Being a parent with a child that suffers from ADD/ADHD is tough and challenging to say the least. Beginning in pre-school I experienced back lash from the teachers about my son’s behavior and impulsiveness. It didn’t take long before I noticed my son was being treated different. First, it was missing out on play time, and then it was being excluded from certain activities, but when it went on to exclude him from field trips I lost it. I realized my child was being punished because he didn’t fit into some kind of mold. All I could think about was his little feelings being hurt, because being excluded made him stand out or feel like something was wrong with him. Although that bothered me, more importantly he was missing out on learning activities because the teachers felt he wasn’t worthy of a little bit more effort.
I didn’t stand back quietly and stew in my anger, I went to the director of the pre-school and expressed by concern. She informed me that it could be possible that my 4 year old son had ADHD and I should have him check by a physician. The pre-school felt they had the right to exclude children from activities that might distract the teachers from the other children. “WHAT”, is the first word that came out of my mouth? I was startled when I heard this and felt it explain a lot of things, however it was not a good enough excuse to dismiss their treatment of my son. I asked her if there was a policy that excluded or disallowed children with ADHD to attend their pre-school. She told me “No” there wasn’t. Okay then, I asked “What is the problem”? If children with ADHD are allowed to attend the pre-school and you have no problem accepting my payment fees, then why aren’t you willing to accommodate my child? I refuse to allow your school to make him feel bad about himself or feel not as good as the other children due to a disability. I look back now and regret walking away from that situation. My son was getting ready to start kindergarten so I pulled him out of the pre-school and didn’t look back.
That summer as my son was getting ready to start kindergarten. I took him to his pediatrician and received the diagnoses of ADHD. It was bitter sweet to say the least. His pediatrician shared a wealth of information with me and we talked about putting him on medications. I wasn’t sure that was the route I wanted to go, but I was open to it at the same time. I didn’t want my child to fail. I wanted him to do well and fit in and if the medicine helped I was interested. The Dr. felt it was important for the young children to receive treatment using medication because it helped them focus on learning. The Dr. convinced me that if a child falls behind academically in 1st, 2d and 3d grade it is very hard for them to catch up. Once they fall behind they will give up and dislike going to school. This made sense to me. It didn’t hurt knowing it would also help with his behavior in the class room and he might not be so distracting to the teacher. I love him, you know and I want to give him every chance to be successful.
My son’s first year in school as a kindergartner went smooth enough, not altogether perfect, but OK. There were a bit of ups and downs with the medicines, but his teacher didn’t give me too much negative feedback. He tested at the same levels as the other kindergartners and this made me happy. It wasn’t until 1st grade that everything hit the fan; I yanked my son out of a school and made the decision to stand up for him becoming his biggest advocate. Since making myself a strong presence at his new school with teachers and principals, life has got better for the both of us and the school staff. Let me explain.
When my son started 1st grade at his old school I made an appointment to meet with his teacher before school started. I wanted to spend time with her to talk about my son. I wanted her to know what to expect from him, I wanted her to know what I expected from him and I needed her to know what I expected from her. First and foremost I expressed that my son deserved to have an education and to be in an environment that he felt safe in. I shared with her that we might have to play around with the medicine until we found the right one and the right dose to help him get through his day. I explained my son’s having ADHD didn’t give him a free pass to disrupt the class, but it was a disability that would require some measure of understanding. I knew right then and there she could care less about his disability, but hoped for the best.
It was less than 2 months before I un-enrolled my son from the school and found myself angrier than I’d ever been. My son had brought home the red light slips on a daily basis for a couple of weeks. Parents of school age kids know what this is, Green is good, yellow is a warning and Red is bad, off to the principal’s office you go. To top it off, he wasn’t bringing any homework home. I had heard from the after school day care teacher that his 1st grade teacher had come to the center and snatched him up bringing him back to the class room for something. My blood boiled. The next morning when I went to confront her about this, she informed me that my son was under contract and had been sent to the principal’s office every day for the last 2 weeks, within the first hour of school. “What” I demanded an answer to this and why I had not been notified about it and more importantly, why had she snagged hold of my son under any circumstances?
My son was 6 years old. I didn’t get anywhere with his teacher or with the principal. Don’t get me started on the music teacher, he wasn’t even allowed to join in this activity anymore, because he ran out of her class one too many times. He told me he did it because she was mean to him. She would discipline him harshly in front of all his peers until she made them hate him (in his words). When I first asked my son about this I wondered by he had not told me before. He said it was because he was afraid I would hate him too. I cried so hard, no one had the right to make my son feel that bad. He wasn’t bad tempered, mean or aggressive, he not bit, hit, yells or steals, he was hyper. They were making him think he was bad or not good enough. He had ADHD and needed an adjustment to his medication, some patients and a little understanding.
I needed to enroll my son in a new school. I decided to make appointments at all the neighboring schools in my area. I first met with the principals of the school. I wanted to know how they worked with the children who ADHD. I asked about the Special Ed teachers, the 1st grade teachers and everyone in between. I went as far to talk to the office staff to see if they were caring and compassionate or the “Meany” at the front desk. At the school I enrolled him in I liked what I heard. First of all, the kids with ADHD did not receive red, yellow and green lights; instead they received a yes/no check mark for each period of the day. What makes this so positive is that the child and parent can see from period to period how well the child did. Sometime he would get a no check in the middle of the daqy and be able to re-focus and get back on track the next period. Instead of judging a whole day as red, green or yellow my son was rewarded for each period of the day. On day’s he received 2 or 3 no’s we would talk about and see if we could make improvements in that area. Usually the no’s were in the same period. It made it possible for him to focus on improving in the area. My son improved very quickly using this method and quickly came home with all Yes days for months.
On the days my son received all Yes check marks (which became more and more frequent) he would be sent to the principal’s office for a special reward and positive reinforcement (who would have though such a thing). His new teacher worked with both of us when we came across troubled areas. My son would have a hard time and start to be disruptive when she would give class instructions, then complain he did not get it. If he would disrupt her too much he would get nervous and try to leave the class room. How did she solve this problem? Simple. She gave my son a pair of headphones and scratch paper to draw while she gave instructions to the class. Once she was finished she would give him one on one instructions and he would go to work on the assignment. Should teachers be expected to give a child this special treatment? Why not? It took only a moment, it prevented him distracting her and the rest of the class, it made him happy and confident he knew what he needed to do on the assignment.
I don’t want to say that I walked into a school and told them how to treat my son with ADHD, however instead of sitting back and dreading the end of each school day I took a different approach. I involved myself in his school experience. I promised myself I would never again let any educator rob my son of his right to education and a safe environment to study. I will now and always be my son’s biggest advocate when it comes to school. Every year there will a new challenge and a new teacher to get to know. My son will need to work with the teacher and she will need to work with him. He is worth every bit of effort and I hope that all the other mom’s out there with children suffering with ADHD get on board. We don’t have to accept that are children get short changed or are left with feeling of little self worth.
This is a great website for parents and teachers on ADHD click here
Source My personal Experience