A Pediatrician, Psychologist or Licensed Social Worker makes the diagnosis of ADHD. These professionals follow the guidelines in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual – 5th edition. The minimum requirement is that objective questionnaires be completed in two environments: home and school. The student must score at or above the 93rd percentile for problems with focus/attention when compared to a student of the same sex and age in school and at home. For ADHD: Combined type the student must be impulsive/overactive at the 93rd percentile.
When a student qualifies for Special Education at school, he receives an Individual Education Plan. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has defined categories under which a student might qualify for special education. ADHD is under the category of “Other Health Impaired.” In addition to the diagnosis, a student must show a “significant impairment” in the classroom. Students who are scoring in the average range on curriculum-based assessments, average on academic achievement and are earning average grades would not appear to be “impaired” at school.
Sometimes the average grades are due to parents providing extensive support at home. Parents may feel as if they are “homeschooling” the child in the evening after school. The parent monitors assignments online, reviews topics that were covered in school during the day, supervises homework and then makes sure that the homework gets to school the next day.
If this is happening in your home you may need to scale back on the academic support so that her teacher gains a sense of how your child functions on her own. This will be challenging for your child since your child has come to depend on your support; therefore you will need to slowly taper your support. You can start by encouraging your child to complete everything she can before you offer assistance. Let the teacher know specifically what your child did independently and what required assistance. Keep track of when you begin tapering off the extensive support at home, and the test and homework grades. Within a week or two, ask to meet with the teacher to review the assignments and tests. This would be the time to bring up your interest in an IEP.