Saturday, July 27, 2013

Don’t forget about ADHD during the summer

By: Tanikqua D. Moore, MD, FAAP

Long days, family vacations, hot weather and NO SCHOOL…it’s summer time! Most children, parents and even teachers tend to forget about ADHD during the summer because it’s of course summer vacation! But children with ADHD display symptoms outside of the school environment. There are other activities and tasks that require attention, focus and age appropriate activity level other than school.

Summer camps involve making friends, reviewing academics and recreational activities. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity often affect a child with ADHD in their ability to make and keep friends. Failing to recognize subtle social cues, anxiety or bossiness may cause other children to avoid a child with ADHD.  Reviewing social skills such as making eye contact, taking turns and not interrupting can help to ease the difficulty associated with making and keeping friends.  Many children with ADHD also have difficulty with working memory; the ability to hold information in the mind and make it available for further processing. Attention is an essential part of memory. Building on information learned the previous year may be expected while participating in certain summer camps. Help your child see how information that was taught previously is relevant to her life or related to things she already knows will help keep the material fresh in her mind. Most recreational activities involve focus, following directions and teamwork. ADHD kids sometimes get lost in group directions. One on one coaching and active demonstrations can help. Keep them busy. Your child should have a job to do while waiting on the bench or during downtimes: assisting scorekeepers, keeping equipment in order, anything that will hold her interest.

Even with school being out, structure and routines can help in terms of behavior by improving efficiency and daily functioning. Routines make daily activities manageable, allowing your child to focus on one thing at a time. But having time for unstructured play is beneficial as well. Unstructured play provides breaks that shorten the day into shorter segments. Breaking daily activities up into pieces and providing a change of pace in between can enable the brain to focus better.

Of course, don’t forget to rest. Getting enough sleep is essential for children with ADHD. A good night's sleep is important for a child’s mood and brain function. Not getting enough rest can worsen ADHD symptoms, leading to loss of emotional control. It can also adversely affect working memory. A bedtime routine can help. Remembering not to forget about ADHD during the summer can lead to an enjoyable summer for the whole family and preparation for maximum success in the fall.
…dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD

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