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ADHD at School

OT in school

My son just turned 7 years old and is in first grade.  His symptoms are escalating at school.  He has been having difficulty on the playground with fighting when he is unsupervised.  I am not sure if he is being provoked or he is the aggressor.  He doesn’t remember or is not clear on the details when I ask him.  In the class he gets really silly and disruptive and can’t calm himself down and the teacher has been excusing him to go to the principal’s office when this happens.  This has been happening on the daily basis.  The other day he was excused from class three times!  I am concerned that he is missing too much class and that he is going to get a reputation for being the “bad kid”.  I was also told that if this isn’t working they may try putting him in an older class (i.e. 3rd or 4th grade or with the male teacher in 6th grade).  How is that going to help him I wonder??

I met with the principal, teacher, psychologist, special ed coordinator in mid-December.  We decided that they would start a special play group with supervision at recess and that he would get one-on-one counseling weekly.  None of that has happened, yet.  I was told that “nothing happens over night”.  Meanwhile, he is having increasing troubles staying calm in class.  I asked if he could be seen by the school OT for calming techniques, but was told that the OT has a group for fine motor function and that the psychologist would take care of any sensory and calming issues.  She still hasn’t seen him.

My question is…Does that sound right to have the psychologist see him for sensory issues?  I know that sensory issues are a big part of OTs scope of practice and I feel that someone with the knowledge and background should be evaluating and treating him, not the psychologist.  The other thing I would like some input on is how hard should I push for this plan to be put into place now?  It has been 4 work weeks that they have had a chance to get this plan into place, and I have seen nothing.  This is not an official 504 or IEP.  Should I be pushing harder for that, and if it is official will it be easier to enforce?

Thank you for any advice you can offer.


What happened in kindergarten or preschool?  How does your son act at home and in the neighborhood?  I wouldn’t wait any longer to ask, in writing, for an evaluation of your son.  Go to Wright’s Law (on the Internet) and get a copy of a letter to send the school asking for a complete educational evaluation.
You are right that your son is losing ground.  It is going to be difficult for him to catch up.  Start today.

Posted by Bensonadvocates on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:24am

What happened in kindergarten or preschool?  How does your son act at home and in the neighborhood?  I wouldn’t wait any longer to ask, in writing, for an evaluation of your son.  Go to Wright’s Law (on the Internet) and get a copy of a letter to send the school asking for a complete educational evaluation.
You are right that your son is losing ground.  It is going to be difficult for him to catch up.  Start today.

Posted by Bensonadvocates on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:24am

Hi Mom247!

Yes, you should be pushing very hard at this point. No, a psychologist doesn’t treat sensory issues, but you have to be in special ed to get OT at school usually.

I agree with @bensonadvocates, you need to make a formal request for evaluation. Here’s a sample letter to use:

If they deny special education after the evaluation (they have up to 60 days to do the eval), then request the 504 plan. Most schools will not offer to help a struggling child—parents have to request and then fight. Read up on about your child’s rights so you can advocate effectively for him in the school.

It sounds to me like they suspect he has a gifted intelligence if they are talking about moving a 1st grader up to 3rd or 4th. If he tests with a high IQ, be sure to request services for that as well (special instruction to challenge him).

Request that evaluation ASAP and push for what they’ve already offered to be implemented in the meantime.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:26pm


I’m so sorry your son is struggling right now!  He sounds a lot like my son at that age.  (My son is now 18 and a senior—it does get better!)

Every school is different (even schools within the same district)—to a certain degree because of the personalities involved.  I always suggest parents work for formal accommodations when possible.  You never know when staff may change, and you also have no “force of law” behind you otherwise.

Re. the OT question (again every school is different), I would suggest that you get him evaluated privately by a pediatric OT (if you haven’t already, and if that’s at all possible) and take the evaluation and their recommendations to the school for follow-up with their OT.  Sensory Processing challenges usually are more the purview of OTs than psychologists, but that doesn’t mean a well-informed psychologist couldn’t be helpful as well.

With the holiday break, I think a delay in implementation would not be out of the question, but I would just be cautious that they’re not giving you more lip service than action.

At the very least, I would want whatever they’re suggesting to be in writing so that you have some sort of paper trail for yourself.

Good luck and keep us posted!

Lynne Edris, ACG
Life & ADHD Coach

It’s often hard to get OT services for a child with ADHD

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on Jan 27, 2014 at 10:23pm

My son is in kindergarten and receives OT, but only for fine motor skills (and only 15 minutes/month, so he hardly gets Amy help).  He sees the social worker for help with social skills. She’s been great helping him with navigating the playground and helping when he gets overstimulated.

Also, his teacher has a very positive behavior plan in place for the entire class, but it makes my son want to behave.  She catches the children being good, rather than focusing on the negative behaviors, and my son loves to get caught.  Once you get caught, she gives the children a ticket to put in a jar and she picks names every Friday and the children whose names get picked get a small prize.  He lives for this.  When he had a hard time standing in line and keeping his hands to himself, she would catch him every time he was able to do it and his behavior improved quickly.  Then, she did it for when he raised his hand and did not blurt out answers and now he does it all of the time.  It’s been amazing how looking for the positive has changed my son’s behavior. Plus, he never feels picked on because she is so quick to praise.  She does not let poor behavior slide, but he wants to get caught being good, so generally, he is working harder to control his impulses .  Maybe you could speak to thr teacher about implementing something like that.

Also, my son’s teacher can tell when he’s escalating and is pretty good about giving him a sensory break before he gets too out of control.  Sometimes she will send him to the office with a note for thr secretary (which is usually a stapled piece of paper with a smiley face inside) or she’ll ask him to return books to thr library, or anything to just get him moving.

I’d he having a hard time with transitions?  That was one of my sons biggest issues and now, his teacher has a visual schedule for th entire class so e children know what the day will look like and what is coming up.  It was originally just for my son, but all th children were using it so she made a big one for the entire class and she told me she will use it next year as well since it has been so helpful for all of the children in the class for transitions.

It seems like your sons teacher is not solving anything by sending him to the principals office.  She needs to recognize his triggers and be on top of them before he escalates.  I’m sorry this Is happening.  It’s so tough to send them to school when things aren’t working out for them.  Things will get better.

Sorry for all of the typos - typing on the iPad is really hard for me.

Posted by Sporty on Jan 28, 2014 at 3:31am

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:35pm

Thank you everyone for all the good suggestions.  I failed to mention that my son is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome with a huge ADHD component and anxiety. 

@Lynne, I think it is a good idea to get a private OT evaluation to reveal his deficits which I am sure will be physical as well as sensory, social and emotional and then be able to present those findings to the school.  Also, thank you for saying that things will get better.  That is my continual hope.  I do have a plan in writing from the mid-December meeting, but nothing has been implemented and the principal didn’t even remember what was in the plan when I spoke with her yesterday (which was her second “reminder” from me). 

@Bensonadvocates, his behavior was considered typical when he was in preschool and kindergarten.  It wasn’t until this past year that things started coming to a head and I had him evaluated.  Right around his 7th birthday (December 1) everything started getting more intense and it now seems like I am unsuccessfully chasing a growing snowball down a very steep hill.  At home it is even worse and more so lately.  I don’t even want to pick him up after school some times because I know my whole afternoon and evening will be spent in battle with him and his sassy, rude, loud, disrespectful behavior with emotions ranging from uncontrollable laughter to crying over something little, and he gets angry and blames me all the time for the consequences that happen because of his own behavior.  I didn’t even mention all the excessive hyperactivity on top of that and he is non-stop verbal to the point where I think my brain will explode because it can’t take any more stimulation from him (imagine that - I am the one who is overstimulated!).  I am so exhausted and have tried almost everything that I can think of to help him, but it seems to be getting worse despite all my best efforts. 

I am working with a private psychologist who has just begun treating my son with neurofeedback, and I am meeting again with her on Thursday to discuss the plan to refocus the therapy and help with getting the school on board with OT services (I have already submitted her evaluation and her prior recommendation for OT evaluation, but apparently they didn’t read that part).

@adhdmomma, he has huge issues with transitions especially from recess into the classroom with much difficulty calming and refocusing onto class work.  His teacher is very supportive but can’t be expected to handle this on her own when she needs to be giving attention to and instructing all the other kiddos as well.  I suggested to the principal yesterday that we consider a one-on-one aide to help my son stay on task in the classroom.  We have tried all the positive reinforcements that we can think of, but it is almost as if he is a wound up tornado coming into class and cannot diffuse himself which I why I think that OT suggestions and techniques could be very helpful.

@Penny, my son is very intelligent but nowhere near that of a 3rd or 4th grader.  I was told that the principal wanted to put him in the upper grades just for a calming technique to be with older and more mature kids and a “novel” environment, but I don’t see how that is going to help him or teach him any strategies for controlling his behavior in his own classroom???

Posted by Mom247 on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:48am

You may want to check out the Sensory Processing group found on the left hand side of this page, click ADHD and Related Conditions.
Also, here is a link that’s a good starting point to find out more about Sensory Processing and how it’s treated.

Posted by cowboy on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:48am

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