ADHD and Special Education Services

The Study

A statewide survey was preformed by school nurses in Maryland to determine the rate of students receiving stimulant mediation during school hours for Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder. There were seven categories that the nurses recorded data for: type of medication, gender, school level, race/ethnicity, 504 plan status and the specialists of the prescriber.

At the time of the survey there were 816,465 students in Maryland public schools. There


“The close relationship between special education status and ADHD has now been more clearly demonstrated.” In Maryland, a total of 23,771 students were found to be receiving stimulant medication during school hours; that breaks down to 2.92 % of all Maryland public school children were administered a medicine for ADHD. . Forty-five percent of those students received special education services and an additional 8% of students had an additive 504 plan. Although 2.92% of students seems a lot of students but it is estimated that this number is underrepresented by approximately 20% because some students may receive medication at home before or after school

Females were 3 times less likely to receive medicine than males in elementary and 4 times less likely to receive medication for ADHD than secondary school.

The number of students receiving ADHD medication decreases as students moved higher in grade levels with the highest rate in elementary schools. Students between the ages of 8 to 11 years old are the peak treatment age of students with ADHD.

Amazingly African American and Hispanic students receive medication at half the rate of white students. The districts with the highest rate of minority students, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City actually have the lowest rate of students receiving medication for ADHD. The two school districts with the smallest amount of minority students, Garrett and Allegany Counties have the highest amount of students being treated for ADHD. The study found that these two counties are two of the three counties in Maryland that have clinics dedicated to the treatment of ADHD.

What This Means for Teachers

Students often outgrow the symptoms of ADHD and in Maryland’s high school only 1.3% of students are still receiving medication in school. Teachers should however understand that approximately 20% of students may be self administrating medication or receiving it at home.

Fifty-five percent of all students who receive ADHD medications do not receive special education services but 8.3 % of those in Maryland have 504 plans.

White males are medicated at a much higher rate than other students. This could mean that African American and Hispanic students receive less medicinal attention that their white counterparts or that minority parents are cautious of attempts to medicate their children, afraid that they will be overmedicated and remain on medicine longer than they need to be.


1.Safer, Daniel and Malever, Michael. Stimulant treatment in Maryland public schools. Pediatrics 106 (3) p.533-539.
2. Angela Ramsey-Lockhart