Dress Rehearsals: Conquering ADHD Mornings
Children with ADHD may forget the sequence of putting on clothing, lack the attention span or motor skills to fasten buttons, or are sensitive to certain fabrics. Use these tips to help your attention deficit kid her clothes on.
Address Your ADHD Kid’s Tactile Needs
Calm your kid. If your child’s morning routine begins with a bath or shower, use heavily textured washcloths and towels to wash and dry her off. It can calm her ADHD brain, so she can better meet the challenges of dressing. A vigorous rubdown with a regular bath towel or wrapping her in a Firm Touch Towel from Sensory Comfort is good for ADHD children who crave tactile stimulation.
Consider underclothing. A tight-fitting underlayer helps some children feel secure. Performance apparel, like Under Armour’s AllSeasonGear is snug and provides stimulation and pressure to calm children who have ADHD. The double-sided fabric funnels heat from the hotter areas of a child’s body and draws away perspiration to help keep him feeling comfortable through the day.
Be aware of sensitivities. If your child complains that tags itch and seams “don’t feel right,” believe her. Some children with ADHD have tactile hypersensitivity — a strong reaction to certain types of clothing and fabric textures. Cut out tags in the back of shirts, and stick with fabrics that your child finds most comfortable. Shirts that are constructed with a flat seam, such as Hot Chillys Kid Crews, are a good alternative to traditional shirts.
Choose Clothing Wisely
Keep clothing simple. Forget buttons, zippers, and snaps. Elastic-waist pants and pullover T-shirts are easier to put on. If your attention deficit kid doesn’t need the against-the-skin stimulation of tight-fitting clothes, buy blouses, sweaters, and pants that are one size larger than your child normally wears. They will be easier to slip into. Note: Save dressing lessons, when your child practices buttoning and lacing, for weekends.
Streamline socks and shoes. Many young children lack the fine motor skills to put on socks and shoes. Some children with ADHD lose patience and get frustrated. Consider buying short socks, with fitted heels, which are easier to put on and take off. Once socks are on, shoes with Velcro flaps aren’t as challenging to put on as those with shoelaces.
Set Up Your Child for Getting Dressed Successfully
Use teamwork. Break down the task of getting dressed into small steps. Get your child started, and ask her to finish up. You might pull the dress over your daughter’s head and have her feed her arms through the sleeves. Or you could hold the pants so your son can place his leg in, and have him pull up the pants to his waist. These small steps give your child the confidence to dress and a sense of accomplishment.
Rearrange the closet. If your child’s closet and drawers overflow with clothing, he may be overwhelmed when trying to choose what to wear. Stick with six to eight outfits for everyday wear. Make “packs” of clothing by folding socks, underwear, a shirt, and pants together — one set for each day of the week. Hanging clothes too high or using drawers that are not accessible discourages a child from dressing himself. Lower the closet rods, and use bottom drawers for frequently used items. Keep out-of-season items on a top shelf.
Encourage Your Child
Cut them sartorial slack. A pink polka-dot shirt with maroon leggings? A plaid shirt with a striped pair of pants? Don’t worry about mismatches. If your child is dressing herself, don’t crush her enthusiasm by being critical of her choices. Teach color coordination and fashion sense another time.
Remember, at this age, children are jacks of all trades, masters of none. Your child may button his shirt unevenly, forget to zip his pants, or put her shoes on the wrong feet. Independent dressing takes time and practice. With your patience and loving guidance, your child will master the task of getting dressed — and you’ll all get out of the house on time in the morning.