As an ADHD Coach, I am always trying to understand the best way to support my client, who generally is a teen. In order for this child to attain stated goals and elevate his self-esteem, it’s important to insure adequate support in the school. After all, this is where they spend a great majority of their time. Because of the neurobiological aspect of the diagnosis of ADHD, their struggles relate to brain wiring that many do not understand or accept.
The vicious circle ensues as their weak executive functioning skills impact their success. Executive functioning includes cognitive skills like initiating a task, planning, organizing, time management, self-regulation, and working memory. Many believe that if the child only tried harder, they could succeed. Unfortunately, this is untrue…and as the child continues not to be able to follow through with expectations, they lose confidence and self-esteem, leading to failure. It’s at that point that the child then does not try hard…because he feels incapable.
Once the IEP, Individual Education Plan, is in place, it is imperative that there is structure put in place in order to both insure that it is being followed and it is effective. This is where I see so many support systems in place fall apart. It is sometimes difficult to get this support accepted by the school. But that is half the battle once its there. Here are some points to ponder to prevent the IEP from falling through that crack…and with it, the child.
1. Individualize! Schools many times put modifications in place that are not specific to the child and his struggles. You, as the parent, are part of the team and can contribute a great deal in the area of your child’s needs.
2. Determine, at the time of the meeting, how often modifications will be assessed to determine efficacy. What will be the specific time frame of assessments? Will it be one week or one month of details that are assessed and discussed?
3. Who will you the parent speak to during these times in order to determine signs of success or needs to tweak modifications? Will it be each teacher or a member of the child study team?
4. What will be the mode of communication? Is everyone in agreement that email works best?
5. Make sure that all of this follow through is documented in the IEP. This is a legal document and has to be followed.
As you the parent moves through this journey, make sure that you keep everything documented. In addition, it’s important to write a letter after this meeting, stating what you believe to be discussed and agreed upon. The expectation is that the school will respond with confirmations and anything in question.
Your child knows that you are his true advocate. Positivity is so important to our children with ADHD. Knowing that you are in his corner reinforces his confidence. Use this journey to also encourage self-advocacy. He knows the best as to what is working and what is not. He, too, needs to learn how to save himself from that “crack!”