Dear Parent of an ADHD Child

Hello and thanks for surviving the first quarter of the school year with me. Thanks for helping your kid read at home, thanks for coming into volunteer, thanks for being so awesome about getting your kid to school on time. Whatever you’ve done, thanks. You’re an awesome parent.

And yes, I know you have the extra challenge of having a child with ADHD.

And yes, I know your child is smart, capable, and funny. I know you hope for the best for him and seek out the best team to help support his or her educational goals.

I get it. I do my best not to blame your kid for his ADHD. ADHD runs in my family and if I bothered to go to a doctor for a diagnosis I’d probably find I have that or perhaps a true case of Tourette’s this time. I’m sorry if my humming tic sets your kid off in class sometimes.

I do my best to be patient with your kid, to work with his condition. I have wiggle seats, a fairly liberal bathroom and drink policy, fidget options. I let kids do their work on the floor, under tables. I try to keep assignments short and to the point. I try to break up work. I wait to give your child instructions when she’s looking at me, not because that’s what the ADHD blogs say to do but because this is really how most of the population communicates. I remind him to turn in projects. I help get stuff into her backpack. I have subtle reminders to keep him on task. I hold her accountable for his actions. I let all the students go out to recess, all of the recess, every single time.

I have read the letters floating around, asking for pretty much the above, the love and attention your ADHD kid needs.

And your kid rocks. Your kid is a hoot and, really, so clever. I’m happy having your kid in your classroom.

But, in case you don’t already know, your wonderful kid who struggles with ADHD is not at the top of my radar.

If you have a mental model of my classroom full of fairly typical, normal kids of stellar behavior plus your kid with all the ADHD stuff, please scrap that model.  Immediately.

Yes, your kid is a little different in that struggled with ADHD. But five classmates also have ADHD. Plus two kids with Sensory Processing Disorder. One more on the Autism spectrum. A few more with fairly significant learning disabilities. Not to mention kids who are homeless, have crappy home lives, or are just trying to get through your average boring childhood.

These kids are amazing and awesome, too. I’m happy having them in my classroom. But, remember, they’re in my classroom along with your kid and the ADHD.

Again, if your mental model says all the kids are angels without issues and then your kid is the exception, scrap the model.

Sometimes your kid’s impulsivity sets off the other kids with impulse control issues. Sometimes their impulsivity sets off your kid.

Your kid’s near-screaming volume has a negative affect on the kid with the sensory issues.

The kid who can’t read social cues may misinterpret your kid’s rough-and-tumble nature and get in your kid’s face. We’re working on that with both parties and I’m sorry it’s happening. Work in progress, you understand.

When the fidgets, hallway breaks, alternative seating, and all that fails to fully keep your kid in check and he starts juggling chairs or pretending she’s a rocket-firing robot, we have other kids jumping into the game or having PTSD episodes. Sometimes both. Many of these kids are struggling to control themselves, just like your kid.

Please don’t mistake me. I appreciate what your kid has to deal with and I’m doing my best to help. I’m open to suggestions, since you probably have a plethora of tips and tricks. And I’m sorry that my time and attention can’t go only to your child, not with this classroom.

It’s almost 2018. We don’t shy away from inclusion and teachers and professionals are developing a slew of ways to make inclusive classrooms work (plus a slew of ways to make special-ed only classrooms work even better). It’s a pretty cool frontier.

But it does mean your kid isn’t the only one.naughty_teens_1383900c



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