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
a separate area for testing
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.
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.”
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.
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.
What homework hacks do you use in your household? Please share in the comments below.
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.
Tell me in the comment section what is your mom-fail moment? Any wisdom gained?
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.
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.
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.
Have you had your child evaluated for ADHD? If so, please share your story in the comments below.
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.
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.
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!
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)
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
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.
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.
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I have such a love/hate relationship with summer. I love the warm nights hanging out by the pool. I love the break from homework and stresses of school. I love the family vacations. I hate the lack of structure and unpredictable schedule. I hate the never ending sibling rivalry. I hate the numerous daily requests to play with any device.
I could go on and on but you get the gist. I want to take a second here to apologize for my lack of posts here on ADHDaze. This summer schedule really has gotten the best of me plus I’m working on another big project that I will announce soon!
I wrote about my plans for summer earlier here but this time around I’m in the thick of it.
This is going to have to be a quick post because it’s just minutes until I have to leave again to get the kiddos from camp. Here are a few things that are helping me keep my cool. Although I have to admit I’ve lost it a few more times than I would like to admit.
We have a firm rule in our house…no more than 1 hour of screentime per day! This hasn’t slowed the ENDLESS requests I get to watch tv, play on the iPad, play on my phone etc. etc.
I dug our Time Timer out of retirement and started to use it as a visual reminder of how much time is left before the screens go dark. I can’t say this has eliminated all meltdowns but certainly minimized them.
Amazon to the Rescue (again)
Another lifesaver has been Alexa. The kids love to use their Echo Dots to play music, play games, check the weather and so much more. Just yesterday, they figured out how to call each other from one dot to the next. This provided at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted entertainment (without a single sibling squabble). It’s been helping me to build my shopping list. Hubby often forgot (thanks ADHD) to write things down on the list when he’s cooking…now all he has to do is ask Alexa to add it to the list. GENIUS!!
Have you ever had a pair of shoes that you LOVED!? The fit, the style, everything was perfect but they were loved so much that they lost their sparkle. Maybe you take them to a cobbler or bust out that shoe polish and start buffing away until they regain their shine.
Occupational Therapist, Cobbler to the Mind
Pickles received a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder before her ADHD diagnosis. I remember thinking it was so odd that she would often go through a room running her hand over multiple surfaces. She would even step on toys or other items on the floor intentionally. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.
We were sent to an Occupational Therapist (OT) and at first I was very skeptical. How were swings, crash pads and playdoh going to help my daughter? My mommy instints told me there was something going on neurologically and she needed help…not a glorified playdate.
But, I kept coming back mostly because she loved it but I also got a sense that this place and her amazing OT finally understood her. They saw that beautiful and perfect shoe that needed to be buffed. A few more crashes into the foam pit or dives into the rice box would give her vestibular system that feedback it was desperately craving.
Vestibular? Sensory Integration Therapy? What Does All this Mean?
The first time I walked into the run down but very loved home that housed the Occupational Therapy facility I was overwhelmed with new vocabulary. Next week I will explore these terms further. But, I am here to tell you to trust the system! If you suspect that your son or daughter might have sensory issues seek out an Occupational Therapist in your area and start polishing.
What is your expierince with Occupational Therapy?
She was only two years old when I noticed she wouldn’t stop squinting. She kept doing it over and over and over again. It had gotten to the point where others were noticing too. I remember so clearly the day my in-laws asked, “What’s wrong with her eyes?” I booked a doctors appointment the next day.
She was given an eye exam and we were asked a few questions. The doctor then reported she had tics. Immediately my mind went to Tourettes and screaming profanities (now I know this happens to only a minority of those living with Tourettes). Our doctor reassured me that tics were common in children and will likely disappear with time. I was shaken but wanted to believe our pediatrician.
We went back to life as usual but the tics didn’t go away. In fact they seemed to take on a life of their own. The squinting would change to shoulder shrugging then the vocal tics began. It was excruciating to watch her move uncontrollably. I wanted to do something to help her…anything! She was so little I had to be brave for her and let go of my own insecurities.
What I soon came to discover was that drawing attention to her tics made them worse. I had to bite my tongue every time I wanted to ask her to please stop. Long car rides were like torture when her vocal tics were going. It’s one thing to try and control my own reactions to her sounds when confined in a small space but try explaining vocal tics to my 3 year old son that often shared the small confined space with us. Again, I had to be brave. I had to be strong.
Back to school, tics and all
As pickles entered elementary school the roller coaster ride of all these tics became almost unbearable. Stress always increased the frequency of her tics and the beginning of the school year is the height of stress for Pickles. The days leading up to the start of 2nd grade I was riddled with anxiety. Her vocal tic at the time was a very high pitched squeak and it was almost constant. How was this going to play out in a mainstream classroom?
As a second grader, Pickles knew what her tics were and she wanted them to stop. We tried redirecting her anxiety using stress balls and chewing gum. That helped a little but I knew she was about to face an obstacle I never had to at such a young age. My heart ached for her. Kids can be so cruel and quick to judge when a classmate doesn’t look and sound just like them.
Pickles taught me a new kind of brave. I had to face my fear so it wouldn’t get in her way.
I’m not going to lie the first few months of second grade were rough. My eight year old little girl had more courage than I could ever imagine. She went into that classroom each day head held high, tics and all!!
Comment below on a time your child inspired you or made you view the world in a different way.