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Australian teens with ADHD are struggling academically

Photo: ADHD failing to meet education standards
An alarming 40 per cent of teenage students with ADHD are failing to meet the literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) national minimum standards, research shows.

A high number of Australian teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are struggling academically.

A study conducted by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute showed an "alarming" 40 per cent of teenage students with ADHD failed to meet the literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) national minimum standards.

Without targeted support many of these teens risk being "left behind" during this critical period, says lead researcher Nardia Zendarski.

In Australia, 6 - 7 per cent of students enter high school with an ADHD diagnosis.
While many of these students are likely to struggle academically, the gap between high-achieving students and students with ADHD was far wider than expected.

Of the more than 130 students who were part of the MCRI study, most performed below grade-level averages and were placed in the lowest two NAPLAN performance bands.

In year seven, 73 per cent of students with ADHD had a particular problem with writing and almost 25 per cent were below the minimum standard.

In year nine, 54 per cent of students had difficulties, and 37.5 per cent did not reach the minimum standard.

Interestingly, difficulty with writing was much higher for boys than girls.

The new results have been published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Ms Zendarski says kids with ADHD face many challenges including inattention and bullying. She says a greater focus in supporting them academically during this challenging time is needed.

"We should stop focusing on the argument around whether these kids should be medicated or not and start focusing on providing services and support that they need to reach their full potential. These programs could be used to support all kids with learning difficulties," she said.

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