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Are Boarding Schools for Children with ADHD an Effective Option?

Updated on August 8, 2012

Because ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, can cause such significant disruptions in schooling and everyday life, some parents wonder if a more restricted environment might be right for their kids. Boarding schools for children with ADHD have become a new option for treating this sometimes severely problematic disorder.

This kind of special school can be very costly, however, and boarding schools often limit children's social and leisure opportunities. Here's a look at some of the factors that may influence whether an ADHD boarding school is right for your child.


Boarding schools for children with ADHD are designed to cut down on distractions and opportunities for inappropriate behavior. Since many ADHD kids have trouble with impulsive behavior, the boarding school environment reduces the risk of dangerous choices. It also potentially cuts down on distractions and helps children with this disorder pay more attention in class. The structure at these schools can provide a better environment than parents can offer at home.

For some kids, however, the rigid structure of these schools may feel restrictive and binding, not helpful. It's important to pay attention to the specific preferences and needs of your child before you pick a school.

Specific Design

The majority of ADHD boarding schools are designed specifically for the most common type of ADHD sufferer. This is usually an impulsive boy with high activity levels who has trouble paying attention in class. This very specific design means that schools can be well-made to deal with the problems of these children. This includes a small class size and special computers and other aids just for ADHD sufferers.

The downside is that it can be hard to find a school for kids who don't fit this demographic, especially female ADHD patients or kids who have some symptoms, but not all of them. Some co-ed schools and institutions with a more flexible environment are available, but they are more difficult to find.

Time Out

Many children don't spend very long at boarding schools designed for ADHD treatment. Some are there for only a few weeks or months. This short schooling period may not seem like it would be effective, but many families find that the respite is enough to turn things around. Parents may need time away from children who seem adversarial or poorly behaved. Kids may need a break from a distressing and distracting environment. For some, a short time away from home allows better coping later on.

Having time out at a boarding school doesn't work for everyone, however. Some families find that the break actually intensifies problems, since their ADHD kids are put back into a difficult environment after they come back from school. Some children also feel abandoned or as though they are being punished. Changes at home may be a preferable alternative in some cases.

Alternative Therapies

The right specialty boarding school will be well-versed in the latest techniques for handling ADHD. They may include a special diet, teaching skills to reduce impulsiveness, helping improve attention even in distracting environments, and basic interpersonal skills. By attending these schools, children may be able to improve their behavior and learn new coping methods that will help them deal with ADHD even as adults.

You may not need a school to experience these benefits, however. Non-medication treatment options are also available through counselors and ADHD support groups. You can use homeopathic treatments, learn new ways to interact as a family, and help your child develop the ability to deal with the school system on your own as well. It all depends on your situation and the individual.


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      It is an interesting concept. I'm sure there are some it could help. It's too bad it can be so expensive. Up and interesting.