The traditional academic environment can pose myriad challenges for a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That’s why it’s vital that parents work in conjunction with school officials to help children develop the organizational skills necessary to flourish.
According to Counseling@NYU, which offers an online master's in school counseling program from NYU Steinhardt, more than 6 million children aged 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. Students with ADHD may have trouble with common school activities like sitting for extended periods, focusing on class lectures or projects, and waiting on a turn during activities.
Parents and education professionals can help children with ADHD by working with them on time management, impulse control, and concentration.
As they get further into the school year, and parents continue the process of familiarizing themselves with their children’s educational environment, it’s vital they discuss any ADHD diagnoses with a few key school professionals.
Working together with a school counselor, teachers, the school nurse, school therapists, and school psychologists, parents can help to create a supportive learning environment for their children with ADHD.
School counselors do more than just provide guidance on a student’s course schedule. They can be helpful resources for parents wanting to ensure consistent support for a child with ADHD. School counselors can help children with ADHD through practicing evidence-based interventions (EBIs) outside the classroom. They also can work closely with parents to develop organizational systems for students that stay consistent at school and at home.
“School counselors should utilize methods that support students’ time management, planning, and organization,” says Anil Chacko, a Counseling@NYU professor. “I would also encourage school counselors to work directly with parents to create a school-home note system to support cross-setting changes.”
Parents should also make sure to connect with teachers about their children’s ADHD diagnoses. Teachers can intervene with certain structural changes to help your student succeed, such as a system that exchanges dependable, tangible rewards for good behavior.
Teachers can also create conditions optimal for your child’s learning by giving them a seat close to the front of the classroom and away from distractions, for example, or towards the side if the student struggles with hyperactivity. They can also break up longer assignments into shorter chunks to help with focus and give students opportunities to move around by asking them to help out with physical classroom tasks.
School Therapists (Speech, Physical, Occupational)
Behavioral therapy can be an essential component in managing a student’s ADHD systems. Discussing a child’s diagnosis with any speech, physical, or occupational therapists on the school’s staff can give him or her opportunities for special skills development.
According to ThoughtCo, speech, occupational, and physical therapists are responsible for identifying students who need targeted services. Equipping them with knowledge about your child’s ADHD can give them a chance to meet and assess your child and provide recommendations for any helpful interventions in their fields of expertise.
Touching base with school nurses can be especially helpful when medication is a part of your child’s ADHD management. School nurses can help students stay on track with administration of daily regimens and serve as another place of support for children struggling with symptoms. (Just make sure to follow your school’s guidelines on providing prescription medications.)
Keeping nurses up-to-date with children’s medication needs also gives them the ability to help in the safest possible way if any other medical situations arise.
If available, school psychologists can be a wonderful professional resource to parents working to create a support system for children with ADHD. School psychologists can work alongside counselors and school therapists on behavioral interventions and help students manage particular challenges posed by a school environment.
Focus, time management, and organizational skills can prove challenging for students with ADHD. But by working with key school professionals, parents can create a structure and support system needed to help their children thrive.