 

Her main issue, however, is she needs more. So, she is working to get an IEP. An individualized learning plan, also known as an IEP, is a higher-level plan compared to the 504 and can also be catered to ADHD but it is for more serious cases. 

Student struggles

Hannah is very hyper in class and finds herself off task a lot. She struggles to sit still and focus on the assignment. Any talking completely throws her off track.

“I think teachers think I am a bad kid. I can’t help it.”

Hannah tries to prevent distractions as much as possible. She often asks to sit in the hallway and work alone- out of the distracting classroom.

“That’s the only time I can get some work done, but even then I get distracted in the hallway,” she said.

Awareness

Hannah wishes more people understood the struggle of ADHD at school. Sophia does as well. Both agreed that teachers need education on ADHD.

“Everyone knows ADHD is not being able to sit still or focus, but no one realizes how hard it is to get work in along with the other symptoms,” Sophia said.

Sophia and Hannah do not expect the teachers to be experts. Instead, they wish the teachers had a general knowledge of ADHD and how to accommodate it. 

“They don’t understand how to deal with it. I think teachers should get a course on ADHD as well as other mental disorders,” Hannah said.

They also wished other students would be more mindful. When it is quiet working time, it would be helpful if students were actually quiet. 

“I hate to be that person, but I can’t focus when other people are talking — it makes me want to talk as well,” Hannah said. 

While Leesville as a community can not solve the issues manifested by ADHD, they can try their best to accommodate it by being respectful. Both have been called names or made fun of by friends. While it is lighthearted, it still bothers them. 

“If Leesville could do anything to help, it would simply be awareness,” Sophia said.

Those with ADHD struggle a lot in school. They do their best to work around their endeavors but can’t always do so. 

(Names changed for privacy reasons)

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