One of the greatest challenges parents of an ADHD/ADD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Attention Deficit Disorder) child will face is how to determine the level of their child’s success.
In other words, part of the problem determining school success is the existence of so many alternatives or strategies that parents must decipher to ensure the ADHD/ADD child’s success.
For example, the many different types of support can become frustrating and a confusing experience for school, parent and child alike, which can actually undermine a perception of the child’s achievement.
For instance, there can be the different school programs or support to facilitate greater academic and behavioral success. That is, a percentage of ADHD/ADD children often have average to above-average academic skills, which entitles them to a 504 or regular education accommodations with testing, homework preparation etc.
Conversely, if ADHD/ADD children have a defined learning handicap (reading, written language, math etc.) they are entitled to special education services or an IEP (individual educational program), which allows for smaller specialized classes in English, math, study skills etc.
The special education identification can eliminate lack of choice and provide a more flexible academic program as well as behavior accommodations for greater focusing and school achievement.
However, the dilemma for some parents: if we allow for a 504, are we placing the ADHD/ADD child with a known neurological disability into a classroom that requires study skills based on regular education curriculums and schedules, which is often antithetical to the child’s focusing, organization and behavior skills?
Also, if the child is given a 504, will regular education teachers support accommodations, such as extra time allotted for tests, homework and even permit the child to have periodic breaks (high school block schedules consist of 80 minute class periods). ]
Finally, if the ADHD/ADD child has a learning disability, do we allow him to be placed in a special education class, which may attach a stigma and a challenge to his self-esteem and academic success?
Support and strategies from the many specialists can also become a challenge for all those involved, especially when ADHD/ADD children and parents are putting forth 100 percent. Even after all the needed adjustments, a parent may still perceive struggles with school and home issues.
In addition, when a parent struggles with countless setbacks, he may then resort to additional support in the form of private therapists, nutritonalists, MD’s etc., all of which can often overwhelm the child and parent.
Finally, out of desperation, some parents will turn to medication, which often comes in the form of stimulants such as Ritalin which can be a short-term fix that can lead to a future addiction for hard-core drugs.
Whatever path the parent chooses: a 504 regular school program with testing and homework accommodations; a special education class that offers flexibility and specialization in core subjects; the private therapist who prescribes a behavior contract and works with the parent on how to set boundaries; the nutritionist who will advise the parent about sugar and/or food intake; the MD who could prescribe medication, the great challenge for school personnel, parent and child is to recognize that at times you are giving 100% but you are not getting 100% improvement.
The key is to look for those small beads of success because for ADHD/ADD children, 50% success can often be 100%. Just ask the ADHD/ADD child.
Dr. David Sortino, a psychologist and current Director of Educational Strategies, a private consulting company catering to teachers, parents, students. To contact Dr. Sortino, e-mail davidsortino@comcast or on his blog:Dr. David Sortino