STEP 7 Take an Active Role

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Supporting your child

Like many parents and caregivers, you want to do what's best for your child. It all starts with taking a leadership role in forming relationships and working with the various people who will be treating and educating your child.

It's been said that a child with ADHD will have the best chances for a successful school year if parents and caregivers are able to make these relationships positive, where parents/caregivers, and teachers work together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. Keep the lines of communication open with your child's teachers and all involved parties, including guidance counselors and other school support team members.

Of course, taking an active role does not come easily to everyone. It involves becoming more knowledgeable about ADHD and gaining more understanding of the needs of a child with ADHD.

Participating in team meetings

If your child is found eligible for learning accommodations, many states require that the school start with a planning meeting in which you and your child's teachers and other school support team members discuss your child's academic needs. To get the most from these meetings, consider these tips:

  • Prepare for meetings by learning about how your child is doing in school and what kinds of support and accommodations may be helpful and available.
  • Try to enter meetings with an open mind and a cooperative spirit.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Request a copy of any reports or paperwork discussed.
  • Take notes.
  • Bring someone with you, such as a family member or advocate.
  • Keep a file on your child that includes all copies of testing, reports, health records, and other important data.
  • Keep a log of communications with the school and others, including dates of doctor appointments and summaries of conversations.

Reviewing your child's learning plan

As a parent or legally authorized caregiver, you are entitled to review your child's Section 504 plan or IEP at any point during the school year. You may request an assessment of the plan or any services, programs, or special placements. Keep in close communication with your child's team to monitor progress and make changes as needed.

Teaching your child to become a self-advocate

Try getting your child to become a “self-advocate.” Get the child involved in setting and working toward educational goals from the get-go. Being a self-advocate means things like:

  • Offering input on accommodations
  • Choosing goals that match his or her interests and skills
  • Developing a plan to attain his or her goals, evaluate his or her performance, and make adjustments as needed

Realistically, your child will not achieve independence overnight. It's a process that can take many years. It's better to involve the child sooner than later, for the earlier he or she takes an active role, the more engaged he or she is likely to be, and the more satisfied you may be.

Granted, you'll need a good dose of patience and excellent communication skills. The more your child feels a sense of control, though, the more he or she will feel able to solve problems and take charge of his or her life. Ultimately, you're encouraging your child to become more self-reliant and in control.