Do you have a child with ADD? How do you deal with it and make it through a school day?
My child is not diagnosed but I have begun to wonder about it.
I don’t have a child with ADD, but I do have a ds 11yo with mild autism. For us, it is all about having structure and routines. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we always do math first or that we always start at 9 a.m. on the dot, but there are certain things throughout the day that are well-established, so he knows what to expect. For example, all 3 of my kids thoroughly enjoy our literature selections, so we always have a literature read-aloud at lunchtime. Of course, then I don’t get to slowly savor lunch along with them, but I usually eat after them while they do a chore or two.
Also, it helps that my girls can work on independent work with little supervision now. I try to get things ready the night before so they can just grab a copywork sheet or check what needs to be done in their file slot on my desk. In fact, my 12yo dd likes to disappear into her room to read her assignments, away from the sometimes stressful situation of a special needs sibling.
Keeping with the short lessons that Charlotte Mason advocated works very well for my son. In fact, his behavioral psychologist was very approving when I told her we were using CM methods this year. I do have to keep close watch for signs or comments from ds that he is hungry or tired so we can take a break to tend to those things before he starts having a meltdown. Having said that, some days are longer than others, and we all usually rejoice when Friday afternoon arrives!
Every so often, though, we have such a tough, out-of-sorts day that I just have to give us all an extended break. Sometimes this means dropping everything and driving down into the park system for a lot of fresh air and river wading. I no longer worry that this kind of school day will make them refuse to do much schoolwork on subsequent days. I simply tell them, “Look–if you want to have pizza and watch a movie on Friday evening, we have to get thus-and-such done during the rest of this week.” Or, “Since we didn’t get everything done yesterday, we have to work a little longer today or tomorrow so we don’t have to do school on Saturday.” They seem to get it. Plus, we can easily grab a book or two to take along out of doors.
Finally, what helps me a lot is talking about my son and our family’s situation with supportive homeschooling and church friends. They know and love my children (and me!), so they will often tell me what a great job I’m doing as a mom. I really need to hear that now and then. They also tell my children that they are blessed to have such a great mom. Now, I don’t always feel so great as a mom, but surrounding yourself with people who lift you up like that on occasion helps a lot.
We are currently in the process of testing for ADD with our 7 yo son. It is a challenge at times to help him keep focus on his studies, but he is getting better as I learn more about how to help him. I’m implementing more CM methods this year than last and it really seems to help. What I find most helpful are: short lessons, hands on math with lots of manipulatives, using real stories as the base for language arts (not readers), sitting him on my lap either as he reads to me or I read to him depending on the subject, allowing him to have something quiet in his hands while I read to him, breaks after a couple of subjects and if he is really having a tough time I have him either run a couple laps around the house or do a couple laps on the stairs. Short bursts of physical activity really helps focus.
Also, I found that as I learned more about ADD, I became more supportive of him. I realized he wasn’t being disobedient and just needs some guidance and structure. We don’t run on a tight schedule at our house- we have a baby and a toddler in the mix so that just doesn’t work. I highly recommend you read the book Driven to Distraction to help you get a better understanding.
PEace of Christ be with you!
Our dd has never been “formally” diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and I would never want her to be. Nor will we ever give her medications to change her behavior. She is who she is because God created her that way, and He entrusted her to me for my own character development as well as hers. That said, I did quite a bit of research on natural ways to help alleviate some of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD such as hyperactivity, “the wiggles”, easily distracted, lack of focus and attention, and what I found was surprising.
There are many different websites pointing to what we eat and drink as major contributors to behavioral issues. Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives like BHT and TBHQ are well-known for their effect on behavior, especially in children. So I thought, “I have nothing to lose. I might as well take this stuff out of her diet and see what happens.” I was amazed. Within a week, she was acting like a totally different child. Of course, she wasn’t able to sit still right away because she was only four years old then, but she wiggled less, needed less redirection, and overall there was just something positively different about her. It is also amazing and distressing to visit friends or family who will feed my children snacks and meals full of those off-limits ingredients. Both my children seem to transform from their usual sweet, even-tempered selves into crazy, off-the-wall, misbehaving monsters (tongue in cheek here). That tells me that those food additives are definitely the cause of a lot of behavioral issues, and removing them from the diet along with a lot of patience and gentle habit training will go a long way.
If you don’t already eat organically or naturally, I would encourage you to look at the chemicals you and your family might be ingesting. Pull some items out of your pantry or freezer and read the labels. Read labels while you’re grocery shopping, or just buy what’s already labeled “organic” to make it easier.
A few things to watch out for:
- Artificial Colors: Red 40, Yellow No. 5, FD&C labeled colors (stands for food, drugs, and cosmetic…yes, manufacturers put the same coloring in our food as they do in our eye shadow and lipstick!)
- Artificial Flavors: Vanillan, any ingredient list that says “artificial flavors added”,
- Artificial Sweeteners: Sucralose, Aspartame, Saccharin or their commercial names (Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, Nutrasweet, Equal)
- Preservatives: TBHQ, BHT, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and others
I’m not saying that changing your child’s diet will fix everything. I realize that this is real, and can be very difficult for the whole family, especially the mother who can’t seem to understand her child. I just know changing our diet helped tremendously. Now we just stick to a solid routine, stay consistent with discipline and habit training, and pray over our children every day.
I have ADD, and we are beginning to suspect that our 3 1/2-year-old has either ADHD or a sensory-seekig type of Sensory Processing Disorder. We’re about to begin some evaluations to figure out how to best help him. In the meantime, drastically cutting back on the sugar and processed foods he was eating (though it wasn’t a ton in the first place) has helped a lot.
Personally, I feel that pursuing a diagnosis is a good thing. It doesn’t mean your child has to be labeled, or that you have to use meds. But it CAN help you understand how his/her brain is working, and how you can best help him/her learn and succeed. And it can also help your child understand why certain things are a struggle.
(Incidentally, I suffered with OCD my entire life until college, when I finally was diagnosed and put on medications that were literally life-changing. I had no idea until then that some of the disturbing thoughts that I dealt with where a symptom of OCD, or that my crippling compulsions to constantly straighten things and keep things “even” were OCD tendencies. I spent many years in terrible distress because my parents didn’t want to acknowledge there was a problem — which is even more amazing because my mom ALSO has OCD!)Lisa SmithMember
I agree with what Lindsey says about diet, it makes a huge difference. My son has dyslexia as well as ADHD combined type. He is very distractable and his concentration is very limited, although as he has gotten older it has improved… (he is almost 10 now). There’s a very good book on diet related to ADD and various other issues, called Gut and Pyschology Syndrome (can’t remember the author off-hand sorry). Anyway, having said that, we make it through the school day, by varying the subjects, keeping lessons short, using lots of manipulatives and having frequent small breaks. Try to make your lessons active where you can… And when the going gets tough, I just imagine what it would be like for him, if he was stuck in a classroom all day!
Hope that helps.
LisaNedra in So. CAMember
My 12 yr. old dd definitely has ADD. A teacher/friend of mine told me a few years ago that she was sure that she was ADD. I agree with this, and am pretty sure her dad and I are ADD also.
She is very intelligent, my much more academically advanced student. She breezes through all of her subjects and is a perfectionist and gets very upset if she has one wrong (very different than my older two).
She has a very, very hard time listening to books read a loud. I had decided at one point that we just wouldn’t read aloud anymore, but a few wise people suggested that I work on this skill with her. I am still reading aloud, but stopping often to ask for brief narrations. This helps her focus. I also always have her doing something with her hands. We usually sit outside and she sketches.
Other than the reading aloud I don’t notice a difference with her school-wise. She is an excellent reader writer and is very good at math.ruthParticipant
If you want some more information, there is a book called “The ADD Answer”. It is mostly about diet but also recomends good sleep and plenty of opertunity to burn energy.
I have had similar feelings about my son. He was diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum (not classicaly autism or aspergers, but enough symptoms of each to diagnose) at 3 yrs. I have begun to suspect ADD as well, but like you don’t really want to go through the testing. In addition to the gluten and casen free diet we have been on since his diagnosis, we added sugar and food coloring (particularly red 40.)
We don’t have much issues with school, but we are only doing kindergarten and it is only about an hour. As I wrote that I recalled he does get extreamly fidgety when we do copywork. He is tracing letters now and we just keep it really short and work on perfect execution.
Hope this helps a little.quietwatersmommyMember
I have an almost 12 yo with Aspergers (diagnosed) and ADHD (undiagnosed formally).
Honestly, most days are a nightmare with him. Even with doing CM short lessons, sometimes he can’t even do that much. I have 6 children, ages 15 down to 6 week newborn, and I have to spend the majority of my time and energy dealing with him.
Taking out the preservatives and coloring helped alot. And we are also chelating him (there was a whole thread about this in September), and I’ve seen some progress.
I have learned to lower (get rid of???) my expectations for him as far as getting anything done on days when he’s really bad. Like someone else wrote, I’ve learned to recognize that some days there is no use “beating my head against the wall” trying to get him to do anything. He has a schedule for the week that he needs to get through, and sometimes we have to work at night or weekends
In the last few weeks, I started him on GABA supplements, and although I’m still trying to figure out what the optimal dosage for him is, I do see a little bit more focus with him. Our wonderful pediatrician suggested GABA so I was delighted, because I prefer natural treatments.
As Sue said, connecting with other homeschooling moms who are dealing with this is a lifesaver!
Thank you for your input. I will be looking into the books mentioned here, I have already found that one is at my local library (now just to get a chance to go check it out!)
As for diet, we are vegan and we grow and can from our garden each year and can/freeze fruit from local orchards. I try not to use much refined or packaged foods. Though, I am also not a label reader for every nitty gritty thing. Maybe I should check more.
I haven’t decided if I want to involve her pediatrician in diagnosing her or just try behavior modification (on her and my part!) and see if it makes a difference. I don’t want her labeled (but then again we don’t have to tell anyone) but having the diagnosis would open the door to more help/understanding.
Thanks again for your input.sherazParticipant
I’d still try the food allergy thing. We grow most of our stuff too, but I didn’t realize how bad allergies were until I saw the tests of a 5 yo boy who was allergic to apples. You can be sensitive to lettuce, and all kind of things I never dreamed of until my challenges came along. Sounds encouraging, doesn’t it? The little boy was fine before he was tested with the apple serum, and could write his name normally. After 10 minutes of it he was writing upside down, backwards, and was getting aggressive.
Just a thought. Good luck!
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