Thursday, May 17, 2012

A little ADHD lifeline

Even when I write about ADHD, a lump forms in my throat from inadequacies and fears. Our struggle with it is real. It is daily. It is our life. 

I wrote about our grasping for air with ADHD and have been searching for practical tools ever since. I stumbled upon this site that has some very helpful tools in coping with ADHD.

For example:

In schooling, take a word, such as "color" or "rapid" or "cargo," and write it in several different colors on a piece of paper. Ask your child to look at it until she can shut her eyes and see the letters in her head.

Sometimes, I feel like the advice for ADHD parents is more descriptive than prescriptive. In other words, the books spend more time describing my child than helping me educate and help them. I already know the issues. Trust me. In my brief perusal of Living Well with Attention Defecit, I have found several really helpful things. 

I also threw out a blog line for help with my wonderful daughter who burns 3,000 calories from movement in homeschool. People actually exhibiting patience were able to give some wonderful suggestions. The one I have found the most helpful so far has been for DHA. This tiny capsule that has helped my two ADHD children clear their minds quicker and block out back ground noise easier.  

That brings me to a few things we have figured out on our own:

1. Limit Noise. I have to remove all pencil tapping, music playing, foot sliding, and chopstick drumming. Any type of rhythmic noise makes them nervous and prone to freaking out. 

2. Calm the Aesthetics. I light a candle to help keep things calm. For both the children and for me. I also make sure the kids keep their desks clean. I put up a few things on the wall in our little homeschool room, but it does not look like a page from "Southern Living."

3. Early Meds. Take meds first thing in the morning. Our meds take about 30 minutes to kick in, so if you want a little modern day science help at the breakfast table, you have to give the meds accordingly. 

4. Give one set of instructions at a time. "Go put your shoes on." You cannot say "Go get your shoes on, throw out this paper cup, and then brush your teeth." I see panic in my son's eyes every time I try to instruct him this way. In my mind it's efficient, but to him it's overwhelming. 

5. Clear instructions. I cannot say, "Don't you think it would be a good idea to get your shoes on?" Because in his head, he is now thinking of the 15 reasons why it's not a good idea. Then he rabbit trails on one of those ideas and he ends up wrestling monsters in Idaho in his mind by the end of it all. Still having no shoes on. I just need to say to him, "Go get your black shoes on."

6. Physical Contact. When I give instructions, it has to be with my hand on their shoulder and our eyes making contact. 

7. Equip for Success. Finding something they really enjoy and equip them for success. My little dude loves putting things together using the instructions. So, now I try not to throw them away because I am the exact opposite and find instructions a rather gratuitous piece of paper. For C, I find that if I let her know that once she finishes a few problems, she can jump rope. This external motivator gets her excited to focus for a bit. 

8. Speak Slowly and Calmly when Disciplining. While I want to fly off the handle and scream back at them as they are losing control, I have to try and remain calm. I do not in fact succeed at this all the time. But when I do, I am able to diffuse a situation much faster. I find that if I can control the first 3-4 words by saying them slowly and calmly, then the rest fall into place much easier. If I start off in an elevated and rapid tone, it's pretty ugly thereafter. 

9. Encourage Often. I am not good at this. It is far easier to find ways they are disobedient or not on task. But when all I do is correct them or harp on them, there is a snowball effect and these two kids in particular have a hard time pulling themselves out from under the heap of discouragement. I am trying to get in a better habit of encouraging our whole family with the small things in a day. This becomes crucial for both C and M. 

10. Proper Expectations. We try and warn them what is going to be happening next. If we are heading out to dinner with friends, we might say, "This restaurant is going to be noisy and smokey. If it becomes too much, I want you to come to me and I will let you step outside for a bit."

I still feel like I've got a long way to go in effectively parenting my children that struggle with ADHD. I have cried, prayed, thrown pillows at the wall, lashed out, and sought counsel. I still feel like I'm on JV in figuring this all out. I would love to have others chime in on this one. Leave tips in the comments section. ADHD is a team sport and there are days that I am straight up in the wrong uniform. 

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