Reply To: What organization plan has worked for your child at school?

Devon Frye

This reply was originally posted by user Udderlycrazy in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

My oldest ADHDer is in 10th grade and it’s slowly coming together finally. He has horrible EF skills as well. Our district’s middle school was kind of a nightmare for him. He is doing much better in high school. He is happier and his grades are better.

Just a little advice from someone who was so traumatized by interactions with the school I think I had PTSD. I’m not joking — I ended up taking a leave of absence from my job and going to a mental health facility near us for an intensive outpatient program to put myself back together. I prefer not to have to go through that again, or put my family through that again. So…

I decided to no longer get too worked up about grades until high school and even then I am trying to focus more on his mental health and emotional well being than his grades. My son wants to be an astrophysicist so he def aspires to greatness. But I have decided, with the help of my therapist, to focus on him being happy, having friends, and just making it to school every day. (He used to have major school refusal issues just like your son did in the past.)

If he has to go to community college first and then go to engineering school from there, so be it.

Now, having said all that I had a couple of specific ideas about your situation. Our local parent advocacy center gave us the name of a mediator to take to the meeting with you. You should contact yours and see if they have one they recommend. They are amazing at putting the focus on the child at the meeting and helps keep emotions on both sides from getting in the way. I see them as therapists for school related issues.

Another option — which I have used with all 3 of my kids — stop going overboard to help them with homework. It is their homework. My job is to make sure they know what they are supposed to do that night — and if they don’t I document what the issue is (didn’t bring all parts of assignment home, didn’t write down the instructions, etc). I never go back to school to get missing assignments or have them call 10 friends to get the assignment etc. I also never let them go beyond the typical time it should take to complete homework for that grade (as you know, 10 min/grade) — once we hit 30 min for example with my 3rd grader tonight — I made a note on the paper as to where we hit the 30 minute mark as well as any little anecdotes (5 min of crying at the start of the homework, getting up to sharpen pencil 3x, stopping to play with the cat all 3x on the way back etc.) and hand it in in like that.

If they have to fail then let them fail — but I have learned to make sure the kids understand. Mine all have anxiety so I have to be very careful not to allow any of this to make them more anxious. Needless to say when I do this — guess what — all of a sudden the school is responsive and receptive to helping.

You can also consider hiring, if you have the money, an ADHD coach to work with your son on his EF skills. Something that I think our school districts should be providing but hey, what do I know??

Or whoever diagnosed his EF deficits could come to your meeting with you with specific ideas on how the school can help him — maybe some that would not place such an extra burden on the teachers or you at home?

I sympathize with you — its all so exhausting. Good luck and keep us posted.