Need help breaking free from addiction?
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?



Our 11 year old son with ADHD is failing almost every subject in school. He doesn’t seem to care. He’s on focalin and is well behaved at home. He seems to be out of control at school. He lies about finishing class work, fails tests, etc. He never brings home anything to sign. I feel stressed and worried that he’s heading in the wrong direction. We’ve taken away T.V., video games, etc. He does not seem to care.

Help! P.S:

He was tested in 3rd grade for disabilities and actually is above average IQ.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

The answer to your question is yes; your child could be failing in school due to ADHD. However, this answer is not as simple as it might seem. Here are some of the potentially complicating factors that could be contributing to his school failure:

1. While medication is very important in helping ADHD children control their impulses and focus attention, it is not enough. Your child needs to be in behavioral therapy and in conjunction with his parents in order that all of you learn to help him develop the social and academic skills necessary for success in school and life. These children even more than others need to learn how to take class notes, organize their notebooks, write down homework assignments, keep a calendar to track when their work is due and when tests will occur, etc. They also need to learn how to socialize in ways where they can get help and feel listened to by other children and teachers. None of this comes naturally and cannot be achieved by medication alone.

2. Many if not most children with ADHD have a secondary diagnosis along with this disorder. These secondary conditions can range anywhere from Opposition-Defiant Disorder (ODD) to Conduct Disorder (CD). While he cooperates at home now, he is not cooperating in school and this could begin to happen at home as he enters adolescence.

If not ODD or CD, your child could be suffering from an anxiety disorder and/or depression, both of which frequently coincide with ADHD.

3. As your child gets older and continues to have problems in school he is in danger of identifying himself as a failure. Then, as a young adolescent, he could start to “hang around with” other young teens who see themselves as failures and dropouts. You do not want this to happen.

Time is moving and you need to act quickly. You need to have your child brought to a specialist in Child Psychology or Child Psychiatry and have him take a battery of tests in order to learn what is happening to him in addition to the ADHD. With a proper diagnosis he can be referred for the correct type of therapy and any additional medication he may need if he is depressed (this might not be necessary). Also, he can be evaluated as to whether or not the present medicine is really effective in helping him. Sometimes a medication is wonderful for one person but ineffective for another individual.

I am encouraging you to hurry because, at 11 years old, he is nearing that time of pubescence and the onset of adolescence. It would be most helpful to set him on the correct course before then.

Finally, he needs the help of his teachers to allow him to organize him self and be prepared for school.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists


Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 Who Answers? 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.


Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand