How does ADHD impact a child’s school performance?

Study shows lower scores in mathematics, science, and English for children with ADHD in Ghana.

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What was the context of the study?

Education is a key component in the development of countries. In low income countries, where literacy rates are low, programs have been created to promote the education of the population. Programs like this have been adopted in Africa, however the programs fail to identify obstacles children face when learning. A common obstacle in a child’s learning is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, which affects 3-12% of primary aged school children (classes 1-6, ages 6-12). Children with ADHD present issues with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention, which by nature causes disturbances in a child’s education. Research has proven that children with more symptoms of ADHD score lower in math and reading on standardized tests, repeat a grade, and/or enroll in a special education program. Afefi and Nyarko conducted a study in primary aged school children to identify the number of children affected.

What were the methods of the study?

The study took place in the Hohoe Municipality in the Volta Region of Ghana. 400 participants were randomly selected from 10 randomly selected public and private schools. The children were aged between 6 and 12 years old. The participants took a culturally compatible IQ test and could not be classified as intellectually disabled to participate in the study. The teacher of each child filed out the disruptive behavior disorder rating scale (DBDRS) which consists of close ended questions that explore the prevalence of the three subtypes of ADHD. It is a standard rating scale used to determine the presence of ADHD and other disruptive behaviors. The grades of each student in math, science, and English were obtained from the school.

What did the study find?

Out of the 400 participants, 51 of them presented signs of ADHD (12.8%). Prevalence among the male students was 14.41% and 10.53% for females. The results can be broken down into the three subtypes. The first subtype, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) had a prevalence of 8.0% and again the males and females had different percentages, 9.6% and 5.9%, respectively. However, no significant relationship was found between gender and the presence of ADD. The age group with the highest occurrence of ADD was 8-10 (10.5%) and the age group with the lowest incidence of ADD was 6-7 (14.7%). The highest prevalence of ADD was found to be in class four (14.7%) and the lowest was in class two (12.0%). The second subtype is hyperactivity disorder (HD) and it had a prevalence of 8.5% (males;9.6%, females;7.0%). The percentage of HD was highest among children aged 11-12 (11.7%), and the lowest among children aged 8-10 (4.6%). The highest proportion was among class 2 children (17.0%), followed by class 6 pupils (15.2%), and the least cases of HD was in class 1 (2.2%). The relationship between class and diagnosis of HD was significantly related (PV=0.004). The combined subtype (ADHD) had the least prevalence (3.8%) with males and females having different percentages again, 4.8% and 2.3%, respectively. The highest prevalence was seen among the 8-10-year old’s (4.8%) and the lowest was among the 6-7-year old’s (3.5%). The highest occurrence was among class two children (6.5%) and the lowest was among classes three and five (1.6%). Students with ADHD were more likely to perform poorly in Mathematics, Science, and English. The percentage of students without ADHD performing poorly in Mathematics, Science, and English were 26.7%, 20.0%, and 13.0%, respectivly. Whereas the prevalence of poor performance in students without ADHD were 8.1%, 8.6%, 8.6%. Lower percentages of students with ADHD had good performance in Math, Science and English (13.3%, 6.7%, 0.0%). Students without ADHD had higher proportions of good performance in Math, Science, and English (43.1%, 43.1%, 45.4%).

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What were the conclusions of the study?

This study reveals that the prevalence is higher among males than females. It also highlights that school performance is negatively affected by the presence of ADHD. A prevalence of 12.8% is considered to be on the higher side, so it becomes imperative that we come up with strategies to detect ADHD in students and manage the disorder especially in the school setting. Some ways to help manage the students is to implement training for teachers of students with ADHD.

Works Cited

Afefi, K. & Nyarko, S. (2017). Prevalence and effect of attention-deficit/hyperacticty disorder on school performance among primary school pupils in the Hohoe municipality, Ghana. Annals of General Psychiatry, 16(11). Doi:10.1186/s12991-017-0135-5