ADHD and School
After reading a post written by one of my friends on Facebook, I figured I might put some thoughts out there on the topic. I have a son with ADHD. It's a daily struggle; even a moment to moment struggle. Not just for him, but for me and his dad as well. The school staff are not exempt from this struggle either.
If there's one thing I have learned, it's that an ADHD person's brain functions differently than others. Tiny little things can distract them from their task; small noises, flashing lights, a pencil dropping to the floor, the click of the keys on a calculator, the sound of crumpling paper, someone fidgeting in their seat, a backpack being unzipped and many others. It's endless. They can't walk through a room where a TV is on without stopping and becoming transfixed. It almost takes an act of congress to get them to un-glue their feet from the carpet and keep walking. By that time they have forgotten what the task was that you sent them to do. This creates frustration for the parents. But it makes the individual with ADHD feel awful. They feel like they aren't good enough, aren't smart enough, aren't responsible enough, and they beat themselves up for it.
School becomes extremely difficult for them. They can't concentrate while other students are sneezing, someone walks down the hallway, or another sharpens his pencil. They forget what the task was that they were supposed to be focused on. They sometimes throw up their hands (figuratively) and give up.
Many teachers do not want to deal with a child with ADHD. In fact, some are downright rude to them. And yet there are those angels who are kind and understanding. We all hope for those kinds of teachers for our children. If you aren't fortunate enough to have teachers who are good with your child who struggles with ADHD then you have your work cut out for you.
Here are some things I have learned from working with schools:
1. Communicate on a regular basis with your child's teacher. Some children have a small notebook that is sent back and forth between the teacher and the parent. Others are better at emailing a quick note once a week. If you're the type of parent to prefers the face-to-face communication, make sure you're in your child's school on a regular basis. By doing so you will develop a relationship with the staff and they know that you mean business.
2. Keep a copy of all communications with your school. Make a file and start saving things. If you speak to a teacher over the phone, make notes, date them and save them in your file. You never know when they could come in handy.
3. Don't wait too long to address a situation. For instance, if your child complains that the teacher yelled at him in front of the class, make sure to contact the teacher the next day.
4. Be prepared and armed with information. Know your rights as a parent. Research and find out what kinds of services are offered or allowed for your state.
5. Go in to meetings with a positive outlook and speak with kindness. Be prepared to bring out the "big guns" ONLY if the staff is not willing to work with you. Remember that there are only certain things that staff are allowed to do. Many times when the school staff realizes that you mean business they will settle in and get to work to help you and your child.
The one thing that I struggle with the most is remembering to compliment my child. They need to hear it every day. Tell them what a good job they are doing. Point out the positives. This may take some effort at first, but will be well worth it. It will help build their confidence and reassure them that they ARE the amazing individual that Heavenly Father created.