Parent Concerns Regarding ADHD Identification
Should parents trust the school system to catch ADHD in their child?
Answer: By and large, our school systems have not handled the problem of ADHD well. Many teachers still don't recognize the problem exists, or even know what the term means. For years I have visited classrooms to inform teachers about ADHD. I have often returned to the same schools later to discover many teachers who have never heard of the term. The frequent mention of ADHD on television and radio, and in newspapers and magazines, has improved name recognition of the problem at least, but the schools still do not serve the needs of the children who have ADHD. So parents should not expect the school system to diagnose the problem- but we hope that teachers and school administrators will become more adept at seeing the problem and referring children to appropriate resources for help.
Where will the help for the children come from, if not from schools?
Answer: The children who do best are those whose parents have identified the problem and who are advocates for their children—advocates not in a negative way, but parents who see that their children are appropriately assessed and who build on their strengths by working with them at home, and giving them the extra educational opportunities they might not otherwise get in the school system alone.
What percentage of parents are doing this?
Answer: A fairly small percentage, maybe 25%-30% of the parents of children who have this problem, work with their children. It is amazing what extra support kids can get from their parents, especially if the parents get involved. I know of a child who has Down's Syndrome. Her parents were told not to expect much from their daughter, but they chose to work extensively with her from infancy into early adulthood. She was given multisensory physical training and patterning from infancy, and during school years her mother attended school with her every day through the eighth grade. This was required by the school system, because the parents elected not to follow school recommendations to place their daughter in special education, but chose instead to have her mainstreamed in a regular classroom, and the school permitted this only if the mother agreed to be present every day (and all day) in the presence of her child.
As a result of parental involvement and dedication to this child's education, she was able to keep up with her peers in most subjects, and now as a young adult works as a secretary in her father's office. Her skills far exceed the expectations for an individual with Down's Syndrome. Similar opportunities exist for most children, regardless of limitations or impairments. Intimate parental connections with children always enhance outcomes and often enable children to excel beyond their usual expectations.
If parents really want their children to become the most they can become, then they need to be involved and share the responsibilities of the educational process with teachers and schools. The rewards will be higher academic performance, increased self-esteem, more intimate connections with their children- priceless gifts that cannot be purchased except with involvement.
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