ADHD at School


For many children with ADHD, symptoms become a whole lot more obvious at school, especially after they pass kindergarten and first grade years and really start working on actual assignments.  Teachers begin drastically reducing play time and children really begin to get into the fundamentals of education.   This is where teachers really start seeing the inability to focus and stay on task.  Children with ADHD find it hard to sit still and listen so they squirm and fidget with things which may create distractions for the rest of the class.  Assignments don’t get completed and frustrations begin to rise as the student is disciplined for not completing their work.  Parents are called in for conferences with the teacher to be told their child has behavior problems.  Things can escalate very quickly and turn into a very negative experience that nobody really wants.

When you’ve determined that your child has ADHD, it is important to really think about how this is going to impact their lives.  Consider the symptoms that they’ve already shown and try to find creative techniques for helping them to cope with those symptoms.  The best way to handle the school is to communicate openly with the teachers and staff and try to build a relationship with them.  Things will go much better if you play on the same team with the overall goal of helping your child succeed in school.  At the same time, there are two very important things to keep in mind.

1. You are your child’s best advocate.  Think about it, nobody knows them like you do.  Nobody understands why they do things.  But you know that when your baby blurts out something, it isn’t because they’re trying to be rude.  It’s because they’re impulsive.  The teacher’s and staff at the school don’t know them like you do.  While they are usually well intended, they often don’t understand why this child just won’t settle down and focus on the task at hand.  ADHD isn’t something the child asked for, it’s not something they want to have.  They’re stuck with it.  And they’re likely far more frustrated with it than anybody else.  Children have this amazing ability to make everything their own fault.  Don’t let them.  Don’t let your babies get down on themselves for things they can’t help.  Advocate for them in the face of adversity.  Even if it is the school system.  There are many resources out there to help you learn the ropes.

2.  The school works for you.  If they don’t cooperate with doing what’s necessary to help your child succeed.  Research your options.  There are many out there.  From a Section 504 Plan, to an IEP, to Due Process…there has to be a way to help your child be successful in school.  Find it.  There are tons of techniques that can be implemented to assist them in the classroom.  It could be as simple as a teacher redirecting them to the school getting a timer for the student’s desk and playing a fun game of “Beat the Clock.”  There are ways to help a child succeed without beating them down constantly.  The school will likely need your help figuring them out.  Do your research.  Know what’s available.  And stand up for your child.  Remember…nobody else will.


Helpful Resources

The book shown below, Special Education Law – Second Edition by Peter & Pam Wright has been tremendously helpful to me in dealing with my son’s schools.  This book gives you great detail on the laws surrounding special education, Section 504, and IDEA 2004.  If you are working with your child’s school on a disability evaluation, exceptional education (special ed) evaluation, 504 Plan, or IEP, I would highly recommend this book as it puts the power back in your hands.  I’ve taken this book with me to several meetings and they know the very minute I set it on the table that I mean business and I know what I’m doing.  The school is so much more willing to cooperate that way.


If you and the school decide that your child should be evaluated for a disability and it is determined that he or she needs to be on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) under IDEA 2004, you can find pretty much everything you need to know in All About IEPs by Peter & Pamela Wright and Sandra Webb O’Connor.  I use this book as my guide book as I am currently going through this process with my own son.


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