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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Getting ADHD Kids Back to School

Expert strategies for preparing ADHD kids for a new school year.

Teachers and ADHD Kids continued...

"Constant contact with your child's teacher is critical," says Rafael Klorman, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester in New York who focuses on ADHD. "While once a day might seem like a lot, it's right on target." Talk with your child's teacher about how often check-ins make sense for your family. The point is to maintain regular contact with your child's teacher.

White has had ups and downs with her attempts to build alliances with her kids' teachers. But she keeps trying, and next year will use technology to her advantage: She's asked her son's teacher to give her a daily email report, and the teacher has agreed.

Technology aside, White tries to keep it simple: She asks that her kids sit in the front of the class, where proximity to the teacher helps them focus and pay attention.

Routines and ADHD

She also uses baby steps as part of their daily routine. For instance, rather than emphasizing the bigger picture each morning -- getting out the door to school on time -- she breaks the tasks down into manageable chunks. She gives them three minutes to brush their teeth. When that mission is accomplished, it's on to a 10-minute breakfast, then five minutes to get dressed, and so on. Chopping the routine into smaller portions helps the kids set easier goals and then feel good when they reach them.

"With ADHD, especially in school, kids often feel like they aren't performing -- they literally can't make the grade, and parents and teachers focus on the negative," says Klorman. "So it's important, whether at home or at school, that when a child with ADHD is successful, the success is met with reward -- even if it's something small."

Joshua and Elissa both use medication to manage their ADHD, and therapy is an important option the Whites continue to explore. White explains she hasn't found the magic bullet to make everything work perfectly all the time, but she feels her family is going in the right direction.

"We want to teach our kids to be responsible and accountable," says White. "We know that all children can have a tough time in school, even more so with ADHD. All we can do is focus on what's in front of us and help them take little steps at a time."

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Reviewed on August 26, 2008

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