Virtual learning creates challenges for students with ADHD


Multiple Authors

As students from CPS have switched to virtual learning, they have met many challenges along the way. Although students have gone through a difficult time in this new school year, students with learning disabilities had different experiences adapting to this new learning form. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Students with ADHD have struggled with virtual learning due to the symptoms their disorder presents, making it especially hard for them to learn compared to other students. 

People with ADHD struggle with hyperactivity and impulsivity along with attention difficulties. ADHD symptoms can affect a person’s learning capability, day-to-day tasks, relationships and more. They can lead to inattention such as often having trouble holding attention on tasks or activities; having trouble organizing tasks and activities; avoiding dislikes or tasks that require time and mental effort; and being forgetful in daily activities, according to the Center of Disease Control. 

People with ADHD receive and process information differently than others. ADHD influences the capacity to organize and remember details, listen and communicate, as well as memory and pacing. Sophomore Sophia Bessey is a new RBHS student that has had to navigate her ADHD while learning in a virtual platform even before the pandemic. For the past three years, Sophia has been homeschooled and attended classes through a virtual platform.

“ADHD affects my learning because it’s hard for me to focus and I never have a desire to do my schoolwork and get it turned in on time,” said Bessey. “I was already a virtual learner before COVID[-19] happened and it’s a bit different now that I am at RBHS because I can’t go back and watch classes for homework’’. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, online learning often requires students to be self-guided, manage their time and motivation, and complete tasks, assignments, or projects in the required time, which is challenging for students with ADHD. In order for students with ADHD to manage their tasks, some choose to take medication to help their symptoms. Junior Dayron Gil uses a prescribed medication used to treat his ADHD symptoms and to help him stay on top of his work. 

“The only way I was truly able to adapt to this new environment was through my medication. It makes my work neat and I am able to focus,’’Dayron Gil said. “However, I hate the way it makes me feel.”

While prescribed medication is a way to help students with ADHD adapt to virtual learning, RBHS case managers, like Justin Towe, also work with students with learning disabilities. As those students require more assistance to improve their academic performance, Towe also explains how the CPS staff helps their students during the pandemic.

“Virtual has been tough on our kids in the sense they have had to become a more independent learner. What we are finding is that it is tough for students to stay up on their work and not get behind in their classes,” said Towe. “When this happens, [Learning] Specialists have been setting aside extra office hours, additional Academic Lab time, and even having students come to school to get some one-on-one help.’’

How do you think virtual schooling has impacted your learning? Let us know in the comments below.