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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 4: Set a Bedtime continued...

Bad bedtime habits are "more typical of kids with ADHD because their bodies are always active, and it's harder for them to settle down to go to sleep," Fleiss says. And no matter what time these kids go to sleep, they often get up at the crack of dawn, she adds.

A set bedtime is essential for kids with ADHD -- and this should not change simply because the days are longer in summer.

"Set a bedtime Monday through Friday, then be more flexible on weekends," Fleiss suggests, and encourage downtime for an hour before the desired bedtime. Read with your child, watch something relaxing on TV, or tell him or her a story to create a transition from an active phase to a sleep phase. And "give in once in awhile. If you go to Great Adventure for the day, you don't have to run home to get your kid in bed by 9:30 p.m."

ADHD Summer Tip 5: Don't Drop Academics

Making time for tutoring or other learning activities throughout the summer helps to maintain a routine, and provides academic continuity for maximum success in the fall, Teitelbaum says. "It is especially challenging for many kids with ADHD to get back into the flow when school starts, so a summer reading list or some kind of tutoring can make sure he or she [won't be] miserable getting started again."

"It's important to include some kind of academic activity throughout the summer -- even if that just means reading with your child for 20 minutes throughout the day," echoes Fleiss. "Close to 33% of kids with ADHD also have other learning disabilities, and it can be easier to fit tutoring in during the summer than after a full day of school."

Young adds, "Summer is a good time for your child to read what he or she likes -- instead of books dictated by the school's curriculum. Go to the library or book store for a book that piques his or her interest."

While learning activities are important during the summer, kicking it up a notch just before school begins can make a huge difference in your child's academic performance, says Grcevich. "First impressions among teachers have a large bearing on how the school year will progress," he says. In the two weeks before school starts, "I would definitely recommend reinstituting bedtimes and wake-up times necessary during the school year. Kids will also benefit from engaging in the cognitive tasks required of them during the school year, such as reading and practicing math."

Following these tips for kids with ADHD -- structured activities, day camps, inspired lists, set bedtimes, and ongoing academics -- can alter your attitude toward June, July, and August, says Robertson.

"If you organize your days, then by the end of the summer, you will not be jumping up and down for joy when he or she goes back to school," she says.

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