REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News, p. 16 [edited with title change]

The first line of treatment for ADD/ADHD is usually behavioral for children and adults. Although there are no shyness pills, one can go to Toasmasters. Although there are no anger pills, one can learn anger management. Just as the parents of an ADHD child need to learn how to handle him or her, the child himself needs to learn strategies for getting the most out of this challenging experience. Here are some ideas:

(a) Decide what is good about your ADD/ADHD. Write a list of benefits and prioritize that list. Ask yourself: How can I incorporate my strengths into my daily life, including my work?

(b) Allow yourself room in your profession for creativity and, if you are the hyperactive type, for activity, variety, and challenge.

(c) Write down or tape record reminders to yourself. I’m a big fan of yellow post-it notes and recommend clients make several copies of the same reminder and post them in places they would expect to look at such as their car dashboard or the coffee jar in the refrigerator.

(d) Allow three times the amount of time you think you’ll need for whatever task you are doing. This way, you’ll always be safe. In the same way, tell yourself that a project due Wednesday is really due Monday, a deadline of 4 PM is really 10 AM, and so on.

(e) Either create or have someone else create organizational systems for you that govern your schedule, your space, and your paperwork. Use the yellow sticky notes, color coding, master lists, and other visual or auditory cues to remind you of the system. Some people phone themselves and record their reminders on their voicemail. Others program their phoness to beep at important moments with messages.

(f) Have organized people as helpers or employees to help you stay with the systems if you have that luxury. Marry an organized—but tolerant—person who really appreciates your quick wit, sharp mind, and creativity.

(g) Find your optimum working conditions. Too much mess and stimulation may cause distraction while too much control, organization, and neatness may blunt creativity and lead to restlessness. For some people, pleasant music in the background and a variety of projects available to switch to with no loss in productivity are useful setups.

The advice for parents of ADD/ADHD children parallels the above. First in importance would be the identification of the parent whose genes appear in the child so that he could start employing these methods on himself. Next, tailor the above for your children. Finally, these additional suggestions were offered by healthforums:

  • seating the student next to the teacher to help him or her stay focused
  • allowing extra time to complete assignments and tests
  • dividing major projects into a series of small tasks
  • requiring the student to keep a daily agenda notebook to track homework, signed daily by the teacher, the student and a parent
  • promoting positive reinforcement to all of the student’s teachers as the key to improving performance and behavior
  • communicating weekly with parents by e-mail or phone to monitor the student’s progress

In addition to academics, there is the whole realm of social skills development. Frequently, the impulsive tendency to blurt out things that may not be acceptable to peers can spoil a child’s social life. My recommendation is to be frank, yet very kind and very respectful, in discussing these problems with your child. Such a discussion might start with, “You know, when the teacher tells the class to sit down and you decide to be the only one standing up because you think it’s funny, there may be kids who won’t respect you for that. Do you think that could be true?”

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