How would you respond to this teacher? - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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How would you respond to this teacher?

ChristinaR1967 profile image
16 Replies

A little backstory--my son is in the 10th grade, 15 years old. He was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD in 7th grade. Tried 2 medications that made him very sick. Not on meds now--he has a homework coach/tutor and myself who is trying to help him with executive functioning and organization challenges. He has a 504 plan.

This teacher is aware of all this, even stating she takes meds for OCD and hyperactivity issues. My son got behind on work", completed it, but still missing 2 assignments. This is what she wrote.

"I told him that if he wants credit for this assignment today that he can turn it in tomorrow with a late pass (each student has two). I told him otherwise it is a zero because it is unacceptable to waste an entire class period. If he was confused, he had over an hour to ask for help. He simply chose not to spend his time well. The students around him did their work, so there is no reason to have not even started."

How would you respond? I will share what I drafted after hearing your input.

16 Replies
Onthemove1971 profile image


Thanks for your post, I have seen these types of posts and what it tell me is:

1. If your child has a 504 Plan, then there are no late assignments and she has not read the plan

2. She does not understand what it is like for children with ADHD to take on the challenges of school with many classes and many teachers.

3. She is a general educational teacher who needs to learn about the best way to support kids with ADHD.

You guys still have a lot of time left in the school, can you make some changes to help him become successful? Or maybe you have already done these things.

1. Can you get your son a study skills class? Yes, he might have to give up an elective so he can have a class period where he is assisted by a teacher and learns how to organize

2. Written in his 504 plan ( if you don't have one, could you get one it would help now and if he decides to goes to college), should . be extended deadlines and accommodations that could really help.

3. What do you think about at the beginning of next year your son writes a letter in his own "voice" to the teachers and you send it to them?

4. The goal would be to get staff/teachers to help him manage this on his own... is there someone at the school who could help you with this?

Hope these points help, I wonder if you could send the teacher a basic outline ( maybe CHADD has something) and explain he will need more time.

Good luck!

ChristinaR1967 profile image
ChristinaR1967 in reply to Onthemove1971

Thank you so much for your reply. I like the suggestion of a study skills table. I will look into it and see what the school offers. His 504 plan does stipulate that he has extra days to turn in items without penalty. I also like the idea of him writing something in his own voice.

It boggles my mind that these teachers act clueless about ADHD, especially the inattentive kind. I have every teacher say, "your son is nice and respectful..he never gets in trouble. He just can't seem to focus on his work." It's like they can't seperate the two! Inattentive type kids are not deliberately misbehaving when they don't complete work!

I don't like the comparison of the kids, and I told her each person is an individual.

I know teachers have a lot on them, but all I ask is that they understand that ADHD kids may have challenges, but have many abilities!

I hate that the educational system is structured for only one type of individual.

It's frustrating to say the least. I agonize over his grades. We will keep moving forward, that's all we can do. Thank you for your input!

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to ChristinaR1967

Glad these suggestions help. I would love to see how things change for him and them once they get a letter in his voice. You could even start this when he changes classes in Jan.

Yes! I wish it was mandatory for all of us teachers to take professional development, which are not academic.i just love to learn so I contuine to work hard to meet the needs of children.

Good luck on your journey!

Big hugs.

ADHD_DAD profile image

Hi. The best advice my Education lawyer ever gave was "be the adult in the room." Learn to use the words "disability" and "discrimination" when describing the situation. I like to reiterate that the idea is provide the child with the same opportunity to enjoy the success from his hard work as children without his disability. I often make analogies to other disabilities easier to understand, like deafness. Would the teacher punish a deaf child for not hearing for the entire class? I doubt it, but she's saying the same thing about your son's disability. Copy and administrator (principal or vice principal). Be professional. No anger or emotion. Good luck.

ChristinaR1967 profile image
ChristinaR1967 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Wow..thank you. Sometimes it feels hard as a parent to call this a disability, but it is. I appreciate your input. I did respond yesterday and this what I wrote. When responding to his teachers, I find it challenging to make sure I'm using the right words. I'm always concerned they will use something against my son. Please be honest and tell me what you think. I value the input.


He started the worksheets last night. He told me himself he had Spanish homework. He will finish them tonight. Per his 504 plan, he is allowed extra time to complete his work.

I agree that work should be done in class as much as possible. However, having inattentive ADHD, lack of focus and procrastination are issues. Every person is an individual and shouldn't be compared to others, nor should students be viewed all the same or expected to learn all the same way.

As a parent and as an former educator myself, helping young people find their strengths and work through their challenges is key. (Name) is totally capable to do good work and he is trying to find his way, with having inattentive ADHD and trying to balance the demands of 7 classes.

My words are not to make excuses--I'm simply pointing out the fact of the challenges with inattentive ADHD and being an advocate for my child.

I do understand that teachers have many things to contend with and several hats to wear and can't do it alone. Parents need to work with teachers as a team and I'm more than willing.

If you need to see his 504 plan and what it stipulates, I am more than willing to forward it to you again.

Thank you

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to ChristinaR1967

Will try to reply later today.

dubstepMaul profile image
dubstepMaul in reply to ChristinaR1967

Good job, ChristinaR.

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to ChristinaR1967

Hi. No criticism here. You should be applauded for advocating for your child! Because you asked, I will share some truth with you which, if you choose to accept it, may help you in your advocacy going forward.

First, be more cynical (then be MORE cynical) Second, my points below are premised upon the belief that providing reasonable accommodations to allow a child with a disability the same opportunity as her peers to enjoy success is the RIGHT thing to do, whether it is ramps for a child in a wheelchair or extended time for a child with ADHD. To do otherwise, is to discriminate against the child with disability. Teachers know what the RIGHT thing is. While they will deny it, the US DOH sent a "Dear Colleague" letter regarding ADHD to all educators in public schools in 2016. The problem is that there are pressures from competing interests for the same limited resources ($$$) together with a union whose goal is to prevent anything which results in more work for the teachers, and a desire among (tenured) educators to enjoy more autonomy than could be expected in any job not in academics (i.e., they don't want to be told what to do). The result of these and other factors is that teachers (except the exceptional) will do what is RIGHT only if made to do so. 504 plans are written, but often the person whose job it is to ensure enforcement of the 504 is a school psychologist who (as an administrator candidly advised me last spring) is in the same "collective bargaining unit" as the teachers she is tasked with policing. Thus, there is pressure on him/her not to take or agree to any action which makes more work for the teachers. The teachers fail to follow the 504 plan or provide accommodations and then blame your child (as you are seeing) for his "failures." Next, they will blame you. They will claim that by removing obstacles, you are failing your child by not allowing him to face failure. This is not true.. It is just a tactic to avoid what is perceived as more work. Your child, like mine, has a disability. Most recently, parents like us have been conflated with parents like Laurie Laughlin seeking to secure an unfair advantage for our children. This is all an attempt to avoid anything perceived as more work.

You can use this system to your advantage. What I have learned (and been told) is that the way to make the teachers/ school do the RIGHT thing is to make it MORE work to do the wrong thing. That means you must stay the course, be consistent (be polite, be professional) and be firm. I have found that the 3rd meeting is when I get what I have requested (a reasonable accommodation). The thinking perhaps is that most parents won't stay the course and attend 3 meetings on the same issue. My mantra is that I will never waiver, I will never tire and I will never stop advocating for what is RGHT (see above). If continuing to push back against me is MORE work than doing the RIGHT thing, then (and only then) will they do the RIGHT thing.

So, my advice is to stay the course. Always be consistent. Use the terminology "reasonable accommodation," "disability" and "discrimination." Never threaten to do things, just do them. Don't threaten to copy an administrator on the next e-mail, just copy an administrator. Don't threaten to contact a lawyer, just contact one. Set up a folder on your computer and save all correspondence with the teachers and school. Scan and save anything in paper form (like notes or comments from teachers on homework or tests).

Be consistent, Be persistent. Be professional, Be polite. Be the adult in the room. And be cynical! You are on the side of what's RIGHT and your child is worth it!!

Pmom profile image
Pmom in reply to ADHD_DAD

Well said.

ChristinaR1967 profile image
ChristinaR1967 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Thank you so much for your feedback. I feel like I'm always walking a fine line between being a strong advocate for my child and not becoming an overbearing parent. I feel like the more I try to help my child, the harder it gets.

However, I cannot give up and I know it will get better. My child must persevere and I must too!! It sure helps to have places like this to commiserate and to get great advice like yours..I THANK YOU!

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to ChristinaR1967

You're welcome. You are NOT an overbearing mother (but expect that to be suggested). Who will fight for your son if not you! You are a super hero!!

ChristinaR1967 profile image
ChristinaR1967 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Thank you so much! Well, the plot thickens since I last responded. I received a call this afternoon from the social worker, referred by the teacher I sent that email! He wants to meet in his words, "to see how we can help (Name). " At first I was upset (actually in tears), but this could be a good thing. Maybe I can get some more accomodations added to his 504. I just need to be prepared. I have all these feelings and concerns, I just need to be ready.

ChristinaR1967 profile image
ChristinaR1967 in reply to ADHD_DAD

I'm using all your suggestions--I plan to be the "lawyer in the room"!! What I need to know is how far can we go with a 504 as far as accommodations or will they try to talk me into an IEP?

The meeting is Thursday. I have to be ready for this. Sigh.

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to ChristinaR1967

Sorry I didn't see this before your meeting. The advice was to be the "ADULT in the room" not the lawyer in the room (but maybe they are the same thing?). An IEP is a HIGHER level of support, so the school district (whose default is to do nothing--see above) would be more likely to DENY an IEP in favor of a 504, not the other way around. How it works is that if your child doesn't qualify for an IEP, he still qualifies for a 504 plan by virtue of his diagnosis of ADHD. They are based upon different laws. IEP is Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 is the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. To be clear, IEP is a HIGHER level of support. Parents fight to get an IEP which has been denied, not talked into an IEP (be more cynical; school will try to withhold support, not "talk you into" extra support he doesn't need). Does that make sense? In short, if the school agrees your child qualifies for an IEP,I think you should take it! More support, more enforceable. advised as you move forward. Good luck.

RD_VB profile image
RD_VB in reply to ChristinaR1967

Hi Christina,

Curious, what did you do ? Were you advised on considering an IEP ? or were you able to add accommodations? Does the school recommend accommodation or is it on the Parents to come up with ?

I have requested for a meeting as well, so wanted to make sure if there is a checklist of accommodations and you select what you need or is it unique for every case?

ChristinaR1967 profile image
ChristinaR1967 in reply to RD_VB


Thank you for asking!

Well, I met the Spanish teacher and the social worker after school. She's young, looks to be about 22 or so, fresh out of college.

The first thing they did, was start asking my son questions of why he isn't getting his work done, etc. it just felt like a bunch of questions like "why are you doing what you do?".

I didn't like that, so I interjected. I felt like these questions were silly, because it's the ADHD that makes him do what he's doing!

When I started to speak, the social worker looked a bit annoyed and said, "shouldn't you let him answer that. He should speak"

I told him I totally agree with him speaking and I want him to feel free, but I'm here as an advocate.

My son then said learning this language is difficult for him.

I was taking notes and I actually had brought some handouts about inattentive add. Unfortunately I didnt give them to the teacher.

To be honest, I didn't like her very much. Everything about her delivery was accusatory. I stopped the accusations and I made sure to be encouraging to my son.

So basically, we decided no more using his phone in her room, because she said the phone was a big distractor.

It was also decided that if it's difficult for him to verbally ask her a question, that he could email her, which is pretty worthless, because he never checks his emails--its overwhelming because he gets tons of emails everyday! My son did say he's willing to try though.

She did say that she is here to help him, but I noticed she and the social worker set it up that my son has to take the initiative first.

Basically, I don't feel like much came out of the meeting. I tried to get an extension with turning in work late on his 504. Right now its set that he can have two days. The social worker didn't think it was a good idea to extend it beyond that, even though I tried!

I mentioned the IEP. He thinks we should stick with the 504. I asked him the difference and he said the IEP was more testing and legal requirements, but the 504 he thinks is good plan for my son. I told him that we will revisit this discussion. I also mentioned that he has an upcoming pediatrician appointment and we are going to just discuss medications. The social worker suggested going to a psychiatrist where they have more experience with ADHD medications than the pediatrician.

To be honest, I don't think much came out of it and I did find it interesting that the teacher did mention her OCD and ADHD herself and that she takes medication. She told me this herself previously. It doesn't really mean much, because she has no empathy for my son's challenges.

So overall, it was uneventful for the most part. He is still doing academically poor in the class.

I made an appointment with the guidance counselor and I'm going to take him out of the class next semester. While his other teachers have been much more accommodating and his grades are in the upswing, this teacher and her methods arent going to work for my child. The majority of the class is failing, it's not just my child.

I wish it could have gone better. I just feel so frustrated. On a positive note, my son spoke very well for himself and that made me very happy.

Overall, I felt the meeting was handled as if my son does not have a disability. At least they know that I am here to be an advocate for my child. The discussion isn't over.

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