Your ADHD Child and School: You Are Your Child’s Best Advocate

When it comes to your ADHD/ADD child and school, remember: you are your child’s best advocate. I think to be a good advocate for your child, it’s important to learn as much as you can about ADHD and how it affects your child at home, in school, and in social situations.

Many children with ADHD also have specific learning disabilities which need to be identified so they can be addressed along with the ADHD. You can use the Learning Disabilities Check List as an indicator of whether your child may have learning disabilities. (You may want to share this information with your child’s school and doctors.)

If you feel that your child has ADHD and isn’t learning in school as he or she should, you should find out just whom in the school system you should contact. Your child’s teacher should be able to help you with this information. Then you can request—in writing—that the school system evaluate your child. The letter should include the date, your and your child’s names, and the reason for requesting an evaluation. Keep a copy of the letter in your own files.

Until the last few years, many school systems were reluctant to evaluate a child with ADHD. But recent laws have made clear the school’s obligation to the child suspected of having ADHD. This is because it  often may be adversely affecting his or her performance in school. If the school persists in refusing to evaluate your child, you can either get a private evaluation or enlist some help in negotiating with the school. Help is often as close as a local parent group. Each state has a Parent Training and Information (PTI) center as well as a Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency.

Once your child has been diagnosed with ADHD and qualifies for special education services, the school, working with you, must assess the child’s strengths and weaknesses and design an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). You should be able periodically to review and approve your child’s IEP.

Never forget the cardinal rule—you are your child’s best advocate.