Getting the Big ADHD Picture at School

Am I guilty of the very thing I suspected the school of — judging Natalie’s ability to function and succeed based strictly on her bad behavior?
ADHD Parenting Blog | posted by Kay Marner
Parenting ADHD Children blogger Kay Marner is mother to an ADHD daughter in Ames, Iowa

Natalie and I met with her pediatrician, Dr. Halbur, last week, and I told Dr. Halbur that yes, the dosage of Ritalin Natalie takes to treat her ADHD is working just fine.

That was last week.

This week, it’s a different story.

Don and I attended Natalie’s school conference last night, with Nat’s second grade teacher, Mrs. Morken, and her special ed teacher, Mrs. Carter. They described a child who is a delight to have in class. Her smile brightens their days. She always tries her best. She wants to please.


She’s really struggling academically. She’s easily distracted. She has trouble concentrating. Anxiety, or at least lack of self confidence, plays a significant role in her struggles. The gap between her and her classmates seems to be widening.

When Natalie was in kindergarten, I had a theory: Natalie’s behavior was good at school, and because of that, I believed, the school might be overlooking the fact that Natalie has problems focusing.

I’d sat in on enough one-on-one sessions with Nat and her occupational therapist, speech therapist, and special ed teachers to see how hard they worked to help her focus. How could she possibly be focusing in a classroom without an educational assistant? If she acted out, I theorized, she’d get the attention she needed. But if she struggled in silence, no one would notice.

At my request, a special ed consultant with the Area Education Agency observed her in the classroom. She found that Natalie was on task more than 90% of the time. I was impressed, and relieved.

Now, I have to ask myself if I’m guilty of the very thing I suspected the school of — judging Natalie’s ability to function and succeed based strictly on how often she behaves badly.

It’s only been a week since we saw Dr. Halbur, but it’s time to see her again. It’s time to describe for her the rest of the picture.

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