Grade-schoolers don’t always have the words to explain what they need or to ask for help. But being able to self-advocate is especially important for kids with ADHD whose symptoms might make it look like they’re misbehaving. Help your child by going over sentence starters like these.
1. “The teacher does it differently for me.”
The situation: A substitute teacher gets frustrated with your child for blurting out the answers.
Your child can go up to the substitute during a quiet time and say: “My teacher and I have a signal we use to remind me to raise my hand and wait my turn. Can we use it today, too?”
Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “Can someone at school let substitutes know about the signal we use? That way they’ll know I need help remembering to wait my turn.”
2. “Can you help me fix a problem with a friend?”
The situation: During a group project, your child keeps interrupting and tells a classmate her idea is stupid. Your child realizes it was a mistake after saying it.
Your child can say to the teacher after class: “I think I hurt Jenna’s feelings. I didn’t mean to, and I don’t know what to say to make it better. Can you help me?”
3. “Can I work someplace else?”
The situation: During independent work time, your child is distracted because the teacher is working with a small group nearby.
Your child can say to the teacher: “I have a hard time not getting distracted by the group. Is there somewhere else I can go to finish my work?”
Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “Can it be in my learning plan that I need a quieter place to go during work time?”
4. “Can we try it a different way?”
The situation: During a spelling quiz, your child has to spend a lot of time focusing on and remembering the directions, so doesn’t finish the test on time.
Your child can say to the teacher: “I have trouble thinking about the directions and writing the answer at the same time. Can I do it again when there’s some free time?”
Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “Is there something that can help me remember the directions while I’m taking the test?”
5. “I didn’t mean to say that.”
The situation: Your child complains about something another student has done and wants the teacher to punish the other student. When that doesn’t happen, your child yells at the teacher: “That’s not fair!” and storms off.
Your child can say to the teacher later: “I’m sorry I acted like that. Sometimes I have trouble keeping my cool. I’m working on it, though.”
Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “Can we come up with a plan to help with this? I’m trying to have more control over how I act.”
6. “Can you help me explain this?”
The situation: Your child gets in trouble during music class for fidgeting on the risers when the class is supposed to be standing and singing.
Your child can say to the classroom teacher: “I don’t mean to bother people. It’s just hard for me to stand still for that long. Can you help me explain that to the music teacher?”
Your child can ask you to talk to the IEP team: “Can we think of some ways for me to be able to move during music class without getting into trouble?”