Families might not be well-versed in ADHD, even though the behaviors exhibited at school are often on display at home, too. Not understanding ADHD can take a toll on relationships between families, teachers and children with ADHD. Practitioners can lend a hand by having a combined session with parents and teachers to discuss what ADHD is and how it might manifest.
In other words, what does it mean if a student is “acting out?” Blaming the student for their behavior can feel like the right solution. But in a lot of cases involving ADHD, it's out of their control. The goal of a meeting is to help foster healthy relationships between educators, caregivers and children, and that starts with education.
Letting families know they are not alone can be helpful: Nearly 10% of kids aged 3 to 17 were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That rate is likely higher today, given the recent increase in referrals for ADHD assessment.
Educators can also talk with caregivers about how ADHD might affect their child’s executive function, which is an umbrella term for a wide spectrum of mental tasks that help us plan, remember, focus and multitask. Specific academic challenges related to executive function include:
- Organizational issues, such as problems initiating, staying focused and sustaining attention to finish a task.
- Poor time management skills or difficulty estimating time.
- Struggles with memory, comprehension and material retention.
- Difficulty managing emotions, which can lead them to miss what’s going on academically.
Explaining these gaps to a family can help them see how a multi-step project like essay writing can be especially difficult — and frustrating — for their child since it requires all those skills.
The conversation can include suggesting families seek a diagnosis and/or pursue medication interventions. If a diagnosis has already been obtained, it’s a good idea to review the type of interventions a student is receiving and the related expectations, such as those for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as compared to a 504 plan.
By holding a meeting to level set, educators and families can work collaboratively toward the optimal approaches to ADHD support.