I know I’ve mentioned my son’s ADHD in passing, but I don’t necessarily go into great detail about the day-to-day manifestations of it. I try to respect his privacy as he’s getting older. But the reality is that his ADHD does greatly affect our family’s life and my own personal relationship with him, both of which are important aspects of my reflections for this feature.
Right now, we’re neck-deep in challenges with school, and I’m constantly left wondering if my expectations are reasonable. He has a teacher who I’m fairly certain would dismiss ADHD as a legitimate condition if allowed to speak freely, and his “no excuses” mantra doesn’t help a student with organizational difficulties at all.
When parenting a child with a disability– and let me reiterate that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is just that, a documented disability– it’s always a challenge to balance appropriate expectations along with the opportunities to develop stronger skills in the areas that are most difficult.
For our son at this time, the area that has the biggest effect on his academic and personal lives is his executive functioning skills deficit. The shortest way to explain what this means is to say that this is the ability to organize, manage, and plan. For him, the balance of three class modules each day, and all the papers and work that come with each, is an extreme challenge. We’ve worked to develop multiple organizational systems for him to use, yet it is a constant challenge for him to stick to it. Unfortunately, he’s faced with a teacher who gets on his case about needing to be more organized, without offering any real support to help him develop these skills. At home, though, we continue to try, and try again, developing new checklists and reminder systems to put into use.
But, we’re his parents, and it’s our job to be his advocates, especially when faced with an educator who doesn’t have a full understanding of our child’s disability. As he transitions to middle school next fall, I imagine that we’ll only need to strengthen our communication with his teachers, along with helping him take more and more responsibility for his organization and academic responsibilities. Adolescence is one heck of an experience all its own, and when you take into account each child’s unique learning styles and individual challenges, it only becomes more complex!