Dear ADDitude

Ask ADDitude: Am I Asking for Too Much From My Child’s Teachers?

“What’s the line between normal kid behavior and ADHD forgetfulness? Is it appropriate to ask the teachers to remind my son to turn in his completed work? Or to email me when he doesn’t? I know the world won’t be accommodating when he grows up, but he’s still learning.”

ADDitude Answers

Many parents of children with ADHD wonder about this. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer because each child is different. Forgetting to hand in homework is a common behavior in children with ADHD. I’d set up a time to talk to his teachers and explain that, while you want to teach your son to be responsible, you also have to accept this as ADHD behavior. Ask the teachers to work with you on setting goals for handing in homework-remembering to do so, say, three times a week. The teachers can e-mail you to let you know whether your child reached the goal. Once he does, you can raise the goal. Your child’s teachers might be more willing to help when you are working together toward a common goal.

Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance writer, author specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and autism

ADDitude Answers

It sounds like he is struggling with executive functions (planning, organization, and memory). Many with ADHD do. Since the behaviors (not turning in assignments and signed communications) are a direct result of a disability, punishment is unacceptable.

My son is also in 7th grade. His teachers got tired of my constant reminding that they need to help him with planning and organization (even though it’s in his IEP), so they said they would just give him silent lunch every time he wasn’t prepared from then on. My head almost started spinning around backwards! I quickly reminded them that punishing a child for behavior related to a disability is inexcusable, and a violation of my son’s civil rights under federal law.

Plus, all the discipline in the world isn’t going to change the brains these kids were born with. What they need is help creating routines and habits and tools to work around these types of issues – they aren’t going away.

Definitely meet with the principal and ask for a 504 Plan or even evaluation for services and an IEP. Also, ask that a plan be drafted and implemented with all his teachers right away to help him with these needs.

Posted by Penny
community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

[Free Download: Common Executive Function Challenges — and Solutions]

A Reader Answers

Make an appointment with the principal. Bring your son’s 504 Plan (if he has one) with you. Ask for a meeting to be held with the Case Manager and your child’s teachers. Bring a letter to read that tells about your son and his past – as well as his future. Discuss what can be done to help your son do well in school. The biggest mistake you could make would be not going up to school and try to get the train back on track. Talk to the principal and teachers and give them your email, cell number and other contact info. Work with them and they will work with you. Then you can work with your son. Remember, this is hard on him too. Start to monitor him more. Contact the teachers more often. See if your son’s school offers online grading. Look at his grades daily. Your son can be successful, but only if you are willing to stay behind him.

Posted by Bensonadvocates

A Reader Answers

My son is 15 and does very well in school. He has always had a problem with turning in his assignments and projects. Executive function is lacking and it absolutely effects his follow-through. We’ve tried therapy, meds, you name it, but it didn’t help. What does help are constant reminders. I’m an ADHD adult and I have reminders for EVERYTHING. I’ve gotten my boy an iPhone so he can use the reminder apps, keep track of what’s due, etc. It’s more work for you, but you may want to try to sit with him every evening and talk about what’s due and if you can, set reminders for the next day. That has worked better than anything else for my son and me.

I hope that was helpful!

Posted by tmc

A Reader Answers

So my son has the exact same issue, among others. In middle school, he was in a public charter, and I was moderately successful getting teachers to implement a broad “ask” strategy for the entire class; they always pushed back on any strategy targeted specifically towards my son. So try that. In fact, two of his teachers then reported higher rates of homework completion for the entire class! Other teachers just didn’t care and felt like he should be able to do it on his own. If he has an IEP or a 504, ask for a phone reminder accommodation so he can have an alarm, without worrying about having his phone taken. Also try something called the WatchMinder, a programmable wrist watch that can vibrate with a reminder.

Posted by LA302

[What I Wish My Son’s Teachers Knew About Him and ADHD]

A Reader Answers

First of all, if you have an IEP or a 504, you need to change it to read “Teachers will check agenda daily and rewrite/clarify as necessary.” Making the child responsible for bringing it to the teacher defeats the whole purpose of the accommodation. You are trying to accommodate his executive function disability.

Another suggestion is a digital agenda so the teachers can enter assignments from their end without drawing attention to the child. My son turned 12 in September. We use one binder, with a folder for each class in the binder. Each folder has one side labeled “today’s homework.” He puts new assignments there and when finished he puts them back in that pocket. It makes it easy to remember. The other pocket is for other papers for class. Once a week, the binder is updated (old papers removed and filed at home, etc). Submitting papers online can work too. My son does this often and his teachers print them on their end. They also scan papers in and send them to him so he has them at home. An extra set of books for home leaves less to organize as well.

Just a couple suggestions for a problem we struggle with daily. Good luck!

Posted by Peacfldove

A Reader Answers

My son had the same complaints. It’s a bit of a trial and error situation sometimes!

As far as what’s “developmentally appropriate,” anybody worth their salt knows that what is “developmentally appropriate” for the average child is not necessarily so for one with ADHD! Anyway, isn’t that what the “I” in IEP is for? You’re not worrying about what’s developmentally appropriate – you’re concern is what’s appropriate for YOUR child, and for him to have free and appropriate access to his education, he needs to have accommodations that suit HIS needs!

CHADD asserts that kids with ADHD lag as much as 30 percent behind their peers developmentally. Moreover, by definition, the executive function challenges associated with ADHD very often result in significant impairment areas of planning and organization. When these areas are impaired and not accommodated properly in school, he is unable to perform in a way that is commensurate with his ability!


Sorry. This stuff makes me crazy sometimes! Don’t let it go. You can handle it calmly and reasonably, but I would keep requesting meetings politely until you get your point across and they agree! There were a couple years in middle school that the school didn’t have extra books to send physical copies home with my son (his grade is unusually large and requires extra teachers to be brought on each year as they move up), so the school gave us access to online & CD textbooks at home. No biggie, they just had to be a little creative to accommodate his needs! Your son’s school can do the same.

Hang in there and keep us posted!

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne

[United We Learn: 11 Rules for a Better Parent-Teacher Partnership]