Most of the time when we are discussing ADHD, we are talking about ADHD type I. Which is what most people think of when ADHD comes to mind, which is attention deficit with hyperactivity. Type II is inattentive, and type III is type’s one and two combined. So, in this post, some of this can be applied to ADHD Type II however this mostly applies to Types I and III.
Children with ADHD (types one and three) do best with expectations. These are the children where we say their questions have questions. They do best with a detailed understanding of what they are about to do, where they will go, and what will happen. They do best with a plan, and a plan that is written down at that. Better yet, a plan that they write down (if they can). Say for example you will be running 3 errands followed by a trip to the park: “Alright Johnny, we have some things to do today, here they are just so you know.”
10am out the door.
10:30 arrival at grocery store
11:30, finished with grocery store and leaving to bank
11:45, arrival to bank
12:00pm leaving bank and heading to library to drop books off
12:05 leaving library to go back home to put groceries away, get water, snack
12:30 going to park for 2 hours!
2:30 heading back home for late lunch
You’ll find that your child may need that amount of detail, maybe even more! And as ridiculous as this sounds it will be much easier than “when are we going to be at the store?” “When are we done at the library?” “When is it park time?” If they can read, its right there in front of them. If they cannot read, set timers or alarms, kids understand what an alarm or timer is. “When you hear it go off, that means we have 5 more minutes until we leave” will be much easier than repeating yourself half-dozen times.
This planning can be applied to all things in their lives, school, time at home after school, recreational activities, sports, you name it. This is for day-to-day planning. Two of the most important things to keep in mind is that you want to explain the situation to them. Depending on your child’s age you may only be able to explain part of the day, the whole day, or a few days. Much past a week can be an eternity to kids, especially children with attention problems. You want to explain the day’s activities, give them their paper with the schedule and let them know they can check things off as they go. The other factor to explain to them is that there are things that occur out of our control that can disrupt the schedule, power outages, car accidents, busy grocery store, etc. and that is nothing to be upset about but that you will do your best to stick to the plan.
For further in the future, a month, months, year or years… Same concept applies except the timeline is longer. Children with ADHD do not do good with transitions, or changes in their schedules. A good example is prepping them for when school starts again in the fall. Show them a calendar and explain 4 weeks until school starts! Next week we will be getting you some new clothes because you are growing. The week after that we’ll get your school supplies. The week before school we would like to see if there are some fun things that you’d like to do for the last week of summer? (Or have that planned ahead of time to avoid meltdowns from unrealistic expectations if Johnny thinks it’s all of a sudden time to go to Disney. “School starts on this date, that means bedtime will be a little earlier starting two weeks before school. You’ll have to be up by 7am to be ready by 8am…” Find a balance of how much is the right amount to prepare them for the upcoming change and go with it.
The last thing to note is use the fun and new tools at your disposal to help your child plan. Electronic family calendars, timers, alarms, physical pad and paper for them to take responsibility and plan their day, week, month, etc. Using tablets or other devices that have programs on it is acceptable in these situations as well. The takeaway is that a change in daily, weekly, monthly, yearly routine is very good for children to learn to navigate… It’s just that children with ADHD have a much harder time just “rolling with it” than others.
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