Any parent of an ADHD+er knows what it takes to get a worthy school plan finalized. Testing, research, documentation, meetings, negotiations and more meetings – all to ensure a student gets what they need to succeed. After all is said and done, those words – the ones that took so much blood, sweat, and tears to agree upon – are completely meaningless unless there are dedicated people working daily to bring those words to life.
To be honest, I’m sick and tired of plans. We’ve had a “plan” since age three. We’ve had them all with our kids–IEPs, 504s, private school student support plans. Sometimes they help, sometimes they don’t. If we have a good teacher, we don’t need the plan.
Someone told me once, “You have the most complicated child I’ve ever taught who has the least amount of services on their IEP.” That kind of sums it up; if the environment and teacher is right, he thrives. If not, there are no services that can fix that. I think that has a lot to do with the anxiety that accompanies him, like the devil on his shoulder, everywhere he goes. There’s no school accomodation for anxiety.
For us, what I’ve learned is that what’s more important than the plan is the meeting for the plan. In the meeting, I can paint the picture of my children, what each one brings for strengths, gifts, and talents, and share how previous teachers have helped them shine or put their light in a closet. There’s no magic in the plan, but there is love in understanding and empathy. And love, sweet love, is what our complex kids need.
Norrine’s words couldn’t be truer, I’ve also found that good teachers trump any plan. Every time someone takes the time to know and engage my ADHDer, gain his trust and truly encourage him, he thrives and they enjoy having him as a student.
I’ve also found the most valuable tool is meeting the teachers personally. Sitting face to face to share WHO my ADHDer is and WHAT brings out his best is an invaluable opportunity. The reality is, there isn’t a long list of accommodations to follow. Instead, my ADHDer’s biggest need is feeling valued. He’ll know in a heartbeat if you write him off as not worth it. And that will guarantee a sure shut down.
We know the importance and necessity of working with school personnel to build a solid plan. We’ve sat around the table more times than we care to count. What we’ve found to work better than any plan is working with teachers who want to work with our kids. When a teacher uses their unique gifts to bring out a student’s potential – well, that’s the best plan.
What has worked for your ADHDer? How do you make sure it happens? We’d love to know what your experience has been.