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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Tsapakis

Help Me Help My Child with ADHD

Did you know that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common learning difference diagnosed? But what exactly is ADHD?

According to the Center for Disease Control, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that may cause "trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active." The "H" in ADHD can be misleading, because often times parents feel that their child is not overly hyper when it comes to constant physical energy. However, the "hyper" part of the diagnosis can show up differently in different students.

While some students may be hyperactive in a physical sense, others may have hyper-focus tendencies that make it difficult for them to turn their attention to specific things. For example, if a student is tapping their pencil in the back of the classroom, a child with ADHD may hyper-focus on that sound and have difficulty focusing on the teacher talking in the front of the classroom.

There are also different types of ADHD:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Students who have trouble focusing with the hyperactivity

  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Students who are hyperactive or often act without thinking

  • Combined Type Presentation: Students who have symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that are equally present

Your doctor can help you determine which type of ADHD your child has.

Students with ADHD also often struggle with Executive Functioning Skills. These skills are things like organization, planning, and thinking through possible consequences of their actions.

Thankfully, there are lots of strategies that schools and parents can use to help students with ADHD!

Ways to Support Your Child:

The very first step in supporting your child is understanding their diagnosis. Knowing which type of ADHD best fits your child's diagnosis will help you choose the best strategies for helping them be more academically, socially, and emotionally successful.


Help your child develop their metacognition (awareness of their own thoughts) and self-awareness skills by asking them which tools help them cope and focus best. They may have some great insight about their most successful strategies.

Strategies to Use at Home:

  • Have students sit on a wobble chair or exercise ball at the dinner table or for homework

  • If mornings are a struggle, use a 5-shelf closet organizer to set our their clothes for the week. Make sure to put everything they need (shirt, pants, undergarments, socks, etc...) in each pocket for each day.

  • Purchase different types of "fidget tools" for students to play with when you need them to focus on something.

  • Limit screen time, especially before bed. Children should not be in front of any screen (phone, TV, tablet, etc...) for at least 30 minutes before bed

  • Make a list of the things your student needs to have packed before walking out the door and attach it to their backpack (assignment book, binders, folders, lunch, completed homework, etc...).

    • Laminate it so that students can check off each item with a dry erase marker each day

  • Make a list of each thing your child needs to do in the morning to get ready (get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast, etc...) for the day and hang it in the bathroom.

    • Laminate it so that students can check off each item with a dry erase marker each day

Strategies to Use at School - Possible Accommodations for IEP/504 Plan:

  • Extended time for assignments and tests

  • Use of an assignment book (teacher can even sign off each day to make sure it is correctly completed)

  • Prohibiting removal of recess or lunch time as a disciplinary strategy

    • These kids HAVE to move!

  • Explicit instructions

  • Chunked assignments or tasks (large projects broken into smaller pieces/assignments)

  • Use of fidget tools like stress balls (as long as they are used correctly)

  • Sitting on exercise ball or wobble chair

  • Having a resistance band at the bottom of a chair for students to stretch quietly with their feet while working

  • Manilla folder cut into thirds to hide various parts of a full-page assignment to make it seem less daunting

  • Color coded folders and book covers

You got this, parents - and we are always here to help!

-The LD Expert

*LD Expert is not a medical doctor, and information in this post should not be used for medical advice. Always consult your physician for medical information regarding ADHD.

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