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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Limits Academic Test Scores and Quality of Social Interactions

By Dr. Rimma Danov, PhD, founder of Brain Academy Tutoring, Testing & Coaching Center in New York
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is described as a neurobehavioral disorder of childhood, which occurs in 3%-7% of children, and is more common among boys compared to girls. The symptoms of ADHD include chronic inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, or all of these symptoms, which may persist through adolescence and into adulthood. These symptoms negatively affect the child in virtually all areas, and may result in social isolation, difficult relationships with family members and peers, significant learning problems, inconsistent and low test scores, and overall poor academic achievement in school. According to DSM-IV-TR, three types of ADHD are identified, including Predominantly Inattentive, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined Types of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Regardless of the type of ADHD, children with attention deficit and hyperactivity frequently experience academic problems, because they overlook important details of math problems, skip words or lines while reading, cannot organize information to write up a book summary, omit portions of verbal instructions and lectures in school, or carelessly copy homework assignments that they cannot later decipher. While they may study for hours and days for a particular test, when students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) take the test, they may impulsively select the wrong answer, misunderstand the test question due to inattention to key words such as 'but' or 'except', or skip or misperceive digits in a math problem. They may also get distracted from time management and completely forget to keep track of their time while answering difficult and easy questions on a test. Those who learned to double check their work, may need more time to recheck their work and correct their errors. Thus, attention deficit may result in poor achievement despite very good reasoning skills and normal intellect. Frequently, teachers comment that "…these students can do better on the standardized tests but underachieve because of their distractibility and impulsivity."

Furthermore, regardless of the type of ADHD, children with attention deficit and hyperactivity frequently overlook important social cues while interacting with their peers. As a result, they may not notice that their peers are interested in a different activity, or got tired playing a particular game, or want to initiate a friendly gesture. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may impulsively change rules or activities, disregarding their peers' wishes, which may lead to conflicts, arguments, and failed friendships. These conflicts cause additional stress in children's lives, even though they did not intentionally harm their friendships. Frequently, kids with attention deficit overlook environmental details, such as location of objects, weather conditions, and general personal safety details, such as the height of a slide they are climbing, the weight of a ball they are throwing, the late time of the day, or the sharp edge of an object. Consequently, kids with ADHD are more likely to get into accidents, accidentally hurt their peers, or disregard curfew and parental instructions, which, obviously, leads to additional conflicts with their family and friends.

It is not surprising, given the nature of the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms, that children diagnosed with ADHD are at a higher risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and broken bones than those without this disorder. Often, injuries result from carelessness and impulsivity, which are the consequences of poor judgment and planning, inattention to details, forgetfulness, impulsive reactions, constant fidgeting and moving around, distractibility, the abilities mainly operated by the frontal lobes. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is usually described to affect the frontal lobes, and consequently, the abilities mentioned above. In fact, it has been recently demonstrated that in children with ADHD, there is a delay of about three years in cortical maturation throughout most of the cerebellum. Other authors suggested that children with externalizing disorders, such as ADHD, oppositional-defiant disorder, or conduct disorder are more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior which may result in brain injuries (TBI). Notably, the link between ADHD and the risk of brain injuries may also occur in the other direction. That is, brain injuries (TBI) may increase the likelihood of developing the symptoms of ADHD in children who did not have ADHD prior to the head injury. A large body of research is dedicated to this topic. In addition, research suggests that the severity of TBI is related to developing the symptoms of ADHD.

In conclusion, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a serious childhood condition that should not be taken lightly because it bears tremendous effect on children's academic test scores, overall educational achievement, personal relationships at home and in school, and may even lead to serious accidents. These children are not simply lazy, disrespectful, oppositional, or not trying hard, but rather children struggling to tame their inner impulses, sustain focus on classwork, capture entire verbal instruction, and remember to complete every step of a multi-step direction. Early identification of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can help implement academic accommodations, initiate psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations, educational services, specific class placement, initiate social skills and test taking skills training, and adjust tutoring services. It is also critical for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to understand how their condition affects their life and how they can compensate for poor attention and academic under-achievement.

Dr. Danov, PhD, is a Harvard-trained pediatric and adult neuropsychologist and the founder of the Brain Academy Tutoring, Testing & Coaching Center in New York. This Center provides comprehensive cognitive and academic evaluations in order to diagnose dyslexia, math learning disorder, auditory and visual processing disorders, mental retardation, ADHD, and other conditions that require educational services, test accommodations, tutoring, special class placements, private school placements, speech and occupational therapy, and other treatments and educational services. The center also provides individual tutoring, test prep, and effective remediation of cognitive deficits that cause learning problems for children and work-related problems for adults. For more information about the Brain Academy Tutoring, Testing and Coaching Center and how to diagnose and remediate learning disabilities, call 877-55-MyTutor (877-556-9888, 646-355-3395), or visit our website Offices are located in New York City, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.
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