Back to School for Your Child with ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, or Autism

10 Tips to Ease the Frustrations

Whether your children are in public school, private school, home-school, or even unschooled, this time of year can be stressful on any family. But, when we have children with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD or autism – the shear mention of school may conjure thoughts of RETREAT! Packing up the family and heading for the hills where we can just spend our time frolicking in the meadows and splashing in the mountain streams, in blissful denial for the next 10 months, seems our only possibility for maintaining civility in our home.

Somehow, school seems to transform our happy, loving child into a mass of sadness, anger, fear and defiance, while turning us into the yelling, frustrated, angry parents we promised ourselves we would never be. This feels horrible for you as the parent, I know – been there done that. But imagine how it feels for your child. What feelings must they be experiencing that result in the manifestation of these negative emotions and behaviors? Not to mention our personal post-traumatic stress from the previous year of fighting with them over homework, getting ready in the morning, not turning in their homework, not writing down their homework, getting ‘cards pulled’ for behavior…and the list goes on.

Whether a kiddo struggles with focus, behavior, academics, socialization, time management, and/or organizational skills, these precious kiddos are thrust into an environment (usually five days a week for up to eight hours a day) where they feel “less than.” School is a place where they are constantly reminded that they are different. If you are homeschooling, then you have much more control over the emotional structure being provided, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. Sometimes as parents we can be crueler and less understanding of our own children (that is a topic for another day).

There are many things we can do as parents to ease the transition back into school for our wonderful kiddos. Here are 10:

  1. Don’t make all their decisions for them. Let them help decide on simple things such as the morning schedule, what time to start homework, how to organize their backpack etc. This is empowering.
  2. Listen to them. Sit down with them and ask them about their day. A great question is “What was the best thing that happened today?” You can also ask them, “What was hard for you today?”
  3. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Please acknowledge your child’s feelings. To tell someone that they shouldn’t be feeling how they are feeling is dismissive. We all want to know that people care about us and how we feel.
  4. Let them know they are more than their grades, school performance and behavior. Tell them that how they do in school is such a small part of who they are and that you love them unconditionally.
  5. Accentuate their positives. Find what they are good at and support it.
  6. Stop yelling at them to Focus! We assume everyone knows what focus/concentrate is and that they should be able to do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Until you help them acquire some tools for focus, please stop assuming that they could do it if they just tried harder.
  7. Talk to the teacher. Let the teacher know what your child likes and dislikes. There is a good chance their teachers have somewhere between 30 to 150 other students. Let them see your child for the individual they are.
  8. Ask for accommodations if necessary. Know your rights. As a parent you have the right to have your child assessed by the district in which you live. A structured personalized educational program is one option and simple accommodations are another.
  9. Breathe – it is just homework. Take the battles out of homework. If your expectation is that your active, imaginative eight-year-old is going to sit for one hour straight and quietly finish their homework while you cook dinner – then you are going to be very frustrated.
  10. Advocate for your child. If it has become you and the school against your child, then you are on the wrong side of the battlefield. You are your child’s voice at school. You are your child’s first defense. You are your child’s advocate. Pick up your weapons and fight for them, not against them.In gratitude,
    Dr. Angie

8 Comments

  1. Elaineobargg on September 28, 2016 at 11:21 am

    It was good to hear from you.Thanks for the info. We all need to review the points. I especially hate mornings. In all the years of getting up for school I have never found a way to do it painlessly and the yelling. Threats and so forth . And I am a total wreck before he leaves to catch the bus. i guess that if he sometimes got up without the the thousand different ways to help him get up and leave for school have ‘t found it yet. Thanks for listening Elaine

    • drangie on September 29, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      Elaine, thank you for you response. I am sure there are parents all over the world that feel the same as you. Mornings can be diffiuclt. Einstein said’ The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a differnet outcome”. If yelling isn’t working and you are still feeling ‘a wreck’ before your day even gets going, it is time to change. Try changing one thing. Decide tomorrow that what ever happens that morning, you are not going to yell. Your emotions and responses are not his responsibilty, they are yours. That is empowering. That means you get to CHOOSE to respond differently. Breathe. Remember how much you love him and what you love so much about him and choose to see that part of him when he wakes up tomorrow morning. Let me know how it goes

  2. Jalu Sakti on November 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    I like what you talked about in tip #8. My brother is dyslexic, and my parents are trying to learn about their rights for his education so they can make sure he is progressing at the rate that he needs to. I’ve heard of schools especially for dyslexic kids, but I’m not sure if there are any of those schools in our area. Maybe I will try to help my parents out and see if we can get my brother enrolled in a school that will really cater to his needs. I think he would learn much better in a school like that.

    • drangie on February 28, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      There are schools specifically designed for the education of those with dyslexia. What I feel is more powerful is when an individual can be empowered with the tools to learn in any environment. Tools that allow them to shift their attention and perception at will. It is relatively simple. But, very empowering.

  3. Tina Hendricks on July 25, 2017 at 2:01 am

    How do I find a school that does not cost a fortune for my grandson he has been diagnosed add ADHD and dyslexic the thought of the upcoming year already has me stressed

    • drangie on July 26, 2017 at 12:04 am

      Hi Tina. I understand how you are feeling. There are schools out there that teach to neuro-diverse students. Some are private and some are charter schools. Homeschooling and picking your curriculum is also an option. Personally, I am passionate about the Davis programs. They are empowering. So then it is not about finding the right school as much as it is about giving him the tools to learn in any environment. With that said, maybe try posting your question in an ADHD or Dyslexia online or Facebook forum. Good luck.

  4. Rox on March 6, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    I’m having big issues with my son anger. He has a hard time expressing his feeling and will lash out when he is picked on or when something is not his way . He has a short tempered. What are programs I can do or help I can find him. I have tried lots of methods but I feel like he needs coaching on how to deal with ange
    R

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