Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Helping Your ADHD Child

When parents bring in their children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, one of the first things they want to know is if there is any help for their child in addition to medication.   There is so much help for your child, at every age. The general theme for your child is to provided structure and consistency in all your routines.  For example, when your child gets home from school, have an established routine that you and your family follow.  It may be as basic as changing clothes, eating a snack, doing a chore, and then starting on the homework. Homework should be set up in a quiet part of the house, without clutter.  This can be either at a desk, or even a dining room table. Your child will do best if it is always the same place in the house. For children in grade school and middle school, you may have to sit with them as they do their work.  But even if you do not do that, review your child’s agenda with them, make sure they have all the materials available for homework and/or projects, and help them organize the order in which they do their work.  After each completed assignment, go over it with them, point out mistakes and have them correct the work.  
All completed work should go into a homework folder that they take to each class and never leave in their cubby, desk, or locker.  If they have to study for a test, do not wait until the day before.  Help your child schedule the study time across a few days, starting with reading and reviewing, and the day before, testing them on the material so they actually learn how to study.  Projects should be scheduled out with your child so they do not try and get it all done the night before.  Do not do the work for your child because then they are losing a learning experience, and they are learning that you will rescue them. Some teachers will schedule out sections of the project, but if not, you can do this with your child.  Make sure everything is in its proper place and packed up and ready for the morning before you consider homework completed.  For children who seem to be coping with their medication wearing off just at homework time, talk with your Doctor about a small dose of medication to get them through homework.  If you are ambivalent about this, I understand.  However, it is much worse for your child if they can not complete their assignments and fall behind their class.  It is detrimental to their academics, but more importantly, it may become detrimental to their self esteem and confidence.  If you have a child who is just too distracted to do homework at home, you might have to take them somewhere to complete homework before going home from school.  Give them a snack and then take them to the local library, bookstore, park, or anyplace you feel they will be comfortable and not overly distracted.  Do not go home until everything is organized into their back pack for the new school day.If their room is a mess, help them organize the room in a very simple way.  Bins are great for grouping toys together.  Organize with them as many ADHD children really have no idea how to organize and it is a skill that may take years to develop.  Don’t tell your child to clean up their room and really expect it to be picked up.  Sit in their room with them and either tell them what to do task by task, or do it with them (not for them).  Be patient, your ADHD child is capable of learning general management skills and study skills; it will take more time than with the average child.  However, it is so worth the patience and the wait.

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