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Strategies for devising academic accommodations, studying smarter, building focus, keeping on top of homework, and thriving at school with ADHD or learning disabilities.

posted: Friday June 24th - 5:04pm

Dear ADDitude: What If the Principal is Unfair?

"My son hangs out with a group of very active and physical boys who sometimes play rough. When this happens, the principal seems to single out my son for especially harsh and random punishments. How do I approach the school about this unfair treatment?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers Unfortunately, if you are not getting anywhere with the principal, you are going to have to go over his head. I would contact the exceptional children’s/special education director for your school board and have a chat about this. Kids with ADHD and other disabilities have a legal right to equality at school. The US Office of Civil...
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posted: Thursday June 23rd - 11:48am

Dear ADDitude: How Can My Son Stop Hitting?

"My son recently hit his best friend for telling him to shut up. We have tried several consequences, but nothing works and we are at the end of our rope. How can we discipline him more appropriately for impulse control problems?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers The same thing happened with my son around 2nd grade. Here’s how we put a stop to it: Discipline Do's. The reason he’s hitting is because his skills in frustration tolerance and emotional regulation are lagging. Developmentally, he’s about two years behind his classmates. Reading the book, The Explosive Child by Ross Greene helped us tremendously. Occupational therapy...
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posted: Wednesday June 22nd - 3:34pm

Dear ADDitude: What Accommodations Help with Meltdowns?

"My son is quick to react when provoked by other kids. He erupts into temper tantrums at school, even when his teacher smooths transitions and offers him a safe place to cool off. What accommodations could help with these angry outbursts?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers It could very well be the environment. Imagine being a child who can’t meet expectations; who is easily overwhelmed by sound and lots of people; who feels the need to move all the time but is expected to be still; who cannot meet expectations; who is made to feel stupid, different, bad… It would make any of...
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posted: Wednesday June 22nd - 12:39pm

Dear ADDitude: Can My Daughter Use Hyperfocus on Schoolwork?

"My 10 year old is 2 years behind in math and reading because she just can't focus to learn and complete her work. But she loves art and can stay focused on drawing for hours. How do I get her to give just a little of that focus to academics without using medication?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers You say you wish she could transfer some of her focus on art to academics. That would be ideal, but not likely due to her ADHD. An ADHD brain is interest-based—it can focus really well (sometimes too well) on what it is interested, but can’t focus on things not interesting to them: Secrets of the ADHD Brain. I...
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posted: Tuesday June 21st - 4:32pm

Dear ADDitude: How Can I Explain My Son's Variable Attention?

"My son's teacher feels that, since he can focus on subjects he likes, it shows he can do it. She feels he chooses when to focus and pay attention."

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers The reason those with ADHD can focus on what they find interesting, and not other things, is that they have an interest-based nervous system. This article explains it: Secrets of the ADHD Brain. Posted by Penny Williams ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism ADDitude Answers Kids with ADHD really need a...
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posted: Wednesday June 15th - 3:07pm

Dear ADDitude: My Son's Teacher Wants Him to "Just Focus"

"One-fourth of my child's grade is based on his ability to 'focus for the entire period without reminders to stay on task.' Since cue-to-focus is an accommodation my child needs due to diagnosed ADHD, this feels like disability discrimination. What can I do?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers One of the exciting things we've discovered about ADHD is that there's reduced brain chemistry in the reward center. What that means is that your child can do easy things that don't require a lot of working memory or academic skills, but when the brain needs to kick into a higher gear to focus on schoolwork, it...
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posted: Wednesday June 15th - 12:51pm

Dear ADDitude: How Can My Son Focus Better in Class?

"My 7 year old is highly distractable and struggles to complete in-class assignments without a teacher or aide sitting with him and guiding him. The incomplete work is piling up. What accommodations can help him learn to better focus on his own?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers This sounds more like executive functioning deficits, often seen in those with ADHD (my son has severe EF deficits). They impact the obvious skills of planning and organization, but it also impair task initiation, time management, working memory, and self-regulation. Check out this article about the condition: Executive Function Disorder Symptoms and Diagnosis. If checklists are effective for...
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posted: Tuesday June 14th - 4:28pm

Dear ADDitude: How Can I Help My Son Stay Organized?

"My 12-year-old-son is having a lot of difficulty remembering to turn assignments in and what was said in class. He has a 504 plan, but it hasn't helped him keep track of papers or notes. What could help him learn to stay organized?

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers People often recommend colored folders for organization, but they did not help my son. What we found worked best (after a million different tries!) was one large binder that holds everything. So, inside that large binder (Case It brand, which is heavy duty because my son picks at and tears apart everything) is: > One pocket folder for all...
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posted: Tuesday June 14th - 4:15pm

Dear ADDitude: What Testing Should I Request?

"What specific academic testing (if any) should I request for my daughter, who has inattentive ADHD and problems with attention and organization, but is also twice-exceptional? Is her diagnosis enough to merit a 504 Plan?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers You should request a full evaluation, especially if there’s anything she struggles with besides simply a lack of focus and disorganization. Make sure to request executive functioning rating scale (BRIEF), so they can see how impaired her organization capabilities are. For more on requesting a school assessment, go here. Posted by Penny Williams ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD,...
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posted: Monday June 13th - 4:23pm

Dear ADDitude: What Are Some Good Alternatives to Gum-Chewing?

"My son is constantly chewing on things; the oral stimulation helps him concentrate. He loves to chew gum, but it isn’t allowed in school. What accommodations might help?"

Sign up to receive our new Dear ADDitude newsletter. ADDitude Answers Sounds a lot like my son. He’s also in seventh grade and gifted, but struggles enormously in school. He also chews EVERYTHING. Gum may not be allowed in the general population of school, but ask that it be placed in his 504 Plan. I did this for my son in first grade. Since then, our school system is...
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