Help for a Gifted 12-Year-Old


"I have a 12-year-old son who is extremely gifted. However, his lack of attention to details and "inability" to get himself going are causing him to slowly spiral downward.

"I am a special education teacher at the school he attends and I work with children with ADD and learning disabilities so I have contact with almost all the teachers in the school. The problem is that his teachers have failed to report any problems to me (behavior and/or academic), but they are talking among themselves. One has made it a priority to make his life miserable. He is a great kid, he is on the basketball team and the football team and is very well liked by his peers.

"Today I did something that I hope I don't regret. I did what I thought was the best solution for him and took him to his pediatrician. He prescribed Ritalin and, while I know that this is a wonderful solution for many kids and I have personally witnessed this, I can't help but feel I sold him out because of the pressure put on me by this one teacher in particular (who remember is my coworker). I did not want to put my administrators in the middle of this as we both are teachers in this school and I felt it would strain relationships in the school. However, I do think that some alternate strategies would have worked.

"He has difficulty staying organized and completing projects so I suggested that they inform me of upcoming projects, etc. which was never done. Had I not worked in the school I would probably have pushed this harder. I know that with the official diagnosis we can legally push for accommodations but I am not sure how best to help him. I want him moved from this teacher's class, but the administration says not until the nine weeks is over. He could fail by then. She has labeled him a bully,(which he is not) and says he seeks negative attention.

"My question is what can I do to help him? Any advice you can give would be appreciated." -- Marie


The place to start with finding out how to best help your son is with your son. Ask him what would be helpful to him to be better organized and to stay on top of things.

Harvey Parker from the ADD Warehouse publishes a list of accommodations that are grouped under the behavioral categories that they best serve to accommodate. For instance seating a student near the teacher often helps a student be more attentive. Your son will know what areas of difficulty he is troubled by and what accommodations can be made to help him.

There are many things that can be done to help your son whether the teachers in the school are cooperating or not. For instance if your son has problems recording all the assignments, he can set his watch for 5 minutes before the end of every class to remind him to raise his hand and have the teacher repeat the assignment if he has not written it down.

It is terribly unfortunate that your son is being treated adversely. He has a right to accommodations and there is a procedure to follow to be assured that he receives them. Your position as a teacher at the school should have nothing to do with your son's legal rights.

Talk to your son about the animosity that is apparent in this situation and encourage him to look for a solution to it. Let him know that it is areal sign of strength to be respectful even in circumstances that do not warrant it. He will certainly grow as a young man if he is able to make the best of this predicament by maintaining a positive attitude and continuing to try, despite this teacher's reluctance to help. Above all, let him know that you will be proud of his efforts, no matter what the outcome.

Sandy Maynard lives in Washington, DC where she operates Catalytic Coaching. She was instrumental in the development of The National Attention Deficit Disorder Association's Coaching Guidelines and a founding board member for the Institute for the Advancement of AD/HD Coaching (IAAC). Sandy lectures internationally and is a regular contributor to ADDitude.
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