Aug 14, 2006

Children with ADHD & the Transition into Middle School

School related problems often escalate when ADHD kids enter middle school. The transition can be stressful for the best of students, but for a child with an "invisible" disability such as ADHD, it can be traumatic. Parents, teachers, and students have to team up to address problems before they escalate. Without intervention, there's plenty that can go wrong:
  • Staying Organized: Necessary skills such as keeping planners, filing papers, and remembering books do not develop naturally. In ADHD kids, these are skills that must be taught. Without them, grades suffer.
  • ADHD kids are easily distracted: Getting to class on time, several times a day as one must do in middle school and high school, can be particularly challenging.
  • ADHD kids look like their peers: They blend in. It is not uncommon to find educators who consider the disorder an "excuse" for immature behavior rather than the neurobiology disorder it is. Without intervention, teachers and administrators may simply label the child as a troublemaker.
  • Educate the child: Students with ADHD need to be able to advocate for themselves. In order to do this, they must understand ADHD and its impact on learning.
  • Educate the teachers about ADHD: Proactive measures such as introducing the child to teachers can be an efficient way to help both teacher and child. By the time the child reaches high school, many parents of ADHD kids can be burned out on meetings with teachers, but it's important to keep renewing the commitment to the child's success.
  • Give medication a good try: ADHD is a medical condition, medication is one of the primary therapies, but trial and error may be necessary. Not everyone with ADHD responds to the standard ADHD medication, but those who do, along with their families, agree it works wonders.
  • Create a home routine: Since starting and finishing tasks is so difficult for people with ADHD, routines are a good way to teach the critical cognitive skills needed for school success: organizing, starting and finishing work, and planning.

(Adapted from Pro-Parents "Reach Out" quarterly newsletter, summer 2006 issue)

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