The Impacts of Being Diagnosed ADHD in Adulthood and How This Impacted Secondary School without a Diagnosis

Chapter 01: Introduction

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder associated with an increase in impulsive reactions among people of all ages, and it is one of the most prevailing issues in the United States (US) (Conejero et al., 2019). The disease is known to have an impact on students and their learning in all academic settings, resulting in poor academic success and future careers (Henning et al., 2021). The issue must be addressed by proposing and implementing appropriate interventions for ADHD at the school level by adopting certain screening and diagnostic processes (Jangmo et al., 2019). Multiple researchers have discussed its impact on adults. The research is focused on identifying the impacts of undiagnosed ADHD on the secondary education of students (Conejero et al., 2019; Henning et al., 2021). The individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD after becoming adults are being evaluated for their perspective on their academic growth, challenges, and coping strategies in the secondary school setting through this piece of research. 

  1.  Research Background

Significant improvements in the research have been made over time to evaluate the impacts of ADHD among students at all academic levels. The problem is associated with a lack of focus, inappropriate academic success, and low career growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD cannot be cured but managed with the use of appropriate lifestyle modifications, psychological support, and fulfilling Special Education Needs (SEN) of the students (CDC, 2022). The symptoms of ADHD include anxiety, restlessness, hyperactivity, lack of focus, compulsion to do multiple tasks at the same time, and low attention (Wood et al., 2019). Diagnosis of these symptoms at an early stage of academic career can result in timely intervention to reduce the symptoms by increased management of ADHD (Jangmo et al., 2019).

According to Young et al. (2020), the impacts of ADHD on the educational success of students are also highly researched. However, the impacts of undiagnosed ADHD in recently diagnosed individuals after secondary school have been missing from the contemporary literature (Young et al., 2020). According to Fadus et al. (2019), there are multiple implications of undiagnosed or untreated ADHD among adults. These implications include the low scope for academic success and low psychiatric help from schools or other educational institutions that impact the quality of life, mental and physical well-being, and future prosperity of the students. The research also specified that the sociocultural landscape of society is very important in understanding the challenges associated with delayed diagnosis of ADHD among adults (Fadus et al., 2019). Socioeconomic background was associated with the low performance of children with ADHD in their secondary school performance, according to research (Jangmo et al., 2019).

  1.  Problem Statement

The presented background from the literature lacks the perceived impacts of ADHD on the performance of children in secondary school (Arnold et al., 2020; Colomer et al., 2020). The problem statement is that there is low evidence for the identification of the impacts of ADHD among undiagnosed students in their secondary school. The identification of perceived impacts on the performance of children in their secondary school with undiagnosed ADHD has been selected as the key research problem, which has been addressed using the perception of adults recently diagnosed with ADHD after school (Ewe, 2019; Rigoni et al., 2020). 

  1.  Research Aim

The research, hence, aims to identify the impact of ADHD on the perceived school performance of late-diagnosed students in their adulthood. 

  1.  Research Objectives
  • To identify the perception of adults recently diagnosed with ADHD about their performance in secondary school
  • To identify the potential challenges these adults faced in their secondary school along with the coping strategies that they used
  • To evaluate the impacts of being diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood and how this impacted secondary school without a diagnosis
  1.  Research Questions
  • What is the perception of adults recently diagnosed with ADHD about their academic performance in secondary school?
  • What are the potential challenges these adults faced in their secondary school, and what coping strategies they used to deal with these challenges?
  • What are the impacts of being diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, and how does this impact secondary school without a diagnosis?

Chapter 02: Literature Review

2.1. Impact of ADHD on Academic Performance

Ewe (2019) indicated that the school performance of children with ADHD is comparatively poorer than others. The research used a systematic review to analyze the impacts of ADHD on school performance in all academic settings. Significant evidence was found in the results of the study to state that the poor relationship between a student and the teacher was one of the implications of ADHD. The research also emphasized that the quality of this relationship highly impacted academic success, peer acceptance, and low levels of self-esteem among students (Ewe, 2019). Similar results were found by DuPaul et al. (2021). The research was conducted using an experimental approach in which the Grade Point Average (GPA) of students with ADHD and others without it was evaluated over four months. Quantitative data in which the first-year GPA was used as an intercept leading to an evaluation of GPA across four years and its comparison (DuPaul et al., 2021). The research results indicated that the use of medication for ADHD was also positively associated with academic success and high focus on the use of learning strategies among the students. Similarly, the research identified a significant decrease in the academic GPA of the students with ADHD when compared to 205 students without ADHD in the sample and the students with ADHD who were on regular dosages of medication. The research recommended that the use of parental teaching, learning strategies, regular medication, and SEN were needed to increase the GPA of students with ADHD at the level of students without it (DuPaul et al., 2021). 

Another research proposed that the low cognitive ability, parental relationships, and grades in their primary school were more likely to have high ADHD levels. The research diagnosed ADHD symptoms in a sample of 6,719 children, indicating a total of 7.5% prevalence of ADHD (Pang et al., 2021). The research, hence, stated that a high prevalence of ADHD in children, specifically in their primary school, was associated with lower academic performance and high symptoms like low grades, irregular emotional management, and cognitive ability. The research concluded that ADHD was highly prevalent among primary school students, which needed to be addressed by providing specialized support from teachers, parents, and academic policymakers to eliminate the learning challenges among children (Pang et al., 2021). The academic success of the children with ADHD by dividing it into sections of reading, writing, and numeracy was evaluated by Lawrence et al. (2020). The research used an experimental methodology to identify the impact of ADHD on academic growth from early childhood education to secondary school. The research indicated that the performance of students with ADHD was lower than the ones without it in all aspects of learning (reading, numeracy, and writing). The hyperactivity reduction and impulsivity management were associated with lower academic success of these students. The research recommended the use of remedies and interventions, including physical and psychological support and parental education, to eliminate the symptoms of ADHD among students to increase their academic performance (Lawrence et al., 2020). 

2.2. Perception of Students Regarding Challenges Associated with ADHD

Metzger and Hamilton (2020) argued that the early diagnosis of ADHD among young students further decreased their ability to achieve higher academic grades. The research found that the early diagnosis had severe implications for both students and their parents by eliminating their focus on the child’s education and focusing on the interventions. The students’ perception of their ADHD caused low self-esteem, leading to a further decrease in their academic performance, according to the research (Metzger & Hamilton, 2020). The perception of teachers in class also differed by the academic performance of the children before and after the diagnosis of the students with ADHD. Hence, it was recommended that the teachers’ evaluation must not always be trusted for the students with ADHD as it is based on the bias against the student’s behavior (Metzger & Hamilton, 2020). The research conducted by Ewe (2019) also predicted the significance of the student-teacher relationship as a predictor for the academic success of students with ADHD. The bias of teachers toward non-ADHD diagnosed students could hence lead to negative perceptions of students regarding their improvements, academic performance, and classroom inclusivity (Metzger & Hamilton, 2020). The primary argument of the research was hence based on the stereotype created by early ADHD detection among students in the perception of both teachers and diagnosed students. This stereotype was, hence, the basis for lower academic evaluation of teachers for the students with ADHD in their classroom in both primary and secondary school settings (Metzger & Hamilton, 2020). 

The self-perception of students was also highly associated with the increase in their academic performance above average performance of the class. According to Colomer et al. (2020), students with ADHD had a relatively lower perception of their behavior and academic disparities than what has been reported by their parents and teachers. The research used a quantitative approach to analyze the perception of students concerning the reports of ADHD-related symptoms provided by their teachers and parents (Colomer et al., 2020). The results indicated that the high perception of learning difficulties and challenges among students with ADHD was associated with their lower academic grades, which was also reported relatively in the same perception by the parents and the teachers. However, the behavioral implications of ADHD in terms of anxiety and hyperactivity were perceived as less critical by the students’ perception, opposing the reports provided by their parents and educators (Colomer et al., 2020). The lower levels of self-perception bias among the students identified with ADHD were highly associated with depression symptoms among the students, further decreasing their academic performance. Therefore, the research recommended a normal reporting of ADHD symptoms to increase self-perception bias among student with ADHD to improve their academic performance (Colomer et al., 2020). 

2.3. Impact of Teaching and Classroom Environment on Students with ADHD

According to Hoffmann et al. (2021), the classroom environment for children with special needs was a significantly important predictor of overall student performance in academic, curricular, and extracurricular success. The research signified that inclusive classrooms were more challenging for teachers as well as students because of the high disturbance associated with SEN students, particularly those having ADHD or similar behavioral disorders (Hoffmann et al., 2021). Therefore, the research recommended that improvement in the classroom’s behavioral climate must be focused on the inclusive education setting to provide a positive perception to the students with SEN, especially ADHD. Further research on the teaching methods specific to the SEN student classrooms was required, according to the research (Hoffmann et al., 2021). 

On the contrary, Arnold et al. (2020) predicted that the classroom environment was not significantly correlated with the academic success of students with ADHD. Multiple studies were included in the research, which included both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The results of the research provided that, unlike improvement in the classroom environment, the treatment with medication was more effective in increasing the academic performance among students with ADHD. The short-term high performance was achieved with improved classroom design, which was insignificant in the long term compared to the students on medication with ADHD. Therefore, the research recommended an increased focus on the management of ADHD at the early stage of life before adulthood to have long-term positive outcomes in the academic career for these students (Arnold et al., 2020). 

2.4. Impacts on Performance of Students Before and After ADHD Diagnosis

Significant research is required on the impact of undiagnosed ADHD on the academic performance of students. The results from a study conducted by Wood et al. (2019) try to identify the role of self-identification and diagnosis of ADHD by the students in their education setting. The research identified four main groups among students that were interrelated from the undiagnosed and diagnosed students with high symptoms and no symptoms for ADHD. The results indicated that the group with high symptoms and undiagnosed students had the lowest performance in comparison to the high symptoms and diagnosed student group (Wood et al., 2019). Similarly, a significant difference in school performance was found among the students with and without the symptoms. It was reported that the students with low symptoms had the same academic performance as the control group consisting of their peers, while there was a significant difference in the performance of the control group and the high ADHD symptoms group (Wood et al., 2019). Rigoni et al. (2020) reported similar results, indicating low performance among students with ADHD symptoms. The study sample included an irregular selection of students, which resulted in an unbiased sample of students for the evaluation of ADHD symptoms. The school performance of students with higher symptoms was lower than the others having low or no symptoms. The research also highlighted that the students identified with inattentive ADHD were more likely to get their SEN fulfilled than the hyperactive or Impulsive ADHD group (Rigoni et al., 2020). Hence, there is an extensive need to focus on all categories of ADHD to propose socio-cultural and behavioral interventions for these students at all levels of their education. 

2.5. Literature Review Summary

Collectively, it was found that ADHD among students had a significant impact on their primary, secondary, and college-level education. The results from multiple studies showed that the use of effective medication for ADHD after diagnosis was associated with an increase in academic performance through lower inattentiveness and impulsivity. The undiagnosed students with moderate to high ADHD symptoms had similar academic performance to those diagnosed students. The self-perception of the students regarding the ADHD symptoms before diagnosis played an effective role in their coping with their academic performance. However, the early detection of ADHD could lead to the stereotype of the low performance of diagnosed students in the perception of teachers and families. The self-perception of the students on their ADHD diagnosis was also negatively associated with their academic success, leading to peer rejection and social isolation in their academic period.

2.6. Research Gap

No research has been identified in the literature review that proposed the impact of undiagnosed ADHD on the perception of students on their academic performance in secondary school (Colomer et al., 2020; Rigoni et al., 2020; Wood et al., 2019). Therefore, a gap exists in the literature on the relationship between the late diagnosis of ADHD and self-perception among adults regarding their performance in secondary school. Hence, this research attempts to eliminate this gap from the literature, increasing its significance and academic integrity. The identification of self-perception of recently diagnosed individuals with ADHD regarding their performance in the prior education setting (secondary school) is hence important to cover the identified gap in the literature. 

References

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CDC. (2022, October 19). Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/index.html#:~:text=People%20with%20ADHD%20may%20have

Colomer, C., Wiener, J., & Varma, A. (2020). Do adolescents with ADHD have a self-perception bias for their ADHD symptoms and impairment? Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 35(4), 238–251. https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573520936457

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