What happens when the schools policy is unfair to kids with ADHD and ODD

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    • #46934

      My daughters 13 she’s in eighth grade and she was recently diagnosed with severe ADHD and ODD. She struggled with school since kindergarten she has been tested numerous times and our school system always said that there was no problem (except she just didn’t want to do her work, or she was being lazy) until last year when I got her tested privately. Since starting medication she’s gained several Grade levels in reading and her grades have improved. She has an IEP and she doesn’t get in trouble in school as much as she used to. The school says that she needs to have firm consequences. I feel like the school thinks they can punish her impulsiveness and off task behavior out of her…has anyone had to deal with this before? It feels like the school is against her and doesn’t want to alow her to do all the things the other kids get to do. She is not allowed to go to the eighth-grade dance after graduation or the eighth grade trip due to her getting in trouble repeatedly for off task behavior. She feels sick to her stomach in the mornings and she dreads going to school especially first period because that’s when she always gets in trouble, usually for being off task. I feel like she’s came along ways however her medication isn’t a magic pill and her behaviors aren’t going to change completely overnight so I think the school needs to be more understanding of her disabilitys and possibly give her the chance to make up and learn from her mistakes. However they say that the school policy does not allow students to make up points taken away and that it would be unfair to their other students if they slowed her to do so. I don’t understand what this policy teaches her or is supposed to teach her. This system sets kids with ADHD that is not well managed up for failure and the school won’t do anything to attempt to correct it. Has anyone encountered this? Does anyone have any suggestions or any ideas? I feel lost and sad for my daughter and it’s disheartening that we have no options.

    • #46936
      Linda Strahan

      Sometimes classrooms and schools are ‘management’ focused and not ‘student’ focused. This can result in rough days for students like your daughter. You may want to approach her teacher support team and ask to look at her accommodation plan, or her IEP. The hard part of putting together an IEP is ensuring that appropriate goals are written. A behavior goal should focus on something that will help her move forward, not something that punishes her for not reaching a certain benchmark. “Behaving immaturely”, “being off task” or “not following through on assignments” are examples of behaviors stemming from a disability. By taking ‘points’ away for doing something that is a function of the child’s disability is counter-productive and does nothing to help that child grow academically, socially, or emotionally. Is her day thoughtfully structured to minimize her chances for getting into trouble? Are clear protocols in place that will help her avoid trouble spots or are options available for her at the first sign of trouble? Best practices such as providing space in the classroom for movement, having headphones handy for her use when doing independent work, and allowing her remediation and a chance to re-do a quiz that she has failed are all small examples of how her classroom teachers can make her daily learning experiences more positive. A small digital timer and short list of daily routine and/or schedule taped on the cover of her planner are helpful as well (to allow her to see that time is passing during ‘work’ time and to cue her about what’s coming up so that she can be ready for the change).An old fashioned analog watch with a minute hand can be helpful as well. If the school environment is more ‘traditional’ and movement/noise are discouraged, if it’s not student-focused, if the classroom doesn’t focus on a ‘growth-mindset’, then perhaps it’s not the best learning environment for your daughter. But even the best schools have teachers that are burned-out, rule-bound, stressed, or just struggle with students who are not typically quiet or docile. Ask about what is being done proactively to help your daughter, what systems do they have in place to head-off her errant behavior before she gets in trouble. Also ask about preventative, restorative, and positive discipline measures that involve everyone in the environment, not just one “trouble-maker”. Good luck and I hope she begins to feel better about herself and her learning soon.

    • #46937

      I had to get an advocate to help with the IEP and behavior planning. After over a year we have finally got the go ahead for an IEE then we will do an appropriate behavior plan. Unfortunately, we had to get a lawyer involved to get all of this done. Our child is currently on homebound instruction due to the teacher not understanding those behavioral ississues and always sending him to the in school suspension room. My child was a mess with anxiety and stress. He is now being penalized for being homebound and they refuse to allow him to participate in any school functions.

      • #46940

        Thank you so much for your insight! This was very helpful

    • #47033
      Penny Williams

      You need to formally request a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and a resulting Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Details in this article:

      5 School Assessments Your Child May Be Entitled To

      When a disability affects behavior, school behavior policies can and should be accommodated for that student. She should not miss major school functions like dances and field trips due to off task behavior, especially when she has a documented disability that causes this exact behavior.

      We have dealt with the same thing this year. My son (8th grade) has been prevented from a school dance due to dings on their Positive Behavior Interventions & Support (PBIS) plan. These plans and rules are written for the masses, the neurotypical kids. They should have policies for kids with disabilities too, but most don’t. At the beginning of this school year, my son had one day of ISS because he shoved a kid who wouldn’t stop bullying the younger kids on the bus. He ended up getting beaten up by this kid when they got off the bus. But, because my son touched him first, he got ISS. Administration was very supportive and praised him standing up for other kids. However, 12 weeks later when it was time for the PBIS school dance, he was told he couldn’t purchase a ticket because he had ISS once that semester.

      This treatment really is unacceptable for our kids, but we parents can only affect as much change as administration is willing to administer.

      In your case, I’d argue that her rights as a student with disabilities are being violated. Remind them that fair isn’t equal, it’s getting what you need.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #47045

      I understand how you feel. When our son was in 1st Grade I found out they put a refrigerator box around him so he wouldn’t disturb the other students. My husband and I both talked to the principal and the teacher we put him on Ritalin and it helped no more box. We also were lucky to be able to have him take Learning Disability classes at school. We also hired the L.D. teacher to come once a week to our home. Our son was helped by L.D. classes and the L.D.teacher until he was in the 9th grade.

    • #47064
      Linda Strahan

      Asking for updated Functional Behavior Assessment is a good idea, but collaborating to get the PBIS plan, and any consequences right, can be a big struggle for parents. I have seen many, many plans with inappropriate steps and follow up consequences-everything from missing recess to sitting alone at lunch to cleaning rooms or equipment after school. It’s not just the overall policies, it’s how school personnel, from teachers to administrators, view the plans, and how they use them. There is a great deal of misinformation and poor training around this. Parents need to be consistently vigilant. Best Practices don’t just happen automatically.

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