Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism, or another learning disability need support in all aspects of their lives, especially in the classroom. As a parent, you are the most important advocate for your child, but you’re not alone. Your child’s teachers and school administrators can provide valuable, much-needed support.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. About 10% of children ages 4 to 17 suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to data collected from 2015 to 2016 by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Children diagnosed with ADHD often perform poorly in school as they struggle to control their hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. This significantly impacts their ability to learn effectively.
When children are struggling with mental health issues, their performance at school is often one of the first indicators. Your child’s teachers are in the unique position to observe their academic performance, day-to-day mood, interactions with peers and authority figures, and overall functioning in an environment full of social rules and expectations. Teachers have their eyes on many factors that indicate your child’s well-being; and they also have the ability to see changes over the course of the school year. Depending on the size of the school and community, teachers may also have knowledge of your child’s activities and social life outside of the classroom.
Many parents are familiar with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), which are an important part of the school day for children with disabilities. IEPs lay out the specific program of support, services and special education needed to help them succeed. You might not be as familiar with 504 Plans, a similar kind of educational plan but with one key difference. A 504 Plan can be used to help children with mental health challenges do better in school, without removing them from the regular classroom.
The end of the year is approaching, which means we are already halfway through the school year. Holiday parties, special religious celebrations and services, snow days, and winter break are all here. While the holidays are meant to bring us joy, rest, and spiritual rejuvenation, all of these changes also can be disruptive or stressful for families with children. This may be especially true for families with children who have special needs due to a mental health diagnosis.
When we talk about mental health and wellness in children, we often focus on what adults are doing – being vigilant for the warning signs, getting kids into the right treatment programs, raising awareness in our communities. Sometimes in all our efforts to raise awareness and advocate for our kids, adults forget that young people themselves have tremendous power to change their worlds and the lives of those around them.Sometimes it’s a simple as having someone to sit next to at lunch.