Q My son has ADHD. Recently, his teacher, annoyed by the classroom noise, asked him in front of his classmates if he had remembered to take his medication. My son doesn’t understand why his teacher would humiliate him in front of his friends. He says he won’t go back to school. How do I handle this?

A: If you haven’t already done so, have a discussion with your son about ADHD, how it makes him feel, and how it makes him unique. Keep it on a level he can easily understand and that makes him feel good about himself.

If you need some suggestions or guidance, your local bookstore probably has a few books that can help. The books will answer many of your child’s questions and concerns, some of which you might not have even considered. If you go the book route, be sure to read WITH your child.

Your son may also be worried about what to say if his friends ask him questions or make fun of him. Work together to come up with an answer he’s comfortable with and practice it with him.

Explain to your son that adults sometimes do and say things they shouldn’t. Maybe his teacher was feeling overwhelmed, or maybe she’d started the day with an argument with her own family or a co-worker. And maybe your son’s behavior really was disruptive and his teacher had already asked him a number of times to settle down. Tell him that you will speak privately with her to make sure she understands his distress.

Making a child feel ashamed or humiliated is never acceptable. Neither is assuming an ADD child is always the cause of trouble in the classroom. However, incidents like this make it obvious that many, if not most, teachers are woefully misinformed about ADD. That’s worrisome, since most classrooms have at least one student with ADD. Few teachers have a grasp on the complex nature of a condition that affects a large part of the juvenile population.

Consider speaking with the school principal about ADD resources available to teachers. You might ask your child’s doctor to recommend resources to local schools, or even to offer himself or a member of his staff to answer teachers’ questions.

Armin Brott is a syndicated columnist and author. You can reach him through his Web site at www.mrdad.com.


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