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ADHD School Success:  It Takes a Village

Village in the Mountains

HELP!  ADHD at school equals challenges and struggles.  Where to go from here?

“Our kids” get lost, with more than 30% failing or having to repeat a grade.  Building a team is the key to turning things around.

Parental involvement is critical to the identification and instruction of students with ADHD.  This is particularly true in inclusion classes (general and special education students in the same classroom).

The classroom creates multiple challenges, but with patience and an effective plan, students with ADHD can thrive.  Implement consistent strategies both inside and outside school to foster success.

    • Arrange parent/teacher meetings early and often.  Communicate specific needs.
    • Develop a behavior plan.  Don’t forget to consult additional staff (guidance counselor, paraeducators).
    • Focus on autonomy.  Decide on strategies to control outbursts.
    • Establish structure and consistent routines.  Allow for short breaks.
    • Encourage physical activity.  Exhaust energy reserves.

What is an IEP Team?  This group plays an important role in the education of students with disabilities. It includes specific people (by law).

  • Parents
  • Special education teachers (at least one)
  • Teachers (at least one)
  • School district representative
  • Expert to evaluate testing results
  • Student
  • Translator

Additional IEP Team members can be invited.  Parent advocates may be included to facilitate the IEP development process.  Some parents choose to bring friends to help with note-taking or provide moral support.

Traveling on the Wayback Machine…

My first year as a special education teacher.  What happened to math?  Oh well, I chose the change.  I had to know why my Algebra 1 students counted on their fingers?  Unfortunately, I found out too quickly.

Jose was on the Autistic Spectrum and spoke Spanish as his native language.  He was a struggling reader and didn’t handwrite without assistance.  His IEP had so many goals that I couldn’t figure out where to begin.

Okay…ask for help.

First, the Special Education Resource Teacher.  Next, the ESL teacher (English as a Second Language).  The bilingual Speech/Language Pathologist was in too.

We thought it was a great idea.  His mom loved it too.  Jose felt like he was in charge for the first time.  Cheers all around.

Behavior is a notorious characteristic for students with ADHD.  The majority show signs of defiance when confronted with criticism.  Guiding them through academic and social challenges result in higher levels of success.  Use a supportive style in relation to learning.

Teachers can support parent involvement to curb impulsiveness.  This teaming is more effective than medication alone.  Unified goals should be the first step.

  • Improve social skills with authority figures.
  • Develop self-monitoring strategies.
  • Make and keep friends.
  • Incorporate written and oral language skills.
  • Focus on class participation.

Research has shown that parental involvement improves academic performance for teens with ADHD.   There is a corresponding increase in behavior management.  Focusing on self-esteem, encouragement should incorporate strengths as well.  Integrate family awareness and daily accountability.

More than 35% of teens with ADHD drop out of high school.  Parents, teachers, and school staff should know what 21st century education looks like to better advocate for their child/student.  Focus on both the present as well as the future.

What are your favorite strategies when you hit a roadblock?

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