Advocating Effectively for a Child with ADD

Advocating Effectively for a Child with ADD
Many parents wait until after the Winter Break to try to get classroom help for their child with Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe the child isn't doing well in school, but parents want to see if the child and the teachers can turn the situation around in a positive way. Then, there are school discussions with teachers and administrators about what to do with the struggling student. Too soon, it is the end of the year, and there is still not a plan in place to deal with the Attention Deficit Disorder that is dragging the child's class work down. Summer is a happy time! Everybody feels great about the summer experiences that they shared. School starts with a feeling of optimism, but the workload quickly becomes a problem. The process from the previous year repeats itself. Sometimes years can drift by before a child gets the accommodations that can make a difference in his school life. How can a parent effectively advocate for their child? Here are some suggestions.

Educate yourself-know the law:
Let the internet be your friend, but use reliable sources. Links that end in .org, .gov, or .edu are usually more reliable than .com sites. Here are a couple of links to get you started:

This link from the U. S. Department of Education helps to walk you through the IEP (Individualized Education Program) process.
U. S. Department of Education IEP Guide

This website, Understood-for learning and attention issues, is an outstanding resource! The 10 Common Myths About Your Child's Rights have clickable links in each slide to enhance your understanding of the concept being discussed. Navigation on this site is user friendly. You can explore the differences between a 504 Plan and an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and what each can do for your child. Especially if you are a newbie to the special ed world, this is a must-read.
Understood-for learning and attention issues

Find a place to get your questions answered:
Again, use reliable sources. I did a google search. As my search parameters I used this phrase: school advocate Kansas City area. Immediately, seven good choices popped up. They were dot org, not dot com. If you do not live in a metropolitan area, try using the name of your county or state as part of the search criteria. Also, you can go to an outstanding site,, to get questions answered. Wrightslaw is a trusted and experienced group of disability advocates with a lot of searchable resources on their site.

Communicate with the school in writing:
Send an e-mail or letter; don't use the phone. Keep a positive tone. Always ask for a response, so that you can document that your concerns were received. Follow up! If the person that you are trying to communicate with does not respond in a reasonable amount of time, send another request. If there is still no response, go one step up the ladder. Also put that request in writing. Here are some ways to make an e-mail effective:
Effective e-mails to the school

If there is a dispute, send a letter and make sure that it gets there. Here are some examples of what to do:
Sample letters for dispute resolution

If the school makes a statement that you believe to be incorrect, ask them to put the statement in writing. Have them show you the applicable law that they are citing or the basis for their statement.
Advocating for a child with ADD

Addressing your child's educational needs as early as possible increases the chances for obtaining better educational outcomes for that child. In a study from 2012, it was stated, "A study from the University of California - Davis found that nearly one-third of students with ADHD drop out or delay their high school graduation." When you understand that statistics show that many of our students with Attention Deficit Disorder delay their high school degree by dropping out of high school, you can see why early intervention is a must.

Kids who lose foundational knowledge in grade school, due to inattention and hyperactivity, find the demands of high school classes more challenging. Basic information and study processes are learned in elementary and middle school. Kids who don't learn what they need to know in those grades feel lost in high school. They may believe that the academic bar is too high and that they can never jump over it. Early intervention is crucial in helping them to become effective students. The way that they get that early intervention is by having an effective advocate who makes sure that the student gets the accommodations that he needs. A parent can be that advocate.

Related links: The Related Links below this article may be of interest to you.

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You Should Also Read:
Help Educators Understand ADD
Attention Deficit Disorder and a New School Year
Finding Hope for Kids with ADD

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This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.