It wasn’t until after I stopped working with Danny when I learned about Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT), which some consider a subset of ADHD that is characterised by lethargic behaviour, mental fogginess and very low processing speed. In a few studies it has also been connected as being prevalent in people with High functioning ASD, as well. One study suggested that individuals who have High functioning ASD and high levels of SCT symptoms, could suffer with more pronounced social difficulties and internalised psychiatric symptoms. There is debate as to whether SCT is a neurodivergent condition of its own or a sub symptom of ADHD. Currently it’s not on the DSM-V because it seems to be distinct from ADHD, however it frequently co-occurs with it. There have also been studies that connect SCT to problems with sleep, which might have Danny’s parents consider looking into addressing any questions about his sleep. But regardless of what they decide to do it’s what they learn, having more information will help them better advocate for their son.
I can’t say enough how important it is for parents to get all the information they can about their child’s abilities in the classroom. With more knowledge, they can help teachers get a complete picture of your child. The more teachers learn about their child’s interests and obsessions, talents and challenges, and their social and emotional needs, the quicker teachers can build relationships with their child and help them feel more secure and ready to learn. Working as a team with the class teacher is always best. I know advocacy can be daunting, overwhelming and so much to take on, so reach out to different non-profit groups and their resources, join a parent support groups (in person or on-line), make use of coaches and other specialists that can help along the way. You never have to do this alone.
After coming to terms with Danny’s assessment, his parents stepped into the role of becoming stronger advocates for their son. They monitor how he’s doing in school with the knowledge they now have, more aware that they will have to reassess his needs in the future. As for Danny, I still hear from him. He was very pleased that I told his parents that he needed his own laptop for his middle school. School isn’t easy at times, but he’s got a lot more support than he’s ever had before. He’s still very aware of what he’s capable of and is learning how to ask for help when he needs it. He’s feeling pretty good most days.
As for me, this year was my turning point. It wasn’t easy for Danny and he hadn’t been as fortunate in his educational experience to have many teachers that wanted to understand him and meet him where he was at. This was something I had seen with far too many students over the years and it didn’t seem to be improving. That’s when I quit my job and decided I needed to do what I could to make a difference for more students.
Students just like Danny.
Sandra draws upon her Masters of Ed. Psych and her background in education to coach kids with ADHD and ADHD women diagnosed later in life.
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