Nearly 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 are diagnosed with ADHD, and about one-third of them continue to meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis as adults. That’s why it’s essential for these students to receive continued support as they progress through high school and into college—and school counselors play a key role in making that happen.
In an interview with NYU Steinhardt’s masters in school counseling online program, Professor Anil Chacko discussed what such support should look like: “School counselors should utilize methods that support students’ time management, planning, and organization.”
Using Evidence-Based Interventions
A primary way that school counselors provide support to these students is through evidence-based interventions (EBIs) that help students deal with symptoms of ADHD related to inattention and hyperactivity and impulsiveness. They can also help these students with social skills, since they may have trouble with issues such as controlling their emotions, interpreting social cues effectively, and engaging in conversation. These challenges often result in students with ADHD having trouble keeping and making friends. Since peer relationships are so significant — especially during the adolescent years — students who can build strong relationships with others their age that provide a positive influence is highly valuable.
Although EBIs are best started in early childhood, they can be implemented at any point in a student’s academic career — so they’re just as applicable for elementary students as for high schoolers, and creating such a foundation can help students as they progress into college.
Supporting Social and Emotional Learning
School counselors can also help these students by supporting the increasing emphasis on social and emotional learning (SEL) in school curricula. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, SEL is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
This approach helps students be better prepared to handle the social and emotional factors that are unique to these age groups, such as issues related to emerging sexuality, establishing independence, and dealing with peer pressure. Since these types of pressures may be a trigger for students with ADHD to have an unwanted episode, creating a set of effective tools for them to use is something that school counselors can help with.
A recently released issue brief that examined studies conducted over 20 years to assess the effectiveness of SEL programming for K-12 students offered positive results, including an 11 percent gain in academic achievement over their peers and cost savings for school systems. If these positive results carry over to the college years, that’s an additional benefit for students and parents paying college tuition, as well.
For all students, the stress of high school and moving on through college can be overwhelming. For those with the additional challenges of ADHD, this is even more the case. That’s why the role of counselors is so essential for providing the support these students need to not only survive — but thrive — in these critical years.