Being the parent of a child with ADHD can be difficult for a lot of reasons: dealing with challenging behaviours, making decisions about medication, dealing with judgmental people, watching your child struggle socially, just to name a few. I firmly believe that we can not use the ADHD diagnosis as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour, but at the same time I know that it is a factor to be considered. This week we are dealing with some challenges at school. My ADHD child hit another child. He was provoked when the child took his new toy and stomped on it then threw it into the mud where they could not find it, and he reacted by hitting.
This is not okay. This is not okay for a child with ADHD. This is not okay for a child without ADHD. He needs a consequence for this behaviour, and we need to discuss alternative reactions he could have chosen. We are doing this, and we always do this with him.
He is impulsive. He doesn’t think about how his actions impact others. He doesn’t consider consequences. These are all typical behaviours of children with ADHD, and we need to work extra hard to help him learn to control his temper and consider consequences. This is a long slow process that I don’t expect to change overnight. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits someone again.
But he will be suspended if he does.
My son is in grade 2 and has ADHD, and he will be suspended if he hits another child.
I am very afraid that this is going to happen. He will act out, be suspended and be forever labeled the “bad kid” who was suspended in grade 2. It will impact his school experience because teachers will give him that label. It will impact him socially because kids who think of him as the “bad kid”. It will impact his self esteem. And I don’t think it’s right.
Honestly, I don’t believe any child should be automatically suspended in grade two. And I especially don’t think a child with ADHD should be suspended in this situation. If he was hitting someone without provocation I might agree with suspension. If he was reacting aggressively on a regular basis, I would agree with suspension. However, he has these challenges in his life that make it difficult for him to contain himself and he was provoked (and if he hits someone again I KNOW it will be a provoked attack). Other than add stigma and shame, what does suspension actually accomplish? Give him indoor recesses so he is still getting his education but not getting the opportunity to fight on the playground. Make him write down why he shouldn’t hit and how hitting impacted everyone. Either of these consequences would teach the child something without making them feel like they are “bad” and basically telling them you don’t want them around.
So my question is, should a child with an ADHD diagnosis be treated differently than a child without ADHD?