Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mental Illness in School: No Child Left Behind?

How much do I tell my child’s teacher about her depression? About his bipolar disorder? About her ADHD? Will he fall behind if the teacher doesn’t know? Will she be judged if I tell the school? When do I get testing, an IEP, special Ed? What do those mean?

Parents of children with psychiatric illness struggle with these questions and many others. Often, there are no easy answers. A child’s success at school may be one of the best predictors of future success. Giving a child and his/her family the best tools to succeed in school is one of my top priorities as a child psychiatrist.

When deciding how much to tell your child’s school about his/her psychiatric illness, consider your child’s ability to function at school rather than his/her specific type of illness. You are not required to tell the school anything; that is up to you as a parent. If telling your child’s teacher about his/her psychiatric illness will give him/her a better chance to do well, then consider telling the teacher. If your child’s illness is affecting his/her day to day functioning and behavior at school, then consider telling the teacher. Teachers are your partners in helping your child succeed. If the illness is relatively well controlled and is not affecting his/her daily behavior at school, the school may not need to know. For more information, visit the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

When it comes to accessing special education services, most schools and teachers want to do everything they can to help your child. I usually recommend families listen to the principal and teachers.They are the experts in education. However, if you are dissatisfied with the educational services you are receiving, my next recommendation is know your rights, know your state’s laws. Every state must provide a free education that meets the needs of each child – no matter what those needs are. What varies widely, however, is how each state manages that requirement. The U.S. Department of Education website has basic information on your rights as a parent and offers links to each state.html. Know your state law, know your rights. Come armed with that information and work with your doctor and school for your child to succeed!

1 comment:

  1. woooww... I think it is nice article to be read, i'll come back..:))


Comments are reviewed before posting, and comments that include profanity or other inappropriate material will not be posted. The comment section is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice. All decisions about clinical care should be made in consultation with your treating physician. If you need help with a mental health issue, please visit our resource page.