If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD she or he will most likely have problems at school. ADHD can have a negative effect on how well a child does at school, so if he/she hasn’t been diagnosed yet, it’s important that this happens sooner rather than later.
Identification & Assessment
If you are concerned that your child is not benefiting from the education being provided by his/her school – you should discuss your concerns with your child’s class teacher, tutor, Year Head and the School Principal.
The Principal and teacher should support you in identifying if your child would benefit from an Educational Assessment and an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
An Education Plan is an agreed and documented education programme which considers the strengths and weaknesses of the student. It should target specific areas for educational improvement while at the same time building on the strengths of the student. It should be collaboratively developed, implemented and periodically assessed. Before an Education Plan is set in place, and Education Assessment should be carried out.
Who can request an assessment?
The School Principal or a parent/guardian can request an educational assessment form their Special Education Needs Officer (SENO) or Neps (National Educational Psychological Service).
At present an assessment can be carried out by NEPS or where schools do not have access to NEPS services – schools may commission a limited number of assessments from a set panel of psychologists, the cost of which is funded by the Department of Education and Science. The principal must consult the parents prior to making this arrangement.
The request for an assessment may be refused in certain instances – however an appeals process exists. Where there is a delay on obtaining an Educational Assessment – a parent may arrange and fund this privately. It is important to note that for private assessments the psychologist carrying out the assessment should be recognised by NEPS. The child may also be referred for an assessment of needs to The Child and Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
What should the assessment determine?
An assessment should include an evaluation and statement of the nature and extent of the child’s disability and an evaluation and statement of the services which the child will need so as to be able to participate in and benefit from education and, generally, to develop his or her potential.
Who should carry out the assessment?
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides for the assessment of school going children. Each school is assigned a psychologist by NEPS. The assessment should be carried out with the assistance of people with appropriate expertise and qualifications (as deemed by the Council or health board). This may include a psychologist, medical practitioner, the principal or designated teacher, social worker, or a therapist suitably qualified to provide support services in relation to the child’s special education need. The participation of parents should be facilitated, and as appropriate; the health board, Council or principal.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health service (CAMHS) can also carry out an assessment. A statement of the findings of the assessment should be made available to the parents.
What happens after assessment?
Firstly the assessment report should show what support services should be put in place and this should be processed by the local SENO (Special Education Needs Organiser).
Schools should support children with special educational needs through the existing mechanisms or the school may apply to the NCSE (The National Council for Special Education) for additional special educational needs resources for the pupil in the context of the criteria outlined in current circulars. These include resource teaching hours, SNA (Special Needs Assistant ) etc. Applications for resources are processed by Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO’s) and these are the local point of contact for parents and schools.
Unfortunately, services are mandated by legislation only insofar as resources exist. This means that they tend to not always be common practice.
Where the assessment shows that a special education need exists an individual educational plan (IEP) should also be drawn up and put in place.
ADHD Ireland’s Resource for Teachers : ADHD and Education gives advice which would be useful for parents and teachers on drawing up and implementing IEPs for students with ADHD. Please fill out the form in the Contact Us section and we can send you a copy of this booklet.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has produced guidelines on the Individual Education Plan Process and this is available from the Government Publications Sales Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.
The NCSE has a selection of information leaflets on their website which you might find useful. These aim to give parents information on the full range of educational supports available in schools for children with special educational needs and you can find them here.
Parent / teacher collaboration is vital for success in supporting your child and helping them achieve their potential. It is most likely that your teacher, who has been struggling with your child’s difficulties, will welcome your intervention. Communication between parents and teachers is necessary to ensure that classroom management and home management are consistent and support each other. Structure and consistency are vital.
It is also important to remember that parents have a primary role to play in their children’s education and are a vital advocate for their children in the education system.
Negotiating through the education system can seem difficult but your local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) should be able to assist. The role of the SENO is to be a local contact point to help parents secure services for their child in their journey through the education system. You will find your local SENO here
As your child enters secondary school the demands on them may appear quite daunting. As a parent you can work to ensure that your child’s difficulties are understood and their strengths are built upon.
See also our section on supplementary admissions route to, and supports at 3rd level.
The Education for People with Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 is a piece of legislation which outlines how the education of people with special educational needs process should operate. However, the key sections of the EPSEN Act which confers statutory rights to assessment, education plans and appeals processes on children have not commenced yet. The National Council for Special Education is the statutory body responsible for the delivery of education services for people with special education needs and particularly children. They deliver services locally through their network of Special Education Needs Officer (SENO)’s.