The Effect Of COVID-19 Lockdowns On Children With ADHD

Although closing schools during the COVID-19 pandemic was a necessary safety precaution, it wasn’t without consequences.

Indeed, school closures have had a dramatic effect on the lives of students, teachers, and parents across the country.

For students, homeschooling has been a dramatic change of pace. And although homeschooling can and does work for many students, not every student can succeed outside the traditional classroom setting, especially when the student is suffering from disorders like ADHD and ADD.

As it turns out, ADHD and homeschooling don’t mesh well, as homeschooling can amplify the symptoms of ADHD and lead to even poorer academic performance.

While many physicians resort to prescription medications to treat the symptoms of ADHD, we believe there is a better method for most children.

For three decades, the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine has helped individuals with ADHD improve their quality of life without the use of stimulant medications. In fact, our ADHD and ADD treatment options do not require stimulants or pharmaceutical drugs of any kind.

Instead, we use safe and clinically effective technologies like Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, and Neuromodulation Therapy to help both children and adults experience symptom relief.

In this article, we’ll discuss the effects of homeschooling an ADHD child and how we use non-drug treatment technologies to treat ADHD.

For more information regarding our non-drug ADHD and ADD treatment options, please don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form or call us at 800-700-4233 for a preliminary consultation at no charge.

What Is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by an inability to pay attention, focus, and self-regulate.

That said, the presentation of ADHD can vary from person to person. While some individuals may have hyperactive symptoms and exhibit behavioral problems, others may only have a difficult time paying attention and focusing on non-preferred activities.

In general, individuals with ADHD fall into 1 of 3 distinct subtypes: Predominantly Inattentive Presentation, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation, and Combined Presentation.

Symptoms of these subtypes break down as follows:

ADHD – Inattentive Presentation

Inattentive ADHD symptoms typically include:

  • Inattention
  • Easily distracted
  • Lack of sustained focus on non-preferred tasks
  • Difficulty finishing tasks such as homework without supervision
  • Poor short-term memory (e.g., difficulty following a series of instructions)
  • Often forgetful such as forgetting to turn in homework
  • Poor listening skills

ADHD – Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation

Hyperactive-impulsive presentation symptoms typically include:

  • Impulsive (acting without thinking of the consequences, blurting out answers, interrupting, experiencing difficulty waiting for one’s turn)
  • Hyperactive (fidgety and/or difficulty sitting still)

ADHD – Combined Presentation

ADHD combined presentation symptoms typically include:

  • The presence of both inattentive symptoms along with significant hyperactivity/impulsivity

What Causes ADHD?

ADHD has several potential causes, including:

  • Brain Anatomy
  • Genetics
  • Head Injuries
  • Premature Birth
  • Prenatal Exposures
  • Environmental Toxins
  • Possibly Hypoxia At Childbirth
  • Diet

Please note that this is not a definitive list and only represents the most common possible causes of ADHD in children and adults.

Why Are Children With ADHD Struggling With Homeschooling?
Homeschooling kids with ADHD can be challenging, especially during COVID lockdowns, as many of these students depend on the structure and “flow” of the typical school day to stay focused and engaged with their lessons and assignments.

Children with ADHD or ADD already have a difficult time paying attention and focusing in class, and when you add in all the distractions that come with learning at home, it’s easy to see how problems can arise.

For instance, not every home has adequate room to accommodate a dedicated learning space where a child can sit at a desk and attend an online class without being distracted by a nearby TV or gaming console. In fact, the home environment is typically filled with comfortable distractions.

Even if students are able to be provided with a dedicated space for learning, they have to contend with the distractions caused by electronic devices such as phones and tablets which create a distraction for children, especially when they’re unsupervised. Virtual learning also requires students to be sitting in front of a computer which provides an endless stream of opportunities for distractions. Even when attending class via video conferencing, teachers have no way of monitoring whether students are looking and attending to the lecture, or whether they are in fact viewing other websites or playing games.

Additionally, many children who thrive on in-person social interactions are now struggling with depression, anxiety, and the stress of not spending time with their friends. What’s more, students also tend to be less physically active at home, leading to a potential negative impact on physical health and possible weight gain.

Unfortunately, these issues can also cause a child’s ADHD symptoms to worsen; however, not all is lost, and there are steps parents can take to help minimize these potential issues.

Below are some tips for homeschooling an ADHD child.

Helping Your ADHD Child Stay Focused At Home

Although schools are likely to resume in-class attendance relatively soon due to the speedy rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, there are still several best practices parents should follow when homeschooling their child.

First and foremost, parents should create a homeschool schedule for their ADHD child—even if the school your child is attending hasn’t implemented a comprehensive homeschool program.

Before the pandemic, your child likely had a routine before heading to school, like waking up early in the morning, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc.

When transitioning to homeschooling, parents should make an effort to maintain and even expand this routine to include activities like reading, arts and crafts, and exercise.

What parents can’t allow is for their child to roll out of bed at 7:45 am when class starts at 8 am.

Your child’s schedule should also include planned breaks where he or she can go outside, play, and possibly interact with other children in the neighborhood.

Parents should also consider setting up a dedicated space inside their home for attending online classes and completing assignments. If possible, this space should also be free of distractions like TVs, tablets, and other portable electronic devices.

This isn’t to say that using an electronic device should be strictly forbidden; after all, using electronic devices to stay in touch with friends and family can be a great way to relieve stress and even have some fun.

The point, however, is that your child shouldn’t be spending hours on their phone or video game system when he or she is supposed to be concentrating on their assignments.

Granted, all of this advice hinges on adequate supervision, which poses a huge problem for parents who can’t work from home.

Many parents have altered their work schedules or even quit their jobs to spend more time at home; however, we know that this isn’t a viable solution for everyone.

In these cases, parents should make the most out of the time they do have with their children. If your child can describe, in detail, the majority of what they learned throughout the day, then perhaps they should receive a reward (e.g., extra screen time at night, more allowance at the end of the week, etc.)

Additionally, asking your child to report their screen time each day, or at the end of the week, is another good way of managing distractions.

Managing Your Child’s Stress & Anxiety

Helping your child cope with COVID-induced stress and anxiety is no easy task.

That said, managing your stress and anxiety levels can go a long way in helping your child stay calm during these trying times.

After all, if your child sees that their parent is cool, calm, and collected, there’s a good chance that they might try to emulate your behavior, which in turn, could help them lower their stress levels.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to limit how much your child is engaging with certain kinds of media, especially the news. While it’s good to stay on top of the latest, watching too much coverage of the negative news stories can take an emotional toll, especially on children.

Filling your child’s day with activities is another great way to help them cope with stress and anxiety. Indeed, if your child’s daily routine consists of exercise, schoolwork, arts and crafts, and planned breaks, then they may be able to avoid becoming overly stressed.

Finally, if your child is stressing about homeschooling, the pandemic, or anything else, it’s a good idea to sit down and talk with him or her about all of their worries. In many cases, a simple heart-to-heart conversation can go a long way in helping children feel better about their circumstances and helping them to hold a better outlook on the future.  

Dealing With Depression

Depression is a serious condition that should not be ignored under any circumstances.

Although depression is often associated with teenagers and adults, young children can also become depressed. And unfortunately, many individuals with depression never get the help they need, which can lead to serious problems down the line.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends routine screening for anxiety and depression symptoms in children/adolescents as a minimum standard.

Depression symptoms for screening include:

  • Irritability (primary mood symptom in adolescents)
  • Anhedonia (defined as the inability to feel pleasure)
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Excessive guilt
  • Poor concentration
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Hopelessness/helplessness

If your child is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, please consider scheduling an appointment with a medical professional to have your child screened for clinical depression.

Helping Your Child Stay Physically Active

Exercising provides several benefits for children, including:

  • Weight Management
  • Stronger Bones
  • Stress Management
  • Improved Concentration
  • Better Posture & Balance
  • Improved Academic Scores
  • More Opportunities To Socialize

On average, young children and adolescents should get about 60 minutes or more of exercise each day.

When attending school, most children will have the opportunity to reach this level of activity during planned breaks (e.g., recess and lunch), walking between classes, and during P.E. Additionally, many children also walk or bike to and from school, which adds to their daily exercise.

However, many children are no longer exercising as much as they should due to COVID-19 lockdowns and homeschooling.

In a study conducted in Norway, researchers found that students were not as physically active at home as they were when they were going to school. These parents reported that the period of homeschooling had led to more passivity and a more sedentary lifestyle for their child. Many of these parents reported that their child was playing video games or using a device (e.g., smartphone, computer, and tablet) during most of the day.[i]

Accordingly, parents should make a concerted effort to ensure that their child is getting an adequate amount of exercise.

As mentioned earlier, incorporating some kind of physical activity into your child’s daily routine before, during, or after your child’s online classes can go a long way in improving his or her mood, energy level, academic performance, and more.

Having your child stick to an exercise routine can have a positive effect on their behavior and ability to concentrate.

In one study, researchers found “compelling evidence that aerobic exercise can enhance neural growth and development, and improve cognitive and behavioral functioning.”[ii]

Overall, daily exercise (in combination with a healthy diet) can be one of the most beneficial activities for your ADHD child, as it can positively impact their physical and mental health.

How The Drake Institute Treats ADHD & ADD

Although the causes of ADHD and ADD can and do often vary from person to person, the brain dysregulation created by these disorders is at the “root” of the problem.

At the Drake Institute, our treatment protocols aim to address this underlying dysregulation, instead of trying to compensate for these issues with prescription medications.

Therefore, we believe the best path towards symptom reduction is to enable patients to improve brain functioning and provide them with the tools to self-regulate.

With the help of advanced treatment technologies like qEEG Brain Mapping, Neurofeedback, and Neuromodulation, we can help patients achieve a healthier brain functioning pattern, which in turn, will facilitate better focus, attention, and decision making.

What’s more, these improvements can become wired into the patient’s nervous system, resulting in long-term symptom relief that doesn’t require regular follow-up visits.

Finally, all of our treatment protocols are 100% non-invasive and drug-free, so parents don’t have to worry about their children experiencing the negative side effects associated with stimulant ADHD medications.

Brain Mapping

Brain mapping is at the core of everything we do at the Drake Institute, as it’s an important diagnostic tool for peering into the functioning patterns of the patient’s brain and identifying where the dysregulation is occurring.

By mapping the patient’s brainwave activity, we can then process the results through the FDA-registered normative database to identify deviations from what’s considered “normal” activity.

In patients with ADHD, this dysregulation often affects the following regions of the brain:

  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Limbic System
  • Reticular Activating System

Once the brain dysregulation is identified, a custom treatment protocol using neurofeedback and neurostimulation can be developed for the patient that addresses their unique needs and deficiencies.

This treatment method ensures that every patient that comes to the Drake Institute receives the treatment he or she needs.

Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)

Neurofeedback treatment is a non-invasive treatment protocol used to retrain the patient’s brain to adopt a healthy functioning pattern.

During neurofeedback training, several sensors are placed on the patient’s head to record his or her current brainwave activity. In one such training program, this activity is converted into a video game involving a car driving down a highway.

When the patient’s brain shifts into a healthier functioning frequency, the car moves and stays in the correct lane, and an auditory tone goes off. This tone is then repeated every half second, so long as the patient is able to sustain this pattern of improved functioning.

This process trains the patient to hold onto and stabilize the healthier brainwave pattern, and with enough practice, this response can become wired into the patient’s nervous system and can then be used to generate symptom relief from disorders like ADHD and ADD.


The Drake Institute also uses Neuromodulation therapy to support, enhance, and accelerate the therapeutic improvements gained through neurofeedback training.

Neuromodulation was first used to facilitate neuroplasticity and recovery from brain injuries like strokes, and it has been shown to have positive effects in the treatment of ADHD and ADD.

Neuromodulation technology has proven to be so effective that it’s now used around the globe in many world-renowned medical centers, including Harvard University School Of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and the UCLA School of Medicine.

How does neuromodulation work?

Once the brain dysregulation is identified through qEEG brain mapping, neuromodulation is used to stimulate and guide the patient’s brain to mimic healthier, proper functioning. In short, neuromodulation “shows” the brain how to function, and as a result, the brain adapts and shifts into a healthier functioning pattern.

This process “retrains” the brain to fire in more optimal patterns, resulting in a reduction of ADHD and ADD symptoms.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

If you or anyone you know is suffering from ADHD or any other type of neurodevelopmental disorder, please don’t hesitate to call us at 800-700-4233 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

Our medical director, David Velkoff, M.D. has decades of experience and supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs to ensure children receive the exact care that they need.




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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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