5 self-advocacy sentence starters for middle-schoolers with ADHD

By Amanda Morin

It’s important for middle-schoolers with ADHD to learn how to self-advocate and ask for support. But kids this age may feel embarrassed about needing extra help and speaking up for themselves. They may also not know how to ask for it. Help your child by rehearsing common situations like these.

1. “I need help remembering to bring my textbook.”

Situation: Your child keeps forgetting to bring books home from school and isn’t doing or turning in homework.

Your child can say to the teacher: “Is it possible to have an extra copy of the book to keep at home?”

Your child can say to the IEP team: “Can we talk about accommodations that will help me remember what I need to bring home at the end of the day?”

2. “Can you help me figure something out?”

The situation: Another student tells a joke in class. Your child keeps nudging kids and giggling long after the others have settled down. Your child is surprised and upset about getting in trouble.

Your child can say to the teacher later: “I wasn’t trying to be rude. I don’t understand why you got mad at me and not the rest of the class. What was different about what I did?”

3. “Can you help me explain that I’m trying as hard as I can?”

The situation: A student teacher tells your child to just try harder to keep materials organized.

Your child can say to the teacher: “Can you help me explain that I am trying hard, and I just need some extra help sometimes?”

Your child can say to the IEP team: “Is there a way to make sure new teachers understand I have trouble getting organized and need some help?”

4. “Can I get a copy of the teacher’s notes?”

The situation: Your child had trouble paying attention during the teacher’s lesson and forgot to take notes.

Your child can say to the teacher: “Using a fidget or moving helps me to concentrate, but it’s hard to take notes at the same time. Could I make a copy of your notes?”

Your child can say to the IEP team: “Can we add something to my learning plan that says I can get a copy of the teacher’s notes?”

5. “Can I work somewhere quieter?”

The situation: Your child is having trouble concentrating during study hall.

Your child can say to the teacher: “I’d like to use this time to get a jump on my homework. But it’s loud in here. Can I have a pass to work in the library?”

Your child can say to the IEP team: “My study hall is really full and kind of loud. Is there a smaller one I can switch to?”

    Tell us what interests you


    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.