ADHD · Parenting · school

How to Request a School Evaluation for your ADHDer

There are times in everyone’s lives when you have to make the hard decision.  A choice that you know is not going to win you any friends but in the end, it is the right decision to make.

I think this is the third blog I’ve done about my negotiations with the school.  Read more about it here and here.  Today I’m telling all of you I have made the decision to request a school evaluation for my ADHDer.  I know this isn’t going to win me any friends at the school…and this is a hard thing for me to do because I am a people pleaser.  But you know when you just have this feeling deep down inside that this is the right (although unpopular) path to take…that’s where I am.  It helps that I got validation from a few other experts that this is worth the fight.

So all my fellow ADHD warriors…here is my research on the best way to request a school evaluation:

There’s no Reason to Reinvent the Wheel

If you too have made the decision to pursue a formal evaluation from your kiddos school, Understood has assembled this fabulous collection of templates to walk you through the process.  Don’t forget to document, document, document!!

Someone just Point me in the Right Direction

Another quick read from Understood with a numbered list to get you through the requesting process.  I LOVE me a good check list!  I like their suggestions on follow through…too often I go through all the steps but fall short of following up.

One More Template for Ya…

This request for assessment is sort of a catch-all that combines a few of the one above.  Warmline is an organization I just found…seems like a gem:)

 

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Have you navigated through the school evaluation process?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

ADHD · school

IEPs, 504s and ADHD…OH MY! (Part 2)

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with their friends and family.  I’ve got to be honest with the holiday and one kid coming down with mono I’ve been a bit behind on doing my research for our upcoming IEP meeting.

And the big day was supposed to be today!  YIKES!!

I’ve just requested an extension but in the meantime here’s where I’m at:

Last week I described what was going on with our IEP process.  My biggest concern at the moment is Pickles’ executive functioning skills and how this will play out into junior high and beyond.  This week I’ve dove deeper into Wrightslaw.  An amazing resource that you need to check out if you haven’t done so already. (I purchased their Second Edition Law ebook and I’ve only made it to the 4th of 12 chapters)

Here are a few things that have stood out for me:

  1. The mission statement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is, “. . . to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living . . . [and] to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected . . .”
    • Preparing them for further education should include transitioning into upper grades.
  2. After reviewing 2 court notable cases for special education in the 1970s Congress wrote, “Parents of handicapped children all too frequently are not able to advocate the rights of their children because they have been erroneously led to believe that their children will not be able to lead meaningful lives . . . . It should not . . . be necessary for parents throughout the country to continue utilizing the courts to assure themselves a remedy ”
    • It’s interesting and disheartening to note that generations of parents before me have had to take their fight up to the highest level of our judicial system.
  3. Under IDEA a child with a disability is defined as “not automatically eligible for special education and related services under IDEA. The key phrase is “who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.” Does the child’s disability adversely affect educational performance? To be eligible for a free, appropriate public education under the IDEA, the child must meet both criteria.  If a child has a disability but does not need “special education and related services,” the child will not be eligible under IDEA but may be eligible for protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
    • I need to find a special education related service to meet the needs of my daughter in order to justify her IEP.
  4. I’ve spoken with friends that are both general education and special education teachers.  While they understand my concern for lagging executive function skills moving forward, nobody has the secret sauce for securing her IEP.
    • Do I just sign and agree to move to a 504?  I haven’t given up hope but I’m definitely feeling frustrated.

 

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Anyone else out there have advice on how to keep an IEP?

ADHD · school

IEPs and 504s and ADHD….OH MY!!!

I’m feeling a bit like Dorthy right now.  Lost and scared about the journey I am on.  Which path should I choose?

I am at a crossroad with the education plan for my daughter.  As many of you know Pickles is diagnosed with ADHD but speech articulation delays qualified her for an IEP at her elementary school.  About a month ago I received a call from her speech teacher informing me that Pickles had met all of her speech goals.  Seems like a reason for celebration right?

Wrong!  Of course, I’m thrilled that her language skills have improved (she no longer sounds like she comes from the East Coast).  Her speech IEP created a legal document with the school district to provide services to improve her speech and accommodations for her ADHD.  Unfortunately, now that her speech services are ending this agreement will terminate.

“What about a 504?”  This is the question I hear over and over.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 focuses on accommodations, modifications, services, and improved building accessibility to provide access to education.  Section 504 does not require public schools to provide an educational program that is individualized to meet the needs of a disabled child with the goal of enabling the child to become independent and self-sufficient. A Section 504 Plan does not have the protections that are available to the child who has an IEP.

In other words, a 504 will provide the accommodations we currently have in place with her IEP.   It doesn’t set up a system of checks and balances that will ensure these accommodations lead to a successful future for my daughter.

Two years ago when I was faced with the same decision (speech services ending and the school wanting to move to a 504) I signed the paperwork without a second thought.  Now that I know more I’m questioning this decision.  I don’t want to make the wrong one!

The problem is she is having a great school year.  She has friends, her grades are good and she was just nominated the student of the month by her teacher.  I know this is a good problem to have….but I can’t help but see the irony that she has to be failing before special education law/reform identify the need to keep services in place.

I’m in the early phases of educating myself on the nuances of all of this.  I’ve already spent several hours reading up on special education law.  It is my hope that I can break this down in a way that is easy (or a little less intimidating) for all of us to understand.  “Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.”

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What are your experiences with IEPs and 504s?  Please share in the comments below.

 

ADHD · school

What is an Accommodation and Why do I Need One?

Eye exams are pretty routine throughout childhood.  If you fail an eye exam, you get glasses.  Nobody really thinks twice about it.  You might suffer a few “four eyes” comments but I think kids with glasses are adorable.  Glasses are a tool to improve vision.

Now imagine if your child has a learning disability or struggles to stay focused in class.  You would want to provide the tools to access learning along with their peers.  These are called accommodations.  According to Understood.org accommodations remove barriers to learning.  They don’t change what your child is learning but how they are learning it.

For example, if your child has trouble sitting still and focusing while the teacher is talking a stretchy band around the legs of their chair is an accommodation.  They can kick the band to get the wiggles out in an unobtrusive way and the movement will help them maintain focus.  This accommodation is a win for the entire class.  It helps the student stay focused and reduces the disruptions for both the teacher and the classroom.

Before Pickles was diagnosed with ADHD I didn’t understand accommodations.  I felt sorry for those kids who were asked to sit outside the group at carpet time in Kindergarten.  I had no idea that their special cushion was giving them the sensory feedback their body needed.  Now I know how to seek out the tools my kids need to excel.  Here are a few things that have worked for us:

  • gum (the old school bubble gum that makes them work really hard to chew)
  • noise canceling headphones for testing
  • preferential seating in the classroom
  • squeezy balls
  • a separate area for testing
  • teacher redirects

In honor of ADHD awareness month, I’m participating in a fundraiser to purchase accommodations for Eureka School District.  Please click here for more info.

 

ADHD · school

How to Get the Homework Done and Still Like your Kid (Part 2)

As I trudged downstairs this morning half asleep I almost tripped over the pile of books and binders that surrounded my daughter’s backpack.  I give her credit because while messy at least all the school supplies made it to the right staging area for this morning’s rush hour.

Last night was one of those nights.  After school (2 pickup times), I dropped my son and his friend at soccer practice.  Quickly buzzed out to the dance studio where I sat with my daughter in the homework zone for as long as possible until I had to leave and do some speed grocery shopping.  I ordered dinner from DoorDash while I waited in traffic.  Barely made it home in time to meet my son after he was dropped off.  Fed him dinner while I unpacked groceries and then ran him off to tutoring.  We didn’t get home until 7:30 and still had to shower, feed the other half of the family and finish homework.

Whew, that makes me tired just writing that paragraph.   So, let’s take a closer look at that last step HOMEWORK!  I took a look at the struggles we’ve faced with my younger son last week.  Today I want to explore the challenges we face with my oldest (5th grader).

Pickles (not her real name) has been diagnosed with ADHD.  She has always been a solid student but her diagnosis has led to trouble with Executive Function skills.  I’m going to break down this excellent video with what works for us.

YES!

  • Refuel with a healthy snack (my kids come home from school ravenous, I arrive at school pickup armed with snacks)
  • Review each task as completed (actually, I review the entire nights’ work at the end then we go through and make corrections together)
  • Every 20 minutes take a break & move (if she is churning through the homework I don’t interrupt but if she’s starting to lose focus or get frustrated it’s break time)
  • They nailed it on the project slide!  (Parenting ADHD takes special attention to long-term planning.  I make Pickles break down projects into smaller tasks and we write these into her school planner)

This Doesn’t Work for Us…

  • Confirm teacher will post assignments to the website (This is certainly something you could work through on an IEP or 504plan.  At the moment, if Pickles forgets an assignment we text our classmates for help.)
  • Start homework within 1 hour (in an ideal world YES!  Most days Pickles goes straight from school to the dance studio. One thing we have done is take the homework with us and use the downtime before class starts to get some done.)
  • Interrupt daydreams (Pickles prefers to do her homework in her room.  I’m ok with it taking a little longer so she has time to get lost in her thoughts.)

As you know I think ADDitude is a leading authority on how to parent ADHD.  This homework system is rock solid but when applied to the real world it starts to crumble a bit.  Hopefully, I gave you some workarounds to keep it all together.

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What homework hacks do you use in your household?  Please share in the comments below.

Parenting · school

How to Get the Homework Done and Still Like your Kid (Part 1)

“NOOOOOO” he screams from the top of his lungs while throwing his body to the floor.  He gets up and starts to hit me.  Not hard but just enough so that I know that he is mad.  I take the abuse while giving him several warnings.  If he doesn’t stop he will eventually end up in timeout.

What caused this massive meltdown?  Nope, I didn’t take away his screen time.  I simply said, “It’s time to do homework.”  It’s not always this extreme but some version of this meltdown plays out multiple times per week in our house.

The battle lines are drawn around homework in so many homes around the world but I know this is extreme.  My son is a sweetheart and a cuddle-bug but homework brings out the worst in him.  Why do I put up the abuse?  I know we are working on it.

I’ve discussed the issue with his counselor and we are formulating a game plan.  My son has battled anxiety and there is a strong history of ADHD in our family.  Here are some strategies we are working on:

  1. Creating an environment for studying.  There are some good ideas here.
  2. Make it fun!  He was thrilled when we practiced spelling words by letting him draw the letters in salt that was poured into a cookie sheet.  Here’s a resource for more ways to mix it up..
  3. Let go a little.  Since he’s my second child I have learned to losen the reigns a bit.  Not everything has to be perfect.  As long as most of the work is getting done perfection isn’t worth the battle.

That’s all for right now for my little guy.  BABY STEPS!  I’ve shared an idea here before on how to use visual reminders.  Next week I will share some strategies that we use for homework with my older daughter.

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What homework headaches do you face with your ADHD kiddo?  Please feel free to share in the comments below.