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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Structuring ADHD

I know I have posted about ADHD in the past, but I think so many children are diagnosed with it and it is talked about so much, that it is important to talk about.

I gave a brief description of ADHD last year on my blog, but today I want to focus on if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or has ADHD-like symptoms. If you child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be thinking, "Okay, what now?" Of course, I am only going to focus on one aspect of that "What now?" question, but it can be a change that is somewhat simple to help an ADHD child become less frustrated.

First, let me give a bit of a background. ADHD children often have trouble paying attention to details and paying attention for any length of time. Also, they often have difficulty with organization and may avoid tasks that take much mental effort and attention. They also often lose things and become easily distracted. Furthermore, they are often forgetful as well.

Now, that we understand what ADHD can look like for some children, especially those diagnosed with the inattentive type, we can move on to understand what might work best for them in an everyday setting. Let's think about it from their perspective first. If I have trouble paying attention to detail, lack the ability to organize and am often losing things, especially if I am forgetful, then lacking more structure is going to make my life even more crazy, right? Now, I have become even more uncomfortable and may act out even more because I don't know how to handle all this Crazy (or at least this is how it feels)!

So again, you may ask, "What can I, as a parent, do?" Well, I am glad you asked! As a parent, you can help calm your child by creating a more structured environment for him or her. Think about your child having structure and being able to know what will happen (most of the time) throughout the day. It will allow him or her to know what to expect on a daily basis. Some tips that might help in developing a routine is have your child get up at the same time every day. If he or she gets up at the same time everyday, gets ready in the same order, has a spot for his or her shoes, backpack, etc., then this child will not feel so disorganized. If your child is younger and not in school yet, you may even schedule nap time at the same time every day. This way he or she will begin to understand having a routine nap time will help him or her feel better and they may not fight is as much. Furthermore, having a structured bedtime will allow the child to not only get adequate sleep, but will allow that structure to know when things are going to happen, and again, not feel so disorganized and unprepared.

Another way to help your child, as I eluded to earlier, is to have a place for everything (shoes & backpack). If everything has its place, then the child has some organization and cannot lose things as easily. It may cut down on some of those horrific temper tantrums too because the child can find what he or she needs and is not so frustrated by having to look for it. Also, make sure there are designated areas for you child to do certain tasks. The bed is to sleep in, not to do homework. Homework is done at the dinner table. Play is done in the living room or your bedroom. Whatever works best for you, but designate such areas, so it develops some structure for your child and everything he or she needs to complete each task is at hand wherever the task is to be done. Change is often hard for ADHD children, but changing for good with some structure may help more than your realize.

As always, hope this helps and would love to have some feedback from you. If you have an ADHD child or know an ADHD child, what has worked best for you or their family?