Helping children with ADHD transition to a new school year

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The new school year can be an exciting time for some students and a challenging one for others. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may find it especially difficult to return to a classroom routine.

Tony Watkins is a licensed family therapist in Huntsville who works with many children and teenagers. Through the course of his work, he's developed an expertise in the area of ADHD and he says there are steps parents can take to ease the back to school transition.

Watkins recommends parents start preparing the children at least several days before the start of class.  "If they haven't already started having the child get up earlier, let's start that now. If they have taken their child off medication for the summer, let's get them back on those medications now," he says.

Organization at home can also be key to a successful school day. Watkins says children with ADHD need more prompts to stay on task. He suggests a picture chart to help younger children with their morning routine of brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast and remembering their backpacks. Short notes can work for older children.

Researchers estimate approximately one in 10 children in the U.S. suffer from ADHD. While the cause is unknown, the disorder affects neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to a lack of attention, poor impulse control and/or hyperactivity. A teacher may recognize some of these signs and bring them to a parent's attention but parents should never rely on an educator for a diagnosis.

If a teacher does raise concerns about the possibility a child may have ADHD, Watkins suggest the parent contact the family pediatrician. A diagnosis should only come after a thorough assessment.

If a diagnosis is made, Watkins says that does not mean the child is doomed to an unsuccessful school experience.  "It's not a red badge that the child has to carry," he says, adding, "parents and the education system can work together to help the child learn the skills they need to be successful in life."

Those interested in learning more about ADHD in children may find the following links helpful:

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Mayo Clinic

National Institute of Mental Health



1 Comment

  • natalie

    How a child performs is a function of the relationship between the person, environment, and occupation. One can function better if the environment is changed. One can function better if the occupation is modified. It’s not always about “fixing” the student. Your school occupational therapist can assist to change the environment & modify the occupational demands to improve school function. She can also help you child modify his arousal state to improve his ability to function. In my practice I incorporate high tech brain training to help improve focus, in addition to the work above. Find a good OT in your area to help make this a successful year.-Dr DeLaCroix, Cerebral Fitness

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