By Kodey Toney
Positively 4th Street
I’ve discussed in the past that Konner has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in addition to autism. The fun part is that our youngest, Kruz, was also diagnosed with ADHD a little over a year ago. That means that mornings in our house are twice as hectic. However, we have worked with a specialist to get medication for them that seems to help during the school day.
Jen found an article to help with ADHD in the classroom. I’m going to share some of these to try to help. You can use this information for all children though, not just those with ADHD or autism.
When you have a child with ADHD they can be impulsive and aggressive. These children usually don’t think about their actions before they act. According to the article, they can’t self-regulate or modify behavior. They don’t think about future consequences. It takes years of patience and persistence to successfully change this.
These are things that I lack as a father, so I’m usually at wits end with my boys. As I’ve said before, this is especially hard for someone who was raised by a father who was strict with the way we had to act. Looking back, I probably had ADHD. I can see it in Kruz, and have to remind myself that he probably had the same issues with me.
So what can we do to help curb these issues?
The first suggestion is behavior cards taped to their desks. Many teachers I know use behavior cards or some version of this.
I think the second suggestion is one of the best for everyone involved. They recommend using a daily schedule on the board or wall. Each time you finish a task or subject then you erase them from the board. This allows the child to feel a sense of control, but you have to let them know if there are any changes ahead of time.
The next is something that I’ve talked about many times with children on the spectrum. Routine is such an issue that warnings before transitions are a must. You should give a five minute warning before changing subjects, moving rooms, or just moving on to another task. This will let the child know that they need to either finish up quickly, or that they won’t be able to finish. It’s just good for all children.
They say you must have a plan ready in case something sets these children off. Let them have a special job to make them feel more in control and stay focused. They recommend a “monitor” or “coach” as a special job.
One thing that I liked about this article is the discipline section. It says that, “While ADHD is an explanation for bad behavior, it is never an excuse. ADHD may explain why Johnny hit Billy, but ADHD did not make him do it.” They have to understand their actions and suffer the consequences.
It says that discipline should be immediate, short, and swift. If you wait until later to discipline the child they will not completely understand. They need to be reprimanded immediately so that they understand within close proximity to the action.
As with any child, you have to provide immediate positive feedback and attention when they are doing good things. You have to give them positive reinforcement. If they constantly hear about the bad things they are doing they are going to start having self-esteem issues. They need to know that they are doing good things to know what you expect from them.
Rules posted are important. Again they have to know what you expect from them. We have even posted rules in our house before for Konner, and as I write this I think we need to post more for both boys.
A point system is good. Konner has a behavior punch card at school. Every time he does something positive he earns a punch. When the card is full he gets a reward that was agreed upon earlier in the week. This has worked well. Many see this as a bribe, but it’s actually positive reinforcement. A Bribe would be something we give him to stop or change an action that is actually happening. This can be done with pennies or stickers as well, but never take away a point.
I hope this gives a little insight into a child with ADHD.