Behaviour Support for Schools
Beacon School Support
Behaviour Support for Schools


February 2016: Five ADHD myths busted.

According to a CDC screening programme in the United States, approximately 11% of pupils are now thought to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This means that your class could potentially have 3 pupils who may find it almost impossible to physically sit still and focus their attention on your lessons.

With that in mind, let’s look at the most common misunderstandings about ADHD…

1. It is not caused by...

...bad diet or poor parenting. It’s actually associated with structural and chemical alterations in the brain that children are born with.

2. It is not a condition...

...that is exclusively diagnosed in boys: girls can be affected too. Statistically, 13.2% of boys and 5.6% of girls are diagnosed with ADHD. Often, girls are more adept at mimicking social situations or learning rote responses, so their symptoms may be better hidden..

3. Medication does not...

...‘cure’ ADHD - it can merely help to manage the symptoms. (Neither is it true that ADHD medication is a tranquiliser, incidentally). Medication can have a number of serious side effects that have to be monitored.

4. ADHD does not...

...happen in only one setting. If you have ADHD, it’s a universal feature across all areas of your life: at home, at school, in the supermarket!

5. Teachers cannot...

...make an ADHD diagnosis. (And neither can educational psychologists, for that matter). But they can both support parents and assist in the diagnostic process by signposting pupils to paediatricians who are qualified to make a medical diagnosis.

Remember: a student doesn’t have to display both inattentiveness and hyperactivity to be considered for an ADHD diagnosis. Many students with ADHD only present one form of the symptoms related to the condition.

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms can fall into the 'inattentiveness' or 'hyperactivity' categories.


  • Short attention span
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetful
  • Unable to carry out instructions
  • Flitting from task to task
  • Difficulty with organisation
  • Trouble completing tasks


  • Constant fidgeting
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Excessive talking
  • Unable to wait their turn
  • Interrupting
  • No sense of danger

(Source: NHS)

In conclusion...

...understanding that ADHD is a genuine, neurological condition that affects how your pupils think and behave is hugely important in working out ways to manage them effectively in your class. Many of the strategies for helping pupils manage ADHD are designed to improve attention and organisation, so of course they will benefit all of the other children in your class too.

Staff meeting activity

This activity will take approximately 15 minutes and will empower your staff to understand more about the condition of ADHD and how to adapt their teaching to meet children’s individual needs.


You will need the following materials:

  • Strategy sorting cards (a link to these can be found at the bottom of this page).
  • Pens.
  • Copies of page 1 of the newsletter (download the PDF version of the newsletter below). At least one between two members of staff.
  • Access to the internet / the facility to show this month's Beacon video (4 minutes, optional)

The activity

  • Before the meeting, quickly cut up the cards into sets.
  • Explain that the focus of today’s activity is to think proactively about managing pupils in school who may have ADHD. Look at Page 1 of this newsletter, or share the video below.
  • Now ask staff work to organise themselves into pairs or small groups.
  • Give each group a set of strategy cards.
  • Give staff 5 minutes, working in their groups, to sort the cards under the headings: ‘Helps organisation’, ‘Helps attention and focus’, and ‘Helps both’.
  • Once completed, take feedback and discuss any differences in opinions. There are no wrong answers; accept any views that are offered as a starting point for discussion.
  • Finally, make time for a five minute ‘problem solving’ discussion where staff can talk about particular children in your school who may have ADHD (even if they are undiagnosed) and which strategies they might respond to best. This could feed into a behaviour management plan (or pupil profile) for specific children.

Now put up copies of the first page of the newsletter on display in the staffroom, so staff members can refer to them at a later date.


Don't print this page! We've produced a much more attractive version for printing and sharing. Use the links below to download a copy of the newsletter in PDF format, and use this for print and distribute the information to your staff.

Strategy sorting cards

PDF version of newsletter (colour)

PDF version of newsletter (black and white)


Our YouTube channel

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