Educational issues faced by children with bipolar disorder

A child struggling with a bipolar disorder is often highly gifted, but may have difficulty making transitions, and, according to the DSM-IV, would be diagnosed as having co-morbid or co-occuring syndromes that make him or her distractible, inattentive, anxious or very perfectionistic with some obsessive characteristics. He or she may also be sleepy from medications or may be having cognitive difficulties as a result of them. Frequently, children with bipolar disorder have associated learning disabilites and executive function deficits which make it extremely difficult for them to organize and break things down and accomplish complex tasks (we will discuss these executive function deficits in more detail).

All of these co-morbid conditions, medication issues, known and unknown learning disabilities and organizational deficits complicate a student’s acquisition of knowledge and adjustment to academic demands.

When one also considers that these children have an illness which causes their ability to focus and energy levels to wax and wane (often according to the season) it’s not hard for parents and educators to realize these children need special accommodations in school.

In creating the type of education you want for your son or daughter, you must keep in mind that although all the children we are discussing here have bipolar disorder, each child is an individual with different social, emotional, and academic strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, their educational needs may vary from one season or school year to the next.

The JBRF Educational Page is intended to help parents, teachers and the educational team ease the strain for the child struggling with these issues and to ensure a comfort level that allows these students to learn, benefit, and excel in the academic environment.