Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can present itself in lots of different ways, with some of the symptoms making it difficult for unsupported students to obtain academic success. It’s thought that around 5% of children in the UK have ADHD, but a lot of those with the condition are undiagnosed. Due to the common symptoms of ADHD, such as inattention and impulsivity, undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can pose problems in the classroom and ultimately affect their learning outcomes and their future.
At The ADHD Centre, we work with children with ADHD and have developed an ADHD assessment designed to clinically inform our specialists what sort of treatment you or your child could benefit from. There is help in place for students with an ADHD diagnosis, but lots of people aren’t aware of what’s on offer or can’t access the support they are entitled to due to a lack of diagnosis.
In this article, we’re going to talk more about our online assessment for ADHD, students, and how our specialists can assist you or your child through education, ensuring you get the best possible outcome and have equal opportunities to prosper and not be held back by your condition.
How do attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms affect students?
Firstly, let’s look at how ADHD can impact students in the classroom. This is handy because it helps you identify ADHD symptoms and can give you an indication as to whether it’s a good idea to pursue an assessment.
Students with ADHD might find that they fidget and move around a lot. Generally speaking, fidgeting is broadly seen as a sign that a person is distracted or not paying attention, but for people with ADHD, research has found that students may fidget in a bid to keep their attention focussed on what’s in front of them. It’s thought that fidgeting can help to minimise other sensory inputs, helping the student to stay on track.
Unfortunately, in typical classroom settings, this may be seen by the teacher and other students as distracting, and reprimands may be given, especially if the student doesn’t yet have an ADHD diagnosis. This can mean the student is unfairly punished or removed from class, or they may be berated by their peers for their behaviour, resulting in strained social relationships which can create additional stress.
Many people with ADHD struggle to listen to others because they are easily distracted by their environment, meaning there are lots of thoughts whirring around in their mind that make it hard to concentrate on one person speaking to them. Not being able to listen all the time can pose issues when sitting through lessons and lectures, and it can make it difficult to maintain friendships due to social repercussions from not being able to take in what someone else is saying.
Poor quality of work
Sometimes, students with ADHD find that they make avoidable or careless mistakes. We all make mistakes, but people with ADHD might find that they make mistakes more frequently where they might have otherwise been avoided. This is largely thought to be caused by the inattention aspect of ADHD, which makes it hard to stay focussed and to follow detailed instructions, leading to errors. In terms of performance, this can directly impact grades, even if the student is well-versed on the topic and didn’t mean to make the error.
These issues combined can make it hard for students to excel and succeed in a typical classroom environment that is lacking ADHD awareness or support, and this can lead to future aspirations being impacted and feelings of not being good enough, even though this isn’t the case. This is why our student assessment and support service is so vital for those with ADHD.
What is the student ADHD assessment?
As mentioned, most people with ADHD may be unaware they have it, instead struggling in silence without ever really knowing why. Our student ADHD assessment aims to give students who exhibit some ADHD symptoms the chance to get assessed by a professional healthcare provider, and get the answers that can help them progress and validate/explain their experiences.
The ADHD evaluation is carried out by one of our consultant psychiatrists at either our London or Manchester clinic, or via Zoom for Healthcare. Generally speaking, your assessment will last anywhere from 90 minutes to 120 minutes, and will consist of a meeting with one of our ADHD specialists to go through the assessment stages.
1. Symptom checklist
The first stage of the assessment is to fill out a symptom checklist so we can see what it is specifically that you’re struggling with. We may also ask someone who knows you very well, such as a parent, partner, or sibling, to tell us a bit more about you and how ADHD may be potentially affecting your daily life. This ensures no points are missed and we get a clearer understanding of how your symptoms are presenting themselves and the problems or setbacks they may be causing.
2. Clinical assessment
After stage one, you will then be led through a clinical assessment by your dedicated consultant psychiatrist. Our assessments are based on the DSM-V criteria which is the clinical basis on which ADHD diagnoses are made, keeping in mind the latest research and findings. They will also look at how your symptoms have developed, what your medical and developmental history is, as well as your family history.
This is the part of the assessment that will take the longest, but it is absolutely necessary in order to diagnose ADHD and to act as a referral for when a treatment plan is being constructed.
3. Assessment report
If your assessment concludes that you have ADHD, your consultant psychiatrist will send you a report detailing your diagnosis, the subtype of ADHD you might have, and what your treatment plan might entail. Each patient is different, so it’s not easy to say what your treatment might be until after your assessment.
If an ADHD diagnosis isn’t given, you will still be given a full assessment report.
ADHD student support
If you receive an ADHD diagnosis, there are a number of support options that may be offered, with one of them being medication. There are five types of ADHD medications which can help you concentrate better, feel calmer, and have fewer impulsive tendencies. These medications include:
The medication you may be prescribed will depend on your personal circumstances and symptoms. You might be prescribed fast-acting medications which can be taken three or four times a day, or slow release medications which are taken once a day.
Two of the medications (dexamfetamine and methylphenidate) are stimulants which can work well in controlling your attention, making them ideal for students who need to concentrate and study, as well as those with adult ADHD who struggle to concentrate in a work environment. The other two medications (atomoxetine and guanfacine) are non-stimulants.
Medications come with side effects, so it’s important to inform a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any negative side effects.
At The ADHD Centre, we typically combine medication (if needed) with other types of treatments, such as therapies and learning development. During your assessment, you will have a coaching call which explains how our behavioural and developmental coaches can work with you to get on top of things like:
- Sleep issues
- Time management
- Organisation skills
- Exam preparation
- Revision sessions
- General study skills
- Study/life balance
- Managing stress
The way this is done may be via holistic therapies, talking therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the essential mindfulness course for core ADHD symptoms, and lifestyle (diet and exercise) changes. We also offer a range of parental support to help parents better understand their child’s ADHD and how to support them through various accommodations.
At The ADHD Centre, we work with schools, colleges, and universities to ensure students with ADHD receive the provisions and support they need to succeed. We can liaise with your education provider directly to inform them of any accommodations you may be entitled to. These may include:
- Additional time during exams
- Support sessions
- Assistance with lesson materials or lecture resource preparation
- Extensions on coursework deadlines
By working together, we can ensure students are provided with the help and support they need and are given an equal opportunity to succeed academically. Combined with the support offered by our expert team and parental support at home, we aim to give students the very best chance of success through continuity of care.
Book an assessment
If you’re a student and you think you might have ADHD and it’s interfering with your studies, or if you’re the parent of a child who you think may have ADHD, we can help. We have three clinics in England that we carry out assessments at: Milton Keynes, London, and Manchester. These are where your initial assessment will take place. If you can’t make it to a clinic, we can do the assessment on Zoom for Healthcare.