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Homeschooling for a Child with ADHD?
Q: My husband and I just obtained emergency custody of his two youngest children. Our 12-year-old, who has ADHD and takes Concerta ER, is currently enrolled in middle school. The school is waiting to receive his IEP from his previous school in another state. From working with him on homework, I'm finding that he's nowhere near grade level and that his study skills are extremely poor. I've also found that he responds very well to me when we work on his homework, and he's able to grasp the information we go over -- but he doesn't always seem to be able to give the information back on tests or other class assignments. He also doesn't seem able to process the information that he was taught that day in school.
After we receive our son's IEP from his last school and meet with the special education teachers, should I consider homeschooling as a way to help him? I'm a stay-at-home mom and RN and could devote the time. He just currently seems so lost and our goal is to help him succeed as best we can. He seems to have the ability to learn and grasp the information with lots of one-on-one attention. Any suggestions?
A: If your son has basic decoding needs (i.e., trouble reading the words on the page), I would hesitate to try to teach him to read on your own. There are some excellent programs available for children his age who are behind in reading (one particularly good one is the Wilson Reading System) but I think that they should really be used by a professional who is trained to do this special work.
If he can already read, but he has poor organizational and study skills, or difficulty retaining what he reads or hears, it's possible that he could benefit from a homeschool environment. But why not give his new school a chance? If his academic needs were not identified and addressed in his previous school, I would recommend asking for a reevaluation to see exactly what his academic levels are now.
Many children who have ADHD also have learning disabilities. School becomes very complicated at your son's age. The content demands increase tremendously and children have to juggle many different subjects and work much more independently. Your son needs the best supports he can get so he can become a more independent, successful learner.
If you need help in working through the system, call Children with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD; www.chadd.org) at 1-800-233-4050. They can help you find a parent advocacy group in your community where you can get some hands-on help. 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.