Q. My 16-year-old gets in constant trouble for problems related to his impulsive behavior. Though his teachers know he has ADHD, they continue to suspend him—most recently for three days for grabbing another student's calculator during a test. I don't feel this helps him and wish he could be happy at school.
A. First of all, you're right about suspensions. According to the Legal Aid Justice Center's Educate Every Child report (justice4all.org), suspensions are ineffective in punishing students. Instead, your son needs to develop the skills to manage his ADHD with the help of educational professionals (the people at his school). Ask your son which teacher and administrator understand him best, then invite those people to be part of a team that will design a plan with agreed-upon warnings and reminders to slow down your son—especially in high-stress situations like test taking. Remember that it's the school's responsibility to do this, so don't accept the excuse of teachers being too busy. Help your son turn this problem into an opportunity for confidence building, collaborating with others and learning to ask for help. One beneficial resource for you is ImpactADHD, a coaching community for parents of kids with ADHD (impactadhd.com).
Originally published in the May 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.