A grandparent writes: "My ten year old grandson has ADHD, and he is not taking medication. He is doing okay in school most of the time but is having a hard time staying on task to get his work done. Do you have suggestions for us?"
Ann's answer: It is great that your grandson is doing well despite his ADHD. The inattention youíve described is common with ADHD. Even with medication, often children need additional adaptations and accommodations to succeed. I have some suggestions to share, and you should carefully consider whether they may be appropriate for your child. With any of these recommendations, it is important for you to discuss them with his teachers, school psychologist, or counselor. Here are some suggestions to consider:
- A reward incentive can be an effective way to increase your grandson's awareness of his inattention and encourage him to monitor and change his own attention behaviors.
- Try seating near the teacherís desk at the front of the room.
- Seating near peers who model strong attention skills.
- Working with a timer on homework.
- Breaking assignments down into smaller parts to prevent him from feeling overwhelmed. For example, he may do a worksheet with half the assignment on it, take a stretch break, and then work on a second sheet with the other half of the problems on it.
- Small group work with good peer role models may help him stay on task and attentive.
- Discuss the possibility of periodic prompts from the teacher that praise him for working and remind him of the need to get his work done when he is off task. A prompt can be as simple as a pat on the shoulder as the teacher circulates the room.
- If the school district has a psychologist on staff, it may be helpful to discuss your childís needs with him or her. The psychologist may have additional suggestions that will work well within that particular classroom.
- A device Iíve used with some children is the Motivaider - http://www.habitchange.com/education/index.php This may or may not be appropriate for your grandson, but you may want to check the website and discuss it with his teacher, the school psychologists, and the school counselor to determine if it would be appropriate. This device is basically a timer that vibrates at intervals you select. It can be used for a number of behaviors, but for inattention, the vibration can be used to prompt the child back to task at regular intervals. As the childís attention improves, the interval would be gradually increased until it is no longer needed.