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ADHD, Bright, and Failing
Q: My very bright seventh-grader is on medication for attentional difficulties. He has an individual assistance plan in place at his private school, but I feel like his teachers are placating me. He has a behavioral problem about doing his homework. His attitude in school is great, he stays on task, he's well liked by his peers, and he's in counseling weekly. But he's still failing his courses. I just can't find the right buttons to push to get this kid going.
A: Is your child's counselor addressing his motivational/organizational needs as well as his emotional concerns? It certainly would be appropriate to enlist his counselor's aid in this difficult situation. If he is not willing to address your son's needs in school, then it may be appropriate to seek other help for him. For example, CHADD (Children and Adults with Attentional Deficit Disorders) may be able to direct you to a "coach" who can help your son put systems into place to organize his life and make him more independent and productive in school. You can reach CHADD at 1-800-233-4050 or go to their website at www.chadd.org to find a branch near your community.
If you want to try to try to help your son on your own, you might want to look at Sandra Rief's book: How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children. She offers many practical suggestions for helping your son complete homework and organize his life. Harvey C. Parker's book, Problem Solver Guide for Students with ADHD is another good resource.
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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.