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Is ADHD a learning disability? I’ve been told “no, it’s not.”

by Pam Wright

I’m always a little surprised when we get these questions. So I decided to post on this one. JF writes –

“I receive your newsletter and I’m not sure if you can help me. My daughter was recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been told that this is not a learning disability although she struggles tremendously in school (in fact she is in jeopardy of failing). Her diagnosis is so recent that she hasn’t started on any medication as of yet. She is extremely unorganized and has absolutely no time management skills.

What rights do we have if we request a meeting with her school? Does the school have to give her special considerations when taking quizzes/tests? What about other assignments?

Any suggestions you have are greatly appreciated.”

I don’t know who told you that ADHD is not a learning disability. It often is, and kids who have ADHD often have learning disabilities that affect other areas – math, writing skills, etc.

Seventeen years ago, in 1991, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Office of Civil Rights published a Joint Policy Memorandum on ADD/ADHD to ensure that all school officials were aware of this. The Memorandum stated that children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under several existing categories (including LD, OHI, ED); circumstances under which schools must provide services and supports under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


The Memorandum begins with this statement:

“There is a growing awareness in the education community that attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) can result in significant learning problems for children with those conditions … ”

In 1997, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized. The law specifically stated that children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under three categories – specific learning disability, other health impairment or emotional disturbance.

If you read some of the articles on our ADD/ADHD page, I think you will have a clearer sense of these issues and what you need to do to help your daughter.

I have ADHD, Pete has ADHD, and so do our (grown) children. Our kids were challenging to raise (and so were we) but they can do fine if adults in their lives accept and help them, and don’t give up on them. The way many public schools are structured can make life very hard for kids with ADD/ADHD.


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118 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John 12/03/14 at 7:12 am

    You have mis-interpreted the law. In addition, legislation doesn’t dictate the definition of disorders. ADHD is not a learning disability. It is not classified as such in the DSM. Please correct your mis-information here.

  • 2 Ash 11/28/14 at 6:42 pm

    I am young and have ADD. It is so hard to be here. No one I live with knows what I have to go through everyday. I often get called lazy for it. I am sick and tired of being told that I am lazy when I have no control over it. I cannot help that I forget things easily, and it annoys me that NO one is willing to stick their neck out for me. My mother is disabled and she has to put up with me. I know she hates that I have this disorder, but I am trying so hard. No one here understands me. I currently have to write a research paper. My topic: “Should children with ADD/ADHD, who attend high school, receive different treatment than children with no mental handicaps?” I think they should. They should receive small rewards for doing the things others think are ‘small’ like turning an assignment in on time and taking all the notes in class. Agree?

  • 3 Daniel 11/24/14 at 8:33 pm

    I was diagnosed ADHD as a 16yr old boy. My case was used to show an example used to make ADHD a recognized disability! My Mom had contacted an advocate from C.H.A.D.D. to help, & they did.
    I was put on Disability till I was 19, but pride made me quit disability n try life on my own 2 feet… I failed miserably.
    I’m trying to find where they used my case as an example to help show PROOF I AM ADHD. I need to get back onto disability but having trouble with getting record’s from 20yrs ago… Can anyone help? My case was used to make ADD/ADHD a disability in 1991, I was living in NV.

  • 4 Erin 09/23/14 at 6:02 pm

    ADHD is NOT the same as a Learning Disability. They are separate but often co-existing disorders and both can have very significant impacts on learning. Just because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (reauthorized in 1997) specifically states that children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under three categories – specific learning disability, other health impairment or emotional disturbance does not mean the law was implying these three things are the same thing. The are often comorbid (co-exist) and have overlapping symptoms.

    The law does not state that ADHD is a Learning Disability. Furthermore, educational categories (such as OHI, SLD, and ED) are not diagnostic categories, they are educational categories. There’s a big difference.

  • 5 mattie 09/10/14 at 5:42 pm

    My 14 year old son has ADHD,SLD,and Dyslexia and I am the same way. I struggle all the time with understanding stuff, but thanks to a wonderful man that helps me understand things better. He breaks it down. So as for our son, little by little, we work through it all.

  • 6 Joan 09/10/14 at 11:06 am

    I am a 58 yr old nursing stud who was diagnosed with ADD as a child. I began nursing school in 2011, I self-disclosed my disability. I was allowed extra time on test only.
    In this program, I was denied basic rights to an equal education. accommodations were virtually impossible. Intimidation, subtle discriminatory actions and comments were normal for me to encounter. I was made to file a grade appeal for an F – I received in a clinical class. I appealed asking for an (I) Incomplete because the instructor told me two days before the semester ended that I was “in danger of failing”! No mid-term grade was given. When the instructor, the Asst. Director of Nursing and I met. I was told by the Asst. Director – that I would be given the opportunity to learn differently and do better. I took that to mean remediation. It did not.

  • 7 Lora 02/14/14 at 5:16 pm

    The National Center for Learning Disabilities ( states, “Intellectual disability (once referred to as mental retardation), autism, deafness, blindness, behavioral disorders, and ADD or ADHD are not learning disabilities; however, these conditions are frequently confused with LD”.
    Learning Disability Fast Facts/What is LD?, page 1

  • 8 Deidre 07/28/13 at 7:54 pm

    I have a question that hopefully you can answer or give some advice. My daughter is 7 yrs old and was diagnosed at 6yrs old with Moderate bilateral sensorineuaral hearing loss she wears hearing aides. We are here at a hospital in our state to have tested in regards to her lack of “focus” and attention in the classroom. She did not receive her hearing aides until she was entering into 1st grade. She is on a IEP and is pulled out of the classroom for 1hr 3x a week working with her hearing impaired teacher. We requested for extra resourse pullout time since she made very slight progress throughout the year. My question is should we consider her being in a private school instead of the public/mainstream class she is in?And are there schools that are offered that are not so expensive?We feel like there are not many options for us.

  • 9 Harry 07/21/13 at 7:41 pm


    Worry less about the classification and more about the function. Rewrite the PLOP with additional details from your experiences with your son and how they interfere with his educational progress (in your role as an IEP team member, your “report” is as good as theirs). Use that data to then develop measurable goals and objectives, and use the data in the school’s files to support the need for changes in the assistance you (and he) thinks he needs, what works/worked and what hasn’t. The classification does not define the program (officially) – your child’s needs determines what the school should be providing and these services should be measurable and objective.

    Ask them how they have succeeded with other children similar to your son and how they measured that success. Ask them the questions – let them provide the answers.

  • 10 Sharon L. 07/20/13 at 10:33 am

    Paul, When I got my son in an OHI IEP for ADHD the school had the policy at the board office of what they needed & the forms to fill out. It may be on the state education web site as well. We took the forms the school gave us & had our doctor fill it out diagnosing him with ADHD. Once we had that we scheduled a meeting & came up with an OHI IEP. The school gave us a hard time regarding educational goals but the state told us that an OHI IEP can have educational goals as well as behavioral goals on it. We eventually did get all of the goals that our son needed to be successful but it was difficult & we really had to perservere.

  • 11 Paul 07/19/13 at 7:32 pm

    Trying to locate actual case law or any law on the books as to who is responsible for diagnosing an OHI classification on my son’s IEP. A previous district arbitrarily changed his classification to ED and now that we are trying to get it corrected, they are saying that they are not responsible for changing it and when I brought up to them OHI as one of the disabilities, they said that they do not do the medical evaluation to determine this either. I have a great advocate, but with a new CSE meeting on 7/24/13, I want to have my own material to present on this point. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • 12 Michele 07/08/13 at 12:47 pm

    My 42 yr. Old son has been diagnosed w/ADHD. He is currently in nursing school to become an RN. He is struggling with some of the classes and instructors who do not work with him or seem to understand his ADD requirements. He’s asked for assistance and they seem reluctant to give same. Is the school required to provide assistance? WHAT LAW STATES THEY MUST PROVIDE. IS THIS CONDITION UNDER ADA?

  • 13 Morten 06/14/13 at 11:21 pm

    ADHD is NOT a learning disability! Often, but NOT always, LDs coexists with ADHD. ADHD is believed to be caused by a deficiency in the secretion of dopamine in the brain. It is believed that the brain of a person with ADHD functions like a tired brain. Much like how the brain of a normal person functions when that person has gone too long without sleep. People with ADHD may have racing thoughts which can make them seem distant, they may be impulsive making careless decisions, they are usually very unstructured, they may be able to hyper-focus on certain tasks, but are easily bored and their focus usually wanders about, children with ADHD may have intense physical hyperactivity, but in adults with ADHD this has usually transformed to restlessness such as tapping with fingers, tapping with feet, rocking on the chair etc.

  • 14 kathy 04/18/13 at 9:31 pm

    My 10 year has ADHD, he also has an IQ of 118. He does poorly in school, he hates to read and write, even on medication. He absorbs alot when being read to and does well on visual things such as maps, and projects. He is athletic, a good artist, does well with music, he is a master with his hands ( building things, extreme legos, ect). He is a delightful child most of the time, most of the time he is very well behaved and has good manners. He displays this away from home more than at home. Is there anything that I can do to make him want to read and write more. His spelling is horrible, often jumbling up words when he does write, but can usually spell fairly well orally. He does much better with oral questions than visual. When tested we were told he did not have dyslexia, but I think he does. He will probably have to repeat 4th grade.

  • 15 Maria 04/18/13 at 1:19 pm

    I wish I wouldnt have to give my 10 yr old son the meds cause I know all meds have side effects congrats to you and your parents

  • 16 Becky 03/04/13 at 7:19 pm

    If a student’s academic and/or social progress is not sufficient and the student is behind grade level because that progress is hindered by a severe anxiety disorder- can the child qualify for services in Other Health Impairment— or emotional disturbance? The student needs instruction in organization and academic skills, like math.

  • 17 Amelia 02/28/13 at 12:53 pm

    My daughter has ADP,SD, Anxiety disorder and speech and language disorders and they keep telling me she can not get accomd on FCAT and they have no non-verbal testing avaib.
    They will only write !EP for speech and then tell me they can not do evaluations because she does not talk and it is to much stress for her because of the anxiety. Do we have to go through the MTSS or RiT process or can we get accommodations without this??
    Also my daughter is in a Virtual School not reg school. I am about to get an adovocate for this because they dont want to deal with this.

  • 18 Sharon L. 01/23/13 at 8:11 pm

    SHari, AS far as i know there is no such thing as “cutting out” IEP’s. IEP’s are there for a reason & specific needs. If the school has met all of the needs/goals & there are no more than maybe they should do this but not just based on money issues. I know money issues can be a concern but they should not take it out on the special needs children. That could be viewed as discrimination. All children have a right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as well as yours.

  • 19 Laura 01/22/13 at 11:57 am

    I know that all to well. The school system has failed my son miserabley. He has still not graduated highschool and is still taking classes on line thru continential accadamy thru that public school. We have been grappling about school work since forever. He seems to like the online school and does his work to suit his schedule and abilities. Alot of times he has to find the motivation to continue with his studies so he can graduate and go to automotive college or technical trade school. But thats been an up hill battle.So my guess is he will be in high school till he is 21. I don’t know what else to do, he is 19 and says he can do what ever he wants cuz he’s an adult. So I am going to allow natural consequences get a hold of him.

  • 20 shari 01/21/13 at 9:59 am

    My son Has adhd he is in the 6th grade he struggles with math he has processing issues he is diagnoised with anxiety disorder. He has writing issues. and he is do for his reevaluation for his iep they are cutting iep’s in his building my concern is they will cut his.

  • 21 Wendy 01/09/13 at 7:55 pm

    Just to clarify, ADHD is not classified as a specific learning disability, it is classified under other health impaired, but it can cause a significant impairment in the ability to learn and function. ADHD is a neurobiological brain difference. It’s quite complex. In addition, ADHD often is accompanied by other learning disabilities or anxiety and depression. The dual diagnosis can make learning very challenging. People who don’t understand the true impact and issues that can lurk under the surface often dismiss and invalidate these kids experiences. It’s really sad. Some of these kids have great intelligence and creativity, but they have so much trouble functioning they can’t show what they know.

  • 22 Sharon L. 12/01/12 at 11:44 am

    Hopefully they will be done with the assessments soon. You can request a DRAFT copy before the meeting to discuss with a professional so you know what you want to do. Yes it would be nice if the school could help in some way until the tests are done by they are not legally obligated to do so. I don’t think morals play into this anymore from what I have seen. Once you get the results you can agree or disagree. If you disagree you may request an outside evaluation at the school’s expense. Yes it means it will take more time but will be worth it in the end if you don’t think the school is doing the right thing for you. We have done this many times and the outside evaluation has helped our children in many cases. Normally the outside evaluation is better and has more suggestions than the school’s evaluation.

  • 23 cindy 11/29/12 at 7:12 pm

    My nine year old son has adhd/bipolar. I have started with the school with the IEP process, right now he is going to be assessed with evaluations and tests. but at least once to twice a week he is being sent home because he is suffering from headaches, nausea, and throwing up. He is having a headache 3x a week. He was a A & B student now he is failing in reading,math and writing. How can I get a legal absence for this when it is the stress of school that might be causing this? Should I make the school have a neurologist test him? Shouldnt the school be helping him now, not after the school assessments? He will fail either way, absences or failing grades. need help here.

  • 24 MORNING 11/11/12 at 6:31 pm


    First, this is not medical advice. I am a mom with a middle school kid who was suspected during his early years by well meaning teachers that he had ADHD, etc. I was at my wits end. The assessment resulted in the doctor questioning the “so called” expertise levels of the teachers, school psychologists, etc. But, I did take note of the teachers’ observations and focused on activities outside of school to further develop his talents, refocus his energy and motivate him. For him, it was sports and theater. Yes, he has a LD. It does not limit him but it does shape him in many ways. I am glad that I went to a great doctor who guided us, understood the nature of boys and resources in the community that helped him develop into a mature young man.

  • 25 LaShay 11/08/12 at 4:46 pm


    My son is 7 years old. He has ADHD and ADD but however he is not struggling academically. His issues are more behavior oriented. Is this common with most kids and do you think this is a disability?

  • 26 Linda 10/24/12 at 1:46 pm

    help, my 4 1/2 old grandson (adhd) was suspended from his school bus for 3 days because of a matron who could not handle him. What can I do. I have very little money and will have to take him there, come home, pick him up and go home again.

    Is this fair. They know that he is adhd,

  • 27 sandy 10/18/12 at 9:04 pm

    my 4 year old never stops moving he even move in his sleep. He often falls out of bed and once his feet hit the floor he is gone, he constantly talks. His doctor says it isn’t ADHD because he is extremely bright and that nothing can be done until he is school. I limit his sugar very rarely gets sweets, is there anything that I can do to help him before Kindergarten??????

  • 28 Felipe 10/04/12 at 11:03 pm

    I have a son who was diagnosed with ADHD/PDD since he was 5yrs old (now 9 yrs old). He’s had problems in school with the academic part since kinder. He is well behaved in school. Since we live in a town close to the Mexican border he was enrolled in a bilingual program. He was retained in first grade because of his lack of knowledge, he does not read nor does he comprehend the lecture. This year he was promoted to third grade to an all english class. Now he is very frustrated and is way behind in his lecture. He was having issues with the bilingual class and now it’s worst. Now the principal has told my wife that he should be transfered to another school within the district where there are special classes for children with special needs. I feel that they are giving up on my child. What else can I do to help him?

  • 29 Monica 07/26/12 at 1:26 am

    No, ADHD is not a learning disability. ADHD doesn’t affect the learning part, it affects the execution. In fact those with ADHD are incredibily intelligent people who ENJOY learning but tend to get bored so easily because their brains run so fast. They just learn differently and have to work harder that those without ADHD. Although people say that those with ADHD struggle with doing well in school, keeping a job or staying in college, it’s not because they can’t learn. People with ADHD believe it or not are natural learners.. Support and using the energy to your advantage is key. I am an adult ADHD finished an Associate’s degree in education and I have not taken meds of any kind. I just work my butt off and enjoy life and I owe it to the support of my parents, raising me with structure and being proud of all my accomplishments.

  • 30 Courtney 04/04/12 at 12:44 am

    Hi, I am 21 years old and I have ADHD and a Learning Disorder. I unfortunately was not diagnosed until I was 18, the legal age to do so without parental consent. All parents who find their child having problems and are diagnosed with this LD should not worry, because with patience and early intervention it can help your child thrive in and outside of school. I struggled the entire time in grade school, with tons of tutors (especially for math and reading), and little to no patience from teachers and my parents. I could have done well with special ed in grade school, but I went to a Private School so it was too expensive to have extra help. Now I self advocate, and advocate for others. I am in college, and plan to be a Special Ed Teacher to help those like me and more severe who need more people to advocate for them.

  • 31 Doris 03/21/12 at 1:55 pm

    I’m interested in finding out what kind of attorney handles these NCLB/AYP/ADD/ADHD, cases. My grandchild needs help (tutoring) but his school continues to let things slide. We have found that a LOT of parents get free tutoring, but for some reason we don’t qualify. He takes meds for ADD. It seems we are on a hamster wheel, round and round without getting anyplace. Any thought of how to get this tutoring.

  • 32 Wendy 02/23/12 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you for this information. We are having such trouble with my son’s school. This started in kindergarten and he is now in second grade and I am also being told that ADHD is not a learning disability so he does not qualify for help in the resource room. My son is ADHD combined type with memory deficit. He also has vision issues that require him to wear bifocals since kindergarten. We just had a meeting yesterday and it was so upsetting. I have a lot of reading to do with the links you provided. Thank you again for posting this!

  • 33 Liz 01/26/12 at 7:45 pm

    My daughter was diagnosed with adhd after her school suggested that we consult a psychologist about ADHD due to her disorganization, inattention and hyperactivity and going from an A student in elementary school to failing middle school, the school completed a Conners’ which we brought to the counselor who stated that she met the criteria for ADHD. This was her first year in the middle school with changing classes and having different teachers. The school set up a CSE meeting and offered all types of services. I declined them all except counseling and a check and connect program where she met with a teacher in the morning and the last period of the day to help her organize and we worked with a counselor to teach her ways to stay organized she is now in 10th grade honors programs. It was a lot of work but worth it.

  • 34 Marianne 01/18/12 at 11:01 am

    I totally have to agree with what is said in this article.

  • 35 SW 12/14/11 at 3:20 pm

    I’m an ADD kid. I was diagnosed in 1991 when it was all still new and scary. To date Im still disorganized, still all over the place but I reigned it in well enough to be a software engineer for a major financial company.

    As an ADD adult and one of the first through the “Special school system” I have a peice of advice. Stop making such a big deal out of it. We’re rebellious, we feel constricted if anyone trys to define us or make us into one of the normal kids.

    We will never march to that drum no matter how hard you push or what drugs you shove down our throats. Just let us be, We figure it out eventually. I did. Now Im sitting on top of the world and I did it my way, No drugs, HS drop out, happy, in a healthy relationship, and making more money than that so called child study team.

    Were special, were brilliant, were beautiful

  • 36 d hale 11/19/11 at 2:51 am

    we have been told my grandson has adhd and dysgraphia. Is this a website where I can get help to understand questions i have about his disabilities thank you. grandee in texas

  • 37 Marianne 09/04/11 at 11:18 am

    I have been reading about ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome. My 6 yr old is having school problems including suspensions last year and this year. The pediatrician started him on medication for ADHD. His therapist of only 2 sessions said she won’t work with him until he is medicated. His previous therapist had no problem working with him. We only changed therapists because the first one took a teaching position.

    My son gets a write up every day and at least 2x a week I get a referral. Last Friday, he did not take several tests and had to be removed from class again. In less than a month, he missed 3 days of education because he was suspended. The principal has discussed issues with the uncle, and the uncle passes information to the father. So I can not trust confidentiality with the principle. Can he be ESE

  • 38 Morning 08/21/11 at 5:28 pm

    My nephew is in denial about his ADHD but the school is working with my sister. What has not been addressed is that older students with ADHD have to have an internal motivation. My nephew is in the 11th grade. At this point, my sister is focusing (not on the meds which he refuses to take) but motivating him to stay in sports (which help a lot) and to graduate. For a lot of parents, it becomes a bit difficult to navigate when a child is older as they do have their own “voices” and their own “rights.” My sister made a smart move by dropping the medication discussion and focusing on his primary needs. One cannot make a 17 year old take medicine but one can guide him, support him in his sports and insure that he graduates. That is all she can do.

  • 39 Hn 04/18/11 at 10:56 am

    hey! i am very upset that i have to keep waiting around for my diploma. they didn’t let me know that i had a learning disability
    until i got older. i have adhd now and a math disorder.
    i don’t understand i had a reading problem in elementary school and they wrote down things letting people know i had this probelm, but never got treated for it until now. i am 23 yrs oldi have my own online business, but i am still waiting for my psychologist to see if i can get a letter of recommendation
    if that doesn’t help. is it true that i can go to court to have
    an appeal? cause they have been holding onto my diploma cause i failed my math exam and passed all my classes. i swear the education system in louisiana sucks.

  • 40 Michelle 03/10/11 at 5:34 pm

    What abt Adults w/ ADD who never received testing for IEP or obtained a 504? What if you were diagnosed in your early 20s after elem and HS? How are your rights protected? I am on the verge of being terminated from my school not bc of a low GPA but bc of my ICR simply from withdrawing from so many classes. This is an expensive condition. A year ago my Community College did not have ADD specific services for students. I was told ADD is NOT a learning disability but I’ve read and thought otherwise. I was tested by my school to find I have mathematics disorder but I suspect they did not fully test me. How can I be tested for LDs to ensure I’ve been tested for everything. I am 29 yrs old. I see now that the CC offers ADD Coaching for its students. Are times changing? Thank you in advance for your feedback!

  • 41 Laura 02/26/11 at 10:49 pm

    My daughter was flagged early as a child with ADHD. 2+ years went by, the teachers continued to nag me about getting her tested. Two pediatricians evaluated her, put her on meds, but it made things worse. Huge improvement when I made significant changes in her diet, cut out dairy, wheat, food additives, dyes. My daughter only eats food that I make. A big problem is that schools offer easy lunches with no nutritional value. Took about 2 years to adjust to this new diet, takes commitment, but you will definitely see a change. My daughter also lost 20 lbs, helped a lot with her self esteem. She was really upset at first, but we learn new ways to make treats and good meals that we can all have. Another important thing, took her to a chiropractor for regular adjustments and vitamins/supplements that my daughter needs.

  • 42 Lee 02/16/11 at 12:34 pm

    My son has had an I E P since elementary school. He now should be in 12th grade. Unfortunately he has pretty much given up and is trying for his GED.
    I am at wits end. It seems things started going downhill when he hit highschool. I believe it started when his inclusion teacher held up his discipline report and told kids this is why you dont want to misbehave. I am in constant contact with his guidance counselors, I dont understand why the teachers dont know him by now. He is very well liked by his peers but very sensitive and afraid of failing to the point he shuts down and doesnt try. He has had a lot of trauma in his life, alcoholic father, my boyfriend, a father figure to him passing away. He lost a few friends to drugs and one in the Haiti earthquake. I need to know who to contact and what my rights are. Im getting nowhere with school.

  • 43 LFK 02/16/11 at 10:43 am

    I still need a response to my previous comment which I will include here again, but also add the the school not parent has decided to remove the IEP eligibility status. The child does have ADHD. “If a child becomes due for an IEP eligibility review to determine if said child is still eligible for services as an IEP when the school is Under District Improvement due to poor student state testing, how can a parent prevent the denial of such services?
    It would clearly seem to be related especially when the child has had an IEP since Pre-K to now in High School. The school did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) which is decided by student test scores on the state DSTP or DCAS where students with disabilities are a listed group for consideration. Budget cuts have caused a big concern as well.”

  • 44 Jennifer 02/08/11 at 10:06 am

    To Angie:

    Check your school’s official policy on grade point averages and academics. Our school requires a certain grade point average, or he/she must be “making progress on the IEP.” This is a ruling that has helped and motivated my students when they wanted to be involved in athletics. If he has talent, maybe you can get some support from your coach.

  • 45 Sharon L. 02/07/11 at 10:24 pm

    Michelle W Perhaps seeking another doctor for a second opinion may be a good idea or going to a psychologist. My son had a behavior problem and ADD. We discovered he also had a food allergy that contributed to his behavior. We corrected that and adjusted his med’s. WE also requested a behavior assessment be completed by the school to see what they come up with as issues. You can do this in writing and be sure to sign the school’s official request form for the assessment or they will not be obligated to do the test within 60 days. Many people make this mistake and it takes the school longer to get the testing done.

  • 46 Michelle W 02/06/11 at 9:36 am

    My grandson has ADHD and another behavoiral prob. He has been on meds since he was 5 and now is 9. He is getting worse and being very mean and physical. He runs away and when e is told no, he goes off and tries to hurt us. How do we help him? We have tried behavior plans with the doctor anthing helps. wE are desparate.

  • 47 LFK 01/13/11 at 8:23 pm

    If a child becomes due for an IEP eligibility review to determine if said child is still eligible for services as an IEP when the school is Under District Improvement due to poor student state testing, how can a parent prevent the denial of such services?
    It would clearly seem to be related especially when the child has had an IEP since Pre-K to now in High School. The school did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) which is decided by student test scores on the state DSTP or DCAS where students with disabilities are a listed group for consideration. Budget cuts have caused a big concern as well.

  • 48 Sharon L. 01/09/11 at 4:44 pm

    ANgie I don’t have enough room to be very detailed however I can tell you that your goal is to put modifications and accommodations on your son’s IEP that allow him to be successful so he can get the grades to be in sports. For example we had homework modified for our sons for math. If the homework was to do 50 similar problems my sons could do 1/2 of that because it took him so much longer to do the problems but they learned the same benefit as he would by doing the 50. We also had it in the IEP that my sons could rework errors on a failed test and receive 1/2 credit for it. These things still helped them learn what they had to learn but allowed them to have a life as well. As they got better with the math we added more of the homework until they could do the same amount as the other students. This took several years but worked.

  • 49 Jill 01/09/11 at 7:44 am

    My 10-year-0ld son has ADHD and his school has been supportive. However, my question is different. I have been doing alternative medicine with him and not doing medication which was recommended by the school. He is doing very well. The change in him, in their words, “has been huge.” I am paying for all thos. Is it possible to get the school district to pay for my treatment which has worked better and faster than the services they provided? Less than a year of my treatments did more than the years of Speech, OT and PT provided by them. Shouldn’t they pay for the treatment that works best? My treatments are longer-lasting, possibly permanent and more cost effective in the long term.

    Medication is NOT the only answer! . Your doctor will not tell you about other ways. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. Read the research!

  • 50 Angie 01/06/11 at 7:45 pm

    My son was recently diagnosed with ADD. He has started medication so we are working thru the dosage adjustments. He also has a learning disability. I am in constant contact with the school system against what they prefer but we seem to making some progress because I will not give up. While he struggles academically, he is a good athlete who has now been advised he cannot play his sport because of one failing grade for the nine weeks. I am concerned that the school system does not seem to understand his academic challenges and now proceeds to pushish him for his disabilities. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

  • 51 Maribel 01/02/11 at 3:47 pm

    I found your website through the adoption family magazine. I am so grateful and relieved to have found you. We have a child that we have adopted and she has problems in school academically. We don’t know what else to do in helping this wonderful child. I will read everything you have to offer and go from there .Thank you with tears in my eyes thank you

  • 52 someonewithadhd 12/14/10 at 10:17 pm

    texas mom.. i know this is over 2 years old so i hope things have turned around since then. I am currently 21 years old and a 4th year college student majoring in Mathematics. I have been diagnosed with ADHD for 12 years and I too HATED school. I almost failed out of 8th grade myself and just shut down. I don’t know if you’re opposed to medication but it truly helps until his maturity level can get there. it took me about less than a year ago to fully understand ADHD and who I am and what purpose school has. I have also just learned the importance of things and got rid of the I don’t care attitude. I also think that school is the worst thing for him. I had tremendous help throughout school they went above and beyond what they needed to do the ensure success for me. This has also followed me to college and is why I chose this University.

  • 53 Ken 12/13/10 at 10:51 am

    ADHD is not a “Specific Learning Disability” . It is a disability that meets special education services eligibility, but it is not LD.

  • 54 Sharon L. 12/12/10 at 1:04 am

    Julie- Can you go into the school and observe the classroom? I have done this in the past. MY school requires that you call first and make an appointment as they will not let a parent observe when a parent just shows up. Also you can request an IEP meeting when the school provides evidence of how and what they are doing to meet the IEP goals. Have them bring testing, school work, etc on what they are doing. This is a good start and then you can go from there.

  • 55 Karin 12/10/10 at 10:38 pm

    please help Me find an advocate in Howard County Maryland. My Son has multiple challenges and is struggling and not moving.

  • 56 julie 12/09/10 at 11:32 pm

    my grandson was diagnosed with add/adhd in kindergarten. we have had so many problems with the teachers on his accommodations. i would like to know how i can be assured that these teachers are giving him his modifications and accommodations. when asked are you doing this and that, of course the answer is always yes. but to look at his grades, i am not convinced. we do his studying at home and he knows his answers, but when he takes his test in school, he doesnt do well. i was reading that when this occurs, then something is not right in the classroom. i addressed this with his teacher , her response was, maybe its the anxiety of taking the test. any suggestions would be so appreciated. thank you julie

  • 57 Mike 12/08/10 at 11:57 am

    Why is then that the DSM book (DSM-IV) is saying that ADD/ADHD is one of the same? I think it’s ignorant. And that’s coming from someobody who has ADHD. Honestly I think It’s ADD for me because I am not a hyper person.

  • 58 Linda 12/07/10 at 11:43 pm

    ADHD/ADD classification OHI need doctor diagnoses school district pays for the evaluation § 300.34 Related services (c) Individual related services terms defined. The terms used in this definition are defined as follows: (5) Medical services means services provided by a licensed physician to determine a child’s medically related disability that results in the child’s need for special education and related services. Florida need to go to due process to fight the school. I help teach parents to fight for free all over the US.

  • 59 Sandy 12/07/10 at 6:16 pm

    This is for Gene: Our son was tested 8yrs ago w/fine motor visual processing disorder. I would take your son to a neuropsychologist and have full testing done. These results are better then school. Then I would write a letter to school get tested for OT and Gray Oral Reading Test and for math I would recommend Key-Math-3. My son received OT for 5yrs got academically caught up and since they stopped services my son made no gain in 3yrs. Wrightslaw advocacy and attended a conference is how I caught this. We had to leave the district and our son is 9gr. and 3/4yrs behind math written language reading. Our kids have the same issues with blurred vision and headaches this can’t continue and I’ve asked for technology for him and waiting to hear. I believe visual processing is major and IDEA needs to relook at this. Accommodations haven’t worked. HELP

  • 60 Jane 12/07/10 at 6:03 pm

    My family has similar experience to yours.In our estimation,AD(H)D is a gift.

  • 61 Nancy 12/07/10 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks so much for reviewing this information with your readers. People often separate learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder as two separate, unrelated disabilities. As with all traits of people, abilities and disabilities blend to make up unique people with unique strengths and needs.

  • 62 Gene 12/07/10 at 3:43 pm

    In response to DEG regarding visual processing disorders, my son has eye teaming, over convergence, and visual perception disorders confirmed by both a developmental optometrist and by the school’s own testing. For him it causes reading problems. He reads 2-3 years below grade level and he gets headaches if the print is too small or he has to read for more than a few minutes. He is on a (mostly worthless) 504 plan, but we’ve never been able to get an IEP for him.

    My question is: Why is it that auditory processing disorders are included under “hearing impairment”, but totally analygous visual processing disorders are specifically excluded under visual impairment? These kids fall through the cracks.

  • 63 Michelle 12/07/10 at 3:00 pm

    My 7th grade daughter was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (fairly mild case at present) & ADHD at end of 5th grade. The school & District have been refusing most accommodations even though they agreed to a 504 (the only accommodation on there is limiting hmwk to 1.5 hrs, 5 nights a week & that is only 1 of several we have asked for). She has been denied any SpEd services because she tested ‘average’ over all on SpEd Assessments (even though there was a ‘significant scatter’ of scaled scores (6 to 16 !). The school told me that since she is on ADHD meds (Strattera) her “behavior issues” can’t be manifestation of ADHD & that her excessive talking/socializing is NOT a symptom of ADHD or TS, so ear buds or headphones during work periods are not called for and she “just needs to stop talking to people”. It is incredibly frustrating:(

  • 64 Jennifer 12/07/10 at 12:55 pm

    Please remember that you as her parent are the very first educator, coach, and teacher that she has!! I have 2 children with ADHD and a husband with it also! I have learned how to be there for them and how to help them grow. I suggest reading the book, “Driven to Distraction” by Dr. Halloway. I’ve read it twice and learned a lot!

  • 65 Law 12/07/10 at 12:53 pm

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions for someone who cannot get accommodations on the bar exam. I have tried to do so for years, but I am told I do not have a long enough history of accommodation. I did not learn of my problem until later in life, and now I am paying the price. Why? I do not know. Any ideas on how I can help peers and professions in my career to view my talents without assuming I am defunct.

  • 66 Arlene 12/07/10 at 12:27 pm

    My son has extreme ADHD along with some learning disability and fine motor delay. Last week he started pulling his hair out on the top of his head in school only. He has a big bald spot on top. Today I asked the school to call me if it continued. Sure enough I went in to get him so he doesn’t go completely bald. I asked if he could wear a hat in class and the super said no. This is just one issue with him not getting the services he needs to do his work and feel good about himself. Any suggestions? Thank You

  • 67 Robin Hansen 12/07/10 at 12:22 pm

    One of the best videos/DVD’s out there for helping staff to understand LD and ADHD is by Rick Lavoie. I think it is called How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T. City Workshop: Understanding Learning Disabilities.

  • 68 Peggy 12/07/10 at 11:33 am

    Being a special educator, I have seen instances in which a student diagnosed with ADD/ADHD has not needed special services to help them succeed in school, but this is the exception.

    These students would be tested by members of the team and observed in the classroom setting to see how their condition plays out in their learning process. From this info and student work samples, the team would decide how best to help the student to be successful in attaining educational parity with their peers.

    Parents are the child’s best advocates along with the teacher of the class in making sure that an initial evaluation for services takes place in a timely manner. Once the request is put in, the school has a legal obligation to start this process and bring the data to table within the requisite time frame. A date is set at this time to meet.

  • 69 Dr. Gary 12/07/10 at 11:27 am

    ADHD is so much more than a learning disability, although most are more concerned about the attentional issues surrounding the problem. There are a number of issues which will affect the life of this person as well, outlined in the book Disconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo.

  • 70 Dr. H 12/07/10 at 11:16 am

    School Psychologists in the schools can diagnose ADHD, but many do not feel comfortable doing so due to limitations in their training and experience. Some districts may limiting their areas of diagnosis. Many School Psychologists prefer not to diagnose ADHD since the law stipulates that ADHD must be diagnosed by a medical doctor in order to be eligible for OHI since ADHD is considered a medical diagnosis. Sadly, research has shown that most pediatricians are not particularly well trained or experienced in the diagnosis or medical treatment of ADHD – exams are brief, and most of the information may come only from the parents. While school-based evaluations for ADHD may be much more comprehensive, their lack of being a determining factor in OHI eligibility reduces the desire of many Sch Psychs to make the effort. This is a legal issue.

  • 71 NJK 12/07/10 at 10:39 am

    we do not medicate our ADHD son but support him with skills training and educating others. our rural school system is difficult to deal with. they admit the classroom effects of his behavior, but said it doesn’t effect his grades enough because he is passing, and does not qualify for IEP. so I pursued 504 protection for him, to require help with testing etc. but because we have “not tried everything” IE meds, the school psych. refused to recommend 504. outside testing showed IQ 116. but he is getting b’s and c’s not learning up to his potential due to poor testing/impulse control and classroom behavior. they have documented many behavior issues and admitted his adhd effects how well he does, but he doesn’t fail. can they refuse to protect him because i won’t give him meds? and not give accommodations that would help him do even better?

  • 72 Kristine 12/07/10 at 9:51 am

    I have been fighting to get my son spec. ed. services since 2008. Disorganization, inattention, numerous behavior reports for impulsiveness led the school to petition the court in 2009 saying he was incorrigible. My sons treatment at school was horrible and they refused to recognize his ADHD disability. After being blackballed on 3 occasions while trying to switch my son to different schools, we finally hired an attorney in March of 2010 and requested our own psych. eval for spec. ed. We found that my son qualified as LD and OHI now and that he qualified according to the evaluation that was done by the school in 2008 as OHI. My son’s self esteem has been extremely damaged as a result of the past 3 years! Lesson learned – never give up and advocate for your child! His IEP meeting is tomorrow and we are looking forward to it!

  • 73 Susan 12/07/10 at 9:01 am

    As a parent, I consider my son’s ADD to be a diagnosis not a learning disability. Kids diagnosed with ADD vary as do all kids regardless of diagnosis. That said, the ADD impacts learning and specifically, school behaviors and demands.
    As a student with a diagnosed disability, I advocate with the IEP team based how my son’s disability (symptoms) impacts learning and school demands.

  • 74 Judy 12/07/10 at 8:51 am

    I appreciate all of the encouragement from all of you. I never would have endured the attutides we have encounted. However, I must say, now I am stronger and more determined than ever to be the advocate my grandson needs. Keep sending us what we need. May God grant you all of the strength you need. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • 75 Victoria 12/07/10 at 8:22 am

    My son has ADHD,anxiety and broad spectrum autism and Terrets. As he gets older some things have subsided, he refuses to take any of the meds as he states he wants to be normal ! He has a IEP in place and since high school started in Aug he can not comprehend Algebra! He has shut down ,refuses to do work or homework because he doesn’t understand it . The teacher can work one on one with him with like 4 problems but when she walks away he is clueless. Once he shut down he won’t even attempt the homework. I can not help him because i don’t understand Algebra myself. I spoke to the guidance counselor and asked if they had adult tutors i could pay, she said they don’t. She said he doesn’t make an effort doesn’t turn homework in ,my reply was this how can he? He doesn’t understand it how can he do it? What do i do to help my son ?

  • 76 janelle 11/18/10 at 3:36 pm

    i am having to do a school research project on the things that would fall under the application of getting a disability check from the state…. i am needing some of the information on these things if u have any advice that which might help me
    thanks… janelle

  • 77 Aimee 10/23/10 at 4:39 am

    I have three siblings that have a disability, two of whom have adhd. They distract me all the time with my work as well as their own. I know they need the attention but my parents don’t help me. I am stuck looking after them and keeping them entertained. I am 13 and struggle to keep then up to date with their disability. They have been through heaps because our parents splitting up. Do you think this would interfere with their disability?

  • 78 Shelly 10/20/10 at 2:32 pm

    My son is ADD & is in 5th grade. He was diagnosed in late fall last year (4th grade) & after trying medication, improved so much that they took him off his behavior plan & it was discussed he didn’t need a 504 plan at that time because he was doing so well.
    This year is a different story. The (new) vice principal is taking the lead in trying to bring together the social worker, his teacher and us. Unfortunately she doesn’t seem to be very experienced with ADD kids. Our biggest issue is homework & given schedules we want him to complete this in their after school program. The adults in the program will not “make” him do his homework so he plays instead. By the time he gets home his meds have worn off. We’ve asked for extra support to help him get homework done @ school & they say it’s his responsibility.
    Can a 504 plan include homework?

  • 79 Brenda 10/12/10 at 11:57 am

    Are there DVD’s or Videos available to assist in enlightening teachers who have difficulty accepting that children with ADHD need special accommodations in the classroom?

    A parent was told by a teacher a few years ago that there was a video that helped her understand children with ADHD. It has been awhile and the parent has no contact with the teacher at this time.

    Hope you can lead me to a resource.

    Thanks, BB

  • 80 Carol 10/07/10 at 5:04 pm

    I have a 17 yr old daughter who has Social Anxiety Disorder. She has just been kicked out of her school because the school said in the IEP meeting that they don’t have enough staff to handle Amber when she has a panic attack or melt down. Isn’t that against the Civil Rights laws? I’m so angry! She was in the hospital for treatment and they didn’t even mark her excused. They refused to give her make up work saying she would “have plenty of time to make it up”. I’m angry! HELP!

  • 81 Shannon 10/01/10 at 12:04 pm

    Hi my name is Shannon,

    I have 5 boys with different disorders and my oldest had ADHD and ODD and he does have help and supports at school but when it comes to learning material that suits him they can’t seem to find much for him for at least not for his grade and I am constantly online trying to find new stuff for him but it’s not easy.

    Do you know anywhere I can try websites and such for ADHD learning and ODD learning and or advice at not at a lot of cost as I don’t have much money?

    Any advice would be helpful as well

    Thanks Shannon

  • 82 jenn 07/18/10 at 1:38 pm

    dr russell barkley has very good info on ADD
    i attended a lecture of his given by the learning disability people of alberta. dr barkely has a lifetime of research and work under his belt. at this stage he wishes to educate as many people as possible. i was familiar with his writing however seeing this passionate, endearing man in person was very moving. he tells of his twin brother who had ADD, and warns parents of adult children with ADD to be very cautious with them having driver’s license : Road Rage.
    the brain of an individual with ADD is formed differently ie., their motor skills are advanced, while executive function is delayed.
    take about a third off the age of a child with ADD, for that will give you a benchmark for the age you are more likely dealing with. its persistant + lifelong

  • 83 jenn 07/18/10 at 1:54 am

    inattentive symptoms :
    poor persistence toward goals or tasks (cant attend to boring activities)
    highly distractable
    poor task reengagement if distracted

    *attention to the future is the main issue. ADD prevents persistence

    *no perceptual distortion. issue is distraction reaction. poor inhibition and impulsiveness

    *trouble remembering what to do > working memory is one of five executive functions. working memory is holding goal in your mind, and steps to follow ie., goal and plan, end and sequence

    *poor emotional self-control

    cant calm self down and create more rational socially appropriate emotional responses when upset. we see emotions more, and once provoked, they remain more raw and unmoderated. medical science has known about the emotional piece for about 150 yrs., but the emotional piece was lost in the 1970s.

  • 84 LaConda 07/16/10 at 9:22 pm

    My 13 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was about 6 years old. He was held back in first grade and has since struggled in school. Every year is a different struggle — not wanting to take his medications or difficulty making friends and getting along with children his age. He is constantly in trouble at home but the sweetest kid in his school classroom. I am so frustrated with him and need all the information and help I can get..

  • 85 Cynthia 07/13/10 at 1:16 am

    Hello, I am writing this because my son have been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, I applied for some type of assistance and they denied me because they stated his condition are not life long. My son is failing in school because he is not focused and his attention span is very short. The Doctor reviewed my son, he immediately diagnosed him as having a major learning disability. My questions to you all, What steps do I take to help my son get the needed help and find the resources available?

  • 86 lilinoe 04/24/10 at 1:44 am

    I was just responding to one of your questions, I have ADHD and i’m 18. As a child I was diagnosed with ADD and as time went on I was diagnosed with ADHD. I’m extremely unorganized, however I am working on it along with taking notes for tests, exams and quizes. I’m on concerta and it enables me to focus better. I went to my counselor and talked to her about getting extended time on certain tasks such as projects tests and homework. She said yes as long as I got a not from my doctor. If the school denies you that request record the time and date etc (try and bring a relative, friend or spouse with you so you have a witness to the answer) and you can always bring it up to the school board (:

  • 87 Sharon L. 04/20/10 at 9:46 am


    Eydia My son has ADHD and no learning disability. We were able to get him on an OHI (other health impaired) IEP. We had to have our physician fill out a form that the school had for him to qualify. Once we were able to get him on the IEP we requested a behavior assessment by the school which helped everyone to understand his “triggers” and to come up with a positive behavior plan for him. We also came up with some modifications that helped him settle down after recess and other times where his ADHD got him in trouble. This worked very well for us.

  • 88 Jennifer 04/17/10 at 3:38 pm

    Does your school or educational cooperative have a behavior specialist? I am a speech pathologist in a public school, and our schools share a behavior specialist who observes the children in the classroom. She then makes recommendations for the parents and teachers—things to implement to help students function and get their work done. She is 99.9% of the time opposed to medication. She has been very helpful in getting our teachers to understand ADD and ADHD.

  • 89 Eydia 04/15/10 at 1:31 am

    My son is in the 2nd grade and since he was in kinder he was diagnosed with ADHD. Since last year we started having lots of problems with the school staff and his grades. He use to love to go to school. Now he is at the point that at his early age he doesn’t want to go or stay in school. I have tried everthing i can to see what other help he can get in school but everyone in school tell me there is nothing more they can do. His grades are so bad that he might fail this year. Honestly I don’t know what else to do. He is going to terapy and taking medication but i’m still having a hard time with him at school and the staff seem to have giving up on him. I feel my son is being targeted because the staff doesn’t understand his disability and they see it as him just having a bad attitude and always trying to get away with anything.Need help.

  • 90 Laura 02/02/10 at 1:10 pm

    I have an 11 year old that has been diagnosed with ADHD since he was 6 yeard old. I live in Hillsbouorgh County Florida and my son has been through a lot with the public school he was in . I was lied to about his progress. He is behind by about 2 years . I put him in a private Special ED school for this school year and this school isn’t any better than the public school. Any information about these issues would help. Thank You Laura

  • 91 Susan B 01/19/10 at 4:06 pm

    Of note, just like ADHD, SLD is NOT a form of “retardation”–better term intellectual disability.

  • 92 Daneen 01/19/10 at 2:54 pm

    I’ve been raising my 14y/o g’son with impulsive ADHD & Aspergers since age 2. He is now in & continues to have diff, esp. with being able to write on topics teachers chose. I have contacted his appointed case manager, the special ed supervisor, & TN Voices for Child. for any guidence in how to help him. Do you have any ideas?

  • 93 SusanB 01/19/10 at 9:16 am

    You need to figure out how your child’s disability adversely affects his educational performance. Some good books to read: Chris Dendy, Teens With ADD and ADHD and anything written by Rick Lavoie. Often ADHD does go hand in hand with some type of SLD but not always. Also if you do not have a copy of the Wright’s book, “Special Education Law” that would be your first step, then see Other Health Impairment. The greatest thing about the Wright’s book is the index in the back, it will take you to every place in the regulations where a particular term is used.

  • 94 Janet 01/18/10 at 9:38 am

    I am sory but your information i wrong. I was diagnosed with ADHD, however I stil manage to get straight As. Also my IQ test results are above average. So when you say ADHD affects learning, your wrong. ADHD is a DISORDER not RETARDATION.

  • 95 shannon 10/09/09 at 5:41 pm

    ADHD itself is not a learning disability. It is a health impairment, which is why students with ADHD usually fall under OHI in elgibility. Often students with ADHD HAVE a specific learning disability (SLD) but ADHD itself is not one. SLD is usually categorized in the area of reading, writing or math.

  • 96 Brandi 04/15/09 at 6:10 pm

    My sons school has been giving me the run around. He has ADHD and they said it wasn’t a learning disability. I went beyond the school and had him evaluated by a psychologist. The psychologist stated in her report that he tested average in most skills but due to his ADHD that his school should provide a IEP and provide extra help for him. I took this to the school and told him I wanted something done. They did write something up and helped him last year. This year is a different story. He has struggled all year and now they said he wasn’t even given a IEP and that it didn’t matter what the psychologist’s report said. They told me I needed to have given them something in writing although I already had within the same school district and they told me I didn’t need to. What if the school tries to say he still doesn’t need help?

  • 97 Jackie 04/12/09 at 6:28 pm

    My child has ADHD but she is in a private school. Are private schools obligated to make accommodations for children with ADHD and if so to what extend?

  • 98 Christine 04/06/09 at 12:37 pm

    My daughter has recently been diagnosed as having ADHD and ODD. She is only six years old but seems very bright. The schools testing of course shows that she is of average intelligence. I have asked that she have an IEP because she has not been able to get higher than a 60 in spelling all year. She isn’t able to read yet either but the IEP team said that she only needs a 504 because she isn’t educationally affected. She also suffers from anxiety problems that prevent her from her from finishing her class work. She is inattentive and nervous. Her teacher said she was in danger of failing and actually sent notice to the principal on the matter. The school from the moment I asked for an IEP has done nothing but tell me the reasons they think she doesn’t need one despite the fact that she struggles. I don’t know how to get her more help

  • 99 Wrightslaw 03/31/09 at 12:27 pm

    Kelli: If your son has already been on several different meds, you are probably seeing a psychiatrist. Most psychiatrists prescribe meds but do not do therapy.

    If your 5 year old is already in so much trouble, you need to work with a therapist who specializes in treating children with ADHD. You may also need family therapy. If parents are trained to deal with a child’s behavior problems, they can help to turn things around. Meds are part of treatment, not the complete treatment plan.

    The school probably doesn’t have a clue about how to help your boy. The sooner you get things turned around, the more likely this story will have a happy ending. In the meantime, please read “Taming Lions and Tigers,” an article by Pete about raising children with ADHD:

  • 100 Kelli 03/30/09 at 6:51 pm

    my son is 5 yrs old. He has been kicked out of school more than he has been enrolled. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and on several different med.’s we haven’t found the right one yet. Ofcourse he has failed his first year in school. His kindergarden teacher is at wits end. I’ve sat through 3 or 4 IEP meetings, the last one ended up with me crying and screaming because they called my son a monster. My son deserves a education as well as the next child. Now the latest thing now is he has acted up on the school bus and now is being kicked off the rest of the school year. I would appreciate any advice what so ever. We live in Washington county maryland.

  • 101 Patricia 03/28/09 at 5:23 pm

    Is Failing the measure that IDEAFAPEIEP/504 requires to maintain a student with ADHD, gifted, superior, above average abilities by evidenced assessment for IDEAFAPEIEP/504 with avergage ability in writing ability that is intially matching critria for IDEAFAPEIEP/504, and resulting from the use of writing when the ability to put on paper what they clearly do know ?
    For the ADHD learner, who persistantly shows this charactoristic are IDEAFAPEIEP services corectly dropped by a school district without further assessment testing supported by getting “good grades” in a selection of courses that prevent that student: IEP services including: assitive techology assessments; OT assessments that avoid the issue of putting in writing what the student does know when orally presenting;
    is routeenely withheld opertunities in full reg ed,honors and AP?

  • 102 Dianne 02/04/09 at 2:48 pm

    My son has the same problem. I found that changing his diet, eliminating foods with dyes especially red#40, and caffeine as well as extending bed time has helped. It takes alot of work, but you can be successful without medication. My child is successful in school without any extra services.

  • 103 Karah 10/28/08 at 11:00 am


    That is up to the specific school district. I know that in our school district we, as school psychologists, do not diagnose a student with ADHD or ADD. The pediatrician is much better equipped to accurately diagnose. School psychologist’s can then take that diagnosis and evaluate the student for special education services if the child has a need. Some children with ADD or ADHD are able to use their own coping skills to be successful without additional supports. So the school psychologist’s role is to find out if the student does, or does not need the additional supports that special education offers. Also a school does not legally have to pay for a service or in this case a diagnostic evaluation from a doctor unless the school suggests that it be done. I hope this helps.

  • 104 Karah 10/27/08 at 7:36 pm

    As a School Psychology Intern I can tell you that under educational law, there is a difference between ADHD and ADD and a Specific Learning Disability. This may be where the confusion is. ADHD/ADD is usually under the category of Health Impaired when getting services and a Learning Disability is under the category of Specific Learning Disability which is served differently and categorized differently. While ADHD/ADD (which also are not the same thing) can negatively affect a students ability to learn and services can be received for this, they are not called a Learning Disability. When completing an evaluation on a student there are differences between a student with a Learning Disability and a student with ADHD or ADD.

  • 105 Jenny 06/03/08 at 7:36 pm


    Is it true that a school district cannot provide an evaluation of a student who is suspected of having ADHD or ADD because it requires a diagnosis by a medical doctor not a school psychologist?

    Even if this is true, shouldn’t that evaluation be provided by the school free of charge to the parent?

  • 106 Chuck 05/22/08 at 12:08 pm

    TX Parent, I work for Partners Resource Network, the TX Parent Training & Information Center. You can go to our website @ and find the regional coordinator that works with your area. If you contact them, they can provide you with information and help in addition to the good resources on this website and blog.

  • 107 Texas Mom 05/21/08 at 6:03 pm

    I have a 13 year old son diagnosed with ADHD and LD. I will say he has shut down in school and is pretty much a 7th grade drop out. We changed schools at the end of January (he was assaulted by a behavioral specialist at the old school). It has been HELL for us since the transfer. He goes to a new school, upper middle class to wealthy families and a staff who has not dealt much with special ed children(there are very few special ed children in this school). My son has been suspended or placed in ISS 39 days since the end of JAnuary. He has also been placed in two AP classes (these are advanced classes) due to his behavior. I argued this but the said the teacher teaches the same as the regular class (I know way better than that) the homework and class work is just different. Well, due to my son being out of class so much, he is failing 2 classes (one of those the AP class) and will have to attend summer school. That is what a child who hates school and struggles through it needs. I need some advice on what to do? Has anyone out there gone through this and survived? I feel like a failure as a parent and I want to fight like mad for my son and then I feel like I should not bail him out….. he needs to learn how to cope with his disability. I will take any advice out there!

  • 108 Debbie 05/20/08 at 3:54 pm

    Is adhd classified as a disabillity in canadian schools.
    (Vancouver BC)I have had nothing but problems with our school
    since my son was diagnosed with adhd with behavioral
    problems.They tell me that having adhd alone is not a disabillity issue.There was no IEP in place(although they said one was)
    another lie,and the counsellor for the school district and vice principal of our secondary school say that it is not reconized.
    They made life hell and is now out of school.I would like some input please.
    Pissed off mom

  • 109 Chuck 05/19/08 at 11:01 am

    Unless your state uses a much broader definition of OHI, this is not likely. The federal definition says it “means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, … due to chronic or acute health problems such as (then it lists a number of medical conditions).”
    Written expression falls under LD & processing issues could also fall under LD. Unfortunately, schools are focusing on so many issues that handwriting & fine motor skills are areas that receive limited attention. A program called “Handwriting without Tears” is a program that OT’s often use and recommend for teachers to use. In my experience, it can be helpful for many students. However, frequently regular ed teachers say that they do not have time to use it.

  • 110 DEG 05/18/08 at 11:19 am

    My question is regarding whether Visual Processing Disorders which affect fine motor control and impact writing can qualify a student under the OHI category. We just got an OT evaluation on my son which shows him performing at Below Average or Poor on almost all categories in the Visual Processing area. His writing is very bad, but they have not given a formal writing evaluation. His academics are relatively solid except for math reasoning. There is also anecdotal reporting on focus and behavior, but no formal testing on those issues either. He had a speech delay and has been in SpEd since age 3, but now at his Triennial his speech is not testing badly enough to continue his eligibility in that category, despite lingering articulation issues. I am trying to develop a strategy to get him identified as eligible in another category and wonder if the motor and visual processing issues can be an eligible health impairment.

  • 111 Wrightslaw 05/09/08 at 3:01 pm

    Chuck: Thanks for your insightful comments. You are right about the need to identify all the child’s issues. I worked with kids in mental health settings for decades and I don’t think I ever saw a child with “pure ADHD.” i.e., without any learning disabilities.

    It usually takes a skilled evaluator who has expertise in ADHD/LD issues and/or a neuro-psychologist to identify these problems. if JF’s daughter has not had a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation by an expert in the private sector, I would advise that she get this done soon. ~ Pam

  • 112 Chuck 05/08/08 at 2:44 pm

    As mentioned a person can have more than one disability, so all areas need to be evaluated and all needs identified. However, by itself ADHD does not fall under LD, so the school may have been right in their comment about JF’s daughter. What they should have told him, is that ADHD is specifically mentioned in the federal definition of Other Health Impairment (OHI). The child could also be served under Section 504, if that was appropriate.
    So in my experience, if a student has ADHD & is seved by special education, the school will identify them as OHI and perhaps with other disabilities, if appropriate & if they do a complete evaluation. As stated elsewhere on the website, the key is that the IEP identifies all needs and addresses them appropriately.

  • 113 Wrightslaw 05/07/08 at 12:08 pm

    Mary: Thanks for sharing your success story – because that’s what it is. You wrote “It takes a lot of time and effort” but it’s worthwhile.

    Your story reminds me of Pete’s story. The school told his parents he was “borderline mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed” and they needed to lower their expectations for him. His mother got a comprehensive evaluation on him and learned that he has dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD. The school didn’t provide anything (this was before the special education law) so she found a tutor for him. The tutor was Diana Hanbury King, one of the first experts in Orton-Gillingham reading methods. After two years of one-on-one tutoring every day and a summer program, Pete was reading above grade level. He reads faster than me!

    The message? Don’t give up on your child. Find out what the problems are and seek help.

  • 114 Mary 05/07/08 at 11:28 am

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD. As he is 18 now he is more aware of how that makes him feel and what he can do about it. School was impossible for him but I found through this website the services and school that would meet his needs. It takes alot of time and effort but it pays off. The schools do not make it easy and hope that you give up. They spend a lot of time complaining and blaming the child and offer little in solutions. Today he has a high school diploma and is ready to start community college. We found through the the maze of road blocks a mental health provider that stopped the road blocks and opened the doors for us but it took a lot of time and effort. The school will finally realize you are not going away and your child is important!

  • 115 Wrightslaw 05/06/08 at 12:38 pm

    This doesn’t make sense. You need to learn more about this “policy” ASAP. in fact, you need to get a copy of the policy ASAP.

    Write a short letter to the head of special education department and describe what you were told – that your son has a disability and an IEP, that you were told that he is not allowed to have a GPA over 2.0. Ask for a written copy of this policy.

    I don’t know where you live, or the circumstances that caused your child to be identified as having a disability due to ADD/ADHD, or why is is placed in a “modified” classroom. I don’t know what the implications will be for him later.

    How is his class “modified”? Does this mean he is not learning the same material as other 11th graders? Does this mean that he may not graduate with a regular high school diploma? If the school has a policy that children with disabilities cannot make a GPA over 2.0, regardless of how well they do, this certainly sounds like discrimination.

    You need more information before you can decide what to do. Request a copy of this “policy” – it may not exist.

  • 116 CW 05/06/08 at 10:46 am

    My son is in 11th grade, has had an I.E.P since the 6th grade. The I.E.P is for ADD, we currently have him in modified class and it seems to be working out fine. My concern however, his Intervention Specialist told him a few day’s ago that a child in these type of classes cannot make any higher than a 2.0 grade point average in the state. She has also stated to me that she had talked to him and he does not feel that he needs an I.E.P any longer. I get the feeling that she is trying to get him away from the I.E.P and put him in the main stream of things. We have not lived here long, so I am not sure about the laws however, I do find it hard to believe that he can only reach a 2.0 grade point averege.

  • 117 Wrightslaw 05/05/08 at 3:45 pm

    Yes, you do. Your daughter CAN learn to be more organized but it won’t come naturally. She will require help to learn systems that work for her. Many people with ADHD have no sense of time at all. I worked as a therapist so I learned to pay attention to time (next patient is waiting … ) My husband still has no sense of time so I try to keep him on track.

    There are so many websites with good information. ADDitude Magazine has many good articles:

    Your daughter may struggle emotionally dealing with the symptoms and with feeling different. If you see this happening, consider counseling by a mental health professional who has expertise in working with people with ADD.


  • 118 JF 05/05/08 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the information!

    I have my work cut out for me tonight reading over all of this.