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If your child has already been evaluated, diagnosed, and treated for ADHD, be sure to tell his or her teachers. Teachers can use this information to help your child succeed. Even if your child has not yet entered school, it can be very helpful to share information about your child’s diagnosis and treatment with his or her preschool teacher or caregiver.
When you talk with teachers:
- Ask if your child is having any problems in school or on the playground.
- Say that your child has ADHD, a common childhood illness.
- List any medications your child takes.
- Explain any other treatments, such as behavior therapy.
- Find out if your child can get any special services to help with learning.
Requesting a School Evaluation
If your child has not been diagnosed with ADHD and you suspect he or she has it, you can ask the school to do an ADHD evaluation. Although some parents choose to consult a doctor or mental health professional outside the school system, you may instead ask your local school district to handle the evaluation. Some states require schools to do this if the symptoms are affecting the child’s school work and interactions with students and teachers. (Any decisions regarding medication, however, are for the family to make, in consultation with their physician.)
To request an evaluation by the school, consider asking your child’s teacher whom to contact.
- Make your request in writing.
- Include your name, your child’s name, the date, and your reason for requesting an evaluation.
- Keep a copy of the letter for your own files.
Until the last few years, many school systems were reluctant to evaluate a child for ADHD. Recent laws make it clear, however, that schools must agree to do an evaluation if ADHD could be adversely affecting the child’s school performance. If you need help negotiating with the school, ask a local parent support group or your state Protection & Advocacy agency. To locate your state Protection & Advocacy agency, contact the Center for Mental Health Services at 800-789-2647 or visit their website at www.samhsa.gov.You can also contact Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (www.chadd.org)
Special Education Services
In addition to talking with the teacher about your child’s ADHD, it can be helpful to talk with a guidance counselor at the school. Some children with ADHD get tutoring or counseling at school.
If your ADHD child qualifies for special education services, the school must design an Individualized Education Program (IEP). In planning this program, the school must assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and work with you.You should be allowed to review your child’s IEP periodically and approve it.
Tell your doctor about any services that the school provides. This will help you and your doctor figure out the best treatment plan for your child.
Helping Your Child Stay Organized
- Schedule the day. Have the same routine each weekday, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include homework time, outdoor and indoor playtime, and family mealtimes. Post the schedule on your refrigerator or a bulletin board in the kitchen. When you need to make a change, try to schedule it as far in advance as possible.
- Organize essential items. Designate places for your child’s clothing, backpack, and school supplies. Keep everything in its place.
- Use home work and notebook organizers. Stress the importance of writing down assignments and bringing books home that will be needed.
- Provide structure and praise. Children with ADHD need consistent rules that they can understand and follow. When your child follows rules correctly, offer small rewards. Children with ADHD often receive criticism, so they expect negative feedback. Look for good behavior and praise it.
- List household chores. Include space for your child to check off a chore after completing it.
Sample Chore Charts
|Set Dinner Table|
|Take Out Garbage|