Curiosity About ADHD

Sometimes I think ADHD — Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder — should be called the 1980s Disorder for that decade’s reputation of aggressive acquisitions and corporate mergers. People made fortunes on their software ideas, retired, and then started something new. Those traits, however, do not work well in a school environment because of the emphasis for group-think. I’ve begun reading “Square Peg,” by Todd Rose, in which he describes growing up in the 1980s. Rose compensated for his impulsiveness, low threshold for boredom, and curiosity by trouble-making at school. Only later did he learn how to channel the gifts of ADHD. His book was published this month; it’s also on my Goodreads shelf.

Meanwhile, there’s a free online course through called The course looks at ADHD and its impact. I’m thinking about signing up, but I also have a presentation to prepare for the SF Support for Families’ Resource fair Friday, and also review my Wrightslaw books from last week’s bootcamp in San Jose.

We had a nice turnout at the PEGS parent support group for Tehiyah Day School.  Tehiyah is an independent Jewish school of about 300 students, from pre-K to 8th grade. Of course Tehiyah includes students with learning differences  — the school stresses community and acceptance — but because it is a private school, these students rarely have current IEPs.

We talked about the importance of special education eligibility whether the student was attending an independent school or graduating. Under the “child find” provision of IDEA, public school districts must assess all students — even those in independent religious schools — with a suspected disability to determine whether the students qualify for special education. This is important because an eligibility assessment provides parents with information about how their child learns. It also is important in planning for high school.

After 8th grade, Tehiyah students typically enroll in their public high schools. Depending on where they live, this puts students with disabilities into the special education process at West Contra Costa, Albany, Berkeley, or Oakland Unified school districts. Contrary to what some school officials are telling parents, a student does not have to be enrolled in public school before the District can assess. We talked about how the process works, and the differences between an Individual Education Plan and a Section 504 plan.  If the District ignores an assessment request, then parents can call the State.  Margaret Benavides at California’s Office of Procedural Safeguards is waiting for your call. (800) 926-0648.

PS If you want a copy of our presentation, send an email to

This Saturday, we’ll be presenting a morning workshop at Support for Families of Children With Disabilities in San Francisco. The workshop begins at 8:30 am.

Bullying at School: Who, How, and What to Do (English)

School should be a safe place for learning. However, students, especially students with disabilities, may be subject to bullying or harassment.  Sometimes they are bullied; sometimes they ARE the bullies. We’ll talk about how a school’s anti-bullying policy acts with special education. We’ll also discuss punishment–seclusion, suspension, expulsion–and your child’s rights.

We’ll repeat the presentation in February, 2013 in Oakland at Family Resource Network.

Handout:  Sample complaint letter from PACER, the anti-bullying organization.

Look Ahead

Sure, it’s only October, but if your student will switch schools next year, start the IEP process now. Otherwise, the District might not start its testing until the end of the school year, leaving your child with an incomplete education plan.

The District cannot start assessments until the student’s parent or guardian signs an assessment plan. But the District probably won’t create a testing plan until you ask for an IEP evaluation “in all areas of suspected disability.” This means the disabilities that you suspect, not just the District. It’s important to make your request in writing to the Special Education Director. You can mail a letter or send an email.

You can help by describing which disability you suspect, and why. For example, “Tupac is an avid reader but does not complete his Language Arts tests on time. He has trouble with remembering all the characters, unless he turns them into a rap. His teachers say that he is bright but lazy. However, I believe that he has a learning disability and perhaps needs extra time.”   The District cannot diagnose your child — only a medical professional can — but with your help, the District can figure out how to help your child learn.