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ADHD in Girls

7 year old newly diagnosed HELP

Our 1st grader was newly diagnosed with ADHD combined with inattention & hyperactivity. Can someone please tell me what is the first thing I need to do to get her school on board to help her? As it stands my husband and I feel like she has been treated like a “problem” that she has a target on her back. Her teacher has told me that she has a number of “challenging” students in her class and its hard for her (the teacher), we have up until getting this diagnosis yesterday just been made to feel by our daughters teacher & principal that she is big “behavior issue”. So how now do I get them to assist her? To see that she has a medical condition and is not a “problem”? Please any and all info/advice would be greatly appreciated. It’s so frustrating - she is a very bright (above grade level) funny and caring little girl but she has become lonely and even angry because she feels like she constantly in trouble.


The first thing to do is get the official paperwork from the doctor or therapist that has diagnosis.  Then find out who the special ed teacher is in the school and begin the paperwork. You also may need to talk with the doctor/therapist and discuss any comorbid issues (depression/anxiety) that go along with the ADHD.  Sometimes these issues are the ones that actually get the kids on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) at the school.  It’s a pain and a process.  One that you will have to keep on top of this year and the following years as teachers and schools change.

Posted by 360ADHDcoach on Mar 22, 2013 at 7:24pm

No cormobid - was given ADHD combined with hyperactivity and inattention. I’ve left messages for the person in charge of student services at the school district - our daughter attends a charter school.

Posted by Auttybug on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:00pm

Has your daugther had a multi-disciplinary evaluation by the school yet?  If not, a formal request from you will initiate the process toward getting formal accommodations for your daugher at school (either through a 504 plan or an IEP)—assuming you’re in the US.  The Wrightslaw website (  is a good place to find sample letters to make the process easier,as well as information on what to expect.  It’s a great resource, and they do parent trainings throughout the country as well. 

In the meantime, while that ball is rolling, it would probably be a good idea to meet with teacher, guidance counselor, maybe school pychologist, and anyon else you can who can help come up with some informal accommodations for your daugther at school—things that you and the teacher can be doing to help her outside of a formal eduational plan.  A really good teacher will already know and be doing these things, but most teachers simply aren’t equippped or trained about how to teach kids who learn and behave “differently”!

Another good resource if you’re in the US is your state or regional Parent Training and Information Center (

Also, finding an ADD Coach that can help guide you with best parenting practices as well as effective school accommodations can be a huge help—to both you and your daughter. You’ll want to try to find someone local to you if you’d like them to go to your daughter’s school,of course. You can search either the ADDCA website ( or the ACO website ( for appopriately trained coaches by specialty and location.)

I hope something in there helps and doesn’t overwhelm you!  Your daughter isvery lucky to have you, such a proactive and concerned parent, in her corner!  Make sure you’re taking good care of yourself, too, and have lots of support for yourself, too!

Best of luck and keep us posted!

Lynne Edris, ACG
Life & ADD Coach

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:08pm

Thank you Lynne! No, we haven’t had that yet. We just met with her pediatrician yesterday and was given the diagnosis. She has only had the eval done through our health plans mental health services dept. nothing at all through the school other than her teacher doing the survey/eval. Our health plan offers social skills classes which I have scheduled her for and we are scheduled to attend the ADHD patenting classes. We are in the US - California in fact. I will look into the sites you attached. Thank you so very much!!!

Posted by Auttybug on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:48pm

My understanding is that whether the school is required to help your daughter depends on whether your daughter’s ADHD significantly interferes with her school performance (meaning, below average grades, I think).  If she’s doing okay in school, the school may not be required to help.  My daughter has similar issues, but up until recently, her grades have been really great.  The school basically told me there is nothing they can do.  I have talked to her teachers about strategies to deal with some of the issues presented by my daughter’s ADHD (making sure she writes down all of her assignments, being very clear in their instructions in class, etc.), but that is about all they will do.  Here is an article you can look at that may help you figure out what, if anything, you can ask the school to do.  And, if you haven’t already done so, I strongly recommend finding a good psychologist for your daughter.  My daughter sees a psychologist every 2 or 3 weeks to provide support, and to help my daughter learn ways to “work around” her ADHD, and to learn ways to get along better with her classmates.  Hope this helps.

Posted by jprod30 on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:59pm

Get an Educational Advocate to represent you and help you navigate the board of education and the various educational options available to your daughter.  My little one is in the 4th grade and has always done well academically….behaviorally it was a nightmare on school days.  I consider myself rather savvy about the educational system and was able to get her teachers and the school administrators to assist, but as we got deeper into diagnosis and as more of her disability began to manifest itself, it became more difficult….this also happens as school staff and administration changes, etc.  Once I got connected with a really, really good educational advocate the pieces began to fall into place.  It has been a long and arduous year, but I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I haven’t had to do it alone.  There are many educational advocates available and many are free…please look into your state’s office of mental health for referrals and resources to an educational advocate…You and your daughter are in my prayers.

Posted by Jeanette66 on Mar 22, 2013 at 9:18pm

Thank you everyone for you help! As I stated we just saw her pedi yesterday - so, I haven’t even met with her teacher & principal yet. Her school is now on spring break until 4/2. I am trying to read up and get as much accomplished as I can over break before we meet with them. As I’ve stated, we really feel as though our daughter has been treated like a problem and now we can say alot of this isn’t under her control. Which is what I’ve been told - because behaviorally she can have a few really good days then some really bad ones or she has a great morning then a bad afternoon. So then the teacher & vice principal will tell me “see we know she can do it, she’s capable. She’s just choosing not to”! It’s just so frustrating because I’ve watched my little girl go from a fairly go with the flow, caring, funny kid to a lonely, frustrated and at times angry and isolated child. I’ve tried to get to the teacher to support us with a sticker chart with “good behavior” but she stopped after a week and said the kids all knew what the expectations where. And that she felt my daughter was just attention seeking. Omgeez - sorry I kind of got off subject there lol. It’s just I finally I have a place where people understand!!!!!! Again thank you all sooooooo much 😊

Posted by Auttybug on Mar 23, 2013 at 2:42am

Sorry for the typos

Posted by Auttybug on Mar 23, 2013 at 2:44am

You have had some great suggestions. I would add to get your daughter formally evaluated my child psychologist. They will specifically look for comorbid conditions which is quite common with ADHD. The great thing is when I had my son evaluated I received a large document with a description of all tests, results, and what those results mean. In addition, they made many numerous recommendations for accomadations forin the classroom and during tests. And with all of the high stakes testing I think this is important. The result is a had a formal document that I made copies of amd gave to everyone I could think of at my son’s school. I also used it as a starting point at his IEP meeting.

I know that you are frustrated. Don’t let that color your interactions with the school. Let them know that your goal is to put together a multifaceted team that will work together to help your daughter acquire the skills for success in school and life. Part of that team is her teacher, school counselor, (for my son reading specialist - fell way behind until diagnosis and meds worked out). Even before a official diagnosis, I requested that my son attend school counseling program for ADHD life skills, etc.

Finally, don’t get angry, just let them know that you will not go away. If they want some peace from you, then they will do right by your child. Keep calling ( I called weekly) to request when the school will do testing for accomadations and to start getting an iep in place for her.

Good luck

Posted by faye on Mar 23, 2013 at 7:00pm

Hi there!

I’m mom of a child with ADHD. Been through a lot in terms of getting assistance from school and helping out my kiddo. Some tips I wish I had known when I started:

- visualize what you want the end result to be. I say visualize because at first you may want to jump to fight for your kid to get all the help she can get (natural parenting instinct) but you may inadvertently make things worse. You may end up getting your kid a stellar IEP with services and not realize your kid now feels like they are the dumb kid alienated from peers due to all the “extras”. When you visualize the end result (best case scenario of what a typical day may look like for her) you can then work backward to point you in the right direction to figure out where to begin. My kid for example doesn’t like me try to “save” her by telling everyone she has this or that…though that was my first instinct.

- Getting it on paper and having a diagnosis may still not change a bad teachers attitude toward your kid. My kid isn’t perfect, but there were some teachers who I feel made things worse. Telling them your kid had a diagnosis doesn’t mean they will stop using your kid as the scapegoat (in our case) or make them be nicer to your kid.

- document everything! Document what was said at the meetings, phone calls, emails, times there were behavior issues, etc… Try to get documentation written by others. Keep copies for years. As a parent, people (ESE coordinators, teachers) may not believe you but they can’t negate a paper trail written by others (past teachers, docs, therapists, progress reports, etc…) I had an ESE group tell me they thought my child’s doc had misdiagnosed my child when I showed them the doctor documentation at an IEP meeting.

- After you know what you want from the school, decide what’s the best way to go about it? IEP or 504. 504 is easier to get than an IEP. Usually an IEP takes longer because they will test your kid whereas 504 you supply doc documentation and make your case for accommodations by showing how diagnosis x is substantially limiting her in a major life activity, such as learning and show how it directly correlates with the accommodation or services you are requesting with evidence (documentation). I asked teacher to start daily behavior reports and after a few months I could quantify the number of times she forgot her books, her honework, had behavior issues, etc… Then at the IEP or 504 meeting you can say “see? Teacher x said my daughter forgot her books x number of times in x many days, this affects her access to the education she deserves. She has a diagnosis. It’s all in writing. This is why I’m requesting extra set of books to leave at home.”

However, an IEP is in a way taken more seriously than a 504 (and some say is more stigmatized). My experience is staff freaks out when they see an IEP but with a 504 they are more easy going. With an IEP you typically ask for services (like therapy or specialized teacher assistant) that cost money whereas a 504 is more for accommodations (extra time to do work, seating preference, getting schoolwork notes from teacher, etc…) or things that don’t cost much money. Although technically you should be able to get both accommodations and services with either IEP or 504.

- learn and use the lingo. Read about IEP and 504. You may start noticing the jargon/lingo used. Words such as “impairment, major life activity, medical condition, appropriate education.” Use that when you talk and write. Using the lingo and not showing your emotions as a parent lets them know you’re knowledgable about the process. Less likely to “go away” if they deny you enough.

- make it easier for the ESE people to explain to their boss why your child needed services or why they approved services for your kid. They may not put 2 and 2 together. If you’re in a large district, they may have a lot of kids and parents to deal with. Don’t expect them to be on top of everything. Sometimes, if things aren’t clearly spelled out for them, they won’t go the extra mile for you. There’s nothing in it for them. The more work they do for your kid, the more they have to explain to the district why they approved your kid for services. Thy love to deny services because at easier. They love to drag the process so they don’t have to finish it this year and let carry on till next year. Sometimes they may love to “accidently loose faxes,” or not reply or call back when you had questions. So for this, you want extra copies of documents for them and even go as far as giving them a paper of notes… A cliffs notes on your case and what they will say to their boss (without really calling it that.) Also, keep up with phone calls, dates, etc… Do it all with a kind voice.

- figure out what accommodations are available. There’s no set guidelines such as “all kids with ADHD will get these services.” It’s a free for all… Some kids get awesome lists of accommodations and services written in their plans while others get 1 or 2. Once I saw a kid who had a special teacher assigned to him, just to him, and everywhere he went, she went. She would do almost everything for him (highlight things for him, write notes, etc…) and he was in the regular mainstream class. She was more or less his assistant. A kind, gentle, caring assistant. It was amazing. I thought “good for him (in a bittersweet way because if he needs her, must be hard) Those parents probably did a lot of work to get that to happen.”

- Dont be afraid if you get turned down at first, get frustrated with “the system” or if you realize you’ve been dealing with this for years. Take it a day at a time and if all else fails get an attorney. Attorneys do work. Even just a consult and a letter drafted by the attorney (paying by the hour, $150-250, for just a single letter drafted, no need to pay a retainer of thousands) can do wonders for your case. It may scare them enough to know you mean business.

- all else fails don’t be afraid to change schools. Because of this journey, I read so much on education in general. Different methods, different types of learning. Lots of homeschool information, though I dont homeschool (I afterschool, lol). There’s so much out there. John Taylor Gatto, Rick Lavoie (F.A.T. City video, portions on YouTube), Yong Zhao, etc…

The other suggestions posted here are great too. This is a great community so you’re in the right place. Good luck!

P.S. forgot to add. Get doc to write a stellar letter about what your child’s diagnosis is and include a list of what accommodations are needed for her. See if you can find a doc that specializes on ADHD which usually are familiar with this process.

Posted by PRobinson on Mar 24, 2013 at 11:26am

Thank you!! I’m so overwhelmed right now! I’m not even really sure what to request in the 504. She is doing very well academically - no issues at all. It’s the behavior part, talking out of turn, not picking up on some social cues, interrupting, taking things way too literal etc - how are accommodations made for those things?

Posted by Auttybug on Mar 25, 2013 at 3:39pm

Ok, so working backward. What would a good day be like? Sounds like one free from behavior issues since academically she’s ok.

There are several things you can put on a 504 for this. A quick Google search for “behavior accommodations 504” will show links of sample IEPs and 504s. Here’s one I those links where it mentions specific behavior accommodations and some usually used for ADHD kids.

However, personally, I would just get a few behavior accommodations (as few as possible). Enough where they can ease up on her while she learns social skills but not too much where she’s constantly being monitored which could make things worse.

My child hated the daily behavior chart. Our kiddo was the only one in the class that had one and the chart became more of a daily complaint/vent paper for the teacher. It was an example of how something could sound great on paper but not so good in reality.

Everyday it was our kiddo with the paper kinda like “here you go mom, here’s a page of what I did wrong today.” It was demoralizing. As much as the teacher was told to keep it discreet, the other kids noticed. So maybe it could be worthwhile to ask them to keep accommodations discreet as possible or I notate only the success in behavior everyday as much as the negatives so as to not embarrass the child.

You could possibly also ask for social skills to be taught to her but that would possibly require an IEP and less likely for school to give it. But it’s not impossible.

On your own there’s plenty you can do too… Privately (less embarrassing for your kid).

There are social groups for kids. For us they cost $1,000 for about 10-weekly sessions. They grouped up 4 or 5 kids in a room and had them do activities together and gave them worksheets about their feelings. Our child didn’t like them (then again our kiddo prefers less interaction) she felt they were a bit condescending or geared toward a younger crowd than her maturity level but who knows maybe a different group in your area may work. I’m looking for a different/less expensive group which I think I’ve found but haven’t checked it out yet. There are also DVDs that teach social skills and even a boardgame called Blunders (like $24 on Amazon) where they teach manners and what to do in sticky less-ovbious-of-what-to-do situations.

One thing to consider is… If she’s doing fine academically then she may also know her manners, i.e. what to do, what’s expected of her, etc… So some social skills groups may not work until the medicine starts working because its the ADHD that’s preventing the impulse control and preventing her from demonstrating her knowledge of social skills and manners.

For instance, if it were that she had bad vision instead of ADHD one would say….she knows how to read (social cues) but can’t show you that she knows until she gets her glasses (the medicine) so she can see (get impulse control) rather than taking her to a group that teaches her how to read. Does that make any sense?

Here’s a video of Russell Barkley talking about it. It’s boring at the beginning but it gets interesting.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

P.S. sorry for any typos (I’m travelling and typing on my phone).

Posted by PRobinson on Mar 26, 2013 at 3:05am

Hmm, what about a school counseling group?  My son has participated in one or more of these ranging from how to be a friend to coping skills for ADHD.

Posted by faye on Mar 26, 2013 at 6:44am

Hmm, what about a 3 or 4way meeting consisting of you, your daughter, teacher, and school counselor. Tell everyone in advance that you want everyone to sit down and identify one or more social behaviors that everyone agrees could be worked on. Come up with a common one or two items BEFORE this meeting by discussing one on one with each of these individuals, that way hopefully no one gets blindsided. Then come to meeting have your discussion, and come up with a contract that everyone signs to keep everyone honest. Then generate a form that allows the teacher/counselor/daughter/you to assess her success each week. When she is not successful maybe this will help you figure out why. For my son it is when he is overly tired. I did something similar in terms of a written contract between my son, myself, his classroom teacher, and his reading teacher to get him caught up to grade level in terms of reading. The written contract and having him participate,in the meeting gave him ownership of this effort. I think by recording success and not necessarily focusing on negatives it prevents the teacher from just generating a list of negative comments. I don’t know about you but I am much more motivated to work hard on something when I get positive feedback instead of negative!

Posted by faye on Mar 26, 2013 at 6:55am

We met with the principal, vice principal and our daughter’s teacher yesterday. We went over her diagnosis and what we have been doing at home (her medication, starting social skills classes, behaviors we are working on at home etc) since she was on Spring break last week. They seemed to be very understanding & willing to make accommodations(change her seating, give her ‘busy’ work when she’s done with seat work, try a “T” stool etc) I’m just confused in that when I asked if they wanted an official written request for a 504 & documentation of her diagnosis they told me that the meeting we were having WAS to set up the 504 and they did not need an official written diagnosis. Does this sound right?

Posted by Auttybug on Apr 03, 2013 at 6:22pm

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