My Child Has ADHD: Individual Learning Plans and School Interventions (Updated)

17 Oct

ADHDbyDavidCastilloDominic In a previous post I wrote about many of the challenges and issues faced by children and adolescents suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the importance of obtaining a proper diagnosis which should include psychological testing and input from teachers, parents, as well as your child’s physician. Assuming that your child has been fully assessed and properly diagnosed, the next step for you, as a parent or caregiver, is to understand what you can do to help your child cope with his ADHD at school and at home. This is where a school intervention plan that is tailored to meet the particular needs of your child becomes important. Just like each child’s symptoms and difficulties are unique to them, there is no “one size fits all” school intervention plan.

What Are School Intervention Plan Options?

The best place to start is to work together as a team in collaboration with your child, school teacher(s), principal, and counsellor, as well as his psychologist and physician. Having all the professionals and caregivers on the same page is not only in your child’s best interest, but is also the key to obtaining the most positive results. Together the different intervention options can be explored.

For many children suffering from ADHD, a trial of medication (such as Ritalin, Concerta, Biphentin, Vyvanse, etc) has been found to be very beneficial for their school functioning and academic achievement. Whether or not you decide that medication is a good option for your child, there are other behavioural, psychological, social and therapeutic interventions that can also be very effective in helping your child manage his or her ADHD.

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Specifically, most children with ADHD and/or special learning needs require and greatly benefit from having an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) (the terms ILP and IEP are often used interchangeably) that is tailored to their particular learning needs and that outlines the specific measures to be implemented at school and at home to meet those needs. Such plans can include extra resource support, tutoring, modifications to your child’s program and/or daily schedule, and various other types of accommodations.

Here are examples of three accommodations at school that may be included in your child’s ILP or IEP and are generally recommended for children diagnosed with ADHD:

1. Classroom Seating – In order to maximize your child’s attention and minimize distractions, your child should be seated closest to the teacher and away from the window or the door. However, if your child is very restless and has difficulty remaining seated, your child may feel most comfortable towards the back of the room so as to be able to stand up and move around as needed.

2. Modified Workload – Because it typically takes your child longer to finish his schoolwork, your child may benefit from having a modified and reduced workload. For example, a child who has ADHD may be permitted to complete fewer examples or items for homework. Moreover, your child would likely benefit from having projects and large tasks broken down into smaller, more manageable steps.

3. Testing Accommodations – Given your child’s attention and concentration issues, your child should be provided with extra time to complete tests and exams. In addition, because your child is easily distracted by noise, your child may be permitted to write tests or exams in a different classroom or resource room.

It is important for you to remember that you are the best advocate for your child and you know your child the best. As such, you are strongly encouraged to maintain open and regular communication with your child’s teachers, whether by phone, email, parent-teacher meetings or by daily and/or weekly notes in your child’s agenda. Through ongoing feedback and discussion in collaboration with school personnel and your child’s health providers, you will be able to monitor his or her progress and make modifications and changes to the ILP as needed.

As always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and inquiries.

Best wishes,
Dr. Stephanie

Additional Resources

There are some books for children about ADHD that you may find interesting and helpful as they offer tips on how to manage this problem at school and at home. You and your child may want to check these out!

I am so excited to announce that we have collaborated and published our newest therapeutic resource for children about ADHD! Co-author and illustrator Elaheh Bos and I are truly hoping our book, entitled Billy Can’t Slow Down!: Story & Tools for managing ADHD will be a useful resource for many children and families dealing with ADHD. Please take a look!! 🙂

Book TitleAuthorAge RangeDescription
Billy Can't Slow Down!: Story & Tools for managing ADHD
Elaheh Bos and Stephanie Margolese, Ph.D.Ages 6 to 10In this new therapeutic resource, parents and children alike will relate to Billy and see his journey as he struggles in school, with friends, and at home, is tested by a psychologist, learns all about having ADHD, and then works with his psychologist, teachers, and parents to apply different helpful strategies at school and at home to better manage his problem.

As a co-author of this book, I am extremely proud of this resource and I strongly believe it has the potential to help many children suffering from ADHD and their families.
Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D. & Ellen B. Dixon, Ph.D.Ages 6 to 10This highly recommended book is great for teaching children about ADHD and offers practical tips and checklists to help them organize their tasks and daily routines and solve everyday problems.
Cory Stories: A Kid's Book About Living With ADHD Jeanne Kraus

With a Note to Parents by Jane Annunziata, Ph.D.
Ages 6 to 11This fun comic-style book offers a very relatable story about a boy named Cory and the challenges he faces with his ADHD as well as the different ways he overcomes these issues and is able to pay attention, calm down, make friends, and feel good about himself.
The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD
John F. Taylor, Ph.D.Ages 8 to 12This strongly recommended book by Dr. Taylor is fun, engaging, and informative for children with ADHD and their parents. The book explains ADHD and different treatments including medication and also provides kids with many helpful suggestions on how to manage their ADHD, such as improve their organization, deal with strong feelings, choose healthy foods, make and keep friends, succeed at school, and more.

Image at top left courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image on right courtesy of zdiviv / FreeDigitalPhotos.net