I have ADHD, and the best word that could describe most of my middle and high school experience is appalling. I used to run out of time for algebra tests. I would also keep forgetting to hand in my biology homework. All of my peers with ADHD have had similar, demoralizing experiences.
However, I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I received psychological resources that help me cope with my ADHD. I also attend a private school that has always offered a regular 8am-3pm schedule, even in the midst of the pandemic and online school. This regular schedule allowed me to forge better ties with my teachers.
I realize that most students with ADHD are not so lucky. According to a 2019 study from Lehigh University, at least one in five students with ADHD receives no school services despite a significant academic and social deficiency, a gap that is particularly evident for adolescents and young people from non-English speaking and/or low-income families. Another study found that children living in low-income households had an increased risk of ADHD compared to children in the middle-high income group.
The pandemic has compounded this education deficit. According to New York Times, there has been a 15% increase in Ds and Fs among students in the Los Angeles Unified School District during the pandemic. This has been attributed to the lack of in-person instruction for nearly 80% of students who live in poverty.
LAUSD students with ADHD were not given the proper attention, ultimately earning them D and F grades. While most LAUSD students have already returned to in-person instruction, the year of distance learning has caused long-term damage to many students, especially those with ADHD.
Besides, a Chinese study found that lockdowns during the pandemic worsened some ADHD-related behaviors. Many parents of students with ADHD have been unable to provide them with a structured routine during the lockdowns, which is crucial for their academic success.
For low-income students with ADHD to succeed academically during the pandemic, the government and school districts should provide more funding for the individualized instruction of these students, especially since these students are among the worst victims of the pandemic.
Additionally, more resources should be given to parents so that they can help provide a quieter and less distracting learning environment for their children. Without such assistance, the education deficit will only worsen.
The reality is that students with ADHD have the potential to become nuclear physicists, world leaders, and successful businessmen. For example, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad had ADHD.
However, in order to unlock their potential, these students need appropriate educational attention and support. Such help can only benefit everyone, from students to our nation as a whole.