Helping ADHD Children Adapt to Change

It's hard enough for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) to get organized and stick to schedules. Can ADD/ADHD kids also learn to adapt to change? Try these tips to help your ADD/ADHD child learn to adjust when routines change.

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Adapting to Change: Go with the Flow bananastock/thinkstock

Flexibility requires being able to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information, or mistakes. A young child can adjust to a change in plans -- a substitute teacher coming in when the regular classroom teacher is absent -- without distress. A high school student can accept an alternative, such as a different job, when the first choice is not available. For some kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), though, dealing with unexpected change is a problem. Many can’t deal with open-ended tasks -- ones for which there are no single right answers, no well-defined starting points, and no obvious end. They can’t determine what’s important and what isn’t, making it hard for them to take notes or to study for tests.

Adapting to Change in the Classroom

Prepare students for changes in schedules and routines whenever possible. If you know you’re going to be absent, lay down some ground rules for behavior in your absence.

Put in place a “default” strategy if a routine has to be changed unexpectedly. The strategy might be having the student check in with a designated person, so that he can be walked through the revised plan.

Next: Adapting to Change at School
Creating -- and Disrupting -- Routines at Home

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