How to Explain ADHD to a Teacher: Parents Share Their Favorite Tips
You know ADHD like the back of your hand, but your child’s teachers or other school personnel might not be as informed. Here’s how readers explain ADHD to the staff at their child’s school — while laying the foundation for a partnership that will last all year long.
> At the beginning of the new school year, I give the teacher a letter introducing my son and explaining, in plain English, his ADHD and what it means. Because he is on meds, I also include a monitoring sheet asking the teacher to observe his behavior, so I will know when the meds require adjusting.
—Karen Sutherland, Sydney, Australia
> I send each teacher an email introducing my daughter and myself. I explain her learning challenges, diagnosis, and accommodations. I also mention that I’m approachable, and that we do not allow her to use her learning disabilities as an excuse for bad behavior. If that happens, I am willing to partner with the teacher to solve the problem.
—Shayla Murray, Hayward, California
> I start by telling the teacher that my husband and I are diagnosed with ADHD, and that the condition is highly genetic. I share my own experiences and debunk the stereotypes.
—Katharine P., London, Alabama
[Free Resource: 10 Teaching Strategies That Help Kids with ADHD]
> As an intervention specialist myself, I am frank and matter-of-fact with school personnel. I am always open to communication, but I also stress that I need to hear positive comments about my son as well. I am his biggest and best advocate, and I won’t let him down.
—Kristin Royer, Toledo, Ohio
> I have a face-to-face meeting with the teachers and counselor at the beginning of the school year. I describe my child’s strengths and weaknesses, and let them know what the teacher and school can do to assist him. I also make sure that we have an established communication routine for daily updates, giving both positive and negative feedback.
> I make certain that the teachers and aides are aware of my son’s strengths, so that they can encourage him. I don’t want his weaknesses to overshadow his strengths. I also tell them about the amazing child he is, so that they get a complete picture of him.
—Nicole, Amherst, New York
> I send an email to the teachers at the start of every school year, sharing a few tips about how my child learns best — for example, sitting in the front of the room, gentle reminders to stay on track, and making eye contact when providing constructive criticism.
—An ADDitude Reader
[Building Rapport with Teachers]
> I avoid generalizations about ADHD, and tell his teachers about my son as an individual. It’s helpful for staff to understand his challenges and strengths. I stress that ADHD is more accurately described as a difference than a disorder. I also make sure that they know how much I appreciate their efforts. I always offer my help and support in managing my son’s impulsive behavior, and make an effort to be involved in school life.
—An ADDitude Reader
> I create a vision statement. It includes a picture of my son, a short biography, his issues/history, examples of his work, what works/helps him, and hopes for the upcoming year. I send copies to everyone who has contact with him. I encourage them to learn more, and to contact me any time with questions or concerns.
—Mary Frye, Syracuse, New York
I give the teachers either a book or print-outs that summarize my son’s condition.
—Jane Ince, Scotland, United Kingdom
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