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Teen won't accept school accommodations

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14 yr.old daughter won’t accept school accommodations
Posted by kellygreen to Parents of ADHD Children on Jan 29, 2014 at 3:24pm


I could use help in a few areas.  First, my 14 yr.old has not allowed me to pursue getting her classroom accommodations because, as she says, €œI don €™t want to be one of those kids €.  She is sensitive to the stigma from both teachers and students.  So I €™m wondering if anyone else has dealt with this.
She is currently in cyber school because she could not keep up with the work load in a brick/mortar school.  Cyber school is not great for her because she does not have enough opportunity for social interaction.  She has always had difficulty keeping friends too.  I €™ve helped her learn social skills as much as I could, but the problems and the loneliness are a continuing problem.  So I could also use suggestions or referrals to a good social skills coach, group or program in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
The only good part of cyber school is that I can see exactly what her assignments and homework are.  When she was in regular school she never kept track of all her work so I never knew what all she had to do.
I would too frequently end up helping her do a project or a paper the night before it was due (if she even told me about it to begin with).
The last area is that she has just recently become open to trying medications, so if anyone knows of a good pediatric psychiatrist in our area, I would greatly appreciate your recommendations!  Thanks so much.

Replies

She may be really successful with medication.  If she has trouble with focus then they will probably do her a world of good.

One thing about the sensitivity though, although people with ADHD are more sensitive - primarily because they don’t have the control to wait and let a situation play out so they tend to be reactive to any perceived and/or real slight on a dime - it is in part a learned behavior.  My husband does great on meds but for him the sensitivity is now a habit because he was diagnosed in his 40s.  With my daughter she is reactive but only before her meds have kicked in or after they have worn off.  So the meds do help to slow down the reaction, but being sensitive IS definitely a learned habit.  So if she tries meds you might start to find ways to help her unlearn that behavior, but only ON meds.  Anything learned off meds is a shot in the dark, their brains just are not under their control.

And you should know that classroom accommodations without the aid of medication are not all that helpful.  And you may find that they are not helpful either because they are geared toward learning disabilities - ADHD is not in itself a learning disability, it is an implementing disability - it is getting done what you know needs to get done at the moment it needs to get done.  And just as with all of us we can willpower through something that has to be done, but willpower wears out fast, particularly for ADHD brains.  So be careful not to push in areas that will not give you results.

The stigma on ADHD is really irritating, but is what it is at this moment in time.  Just three years ago our daughter’s teacher told us “oh all kids have ADD at this age” and said she didn’t really believe in it, and that our daughter was just ‘slow’ to learn.  She was going to be held back, twice!  Both times I put my foot down because I know she learned, it just wasn’t coming out of her brain in the way and time period they wanted.  So the moment we got an official diagnosis (we knew from the time she was 3 she had it but doctors would not diagnose till 7) I started talking about it, openly and in front of her.  I’m not a loud mouth or an hysterical advocate by any means, but I refuse to make it a secret - the way autism was when I was a kid.  I had two high functioning autistic children in my 5th grade class but it was a big secret.  And because it was a secret, and us kids did not have a name for their condition we labeled them the “weird kids”.  ADHD kids were and still are labeled “lazy, stupid, bad seed, etc…”  And of course we know they are not.  But that stigma is there, and I did not want to feed into that by keeping my child’s ADHD a secret from her teachers, friends, other parents.  I think in some way this has inured her from feeling “different” or like it is something to be ashamed of.  No one would make fun of a kid for being diabetic, although that kid might feel the impact of the limitations it might set on him, but at least the messages of being no good are not coming from peers.  This is a battle we will wage on into our kids adulthood I suspect until kids with ADHD are just kids with a condition, like the kids who wear glasses, or are diabetic… at least I hope so!

The more you can get her to embrace her ADHD, learn about it, reflect on it, and own it, not only the more she will learn to mitigate the symptoms, but it also won’t bother her as much what other people think.  This needs to start now because ADHD does not go away when they become adults.  It is just that some people with mild ADHD can manage it so it does not seem like much of an effect (but I guaranty they still lose their keys!) but most people do not grow out of it.  And the older you get the more dire the consequences of untreated ADHD symptoms.  It is one thing to be reactive with your parents and yell and fuss, but it will make you lose boyfriends, and if you do that with a boss you lose your job.  So this is her time to take control and own it, so it doesn’t rule her life.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:54pm

Your poor sweet girl. I think if she were to get the support she needs in school, academically and socially, she would be willing and able to go back to regular school. After all she is only 14 and still has a few years left.

Do you want to keep her at home or put her back in regular school? If you want to put her back in school eventually, try a different school if possible so she can start fresh. Get her tested for an IEP, accommodations in school. I know she doesn’t want that, I understand, but try to “sell” her on the benefits - she will do better in school! Sell her on the possible colleges she could atend, the careers she could have if she put herself out there.

Sounds like she has anxiety, perfectionism, maybe social anxiety - all symptoms of a bright girl. She needs a psychologist, CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy. Also, a social skills class will help - in my area they have social classes for ADHD high schoolers. Google and see what you find in your area.

Get her involved in something, that increases self esteem - art? drama? swimming? etc.

Good luck!

Posted by nycmom on Jan 30, 2014 at 10:14pm

Thanks for your ideas.  She’s been in therapy and worked on changing her reactions, altering her thoughts, etc., and I think she has had some success with this.  But the notion that she will be able to make more progress with this if she is on meds. is a new one!  That is encouraging to know and since I already have her scheduled to see a doctor in early March, I feel a bit more hopeful about the benefits of meds.  Thanks for that.  A little hope can go a long way.  Since she’s been home for the past 3 months, I’ve seen improvements in her mood, her self-esteem and in our relationship.  Some of her friends have told her she looks healthier than when she was attending school.  Going back to school is a very tough decision.  She’s tried a private school and their workload is very heavy and proved too much for her.  The public school in our district has other types of problems.  So I’m not sure whether she’ll go back to school yet.  Thanks again for your help.

Posted by kellygreen on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:07am

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