Accommodating ADD/ADHD Symptoms in the Classroom
Sometimes changing classrooms or schools is more complicated. Last year, a teacher told Leslie's parents that Leslie was overactive and more disruptive than any of the other third-graders. Leslie's parents told me they were concerned that their daughter was being targeted, because she wasn't compliant and quiet. They asked that Leslie change classes and work with a teacher who might be a better match. The problem was, the teacher they found was at another elementary school, and Leslie balked at leaving her friends at her old school.
When I evaluated Leslie, I found that, even though she was active and restless, she didn't have learning problems. Since she had not been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, it was unclear whether a different teacher would help her.
In an effort to keep Leslie at her current school, I recommended parent training. Leslie's parents learned to give praise and to set limits. After a month, her parents gave us feedback: "We've learned tricks to manage Leslie's behavior," they said. "Now why can't the teacher acquire the same skills?"
After consulting a legal advocate, and talking with teachers and school administrators several times, we were able to initiate ADD/ADHD classroom accommodations, including a 504 Plan, that involved bringing a behavioral psychologist to Leslie's classroom once each week, for six weeks, to train the teacher in behavior management techniques. Leslie's parents, like Joseph's, had a clear picture of their child's needs, and they advocated for appropriate intervention with a teacher who was a willing partner.
Children with behavioral problems are often eligible for small-group instruction. In many cases, parents may also request that a child's teacher or a specialist implement changes in the classroom, such as giving the child one instruction at a time or allowing the child short breaks to recoup her energy and concentration. Leslie benefited from the training her teacher received.
Changing schools can work wonders for struggling students who have ADD/ADHD. But it isn't the solution for all kids. Arming yourself with information about your child's specific symptoms will empower you and your child's team at school to build an education plan that works.
More on ADD/ADHD in the Classroom
ADD/ADHD Schooling: The Best Education for Your Child
ADD/ADHD in the Classroom: Finding the Right High School
ADD/ADHD and Learning Disabilities: Educational Rights, Accommodations
Advocate for Your Child: Getting ADD/ADHD Accommodations