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Middle School Dilemma

My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 8. We have been very blessed to have him in an amazing elementary school that has really worked with us and him over the years.  Now it’s middle school time (in the fall) and I am in a panic trying to find the right fit for him.  The public school that he feeds to is supposed to be really good but it is HUGE and that worries me in terms of just getting lost in the numbers of kids.
Any suggestions?

Thank you

Replies

My son started middle school this year.  We had the same concern.  the public school he was assigned too is very large.  We looked at private school (very expensive and most did not want to work with a child that had ADHD and anxiety). We also explored the charter schools in our area.  The charter school has been wonderful both acedmeicly and socially.

We found the transition from elementary to middle school difficult.  The work load increased and the expectation of study skills was higher.  My son has worked hard and had the support of a wonderful team at his middle school.  Having 7 different teachers and having a locker has been an adjustment.  I can tell you at times it has been a breeze and at times, I have had to fight to get help.  Communication is key. 

The school has a strong math and science emphasis.  There are no athletics but many clubs-math, science, lego, robotics, etc.  My son is athletic but not very big.  He always felt like he had to measure up to the “jocks” at his other school.  At this school there are alot of smart kids, they are all a bit quirky-my son does not stand out or feel the need to measure up to the jocks.  His self esteem has gone up this year.


It is very important for you to meet with the principal and the educations services director of his school.  If your son has a 504 or an IEP, take his current plan with you. 

Talk with the educaitons services at his current school, hear with they know about the middle schools in your area.

Posted by mom2barry on Feb 05, 2014 at 7:57pm

My son entered middle school in the fall.  We live in CA and there are 1200 kids at his middle school.  I too, was apprehensive but at our school they still shelter the 6th graders from the upper classman.

I worried for nothing as he loves the fact that they change classrooms every 45 min.  He doesn’t have an IEP/504 and has been off meds since last summer.  He is an outgoing individual who likes to socialize and has made a completely different set of friends.

The biggest adjustment for him is the teachers and the fact that they do not “cuddle” them.  They expect the kids to get missing assignments, turn in assignments, etc.  One teacher even said that sometimes they have to fall down in order to succeed.

I am lucky that there have only been a few missing assignments and proud that he is doing well.  He is in Honors and getting A’s and B’s on his report card.  This was the biggest adjustment for myself as I know what he is capable of but get frustrated as he isn’t applying himself to his full capability.

Since you know your child better than anyone, I urge you to communicate with the teachers and let them know of your child and his strengths/weaknesses.  At the beginning of the school year, I sent a mass email to his teachers (6 of them) and continue to do so.

Good luck and realize it may not be so bad!

Posted by knrdodd on Feb 05, 2014 at 8:01pm

We were in your shoes one year ago.  My son had a great elementary school and an excellent 5th grade teacher, and I was scared he would get lost in the shuffle of middle school. Both schools are very large schools.  Don’t worry, he did not!  Well, he went to the wrong class one time on the first day of school, but he got up and went to the right class when he realized it.  No problem! 

Yesterday I had my first 504 meeting with all of his teachers, principal, and the guidance counselor.  They all had difficulty with him being off task at the beginning of the year, so I went to his doctor got a longer-acting (12-hour) medicine and I kept them informed of what was going on via email.  They all told me they were amazed at the improvement in his behavior and attention.  His grades came up and he’s on task all the time now! 

They were all agreeable to the accommodations I wanted for him although they said he rarely needs or uses the extra time on tests.  But the “preferential seating” accommodation is a must as he likes to get out of his seat and go talk to his friends.

I also think he’s matured a bit too because he’s much more easy to handle at home lately even when not medicated!  You how they say boys are more difficult when they’re little and become mamma’s boys when they’re in their teens…I’m seeing this happen.  He’s giving me lots of random hugs and “I love you’s” lately.  His twin sister…not so much!  Her sugar and spice days are coming to a screeching halt!

Posted by stacys2peas on Feb 05, 2014 at 8:22pm

My son started middle school this year (grade 6) and it’s been an adjustment for sure.

First, I have to tell you that I have an older (non-ADHD) son and I was nervous about him making the switch to middle school.  He did fantastic and I had no reason to be nervous.  Some of the things you’re nervous about, all parents are nervous of.  They take all these things into account though, and it’s all managed really well (they get to class together as a group, they have lockers but, especially for the first years, they’re usually right by their classrooms, etc.)

Second, the most important thing to look for is good school and good support (teacher and principal) rather than the size of the school.  We went from an elementary school that was smaller where my son was called lazy by his teacher and held in at recess for minor incidents by the principal, to a much bigger school where his teacher has a background in special ed and his principal was actually diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and so completely understands what my son is going through.

Here’s the advice I can offer… Call the middle school now (or at least before too late in the Spring) and discuss your son and your concerns with the principal (or school counsellor, whoever is in charge of class placement).  You need to push for someone who has knowledge of ADHD and will be consistent but flexible.  That’s key, because teachers don’t check planners or follow-up on missed assignments in middle school unless you ask them to.  And if your son’s teacher isn’t willing… well then he’s hooped. 

I did this and also asked for his best friend to be in his class.  Turns out he got two of his best friends.  This was also key.  Having that security person and friend who will stand up for you when you’re acting crazy and new people are noticing is *huge*.  My son has done things impulsively, but his friends have been there to say “leave him alone! He’s got ADHD!” (or whatever) which means any comments from mean kids just roll off his back.

Be prepared for your son’s ADHD to get worse.  It doesn’t always happen (responses above are examples), but it did for my son.  And according to his psychiatrist, it’s common.  There’s just a huge amount of brain development and growth that happens at this age.  It can easily become more than they can handle.  My son was diagnosed as mild to moderate ADHD in grade 4 and minor accommodations worked fine for him until he hit middle school.  Once there, things got progressively worse until my son was refusing to go to class (he actually walked out a few times!) and I seriously thought he might have a mental breakdown (literally).  I pushed to see a specialist and he went on medication over Christmas, and since then things are slowly getting better.  His teacher told me just last week she’s seen a huge drop in his anxiety and she’s very happy with his attitude in class again.  He still needs plenty of accommodations, but he’s my happy kid again!

Posted by Rai0414 on Feb 08, 2014 at 1:53am

That is such great advice. We did all those things and it just didn’t work out but every school and situation is different. It’s very important to try. Your son is so lucky to have such good friends who have his back! That is huge!
Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories. Take care.

Posted by marbri0520 on Feb 08, 2014 at 7:40am

Thank you everyone for the great advice and support.

Posted by Joe'sMom on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:41pm

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