I Want Your Stories of ADHD in Homeschoolers, Unschoolers, and Free Schoolers

Send me stories of ADHD-diagnosed children not in conventional schooling.

Posted Jul 20, 2010

As I pointed out in my last post, one in every eight boys and one in every twenty-five girls in the US has been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and most of them are taking powerful stimulant drugs as treatment. Surveys have shown that most ADHD diagnoses are initiated because of the child's disruptive behavior in school or failure to complete school assignments. A great many research studies have shown that the stimulants do lead ADHD-diagnosed children to comply with school rules and focus on their school assignments better than they did without the drugs.

But what about children not attending a conventional school? Is ADHD also a problem for them? Do those children also require drugs in order to function well? I have searched the ADHD research literature, which is huge, and found no studies addressing that issue. As a small, first step toward remedying that deficit, I am hereby inviting homeschoolers, unschoolers, Sudbury schoolers, and free schoolers to submit their stories about ADHD. If your child is not attending a standard school and has been diagnosed with ADHD, and if you and the child are willing, I ask you to send me that story. If you have access to an email list of families who are doing schooling in some unconventional way, please send a link to this post out to them with a request to participate. I would like to obtain as large and broad a sample as possible. This is not truly scientific research, but it could be a valuable first step in developing hypotheses about the functioning of children who have ADHD characteristics but do not attend a conventional school.

There are two ways to submit your story. You might post it--anonymously and without identifying details--as a comment, directly below, on this blog post. The advantage of that is it would make your whole story available to readers. Be sure to do it anonymously, however. I will delete stories that seem to run the risk of identifying the ADHD-diagnosed child. The second alternative is to email your story to me--at If you take this option, please let me know if it is OK for me to quote from your story or not. If not, then I will use your story only in the statistical tabulation of the results. I will treat any emails I receive confidentially, and if I do (with your permission) include a quotation, I will leave out any names or other identifying details.

As a guide, here are some questions I hope you will address (but please tell the story in any way that makes sense to you--you don't have to follow this outline):

1. How old was the child when the ADHD diagnosis was made? What kind of schooling was the child involved with at the time? Describe the child's behavior that prompted the diagnosis.

2. How old is the child today? What kind of schooling is the child involved with now? How would you describe the child's behavior now?

3. Is the child currently taking a stimulant drug (such as Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, or any of the other preparations of methylphenidate or amphetamine used to treat ADHD)? If not, has the child ever taken such a drug in the past? What effects does (or did) the drug have on the child? If the drug treatment was stopped, why was it stopped?

4. Please elaborate in any way you wish.

If I receive a sufficient number of stories to warrant any sort of analysis, I will post that analysis as an essay on this blog. To be sure that your story is included, please post or email it ASAP.

Again, please circulate this request widely. I want to hear the full range of stories about ADHD for children not doing conventional schooling. It would be valuable to reach and include people who are not regular readers of this blog.

Thank you in advance for helping to circulate this request.