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Parent Resources for the ADHD Child

- Dr. Cowan writes parents

- Maximizing Your Child's Performance in School

- Good Questions to Ask the School

- Local Support Groups

ADHD and Parents

by Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S.
clinical director

In my fifteen years of private practice working with children with ADHD, one of the common concerns that I observed by parents was the fear that they had done something, or failed to do something, that caused their child's ADHD. I guess it is normal to blame yourself when your child is having problems.

However, it is important for parents to know that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not the result of "bad parenting" or obnoxious, willful defiance on the part of the child. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a medical condition, caused by genetic factors that result in certain neurological differences.

Yes, a child may be willfully defiant whether he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or not. But defiance, rebelliousness, and selfishness are usually "moral" issues, not neurological issues. Make no excuses for "immoral," "selfish," or "destructive" behaviors, whether from individuals with ADD ADHD or not. Parents need to step up and correct these behavior problems whether a child has ADHD or not.

It may also be true that the parents may need further training. We are constantly amazed at how many young parents today grew up in homes where their parents were gone all day. We now see "grown up latch key kids" trying to parent as best as they can, but without having had the benefit of growing up with good parental role models. This is a problem in any family, but especially when there is a child in the home who is inattentive, impulsive, and possibly hyperactive.

Parents should consider becoming a part of a parenting class offered by a local therapist, or a local church. These classes can be a good investment of your time.

There is much more information about Attention Deficit Disorder is available for parents at or the ADHD Information Library. The ADHD Information Library has over 100 pages of information for parents and teachers just by itself.



Maximizing Your ADHD Child's Performance in School.

As a parent there are lots of things that you can do to help your child with ADHD succeed in school, with friends, and in life. Here are some tips for you that just may help you in your ongoing efforts to help your child.

Since we know that ultimately it is the parent's responsibility to make sure that the special needs of his/her ADHD child are met, and not the teacher's responsibility, or the school's, or the President's, we need to do what it takes daily to raise our kids. But let's make sure not to let it become an emotional crisis for us. After the initial awareness of the existence of a problem, there need not be an overwhelming feeling of helpless again! Here are some things that we can do for our kids:

1. Keep a file on hand, and a start a daily journal from the moment you first suspect or are told that there is a problem. Document what you see in your child at home, document your observations of your child at school, and document the observations of family members, neighbors, teachers, or anyone that has frequent contact with your child.

2. Keep a 3 ring binder in which to file copies of all classroom ratings by the teacher, observations by the teacher, all assessments from therapists, counselors, psychologists, or physicians. Write your own notes after each doctor visit and keep them forever. This can all be very helpful in the future. Keep lists of all medications prescribed, and note how well they worked, or what side-effects they had. Record and keep everything having to do with your child's treatment from today until your child turns 20 years old. Then give him/her the book for his future records.

3. Actively seek out a pediatrician or other doctor who is well versed in ADHD and is gifted in treating the condition. Make sure that he is willing to discuss your concerns without placing on you a false sense of guilt. Take my word for it, there are many doctors who are badly misinformed about ADHD out there. But there are also very good doctors. Take the time to find a good one! We discuss more on exactly how to do this at the ADHD Information Library

4. Seek, join, and become active in support groups such as CHADD, CANHC, or others. These groups will help you to stay informed in changes in laws affecting ADHD in school and in the workplace. They will also offer you resources so that you can become a better educated advocate for your child. You will also make some great friends and contacts in these support groups.

5. Always ask questions. Ask everyone that you talk to, from therapists to physicians to educators, to clarify their information. Never let some professional try to intimidate you with big words. Every profession has its own jargon. Do not just let professionals throw jargon around in conversations. Make them explain everything in plain language. This will help you to learn, and as an added bonus, it will let you know whether the professional that you are talking to actually knows his stuff or is just parroting information.

6. Get to really know and understand your child's needs at a deeper level. Keep in mind the differences between real "needs" and things that you "want." Real "needs" would include resources that your child must have in order to function at acceptable levels. Have documentation to back up what you think is a need. Be able to express this information to his school, doctor, etc.

7. Ask for, and be willing to pay for, written reports. It takes time for professionals to write up these reports, and you will have to pay for their time. Keep them in your child's file. These reports should be shared openly with those from whom you seek help for this child. Keep originals and give them copies. Ask for copies of your child's records and keep them in the files. Especially test results and reports.

8. Be your child's advocate in the schools, with his teachers, in your community. This does not mean that your job is to make excuses for inappropriate or criminal behaviors. Please don't become that kind of parent. But it does mean that you are willing to take the time to assess the situation at school and come up with reasonable plans that might be implimented to help your child.



The ADHD Parent's Guide: Questions for the School

From our ADHD Newsletter...

Here is something that you might want to keep if you are thinking about changing your child's school next fall or if you are planning to have your child tested by the school in the near future. Let me say this, if you are planning to have your child tested by your district, do not put off doing the paperwork. Sign them up today! Typically districts have 10 weeks in which to do assessments, but the clock doesn't start until you fill out the paperwork. This can be a long process, and if you delay at doing the paperwork you may not be able to get the assessment done until next year!

Parents, here are some good questions that you might ask the school to ensure optimal management of your child with ADHD.

1. Does your school have any strategies in place for addressing the needs of a child with ADHD?

2. If my child is going to have an educational assessment, will someone explain the evaluation procedure, due process rights, and time line to me? Who will do that?

3. If more than one person will be evaluating my child, who will those people be? When will I meet them?

4. Is someone on the assessment team planning to meet with us to obtain a careful family history, a good developmental history, and a medical history, as well as current assessments and observations? When would they like to meet?

5. Is a school psychologist doing achievement and ability testing? What all is included in the test battery, and what are the goals of the assessment?

6. Did my child do better on the achievement testing which was given in a one-on-one situation than we would have predicted based on his classroom performance?

7. Does the assessment report from the school psychologist show any distinctive features of style and speed of my child's performance?

8. Does this school district provide my child with a case manager or advocate?

9. What interventions are being used now in your school to meet the needs of other ADHD children?

10. If my child has to use medication, who is the designated adult on the school site responsible for its administration? Or, is your system set up to make it my child's responsibility to remember to take his medication. How does the school make certain that a child takes his medication?

You can learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the ADHD Information Library.


Be sure to check out resources in your home town.

Most cities have support groups for parents. Our favorite is CHADD - Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. They usually offer both information meetings as well as opportunities to interact with other parents of ADHD children or teens. Many offer groups for adults with ADHD as well (after all, your child got it from somebody!).

Just some tips...

Always know the difference between big things and little things.

Say more positive and encouraging words than negative or critical words. "Do not let any unwholesome words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to what they need, so that it may benefit those who listen." - St. Paul c.75 AD.



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