A Student's Guide to Managing ADHD at School

By: Jordin Frey

Student's Guide to Managing ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD such as distractibility, poor time management and disorganization can make working in the classroom, homework and assessments challenging. However, by using the right coping methods students with ADHD can be successful students. With some planning you can not only manage your ADHD in school but you can thrive.

Time Management Skills

ADHD often means you feel restless and have difficulty paying attention which can make time management challenging. Students who have ADHD often struggle with the skills needed to get tasks done in a timely manner and this is often misinterpreted as laziness. However it is important to remember that you are not lazy, ADHD causes the brain to struggle with executive function which is the set of mental skills that helps people to focus on a task, organize and plan ahead. However there are skills and methods that you can use to get into better habits to manage your time effectively. Avoiding procrastination is a necessary skill to improve productivity. Whilst sometimes it may feel easier to delay working on homework or a task assigned in class until you feel you have the energy, more often than not this will just leave you with a task uncompleted at the given deadline. Do something you find boring or difficult before you reward yourself with something fun. If a big project or task overwhelms you then break it down into small manageable pieces with mini deadlines for each. Use a planner to write down deadlines, tasks and to do lists and refer to it regularly so you can work out what is best to spend time on.

Getting Support for Your ADHD

People with ADHD often struggle to regulate and manage emotions. Students with ADHD can also struggle with negative thoughts and poor self esteem, especially if you compare yourself to your friends who do not have ADHD. When you have disruptive symptoms it may make friendships and relationships with teachers challenging. Your teachers and friends at school might not understand what you are experiencing and think you are acting out or being difficult. Therefore it is very important to talk to friends, family and teachers about how you feel and how they can be supportive. Let people know how ADHD affects you and what you do and don't find helpful so that people know how they can best help you. Communication with teachers about ADHD is particularly helpful because they can adapt their teaching approach to accommodate your needs which might be different from your peers in the classroom. This might also include extra time on assessments and being allowed more breaks so don't be hesitant to reach out and ask for help when you are struggling or overwhelmed.

ADHD and Looking After Your Mental Health at School

ADHD and anxiety disorders frequently occur together. They can exist simultaneously or it is quite common for ADHD symptoms to contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. Around half of people who have ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. Furthermore up to 30% of children who have ADHD also have a serious mood disorder like depression and more than half of people who have ADHD will get treated for depression at some point in their lives. By managing your ADHD effectively you might reduce the risk of your symptoms contributing to bad mental health.

The pressures of school can be hard for every student but being effected by ADHD symptoms can cause added stress and worry. It is important to practice good coping mechanisms so that any potential depression and anxiety can be minimized. It is important to maintain better exercise, sleep and diet and limit physical anxiety triggers like caffeine to reduce overall stress and keep physically and mentally healthy. At school and home you can practice strategies for reducing stress and feeling calmer such as deep breathing and mindfulness exercises that can help you remain calm and avoid being overwhelmed. If you feel like you are starting to struggle with anxiety and depression it might help to talk to your parents or teachers at school so that you can get support.

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