Developing a Plan for ADHD – Start with a Good Diagnostic Workup

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My grandson has ADHD. He is  in therapy and taking medication.  He will be going into second grade and the school wants to segregate him into a Behavior Modification class located at another school in the district.  I thought it was against Federal law to segregate children.  Is this a good plan?

Your grandson is about to enter second grade. He began therapy and medication this summer. Yet, the school wants to place him in a segregated program for kids with behavior and emotional problems without seeing how they can work with him in the regular education class. Why is this?

You haven’t seen this program. You don’t know…

  • what problems the other students have
  • how behavior problems are handled
  • how behavior management is taught, or
  • if the children learn academic skills at the same rate as kids in a regular education class.

You and your grandson’s therapist cannot make an informed decision about this program unless or until you observe it.  You need to get information about how long children remain in the program.  Is it a dead-end street for kids? Find out the success rate and how this is measured.

Getting Back Into Regular Ed

In my experience, the overwhelming majority of classes for kids with behavior problems are ineffective and end up damaging the children.

The dropout rate for kids in behavior classes is higher than any other group. Students learn more maladaptive ways to act out from each other. These children are difficult and teachers often do not have the necessary training to do effective behavior modification.

My other concern is once he is in this class, it is likely to be very difficult to put him back in a regular ed class – ever.

You need to get a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation (psychological and educational) of your grandson by an individual in the private sector by a child psychologist.

The evaluator can tell you if your grandson needs additional testing. The evaluator should also be able to tell you and the school what type of educational program he needs.

If your grandson is very bright or has learning difficulties in other areas, in addition to ADHD, you and the school need to know this before you can make any decisions about his educational programming.

In other words, you can’t make a treatment plan until you have a good diagnostic workup. Once you have this workup, use it to develop a plan that has benchmarks to determine if he is making progress.

  1. I am an educational consultant who is working with a family who have a 14 year old with Tourettes syndrome. High functioning, charismatic, placed in a day treatment school for ED students during middle school. While most of the other students often act out from their ED issues, he does not and mostly is frustrated by the lack of academic stimulus. His acting out is solely the tics- blurting out curses maybe once or twice a day. Exploring alternative placement, considering a small alternative High School. Your thoughts?

  2. My daughter is 13 and is adhd. Her test scores were in the average range but my private testing shows other. The school is giving me a hard time about an i e p. She was tested in 2005 and she was above average. Then in the last 4 years she was failing. So we got her tested and all her test scores fell and they don’t want to help.
    What do i do?

  3. Reading these posts validates my argument that by separating my child by “kicking him out of school” and putting him in an Out of District school targeted at Behavior will NOT benefit him. I fought hard to get him to stay in his currrent school. Please, educating yourself, reading what your rights are will only help determine what’s best for your kids. You ARE your own child’s expert, and an integral part of their IEP!I’ve actively tried to help my child the best way I could. My only worry is after the 60 days as mandated by the Judge 1/7/2011 I will have to place him out of district and we’re back at square one again. I was told by the school’s attorney that if he performs, he CAN stay. We’ve even medicated him again to give him a fighting chance. He still is inconsistent. The school will use this against us. How can we keep him there?

  4. My son was diagnosed with ADHD in 1st. 2nd grade, moving to 2 different schools, diagnosed ADHD w/ODD, Aggressive/impulsive type, etc. At the end of 2009 school year annual review, the school decided to put him into OUT OF DISTRICT placement because “they did all they could” and my child had “significant behavior issues”. After I visited the “behavior” school proposed, decided it was not appropriate for him but did not know the laws, or how to disagree with iep, writing letters, etc.

    I felt like I was being railroaded by the school until I called NJ SPAN, EDULAW, and read articles on the Wrightslaw website. After going to court with the school, was given a 60 day “trial” in SC class. Implemented BIP, personal aide, OT, social skills as requested.

    My child’s report card: A- Math, mostly Bs, 1 C+ in Science. STILL socially difficult.

  5. I am really uncomfortable with schools engaging in unscientific/non-medical behavior modification, particularly when dealing with an issue that is not completely “willful”. The tourettes syndrome community has dealt extensively with this and has found that ED services focused on modification are counterproductive. To me, trying to modify an issue that is not fully willful is abusive and dangerous. You might try to get a FBA/BIP…….but I would guard against getting into an ED enviornment unless you have an ED issue……ADHD and tourettes are both OHI issues, often incorrectly characterized as ED and subject to unprofessional “behavior modification” by school personnel that don’t understand the difference..

  6. It can indeed be very difficult to get a student back into regular ed after being in many kinds of self contained special education placements. The “behavior management” model is particularly difficult. One phrase that I learned when trying to get my son out of a special ed setting and into regular ed is “A child never has to “earn” his way into regular ed.” Unless all options have been tried, with “success” defined, it may be premature to move to a self contained setting.Additionally, has a thorough functional behavior assessment been completed, with a positive behavior management plan implemented? This should be a first step in managing any undesired behavior.

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