If you're the parent of a youngster with ADHD, you may dread
the coming summer vacation. Most kids with ADHD do best in a structured
environment, and summer may spell trouble for kids used to the routine of the
But summertime doesn't have to be a cause for worry -- though
it is a cause for planning. Susan Barton, founder of Bright Solutions for
Dyslexia and an authority in the fields of dyslexia and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suggests that most of the behavior-management
techniques parents use during the year should continue during the summer.
If your child has ADHD, you may be thinking about cutting dyes and other additives from their diet, in case it helps their ADHD symptoms.
Is it true? Will they eat foods without them? Before you give it a try, you should know a few things about the link between food colorings and ADHD.
Maintaining a consistent routine and schedule at home
Maintaining a consistent set of rules with consistent consequences
Maintaining a positive feedback/positive reinforcement system to further
develop appropriate behaviors
"What I do encourage parents to change is the
child's sleep patterns," says Barton. "Most children with ADHD are
night owls and have a very hard time getting up in the morning. During the
summer, allow these children to follow their natural sleep and waking
Summertime means not only a change for kids, says Michael
Manos, PhD, but for their parents as well. "During the summer, the burden
of responsibility falls on the parent," says Manos, director of the ADHD
Summer Treatment Program at The Cleveland Clinic.
The Summer Treatment Program is a day camp with all the
traditional camping activities such as sports, arts and crafts, and computer
classes. "It's fun and interesting," says Manos. But camp staff also
work closely with the youngsters to give the constant feedback and
reinforcement that ADHD kids need.
"We're very clear on what the expectations are," says
Manos, explaining that the children earn points and privileges (and the older
kids, even money) for positive behaviors such as helping and sharing,
cooperating, contributing to group discussions, and paying attention.
Privileges can be taken away for negative behaviors such as whining and
complaining, interrupting, and poor sportsmanship.
The Summer Treatment Program is one of about six such programs
across the country, developed by William Pelham, PhD, from the State University
of New York, Buffalo. "This is considered the 'Rolls Royce' of summer
programs for kids with ADHD," says Manos.