Today and USA Today are among some media outlets addressing the unique challenges parents of children with special needs face during the pandemic. Without the support schools can provide: special education teachers, reading specialists, classroom therapists and more, services are missing for these kids. With that in mind, here are some light ideas and gentle suggestions specific to ADHD. These are not substitutes for the services currently missing from our lives as we navigate the pandemic. The intent is to connect parents to library resources that may support you at home, while homeschooling or learning with kids with ADHD. The most important thing is that you are safe and healthy, taking care of yourself as well as your young ones. These tips will always be here for you, so no pressure! We all have enough on our shoulders.
Because it’s quite likely our minds have been consumed with other things, it can be useful to get re-introduced to the basics of ADHD. Familydoctor.org defines ADHD as follows. “People who have ADHD have difficulty organizing things, listening to instructions, remembering details, and/or controlling their behavior. This can make it difficult to get along with other people at home, at school, or at work.” It is usually diagnosed after six months or more of displayed symptoms. Before you get started, Additude mag has some suggestions for talking to your kid about Covid-19 as well as a whole collection of articles with helpful tips for parenting ADHD during this crisis. Here are some resources if you want to take a self-guided refresher course:
- Medlineplus.gov, a trusted government health information site, has a large collection of ADHD information. Read up on symptoms and treatments.
- There are plenty of books on parenting ADHD, many of which you can find in OverDrive or Hoopla with your library card. One example is Scattered by renowned Canadian MD Gabor Mate. The audiobook is always available on Hoopla. Take some time to review our options and pick something that appeals to you and your family.
- Health and Wellness Resource Center database is free with your library card. Check out up-to-date articles, videos and more on ADHD.
After revisiting some ADHD basics, you may be looking for ways to fill the days. Here are some activity ideas for learning, centered on the core ADHD traits of impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity:
- Chunking is suggested by the Child Mind Institute, and defined as creating “learning bursts” by taking breaks between short lessons. It’s a way to manage inattention. You can try this using quick lessons from CLP databases scattered throughout the day. For example, BookFlix is geared toward school age, and pairs a nonfiction book with a fiction title about a similar topic. One example is insects. You can split this into two or more sessions. If you are “chunking,” experts suggest clear instructions and a regular schedule to help you succeed.
- With the impulsivity associated with ADHD, neophilia, or intense interest in new things, can be a result. Work with it! If your child is burned out on you trying to home-school, check into a free library resource, Tutor.com via the library research page. They can digitally chat about their work with someone new in a safe environment. Tutor.com is available for online tutoring for 4th grade through College level students in English, Math, Science and Social Studies, noon to midnight! Are they getting tired of your storytimes? The Library offers some on weekly, find them on our April Virtual Line Up.
- Kids have plenty of built in empathy, and you can work with it by acting on an empathetic impulse while incorporating learning. Offer to help write a letter to a senior neighbor, or make face masks. Creativebug might be a good resource for this, if you are crafting some gifts.
- Similar to empathy, impulses can lead to civic action. Work on the census form with your kid, or write a letter to their elected official together, sharing their wishes for their community. It might take a couple of sessions to complete the work, but that’s okay!
- Follow their interests. A hallmark of ADHD is inattention… except when we really like something. Then attention can become intense and sustained. You can work with that. Love the Avengers? Connect Thor to Norse Mythology lessons, or connect Black Panther to a study of modern countries in Africa – what do and don’t they have in common with Wakanda? World Book online, available from CLP’s research page, connects you to articles about all of this and more.
- If we have a lot of energy (hello hyperactivity!) try short lessons while standing up, walking circles around the dining room table, sitting on the floor, or lying upside down. Whatever wiggling your kids need, wiggle away. If you need some music for your wiggling, the Library has that too. CLP’s Stacks is a collection of local artists for listening and dancing – call it gym class! This article suggests exercising as a family to support ADHD kids.
- You may be able to mitigate some inattention by some imaginative role-playing during school. A fellow caregiver or a sibling can play the role of another kid acting up in class and your kid can show them up by behaving! Or, let them teach you – take turns being the teacher to build confidence. If you want to take it really far, again Creativebug can help you with crafting some toys and costumes.
At the end of the day the most important job we have is to connect with our loved ones at home and stay safe and healthy. So get creative, go easy on yourself and your family, and the Library will be here for you now and into the future as we all navigate this together.