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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

School Accommodations for bright 13 year old with ADD

My son has been struggling for a while, but we moved the summer of his 6th Grade year and things just went from bad to OMG!  He went from a school with 60 kids in his grade to 360.  He failed 3 classes but was allowed to go to summer school and pass because he tested so well on the STAR.  I begged the school for help, but it wasn’t until I researched 504 meetings that I got anywhere.  I had to ask for the meeting by name! 
This year was just as bad…we fought with the school to get him help and it wasn’t until half way through the year that I asked to get him tested for SPEC.  Cognitively he tested way above grade level, but he will not do the work and turn it in.  He has SPEC accommodations because of the ADD, but no one knows what to do to help him because he doesn’t fit the mold.  ARD meetings are a joke!  We go around the table and talk about options that don’t apply, but what he needs is to have someone sit on him and hold him to getting his work done and turned in.  The school would like that to fall solely on my 13 year old and us, but we can’t keep up with all of the different assignments/when they are not turned in/when they are due/ect.  I told the AP that they wouldn’t look at a kid with Diabetes, tell them to stop having blood sugar problems, and expect for that to fix their issue.  He needs to be held accountable, but they have to help get him there.  We look at assignments online, email teachers until we are blue in the face, go up to the school, have meeting after unproductive meeting and beg for help. 

Has anyone been faced with this same situation? 

What are some accommodations that might help?

Should we hold him back or let him go to summer school?



My son is 12 and this is his first year in middle school. He is bright as well and this is the first year he has been on the honor roll all year, elementary school was very stressful. The greatest help for him was that they removed social studies for just this year and then they put him in a group with other kids that have ADHD and some behavior issues, they meet the first hour of the day and the last hour of the day. During the first hour they help out around the school by emptying the recycle bins around the school and other “jobs”. At the end of the day the focus is on homework. There are teachers assigned to the room and they help the students organize the work that they need to do and give them any help they need. In this room they get a grade and have a behavior chart that rewards them for doing a good job. He has done so well that they are going to bring back social studies next year and only have him go to the class in the afternoon so he can get homework help to stay organized. Not sure if all schools are able to do this - I think they call it the resource room - but I know it has been a great help for us. It is part of his IEP.

Posted by Ry'sMom on May 06, 2014 at 2:41am

Ok, please don’t think this is out of line.  I am only speaking because I have been there myself.  I struggled with figuring out how much was the ADD and how much my kid and ADD being a hood for him to hide under.  No question he has the ADD.  After all of the struggling, just as you described above.  We started the consequences and rewards….but far more consequences.  He has to function in this world and no boss is going to make sure he is showing up for work and doing his work. 

Guess what?  It worked.  He was able to prove that he could actually do the work.  We did help him create some reminder tools (his phone had an alarm and he also used apps to help).  He discovered he works better and stays on task when he has his head phones on.  But in the end, it was finding his true currency and making sure he understood that if he didn’t do the work, he would lose his privileges. 

I only get on and check his grades once a month.  Any zeros and he pays us $$ ($5.00 for each one).  It might sound tough but our consistency and his waking up to the fact that he has to learn to deal with his ADD paid off.  It might not work for you (and this was hard to do) but he manages his school work on his own now.  It is much more peaceful here and I love that there are seldom emails to teachers or me checking his grades. 

Maybe this will help.  I had to be willing to let him fail in order to see him succeed.

Posted by Kellie on May 06, 2014 at 2:46am

You mentioned STAR.  If you meant STAAR, that means you’re in Texas…(where in Texas?).  I have identical twins who are both bright (but who will NOT jump through Homework Hoops—aka Busy Work).  And if you just recently moved to Texas…I’m up in an Austin suburb.  Where are you?

Posted by BC on May 06, 2014 at 2:56am

And if it helps, I got a similar runaround (and advised to stay current myself via the online homework posted)—as if I don’t already know my way around Tx Connect & the different teacher websites like the back of my hand.  In reply to their non-helpful advice I’ve considered going ahead and logging all the HOURS I have to spend each week checking homework x2 (only to get PART of the Real Story)...

Posted by BC on May 06, 2014 at 3:03am

here are our accommodations (below)  - see if any of these will work.  Note - I still sent a weekly Sunday night reminder to all the teachers.  We did this 9-11th grade.  I gave up in 12th - somewhat in line with the other commenter -  he had to figure out how to accommodate for himself at that point.

- preferential seating close to instructor or away from highly distracting areas
- extended time, double time on in class assignments and assessments
- in class assignments need to be turned in each day.  (One teacher had them do assignments during the week and turn them all in on Friday - complete disaster for ADD kids)
- teacher provide a weekly schedule of assignments and assessments, sent to student’s mom and student’s email accounts
- teacher provide a copy of powerpoint handouts prior to lecture when applicable.  When not available, teacher to arrange note taking assistance from another student with good note taking skills.  (this part never happened.)

If you have good insurance, I would recommend finding a neuropsychologist to get a third party diagnosis of his ADD and any associated learning disabilities.  It will pay dividends through high school (just to get the 504) and even into college.

Posted by ymasnave on May 06, 2014 at 3:08am

If your child’s teachers have web pages and/or online grades, then maybe it should be a rule that your child logs on every night or every other night (with one of you watching) to review homework, upcoming test dates and grades.  Get him used to being responsible for what grades he’s getting…..if he has to log on and see it himself consistently he might understand where the missing homework comes in and how doing it can help him and his grades.  Most kids seem mystifed how they end up with the grade they do.  Even my non ADHD kids never seemed to be able to keep track of where they were grade wise… was something they just never thought to try to keep track of.  Get your child to give you ideas about what he thinks could help him in class….it’s critical practice for when he gets to the real world and needs to speak up for himself about what he needs.  Too many times are kids don’t have to speak for themselves or won’t because they don’t know how to ask (my son, completely).  Keep fighting for your IEP or 504 plans….we were quashed all thru public school.  It wasn’t until private high school that the we had a school willing to help (public school just kept saying he was too smart and didn’t need any help).  Hang in there!

Posted by greyhairedmom on May 06, 2014 at 3:52am

I have a couple things to add:

1. If he has accommodations in school through a legal document (504 or IEP), and they aren’t being followed, push the school. Call the director of special services for your board of education—it’s their job to make sure these plans are being followed. If that isn’t helpful, find an educational advocate and request a meeting of the team. the advocate will fight for what your child needs (and deserves) under the law.

2. Ask your child what he thinks will help him. I am as guilty of this as anyone, but we often don’t ask our kids what THEY think will help—we follow the research and general recommended accommodations. Does he need help with organization, or frequent reminders, or remembering to log in and see assignments and grades, or a tool to help him record all upcoming assignments, etc? Ask him where he is struggling and let him be part of the solution—the ownership will go a long way to help him follow whatever plan is put in place.

3. Make sure his giftedness is addressed in the school environment as well. When kids are bored, things like effort and motivation will disappear. He needs to be challenged, and this is just as important as addressing his ADHD and weaknesses. My son struggles in school immmensely between ADHD and LDs, but his favorite part of school is his weekly gifted pullout (5th grade). This is the time when he feels smart and accomplished, because his weaknesses make him feel “stupid” in the regular ed setting.

Some resources for fighting school:
2. Working with the School on

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on May 06, 2014 at 5:37pm

Your child may have an executive functioning disorder.  Depending on the severity, some of the suggestions above could work or have devastating consequences.  You need to find out the severity.  I was in your shoes with my child and i ended up taking her out of school year and putting her in the Arrowsmith Program for a year.  It lessened her EF issues enough that we could create a workable IEP. 
I DON"T recommend tough love because i know a very bright child who attempted suicide due to issues like these because he could not get a handle on his EF issues no matter what.

Posted by on May 07, 2014 at 6:58pm

Consider contracting with a special ed attorney for a couple of years.  The attorney will get to know your child by meeting with you and reviewing all of your child’s diagnosis reports and accommodation reports.  In addition, he/she can explain your rights to you and advocate on behalf of your child at IEP meetings.  You will want to identify an attorney whose practice is limited to special ed law, has already worked in your school district, and has at least 7 years working in special ed law.  When introducing the attorney to parent/school relationship, you can avoid a combative relationship with the school by claiming your own relative ignorance about the different options available for helping your child to effectively learn in school, so as a result you are bringing in John Doe, Esq to work on your child’s team to so that the entire team can help your child to learn and to be productive in school.  That strategy is much more effective than indicating that you are hiring an attorney to make the school comply with the IEP, which would be counter-productive.

Posted by Northeast Mom on May 07, 2014 at 8:51pm

Move to Canada and I will help. You need to create a profile of your son. What symptoms stop him from doing his work? If it is distractibility, memory, boring tasks or anxiety, then you can make specific plans. What is your son’s learning style? Does he like to see things, hear things or do things? Plans can be put in place for that.
Does he need a quiet setting, or someone to scribe for him as he gets his thoughts out, use of and iPad to type his racing thoughts. Does he get overwhelmed with the steps to a long assignment? Could assignments be presented in smaller steps or reduce the number of questions to be answered? Does he need frequent breaks throughout the day such as a walk, get a drink or move? Does he need to listen to relaxing music while working or chew gum to concentrate? How is his organization skills? What does he have success with and how did he do it? Build on his strengths.
I would talk to your son and create a profile.
The School, you and your son are like a hamster on a wheel. It must be very frustrating to to everyone, especially your son’s academic career.

Posted by Caring Counsellor on May 08, 2014 at 1:09am

My daughter will be 13 next week and is in 7th grade. She has an IEP, but the school cannot solve her issues with accommodations. Motivation, willingness to do the work, staying organized from subject to subject, staying focused, dealing with the trauma of middle school—there’s no way that they can create an environment for my daughter to excel. So we’ve decided to home school her for her eighth grade year. We did the same for my 16-year-old son for both 7th and 8th grade and focused the year on his greatest weaknesses - organization, writing, math. When we had him tested at the end of 8th grade, his scores were off the charts. Ninth grade was a hard transition year, but in 10th grade he is doing well with a B average and honors classes. I think that sometimes the fight with the schools just isn’t worth It—my time and energy are better focused on my children. I don’t think the public schools will ever be able to appropriately address the issues that keep my children from succeeding. So I have taken that on myself and my kids lives will be better because of it.

Posted by Mama G in NC on May 08, 2014 at 4:50am

My son is in 6th grade in all extended classes, and he goes to a resource class for one period each day.  The goal is to teach the kids to use their planners and record homework.  The resource teacher also has the homework, so they crosscheck to make sure it is recorded properly.  We still struggle with making sure that the right materials are at home and especially getting materials turned in once they are completed, but it is getting better as he gets older. (We do have two sets of books, which is a lifesaver).

He also has no Minecraft over the weekend if he comes home on Friday and doesn’t have the materials that he needs to complete his work.  That is a huge incentive for him because we don’t allow video games during the week. 

I have given him organization options and told him that he needs to own this and figure out what works for him.  Everyone has something, and ADHD is his thing, so how does he want to handle it?  So far, what is working is a single turn in folder with all action items for the day in it, and a sticky note on the front of that folder that we write together the night before of everything that needs to be done (turning things in, going to an advisory, whatever).  The rest of his binder has all of the folders by subject, and he keeps day to day stuff in those, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t remember to go to each individual folder and hand stuff in, so the one folder works best for him. 

Having him weigh in on what system works seems important, the school staff said that he takes “his"system much more seriously.

Despite some help from the school, most of it falls on us to solve things.  As others have said, the most important thing is to have everything outlined in the IEP, because then you have a basis for correcting things when they ignore his ADHD.  Good luck!

Posted by HeartMom on May 08, 2014 at 7:01pm

I LOVE all the comments from Penny the ADDConnect moderator!!  They are sooo on target.  I have been in the trenches for 6 years with school difficulties with 2 ADHD boys (one also has dysgraphia).  The school almost NEVER seems to initiate help.  The parent must ask.  And they must ask for the right things.  It shouldn’t be this way, but it is.  I’ve heard it too many times.  But, make a copy of everything Penny said and tape it to your mirror so you see it every morning!  All three things are very important.  And has been a Godsend for me!  Highly recommend it.

Posted by Cameo on May 08, 2014 at 7:08pm

I have had simialr problems with my child (8th grade now). Get the teachers to email you weekly regarding assignments, tests, projects and field trips. My daughter should have missed two field trips becuase she did not turn her permission slips in on time.
She keeps a planner, takes cornell notes and has access to on line grades/assignments, but she is always behind in a few classes, including art. It takes her longer to do all her work, and it is harder in the evening because the meds have worn off.

Posted by TracyMar on May 08, 2014 at 11:06pm

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