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Dear ADDitude: How Do I Get Teachers to Follow Accommodations?

“My son’s teacher is supposed to check that he’s written down assignments and prompt him to turn it in (these accommodations are part of his IEP), but she’s not doing this. She says ‘he is responsible for his assignments.'” ADDitude experts and readers offer advice to this parent.

Q: “My son’s teachers complain almost daily about missing or incomplete work. It’s written into his IEP that they need to confirm he is writing down assignments correctly and prompt him to submit his work, but I am told ‘he is responsible for his assignments,’ or ‘he started off the year doing well’ — so now they think he just doesn’t want to do the work.”

ADDitude Answers

I can relate to this question, as many parents of children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) can. It sounds typical of a student with ADHD. If you have a 504 for your son, request a 504 meeting and ask for daily communication to be included. If you don’t have a 504, request an evaluation. In the meantime, meet with his teachers and ask for their help in solving the problem. Print out information to show that typical behavior for a child with ADHD includes forgetting to hand in assignments, doing well in the beginning of the year, and sliding backward.

While you don’t want to enable your child, you do want to give him support to succeed. Is there a way for you to check online to see what homework has been assigned? Can you use a bright-colored folder for homework that he can check during each class? Offer ideas that you and your child can try, and ask his teachers for suggestions. Remind the teachers that you are all working toward the same goal.

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

ADDitude Answers

This is something I have battled for years, and continue to do so. My son has a gifted IQ, so teachers always assume he’s capable of getting work written down, completed, and turned in — yet, he isn’t, and it has nothing to do with intelligence. I’m always told “he needs to learn to be responsible.” The only way he can do that is to have a very consistent oversight until it become habit, but that never happens.

Since you already have an IEP, you need to request an IEP team meeting. Tell his SPED teacher that teachers are treating him like he is lazy, when that’s not the case at all. Explain how the newness of the school year is stimulating, which helps them do alright, but the newness wears off and so does that necessary stimulation. Ask for the ability to turn in all assignments electronically from home (scan and email to teachers). Bring in his therapist or an advocate if you can.

[Free Download: Sample Letter to Request an IEP/504 Evaluation]

Here’s more on what to do when an IEP isn’t being followed or isn’t helping enough.

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

A Reader Answers

Request a SST (Student Study Team) meeting with his teacher/s, principal, school psychologist, you and any other people such as psychotherapist or psychiatrist that he goes to. In this meeting, discuss what accommodations he currently has and how they are working or not working, your concerns, and any of their concerns. Advocate for your son, which it sounds like you are doing. In my experience with my son, I’ve learned the you can’t push the school system too much. They won’t do extra things unless they’re asked for it. By law, if you as a parent ask for your son to be tested for IEP or 504, or have accommodations, they have to acknowledge and test. My son who is 11 and in fifth grade too has problems with turning in his assignments even though I know he’s done them. Kids with ADHD have challenges with organization and with remembering. This is where 504 accommodations can be really helpful. Advocate, advocate, advocate! Wish you all the best!

Posted by Shahna D

A Reader Answers

Just to clarify, they are not mandated to test your child if you ask for a study team evaluation. They are only required to have a meeting to determine if testing is necessary. If you know assignments are done but not being handed in, maybe you can request that he scan and email assignments to his teachers each night as a backup — but continue to work on organization. Educate the teachers…..but gently. Executive function impairment is a major problem for most children with ADHD. There are any number of articles on ADDitude that you could send them. Just because he did it in the beginning of the year does not mean he can do it consistently. When talking to teachers, always start with things like, “I appreciate your concern for my son developing independence. That is our goal. Unfortunately, he is not there yet so I need you to work with me to help him get there. For now, we will need you to check his agenda daily. As time goes on, we hope that he will start reaching his goals. It is very frustrating for him and is impacting his self esteem. I really appreciate your help. I’m sure we can work together to help him overcome his disability.” I also make it clear that this is not a behavior problem, it is a disability. Try saying, “If you are interested, I would be happy to send you some research on the topic.” Make it clear that you are on the same team and have the same goal.

One other thing we did: My son sees a psychologist weekly. His psychologist was willing to come to a meeting at the school. They definitely gave his input more consideration than the “overprotective parents.” He was able to speak to his self-esteem issues and anxiety.

[Free Webinar Replay: IEP or a 504 Plan: Which Is Best for Your Child?]

Posted by Peacfldove

A Reader Answers

Wow, it’s is so nice to see I am not alone in my struggles with my 13-year-old daughter! I am struggling with the balance of what the teachers are doing to help for and what my daughter and I are responsible for. I am a successful adult with ADHD that was only officially diagnosed 7 years ago. So I know what it is like to feel dumb and struggle in a world that doesn’t work the way my brain does. I know that I overcame a lot and now have a successful business that allows me to employ individuals that handle the tasks that I am not good at. But now I am reliving my youth through my daughter and don’t want to “baby” her or make excuses for her — however, I don’t feel that she should be repeatedly beat down because of how her brain works. I sometimes wish the teachers would have to try and keep up in her world when she is doing something that she loves and understands…they would feel like the lazy ones then! My daughter is just shutting down and giving up due to feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated. Avoiding work, lying and saying it’s done or lost. What I don’t understand is why would it be so difficult to help her write it down. I have been witness to all the teachers coming at her at once telling her to come in and retake a test or hand in late assignments. They think they are helping her, but what they don’t understand is that she lost them at about the second sentence out of their mouth — and even more so when the next teacher approaches with their plan to get her caught up in that class. She overloads and then just doesn’t do anything. My husband feels we should discipline her, like take things away and ground her, which doesn’t work but instead makes her feel even more of an outsider.

I need to find a balance with all of this, create a plan before I go crazy trying to be her advocate while in turn she ends up unleashing on me. I don’t know if I can demand the teachers write in her planner everyday or if I am making excuses for my daughter and need to find a way to make her responsible when I am not with her.

Posted by Always Opinionated

A Reader Answers

I also feel your pain. I thought once he was in high school it would be easier, but I was so wrong. You would think some of these teachers who have been around for a couple of decades would recognize these kids, but they all act like they are from another planet and like they don’t understand how to work with them. My biggest complaint is with the technology too. Our state just started using Common Core three years ago, and now no longer use the textbooks that they still make us sign out every year. My son’s chemistry teacher is the only teacher that does not have a website with his notes, daily agenda, homework assignments, etc., for us to refer to. When my son brings homework, my husband and I are as lost as my son and it takes hours to find the information on the internet on how to do the problems. If the teachers were required to give us all this information, the parents could make their jobs easier by having some point of reference to help our children to get the work done. My son does have a separate homework folder that he checks daily in each class and that seems to help him turn in the homework most of the time. He is still lost in chemistry though and I can’t seem to get it across to the teacher how to help us help him.

Posted by tazvin

[Checklist for Making Sure Schools Follow Your IEP or 504 Plan]