Behavior: The Ongoing Misunderstanding in ADHD
Two years ago, I went to a school meeting with a client whose son, seven years old at the time, was diagnosed with ADHD. There were concerns about behavior in the classroom and if it might be needed to send the child out of district to a different school in order to improve this impairment of ADHD.
Behavior many times, when the child with ADHD is young, is the center of much misinformation and confusion. It is generally thought that behavior can be controllable if there is discipline involved. The impulsivity characteristic of ADHD can create behaviors that are not acceptable. But it is how a behavior plan is set up that can positively manage our childrens’ behavior both in and out of the classroom.
Last week, this same client reached out to me again.
The principal had decided that this meeting needed to occur in order to provide information supporting her reasons for wanting this nine year old to be transferred to an in district school where social skills and behavior are addressed. The mom asked me if I would attend. She had visited this school two years ago and saw children of varying ages and grade levels, with behaviors that at times were quite disruptive and not conducive to learning. She told me that her son was doing great academically but that the principal’s comments on her son’s success was quite different than that of the teacher’s, whose comments portrayed a child who was improving and achieving success.
The meeting consisted of a display of much negativity: six suspensions, descriptions of melt downs, lack of communication by the school, and a very upset mom who was doing a great job at advocating for her son. She disputed the principal’s comments that her son’s behavior has been escalating…and asked what could be happening, since in every other environment her son is able to function successfully. He has friends in his neighborhood, he has a tutor who says he listens and does well, and he plays various sports.
When I asked if this child’s behavior was assessed for triggers for behavior, I was told that there were none that they could determine. When I asked if the school had looked at behaviors that created the suspensions in order to fine tune the current behavior plan, I was met with hesitation and eventually an answer of no.
Although the mom is still being asked to look at this other program, the school has agreed to look at the behavior plan and revise accordingly. The mom will bring in a behaviorist who will be her “eyes” and assess from a perspective other than the school’s what is triggering unwanted behavior. This will allow for a more effective and positive behavior plan.
Difficult behavior is a manifestation of ADHD and can and should be dealt with in this school. Its easy to give up and call this child a bad kid. But he has a mom who is advocating for him; no easy task when she is sitting in a room with school officials who look at her and her son with some criticism and disdain. ADHD is a medical diagnosis that when treated appropriately, can allow for academic and social success….and just as importantly, a healthy self-esteem that carries a child for a life time.
Karen K Lowry, R.N.,M.S.N.
ADHD Coach, AAC
Parent2Parent ADHD Family Trainer for CHADD
Author, “The Seventh Inning Sit: A Journey of ADHD”
Tags: ADHD , Medical Diagnosis , Advocacy , Education , Behavior
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