Any way you look at it, returning to school is a stressful time for families, but families with students challenged (and gifted) with ADHD face much bigger hurdles. A person with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that cause inattentive, distracted, disorganized and hyperactive behavior. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD.
Many families who are faced with multiple challenges associated with ADHD find that medication is the best alternative when learning and behavior become impaired. For families with ADHD students who do and do not utilize medication, there are proactive ways to modify behavior that help ease the transition back to school.
You know the importance of goal setting but picking too big a goal can be discouraging to both you and your ADHD child. Start the year off with one or two realistic goals and break them down into attainable steps. For example, if you want your child to do better in English, ask yourself first how success will be measured – in grades, in turned- in assignments or overall attitude. Meeting a series of small goals (i.e. less missed assignments, or gradually better grades), each month will help both you and your child see success as you move toward the larger goal.
Parents of ADHD kids must understand that communication with the school is vital to their child’s success. Most schools are using applications like “Remind” and “ClassDojo” to communicate daily with parents. Throughout the week, you can also access your child’s daily progress by checking “PowerSchool” or “MISTAR.” Most schools have some sort of online platform that list assignments, grades, attendance, etc. Accountability is necessary to keep ADHD kids on track.
As your student gets older, assignments and links to homework also start showing up on “Google Classroom”. This is a great opportunity to stay linked into your child’s assignments, view work in progress and maintain integrity as far as work completed.
You can also email your child’s teacher through the school website to express concerns or ask questions. Many teachers will email you back and thank you for reaching out. If all else fails, reach out to the Department of Special Education and get familiar with the resources available in your school district.
To succeed in life, all children require proactive ways to navigate their school day and attain appropriate social and emotional development. A parent’s ability to teach problem-solving skills will boost self-esteem and help their child feel in control. One way is to ask your child what makes it hard for them to succeed and then come up with a few ways to tackle the problem. Build in a timeline and monitor for progress. Encourage your child to see that every day is an opportunity to “re-set” and “start-over.”
Many successful adults with ADHD reflect stories of academic difficulties, peer rejection and low self- esteem during childhood. Most agree that without the support of caregivers who celebrated their unique gifts and talents, they may never have gone on to achieve greatness in music, acting, sports, medicine, and many other fields. Neuroscience suggests that the creative, flexible and atypical thinking of the ADHD brain lends itself to higher levels of determination, observation, and energy for life’s challenges.
This fall, Community Care Services will be hosting a free Parent Summit held on the second Thursday of the month beginning Sept. 12 hosted at our Club House at 1605 Fort Street, Lincoln Park Michigan from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. This quarter, our summit topic is: A Youth in Motion: Parenting the ADHD child. Register here or visit www.comcareserv.org for more information.
Laura Boros MA LLP has been a master level psychologist in the downriver area for the past 14 years and has been with Community Care Services since 2014 where she currently serves as the School-Based Coordinator.