Being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence. Therefore, children with ADD/ADHD can perform as well in school as others. However, these bright children are often misunderstood, especially in the traditional school environment.
Children who suffer with ADD/ADHD are frequently corrected, criticized, or disrespected by teachers and other students who don’t understand their condition. It’s frustrating for a child with ADD/ADHD to lose homework, have trouble following instructions, or find difficulty in making friends.
If a child with ADD/ADHD falls behind in academics, it leads to a loss of healthy self-esteem. Once their self-esteem is lowered, these children may grow into teenagers who are prone to high-risk behaviors (impulsiveness) such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, risky driving, etc. Teenagers with ADD/ADHD sometimes fall into self-destructive behaviors to feel more “normal” or to self-medicate their emotional pain.
The good news is that teachers and counselors in public schools are learning more about ADD and ADHD all the time. They have a better understanding of the condition than ever before. However, even with all of their efforts, some parents may feel their child needs more help than what a public school can provide.
Often, private schools specializing in ADD and ADHD are full-scale residential treatment centers or boarding schools. The primary reason for these facilities is that their students don’t have a school-based problem, but rather medical and behavioral problems that impair their ability to function in all aspects of daily life.
Failing in school is not the only reason a child should go to a 24-hour ADD/ADHD facility. Private schools specializing in ADD and ADHD are effective only if they treat ADD/ADHD, which in turn will enable children to succeed in schoolwork, relationships, impulse control, problem solving, etc.
Private schools specializing in ADD and ADHD usually provide the following environment for their students:
- Individualized testing to determine the academic level of each student
- Tailored program to address each individual student’s deficiencies while uncovering their strengths
- Adapting to each student’s learning style while developing other learning styles
- A family atmosphere
- Small classes, often with 10 students or less in each classroom
- An accredited, college-preparatory curriculum
- Positive reinforcement
- Behavioral lessons in impulse control, thinking before acting, patience, teamwork, routine, structure, communication, forming relationships, and maintaining relationships
- Basic academic skills such as breaking down tasks into smaller tasks, listening, note taking, test taking, attention to detail, organizational skills, and self-motivation
- An experienced faculty that knows how to teach academic, social, and interpersonal skills
- School psychologists, counselors, and other experts on staff
- Real-life lessons held outside the classroom
- Outdoor and recreational activities such as music, sports, arts and crafts, mountain biking, gardening, etc.
- Extra individualized help when a student’s grade falls below a certain level