October 2022 – After the NICU

Jenny R. McCormick, Senior Editor PreemieWorld, LLC

Children who were born very preterm have a 2-to-3-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD compared to their term born peers. After the NICU many parents are experiencing 504 Plans and Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) for their school-age preemies due to ADHD. How can you help your child succeed in school?

Special Education and Accommodations: There are two laws that govern special services and accommodations for children with disabilities:

  • IEPs provide individualized special education services to meet the unique needs of the child.
  • A 504 Plan provides services and changes to the learning environment to meet the needs of the child as adequately as other students.

Accommodations: What services can be provided?

  • Extra time on tests;
  • Instruction and assignments tailored to the child;
  • Using technology to assist with tasks;
  • Allowing breaks or time to move around;
  • Changes to the environment to limit distraction
  • Extra help with staying organized.

Communication: Just like in the NICU, advocating for your child is key. If something doesn’t feel right, ask your special education coordinator to set up an IEP or a special meeting to discuss your concerns.

  • Play an active role in preparing your child’s IEP or 504 Plan.
  • Check with the team to make sure transition times are handled appropriately.
  • Make sure they know if your child has a hard time with changes in their schedule.
  • Keep careful records, including written documentation, communication between home and school, progress reports, and evaluations.
  • Try to maintain a good working relationship with the school while being a strong advocate for your child.

Medical: Stay in constant communication with your child’s pediatrician.

  • When possible, obtain written documentation from teachers, administrators, or other professionals working with your child to share with your pediatrician.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about medication options / natural remedies
  • Keep up on all check up appointments.

Emotional Needs: Having a child with special needs can be overwhelming at times. Make sure to give yourself breaks. Find ways to practice self care and remember to utilize all your resources to support you as a parent so you can support your child.

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