When managing children, adolescents, and teens with ADHD, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every individual is unique in regards to the assistance that may benefit them in improving attention span, decreasing impulsivity and hyperactivity, and improving organizational skills. I treat and manage many ADHD patients, and each one of them requires an individual approach.
You must decide what style of learning best fits your child. Online learning often requires students to be self-guided in managing their time, motivating themselves to complete assignments and projects in a timely and efficient manner. While some students really struggle with self-guided learning, other students may find fewer distractions at home, making it easier to focus on tasks. Learning from home also gives students a way to develop independence.
Overall, the AAP advises that students learn best in-person and encourages schools to reopen if they can do so safely in their communities. But whether your child returns to school online or in-person this fall, here are some ways to help your child with ADHD manage challenges during the pandemic:
- If your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), this plan should continue. An IEP is designed to support a student’s learning needs and must include instructional interventions, supports, accommodations, and modifications.
- With new teaching methods, some students may need new or different accommodations. Inquire about making changes to the IEP or 504 plans to accommodate the new learning structure if this would be beneficial. Would reading or dictation software help with virtual learning? What about extended time assignments that need parental supervision, which may not be available during school hours?
- Structure the day with frequent breaks that can help them use their brains in different ways and build a variety of skillsets. Try to schedule the toughest subjects for them at their peak focus times. Allow breaks throughout the day for exercise and other stress-relieving activities.
- Use positive reinforcement by focusing on your child’s strengths and efforts. Kids with attention and impulse control challenges often benefit from specific, immediate, and bold feedback. For example, saying, “Great job getting started on your assignment right on time!” rather than “good job” muttered from the kitchen may have very different effects.
- Students with ADHD may benefit from going over the material that their teachers already taught. This can help them remember what they learned. In many cases, having more hands-on supervision and guidance from parents may help. If you’re working from home, let them know when you are available try to give them undivided attention during those times.
- Teachers may be offering virtual office hours or other ways for students to get more one-on-one help. Please inquire about available services at your child’s school.
- School systems and teachers have also been taxed trying to adjust to changed learning environments. If you feel your child is not supported well enough in this new setting, reach out to your school’s learning specialist, principal, or superintendent to advocate for your child’s rights. And please seek your pediatrician’s support and direction as needed.