Special Needs

Is an online school a good option for K-12 students with 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 what the best learning environment is for ADHD students, a virtual school for your child such as eAchieve Academy just may be your best option. Read on to learn more about ADHD and the benefits of online school for ADHD students.

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):

ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation

This is what used to be called ADD. Symptoms include inability to pay attention, appearing to be off in another world, a dislike/avoidance of homework and other lengthy mental tasks, disorganization and forgetfulness, inability to pay attention to details and follow through on instructions, repeated careless mistakes.

ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation

Symptoms include fidgeting, squirming, tapping, talking too much, interrupting others, getting up at inappropriate times, running or climbing in inappropriate situations, inability to play or work quietly, hypersensitivity to sound, light and physical sensations.

ADHD combined presentation

A child with this type of ADHD displays both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms.

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 kids with ADHD and ADD

Students with ADHD (in all its forms) have difficulty concentrating in the traditional classroom setting. For most, the best learning environment for ADHD students is the quieter, more familiar environment of home. 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.

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 of teaching experience. Most of ours hold master’s degrees, as well.

Like any special needs student, the best learning environment for ADHD students is one that provides individualized instruction paced to their specific needs and learning styles. These students 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 with 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 a 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. Learn more about enrollment.

ADHD public school in Wisconsin

eAchieve is a virtual charter school free for students living anywhere in Wisconsin. If your school district doesn’t provide the ADHD educational support your student needs, you can apply to enroll at eAchieve no matter which WI school district you live in.

Online high school for ADHD students

We offer a complete online learning curriculum for high school students, backed by our special education program providing individualized lesson plans for students with ADHD and other special needs.

Online middle school for ADHD

Our free online classes for middle school students include effective learning plans and individual attention to help ADD/ADHD students meet academic goals.

Is home school better for ADHD?

Homeschooling can be a great option for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Both homeschooling and online school benefit ADHD students by providing lessons catered to individual needs, flexible scheduling and an environment with fewer distractions than a traditional school.

Students in homeschool are welcome to apply at eAchieve. With part-time enrollment, you have the option to continue a homeschool curriculum and enroll in up to online 2 classes each semester. Contact us for more information.

Online school for ADHD students can be an excellent option to consider. Online education makes it easier for students to receive individualized instruction and support, provides flexible schedules, and limits distractions. No matter what Wisconsin school district you live in, any student can take classes at eAchieve at no cost since we are a public charter school. Learn what parents, students, and teachers have to say about their experience with eAchieve by viewing our Testimonials page.