Attention Deficit Disorders: everyday skills
To Help a Child
- Help the child learn to organize by providing structure. For example, colour coding school binders, listing chores - for some, small incentives as each goal is met, works wonders.
- Talk about body language and social cues with the child – what it might mean, for example, if someone doesn't look you in the eyes when they're talking.
- Coach them before difficult social situations. Knowing how to open a conversation, when to hold doors for others, etc., can help.
- Teach your child how to deal with conflict – to ask himself, did the person do something purposely or might it have been an accident? Help him determine the best approach to resolve conflict. Reassure him that everyone runs into conflicts from time to time; it doesn't mean that one is bad or unworthy.
- If large tasks (like school projects) seem overwhelming, break them down into smaller, manageable parts. Reward a child especially a young one) after each smaller part is finished.
- If your child looks stressed, check to see if too many activities are scheduled. If so, ask your child what optional activities can be dropped. Teach the child that she can politely turn down invitations or activities, if it feels like “too much”.
- If your son prefers to have the radio on while he does his homework, and you don't see the quality of work decline, let him do it.
- If your daughter can't seem to concentrate on instructions or listen to TV without tapping her feet, let her tap.
- Celebrate a child's strengths and interests. Be specific – praise a page of good handwriting, or how she handles a phone call to her elderly grandmother.
- Encourage children to pinpoint what subjects intrigue them; this will help them make sound career choices at a later date.
- Make sure your child is followed by a health professional who is knowledgeable about ADD/ADHD. Don't automatically discount medication if your child is receiving other forms of help and is still struggling. Learn the facts, then decide if medication is right for your child. For some children, it can make for a significant improvement in their quality of life.
As an Adult
- Learn to prioritize. Use day planners to keep track of appointments, birthdays, etc., both to keep you on task and to help you evaluate how to best use your time each day.
- Pay attention to other people and practice reading their body language. Remind yourself, during a conversation, to ask about the other person – to show an interest in their life.
- Train yourself to do special things, from time to time, for those you love.
- When in conflict, approach the other person with “I feel” instead of “you did” attitude. If you sense that you're starting to lose your temper, excuse yourself from the situation until you calm down. In most cases, you should return to resolve the issue at a later date
- If large tasks seem overwhelming, break them down into smaller, more manageable parts. Reward yourself with something small after each smaller part is finished.
- Identify situations that cause you negative stress, such as over committing yourself to projects, etc. Become more comfortable setting limits on what you can do and being able to politely decline when you feel you are being pushed too far. If you feel comfortable doing two things at once, do it!
- Some people work better with music in the background; others can't seem to watch television or chat with a friend unless they're doing something else at the same time.
- When choosing a career, make sure that it is something that you enjoy! Some people with attention disorders crave quiet, detailed work – finding it soothing; others may go for action oriented jobs that are never the same twice.
- Whether it is a family doctor or the local CLSC, keep a specialist knowledgeable in ADD/ADHD up-to-date on your situation. Don't automatically discount medication as one source of help. Learn the facts, then decide if medication is right for you. For some people with ADD/ADHD, it can make for a significant improvement in their quality of life.