F. ADD & ADHD Help

Even in toddlerhood, young children can begin to demonstrate signs of attention deficit and hyperactivity. Darting eyes that do not attend, disinterest in books, running wildly and aimlessly, ignoring instructions and warnings, grabbing and throwing or misbehaving in order to elicit reactions – all of these are symptoms of impending problems if not corrected during the early years. Here are a few ideas to help you avoid the ever-too-frequent label of ADD or ADHD.


Monitor the child’s diet. There is much to know about the foods we eat. (For more information, see: Outcome-based comparison of Ritalin versus food-supplement treated children with AD/HD and the ADD/ADHD Diet Plan.)

Maintain low adult-to-child ratios. Fewer children allows for more attention, more patience and less frustration. It also allows the adult for training these young children how to harness their energy and attending skills. Vital skills for life!
Be consistent, fair and enjoyable!
        Be consistent = Predictable. 
                Be fair = Just.
                        Be enjoyable = Pleasant.
Make explanations and instructions brief, clear, and to the point. Avoid wasting time on the superfluous information that “build up” to the main point.
Break each part of a complex activity up into short, achievable parts.
Provide active participation in the learning environment and with lessons.
Allocate time for regular breaks during work. That doesn't automatically mean free-play or playground time, but a break could be just another activity. Some favorites are gardening and yard work such as pulling weeds.
Allow for creative work spaces. Require cleanliness; require tidiness: But allow for creativity.

Help the child to maintain things in their proper place - put away and cleaned up.

Avoid boredom - Create environments or learning centers that stimulate the imagination and mental activity.
Include a variety of activities to teach lesson; use multi-sensory activities. The challenge of coming up with multi-sensory activities to help teach a lesson is part of the fun!
Audio aids are excellent for strengthening attention and listening skills.
Verbally check for instructional comprehension. Ask questions to ensure comprehension.
Allow for self-regulation unless guidance and reminders are necessary.
Use peer tutoring and role playing whenever possible.
Regular feedback – let them know they are doing the right thing.
Help devise strategies for organization and orderliness.
Help devise strategies that assist in the completion activities, tasks and detail oriented work.
Learn the difference between reactive and reflective thinking skills and how each is developed.
ABOVE ALL: Avoid the use of any video aids which foster passive or non-participation (artificial stimulation). Yes - that mean videos, video games, DVDs, etc. Wait several years or until self-regulation skills have been mastered, before allowing video aids.
In his book
Neurodiversity:  Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts or Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and other Brain Differences, (New York: Da Capo Press, 2010), Dr. Thomas Armstrong points out that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are labeled as having a disability even though they excel in creative learning environments and a range of professions that use their strength.  Here are some excerpts:
  • "A 2007 study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that children labeled with ADHD undergo normal brain growth, but lag behind typical kids by an average of three years.  This study and others suggest that these youngsters would be better described as late bloomers."
  • "Children (and adults) labeled with ADHD are actually very good at paying attention to what interests them.  Many parents say their ADHD-diagnosed kids will spend hours focused on building with Legos®, dancing, playing video games, or engaging in other absorbing tasks.  Unfortunately, the ADHD community calls this admirable trait 'hyper-focus' and negatively labels it as a 'warning sign' of ADHD."
  • "A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that ADHD symptoms were significantly reduced in children as young as 5 when they engaged with nature.  Rough-and-tumble play also can be beneficial (particularly for boys).  Jaak Panksepp, from Washington State University, has suggested that the increase in ADHD diagnoses in the United States may reflect that children 'no longer have adequate spaces and opportunities' to play each day."
Certainly, Dr. Armstrong's comments cause us to ponder. In the meantime, implement the list above and make your daily struggles a matter of constant prayer.

© Christine Gillan Byrne, 2008.