ADHD Summer Survival Tips
How to keep ADHD kids happy and healthy all summer long. Plus, is summer the right time for a medication vacation?
ADHD Summer Tip 1: Stress Structure continued...
Left on their own, "they may say 'Let's bake' and then get distracted, forget about it, and go outside and play," Fleiss adds. The result? You guessed it: a four-alarm fire.
Marshall Teitelbaum, MD, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist in private practice in Palm Beach, Fla., agrees. "Kids with ADHD are more likely to get hurt over the summer than during the regular school year. There are a lot more accidents if a child is distracted or impulsive."
Adds Stephen Grcevich, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland: "They misjudge time, procrastinate, and test limits more."
That's why a regular routine is so important. "Kids with ADHD are a little less able than kids without ADHD to structure themselves, so they need a little more external support," says Joel L. Young, MD, a psychiatrist in Rochester Hills, Mich., and the founder and medical director of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine.
ADHD Summer Tip 2: Consider Day Camp
Parents of ADHD kids should try to find "structured activities where children will have the opportunity for interaction with peers, and where they can have a consistent day-to-day routine, such as summer camps, religious camps, or sports-related activities," says Grcevich.
And camps don't have to cater exclusively to children with ADHD, he says. "Some kids, especially in the group with predominantly inattentive symptoms [such as being easily sidetracked or daydreaming, rather than being hyperactive or impulsive] of ADHD, will do well in many nonacademic settings or activities."
Still, kids with ADHD who have marked social difficulties may benefit from a specialty camp. "Many of these camps -- especially the summer treatment programs run by the larger academic medical centers -- do a nice job teaching kids skills to help them in making and keeping friends."
Of course not every family has the funds for such diversions. "Camp is great if you can afford it but not all families can," says Young, author of ADHD Grown Up: A Guide to Adolescent and Adult ADHD. Instead, "try making a play date in the morning with a friend, and generally having something on the agenda -whether it's visiting a friend's house or taking a trip to a local zoo. It's also really good to encourage creativity. Arts and crafts projects can be helpful."