School is just around the corner or has already begun for some students. Last year may have been a struggle for your child because of his ADHD symptoms. Keeping tight rein on the homework beast can be particularly difficult for middle and high school students who have trouble organizing. Assignments tend to get lost or forgotten or take longer than teachers anticipate for students affected by ADHD.
Developmental pediatrician Mark Bertin has suggestions for readers of CHADD’s Attention magazine to help their children reduce the stress that come from multiple school assignments.
“Stress is often defined as the perception that something in life is not manageable,” Dr. Bertin writes. “The sense that the load has become impossible creates stress, which further undermines efficiency. Things fall apart—perhaps they stop working entirely. For some, it can even become ‘learned helplessness,’ the assumption after repeated failure that there is no point to trying again. School anxiety grows, and children may lie about their work, make excuses, or become oppositional in avoiding it. The solution lies in creating realistic daily demands that account for ADHD and implementing a structured organizational system that allows someone to maintain day-to-day control.”
Dr. Bertain’s tips to managing ADHD overload begin with the following steps:
Clear the decks. Look for a way to begin from scratch or break up the backlog of assignments to be done over the semester, rather than all at once.
Establish a daily plan. Create a written routine and checklists to help get homework and assignments accomplished.
Externalize the system. Keep adults involved who can help the student return to and stay on task.
Request modified homework for your student. A reduced homework load that focuses on comprehension of topics can benefit students affected by ADHD.
Offer stress management tools. Help your child find ways to release stress and engage in interests that are not related to school work.
Create an “early warning” system for your child. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your child’s teachers. This regular communication can help prevent a backup of assignments and an overwhelmed student.
The goal, Dr. Bertain writes, is to balance this short-term exertion with a realistic and empathetic long-term plan that creates an entirely new way of living, and succeeding, with ADHD. Read how to use Dr. Bertain’s steps to help your child have a successful—and not stormy—school year.