Is it ADHD?
The path to diagnosis should not be a tricky road!
For students: Talk to your parents, school’s learning specialist, counselor, psychologist, or doctor! Don’t be ashamed of advocating for your difficulties. Read more about the diagnostic process here.
For parents: Discuss with your child. Contact the school counselor, learning specialist, doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist for details regarding a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment.
For teachers: be patient and treat the student kindly.
Chances are, they are frustrated with themselves too. Students with undiagnosed ADHD may often act out (talking back, blurting out, cracking jokes), or seek attention inappropriately to cope with the difficulties caused by their unidentified condition (ex. difficulty understanding the material, completing homework, understanding social cues, or struggles at home.)
If the student frequently acts out in class… he or she is not doing so to spite you. The student is far more likely incredibly frustrated and confused with themselves, and is instead turning to an outlet where attention/validation is easily gained from classmates — strict punishment will most likely exacerbate this behavior and harden the child. Perhaps ask the student what’s going on, but respect their personal boundaries. If ADHD or another learning difference/neurodiverse condition is suspected, briefly outline the next steps of a psychoeducational assessment. Encourage the student to talk to a parent, counselor, or join “safe spaces” such as NeurodiverCity.
If the student “appears smart” but isn’t doing well… he or she is not purposely lazy or “not applying themselves.” This again is not done intentionally to spite or rebel against the teacher. Students with ADHD may “seem bright” but are often predisposed to a different learning style that they may not have figured out yet. Ask the student about his or her study/learning habits and encourage the student to communicate their struggles and seek help. Connect the student with resources and outline next steps, and contact the parent to discuss a psychoeducational assessment.
Check with school and district guidelines, but be direct, and let both parent and student know of the recommendation to have the student “tested.” Link websites, such as this resource, to reduce any misconceptions and diminish the element of terror for both parent and student. Provide contact information for testing services and an email template to contact the tester if necessary (found here.)
If the student would like additional support, NeurodiverCity offers online mentoring and student support groups, which can be found here.
For teachers/school counselors:
Middle/high school: If the student expresses learning difficulties, do not assume the issue simply lies in their course load and level.
Believe the student when they express their difficulties — help provide them resources and don’t downplay their experiences or struggles. Never rule out a psychoeducational assessment simply because the student is outwardly high achieving. Most students with ADHD are often highly intelligent (Read more about twice exceptionality here).