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Impact of remote learning on youth with ADHD

Posted at 2:02 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 15:02:25-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The transition to remote learning early in the pandemic caused a change in many homes, leading to disruptions in routine for both parents and students.

“Sometimes your classmates are doing silly things in their little picture squares or your teacher is having computer troubles or you can’t hear very well. All of those extra distractions that come with virtual learning make it even harder for a young person with ADHD to stay on task and stay focused,“ said Ramey Stillman, Prevention Services Supervisor at Child Saving Institute.

ADHD impacts millions of children in the U.S., commonly causing higher levels of hyperactivity and impulsiveness along with issues focusing on a single task and sitting still for long periods of time.

Remote learning requires both. Stillman said making the most of breaks between classes helps.

“One thing that’s important for kids with ADHD, when they have those break times from remote learning, when they have five or 10 minutes in between or even lunchtime, is making sure they get their kiddo up and moving,” said Stillman.

A study in China found that ADHD behaviors worsened during lockdowns and the transition to learning online. Parents reported more angry outbursts, a harder time staying focused and deterioration of daily routine are all things that trickle into education.

“I think on average a child with ADHD needs more reinforcement, in other words, more carrots to work for so to speak, more motivators than youth who do not have ADHD and that’s been much harder with online learning,” said Dr. Trevor Bixler, a psychologist with Boy’s Town.

Bixler said important ways to support youth with ADHD include providing incentives and having open communication with educators.

Despite an unusual year for schooling, Bixler commends teachers for being flexible and compassionate with children who have needs beyond the typical student.

“They've just gone above and beyond to try and be available and to try to adapt classroom expectations to where that student still is able to learn and I’ve just been so impressed with the people who are out there in the teaching field,” said Bixler.

See more resources on ADHD from Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) here.

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