Thursday, November 7, 2013

How We Are Dealing with ADHD

Through my friend at Homeschool Camper , I'm linking up with Our Busy Homeschool this week for Sharing What Works.

When I decided to write this I had so many ideas flowing through my mind. I knew what I wanted to write, but became so overwhelmed trying to decide where to start. There is so much I wanted to share. The harder I tried to make myself sit and type the less I could focus and the more ideas occurred to me. I couldn't even sit at the computer for more than a few minutes before I was up walking around in an attempt to organize my thoughts. My thoughts were disorganized, therefore so was my desk. I was easily distracted by any little noise the boys made while I was trying to sort my thoughts, and I just want to write this post. Becoming so overwhelmed about where to start isn't something I'm use to, but my Joey knows this feeling. The disorganization, the distractibility, the jumbled thoughts, and the impulse to just do it, this is exactly what he deals with all the time. When all I want him to do is write a simple paragraph, and he's insisting he just can't. I try encouraging him; "It's just five sentences", "You know how to do this", "You've done this before". In my mind I just want to scream "Just pick five sentences and write them!", but he can't do it. In his mind there aren't just five sentences there are dozens, all equally important. He can't 'just pick five', he doesn't know where to start, how to sift through which ones to choose. (I couldn't even decide on one sentence for this post.) He'll start one thought, then lose it because the next thought is just as important. That's when I have to remind myself, "It's just one assignment", "You know how to help him work through this", "We've done this before (many times)". This applies to many situations I have with my son not just homework; getting ready to leave the house, getting ready for bed, picking up toys, the list is seemingly endless.

So, I started this post the same way we work through him writing a paragraph. First we brainstorm, what does he know, what does he really want to say. His brain works faster than his hands, so he tells me and I write down keywords or phrases; as many as he can give me. Then group what can be used together, and pick a few he really wants included. That's exactly what I had to do, I made lists of notes, decided which I could categorize together, then figured out what I really wanted to say. It was more manageable. We break things down until they seem like something that can be handled. While having to do multiple sheets of homework or cleaning his bedroom don't seem like tasks that should overwhelm a nine year old, when his head is full of so many other thoughts that are just as important as doing what I have asked him; I may as well have asked him to complete a stack of a 100 sheets and to clean the whole house. The way he views these things is it's a huge task that will take up so much of his time (as Joey says "The rest of my life") to complete, while he has a never ending list of things he wants to do. When we do homework- we only have one piece of paper in front of him, one is manageable. The same goes for cleaning his room or picking up toys- just this small area or just the action figures. By helping him focus on just a small portion he feels he can control the situation. He also takes a lot of breaks, after that one page is done or that area of the room then he get time to focus on what he wants to be doing for a bit before he is given one more sheet or area to clean.

Praise often!!! Many times ADHD kids feel like they are always getting into trouble, both at home and in school. Joey doesn't sit still long, we're doing good if we make it through a whole Disney movie. He sings, makes up song, makes random noises, spins, dances, again another list that goes on and on. I have to include he TALKS. A LOT. All day long. Even if no one is listening. I have never counted how many times a day I tell him, "sit down" "please be quiet" "stop talking" "stop that" "don't do that" "you're going to break something or hit someone" but it would be A TON.  He feels like he's always getting yelled at or corrected just for doing something that's fun. So I praise him whenever I can, for big things "You rock for not smacking back your brother" and all the little things that with my other two I constantly overlook "Great job, walking around the chair instead of over it". You've gotta catch them being good, its there, sometimes you have to look for it though.

Routine and Reminders are key in our house. Having a bunch of mini routines makes things predictable and helps to keep him on track. Joey has a morning routine as well as an afterschool and evening routine. We have reminders everywhere both written and verbal, his after school routine is written down so he can check back to make sure he's doing what he should. Like many parents with ADHD kids I repeat myself quite a bit; "Did you put the books?", "Do you still need to pick up the books?", "You need to put the books away before we leave." "Are the books back on the shelf yet.". He knows he needs to clean up, but those Legos just keep calling his name, so I have to keep reminding him what he should be doing. Having a list of set house rules helps to remind him what is expected of him, they hang on the wall as a visual reminder.

I'm the meanest mom, my kids are not allowed to have any electronic on Monday through Thursday. I do this for a couple reasons 1) I want them to focus on schoolwork and not feel like they have to rush through so they don't miss (fill in favorite show) ;doesn't matter what show, the channels rerun all the shows for a whole week. 2) My boys are easily over stimulated by sitting starting at screens, not just my one with ADHD, but all three of them. They get antsy, anxious, and aggressive; all things that we can defiantly live without on a daily basis. *Friday through Sunday they are addicted to their screen of choice like every other child in America, however if I notice they have had too much screen time and start acting like they have lost their minds, I will unplug them for a while.

Lastly, I allow him to burn off some of his energy.  Most of the day he's being asked to be still and quiet. I give him opportunities to release some his energy in a more constructive way. We spend a lot of time outdoors, however weather doesn't always permit outside time so I've gotten creative. We play a lot of games that we're moving around for charades, hide n seek, Chinese jump rope, etc. We also have put on skits/plays and had dance parties. I have an exercise trampoline I set up in the living room, just yesterday my boys set for some indoor living room tumbling (the video can be found on this post ).

I think the hardest part of dealing with Joey's ADHD is remaining calm and reminding myself, he IS trying hard and doesn't behave this way just to upset me. A lot of times I forget how hard he is trying and lose it out from just being annoyed and frustrated (kind of like he does). We are learning to deal with his ADHD, some days we do better with it than others.

*You can also find us on Facebook here