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Parents of ADHD Children

I took your advice and now I need more. Help

So last time I posted a question, I received wonderful advice.  I have been kind of a Troll on here reading and soaking up everything I can.  I took my 9 year old son to a Psychiatrist to talk to and look at his medications and evaluate the entire situation.  He is definately ADHD, which I knew but he also has anxiety, which I was not aware of.  The Dr. said that the meds he was on were good but would not work to the potential because we were not treating the Anxiety.  So she added to what he is already taking and the Dr. wants changes made at home as well as at school.  So here is my problem.  My son’s teacher went out on maturnity leave in Sept.  He is on his 5th substitute teacher.  This teacher claims that she will be there until the other returns in January.  My son is scared of her and claims she is getting in his face yelling at him.  I have tried to talk to her and she is very defensive with me.  I’m not sure how to get her on board.  The Dr. does not seem to feel it is a great idea for him to change classes because he has had so much change this year.  New House, New School, New Friends, New Everything.  I have contacted the 504 administrator and we are setting up a meeting to make some changes there.  I have a meeting next week with this teacher.  How would you handle this?  What suggestions do you have to get her to work with me?  I’m open to anything.  My son went from A’s, B’s and 1 c to ALL “F’s” since this teacher came on.  My son seems to be intimidated by this teacher and does not want to sit in the same room with this teacher but he also doesn’t want to change classes because he liked his old teacher.  Any suggestions?  I’m very tempted to request a change at this point.


Wow, that is a tough situation!  My heart goes out to you and your son, since I have a sensitive little guy with ADHD myself (he’s 10).

My first thought is that, if his teacher is scheduled to return in January, the substitute really has little to no motivation to make changes since she will only be there about another month at this point?  It sounds like you are doing absolutely everything you can to improve things - meeting with the 504 Administrator, setting up another meeting with the sub, talking with his doctor.

When speaking with the sub, I think I would start by asking her what her take on the situation is.  I would stress all the changes that he has had take place recently and emphasize how these changes have maybe exacerbated his anxiety and ADHD symptoms.  Be sure not to get defensive yourself.  I would be interested in knowing if she realizes how he perceives her behavior as scary.  Why is she getting in his face and yelling?  Does she feel like he’s not listening?

If you get a vibe from her that she is dismissive of ADHD (one of those people who thinks it doesn’t exist) or is in any way negative towards your son and unlikely to change her behavior, you have maybe three options.  (1) Talk with the principal and get him/her on board with your concerns and addressing the sub’s inappropriate behavior. (2) Since she won’t be there much longer and the regular teacher will be back after Christmas break, talk with your son about coping strategies and just wait it out.  Now that his anxiety is being treated, that might make it easier for him to deal with her.  (3) If you think that he is not going to be able to cope and there is any chance that the regular teacher will not come back (like she decides she wants to stay home with her new baby), I would have him moved immediately.  One more change probably won’t hurt at this point.

I hope this is in some way helpful.  Just remember that kids are often more resilient than we think and there will always be difficult people to deal with in life.  This could be a great “teachable moment” opportunity.  Best of luck to you!

Posted by djch45 on Nov 17, 2013 at 5:54am

That is a tough situation.  And if the original teacher for some reason does not come back then for sure change classrooms. 

But in the meantime, you are on the right path, but have you tried making this a teachable moment for him?  So, you probably know that kids (and adults with ADD) think any tension in a person’s voice is “yelling”, they can also have boundary issues.  I know my daughter wants to be on top of me practically at all times but if someone else is near her she just freaks.  And my husband is someone (also with ADD like our daughter) who has serious boundary issues - he sometimes is waaaaay too close but if I or someone else gets close to him if he isn’t in the mood then watch out, backlash!  So those things can be going on.

Let me make this clear, this does not mean your son is wrong or the teacher right.  But clearly something is bothering him and maybe he needs to have someone to talk to about it.  How do you feel about, and What happened inside when that happened, and what was going through your mind when that happened, kind of questions are all helpful.  Sometimes people just need validated that their experience wasn’t “wrong”.  Plus you need to know if your son has these issues so that you can help him manage them on into the future. 

And if you could be his comrade in waiting for his teacher to arrive, make it a team, or make a calendar and find a way to look forward to her return, not lament the current situation. Yes, this teacher is probably intimidating and probably doesn’t know how to handle kids with ADD and yes you should give her some information about what it is your son goes through, but it is what it is and you have to make the best of it.  But do it with him, don’t just send him to school with a cheer and expect him to handle it all on his own.  Be available for a download from him and so you can help him flip it around.  The really can’t do this themselves at this age, particularly with ADD and all those ANTs going on in their brain!

Best to you.

Posted by YellaRyan on Nov 19, 2013 at 12:16am

I just want to say thank you to both commenters.  I have met with the 504 accom. vp and yesterday I finally got a parent teacher conference with ALL of his teachers.  I took the bull by the horns and I led the meeting.  I started with all of the teachers that I have not heard from or have heard good comments from.  Everything was wonderful about my son and said that he was one of the most polite kids in their class.  They did say that there were areas to work on but he was doing well.  I finally got to the teacher that is having the problems with my son and she immediately spouted out that it was the meds and they needed to be changed because he will not behave in her class.  I asked her if she noticed a particular time that he started to misbehave or lose his focus and she gave me like 11:40am.  But he has another class after her and is doing just fine.  Hmmmm.  I asked her if it could be a personality conflict and she said absolutely not.  The Vice Princp was completely there to support this sub.  Two of the other teachers agreed that it was a personality conflict and did not feel it was the meds.  We decided to change his classes a little and now he will go to her class first thing in the morning.  She stated that she has seen him in the mornings and that is when he is the most focused and she could handle him then.  OK so we will see.  Also, when I got there I immediately went and cleaned out my sons desk.  Total mess but low and behold.  All of that homework was in there and had been graded.  Homework that she graded and gave him O’s on because he didn’t turn it in.  She is not going to change.  I see it.  Not a problem.  I’m working with my son on coping skills and he is doing better.  It was such a GREAT feeling to hear all of the compliments about my baby.
Thank you both for your advice.

Posted by msgreeneyes on Nov 23, 2013 at 2:10am

I tell my son there will be teachers and other authority figures that really don’t deserve the power they have for reasons such as ignorance, mean spiritedness, etc., and that he needs to learn to adapt to those people the best he can, because life is not always fair, and not all teachers are enlightened, educated, and compassionate.
    Having said this, it sounds like this teacher is grossly negligent in her duty to help your son. It sounds like this teacher has her own issues.
Try to connect with other parents whose kids have that teacher and compare notes. If you can get some muscle behind you, it wouldn’t hurt to request another meeting, possibly with other parents if you can find anyone else who may be unhappy. If she is defensive with you, imagine what her interactions with a child might be.
In this day and age, no teacher has the right to get in a childs’ face and holler at them . It’s intentional intimidation and abusive behavior, regardless. If he went from good grades to failing, there’s definitely a problem, and outside of waiting until she’s gone, it sounds like she shouldn’t be teaching anyone, especially children. Best of luck!

Posted by karenele on Nov 23, 2013 at 7:27am

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