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ADHD in Children Health Center

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How to Work With Your ADHD Child's School

Team Up With Your Child's Teacher continued...

Volunteer. "Help out in the classroom, or donate supplies," says Jennifer Helm, a mother of two kids with ADHD in La Verne, CA. Become known as someone who's helpful and an all-around asset to the school. The teacher will appreciate it.

If you and your child's teacher butt heads, you may want to give up and talk to the principal. But don't go down that road unless you've tried everything else, Helm says. It can backfire -- and your child could pay the price if you're feuding with their teacher. Instead, focus on working with the teacher, not around them.

How Schools Can Help

Once you've got a partnership with your child's teacher, and maybe the school psychologist or a counselor, work together to come up with a plan to manage your child's behavior. Some parents keep these agreements loose. But more formal arrangements can be a good idea.

A 504 plan guarantees that kids with certain disabilities get "special accommodations" in the classroom to help them learn. The accommodations depend on the child. Even small changes can help a lot, Lougy says. A 504 plan might allow a fidgety kid to stand instead of sit at his desk, or give him extra time for schoolwork.

Some kids with ADHD get help from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under this federal law, your child has access to special education and an IEP, or individualized education program. An IEP covers more than a 504 plan, but it's also more complicated. It might also mean your child won't be in the regular classroom.

"I generally try to get a kid with ADHD onto a 504 plan first to see how that goes," Brock says. "If it doesn't work, then we consider an IEP."

Changing schools is an option, too. But Lougy only recommends that route if the child is having very serious problems with conduct, bullying, or safety. It can also be a good choice if your child has other problems besides ADHD, such as learning disabilities, depression, or anxiety.

A new school should be a last resort. It could make things worse. "Kids don't like to change schools," Lougy says. "It's hard on them emotionally and often academically."

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