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ADHD, Reading Problems, and Retention
Q: My son is in tenth grade. He was diagnosed with ADHD in sixth grade. He struggles severely in the classroom because he's about two grade-levels behind in certain reading skills. To talk to him, you can tell he is a very bright child, but his report card has never reflected it. He's currently receiving help at our local Sylvan Learning Center, but I'm afraid he may have to repeat tenth grade. He's the type of child that sets high expectations for himself, and when he doesn't reach them, he gets very discouraged and gives up altogether.
At this point, I feel retention would have a devastating effect on him. However, I think the extra year would help him in the future. How can I find out what my legal rights are concerning the decision to retain him?
A: Retention in a grade rarely has any positive effect unless there is a change in the support services a student receives as well. Has your son received intervention services at school or is he only getting the help you have provided for him? Many children with ADHD also have other learning problems.
Has your son ever been evaluated by your local school system for a possible learning disability? If so, does he have an individual education plan (IEP)? The LRP Publications website includes access to a number of documents about your rights that might be helpful to you. You can also contact Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) at their toll-free number (1-800-233-4050) to see if there is a branch of this parent advocacy group near you. They can provide you with information as well as referrals for assistance.
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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.