One of our children, our son, deals with ADHD. These posts talk about our experience with him as he faces his challenges and what we've learned and would like to share to help others continue moving forward. Maybe our experiences can be of benefit to you.
Children with ADHD struggle with attention and organization, challenging academic success. However, these children can succeed in the classroom with appropriate strategies and support from parents, educators, and the school community, as has been our experience, even though it hasn’t been easy. Here are a few strategies that help us with our ADHD-inattentive son.
Create a Structured Environment
Children with ADHD often benefit from a structured environment. Establish a consistent routine at home that includes specific times for studying, completing homework, and engaging in extracurricular activities. In the classroom, teachers can provide visual aids, such as daily schedules, to help the child anticipate tasks and transitions. Organizational tools like color-coded folders or assignment notebooks can also aid in keeping track of assignments and due dates.
Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks
Large tasks can overwhelm children with ADHD, leading to procrastination or avoidance. This is especially true with our son. If he feels a task is too large, he will delay and procrastinate completing the task. Encourage breaking down assignments into smaller, more manageable steps. This approach allows the child to focus on one task at a time, reducing anxiety and increasing productivity. Teachers can provide clear instructions and divide assignments into smaller components, providing frequent check-ins and guidance.
Utilize Multisensory Learning
Engaging multiple senses can enhance attention and retention for children with ADHD-Inattentive. Incorporate visual aids, hands-on activities, and interactive technologies in the learning process. For instance, using colored markers or highlighting important information can help improve focus. Educators can integrate multimedia resources, such as educational videos or interactive software, to make lessons more engaging and accessible.
Implement Behavior Management Strategies
Behavior management techniques can foster positive learning environments for children with ADHD. Encourage the use of reward systems, where the child earns points or privileges for completing tasks or demonstrating desired behaviors. Collaborate with teachers to establish consistent expectations and consequences, ensuring a structured approach to discipline. Praising and reinforcing the child’s efforts and progress can boost their self-esteem and motivation.
Supporting a child with ADHD-Inattentive in their academic journey requires a collaborative effort from parents, teachers, and the school community. By creating a structured environment, breaking tasks into manageable chunks, and implementing behavior management strategies, we can empower these children to thrive in the classroom and reach their full potential.
Remember, every child with ADHD is unique, so it’s essential to tailor interventions and strategies to their needs and strengths. With patience, understanding, and consistent support, we can positively impact their educational experience.
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When my son was in elementary school, he started having a problem chewing little pieces of paper. I am honestly not sure if it was because of his tactile defensiveness or if it was from his ADHD, but it was constant and becoming a problem.
He would chew little pieces of paper and then put them on the floor. Then get a new one and do the same thing. By the time school was over for the day, he had tiny pieces of paper all over the floor underneath his desk.
The first grade that I remember his habit being a problem was in the second grade. His second-grade teacher is the one who brought this habit to my attention. We tried different things that school year to help him stop doing it. Here’s what we tried to stop our son’s chewing habit.
His teacher allowed him to chew gum in class, but that didn’t work because he would spit the gum out and not in the garbage can. We also tried sending him to school with Tic Tacs that he could suck on. This didn’t work because he would eat them and didn’t suck on them.
Since neither worked and his teacher didn’t want him chewing on paper, he started chewing on pencils. Once again, at the end of the day, he would have little pieces of wood pencils on the floor underneath his desk.
By the end of second grade, we could not solve the problem, and when he got to third grade, it was still a problem.
His third-grade teacher did not like him chewing on paper. This is the year that we were introduced to sensory chewing necklaces. These can be found easily on Amazon.com using a search term like, Sensory Chew Necklaces.
A sensory chewing necklace has a round rubber medallion that they wear, and when they get the urge to chew, they can chew on the medallion.
Our son tried this for a week, but then he got embarrassed and stopped wearing it to school. I’m guessing the kids said something to him. You can buy sensory chewing necklaces with a block that looks like a Lego. I thought that would be perfect because he loves Legos, but he was still embarrassed to wear it.
When that didn’t work, we discovered chewable pencil toppers. We found a pencil topper that looked like a Lego. That worked pretty well for him for quite some time. Until he either lost them or they got stolen from him.
Starting in fourth grade, his teachers didn’t care. They said it isn’t a big deal if the vacuum can pick up the little pieces of paper.
He did get made fun of when he was in fifth grade, and that is when he started to hide it a little bit more. He still was chewing paper, but rather than dropping them on the floor, he would put them into his pockets. Lucky me, when I did his laundry, I would find all of these little tiny, tiny wads of paper in his pockets.
Now that he is sixteen, he still chews on things, but not like he used to. We have accepted that he likes to chew on different things, and we wouldn’t change him for anything.
Hopefully, this helps anyone with a child who likes to chew on things. Even though the sensory chew toys didn’t work for us, it is very possible they could work for you. There are so many more options out there for sensory than there used to be. It takes patience with some trial and error to find the right strategy for your child!!
As soon as my son was diagnosed with ADHD-Inattentive type, my brain had so many questions. One of those questions that always came back to me was whether he could learn to drive, having ADHD.
Can a teenager with ADHD drive? In short, yes! But let me tell you about our experience.
My son turned sixteen a couple of months ago, and I will tell you that the last year has been a whirlwind.
Surprisingly, my son is getting his driver’s license was a lot of work. I think some of it is because he is my oldest, so getting a driver’s license was a new experience for both of us. It was a year’s worth of work for both of us. He had to take the test to get his learner’s permit, drive many hours, take a Driver’s Education course, and take a lot of drives with an instructor.
Before he got started, I always thought that his ADHD was going to be a problem. He wouldn’t be able to pay attention in class or while driving. This was very far from what happened.
He got his learner’s permit very quickly. He just had to take a written test. Getting him to drive the car was the hardest part. And it wasn’t the ADHD that ended up being the problem. He ended up having a great deal of anxiety. Every time he drove, he worried about getting into an accident and wrecking the car.
Even as he got more experience with driving, he has struggled to get over his anxiety. From the beginning, he never enjoyed driving, so getting him to commit to driving was always a battle. Once he got his license and realized how much more freedom he had, his anxiety went down.
In the end, and with much celebration, my son received his license. It was a lot of work to get there, but every child is different, and every child’s ADHD is different. Can a teenager with ADHD drive? In my experience, I know that if you have a child with ADHD, it is possible for them to drive someday. It may not be easy, but they can do it. Just give them lots of encouragement and be patient.
When my son was about eight years old, he was diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type. For those that don’t know what this means, I will try and explain and help you understand.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) inattentive type means you have a hard time staying focused on tasks, struggle to pay attention to details, get distracted easily, have a hard time staying organized, and even with a routine will still forget things. Hyperactivity is very minimal.
Those who have ADHD inattentive type have a hard time staying focused on what they’re doing. For instance, my son has a hard time staying focused on anything for very long.
The inability to remain focused on schoolwork, tasks, or long-term projects is another symptom of inattentive ADHD. This trouble with focus is most easily observed in a classroom, during playtime, or at recess, as these children present difficulty committing to an activity for any significant amount of time.
His biggest challenge is that he is unable to stay focused at school and will often forget the simplest things such as what his homework is that day, or to turn in an assignment that is due, or you’d be shocked about how many times he has forgotten to put his name on his assignments when he turns it in.
Paying Attention to Details
Paying attention to details can be a problem at school. My son’s teachers can tell him things, and he forgets everything his teachers have said. He will miss assignments or turn something in late because he didn’t pay attention to when the assignment was due.
A child with inattentive ADHD may not pay careful attention to classroom assignments or household chores. Accordingly, a lack of attention to detail can be classified as a symptom if the child displays consistent careless mistakes or almost never completes a task thoroughly.
Getting distracted easily is one of the areas that I notice a great deal at home. I will ask him to take something downstairs and come back, and he never comes back. He will take the item downstairs and not even put it away where I ask, and then he gets distracted doing something else and doesn’t come back. I will ask him to shower, and he gets distracted and forgets to even get in the shower. Just like when he was younger, I had to ask him to do one thing at a time.
A child with inattentive ADHD frequently becomes distracted, even during tasks that are typically enjoyed. This behavior is often most noticeable when the child is telling a story, playing with friends, or watching TV and movies.
This area is a big one. My son His room is constantly a mess. My son cannot keep anything organized, and I mean anything. Over the years, we have realized that he can only have minimal things in his room, or it gets incredibly messy. This also affects him at school. He cannot organize all of his papers and assignments. We, as his parents, have to work very closely with his teachers to keep him organized.
Having a Schedule
Having a schedule and a routine is very important to us. Even though we try and have a routine for my son, it doesn’t always work to keep on task. It does most of the time, but he can still get distracted even when he is doing his routine.
That explains most of the primary areas in which my son has struggled.
Should you medicate your child for ADHD? That’s the big question. I want to tell you about my experience and share the decision we made on whether or not we should medicate our son for his ADHD.
Before I get started, I want to remind you that I am not a doctor. I have no medical background. I am just a mom with a child with ADHD that wants to share my experience with medicating our child for ADHD.
First, I know that medicating your child with ADHD is controversial. I only want to share what we did as a family and our experiences.
We met with an ADHD specialist once my son was diagnosed with ADHD. We talked in-depth about what the best action for our son would be. Our specialist helped inform us about the different types of medication and the effects and side effects of the medicine. He also educated us on what we could continue to expect if we chose not to medicate our son. The specialist left it entirely up to us as parents, and In the end, we decided the best path for us was to medicate our son.
We thought long and hard about what to do. We did our research at home. We wanted to give our son the best chance, both at school and at home. For us, that best chance was to medicate him. Understand, there wasn’t anything we viewed as negative about our son. He is brilliant, has a curious mind, and would often hyper-focus on various things. At school, he struggled, and it was difficult for him to make it through an entire day in class. His mind would start to wander, and he’d quickly lose track of what he needed to be doing. He also struggled to remember assignments and homework that needed to be done. We knew that medication would help our son in these things, and in my mind, if there was something that could help my son be successful, then I was going to do it.
My son started taking medication for his ADHD in the second grade. He began with a low-dose extended-release tablet. We chose this strategy so that he wouldn’t have to retake his medicine during the day at school. It allowed him to get through his day at school and continue being able to focus until the early/late evening, for about 10-12 hours in total. It took us about three or four different medicines to find one that fit him. We found one that worked and one that he said helped him focus and that he felt comfortable taking. We relied a lot on his opinion on the medicine too. We would often ask him how he felt when he was on the medication and ask whether or not he could tell the difference after taking the medication.
He was on this lower dose extended-release medication for all of his elementary schooling and part of middle schooling. Once he returned to school after Covid, we changed the dose to be higher. At that time, it felt like the medication wasn’t lasting as long, and he couldn’t focus as clearly as he had been before. He has now been on a higher dose of medicine for two years.
How Did We Know to Change the Dose?
I often ask my son how he is feeling about his medication. We will ask how he is doing and whether or not he thinks his medication is still helping, and whether or not he feels he is still able to focus and is doing well on it. That communication has been essential for us as we continue to monitor and help our son. He tells me if he feels fine on it or can’t focus anymore while he is on it. Also, when we go to the doctor, his doctor asks him lots of questions about his medication. We’re always trying to make sure we have the correct dosage and whether or not any severe side effects would cause us to adjust his medication.
Allowing Our Son to Choose When to Take Medication
My son can choose when he wants to take his medication. He can decide not to take it on the weekends or in the summer, often choosing not to. He always takes it if he has school or something significant and needs to be able to focus, such as going to a marching band competition. He’s in the drumline and loves it!
I can tell the days that he doesn’t take his medicine. He is more unorganized when not medicated. He can’t follow directions easily. He also can be very, very talkative. He can only stay focused for short about of time. He is much calmer when he is on it, and he can stay focused for more extended periods. He can follow directions. It helps him to be able to get his homework done.
Our Son’s Side Effects From the Medication
As everyone knows, often, medicine has side effects. They can be minor, as often is the case with ADHD, but with our son, there are two side effects that we watch closely.
The first side effect is that my son doesn’t have much appetite when he is on his medication. His appetite is the most significant concern for us with his medication. Our concern doubles because of his tactile defensiveness, which ends up being a huge problem. If you have read my posts about his tactile defensiveness (A Mother’s Experience With Tactile Defensiveness), you know that he already struggles with eating. Then to add to it, he doesn’t have an appetite, which makes it even worse. We constantly have to force him to eat. We also always watch his weight to make sure he is gaining weight. When he maintains or starts to lose weight, we bring it up with the doctor to discuss if we need to change his medication.
The second side effect is that my son has difficulty falling asleep at night. It is hard for him to calm down enough to fall asleep, and because of this, he ends up staying up later than he should. Some nights, he’ll watch TV to settle down, and then he’ll stay up reading a book. But staying up late does make it hard for him to get up and go in the morning.
Should you medicate your child for ADHD? From one parent to another, you need to do what is best for you and your child. It doesn’t matter what other people think. If you decide that having your child on medication works, that is great. Suppose you decide that you would instead not put them on medication and would rather supplement with something else. That is great too. As long as you do what is best for you and your child, that is the correct answer. Please don’t worry about what other people think or say. Only you know what is best for you! For us, it was to medicate, and it has proven helpful and has had a significant positive impact on our son both at school and at home. We have seen mostly positive from him taking medication that has shown us we’ve made the right decision for him.