Parenting a child with ADHD and/or learning differences often requires extra strength, time, and energy. Because life is harder for our kids, we take nothing for granted. We appreciate their triumphs more – whether it’s passing a test, making a friend, learning new skills, or positive feedback from a teacher. We feel enormous relief and pride when our children experience success. Our kids are precious. We have many more Parenting Help Articles Now Available.
We need to make sure they know everyday that they are loved and accepted. When times get tough or you feel stuck, here are some tips to help you along the road:
- Learn as much as possible about Attention Deficit Disorder. It’s impossible to have realistic expectations or advocate effectively for your kids unless you know what you’re facing.
- Have your child tested for both AD/HD and learning disabilities (LD) because the two commonly go together. People with learning disabilities have average to high intelligence, along with brains that work and learn differently. They often have problems in school because their learning styles are different from the majority of kids in the class. Teachers have to teach to the majority, so LD kids often get left behind. Your child can be tested privately or by the school psychologist.
- Once your child has been diagnosed, apply for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or Section 504 accommodations at school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were designed to ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to education and school activities. Eligibility for Section 504 is based on the existence of an identified physical or mental impairment that significantly impacts your child’s learning or behavior. Accommodations vary according to the child’s needs and are a tremendous help to “level the playing field.”
- Ask the school psychologist or learning specialist to advocate for your child. If you have your child tested through an outside agency, you may be able to find a professional who will meet with teachers about how your son or daughter can learn best. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Stay involved and develop partnerships with your child’s teachers. Work with the teacher to create a plan that keeps you aware of your child’s progress at school. Stand up for your child, educate the school staff about ADD, but try not to alienate the teacher. Remember that most teachers have your child’s best interests at heart, but may not fully understand the challenges of ADD and are often overwhelmed with too many students.
- Join a support group or online forum with other parents. Finding the opportunity to share your experiences with others who have ADD kids can be invaluable. Group members offer each other perspective, support, resources and good old fashioned advice.
- Use a comprehensive approach. If medication is recommended, research all the options. As well as traditional medications, there are alternative and complementary approaches to explore. Don’t stop with just medication and school support. What about good nutrition? Or exercise, which is crucial for discharging anger and hyperactivity. Get your kid on a sports team or encourage dance, martial arts or biking. Coaching can also help by teaching your child ADD friendly structures, systems and habits.
- Find balance in your life and your family. Save some energy for yourself, your marriage, and your other children. Something as simple as a walk with a friend can provide you with a fresh perspective. Make a date with your spouse at least once a month. And don’t forget that siblings also need praise and attention. If the ADD child gets all of your time, resentment can grow like a weed.
- Don’t blame yourself. Remember that ADD is a no fault disorder, like diabetes or near sightedness. Find some peace in the fact that you love your child and are doing the best you can.
- Look for the positive. When you’re feeling at the end of your rope, remind yourself of your children’s strengths, talents, and all the good things they offer you and your family. And remind them of their strengths as well!
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