The Other Side of the Table

IEP MeetingBefore becoming a parent, I was a teacher and administrator for many years. During that time I taught everything from kindergarten to fifth grade.  I worked with various socioeconomic levels and students of various needs, abilities and disabilities.  I taught students already diagnosed with ADHD and students that probably would have benefited from the support they could receive if they were diagnosed with ADHD.  I led parent conferences where I was able to share the good news that the child was thriving in class and I led parent conferences where I had to communicate struggle.  Along with other school team members, I was a key player in meetings where a recommendation was made to have a child evaluated by a medical doctor or pediatric neurologist to explore why that child was not living up to his or her potential.

Most of the time these meetings, even ones where difficult news needed to be discussed, were well received.  We worked as a team, everyone together wanting what was best for the child.  We all left these meetings hugging each other feeling that we were making decisions that would help the child long term.

Sometimes, however, these meetings were much more difficult.  Some parents did not want to hear that their child may benefit from extra support or that additional testing and evaluation might help discover how to best help the child.  As a teacher or administrator I would leave these meetings feeling that these parents were in denial.  I worried that they were burying their head in the sand thinking that the problems would disappear if they pretended they didn’t exist.  And I would be so frustrated.

Why won’t these parents get it? If they get their child help, and the sooner the better, then they could see their child be more likely to blossom and thrive.  It may not be an easy road but at least they would finally be starting down the right road.  I wanted to grab them by the shoulders, and yell “Wake up! What are you thinking? Love the child you have- not the child you want to pretend that you have!”

And then I became a parent of a boy with special needs.

And now I understand.  Now I understand how it feels to walk into a room full of people who are there to help but still feel incredibly intimidated by them.  Now I understand how much a parent craves to hear (even just once!), “Your child is doing great – no further interventions are needed right now.”  Now, when my son comes home from kindergarten and has 45 minutes (in kindergarten!) of homework from various teachers and specialists, sometimes, just sometimes, I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that all of this will just go away with time, not increased blood, sweat and tears.    Sometimes I want to pretend that my child isn’t the one who is going to have to climb mountains just to survive in school.  Because sometimes it really is easier to pretend.  Or at least it is nice to pretend for a little while.

I usually wake up pretty quickly from my fantasies by some chaos in the house.  I know I can’t stay in la-la land for long.  I don’t want to be one of those parents whose teachers want to shake me for not being realistic about my son’s challenges.  But a girl can dream.  And maybe someday I will have one of those parent meetings where a teacher tells me that he is doing really, really well.  And it will be for real.


Kim Clary Cafiero

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.

Related posts:

504 plan, academic achievement, adhd and school, General ADHD, IEP, Kim Clary Cafiero, learning disabilities, Uncategorized ·

About the author

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.


  1. Crys says:

    This post brought me back to the first conversation with a teacher who suggested my son may benefit from being observed by the “Child Intervention Team” at school. He was in kindergarten, he was not even 5 years old yet, he had only been in school two weeks, he was my baby who was still learning the ropes. His kindergarten teacher casually mentioned this to me during dismissal in front of all the other kindergarten kids and parents. She also said it was the physical education teacher who suggested the observation (he had only been in gym twice at that point).

    So, yes I resisted and denied that he needed to be “observed” (because I didn’t even know what that meant). We spent a very tumultuous year at that school. It could have all went a whole lot more smoothly if they had approached me differently from the start. We left that school for 1st grade and had a wonderful teacher, who also expressed concerns but in a completely different manner that was supportive and full of specifics.

    Fast forward…he is now almost 16 years old and definitely has ADHD and it has been a bumpy road. I will never forget or forgive that first experience, it caused me anxiety for years!


  2. Lindsey says:

    I too have been on both sides of the table. As a teacher, I hope to be understanding. I try my best to be compassionate toward my students with ADHD by finding ways for them to succeed such as standing to work, drawing during discussions, this year, I even gave one an ipod to listen to music to help him drown out the classroom noise. Now that I am on the other side of the table, as a parent of an ADHD son, my frustration comes from those who do not have any give and take in the classroom. How do you deal with teachers who expect your everyone to fit into the “cookie cutter mold?” My son is 8 years old, and becomes very frustrated with school because he is expected to sit still in his seat and pay attention at all times.

  3. Lori says:

    Thanks Kim for that! Your story sounds a lot like mine. I was a teacher before adopting my 2 boys. My oldest has ADHD and boy what a bumpy road it’s been. He is now in 4th grade and the stresses of his ADHD are much much more complicated! We can only (and have to be) our child’s voice and advocate! But what irks me is before any diagnosis if your child has “behavior issues” they urge you to seek help…so you do…but now I have a diagnosis, (for 4 years now), have treatment in place…but have to freakin FIGHT to get services /accommodations in school for him! so frustrting!!!


Leave a Comment

The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

Powered by WordPress | Customized by KW Design