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A Q&A on educational issues
Q: What is the best option for a teen with ADD: public, private or home-schooling?
A: "By and large, the public schools do an excellent job," says Chris Dendy, keynote speaker at the recent ADHD conference in Tukwila. Public schools have tremendous resources — if you can access them. Some traditional private schools — Catholic schools, for example — excel at meeting special needs, while others don't. Alternative schools usually provide more individualized education. Many parents of ADHD children decide to home school to avoid potential problems and because they feel they know their children best. Parents must make this decision based on their own beliefs, instincts, resources and locale.
Q: My sophomore son started medication for ADHD and seems to be doing better this semester. Should we wait and see or pursue an accommodation plan at his public school?
A: Chances are that an accommodation plan would further enhance your son's learning and achievement. Although the planning process takes time and energy, the bonus is the opportunity for awareness-raising and better mutual understanding of your son's strengths and weaknesses. The planning team typically includes the child, teachers, a school counselor, the parents and possibly an education consultant.
Q: Homework is still a huge struggle with my freshman daughter. She doesn't want my support, and I hate the fights, but I know she needs help — especially with organization. What should I do?
A: Your daughter is a typical teen — she wants her independence. Be aware that while she may look mature, she probably has "developmental delays" that cause her to be behind her peers in maturity. She will need more support than a student without ADHD. As high school proceeds, more and more will be required of her as the curriculum becomes complex. Provide structure, and let her set the routine, such as what time she starts and where she'll study. Help her develop organization skills, and don't be drawn into battles.
Reported by Melinda Tsuchiya
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company