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ADHD, Behavioral Problems, and Failing Grades
Q: My 16-year-old has been dealing with ADHD since first grade. I've tried everything possible to try to make learning easy for him. He's still a freshman and will repeat ninth grade next year. He wants to quit school and go to work, but I don't think he can read well enough to even fill out an employment application. I've told him that quitting school is not an option.
My son has a severe behavioral problem. His attitude is terrible and I'm at the point now that I hate to even come home because I know he will give me trouble. What I can do in order to make his life and mine a little more peaceful?
A: It sounds like there is much more than ADHD at work here. Unfortunately, it is quite common for children who have ADHD also to have other learning/behavioral problems. Has your son been given a comprehensive evaluation for these other issues besides the ADHD? Sometimes a change in or addition of medications can address the behavioral issues but usually some direct intervention is also needed. Sometimes this takes the form of social skills training or group therapy. Your local branch of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) should be able to help you to find appropriate help. CHADD's toll-free number is 1-800-233-4050.
Don't overlook the significant learning issues you've presented here. If your son is still having great difficulty with reading, he should be evaluated for a possible learning disability. Your school district should be able to conduct this evaluation at no cost to you. Contact the school guidance counselor to see how to initiate the process. If you have difficulty getting this evaluation started, contact the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities at 1-888-GR8-MIND or go to their website at http://www.aboutld.org. It's very difficult to make any specific recommendations without having more information on exactly what's going on with your son.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.