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How to Get Your ADHD Child Organized

Yael Wiesner

Are families with ADHD children doomed to live in chaotic homes full of misplaced important items, spending most of their time just on damage control? Most definitely not. With the right tools, a positive attitude, and lots of patience, your child — and your home — can shine.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Children with ADHD have a decrease in concentration of neurotransmitters in the frontal lobe of the brain. This deficit can cause moderate to extreme levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. If your child has difficulty sustaining attention and effort, doesn’t pay attention to details, seems like he doesn’t listen, has difficulty following instructions, is disorganized, restless, and easily distracted, he probably has ADHD.

Dr. William Dodson, a psychiatrist specializing in ADHD, has his own diagnostic label for these children. He claims that ADHD children have an “interest based” nervous system. They are able to hyper-focus and engage in a task only when it interests them. (Hence the difficulty in organization and cleaning!)

Shifra, an expert parenting advisor, clarifies the ADHD child’s perspective. It’s not that these children are disobeying their parents on purpose, she explains, they simply don’t have a level of concentration high enough to focus on directions. For example, if you make a simple request such as, “Please put the shirt in the laundry,” and on the way to the hamper your child passes an interesting toy — he’ll play with it. Not to spite you, he just loses focus.

In addition, requests parents make of their ADHD children are usually too broad. For example, what does Mommy mean when she asks her daughter to “clean up the kitchen”? Order does not come naturally to an ADHD child, and they don’t understand what you want from them.

These kids also don’t pick up on nuances. They don’t realize that a “clean room” includes a made bed, a neat desk, and a floor free of toys and clothes. They might even report back that they’ve cleaned their room when they only returned two shirts to the closet.

These children are “living in the moment,” Shifra explains. If an ADHD child wants some cake and hot cocoa, he is only focused on preparing his snack, not on the cocoa powder he knocked down or the sugar that spilled during his preparations.

“ADHD children learn differently than regular children and differently from each other,” says certified ADHD life coach Rachel Brody. “You have to find the key that opens up the lock in each child. It takes a lot of trial and error and tons of patience.” An ADHD child needs to hear instructions repeated multiple times before it registers and makes an impact. Success happens over time; there are no immediate results.

Dr. Ross W. Greene, author of The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children (Quill Press) sheds light on another important aspect of the ADHD mind. “Children with ADHD have much trouble making transitions from the rules and expectations of one activity to the rules and expectations of another.” This explains why a child hyper-focused on a game is unable to shift gears upon request and obediently begin to clean up his mess.

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