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ADHD in Children Health Center

A Time for ADHD Kids to Shine

Parents of children with ADHD may dread the summertime. But never fear: There are many ways to mold your child's behavior in the absence of school.
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If there is no ADHD summer program near you, you can still send your kids to camp or even take them on vacation. Jane N. Hannah, EdD, author of Parenting a Child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, recommends that as you plan activities for your child this summer, you consider these points:

  • Select a camp that is well-supervised. Contact local chapters of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder), SEPTA (Special Education PTA), and the American Camping Association to inquire about appropriate programs in your area.
  • Let the camp staff know that your child has ADHD and how the symptoms of the condition may affect his experiences in the camp.
  • If your child takes medication, don't expect him to handle the camp experience without it.
  • Visit the camp prior to your child's first day.
  • Sleepover camps may not be suitable for some children. But if you decide your child is ready for an overnight camp, visit the camp ahead of time, prepare your child in advance by looking at brochures about the camp, talking about it, and watching videos of the camp. Acknowledge your child's fears and talk about them. Don't increase your child's anxiety by talking about your own anxiety of his leaving. Leave a note in his suitcase with a small gift, and write to him each day. These notes or cards should be funny and cheerful but have little information about what is happening at home. Short closings are best, such as "See you real soon."
  • If you are planning a vacation trip with your child, be pro-active. If you will be traveling for more than an hour, prepare a recreational package that can be opened when he gets in the car, plane, or train. Books on tape, drawing paper and crayons, and puzzles are good choices. Before leaving the house, set the rules for behavior while on the trip. Make approximately four rules and phrase these positively: What you want him to do, rather than what you want him to stop doing. Remember to give your child positive feedback when he is following the rules. The rule for parents: Attend to your child when he is acting appropriately. Don't give attention only when you are giving reprimands.

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