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  • Writer's pictureLisa Joesten

Environmental Accommodations in the Home For Students with ADHD

With many students receiving more of their education at home during this pandemic, families are struggling to find the balance between school, work, and family time. Throw in the challenge of having a student diagnosed with ADHD and the struggle grows exponentially. Below are some strategies to help families lessen some of the homework battles at home.

Externalize Time

*Children with ADHD are less able to wait for consequences or events and to defer gratification

1. Pay attention to the E-R-O arrangements in life (events, responses, outcomes)

The closer these elements are in time, the better

2. Break lengthier tasks down into smaller ones and do these smaller ones more often I.e. complete part of a task, get a small reward

3. Make time intervals physical (timers, clocks)

Externalize Information at the Point of Performance

*ADHD creates problems with working memory, which is the ability to hold in mind what one is supposed to be doing; remembering ‘to do’

1. Make important rules or other reminders and information physical in situations where it is important for them to remember something (charts, sticky notes, notecards, sounds, key phrase) 2. Make sure it is posted at point of performance (place where the child should have recalled the information, but did not)

3. Create when/then plans in a situation to help prime them to recall what they will do the next time they are in that situation (HEDYDT?)

Externalize Motivation (Artificial Consequences)

*ADHD creates a deficit in our capacity for self-motivation (will power); more difficult to persist when there are no immediate rewards

*Video games provide immediate rewards which is why they can play for hours but cannot do homework or chores for more than a few minutes.

1. Inject some artificial rewards into an undesired situation

2. Add tokens, points, money privileges, or other rewards that can be earned frequently throughout the task; change them up periodically: points can be cashed in later for bigger, salient rewards (for every 10 minutes you work, you get 10 minutes of reward)

3. Visualize the goal and the reward prior to the work. (Pictures of the goal for short term goals/Vision Board for long term goals)

4. Verbalize the goal and final rewards periodically while they are working on the task

5.Give feedback more often and more quickly

Rewards Before Punishments

*Punishments alone don’t work

*Focusing on negative behavior leads to punishment, focusing on positive alternative

to the misbehavior leads to reward

1. Think about the misbehavior and what your child should do instead

2 .Now with that positive alternative behavior in mind, think about how to encourage

3. Notice it, Praise it, Reward it, Give a privilege for it

4. Arrange for positive feedback and rewards to occur whenever you see that behavior

5. Do this for up to 2 weeks before you focus on punishing the alternative behavior.

*Only when a situation rewards good behavior is punishment likely to success for misbehavior.

Make Mental Tasks and Problem Solving Manual

*ADHD causes problems with the ability to do mental tasks; children with ADHD cannot hold the information in mind and manipulate it as well as others (mental chalkboard that you record information that you are trying to think about and work on)

1. Break tasks into small units

2. Using physical devices to manipulate the problem

Touch More, Talk Less

*Act, don’t yack! Parents tend to talk too much

1. When you must instruct, praise, or reprimand your child…go to them (avoid yelling from another room or across a room).

2. Use some type of physical touch in a compassionate, caring way.

3. Briefly say what you have to say.

4. If appropriate, have them repeat when you have just said

Be Proactive: Anticipate and Prepare for Problem Situations

*Review your child’s life for typical problem situations; come up with a transition plan

Transition Planning

1. Stop! Wait before you enter that situation

2. Review with your child a few rules that they are to follow in that situation

-Have them repeat them back to you; write them on a card to give to your child if necessary

3. Explain the rewards your child will earn in that situation for following the rules

-Have them repeat them back to you

4. Explain the punishment they will receive if the rules are broken

-Have them repeat them back to you

5. Give frequent feedback and evaluate how well things went when you are done.

Executive Age

*Remember the 30% rule-reduce your child’s age by 30% to find their executive age (age of self- regulation)

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