Mom asks: How do you help kids with ADHD transition in the afternoon?

A mom sent me a note looking for advice. She has a fifth-grade girl who was diagnosed three years ago with ADHD. They are having trouble in the afternoons transitioning from school to homework and activities. She is looking for advise on how to handle this. Here’s what she wrote:

“How do you make a (somewhat) smooth transition with your kiddo with ADHD from after school to after school activities and homework? Especially for GIRLS, what do you find works best? More/different med, meditation, exercise, what? We have tried so many different things over the years…some work a while then stop, some 2 days then stop. And, readers, this is a genuine question, not one seeking snarky answers or mean spirited advice! I love my oldest more than words can say, more than she can understand…but there are days (usually after school) that it is so, so hard…ugh. My sweet girl is 11, 5th grade, in Scouts and dance (1day), and was diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago. Thanks readers!”

49 comments Add your comment

Mayhem

April 5th, 2013
6:52 am

Sorry, I have no advice. Never had to deal with this. Good luck to you, I hope you get some good advice

RickInGrayson

April 5th, 2013
7:14 am

Kids with ADHD need a lot of exercise!

RJ

April 5th, 2013
7:18 am

My son has ADHD and it’s tough. I suggest creating a schedule and allow for downtime immediately after school. She can come home and do whatever she likes for say an hour, then work on homework. Whatever it is she likes to do (play games, get on the computer, talk on the phone) can’t be done until homework is completed. The key is the same with kids without ADHD, consistency. I would take my son’s phone or PSP at that age, then give it back once homework was done. At that time he had a pre-paid phone a family member gave him, but he liked to play games on it. The schedule really helped. It also taught him responsibility. He’s in the 9th grade now, and we still struggle. But like you, I love hime so much that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help him. I wish you luck.

Becky

April 5th, 2013
7:35 am

Like Mayhem, have no advice..Good luck with whatever works for you..

jarvis

April 5th, 2013
7:53 am

This is so tough. I really struggled with homework as a kid. My mom tried everything.

Exercise (playing etc) for an hour, but no TV or reading. Don’t cloud her mind with things she’ll think about while she’s supposed to be doing the homework.

After the hour, have her start the homework. No chatting…..straight into the work. Once the work is done, immediately have her put it away in her folder/book bag, and have her place it where it will be picked up in the morning to leave for school. Reduce the opportunity for the homework to be lost or bag to be misplaced.

ADD kids also tend to be visual learners.

For math, if she has questions, DON’T explain it to her without actually doing it yourself. She isn’t asking for an answer, she’s asking how to organize the work process.

If the work requires reading a sample and answering questions, make sure she reads the questions BEFORE she reads the piece. It will tune her into what she needs to be looking for. This will help her concentrate on what she is looking for, and looking for something specific will help her focus her reading and avoid her mind from wandering.

Be patient! My mom was. It gets better with age.

Mother of 2

April 5th, 2013
8:04 am

My older son has ADHD and it was difficult, so I sympathize with you. For starters, we limited after school activities because being over scheduled made everything much more difficult. We also did homework in “batches.” He would come home from school and have a snack and some down time, then he’d do homework in one subject, take a little break, then tackle another subject. What helped my child was the fact that his after school routine didn’t feel scheduled, so he felt like he was in control.

Our difficult years were during middle school. They were difficult on so many levels! But he has grown into a wonderful young man who developed coping skills that worked specifically for him. The good news is that it gets better for everyone as these kids age. Remarkable things are possible with love and support from the family. Best wishes.

catlady

April 5th, 2013
8:20 am

My advice would be lots of outdoor play, moving around, at her choice, till just before supper. After supper and its chores (she does have chores, doesn’t she?) then it is on to homework. I would also suggest no screen time during the school week. (TV, computer, etc) Seems to me it hypes up those brain waves ( unscientific) This worked for my son, who had a TBI.

Does her school have a homework policy? Our system does: Not more than 30 minutes per night, TOTAL, for all subjects included. through 8th grade. (Makes that ninth grade year really challenging!)

It would not have worked for me. If I postponed my homework, it hung like black smoke over my afternoon. So I would come home and immediately do it. Any time left over before bed was MY time totally!

Me

April 5th, 2013
8:27 am

I have never once had to deal with this nor have I even (knowingly) met anyone with ADHD so I am far beyond being able to assist. I do hope, however, that you receive good, well-intended, advice and hope the idiots/trolls leave you alone.

V for Vendetta

April 5th, 2013
8:48 am

Rigorous exercise in a competitive sport. I was diagnosed when I was very young, but my parents were very strict with discipline and the idea that school came first. Once I found competitive swimming around that age, I had no energy left to bounce off the walls. Added bonus: I swam for my high school and in college.

Common Sense

April 5th, 2013
8:52 am

Start by getting them out of the government school system. That is the worst place for anybody with any sort of learning issue (and the worst place for anyone with a desire to learn as well.). Homeschool your child.

MomtoKTB

April 5th, 2013
9:22 am

I live in your world. We work on three things. One, exercise and/or time outdoors. Two, for our kids, one Rx in the morning does NOT last through the evening, regardless of what the commercials say. Each kid’s metabolism affects medication differently. So at least a half hour before starting homework, they will take a dose of a short-acting medication. Three, lay out the structure for them: outdoors for x minutes, take med, eat dinner, start homework in “chunks” for set periods of time with breaks for x minutes in between. Just so I don’t create unrealistic expectations, this strategy reduces the conflict, but does not eliminate it. ;-)
Ours have had 2-3 hours a night of homework since 4th grade (taking them even longer to complete, of course). Totally age-inappropriate, imo. We have included “shortened assignments” in their 504s/IEPs, but many assignments don’t lend themselves well to being shortened without impacting the intended learning. Don’t let anyone discourage you from advocating for your child’s best interests. Good luck!

FCM

April 5th, 2013
9:24 am

I have 2 daughters diagnosed with ADHD. With my younger she stays at the school late. They put her in a room while she waits for 2nd bus load or to be called to the after school activity. She sits with just her teacher and does the work. No struggle. She knows if she comes home and the work is done 100% (I check it) then she gets to claim “her” time until bed. She can play, watch tv, whatever.

Her sister is different. She gets home and she has her free time until dinner. After dinner she either shows me the work is done or she sits at the table until it is done. She wants the tv, iPod etc she gets the work done.

Jarvis, Mother of 2 have it right….The one that said consistancy is key is correct as well. The routine seems to be a big part of it. We also use alarms on the cell phone as audio queues. Certain sounds let them know it is time to be down eating breakfast, or getting out the door, or sitting down for homework. The worst nights are when we have something monkey with the schedule (the day we spent 3 hours at the vet for instance).

@ Catlady…I actually have the most difficult time getting my ADHDs to do their chores. I say go pick up the dolls then find them playing with the dolls. Or go wash the dishes and find them dancing in the kitchen and the dishes not done. My mother suggests that I stand over them while they complete the task. This is difficult because I have tasks to complete too. At 10 & 13 they should be able to do them without me standing right there. Any suggestions?

FCM

April 5th, 2013
9:29 am

Oh and like the others said it gets better with age. Older one had an assignment to do like 80 note cards for a class. They would then rotate through the classrooms of the 4 teachers that taught the subject. So she put each teachers set of information on different color cards (yellow for Ms. Smith, pink for Ms Jones, etc) then put each set of cards in a plastic sandwich zip bag. She did this on her own. I took the bagged cards and put them in a bigger zip baggie just so they would not get lost in the bookbag. She got all the work, on time, into the teacher. Nothing was lost and the teacher was impressed that she color coded the work.

K's Mom

April 5th, 2013
9:34 am

Mine are little, but it seems like all of this really good advice could be applied in all homes. Structure, consistency, routine, rewards and consequences are all good things!

Big Mama

April 5th, 2013
9:47 am

My oldest has trouble with transitions, too. I created a poster with an exact schedule of what he needed to do after school, to get ready for school, and to get ready for bed. It has all the steps required and keeps him focused. When we first starting using it, I had slips of paper for each step that he removed from the poster and put into a cup as he completed that step. That was a big motivator for him. He is a visual learner and this appealed to him.

Transitions have become much easier now that he knows what is expected of him. And I keep him busy with a variety of activities (swimming, tennis, running, etc). He also likes yoga. I think these help keep him focused.

Big Mama

April 5th, 2013
9:53 am

Also, we have not had to medicate but we do receive services through our public school. We are lucky to have a wonderful staff… He has auditory processing and speech issues. He receives help each week and the therapist follows up with me each week as well.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 5th, 2013
10:44 am

These are great tips — I really appreciate all the constructive advice for this mom and others!!! Keep it coming!! I hope she feels encouraged!!

FCM

April 5th, 2013
10:54 am

@ V for Vendetta…Michael Phelps began swimming due to ADHD too. His Mom put him to get his energy out. We see where that got Michael! I always thought he and his Mom should talk about that more…how ADHD worked for or against him.

Jessica

April 5th, 2013
11:49 am

Maybe give a little thought to what you give your child for an afternoon snack. Sometimes kids’ moods and/or behavior can be affected by what they eat.
If your child normally has chips, snack cakes, Kool-Aid, or soda, it might be helpful to cut out the processed sugary and starchy snacks. These foods give kids a quick sugar rush followed by a crash, which can affect mood and impuse control. Instead, try real fruit, nuts, veggies with ranch dip, or a cheese stick (if your kid handles dairy okay).
Better food choices won’t ‘fix’ behavior problems, but all these other ideas have a better chance of working if your kid isn’t riding the sugar roller coaster.

Atlanta Mom

April 5th, 2013
12:09 pm

My youngest daughter is ADHD. Mostly, she went outside when she came home from school to burn off excess stress she had, due to working so hard to be a model student during the school day.
After an early dinner, she worked at a completely clean kitchen table.
In HS she explained to me that she worked better if she listened to music, because that way, when her mind wandered, it wandered for only one song, and not for 30 minutes.

Patrick

April 5th, 2013
12:12 pm

@FCM – as for the cleanup issue, create a checklist. Give them each a checklist, listing the tasks they need to complete to clean their rooms. When they complete that task, they can check it off. Once they get all tasks checked off, and you inspect to make sure they did complete each task, offer a reward. Nothing fancy; something simple like maybe an extra 30 minutes of “TV Time” or let them choose the movie for “Family Movie Night”.

You might have to break the tasks down as much as possible. For example, if they need to pick up their dirty clothes and put them in the dirty clothes hamper, have the list broken down to read, “Put dirty socks in hamper”; followed by “Put dirty shirts in hamper” and so on.

rene

April 5th, 2013
12:17 pm

Hi my 10 year old son was never officially diagnosed medically but the doctor thought he had ADHD inattentive type at age 6.We never put him on meds. He was and still sometimes is dreamy and gets lost in his thoughts and has to be nudged or reminded to stay on task. We started him on chess and I cannot tell you how much it improved everything. He is normal now with no academic issues and teacher complaints and plays chess right after school to wind down and loves doing it. Although I am not an expert and suggest this to kids who are hyperactive chess certainly helps the inattentive kind. We limit the time he spends watching tv or playing video games to almost nothing and I see an immediate change in him when he occasionally plays on his computer. He also does well with lot of playtime outside. He now plays chess in competitions and has no problem playing in a tournament several hours on that day with absolute focus. Chess changed his life and ours too and please parents out there limit tv, video games and let your kids to play outside. Expose kids to puzzles and books early and when they are toddlers start teaching chess moves slowly. It works for kids even if they are hyperactive and if it doesnt it still is a great thing to learn.

ATL Trial Lawyer

April 5th, 2013
12:19 pm

I have used Adderall off and on since grad school, but I did use it regularly during my final years of school.
So I understand your concerns about transitioning from the classroom or any other environment where you have a very singular focus to a more relaxed atmosphere.
Everyone is different, but something I have found that is helpful to me is to use the medication as early as possible (before breakfast) and not to take it again after that (never after lunch).
Then after a workday or school day I come home and smoke a small amount of pot and then lift heavy weights at the gym.
By the time I finish lifting weights and shower, I am able to eat dinner and relax before falling asleep.
Again I know this is not “advice” per se, but it works for me.
Also, I mean this with sincerity, and I know you are not interested in criticism or negative remarks, but I would add that anyone who gives amphetamines to an 11-year-old is a selfish and probably insane person.
Let your child do their best with the condition they have. If they have a lot of energy, get them in sports. Eventually when they are old enough to make their own decisions they may want to use stimulants to help them study. If that does not work, try blaming President Obama for her shortcomings. That seems to do the trick for a lot of readers here. Good luck!

Denise

April 5th, 2013
12:20 pm

As a kid we had a “just get it done” “method” at our house. It worked for me but not well for my brother. Though he did not have a diagnosis of ADHD I think he could have used some of the parameters you guys are laying out just for consistency. (I liked consistency and expectations.) How do you put the one kid with ADHD or other different needs on this special regimen but not the other kids without making them feel “different”? Or do you put everyone on the same system? Or is this not a problem? One of my friend’s sons could use a system while her others do not need one and she is concerned about drawing attention to the one son that does. I might direct her to this blog for ideas.

FCM

April 5th, 2013
1:22 pm

@ Patrick…thanks I will try to break it into smaller tasks on a todo list. Perhaps that will work.

catlady

April 5th, 2013
1:24 pm

Ideally, FCM, I would suggest their chores would NOT be “picking up after themselves.” That should be more of a transitional activity (We pick up the toys when playtime is over, then we transition to _____) I would suggest that chores be things that are done for the benefit of the family, rather than for the benefit of the individual child. I am thinking of things such as folding laundry, gathering the trash, setting the table, scraping the plates and loading the dishwasher, unlaoding the diswasher, feeding and watering and brushing the dog,… These would be things that benefit the whole family, and necessary tasks that must be done each day, at absolutely no pay. (Does anyone pay you for the family tasks you do?) I believe these tasks should be done daily, and should be tied into real life needs. And I believe they are good for ALL kids.

Another suggestion I would make it to have your children pick a volunteer activity, weekly. It might be to sweep the sidewalks at your church, or mow for your elderly neighbor–something that allows them to give back for all that is given to them. I think all kids should be doing this, as well.

I believe these activities will help long- and short-term with the kind of goals we typically have for our children.

MissMary

April 5th, 2013
2:19 pm

Hey everyone! I am the one that actually asked TWG to post this topic. I appreciate all the comments thus far, sans a couple. Here is a little more info that might help some better understand. In addition to her ADD, we also have dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and mild somatosensory issues going on. To the person that suggested homeschooling, I am sorry you have such a negative view (experience?) about public school. We are quite fortunate that we go to an amazing elementary school. My daughter has received numerous services that we wold not have been able to provide here at home. As a matter of fact, my husband and I have made the hard decision not to move closer to his job so we can stay in our current school. As far as schedule and extra activities, it may seem like we ‘do’ a lot, but nothing lasts for more than an hour, and the dance studios is 8 minutes from our house, LOL. The dyspraxia has kept us our of sports for the most part because of the speed. Her brain cannot work that fast…
In response to ATL Trial Lawyer, I have to disagree with your assertion that I (or “any” parent) must be selfish to medicate my child. I must assume you have never had to make this choice, so let me assure you for many of us, it was a long, difficult, and researched to the point of being a pain decision. But we came to the decision to medicate because as her parents,it is our job to be her biggest advocate, and to put every tool in her box she needs in order to be successful.
Thanks, everyone. Keep it coming!!!!

The Dixie Diarist

April 5th, 2013
2:58 pm

THERE’S A SPIKE IN ADHD

On the last day of the week of the first week of school we come to the undeniable case of Spike, the former seventh grader who is now an eighth grader who is an elf.

Spike was an elf in seventh grade and he is still an elf and he is ageless and changeless and brings fun and humor and mischief to the dreary world of the rest of us boring people. I have that certain funny feeling that we’ll come to the undeniable case of Spike every day this year.

This year, Spike has no more—or less—freckles. He still has a million of them. His head hairs still stand on their ends. Like a mood ring, the color of his eyes still change from blue to green when he gets worked up. His voice is still squeaky. Spike has grown to a height of ten inches.

He is constantly moving, picking at something on his flesh, thinking, pondering, brooding, calculating, prognosticating, anticipating, commenting. His eyes are always open and watching for opportunities to please. His manners are natural and wonderful and instantly make me feel better.

Outside, during breaks, he’ll have in his hands a string. Then the string will end up with two knots, one on each end. Then Spike will come show you how the string he’s been playing with might be used to save civilization from evil. In several different and believable ways. Just him and a string with knots. I don’t have a reason not to believe him.

He comes to school with a small ball covered with massage nubs. He also pulls out of his pocket a multi-colored plastic contraption that spreads out into a ring you can throw to your pals like a Frisbee. And when you’re finished throwing it to your pals you can squeeze it back and you can put it back into your pocket … but Spike doesn’t put it back into his pocket. He keeps playing with it in homeroom … while we’re having our big group meeting on Friday morning where the teacher sitting next to him … me … has to constantly ask him to put it in his pocket.

Spike doesn’t put it in his pocket. He puts it back there between the chair and his back. Next to his massage ball. Then he starts picking at something on his left leg with the metal ring of a pencil that would have held the eraser but the eraser has already been bitten off and the rest of it pulled out to be inspected and put to some use only Spike knows.

Spike brought to school this week a huge ball of yarn he keeps in his jacket pocket hand-warmer pouch and off of the huge ball of yarn he spins fibers between his fingers and in a few minutes he’ll have a sturdy braid and later when you look again he’s turned the braids into some kind of coaster or hair extension. Anything he makes he’ll happily give to you.

He is in constant motion. Small, quick, constant motions. He has bright, darting eyes. A quick smile. Always a Yessir and a Thank you and a You’re welcome. If Spike is not an elf he is a tree squirrel who drinks gallons of espresso.

I think he’s an elf who likes to act like a tree squirrel.

He recently, in another class, probably under the cloak of the desktop, came into the afternoon homeroom with dollar bills he had formed, origami style, into butterflies, onto which he had attached large paper clips so that when he placed the currency concoction above each ear the paper clips would also be inserted into the hair so they’d stay in place while we admired them. He moved his head from side to side. He was sitting in the desk with both legs underneath him.

This week, preparing the fall semester Georgia History syllabus, which the students sign, then becoming a contract, I’m asking them what three or four things can I do in the classroom as your Georgia History teacher this year to help you help me help you. I came to Spike.

Spike said he appreciated having study guides prior to tests; that he enjoys projects; he is delighted thoroughly and educated by going on lots of field trips; and he loves watching documentaries on the flat screen TV in the corner.

I can do that.

Spike is a one in a million billion 8th grader elf, who coats then soaks me with his personality every day, but he’s right in line with the rest of my historians on what I can do, seriously and syllabus-wise, to help him help me help him … God help us.

Before we went home today, in the last home room of the day, as they pack up and see me melt into an end-of-the-week giddiness and goofiness they like, I ask Spike what else I could do to help him succeed in school and in life and help me help him help me.

It’s as if Spike had been waiting for the question all of his life.

Spike immediately says he’d like to have spider legs that could pop out of his back and help him crawl across the ceiling.

I ask him, giggling, actually trying to keep the giddiness going … And anything else?

And he’d like to have the power of invisibility. In his elf voice, Spike says, he’d like to have the power of tele-por-tation. Spike says he’d like to have a long monkey tail grow out of the end of his spine that he can whip around.

You cannot deny this child. No one, of any age, can deny Spike his time in their face and life. So we burst out laughing and point at Spike and pat him on the back.

He sort of understands. Spike thinks the way he thinks is no big deal and wonders why we find him so sensational. I guess he really doesn’t mind anymore that we constantly gawk at him … in shock and awe and wonder.

It’s 3:15. Lurlene screams from down the hall … LET’S GO!

Before Spike leaves for home and the first weekend of the school year, he out-of-the blue says to me with bright elf eyes and a smile … Do no da go hv i … pronounced, doh noh dah goh huh ee. Cherokee for, Until we meet again. Something Spike learned as a seventh grader last year … four months ago … in my mid-afternoon study hall, Lunch & Squirm, and remembered across the span of a summer.

Until Spike and me meet again. That would be early Monday morning.

I can’t wait.

http://www.adixiediary.com

ATL Trial Lawyer

April 5th, 2013
3:06 pm

Miss Mary:
Had I known about the other symptoms/disorders, I might not have made such a generalized remark about your situation.
So I apologize if I came across as flippant or rude.
I guess I just assumed you were using the ADHD medication like most parents – to treat mild obesity.
Anyway, I’m glad you are lucky enough to be in a great public school, and I wish you the best of luck in getting help with your Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.

Denise

April 5th, 2013
3:08 pm

Dixie Diarist – That might make me smile for the rest of the day. Thank you!

Kampf Counselor

April 5th, 2013
3:17 pm

(Psst . . . Denise and Dixie Diarist are the same person.)

The Dixie Diarist

April 5th, 2013
3:24 pm

Uh, feel again, Kampf Counselor.

Becky

April 5th, 2013
3:30 pm

@MissMary.. Other than the ADD that you mention, I have never heard of the other things your daughter has..As I said earlier, I have no dealings with any of these, but I wish you all the best in whatever you do for her.. I love your last line about putting ever tool in her box that she needs to be successful..Keep up the good work..

Kampf Counselor

April 5th, 2013
3:51 pm

OK, Dixie, I get it now. You are a writer, and people appreciate your writing here. Your writing really is quite good. If it weren’t for your poor grammar and punctuation and your inane blathering style I would compare you to William Faulkner.

Real Life

April 5th, 2013
4:04 pm

This is a topic best discussed with your child’s doctor and therapist. They are the ones that best know your child’s unique situation. Support groups are good to a point, but you can run up against “supporters” who believe their ideas are always best. Observing and asking other people for suggestions is good, but nothing should be implemented without diligent consultation with professionals. Why would you consider asking people you do not know how to handle a problem with a child they do not know?

mother of 2

April 5th, 2013
5:21 pm

My son also has dysgraphia. He was using a keyboard for all assignments as early as 3rd grade. He’s a very fast typist now after all that practice! We did sensory motor camps through an occupational therapist during the summer months, which he greatly enjoyed.

The Dixie Diarist

April 5th, 2013
5:32 pm

Well … Denise loves what I write. Good enough for me. As for you, sweetie, you know what “kampf” means, right?

Sunshine

April 6th, 2013
10:40 am

Miss Mary!

I’ve got ADHD (not formally diagnosed). I’ve got children family members with dyspraxia and I’ve got it as well (it’s heredity). For one, there is no medication being administered. He’s in family counseling and he does OT therapy. It really helps. Also, he is home schooled and I have noticed a timer being used for whatever activity that is being done outside school (except for reading). When he has a “break”, the timer is set for ‘x’ amount of time and he’s told that when it goes off, it’s time for —– activity next. For me, as an adult, I don’t struggle quite so much – I do get sidetracked quite easily but I’ll retreat to a quiet place to do my work. Also, with dyspraxia, I find I have balance issues and I also have depth perception issues. I never sit still but I’ve been that way since I was little. I never walked anywhere but always ran. I would suggest plenty of exercise. Good luck!

The Dixie Diarist

April 6th, 2013
10:40 am

SCORE BIG WITH ADHD!

It’s real easy to to get a bus full of ADHD kids even more freaked out on the way to their big basketball game. All you have to do is point out the Krispy Kreme store that’s on the same street as the recreation center where you’re about to get slaughtered by the other school. The sign screams … HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW. DRIVE THRU. Point out the Krispy Kreme doughnut store to the kids enthusiastically, but keep driving. That’s the trick.

The name of the other school we played was called the Swift School. They sure were. At halftime they were leading 22 to 4, but we were more interesting to watch.

Our kid who had sawed off his facial mole with a razor blade that week, on his way down court to set up on offense, would often stop by to get a drink of water. We coached him out of the habit by screaming at him and shoving him back onto the court in a way that looked like, from the parent’s perspective across the court, the kindly administering of hugely encouraging words and an affectionate pat or two on the back. You have to practice it and hope they can’t read your lips. Another time he dropped by during the game and said he was having a heart attack. I told him having a heart attack would most likely get him out of homework … so play hard.

Only one of our kids, Ferrari, was going back to school with me and Coach Hank in the bus after the game, so I got his attention during halftime and told him that if he kept playing like he was, which was a peculiar style of basketball probably never before seen in this part of the county, that he could eat all the Krispy Kreme doughnuts he wanted after the game.

Ferrari screamed … Oh, my God! I don’t have any money!

I pulled out my money clip, wiggled it, and by God the bill showing on top was a fresh twenty. Upon this beautiful teaching moment … that the underpaid teacher-coach would be buying a lot of doughnuts and allowing him to eat as many as he wanted … Ferrari began jumping up and down. When he jumps into the air, he pulls his legs up underneath him where his knees poke out east and west. While he’s in the air he flaps both hands as if they’re covered with angry ants. Maybe scorpions. I watched Ferrari jump up and down quite a few times. That loud buzzer used by the scoreboard operator finally stunned him still.

Ferrari is thirteen years old and has the mind of a mischievous pixie who is constantly being electrocuted at all his joints. His body seems to be made of wiggly rubber hoses. Ferrari is the most hyperactive kid, mentally and physically, on all continents of the world and more than any kid who might also be sailing around on any of the oceans and seas, too. I’ve always liked him. He’s the only kid in the school who eats yellow mustard. I bought a special stash one day just for him and I hide it in the school kitchen. I don’t have him in class but Ferrari says I’m his favorite teacher anyway. I think bribing kids with ADHD is fine because it works.

For our team, in the first half, Ferrari had been the guy who always seemed to get a hold of the ball to take it down on offense. He steals it from his teammates he loves basketball so much. And that was okay with me and Coach Hank because Ferrari knows how to dribble and run real fast at the same time.

But Ferrari, we learned, on the very first play of the game, would put it up, high altitude B-52 bomb style, with both hands, the moment he crossed mid-court. The crowd loved the kid. Me, too. Ferrari makes everything interesting. Everything. But he hadn’t hit one yet from his personal launching pad between mid-court and the apex of the three-point line … and he was really trying. Even when he outraced the other team and could have laid it up with time to spare Ferrari would stop and pop.
His bombs, with not much spin, would clank off the rim or boing off the backboard, and one time the ball bounced way up and got stuck between the backboard and the contraption that connects the goal to the tin roof. A guy from the recreation center had to come over there with a bamboo pole to poke it out.

So I told Ferrari to keep it up in the second half. You know … doughnuts.

He did.

We lost big, though, to a coed team of super special kids just like us, 33 to 9, but the real highlight of the game was when Ferrari finally and correctly calculated barometric pressure, wind, distance, the curvature of the earth, axis tilt, seasonal anomalies, El Nino, the Jet Stream, and his excitement for a promise of unlimited doughnuts with the coach’s money. Statistically, Ferrari was 1 for 16, but universally, he was the crowd favorite. When Ferrari finally helped the cause with three big points, everybody in the stands jumped up and down and went nuts, too. The moment was preceded by near silent, mouth-open marveling as the orange bomb floated toward the orange ring.

Whoosh!

I listened to the sweet roar of bi-partisan parents going nuts for a kid’s momentous moment in time during a lopsided basketball game for kids who really don’t care about the final score. The apples don’t drop far from their trees. Sometimes they drop just right.

At the Krispy Kreme I handed Coach Hank the twenty and said to Ferrari to go nuts. You earned it. I juked open the squeaky bus doors.

Ferrari leaped out of the bus from the top step to the asphalt parking lot and screamed back at Coach Hank as he ran akimbo across a busy parking lot … Are you going nuts, too!
Waving the twenty around in his hand, Coach Hank smiled at me and said … You’re cool with this, right? Spend it all?

I said go nuts. We all deserve it.

http://www.actionjacksonart.com

Georgia

April 6th, 2013
11:30 am

20% of High School boys have ADHD?

beth

April 6th, 2013
1:56 pm

All very interesting. I also have a question…. My almost 8 year old daughter experiences alot of organization issues as well as problems with focusing on a single task. But she is not hyperactive. She is very athletic and loves her outside time. We think she may be dyslexic. We are about to undergo private testing. I have already been asked by a dyslexia tutor if she was on adhd meds… just because she dyslexic. I’m told that kids who could barely memorize 25 sight words before adhd meds shot up to normal or above normal range on meds.

So my question is… how have meds impacted your kids learning ability outside of hyperactivity? I guess I’m confused as to if adhd meds would help stop her from transposing her letters/numbers (example: was is always saw and 85 would be 58) or help with backwards writing etc?

Denise

April 6th, 2013
8:46 pm

Dixie Diarist – another good one!

jan

April 7th, 2013
9:44 am

I agree that decompression time and a structured homework/evening schedule is extremely important. A booster of meds are good if you are willing to medicate. Here are other things I found to help my son.

1) Get a tutor. Even for just for 30 to 45 minutes twice a week.

Around middle school, kids start seeing their parents as dumb or fallible. You lose credibility on your ability to help them in the child’s eyes. They get the “You are NOT a teacher, so what do YOU know about it!” kind of attitude. A tutor still has that credibility in the child’s eyes. They still have respect of the tutor as a professional, so the tutor has considerably more clout.

I did this with my son and it eliminated 90% of our homework battles. We actually made the transition in middle school from me standing over him and fighting with him over homework to him taking responsibility for doing it. I got to drop back to an adviser role.

2) Post a white board calendar somewhere visible with deadlines for projects, papers, etc to help the kid keep a schedule of things. Let the child put things on the schedule. Help them break the projects up into smaller increments with completion dates set by you or the tutor and your child. It serves as a strong visual reminder that that project seems to be due so incredibly far in the future is really due next week. It also helps to break a big project up into smaller steps that aren’t so intimidating.

3) Alternate easier and harder subjects. Start off with an easier or more enjoyable subject. Let them get in the groove first and feel a sense of accomplishment, then move to a harder subject for a limited time. Take a short 5 minute break and go back to an easier subject. Then go back to a harder subject.

4) Don’t make them sit there and struggle through it if they are really not understanding it. Try to help them but if it isn’t working, just let it go. Send a note or have your child let the teacher know that they tried but they need some more help from the teacher or tutor.

5) Learn their currency. My son was too easily distracted by electronics. So it was all banned during the evening, for ALL of us. Then we let him earn TV time for the family or video game time for himself by how hard he worked on his homework. Not by how quickly he got it done or by whether or not he accomplished all of the harder stuff. Just did he work diligently, ask for help when he needed it, did he really put in the effort to do it, even if he was not successful at completing it.

My son is graduating from high school with honors next month. Except for a short blip during his 9th grade year transition to being in high school, we haven’t had any real issues. He has learned how HE works best and has learned the discipline to do it for himself.

bobo leclown

April 7th, 2013
11:16 am

ADHD is a bunch of crap, it is a made up disease from the Psychological community to sell drugs and get patients.

Georgia

April 7th, 2013
1:25 pm

How is it even possible that 20% of high school boys have ADHD?

jan

April 7th, 2013
4:13 pm

@ Beth. Not all ADHD kids are hyperactive. Having ADHD or dyslexia does appear to increase the chances that the other disorder is present too. But the two disorders do not always go together. My ADHD son is not dyslexic. Nor are any of his cousins with ADHD. But there is one adopted cousin who is dyslexic but without ADHD. I would recommend doing the testing. That way you’ll know how to help your child.

And ignore people like Bobo Leclown who will criticize your decisions concerning your child’s welfare and education. Remember it is your child and you DON”T get do-overs.

jan

April 7th, 2013
7:23 pm

@Denise

Just don’t make a big deal of it. My mantra was “Different kids need different things.” When my son asked for an explanation on why his sister didn’t have to follow his structured schedule, I explained that he learned differently than she did. So I was setting his environment up to help him learn, just as his sister had set up her room set up as her learning environment. When he got old enough to question what I meant by learning differently, I explained that although he was as bright as his sister, his ADHD made learning was harder for him. So we used an approach that worked for him. I also pointed out that he had talents (like mechanical and a visual/spatial aptitudes) that she didn’t.

Denise

April 8th, 2013
10:53 am

Jan thank you. I will see if I can say that to my friend and how she will receive it. You are definitely right about saying they have differen talents because he and his older brother are way different even though they are only ~15 months apart. #3 just turned two so there is no comparing him to the big boys.

Sometimes I think I’m going to be a mean mama when I have children and sometimes I think I’m going to be a softie because I don’t want anybody to feel bad about things they cannot help. Both are scary to me.

MissMary

April 8th, 2013
7:59 pm

Everyone, thanks for all the great comments and suggestions. Beth, Jan is correct that if a person is diagnosed with ADHD, they don’t necessarily have it all. Just as the word “autism” now encompasses ALL of the “autism spectrum”, ADHD now refers to the patient whether they do or do not have they hyperactivity, do or do not have the attention/focus problems (which is my girlie), etc.
I have to say I love how so many of us have our tag lines or family motto. We do that, too. Ours tends to be, “It’s not our job to make it easy, but it’s our job to put the tools in the toolbox so she can do it herself.” Now, on any given day it works, on any given day, it’s a pipedream. And there is no silverbullet…NONE. It is a daily process of what will work, and what won’t.
Thank you all again! I will continue to check back, and add in to our routine all the wonderful suggestions.