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Holding an ADHD Child Back In School

written by: Vonnie Chestnut • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/6/2012

It is a difficult decision whether or not to hold back any child in school. The decision may be even harder when a child is suffering from ADHD. This is a decision that must be thought out carefully, and the pros and cons must be weighed logically by all those involved in the decision.

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    Who Is Involved In The Decision?

    The decision to hold back an ADHD child may be suggested by a teacher, or parents, that aren’t comfortable with the academic performance or behaviors of the child. Counselors, who may also be involved in the child’s welfare, may suggest retention due to the maturity of the child. With so many people involved in this decision, it is important for parents and staff to discuss the options, and the impact the decision will have on the child.

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    What Do The Experts Say?

    The University of Georgia conducted a study on over 11,000 students that had repeated a previous grade in school. Their study concluded that when a child was retained, they actually fell further behind when the same year was repeated.

    The National Association of School Psychologists believe that when a child is held back, it affects the child both socially and emotionally in a negative way.

    Research that has been done on holding a child back, likens the stress they encounter, to that of losing a parent.

    Education experts Peggy Gisler Ed.S and Marge Eberts, Ed.S say that in most circumstances, retaining a child to repeat the same year again will not solve any serious learning problems. They believe it will just hide those problems for another year.

    Jerome J. Schultz Ph.D., the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab at Lesley University, believes that holding an ADHD child back in school is not a good idea, and should be done only as a last resort.

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    What Do Parents Say?

    Upon doing research for this article, I visited several forums and chat rooms. These forums were for parents to voice their opinions and concerns when determining whether or not to hold a child with ADHD back in school. Although “experts" do not frequent these forums and chat rooms, sound advice came from other parents who have faced this particular decision on retention.

    Most schools have adopted the, “No Child Left Behind" policy. This pertains to those children who are under the special needs and special services umbrella. Several parents are concerned, and feel this law takes their decision-making rights away. If they choose to keep their child in the same grade for another year, they will be going against the special education law.

    I also found that most parents, who have retained their child, stated they saw no difference in academic or behavioral issues. Some comments indicated that the retention of the child actually caused depression, and the behavioral problems, in some cases, worsened. I did however, find parents with ADHD children, who were pro-retention. Their experience had been positive, and they saw improvements both in academics and behavior. The majority of these parents held their ADHD child back in Kindergarten.

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    Alternative Suggestions To Retention

    It appears that the majority believe that holding an ADHD child back in school, is not the solution to academic or behavioral problems. Summer school, tutors, changing teachers, private schools, home schooling, and parents working with the child on a regular basis, with suggestions in helping an ADHD child at home, were all given as alternatives to retention.

    Although there are many things to consider on this matter, one thing should always remain in the forefront. What is the impact of the decision going to have on the child suffering with ADHD? And is holding an ADHD child back in school going to solve the current problems?

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