ADHD is a chronic condition that can create serious difficulties for children, especially in school and in social situations.
Difficulty in School
Children with ADHD have problems paying attention in the classroom and remembering assignments, both of which can lead to poor academic performance. A child who suffers from undiagnosed ADHD may be unfairly judged as “stupid” or “impossible to teach”—a judgment that can lead to further academic failure. Unfortunately, high school dropout rates are about twice as high for children with ADHD than for others.
Children with ADHD may specifically have trouble interacting with adults and other authority figures, which may exacerbate problems in the classroom. Children with ADHD are more likely than others to develop oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), a pattern of hostile and defiant behavior directed towards authority figures.
Although ADHD doesn’t cause learning disabilities, they are more common in children with ADHD than in those without. School-aged children with ADHD may have a hard time with reading, spelling, writing, or math. Test-taking is a special concern; luckily, many schools allow special concessions for children with ADHD to have extra time on tests, especially state and national standardized tests. It’s also important to remember that especially gifted students tend to get ADHD more than other children. If you think your child has ADHD, it is essential that you work with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or other educational specialist to get any special requirements addressed.
Some children with ADHD have trouble interacting with peers. Because these children may have trouble taking turns, playing with others can cause problems and become more upsetting than fun or rewarding. Although ADHD does not cause anxiety or depression, both of these conditions are more common among children with ADHD than in others. Anxiety especially is common, and it can both cause and exacerbate worry and nervousness about being around, working with, and playing with others.
Because children—especially younger children—with ADHD tend to be active at inappropriate times, they are more likely to have injury-causing accidents.
One rare, but potentially serious, condition that can coexist with ADHD is conduct disorder. A child with conduct disorder may repeatedly lie, steal from others, act cruelly or violently towards others and animals, or destroy property. Children with conduct disorder are at a significantly higher risk for injury, depression, substance abuse, and incarceration.
Other Complications and Comorbidities
Although ADHD does not cause any of these conditions, children with ADHD are more likely than others to have:
- Bipolar disorder
- borderline personality disorder
- Tourette syndrome
- Obsessive compulsive disorder