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Strategize Organize LLC
Newsletter Volume 6, Issue 10
Interview: Back to School - Helping Kids with AD/HD Get Organized


On July 21st I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Janet Taylor for her blog talk radio show. (This is a link to our conversation. The interview focused on Back to School: Helping Kids with AD/HD Get Organized.  This newsletter is a result of that interview. Much of the information I talked about and include here comes from the following resources, which I highly recommend.
  • More Attention Less Deficit by Ari Tuckman
  • Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults  by Thomas Brown
  • Fidget To Focus by Roland Rotz

The Interview

1. What are some of the challenges kids with AD/HD face daily?

       Kids can face any number of these challenges:
  • being hyper-focused and losing track of time.
  • getting started on tasks.
  • shifting focus - transitioning from one thing to another.
  • managing emotions - sensitive and easily overwhelmed.
  • holding on to information - remembering what they were going to do or where they put something. 
* As a result of these challenges kids can often feel different from their peers and feel shame. It's sometimes hard for parents, teachers, kids, and others to understand how someone can have a hard time doing "easy things" like remembering to turn something in; getting started on homework--even easy homework; or going to brush teeth without getting side tracked by a shiny object on the way. Because of this, it is important for adults and children to learn about AD/HD. 

2. As they go back to school are there other challenges they must deal with?

       There's so much to keep track of:
  • papers, notebooks, homework, assignments.
  • schedules - more going on…sports, music practices.
  • time - working on homework and long term assignments.
 * As a heads-up - the transition from elementary to middle school is a really big deal. Students are expected to keep track of much more. 

3.  What can parents do to help them around the house?

General Comment

It's not about kids with AD/HD trying harder or asking them to focus or pay attention more.  As one author noted "it's about trying differently". 
Specific Suggestions
A. Give or write down clear simple steps.
For example: In a bedroom organizing project instead of saying: “go clean up” or “organize your bedroom”  your child might need more guidance and smaller steps through the process. For instance,
            Pick up all the trash and put it in the trash bag.
            Take all the dishes to the kitchen
            Put all the dirty laundry in the bin.
            Put the clothes on top of your bed away and now the clothes on the floor.
*Then discuss a way to keep at it.  Maybe weekly have a time to go through the process.
B. Make a game of things that are boring. 
For example, have them time themselves.   
            How long does it take to get ready for bed?
C. Use checklists.
The trick is to list just 3 things and write big and in bright colors. 

4.  What can parents do to help them begin another school year?

      The more routines that can be established now, the better.
  • Where does the backpack live?  If your child is in summer camps, practice putting the backpack on a carpet square or in a basket on an "x". 
  • What is the morning dressing process?  Perhaps pick out clothes the night before.  Or pick out all the outfits for the week and put each complete outfit (including socks) on a shelf of a hanging shelf unit
      Other ideas.
  • Together with your child, notice what helps them focus: fans, a music playlist, a fish tank, colorful pens, playing with something like a fidget toy. 
  • These are  school supplies that are helpful for some students: clear, three ring poly envelopes with velcro  and Smead vertical file folder

Final Comments

If your child works with someone whether it be a tutor, therapist, student organizer, or coach it's very important for the person to have at least some understanding of AD/HD. If you need an organizer you can go to this site to see if there is one in your area. The organizer's specializations will be listed.

Have a good rest of the summer,

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Copyright (C) 2008 Susan Hunsberger Professional Organizer All rights reserved.
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