Step One: Identify the Problem
As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate. No one else is more vested in your child’s success.
The first thing you need to do is determine what condition is affecting your child's academic success. There are a number of potential explanations: ADHD, ADD, learning disabilities, or other issues. And there are assessments for this. Every kid is different. Your child’s teachers, his/her pediatrician, and the school can determine what kind of help is needed.
Request in writing that the school administer these assessments to your child. The school has the resources to administer these assessments or BCPS can send someone to the school to administer the assessments. If the process is moving too slowly, or you are concerned about a biased outcome, you can pay to have these assessments done by a therapist. A good therapist can help you figure out where your child is struggling and what kind of help is needed but beware that this route is very expensive.
Sample letter to request accommodations for ADHD students This article explains how to request an evaluation of your child from the school after a diagnosis of ADHD.
PsychCentral General tips for finding a therapist and what questions to ask.
Thrive Center This practice based in Columbia, MD, specializes in ADHD and comprehensive mental health care.
Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital The Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Services specializes in a variety of developmental delays and conditions, including ADHD.
CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder) This advocacy group maintains a resource directory for therapists and other specialists.
Psychology Today Search by zip code and then by specialty for providers in your area.
Step Two: Learn Everything You Can About ADHD
If through professional evaluation, you determine that your child has ADHD, you need to build a general base of knowledge about the condition. Understanding how your child processes information is essential to figuring out how to help them succeed in school and in life.
In days of old, “special education” was for children with learning difficulties who were struggling academically in school. Now, there are tons of so-called gifted-and-talented kids with ADHD or other learning disabilities. No one really knows how to handle them. It is common for teachers to think these children don’t need classroom accommodations because they are gifted. If this is your situation, it might help to do some reading on twice exceptional kids.
ADDitude One of the best all-around resources for parents of children with ADHD.
CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Children) An advocacy group with loads of resources.
LD.online An online resource for parents and educators about learning disabilities and ADHD.
ADHD & More: Essays, Articles, New Releases, My Story as a Parent of an ADHD Child
One parent's online "library" for ADHD resources, covering topics on identifying ADHD, understanding how the ADHD brain works, and other tips and topics.
What is Executive Function? This Web MD article explains executive function, which is a set of mental skills that ADHD people have challenges with this. This function manages time and attention, switches focus, plans and organizes, remembers details, curbs impulse, and more.
Attention Difference Disorder This is a great book for understanding the condition and how to focus on a child's strengths instead of deficiencies.
ADHD Toolbox for Parents Handy FAQ for parents covering the whats, hows, whys and whats next of ADHD.
Stay tuned for next week's host about how to get your child help in the classroom and at home.