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Back to School ADHD Tools

September 11, 2013

Laura’s Blog Entry

It’s week two of school for us. While we technically homeschool, Mari attends an alternative school that offers a la carte classes. She’s there about 13 hours a week and spends the rest of her time doing the work for those classes as well as a few things we cover ourselves at home.

A big goal for this year is for Mari to continue to grow in her skills for planning and managing her work. It has been our biggest challenge over the years. It has been difficult for her, with her ADHD, to always hear all the assignments given in class – and most of all TO WRITE THEM DOWN. Last year she really nailed that one. So this year, as a sophomore, it was time for her to take even more responsibility in the process.

This year we are focusing on time management and project planning.

Here are three tools that we are loving right now:

DAILY SCHEDULE

Having a schedule is crucial for Mari’s independence. If it isn’t spelled out, she has trouble remembering what she is supposed to be doing. And she has no idea how long things take. [More on dealing with that, later.] In the past I have ended up monitoring her every 10 to 15 minutes, which no 15-year-old OR mother wants to have happen.

So, the week before school Mari and I sat down and made a very detailed plan for her days. She and I both want her to be able to get everything done on her own. Each day is different for us, so we laid them all out, starting with wake up time.

As incentive, various breaks are scheduled, which are eliminated if things get behind. Therefore it is a self-correcting system. This is a very personal thing, so if you make a daily schedule, involve your kids as much as possible so they have control. It’s their schedule. I just gave her input on times for things, since she struggles on that count. It’s only week two, so we’ll revisit and tweak some times if needed, but mornings have been much smoother!

TIME TIMER

This little timer is a gem. It shows the minutes you have left to go in red, so you can gauge how much time has passed. It is really helping her to stay on track. A regular timer didn’t show progress clearly, so she never noticed if she was on track until it went off. This timer is very visually clear and that has made a big difference.

SLEEP CYCLE APP

The biggest lifesaver we found was the Sleep Cycle app. Mari has a terrible time waking up on her own. We’ve tried the alarm clock across the room, and other techniques, but she just couldn’t do it herself. She kept turning it off in her sleep and getting back in bed. Enter Sleep Cycle. This thing is no less than miraculous. You place your iPad or iPod or iPhone face down in the top corner of your bed. It tracks your movement during the night and figures out your sleep cycle. You set your alarm within a certain timeframe and it wakes you up when you are in the lightest sleep, making it easier to awaken. It’s hard to believe, but it really works! She’s gotten herself up ever since she began using it. Period. End of story. It has more features, but this is the biggie! We think it’s just magical!

If you struggle with any of the same issues maybe one of these tools will work for your family. For us, the key is to discover what the next step is in the development of a skill and work on that. Off the a good start!

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