List of ADHD Symptoms:
- Has difficulty paying close attention to details or makes careless mistakes on homework or tests.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork.
- Has difficulty organizing tasks.
- Avoids schoolwork for long periods of time.
- Often misplaces or loses assignments or books.
- Becomes distracted easily.
- Seems to be fidgeting all the time.
- Has difficulty remaining seated.
ADHD Treatment, Strategies and Recommendations:
- Suggest that your child write, scribble or even draw while reading. If your child enjoys writing, have her write while reading. Tell her not to get hung up on spelling or grammar here; she can even scribble. Encourage her to write down ideas in her own words This way she is always thinking about what she has to write. This helps her stay focused, and it helps her learn the material.
- Tell your child to subvocalize. When he’s reading a book or reading his notes, encourage him to read out loud. If he is in a place where he can’t talk out loud, tell him to “mouth” the words silently. His brain will “hear them.” This will help him learn the material, and it will help him stay focused.
- If appropriate, encourage your child to work in spurts with breaks. Encourage her to work in intervals of no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time with ten-minute breaks in between. This will help her stay focused because as she is working, she’ll know there’s a break coming up. She needs to learn to treat herself well—after all, it’s hard for her to stay focused. Remind her to remind herself that when she is supposed to be working, she needs to stay on task. This means she needs to concentrate: think, read, write and talk.
- ADHD behavior charts. Your doctor may suggest using a behavior chart. Be sure to design this with your child. Together come up with your goals. Ex. I will play after school until 5:00. Between 5:00 and 6:00 I will do my homework (be sure to include breaks as recommended above). I will eat dinner between…, etc. Have fun creating your chart together. Then set up your goals. Ex. Your child receives a star, a sticker, or a check mark, for each accomplishment. When he has received five of them, he gets a toy or whatever you have decided together would be an appropriate reward. ADHD children need immediate gratification, so give rewards often. If a child has to wait the whole week for a sticker or for the reward, you will most likely lose his attention and this strategy will not work.
- Use a timer. When doing homework, it may keep him on task and moving at a good pace. Be careful though, because some children become anxious about being timed. Also, for some, timers are too distracting.
- Spread things out. Make it so he studies a little every day rather than a lot all at once. This way he will be more focused on a manageable amount of material every day. This will help prevent him from getting tired. It is difficult enough for children with ADD to stay focused; it is even harder when they become tired.
- Think before you read. Before your child begins doing homework or reading a book, tell her to start thinking about what she will be learning by reading this chapter or paper. At this point it is a guess just to get her engaged. Then have her refine her guess by reading the title of the chapter and sub-headings, looking at the pictures and illustrations and reading the captions under them. Have her attempt to answer the questions at the end of the chapter before even reading it. By now her guess about what the chapter is about should be close. Even if it is not, thinking about what it is about will help her stay focused. This strategy takes a little getting use to, but once she gets the knack of it, she’ll be surprised how helpful it will be.
- Stop and think while reading. While your child is reading the material, tell her to stop and ask herself what she just read, and to write down everything she can remember. If she can’t remember much, tell her to reread it and write down ideas as she goes along or draw pictures, graphs, charts—anything that will help stay focused and remember the information.
- ADHD medications. If various strategies are not successful, and your child is still having difficulty staying focused, your physician may recommend medication. With the proper choice and dosage, the improvement can be amazing.
- ADHD diet. Sometimes certain foods affect children in unpredictable ways. If you suspect diet might be an issue, consult your physician.
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