Our children spend much of their day in a setting where we parents do not always know what is happening, both good and bad. In addition, the diagnosis of ADHD does not always fit well in that environment. Expectations can’t be met sometimes, leading to a falling self-esteem. What is contained in the area of vigilance that is imperative to follow in order to best support our kids?
I often notice that parents can be very intuitive regarding their child and the need for help. The following could be red flags that would prompt a parent into action:
• Falling grades
• Missed assignments
• Assignments not turned in
• Taking much longer to do homework than the district policy allows
• Time management issues: a project not started with enough time, for instance
• Difficulty with initiation of task
• Memory difficulties
All of the above reflect difficulties that need to be addressed. ADHD can be the sole reason for all of the struggles. In addition, up to 40% of children with the diagnosis of ADHD also have the co-existing disorder of a learning disability.
If a teacher has not reached out, it would be important to email him/her and get his perception on what is going on. Also, you can bring your concerns to him.
Write a letter to the head of the child study team, asking for an educational evaluation. Check with your state, but in many states, the school is obligated to respond within a 30 day period. With enough of these concerns, most likely the school will agree to test your child. Again, in many states, the testing must occur within a 60 day period.
There will be a meeting scheduled to go over the test results as well as recommendations. You, the parent, should receive test results prior to the meeting. Also, make sure that you do not go to the meeting alone. It can be very intimidating in a room full of teachers/administrators. It can be very emotional as you advocate for your child. You may forget some of what you what to say and also may not remember responses that are key to follow up. If you don’t have any one that can be a second set of eyes and ears, you do have the right to tape the meeting. Just make sure that you disclose this information.
The 504 is an informal support system that is part of the civil rights act that allows for leveling the playing field. Accommodations can be put in place that fit the individual needs: seating in classroom, peer notes, extra time, and quiet area for testing are a few. This is still regarded as regular education.
The IEP is the individual education plan, which is considered to be under the IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It is considered to be special education. It does hold the school more accountable in follow through. Measurable goals with action are stated. Despite controversy in many schools, the diagnosis of ADHD can allow for an IEP, although does not guarantee it’s placement. It really determines how the impairments of ADHD affect abilities and success.
This again is why it is important to continue to follow through on this journey. No matter which plan is put in place initially, it is important to continually assess the success of the plan and change where necessary.
Coaching and its success is quite dependent on the institution of adequate support in the school. If a child feels desperate and incapable, he will not try. Viewing expectations and feeling like his abilities do not allow for performance will only reinforce his negative response to working hard. You, the parent, are his best advocate.