How to help special-needs children in mainstream classes

Megan asks: Hi my son has ADHD and he was in a special class last year and his teacher decided that we give his a chance In a mainstream class. My son was so excited that he was going to a normal class, but now I think that it wasn’t a good idea, because the work is getting too much for him to handle. I spoke to him and explained to him that it’s fine, that he should just come to me and tell me that he can’t cope, and then we can make a plan. I think he is afraid to disappoint himself and of what other kids would say. I try to encourage him. I don’t know what to say to him anymore. What do I do?

Hi Megan –



I can’t know enough to say whether this particular school is right for your son. But you do bring up an issue that I think is awfully important, which is what seems to be his embarrassment or shame about having ADHD.

Of course it’s very normal for all kids to want to fit in with their classmates. And I have no doubt it’s tough for him to be in this in-between status, too “normal” for the special class, and too “different” for the mainstream one.  It’s like when I first went to the dog park – I was too new to know how to play with the adult dogs, and too big to play with the puppies – a really frustrating day!

Now eventually I learned to do just great at the park, so that thought makes me think that maybe you should give him some more time at this school, for him to get better at dealing with it.  Maybe you could encourage him to have a friend over, take some kids to a movie, etc., just so he feels more connected with them.

But regardless of that, here’s what he needs to learn:  there is NOTHING wrong with having ADHD!  It’s not really a disorder, as much as it’s just a different sort of brain.  Lots of very successful people credit their ADHD as helping them succeed, by keeping them on a search for excitement.  And many dogs have it, me more than most!  And I have a very fun time being me!

So as well as whatever he has to do regarding schools, I urge you to sit down with him and do a web search, about a whole bunch of famous people who have ADHD, and how it’s served them in their lives.  Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, Richard Branson have all come out talking about it. And Jim Carrey – bet you could never have guessed that one!

Your son deserves to be in the best environment he can have.  But he also deserves to feel, not that there’s something wrong with him, but that he’s special – in the best sense.  That he has a superpower.

And I’m just guessing, but I think that if he can believe that, suddenly coping might become a lot easier for your amazing kid.


All my Best,


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