One of the main reasons why I wanted to learn more about ADHD and the rights afforded to people with ADHD is because of the negative experience we had with our daughter’s school (fortunately, not the one she is in at present).
As you can read in the chapter entitled “It’s All Good, Baby”, I knew that our daughter had ADHD from birth. It became even more apparent once she started kindergarten. During our attempts at homework throughout her first two years of school, she would end up throwing herself dramatically on the couch sobbing “I don’t get it. I’ll just be stupid for the rest of my life!” To say it was heartbreaking is an understatement. No five or six year old should feel this way (nor should anyone regardless of their age). I tried very hard to help and communicate with the teachers while not being annoying. I was a high school teacher myself, mind you, so I knew I didn’t want to be one of those parents. But mid-way through her first grade year things were not improving and the Mama Bear instinct in me took over.
I had a meeting with the administration of the school. We discussed my daughter’s progress (or lack thereof) and I told them about our horrific nightly homework routine. After we had talked for a little bit, I finally mentioned that my husband had severe ADHD and I was pretty sure that is what we were dealing with here and that we needed to take serious action right away because I could not have a six year old who already hated school and thought she was stupid. The principal looked at me calmly and said,
“Well we don’t really need all that paperwork. If you just tell the teacher some things that you think will help, that should be fine at least until the end of third grade.”
Um. What? This is 100% false as well as 100% wrong. If a parent requests an evaluation, one must be done. Again, you can read more specifics about how to request one and the timeline for it to be completed as well as what to look for in a good 504 or IEP, so I won’t go into details here, but I certainly knew, even back several years ago that this was NOT the appropriate answer for how to help my child.
If I had not been a teacher myself, I may have happily agreed to just talk to my daughter’s teachers for the next two years of school “at least until the end of third grade” and went on my merry way. But I was a teacher who knew a little bit about ADHD back then and I knew that this was not how this Mama Bear was going to proceed.
I worried about the other moms though. The ones who were not teachers. The ones who would have left that meeting thinking they had a solution only to find out that their children would fall farther and farther behind and deeper and deeper into self-loathing and even depression. I knew right then and there that I would not let another mom go through that and that is why there is a section in Spaz that deals with the rights of students with ADHD and how to best serve children and young adults in our education system today.
If you’re left wondering how my daughter is doing today, well her current school has an incredible SPED department and her IEP supports her needs in every way possible. So, to all the fellow Mama Bears out there, there is hope. There is help. And you are not alone. Keep fighting!