Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Tom McLaughlin


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a well-known disorder that children are increasingly diagnosed with, but the school setting is still unprepared for this disorder. Research has also shown that there is still a need for school staff be more educated and trained on this disorder so that they can see how the environment, including the school setting, plays a significant role in increasing the symptoms including adding to the stigma. The gap in literature found that the social expectations that shape the school environment can create a challenge for children with an ADHD diagnosis and contribute to the stigma and negatives experiences for children with ADHD. The purpose of the action research study was to explore how social workers in Suffolk, VA, can help improve the social and educational experiences of children with ADHD in the school setting through building on how the environment plays a role in ADHD symptoms. This issue was viewed from a systems theory perspective to help demonstrate how the environment and the systems that make up the environment affect a child with ADHD. A qualitative approach was used, and the information was gathered using focus groups composed of social workers. The data were analyzed by hand coding the data to help identify any common themes within the data. Key findings of the research showed that several precipitating factors contribute to these symptoms of ADHD from within the environment. Social implications of the results support that there is a need for change about how children with ADHD are treated in the school setting. Children with this diagnosis and the school staff may benefit from this study through training, education and dispelling the stigma attached with the disorder.