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How Do Children With ADHD Disrupt Their Classes?

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell, studioD

It's the rare child who consistently behaves in a pristine manner and has unwavering focus on the task at hand. Although most kids get revved up and misbehave from time to time in school and elsewhere, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have chronic and severe behavioral problems that can lead to self-esteem, relationship and academic deficiencies. A child with ADHD can present unique challenges in the classroom, explains the U.S. Department of Education.


The relatively lengthy list of problematic ADHD symptoms can disrupt classroom activities and be bothersome to classmates. Struggles with following instructions, staying focused, overlooking details and being disorganized are common problems for kids with ADHD, notes FamilyDoctor.org. Although these behaviors may temporarily take the focus off the rest of the class while the teacher turns her attention to the child with ADHD, more troublesome behaviors may have a more serious impact on other students. Interrupting the teacher or classmates and finding it next to impossible to wait her turn or sit still can take the spotlight off of learning as the disruptive child becomes the center of attention.

Here, There and Everywhere

A child with ADHD may become fidgety, squirm about or get up and walk away during school lessons due to his zealous need to stay mobile, explains the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology. Touching or playing whatever he passes by, like swirling a globe, opening another student's notebook or grabbing a chunk of chalk and scribbling on the blackboard can clearly interfere with what is supposed to be an organized and generally quiet learning environment.

Unwittingly Self-Centered

Children with ADHD who repeatedly tap their fingers or wiggle their feet may be unaware that these habits can be extremely annoying to nearby classmates who are trying to focus on their schoolwork. Speaking before they think is a problem for some kids with ADHD due to their propensity to act impulsively. Stopping to consider the consequences of her behavior may never cross the mind of a child with ADHD. For example, if a child with ADHD grabs another student’s apple in the lunchroom, she may fail to see that she has upset and deprived the other child of a nutritious part of his lunch.


Many parents of kids with ADHD are under the false impression that more open or free-flowing classroom settings -- where kids are seated in a circle -- help their child learn more effectively, points out HealthyChildren.org. In reality, kids with ADHD are more apt to make more progress when desks face forward because conventional seating arrangements appear to help a child stay in tune with the class and remember more information. Seating a child with ADHD away from tempting distractions like windows, doors and computers may help him stay focused on class work and less likely to distract classmates.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

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