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Can a Child Mask ADHD at School?

Navigating the school environment can be challenging for any child, but for those with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the hurdles can be even trickier to tackle.
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Can a Child Mask ADHD at School?

31/05/2024
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Navigating the school environment can be challenging for any child, but for those with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the hurdles can be even trickier to tackle. While some children with ADHD may exhibit symptoms that are fairly obvious in the classroom, others may engage in what is known as “masking,” concealing their ADHD traits to fit societal expectations or avoid negative attention. This phenomenon of masking ADHD in school settings can pose significant challenges for both the child and those involved in their education.

In this blog post, we delve into the concept of ADHD child masking, specifically ADHD masking at school, exploring its impact on academic performance, social interactions, and overall well-being. We’ll also discuss strategies for recognising and addressing ADHD symptoms in educational settings to ensure that every child receives the support they need to thrive.

If you think you have noticed your child masking their symptoms and are looking for a professional ADHD assessment for children, we’re here to help.

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Recognising ADHD Symptoms in Schools

Recognising ADHD symptoms in school settings can be complex, as they may manifest differently depending on the individual child. While some children with ADHD may display hyperactive and impulsive behaviours that are noticeable to teachers and peers, others may exhibit more subtle signs that are easily overlooked.

Common symptoms of ADHD in school-aged children include difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. However, it’s important to note that not all children with ADHD will exhibit all of these symptoms, and they may present in varying degrees of severity.

Read more about symptoms of ADHD in children here.

Is Child ADHD Masking Common In Schools?

It is true that in some cases, children may attempt to mask their ADHD symptoms at school, especially if they feel stigmatised, have difficulty with social interactions, or struggle being their authentic self. While this masking behaviour can seem like an opportunity to shy away from social situations and be less involved, for children with ADHD, masking usually requires extra effort to either appear attentive and engaged, suppress impulses, or avoid situations where their ADHD traits may be more noticeable.

In some ways, masking can help children with ADHD navigate social situations and academic expectations – but these are generally short term wins. In reality, masking can be harmful, and lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and exhaustion over time.

Open communication between parents and school professionals is essential for creating a supportive environment where children with ADHD feel understood and accommodated. Find parent support for children with ADHD here.

How Does a Child Mask ADHD in School Settings? Signs To Look For

Children with ADHD may use various strategies to mask their symptoms at school and fit in with their neurotypical peers.

  • One common masking behaviour involves putting in excessive effort to appear attentive and engaged during class, even though they may struggle to maintain focus and attention.
  • Children may also suppress their impulses and hyperactive behaviours, trying to blend into ‘societal expectations’ or with their classmates.
  • Children may avoid situations or tasks that highlight their ADHD symptoms, such as participating in group activities or taking on leadership roles.

If you are noticing your child is adapting their typical behaviours in certain social situations or is exhibiting any of these ADHD masking behaviours in school, reach out to one of our specialists who will be able to guide you through the diagnosis and treatment process for ADHD.

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Academic Performance and ADHD Masking in Schools

Children who are masking their ADHD may sometimes appear to be performing adequately in school, but as mentioned, a lot of effort is often required to maintain this façade. As a result, these students (particularly older pupils) may experience increased stress, fatigue, and frustration, leading to a decline in academic performance over time.

Masking behaviours can also have negative consequences when it comes to children receiving the support and accommodations they need to thrive in the classroom. Without appropriate interventions and understanding from teachers and parents, children may struggle to reach their full potential and may experience negative impacts on their self-esteem and mental health. Children who do not mask their ADHD traits may therefore find support easier to come by.

How To Navigate ADHD Masking at School

Navigating child ADHD masking requires a collaborative approach involving educators, parents, and healthcare professionals.

Teachers

  • It’s crucial for teachers to be educated about ADHD and its manifestations, allowing them to recognise the signs of masking and provide appropriate support.
  • Teachers should also know how to create an inclusive classroom environment where all students feel comfortable expressing their needs and challenges can help reduce the pressure to mask symptoms.
  • Specific, individualised education plans (IEPs) for those in the ADHD community can ensure that everyone receives the appropriate accommodations.

Parents

  • Open communication with teachers and school staff is key. Sharing information about their child’s ADHD diagnosis, including any strategies or interventions that have been effective, can help educators better understand the child’s needs and tailor their approach accordingly.
  • Parents can also work with healthcare professionals to explore treatment options, such as medication or therapy, that may alleviate symptoms and reduce the need for masking behaviours.

Collaboration and communication between parents and educators are essential for raising awareness about ADHD and ensuring that children receive the support they need to succeed in school.

Parents play a vital role in advocating for their child and providing valuable insights into their unique strengths and challenges. By sharing information about their child’s ADHD diagnosis, treatment plan, and any accommodations or strategies that have been effective, parents can help educators better understand how to support the child in the classroom. Similarly, educators can provide valuable feedback to parents about their child’s academic and behavioural progress, helping to identify any areas of concern and develop targeted interventions.

ADHD Centre: Receive Professional Support

If you’re struggling to navigate ADHD masking or support your child effectively, The ADHD Centre is here to help. Our team of experienced professionals specialises in diagnosing and treating ADHD in children, providing personalised support and resources to help your child reach their full potential.

Whether you’re seeking an ADHD assessment for your child, parent support for managing ADHD-related challenges, or guidance on navigating the school system, our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to your family’s needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out to The ADHD Centre for professional support and guidance on your ADHD journey.

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