Is an online school a good option for K-12 students with ADHD?
Online K-12 special education program >> ADD/ADHD
Online learning has become an increasingly popular choice for many students, particularly students for whom the conventional high school classroom experience just doesn’t work. Students with ADHD definitely fall into that category.
If you’re considering a virtual school for your child, eAchieve Academy just may be your best option. Read on to learn more about ADHD and the benefits of cyber learning.
Is ADHD a special need?
Any parent of a child with ADHD knows intuitively their child has a special need. Naturally, many parents of students diagnosed with ADHD wonder if their child is eligible for special education services. Despite over two decades of increasing awareness about ADHD and ADD, there is still confusion about how schools handle these students.
From a legal perspective, a diagnosis of ADHD does not automatically qualify a child to receive special education services. The key determinant is whether the child needs those services. To be eligible for a free, appropriate public education (known as FAPE), your child must have a diagnosed disability and must need the services and attention special education classes provide.
All this begs the question, “Is ADHD a disability?” In most cases, children with ADHD are eligible due to the way the law defines health impairment and learning disabilities. In fact, under the definition of “other health impairment” the law specifically cites attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as examples of learning disabilities. However, schools are required to evaluate the child to determine if the condition requires special services.
Is ADD the same as ADHD?
The line between ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is blurry, and many people use either term to refer to the same thing—but they’re not. ADD doesn’t include the hyperactivity component (the constant fidgeting and movement).
A lot of the confusion over these two diagnoses can be traced to 1994, when the medical profession decided to include the hyperactivity traits under the umbrella of “attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.” Today, though, mental health professionals have three classifications of ADHD, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):
Challenges students with ADD/ADHD face in school
As you can imagine, or already know, students with ADHD struggle with conventional schooling in many ways. The list of problems they encounter is almost endless, but includes:
- Inability to follow teacher instructions
- Inability to sit still for duration of class or for tests
- Compulsive talking and interrupting others during class
- Problems remembering what they’ve been taught or told
- Hypersensitivity to pulsing fluorescent lights or electrical sounds
- Feeling of being overwhelmed by big assignments
- Difficulty solving complex problems
- Hypersensitivity to everyday smells to the point of feeling overwhelmed
Benefits of online school for students with ADD/ADHD
Students with ADHD (in all its forms) have difficulty concentrating in the traditional classroom setting. For most, taking classes in the quieter, more familiar environment of home is a far better option. Not only are there fewer distractions, but they’re free to move about when necessary and can work at their own pace—especially on subjects they struggle with.
One of the biggest concerns parents voice about online learning for students with ADHD is the lack of social interaction. Most ADHD children also have social development issues, and parents are rightly concerned about online learning not giving their children the opportunity to develop social skills. Most online schools take this important aspect of learning into consideration.
At eAchieve Academy, for instance, we not only provide students the technology to participate in virtual classrooms and collaborate with other students, but also to socialize with other students via our eLounge. For real-world social interaction, we host an annual prom every spring for students from across the state, as well as field trips throughout the year, a Snow Club (skiing and snowboarding) and a yearbook committee. And, of course, students are free to meet up in person to go see movies, visit a museum, or just to go have pizza. Much of this extracurricular socialization can be facilitated by parents.
If you're considering enrolling in online classes but your school doesn't offer the course you're looking for, an online virtual charter school like eAchieve Academy may offer what you're after.
Live Outside Of Wisconsin?
A Virtual Charter School Is Still an Option For You.
Even at eAchieve Academy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. If we offer a crucial course to get into your dream college we can help you find availability and enroll from out of state.
Important considerations when choosing a school for your ADD/ADHD child
Probably the first concern parents have is ensuring their child will have good teachers. Most online schools hire qualified teachers. The teachers at eAchieve Academy, for instance, are all Wisconsin state certified instructors with an average of 19.2 years teaching experience. Most of ours hold master’s degrees, as well.
Like any special needs student, ADHD students need individualized instruction paced to their specific needs and learning styles. They also need frequent guidance and one-on-one attention from teachers. While this can be difficult for conventional schools to provide, it’s easy in an online learning environment. Teachers are available for one-on-one help via email, phone and Skype. We’ve graduated many special needs students, so we’re sensitive to the challenges and committed to doing right by these students.
Often, parents of students with ADD/ADHD will look into private schools. This is great solution for many families, but the cost can be prohibitive. Since eAchieve Academy is licensed as a public charter school, any student in the state of Wisconsin can take classes with us at no charge. Full-time students even receive a free laptop and a monthly stipend for internet access.