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IEP Interventions and Transition to High School
Q: Our teenage son takes Ritalin® for ADHD. He also has ODD and LD in English. The ADHD and the ODD are mild, yet still get in the way. His core grades are always C and below. He tests average or above, with the potential to do so much better. He will be going to high school next year and we're putting together the IEP. What interventions should be in place? What books or videos should I get?
A: You are very wise to be proactive and plan ahead to meet your son's needs in high school. As the demands of school increase, it becomes more and more important to have a well-balanced plan that includes both accommodations and direct interventions. To start with, have a look at Harvey C. Parker's book, Problem Solver Guide for Students with ADHD. He has a good section on educational interventions for students with ODD. Many of the interventions suggested are similar to those recommended for any children with behavior problems:
Model appropriate social behavior.
Post clear rules of classroom behavior and review them frequently, especially before a new activity.
Seat student near quiet students.
Use a behavior-modification program with clear goals and planned rewards for reinforcement.
An excellent website for more advice about specific behavioral concerns comes out of the Hunter College Special Education Program. You can send a question about a particular behavior and elicit a multitude of suggestions geared to your immediate needs.
As for books and videos, have a look at Thomas W. Phelan's book (and accompanying video) Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go Of Your 13-18 Year Olds. Another useful video on this topic is Managing Oppositional Youth: Effective, Practical Strategies for Managing the Behavior of Hard to Manage Kids and Teens by Arthur L. Robin, Ph.D. and Sharon K. Weiss, M.Ed. An excellent all-around guide for understanding issues specific to teenagers with ADHD is Harvey C. Parker's Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding Teenagers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This book includes over 200 educational accommodations for ADHD teenagers.
Once you've managed the behaviors that are getting in the way of your son's success in school, have a look at Leslie Davis, Sandi Sirotowitz, and Harvey C. Parker's excellent guide, Study Strategies Made Easy: A Practical Plan for School Success. This is an excellent guide for strategies on organizational skills, time management, improving reading comprehension, vocabulary development, test-taking skills, memorization, and communication. You have quite a bit of summer reading ahead of you! Good luck!
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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.