ADHD and dropout rates

The July issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research reports a study by the University of California, Davis. The researchers examined whether ADHD could be predictive of failure to graduate high school on time.

When the UC Davis scientists reviewed different types of ADHD, they found all of the types of ADHD are associated with a high dropout rate.

"The study found almost a third (33%) of students with ADHD, don’t graduate with their peers. That’s high compared with the national high school drop out rate of 15 percent. High school dropout rate really is a national crisis. We know that a third of kids nationally who start in ninth grade don’t graduate in four years," says  lead study author Dr. Joshua Breslau.

The researchers conducted structured diagnostic interviews with a US national sample of adults (18 and over). The interview process also correlated smoking and smokeless tobacco use. According to the National Institute of Health, nearly a 25% of high school students in the U.S. smoke cigarettes and another 8% use smokeless tobacco. The study found that students who use alcohol, smoke cigarettes and use other drugs are more at risk to drop out.

"There are really two main disorders, ADHD and conduct disorder, and there is an interlinking of smoking and drop out that is troubling…it really suggests that socioeconomic differences in health are already becoming established very early in life in adolescents…whether they smoke is probably the biggest indicator of their health in adulthood," said Breslau.

Intuitively, as parents and educators, we know this to be true. We have seen it in other families too. Intuitively we also know that we must do something as education and medicine alone fall far short.

Cognitive training, behavioral shaping, memory skills, and more must be instituted if we are to change the tide.