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ADHD in Children Health Center

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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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Summer school is another option for ADHD kids, says Los Angeles psychologist Robert R. Butterworth. "Academics should not be completely forgotten during the summer," says Butterworth. "During the summer vacation, youngsters can forget over half of what they learned the previous year."

It's important though that summer school be interesting, says Manos, in order to keep the child's attention. The same holds true for a summer job. "The more interesting the job, the easier it will be for him to stay involved.

"Summer provides a good opportunity for ADHD kids to experience success at something they like," Manos says. "Summer is a time for them to discover what they're good at and what works for them."

When it comes to medication for ADHD, there are two schools of thought, says Manos: The first is to stick to the regimen year-round; the second, to have a medication "holiday." "The key point is whether there is impairment," says Manos. If there are significant problems with the child's behavior that are affecting his everyday activities even during the summer, then keep up with the medication. If, on the other hand, the child is cooperative, paying attention, and following instructions, medication may not be needed.

One reason a child's medication needs may change in the summer is because of increased play/exercise time, says Steve Putnam, author of Nature's Ritalin for the Marathon Mind: Nurturing Your ADHD Child With Exercise. "Play and exercise increases dopamine [a brain chemical] levels and increases our level of brain arousal [attention]," says Putnam. "Exercise can decrease hyperactivity and increase focus." Obviously, Putnam cautions, a child's doctor needs to be involved with decisions on medication reductions.

Finally, says Manos, summer gives parents and kids alike a chance to rebuild and rediscover their relationship. "So much of the interaction between parents and ADHD kids revolves around parents trying to manage the kids, and kids resisting their efforts. During the summer you have the opportunity to renew your relationship and to focus on what's right about it."

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