Leaving the primary school environment and moving to a larger secondary school is both exciting and daunting for all teenagers. For the teen with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) the secondary school environment will pose challenges that can be managed by considering some of the following questions when choosing a school:
- Does the school have an open day where you can go and visit and see it in action
- Do you know anyone who is currently attending the schools you are thinking about that you can talk to
- How large is the school
- Which schools are the teens’ friends going to
- What are the strength areas of the teen and does this school offer that area
- How is the school day structured
- How many teachers will be teaching my son/daughter
- What process does the school have for parents to communicate with teaching staff
- Are there support structures in the school for students with additional learning needs
- What knowledge does the staff have in regard to ‘reasonable adjustments’ for students with ADHD
Once you and your teen have made the decision about which school they will be attending, a transition visit will usually be organised by the primary school. If this is not the case then it is important that this is arranged so that you and your son/daughter can visit the school, ask questions and familiarise yourself with the environment. If after this visit you have more questions, then make a further appointment to follow up and get the answers.
If you know or suspect that your child also has a learning disability such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disability (ID) then further considerations need to be made to support this decision to choose the most appropriate secondary school.
During your child’s primary school years, you will have had lots of feedback from teachers about how your child learns best and what strategies have been put in place to support them. As the parent of a child with ADHD you will know how your child has coped with the demands of school and the juggling of homework, outside of school activities and family requirements. If you haven’t already it is now a great time to put all this information together. If you can share this with the secondary school it will help them to better understand your teen and how they manage the demands of the curriculum and social situations.