How Do I Get My Child’s Teacher On Board with His ADHD Diagnosis?

How Do I Get My Child’s Teacher On Board with His ADHD Diagnosis?

Dear Developmental Doc:

I am feeling so frustrated I don’t know what to do.  The new school semester has just begun and I have a son who is 8 years old and severely impacted by ADHD. Although his teacher is certified in special education, during our very first ‘meet and greet’, she candidly told my husband and me that she does not really believe that ADHD exists. I am fearful that my son will not have a sympathetic ear in the classroom and in fact, may be unfairly penalized for his disorder- Marci M., Los Angeles, CA.

Dear Marci,

I can certainly appreciate your concerns as your son navigates his academic year potentially in unsympathetic territory. My suggestion is to find out who in your son’s school does believe in ADHD and work closely with them, hoping that maybe they can influence the teachers.  I doubt that you can truly turn someone around who does not believe in the diagnosis, but you can work at creating a friendlier atmosphere by finding allies in the school system (perhaps the resource specialist and/or other parents who have children similarly impacted) who believe in the disorder and joining with them. If the group can get trainings started, perhaps through national support groups like CHADD, it will help influence staff members who don’t believe in ADHD. The most important issue is regardless of her beliefs, how the teacher will respond to your son and the challenging behaviors that often accompany the disorder. If the teacher has a problem with your son’s behavior in school, then the problem will be likely that the school does not know how to handle the behavior.  Consider helping to facilitate a meeting with the teacher and a behavioral specialist that can assist by setting up a brief behavioral plan. If you find yourself unable to make any headway, then I would contact the administration immediately for support and/or an advocate for your child at his next IEP meeting to get your concerns made known and documented.

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Written by: Esther B. Hess, Ph.D. See other articles by Esther B. Hess, Ph.D.
About the Author:

Esther B. Hess, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist and executive director of a multidisciplinary treatment facility in West Los Angeles, Center for the Developing Mind. For more information and/or to contact Dr. Hess please visit the Center for the Developing Mind’s web site at

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