Both therapy and medication reduce ADHD symptoms in many children and adults. However, small changes in lifestyle can also help to reduce ADHD symptoms. Modifications to school, work and home environments can make living with ADHD more manageable.
Children with ADHD can have difficulty meeting expectations in the classroom. Inattention and problem behaviors tend to disrupt the classroom routine and make learning difficult. However, teachers can help students with ADHD in a number of ways. Minimizing distractions, the use of focusing strategies and frequent breaks may be effective.
Behavior plans often help. Consistent enforcement of individualized plans tend to reduce unwanted behaviors. Visual signals can be used as reminders to stay on task and follow classroom rules without public embarrassment.
Meta-cognitive therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, helps adults modify ADHD behaviors by teaching organizational and planning skills. This helps adults who have difficulty organizing or maintaining a focus on projects. Meta-cognitive therapy also helps adults with ADHD to deal with the anxiety and negative thoughts that can arise when dealing with their symptoms.
In some situations, adults with ADHD may wish to disclose their diagnosis to their employer or co-workers. An employer may be willing to modify the work environment to provide a quieter workspace and develop strategies and timelines to help an employee stay on task.
The home environment can become stressful for children with ADHD, as well as for their parents and siblings. Changes to your home routine can help your child with ADHD and benefit your other children too.
The first step in managing life with ADHD at home is to establish a predictable and regular schedule for everyday activities such as homework, mealtimes and bedtime. Familiarize your child with this schedule; a visual representation such as a timeline may be helpful. Give your child plenty of warning when the schedule is about to change.
Another important part of a successful home routine is the establishment of clear rules and consequences for expected behavior. Be sure to outline expected behaviors, as well as undesirable ones. Create a system to reward good behavior and follow through with established consequences for undesirable behavior. Supervise children at all times as children with ADHD are impulsive and may be more prone to risky behavior and injury than other children.
Finally, remember to engage in positive interactions with your child. You can easily get caught up in a cycle of negative interaction and punishment for bad behavior. Reward good behavior and effort, and participate in enjoyable activities such as active play with your child. Consult with a children’s mental health professional if you have questions.
U.S. Department of Education. (2008). Parenting and ADHD. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.adhdnews.com/adhd-information-wpsk.htm.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2002). Helping the student with ADHD in the classroom. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/special needs template.pdf.
Nauert, R. (2010). Meta-cognitive therapy (MCT) for adult ADHD. Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/03/31/meta-cognitive-therapy-mct-for-adult-adhd/12478.html.
Rabiner, D. (2000). Behavioral treatment for ADHD: A general overview. Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://www.addresources.org/article_adhd_behavioral_treatment_rabiner.php.