Five Things Teachers Don’t Know About ADHD

If a kid has super bendy fingers it indicates ADHD.
Sarah Templeton
Oct 10, 2023
ADHD often has companion conditions.

1 They say that ADHD rarely travels alone
What they mean by this is that 80% of ADHD children have one coexisting condition, and 50% have two. These coexisting conditions are likely to be dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. But there are also lots of other coexisting conditions as well, which is why they also say, ADHD is a big umbrella, and a lot comes under it.  Other conditions that are often connected are IBS, social anxiety, sensory processing disorder, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. EDS means children may be very hypermobile so if you have a child in your class who can bend their fingers back scarily close to their arm, this can be a red flag for ADHD.

2 ADHD children only have one brain
You often hear people asking, “Is that their ADHD or is it just them being them?” This question is null and void. Each child only has one brain and therefore all activity and messages coming from that brain will be ADHD related. If that child has ADHD, then the answer is always yes. It is their ADHD!

3 ADHD is not a childhood behavioural disorder
This is the information that was being given out for many years, particularly during the 1970s, 1980s, and even the 1990s.  Unfortunately, there are still some GP’s and psychiatrists who are not educated about ADHD and who still believe this myth.  What we now know is that ADHD is in fact a neurodiversity, which means it is a different brain wiring. People with ADHD are born with it and will also die with it. It is not something you grow out of.

4 A lot of people believe that an ADHD child should be ‘managed’ with the goal of them behaving like a neurotypical child
This could not be more wrong. Each child born with ADHD should be allowed to be their authentic self. An ADHD child has as much right to be themselves as a neurotypical child does. Of course, some their natural ADHD traits like impulsivity, hyperactivity, compulsivity, always wanting to win, thinking they know best, not thinking of the consequences and all the other dozens of traits, do need to be understood and collaboratively dealt with by the teacher and the student. And, if the child is young, it is also helpful to do this in conjunction with the parents as it aids their understanding of their child’s behaviour. However, trying to turn an ADHD child into a neurotypical child is damaging and is never going to be successful. It’s leads to a child feeling they are different in a bad way and is very damaging for their self-esteem and self-worth.

5 The most serious impact of ADHD is emotional dysregulation
For decades psychiatrists thought that inattention, distraction, hyperactivity and impulsivity were the major traits that impact people with ADHD. It is only in the last five years that it has been largely accepted that this is not actually the case. It is now thought that not being able to regulate emotions brings the most problems for ADHD children and adults. Emotional dysregulation is at its most severe during puberty but lasts for life. It also heightens, and is at its worst, in teenage girls during menstruation and then later in life during pregnancy and menopause. Children with emotional dysregulation need to be watched very carefully because at its worst, it can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. 

Very simply, the part of the brain that is supposed to regulate emotion does not work in an ADHD person. So the appropriate level of emotion, or even the emotion itself, may not be the one that comes into their mind.  Rejection sensitive dysphoria RSD is also part of the condition, meaning children take rejection, humiliation, and even perceived rejection and humiliation, extremely badly. It’s always worth noting the tone of your voice alone can make an ADHD child feel humiliated or rejected.  

Sarah Templeton is an ADHD campaigner, founder of ADHD LIBERTY and author of Teachers! How Not to Kill the Spirit in Your ADHD Kids, available on Amazon.