Over the last couple of decades ADHD (commonly referred to as “ADD”) is frequently diagnosed with struggling children. Within the doctor’s office, the child’s history is reviewed along with the parent filling out a rating scale (typically the Vanderbilt Scale, which is not norm-referenced).
When it comes up positive for things like “overly distractible” and “inattentive” a diagnosis typically follows.
As a result of the considerable numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD, parents stream into schools requesting 504 Plans for their child to provide the child with accommodations.
Let’s look at Liam, a fourth grader I recently evaluated who was previously diagnosed with ADHD based on the Vanderbilt Scales) and it was recommended that he be put on medication.
Once getting “diagnosed,” the mom pushed the school to set up a 504 Plan and also came to came to me to get my perspective. (They heard of my “Pushback Disorder.”)
While evaluating Liam, he didn’t present as inattentive or distractible. In fact, in many ways he was quite focused, particularly for hands-on tasks. The mom rated him pretty high on the inattentive side of things.
I saw Liam, at best, as “quasi-ADHD” (a term I made up). In other words, it wasn’t a “slam dunk” to label him as having ADHD.
What I did learn from Liam was he was overly caught up in a myriad of screen preoccupations (e.g., YouTube, Fortnight, etc.). School and homework were just basic annoyances that he had to deal with primarily get his mom off of his back.
Liam’s mom complained that he never seemed to know what he had to do for school and her blood pressure rose daily over Liam’s obliviousness. Frustrated that Liam never wrote down any assignments (“Why should I,” says Liam. “It’s online somewhere.”).
To lower her blood pressure, mom has taken to downloading the Google Classroom App on her phone so that she can try and figure out what Liam has to do (while Liam plays Fortnite).
Liam thinks that it’s pretty cool his mom has the Google Classroom App, so she can keep track of what he’s supposed to do, rather than continually ask him.
It’s the mom’s view that the school should be relaxing the deadlines in a 504 Plan due to his “ADD.”
I pushed back some on the mom. I wasn’t buying that Liam wasn’t handing in his work due to a disability.
It struck me that the purpose of 504 accommodations in school was essentially to “level the playing field” for children with handicapping conditions, not to be giving Liam the message that he can hand in homework when he chose to or not at all because of his “diagnosis.”
It was my view that it wasn’t a 504 issue. It was a lifestyle issue. That is, Liam had a pretty cool lifestyle and he wasn’t about to compromise it.
Why stress when his mother was doing all the stressing.
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