My child with ADHD is being disciplined at school for things they can’t control. What can I do?

Is your child with ADHD being disciplined at school more and more? Get expert advice on how to manage school discipline. Learn the steps to better advocate for your child.

By Julian Saavedra, MA

Updated January 30, 2024

Q. My child with ADHD is being disciplined at school for things they can’t control. What can I do to help?

A. Knowing your child is being disciplined at school for behaviors related to ADHD can be stressful and confusing. ADHD makes it tough for some kids to control their behavior in the classroom. And they tend to get into trouble a lot. Here are some steps you can take to advocate for your child when they’re being disciplined at school. 

Talk to your child

Ask open-ended questions to find out what’s been going on in the classroom. This will help your child to feel empowered to speak up and share their point of view. 

Schedule time with the school

It’s common for kids with ADHD to communicate what they're thinking and feeling with their behavior, even if it’s a bad time to do it.

Get a better understanding of exactly what behaviors your child is being disciplined for. And find out what might be triggering the behavior. For instance, does your child act out while learning a specific subject? Or while interacting with another student?

Review classroom accommodations

If your child is being disciplined often, it may be time to take a closer look at the classroom accommodations that are written into their IEP or 504 plan. Has the teacher been following the accommodations, and is still finding that your child is not following directions? It may be time to review your child’s IEP or 504 plan. 

Ask about a functional behavioral assessment

FBA is a process schools use to figure out what is causing a student’s behavior. Think of it as an evaluation for behavior. An FBA leads to a plan with strategies to improve the behavior. 

Find a special education advocate

Special education advocates can help to guide you in the right direction when working with the school. Every family has the right to know whether or not their child is being properly supported. An advocate can work with you to take a closer look and come up with solutions. 

Learn about bias in school discipline in this episode of The Opportunity Gap. Read about protections kids have with school discipline.

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