One-on-one aide: Has anyone had the... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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One-on-one aide


Has anyone had the accommodation of a one-on-one aide for their child? How was the experience? I have conflicting opinions from the people on my son’s educational team on whether they think he needs it.

He will begin Kindergarten this fall.

21 Replies

Thanks for your question.

I work in special education and we rarely allow a child to have a one-on-one. The reason is that the child usually starts to depend on the assistances ( they wait until the adult tells them what to do) and doesn’t learn to do their work on their own. There are many supports that can be written into the IEP/504 plan which supports independent learning. For example: check in for assignments at the beginning of the day and end of day. Review of material during a non academic time.

I have also worked with children that finish our school at 22 years old and are still waiting for a prompt to do something.

It is my recommendation is you place the issues he is having into the educational plan and find ways to address it.

Good luck.

Preschool teacher feels the same as what you said. Behavioral therapist doesn’t agree. We will have our IEP soon with everyone present along with a representative from special ed. department. Hopefully we can all get on the same page.

Has your child been disgnoisised with a second issue? Is your child a safety risk? Does he run out of class.. etc?

Is he taking any medication?

Curious what her reason is for wanting an aid?

Hope all goes well in the meeting.

It’s a safety issue because he has been aggressive (poor impulse control)

We will eventually be on medication I’m sure, but our entire team of people are in agreement that we want to hold off.

I am curious what the doctor who diagnosised you son with ADHD recommends when they know he is having safety issues.

I understand that your son is young, but at this age it is very very hard for children to control themselves and medication is key to helping. Behavior intervention is also key, hope goals will be written to help him in this area.

I have been down this road and have experience with this struggle.

Good luck!

Thanks for your response.

Doctor was made aware of our struggles, but she did not recommend medication at 5yrs. old.

My daughter might end up needing one. Her teacher thinks they end up hindering the child in terms of the child ends up asking the aid of they can respond, asking them if they can go to the restroom. This might be due to age though, my daughter is 5. Have yet to see if she will need one since we aren't in school right now yet.

I don't have the experience of it yet, but my 2nd grade son was approved for a one-to-one aide due to impulsive and aggressive behaviors. When I first requested it through the principal, she said that's rare and would not be approved. I ignored her and requested it through the special education coordinator, who I should have gone through in the first place, and he was approved for a one-to-one aide 4 hours a day. They started the interview process and then schools closed down. They'll have to start over from scratch whenever school resumes. The principal did mention they do not like to do one-on-one aides because the student can become reliant on the aide, but for everyone's safety my son needs one. As he gets older, matures, and learns to handle his emotions, I feel they can phase it out.

If you feel your son needs one, I would request it. They might say they want to observe him in Kindergarten first to see how he does. If they do, I would not wait more than a month or two into the school year to request an IEP Meeting to discuss it. Getting a one-to-one aid once approved can take a couple months from posting the position to interviewing and then hiring. Plus, depending on where you are located school might not even be on normal schedule in the Fall. In Maryland, some educators think we won't even go back before January.

in reply to mdmom

Can you also be involved in training this person? Many times they do not come trained..

My son is 9 and going into 4th grade. This past year in 3rd grade was is first foray into the public school system and it didn’t go well to the lack of understanding of our son’s issues. Besides ADHD he has SPD, anxiety, depression and possibly high functioning autism. We have his end of year ARD on Thursday and are thinking of requesting an aide to start next year at school. We want someone there who will give him positive reinforcement when deserved, redirection in a positive light instead of making him feel worse about himself, and be there when other staff or admin try to discipline him without knowing his issues. He is an excellent student but his behavioral and sensory issues (not recognized by school OT’s but outside OT’s and psychologists) prevent him from being as successful as he could be. Is this a good reason to request an aide?

Those are good reasons, but from what I hear, be prepared: a one-on-one aide rarely gets approved.

Request an aide ASAP if you think there is a need.

Submit a note from your doctor prescribing a one-on-one para to the school. The schools can make the arrangements in advance while they are doing their budgeting and make plans to hire the appropriate staff. If it turns out the aide isn't really needed, you can revise the IEP for the next school year. The school will find something for the aide to do when they are in the budget. Don't wait until the fall to request one.

My son primarily diagnosed with ADHD, SPD, and ODD is entering 9th grade next year. He has had a one-on-one para since 3rd grade. In elementary school, it was mainly due to poor self control. While listed as a one-on-one aide. The aide served somewhat as a teacher helper who kept a close eye on my son for when he needed redirection. So you get the benefit of the aide when needed. The teacher would likely appreciate the help as well. ADHD children need regular reminders and a close eye and it's difficult for teachers who have an entire class full of students to always catch issues before they escalate.

At times, my child vented to the aide who interpreted the complaints and comments of a child in a way that was not helpful to our family. I was very involved in parent groups at the district and school level but several times, I was asked to respond to "reports" based on some idle kid venting my child had with his para.

My son never believed he needed an aide so he has always tries to pretend they don't exist. He needs them though. I ask that the teachers not rely on the aides to provide academic instruction except for reinforcement. You want your child to see the teacher as in charge of the class and their school work, although, when needed, if possible, the para is there to answer a question or help out. It should be clear to the teacher and the para, that the para is there to redirect, help focus, and manage social skills not to be a crutch or serve as a primary teacher. For instance, if the ADHD kid doesn't pay attention to the lesson, the teacher should not de facto expect the para to get the kid up to speed. The para can also alert the teacher when some instructional support is needed. The teacher needs to a least briefly meet with the kid and talk about the lesson and what the next steps are even if then they leave it to the para.

Hope this helps.

Good luck!

in reply to m5sky

Thank you for sharing your experience.


My son is in kindergarten, and he has a one-to-one aide. It’s working out great. He doesn’t know that person is specifically for him, which is how I like it. She allows him to work independently, but is there to steer him back in the right direction when he loses focus. His one-to-one is used a more a teachers assistant with an eagle eye for my son.

Good luck

This is exactly the scenario I’m hoping for!

If the ADHD is so symptomatic at this age to require one on one supervision, you might consider a medication trial (and, yes, I read the previous replies). Our son did much better after a medication was started at this age.

in reply to Elijah1

Totally agree with this. My daughter was diagnosed and medicated at 5. I wanted to do that first, instead of an aide, as I did not want her to become reliant on an adult to work.

You know your child best and what you want to achieve, what they can handle.

My son who had learning disabilities in the 4-6 grades same school where my wife taught had an aide, who also read everything to him and wrote his answers for him because his reading and writing were so bad but he is intelligent. Yes, his dependency was great and I considered it laziness until a therapist I knew from working in juvenile justice explained that his thoughts couldn't make it from the brain to the paper and vice versa. He graduated on time (lots of help in HS too) but flunked basic classes at the local Community college. At 25 he started a technical college for (of course) video game programming and is doing well. His reading is reasonable and his writing is as good/bad as mine but he types okay. No issues on behavior or violence and not really ADHD

In most cases the aide functioned as a classroom aide helping anyone who needed help but he got the most attention so whether they call it one-on-one or classroom assistance for all doesn't matter as much.

For your own benefit, look up the Pax Good Behavior Game and Pax Tools for parents on you tube. Pax GBG is a tremendous help to all elementary children but especially ADHD. It is the only PBIS strategy that actually allows children to practice self-control and self-regulation. Pax Tools are (literally and figuratively) the bells and whistles that go along with GBG but have a great deal to do with its success, especially using the timer with the rewards.

I work in juvenile justice and was looking at what reduces substance abuse. Basically NOTHING! Some things are 5-10% effective. GBG reduced substance abuse and many other negative behaviors by 50-90% in clinical studies over the last 40 years. WOW.

Now GBG reduced classroom disruptions by up to 90%. Think how that helps ADHD kids and others but it doesn't explain reducing substance abuse 15 years later, which it did.

Ironically, a teen study by Dr. Laurence Steinberg noting that teens do really stupid thing when excited and with their friends provided the bridge as Steinberg noted also that there is evidence that the prefrontal cortex of the brain can be strengthened over time by practice just like exercise improves muscles. But how?

Well GBG provides practice in class with good behavior winning exciting physical activity rewards for teams. Excited! With Friends! When the reward timer (15 seconds of doing the chicken dance) goes off, the kids have to sit back down and get back to work. Within days or weeks the kids do this without the teacher's external discipline. Done several times a day for 150 days of the school year, and... there's your exercise of the prefrontal cortex that then carries over into everything in self-control.

Pax has special strategies for K and under, and their parent tools will help you keep your sanity. Check these out for starters:

Pax Breaks

Pax Tools intro

Pax Amends

RichSeitzOceanNJ- Thanks for your post. I am not sure we can say nothing helps teen from substance abuse. I know that medication, keeping them busy, helping shape their pool of friends and positive role modeling has helped our son the most. Our son has been so stable and feeling in control of his impulsive behavior and I know that helps. When we compare children with ADHD and take the correct dose, timing and type of medication to children that do not take medication there is an impact. I don't have time to pull the studies, but have seen that it is very important while growing to decrease risky behavior and without medication children are much more willing to have risky behavior.

My son did not have a one-on-one aide but I would have certainly embraced it if they offered it. He has ASD and ADHD, so his focus is...misdirected? Most of the time? I realized this especially since we started doing the remote learning due to Covid 19. Left to his own devices, he was just going through the motions, if that. And his focus is so tenuous that he needs to be reminded every five minutes to attend. Simply just being next to him to poke prod and remind has done wonders. I think it takes a while to develop those executive skills, and it's not something they learn through osmosis and exposure. But I also have faith that with some mindfulness on my part, I can also coax and nudge him to do more as he is developmentally ready to do so.

I work as a 1:1 aide in a school district and rarely do children that young have 1:1’s unless they are diagnosed with situations like autism. Children with adhd might have an aide in the room if there’s more than one child but very rarely. Goid luck!!

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