ADHD Symptoms Negatively Impact Emotional Engagement at School

Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is commonly correlated with worse outcomes at school, data are limited on school engagement in children with ADHD. In a new study, researchers examined the associations between ADHD symptoms at age seven, student–teacher relationships and conflict and age 10, and emotional engagement with school at ages 10 and 12. According to the authors of this research, school engagement is significant because it “is recognized as a protective factor associated with increased academic achievement, school retention/completion, and student well‐being in the general population.”

To conduct the study, the researchers evaluated 498 children (mean age, 7.3 years) in first grade attending 43 socio-economically diverse government primary schools. Students underwent follow-up at 36 (mean age, 10.5 years) and 54 months (mean age, 12.0 years). They obtained data from a controlled, community-based longitudinal study focused on the long-term associations between ADHD and children’s behavior, learning, and everyday living. Child, parent, and teacher surveys were the source for these data.

The authors observed a significant negative relationship between ADHD symptoms and emotional engagement with school; student–teacher conflict mediated this to a degree. When controlling for different ADHD status—ADHD, high-risk, or control group—ADHD medication use, and socio-economic status, the relationship remained significant.

The authors concluded that ADHD symptoms have a negative impact on emotional engagement with school among children. The researchers further stated that improving conflict in the student–teacher relationship could help children with ADHD symptoms better partake in school engagement, thereby improving longer-term outcomes.

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