Remote Learning During COVID-19: Examining School Practices, Service Continuation, and Difficulties for Adolescents With and Without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

J Adolesc Health. 2020 Dec;67(6):769-777. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.09.002. Epub 2020 Oct 14.


Purpose: This study examined remote learning practices and difficulties during initial stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic in adolescents with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methods: Participants were 238 adolescents (132 males; 118 with ADHD) aged 15.64-17.99 years and their parents. Adolescents and parents completed questionnaires in May/June 2020 when in-person schools were closed in the U.S.

Results: Twenty-two percent of families incurred financial costs to support remote learning, and only 59% of school-based services received before COVID-19 continued during COVID-19 remote learning. Adolescents with ADHD had fewer routines and more remote learning difficulties than adolescents without ADHD. Parents of adolescents with ADHD had less confidence in managing remote learning and more difficulties in supporting home learning and home-school communication. Thirty-one percent of parents of adolescents with ADHD with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or receiving academic accommodations (504 Plan) reported remote learning to be very challenging, compared with 18% of parents of adolescents with ADHD without an IEP/504 Plan, and only 4% of parents of adolescents with neither ADHD nor an IEP/504 Plan. Fewer adolescent routines, higher negative affect, and more difficulty concentrating because of COVID-19 were each associated with greater adolescent remote learning difficulties only in adolescents with ADHD.

Conclusions: This study provides initial findings of the nature and impact of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative for schools and communities to provide the necessary supports to adolescents, particularly those with mental health and/or learning difficulties, and to their parents.

Keywords: Adolescence; Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Coronavirus; Parenting; School.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • COVID-19*
  • Education, Distance* / economics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • School Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires