Sitting on the other side of the table…
I've been in education for 45 years. I spent 30 of those years as an educational consultant dealing with students who have disabilities. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was a common condition that many of the children I served suffered from. I worked with them, their parents, and their educators. They were all the same and they were all unique. I was the professional. I offered advice, counseled and planned with them. I provided strategies, tips and ideas for them to manage their ADHD symptoms. I thought I had a firm basis with which to offer support. I think I did ok; but, I had no idea until I sat on the other side of that table what ADHD actually means on a personal level.
My granddaughter was diagnosed with ADHD when she was in kindergarten.
She's now in 5th grade. Now, when I attend a school conference, I sit on the other side of the table. Dealing with ADHD students as a professional and then becoming the grandparent of an ADHD granddaughter has provided me with a unique perspective and set of skills to support my granddaughter.
My primary role is to offer love, support, and understanding to my granddaughter. However, I can also call on my knowledge of what the “experts” say, what strategies work and how research has enlightened us on this devastating condition.
I retired from my position as an educational consultant. I put my books, podcasts and professional journals away. I now realize that I must stay informed and keep up-to-date with current information about ADHD, including its treatment options and coping strategies. I need to provide informed support.
Support, encouragement and understanding...
The parents I am dealing with are my daughter and son-in-law. They have not spent decades in education. I've learned how to work closely with them to ensure a consistent and supportive environment. I share my insights and knowledge, but must respect their decisions regarding treatment and management.
My granddaughter is a tremendous athlete. I have learned to celebrate her accomplishments and talents. They may not be in the classroom, but they are an important part of her. Part of my role is to encourage and support her interests.
I have also learned the power of patience and to understand that my granddaughter may need space. I am there to help with focus and positive reinforcement.
I can also offer respite to my granddaughter and be her never ending advocate.
I have sat across the table in two different school systems for my granddaughter. One system was clueless, ill informed and lazy. The other was supportive, proactive and understanding.
Professionals come in all different levels of ability and willingness to care about children.
We are in a good place with the school my granddaughter is in. However, as a professional I was only a small part of a student’s life. As a grandparent, I am ever present until the day I die.