Parents & schools work to help kids in the classroom with ADHD

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) It wasn't too many years ago that North Carolina led the nation in the number of kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The statistics have improved recently, but the state still has the 8th most cases in the country and when it comes to kids in the classroom, having ADHD can be an added challenge to learning.

Christina Mills has two kids in Pitt County Schools in the first and fifth grades. They are both diagnosed with high functioning autism and ADHD. She was able to get Individualized Education Programs for them.

Mills says, "So it's individualized for that specific student, no other student has that same IEP that they have and there's accommodations and other things that are in that as well."

Mills says the plans have made a world of difference for her kids. She says, "They're working really good. If they didn't have them in place I don't think that they would be as successful as they are right now."

Those plans particularly help students who may lose focus quickly, need more time to get their work done, or who need special accommodations in the classroom.

Rachel Brassine has a child in the 6th grade, who was diagnosed with ADHD in the first grade. She tried to get the same assistance, but was denied.

Brassine says, "They just told me she was too smart. And we were just told her scores were too high, that she did not qualify for a 504 Plan because her scores were just too high. She was too smart."

The IEP all starts with an ADHD diagnosis from a doctor, then the school district has to approve a student for what's known as a Section 504.

Karen Harrington, Director of Student Services for Pitt County Schools says, "That criteria comes from the federal standards and the team goes through and talks about with data, and so it's not just a diagnosis from a doctor, it's the data."

Without the IEP, Brassine's approach to helping her daughter has been constant interaction with her child's teachers. "For the most part it's been really great. Where I'm fearful is tests, like the EOG's and her having enough time to complete the EOG's."

While there are added challenges in the classroom for kids with ADHD, both parents and school district officials say the key, from both sides, is involvement.

Harrington says, "And our teachers are pretty familiar with ADHD and so usually once they know they have some ideas of strategies that have worked for their grade level or age level students."

Brassine says, "They do try to help where they can but they're not obligated to."

While Brassine and Mills say it can be frustrating, the message they have for other parents: If you think your child may have ADHD, get a diagnosis, find the right treatment plan, and then work with the school for the best outcomes for your child.

Mills says, "And once you put the pedal to the metal you're like OK, what can I do to help my kid. That's what any parent would want, their kid to succeed."