ADHD · school

What is an Accommodation and Why do I Need One?

Eye exams are pretty routine throughout childhood.  If you fail an eye exam, you get glasses.  Nobody really thinks twice about it.  You might suffer a few “four eyes” comments but I think kids with glasses are adorable.  Glasses are a tool to improve vision.

Now imagine if your child has a learning disability or struggles to stay focused in class.  You would want to provide the tools to access learning along with their peers.  These are called accommodations.  According to Understood.org accommodations remove barriers to learning.  They don’t change what your child is learning but how they are learning it.

For example, if your child has trouble sitting still and focusing while the teacher is talking a stretchy band around the legs of their chair is an accommodation.  They can kick the band to get the wiggles out in an unobtrusive way and the movement will help them maintain focus.  This accommodation is a win for the entire class.  It helps the student stay focused and reduces the disruptions for both the teacher and the classroom.

Before Pickles was diagnosed with ADHD I didn’t understand accommodations.  I felt sorry for those kids who were asked to sit outside the group at carpet time in Kindergarten.  I had no idea that their special cushion was giving them the sensory feedback their body needed.  Now I know how to seek out the tools my kids need to excel.  Here are a few things that have worked for us:

  • gum (the old school bubble gum that makes them work really hard to chew)
  • noise canceling headphones for testing
  • preferential seating in the classroom
  • squeezy balls
  • a separate area for testing
  • teacher redirects

In honor of ADHD awareness month, I’m participating in a fundraiser to purchase accommodations for Eureka School District.  Please click here for more info.

 

ADHD

ADHD Awareness Event & Fundraiser

Do you want to be part of the conversation that is tearing down walls around the stigma of ADHD?  Join me at a workshop Celebrating Neurodiversity: Exploring ADHD on Thursday, October 26th at Maidu Elementary School.  This parent and educator workshop is presented by Eureka Union School District in support of ADHD Awareness month.  Here are a peek at the evening’s itinerary with a focus on the theme “Knowing is Better.”

Register Now

 

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ADHD awareness bracelets in 2 kid sizes and an adult version.

Don’t miss your chance to be part of this important conversation!  Register now by clicking the button below.

Register Now

I huge thank you to our sponsors:

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ADHD · school

How to Get the Homework Done and Still Like your Kid (Part 2)

As I trudged downstairs this morning half asleep I almost tripped over the pile of books and binders that surrounded my daughter’s backpack.  I give her credit because while messy at least all the school supplies made it to the right staging area for this morning’s rush hour.

Last night was one of those nights.  After school (2 pickup times), I dropped my son and his friend at soccer practice.  Quickly buzzed out to the dance studio where I sat with my daughter in the homework zone for as long as possible until I had to leave and do some speed grocery shopping.  I ordered dinner from DoorDash while I waited in traffic.  Barely made it home in time to meet my son after he was dropped off.  Fed him dinner while I unpacked groceries and then ran him off to tutoring.  We didn’t get home until 7:30 and still had to shower, feed the other half of the family and finish homework.

Whew, that makes me tired just writing that paragraph.   So, let’s take a closer look at that last step HOMEWORK!  I took a look at the struggles we’ve faced with my younger son last week.  Today I want to explore the challenges we face with my oldest (5th grader).

Pickles (not her real name) has been diagnosed with ADHD.  She has always been a solid student but her diagnosis has led to trouble with Executive Function skills.  I’m going to break down this excellent video with what works for us.

YES!

  • Refuel with a healthy snack (my kids come home from school ravenous, I arrive at school pickup armed with snacks)
  • Review each task as completed (actually, I review the entire nights’ work at the end then we go through and make corrections together)
  • Every 20 minutes take a break & move (if she is churning through the homework I don’t interrupt but if she’s starting to lose focus or get frustrated it’s break time)
  • They nailed it on the project slide!  (Parenting ADHD takes special attention to long-term planning.  I make Pickles break down projects into smaller tasks and we write these into her school planner)

This Doesn’t Work for Us…

  • Confirm teacher will post assignments to the website (This is certainly something you could work through on an IEP or 504plan.  At the moment, if Pickles forgets an assignment we text our classmates for help.)
  • Start homework within 1 hour (in an ideal world YES!  Most days Pickles goes straight from school to the dance studio. One thing we have done is take the homework with us and use the downtime before class starts to get some done.)
  • Interrupt daydreams (Pickles prefers to do her homework in her room.  I’m ok with it taking a little longer so she has time to get lost in her thoughts.)

As you know I think ADDitude is a leading authority on how to parent ADHD.  This homework system is rock solid but when applied to the real world it starts to crumble a bit.  Hopefully, I gave you some workarounds to keep it all together.

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What homework hacks do you use in your household?  Please share in the comments below.

Parenting · school

How to Get the Homework Done and Still Like your Kid (Part 1)

“NOOOOOO” he screams from the top of his lungs while throwing his body to the floor.  He gets up and starts to hit me.  Not hard but just enough so that I know that he is mad.  I take the abuse while giving him several warnings.  If he doesn’t stop he will eventually end up in timeout.

What caused this massive meltdown?  Nope, I didn’t take away his screen time.  I simply said, “It’s time to do homework.”  It’s not always this extreme but some version of this meltdown plays out multiple times per week in our house.

The battle lines are drawn around homework in so many homes around the world but I know this is extreme.  My son is a sweetheart and a cuddle-bug but homework brings out the worst in him.  Why do I put up the abuse?  I know we are working on it.

I’ve discussed the issue with his counselor and we are formulating a game plan.  My son has battled anxiety and there is a strong history of ADHD in our family.  Here are some strategies we are working on:

  1. Creating an environment for studying.  There are some good ideas here.
  2. Make it fun!  He was thrilled when we practiced spelling words by letting him draw the letters in salt that was poured into a cookie sheet.  Here’s a resource for more ways to mix it up..
  3. Let go a little.  Since he’s my second child I have learned to losen the reigns a bit.  Not everything has to be perfect.  As long as most of the work is getting done perfection isn’t worth the battle.

That’s all for right now for my little guy.  BABY STEPS!  I’ve shared an idea here before on how to use visual reminders.  Next week I will share some strategies that we use for homework with my older daughter.

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What homework headaches do you face with your ADHD kiddo?  Please feel free to share in the comments below.

ADHD · Uncategorized

School Pictures and The Myth of the “Perfect Smile”

It’s been a long week people and school pictures were just one amusing bump in the road.  So I’m going to make this short but sweet.

In an ideal world on picture day your sweet child would wake up and cheerfully put on the adorable outfit you so caringly laid out for him/her the night before.  You would arrive at school admiring all the cuties dressed in their finest and kiss your little one farewell.  Reminding them to smile for the camera.

Here’s what happened in my house this week.  Monday was a holiday and when I glanced at the calendar I saw the reminder that Tuesday would be picture day.  My hubby was out meticulously drafting his fantasy football team so I invited a friend and her kids  (a fellow fantasy football widow) over for dinner.  We all had fun but I was pushing well past bedtime by the time I got the kids settled in for the night.  In my rush towards bedtime, I had skipped over the step where we lay out our clothes for the next day….and you can guess where this is headed,…yep we forgot all about Picture Day!!

The next morning after I sent the kiddos off on the bus and settled into my office I saw that little reminder again on my phone.  I looked at my husband in a panic but then quickly realized the magic in this moment.  Picture Day is never picture perfect in my ADHD household.  Even on the best day, I struggle to drag my littles through their morning routine without losing my sh**.  On Picture Day, everything amps up a notch because I’m asking them to wear that itchy dress or the shirt with a collar that drives them to a complete meltdown.  This year the outfit wasn’t what I would have chosen but I unknowingly skipped over all the chaos.  When I picked my son up from school and apologized for my mom-fail.  He responded, “Don’t worry Mom.  I look great” as he flashed me the picture perfect smile to melt my heart.

I found this story and it made me smile.  Maybe we need to let go of the reigns a little sometimes and let our kids shine in their own special way.

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Tell me in the comment section what is your mom-fail moment?  Any wisdom gained?

Uncategorized

Take Time to Celebrate Yourself

It’s been pretty quiet at ADHDaze this week.  I just wanted to send a quick check in to let you all know that I’m still here but I took some time to do something I rarely do….celebrate myself.  Yesterday was my birthday.  I’m not looking for attention but just wanted to use this as a reminder to all you mama’s of ADHD kiddos to take time for yourself.  I know you don’t do it enough.  It will recharge your batteries and make you a better parent.

ADHD · Uncategorized

Little Known Ways to get the Best ADHD Evaluation for Your Child

When Pickles was first diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago, I had no clue what I was doing. I was like a police dog determinately sniffing for my next clue.  Now that we have lived with this condition for a while I understand the evaluation process so much better and would like to share some tips with you.

Rule out other Conditions

Many other things can look like ADHD so be sure to consider sleep disturbances, anxiety or undetected seizures to name a few.

Consider Recent Life Changes

A new sibling, a recent move or divorcing parents can also cause behaviors that look like ADHD

Occupational Therapy Evaluation

An Occupational Therapist can evaluate your child’s sensory, cognitive, physical and motor skills. This can provide important information and a suggested treatment plan.

Educational Evaluation

Many children with ADHD also have a learning disability.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Evaluations

This is a very in depth testing process. Autism and ADHD share many characteristics. It wasn’t until Pickles went through this process that I was reassured that we had the right diagnosis.

Brain Scans

There is little evidence to show that brain imaging scans can be used to diagnose ADHD. The brain scan, NEBA, is only one the FDA has approved to help diagnose ADHD. It is used more often to rule out ADHD alongside other traditional evaluation methods.

I have said before I wish there was an easy blood test that could confirm ADHD. It is a long and convoluted process. It will take time to find the right doctors, psychologists, and therapists to perform these evaluations. Don’t give up!! The right diagnosis is EVERYTHING for finding the right treatment for your child.

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Have you had your child evaluated for ADHD?  If so, please share your story in the comments below.

Uncategorized

The Cheat Sheet, How to Prepare your ADHDer for Back to School

You want soooo badly for this school year to start off right.  Your child suffers enough with the obstacles ADHD has thrown at him.  What can you do to give him a fresh start?

I know you don’t have a lot of time because as I write this my littles will start school in less than a week.  There are endless articles out there on how to get your kid back to school ready so why should you read this one?  I know your household is different.  You will have to focus on things some parents never think twice about.

The Cheat Sheet (what has worked for us & a few things I want to try)

1. The Binder

Last year Pickles had to start using a 3 ring binder to organize her school work.  YIKES!  As you can imagine this was a bit of a disaster (thanks to lagging executive function skills).  After several heated discussions about lost school work, I sat her down with our tutor and begged for her to help us get organized.  A few things that kept us on track were pocketed dividers (where she could stow assignments that were due the next day), and a pencil pouch (where she could store supplies like pencils and those hole reinforcers).

2. Meeting with the Teacher

At our school teacher assignments are made the evening before the first day of school.  On the first day of school (after I’ve taken pictures and bid my little ones goodbye), I go home and write an email to the teacher explaining Pickle’s condition and requesting a meeting at her earliest convenience so we can set things up for a successful year.  This has always worked wonders to open up the lines of communication.  This year I’m thinking about taking it a step further and documenting everything with a letter like outlined here.

3. Reinforce School Routine

This might come a few weeks into the school year after a daily routine is established in their classroom.  What this looks like for us is….after back to school night (with school schedule in hand) I will review the routine with my kiddos.  I will ask if there are any things that are troubling them.  I will ask what part of the day is their favorite.  This will give me an idea of where to look for red flags.

So, are you ready?  What do you do to prepare for Back to School?  Please share in the comments below.

ADHD · Ebook

Announcing our Ebook with a Sneak Peek

Instead of hammering out the worksheets from one of those Summer Bridging workbooks, my daughter and I have started working on our first Ebook.  EEEK!!  I’m so excited to share a glimpse with you.

Prologue

About 8 months ago I started a blog to break down the stigma of ADHD.  In my very first post I wrote these words, “As an idealistic college student I never imagined my life looking like this 20 years later.  I wouldn’t want it any other way!  I did not choose ADHD to shape the wife and mother that I’ve become.  It chose me.  And I have spent countless hours and maybe even days (weeks?) wondering why me, why us???  It put me into a daze but I am taking the reins now.  I want to steer my family through this fog but also take the time to stop and enjoy the beautiful moments along the way.”

I wasn’t sure where this journey was going to take me.  In the short time I’ve been working on this I can’t believe what I have accomplished.  As I write this prologue there are currently several hundred followers that have accompanied me.  In my mind that is a life I have touched.  I may be spreading awareness to this person, giving them a virtual shoulder to cry on or who knows…. 

My ten year old daughter and I were chatting about the blog.  She is the main reason I pour my heart and soul into this project.  I want her to be a part of it but she’s off being an amazing 10 year old so how could I bring her in?  Well here it is…this book!  We had a whole summer looming in front of us and my little book worm was eager to work on this project with me.

ADHD is stereotyped in so many ways.  “It’s not real.”  “It only affects boys.”  “Don’t worry he will outgrow it.”  In the following pages you will have a chance to glimpse into the world of ADHD through the eyes of my little girl.  Her real world struggles and hard earned triumphs.  Of course I will chime in with a little parental perspective too.

It is our hope that sharing our story will shed some light on our journey with ADHD will continue to spread awareness.  Each person with ADHD of course has their own journey but here is ours.

 

What do you think?  Any feedback is welcome!  This is a work in progress so please share with us in the comments what topics you would like to see covered.

ADHD · Parenting · Uncategorized

How to Calm Crazy Kids and Feel Like a Good Parent

Are you the parent of those kids that run up and down the aisles of the grocery store?  Do you get the evil eye from the person in front of you at the theater, on an airplane or any other sort of seated public appearance?  Are you worried about what the neighbors might think as the high pitched shrieks of laughter or screams of sibling rivalry bellow from behind your walls?

You are not alone!  Last week my 10 year old daughter and I were hanging out on the pool deck as my son swam laps with his swim team.  It was a special day because later that evening we had tickets to watch Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth perform.  I was on edge anticipating the ADHD induced sillies to rain on our parade.  My girlfriend and her 2 younger boys came over to say hello.  Her boys were fresh out of the pool and wrapped up in towels to dry off.  Pickles (no, not her real name) walked over to greet them.  I was far enough away to not be able to hear what was going on.  I observed her running circles around the 7 year old boys and repeatedly sticking her face just inches from theirs.  I could tell from their body language that they were less than amused.  Engaged in conversation with my girlfriend this scenario continued for several minutes. Finally I was able to call her name and redirect.

When we were back in my car and safely out of the public eye, I asked her what was going on??

She replied, “I’m just so excited about the concert.”

“I know sweetie. It was obvious from their body language that the boys weren’t happy with your behavior” I responded.

“I know,” she said, “but I didn’t really care.”

SIGH!  I’ll count this as a small win because a few years ago she would have been oblivious to the body language.

I took a deep breath.  I went in knowing this day was going to be a challenge.  The concert tickets were a gift for her birthday (9 months ago) so the buildup of excitement was a lot for any child to handle but Pickles was dealt the ADHD card so regulating her emotions was an even bigger challenge.  I reminded myself of the special parenting approach for my daughter and forged ahead determined to face each moment as it presented itself.  We were making memories!

Shawn
Token Shawn Mendes shot…he’s such a cutie!

The concert was so much better than I had ever expected.  Yes, there were many moments of complete and total unbridled craziness.  I had to remind myself several times to stay calm.  Screaming is never the answer but that is hard to remember when your daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs and bouncing off hotel beds.

How to Parent thru the ADHD Induced Wackiness (or any other moment when you need the kids to turn it down a notch)

This recent “win” gave me the idea of making note of what works to help calm the crazies when it appears like you fed your child a bowl full of sugar for breakfast (and my loyal readers know I would never do such a thing):

  • Get the Wiggles Out
    • If my kids are bouncing off the walls at home and it’s just too much for me to handle I will give them an activity to get that energy out like run 3 laps around the pool or drop and give me 10 burpees
  • Redirecting
    • Going back to my concert example above there are times when you can’t send your kid off to burn up energy.  Try refocusing their attention by playing a game like rock-paper-scissors, freeze dance or charades.  It has to be something entertaining enough to draw their attention.
  • Self Calming
    • I’ll be honest this one is the most difficult for me to execute.  I’m not going to give up because in the long run this is the most effective tool to teach our kids in order for them to succeed in life.  The one tactic I have had the most success with is what we call “snake breathing.”  Teach your child to take a long slow breath in through their nose and then slowly exhale through their mouth while making a hissing sound.

What do you think?  Would this work for your kiddos?  Is there a trick you have up your sleeve to calm the crazies?  Please share your win or struggle by commenting below.