I don’t think there are many kids who look forward to the start of school. And I think that almost all parents and kids will struggle through the first part of September, trying to get used to getting up early and getting back into the school routine. For kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, though, the struggle is likely to be more difficult. The reason for that can be summed up in one word: transitions.
People with ADD can have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another for a few different reasons:
- There is a marked difference between the two things. For instance, going from the carefree days of summer to the school year’s more structured days. Or from being awake to going to sleep (or vice versa).
- They are feeling overwhelmed. If they already feel as though too much is going on and they are overwhelmed, transitioning to something else is putting the overwhelm mode into overdrive. (Keep in mind that what can be daunting for a person with ADD may not be perceived as such by someone without ADD.)
- They are deeply engrossed in something (hyperfocus).
There are a few things that you can do to help ease transitions, although there are some times when nothing will help but to get through it. Here are some suggestions:
- Give them advance warnings to prepare them for what’s to come. Let’s call them reminders instead of warnings, and while we’re at it, use your “I love you” voice, not the other (angry) one. When to start and how many to give depends on what you’re reminding them about. If it’s the start of school after winter break, you can start advance reminders a few days ahead of time, and maybe limit them to once a day. If it’s getting ready to leave for hockey practice at 7:00, you might want to remind them 2 or 3 times, maybe starting around the time they get home from school.
- Talk about the troubles they have transitioning, but do so at a time when things are calm and peaceful. Try to get some insight as to why they have problems, and ask what you can do to make it easier for them.
- Try to be mindful of the fact that this is something they have trouble with; they really aren’t doing this on purpose.
- Pick your battles. It’s one thing to teach them to be responsible and remember to get their own lunch out of the fridge, but if it would save some aggravation some mornings, can’t you do it once in a while?
- Prepare in advance as much as possible. There’s a reason professional organizers tell you to get ready the night before. It saves time and gives you time to think so that you don’t forget something you need.
- Realize that there are some things that just aren’t going to happen the easy way. The start of school in September is a good example. I bet if you ask any teacher, they will tell you they have a room full of sleepy heads the first week or so.
Well, those are my suggestions for handling transitions, ADD style. Be prepared and keep your cool, and you’ll do just fine.