Allen Support Team Parent News

October 2021: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a medical condition. A person with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that affect attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control. ADHD can affect a child at school, at home, and in friendships

From GCS Psychological Services: Parenting Strategies for Children with ADHD

• Learn about your child and their needs. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the Child Mind Institute both have ADHD resource pages with helpful information for parents. Remember, not every child with ADHD is the same. Some children will have difficulty following through with directions and other children will need to work on slowing down. Pay attention to triggers that result in challenging behaviors for your child.

• Follow a routine. Work with your child to create a daily routine. Set a consistent time and place for all daily activities, such as a ritual for homework, meals, playtime, and bedtime. Try to maintain this routine as much as possible, even on weekends.

Use clocks and timers. Place clocks throughout your house, particularly in “zones” in which your child frequently spends time, such as their bedroom and the kitchen. Make sure to build in enough time for your child to accomplish tasks, and use timers to help them keep track and stay focused. It may help to establish time limits for tasks. If a task is lengthy, break it down into manageable “chunks.”

• Prepare children for transitions. Try to avoid abruptly switching from one task to the next. Help your child switch gears by using gentle reminders and countdowns such as, “In 10 minutes, I need you to turn off the TV and begin your homework.” Create a “buffer time” an hour or so before bedtime, by having your child engage in a relaxing, low-energy activity such as coloring.

Set clear expectations. Children with ADHD benefit from rules that are simple and clear. Make sure your child understands what it “looks like” to follow the rules that you set. Write the rules down and hang them up in a place that your child frequently visits, such as the kitchen. It is important to explain what will happen when the rules are followed and when they are broken. Establish a system of rewards and consequences for following rules, and stick to it.

• Keep directions short. Provide instructions one step at a time rather than all at once. Use gentle reminders instead of yelling or blaming. When your child is off-task or noncompliant, provide constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Focus on the positive. Say what you DO want to see and hear instead of what you DON’T want to see and hear. For example, “I like it when you put your toys away in the basket after you have finished playing” instead of “Don’t be so messy.” As much as possible, try and catch your child “being good,” by providing specific praise for behaviors that you want to see. Pick your battles and try not to argue over minor misbehaviors. This takes practice.

Create “safe zones.” Help your child identify areas in the home where they can go when they are feeling overwhelmed or out of control. This may be a quiet area in the home with a soft blanket and fidget toys. This should not be the same place that your child goes to for misbehavior

• Create a daily behavior chart. This can be as simple as a sticker chart or a token board in which your child can earn a sticker or color/place a token on a chart/board each time they display an agreed-upon positive behavior. After they earn a specified number of stickers/tokens, they get a reward. Or try a daily behavior chart, by rating your child on how well they met specified behavior goals. For younger children, try using smiley faces or check marks for ratings. For older children, try rating children using numbers (e.g., on a scale of 1-5)

• Get moving. Organized sports and other physical activities can help children with ADHD work off energy in a healthy way. Research shows that children with ADHD experience a reduction in ADHD symptoms when they play in a park full of grass and trees. Explore local parks and talk with your child to find a sport or other types of movement activities that play to their strengths and interests.

Maintain communication with your child’s school. Check in with your child’s teacher and attend parent conferences and other school meetings on your child. If there are tools or strategies that work well for your child at home, let your child’s teacher know. At home, set rewards and consequences that are consistent from school to home, as appropriate. Work with your child’s teacher to create an assignment sheet or use a planner to track assignment completion and other school projects.

Practice self-care. Take care of yourself so that you are equipped to take care of your child. Seek support from your child’s school and other care providers when needed. Reach out to other parents of children with ADHD for advice and community.

Calming Tools for Children with ADHD

Ever used a stress ball? If you have, you may have found your breathing slowed down and your ability to concentrate improved. Just as a stress ball may help a person without ADHD, it can also help someone who has the issues with attention. While the child uses the tool such as a squishy toy or tiny manipulative, it can also work to assist them in focus.
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What to do if you believe your child has ADHD

1- Talk with your child's teacher. Ask them if your child struggles with staying in their seat, following directions, frequently off task, has difficulty with organization, or any other concerns.

2-Talk with your child's medical provider. ADHD is a medical diagnosis made by a physician who gathers information from the child, parent and school.

3- If you believe your child's learning is affected by issues with attention, make an appointment with your child's school counselor and ask how you can work as a team to help.

Allen Middle Support Staff

6th Grade Counselor Ms. Weyant weyantj@gcsnc.com

7th Grade Counselor Mr. Flowers flowersd@gcsnc.com

8th Grade Counselor Ms. Preston prestos@gcsnc.com

School Social Worker Ms. Smith smithj5@gcsnc.com

School Psychologist Ms. Crawley crawlea@gcsnc.com

Mental Health Coordinator Ms. Phillips phillim2@gcsnc.com