Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to School Planning for Kids with ADD, Trust Disorders and More

By John and Diane.

NOTE: This posting is about ADD and Trust disorder kids who CAN attend school.  For all those parents who are dealing with kids who aren't attending or cannot attend school yet due to behavioral issues, we have information for you as well, and are working on our post about home-teaching and transitioning to school.  We know you are out there... and we hope you are hanging in there.... 


All parents are anxious to get their kids back to school, but those of us with high energy ADD, ADHD or kids with other impulsivity issues and trust issues, well, we are even MORE excited about the prospect of a break from the endless attention-needy kids.

If you have been successful and diligent about sticking to a schedule as I suggested in my blog post  
The ADHD and RAD Kid Summer Planner: or "Why I Didn't Lose My Mind While My Kid's were on Summer Vacation"  then the transition won’t be too difficult. Having a routine that you have stuck to with wake up and bedtimes means less of an adjustment to your routine-loving kids, so that will be to your benefit.  If you haven’t been able to keep the school routine going, you still have a chance to create one that will make the back –to-school transition less dramatic for your kids.

So, let’s just focus on the most important thing that kids with ADD, ADHD and trust disorders need and want.  STRUCTURE AND ROUTINE.   If you have fallen out of the usual wake and bedtimes from the school schedule, begin adjusting those times now so that the child is waking and going to bed at normal school times at least three weeks before school begins.

If you haven’t done any homeschooling during the summer and have let your ADD and RAD kids do their own thing, start pulling in the reins.  I had recommended keeping to a regime throughout the summer of learning and exercise programs to mimic lesson times at school to keep kids use to the school day schedule and to minimize anxiety and tantrums. If you have done this you are probably having a realatively decent summer.  If not, you are Definitely ready for school to start. :)

Re-introduce a daily schedule of play, chore and learning times. ADD and RAD or kids with trust and impulsivity issues do better when they have structure and routine, so their anxiety levels will decrease and outbursts will be limited. A schedule similar to their school day with outdoor play and lunchtimes about the same as at school will help them make a smooth transition back to class.

Finally, get yourself organized. Start planning now for doctors appointments, teacher meetings and purchasing school supplies so that you don’t feel stressed as the big day approaches. Your kids can pick up on your stress levels, which will set them off, so do yourself a favor and plan ahead for all those things you need to take care of so that you aren’t feeling pressure.

Here is a week to week planner for you that might help:
 July 9 – 15   Start adjusting the child’s schedule to school schedule times.
July 16 – 22  Make doctors appt. to check on medications levels, get immunizations, and physicals for sports if necessary.  Update immunization records.  Update your emergency contact numbers. Make sure any medication changes are given to school nurse. Start putting together a file to give to the school with the list of medications,caseworkers names and numbers, your phone numbers and doctors and any allergies. Very important for New Foster Kids! (sometimes the schools have this information from the year before if YOU need it for new foster kids!)

July 23 – 29  Get back to school clothing and shoes.

July 30 – Aug 5 Get list of school supplies needed and shop the sales. Child should be on School Day time schedule now.

Aug 6 – Aug 12 Kids clean and organize their rooms and homework spaces. Get kids hair cut and prep for school pics.

Aug 19 – Aug 26  Get teacher’s names and email addresses, Get digital copies of IEPs that you may have to send to various caseworkers, teachers or doctors throughout the year.   Start a file folder with the new school year marked on it for all of the upcoming paperwork you may get and want to keep track of. Put a list of child's meds in the folder for easy referral.
Get new school year calenders printed up to mark days-off, events and appointments.
Everyone celebrates a new and happy start back at school

Good luck everyone!

If you have more tips on how to make the transition easier on your foster, adopted or bio kids with issues like RAD, ADD or Aspergers, please comment here or on our Facebook page!

For more information, check out these resources:

Getting ADHD Kids Back to School

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Every Kid Has Their Currency: A Story of Persistence and the Bathroom Lights

by John and Diane

I want to share a little story with you about the bathroom lights.

My (adopted) son "Steve" is now in his mid teens, but still suffers the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and has devastating memory issues.

 His long term memory is really bad, and his short term memory is terrible.

We have spent years trying to find ways to deal with this and find tools to help him remember things like where his back pack is, where his phone is and, I swear, where his head is at sometimes....

So, the latest battle has been trying to get him to remember to shut off his bathroom lights.  I know, it doesn't seem like ground-breaking stuff.. but these are the day-to-day issue we work on.

I tried for weeks to get him to remember.
I'd find his bathroom light on, and I would call him back to turn it off.  Inconvenient, but it didn't stop the behavior.

He'd be outside, a mile down the road, I would find the light on, I'd call him in to come and shut it off.... still, I would find it left on a few hours later.

I then decided that each time I would find it left on, I would unscrew one of the four light bulbs... until he was in the dark.   This. Did. Not. Work.  (groan.)

Mind you... and THIS IS IMPORTANT:  When I would call him back to turn off the light, I wouldn't just ask him to do it, he'd get a whole speech on the importance of Energy, the cost of Energy, the necessity of responsibility and most importantly, I would tell him, "I'm not angry with you, I just need you to remember to do this, and Im trying to help you."  He understood, and amicably turned off the lights when asked.. (I was tired of asking...)

As you all know, the trick with Foster or any kids, is finding the one thing that works with that kid... their "Currency."  Once you know how a kid's mind, or Memory works, you can use that to teach them anything.  That's why I had to go thru all the different techniques to try to get him to remember... until I found one that worked... and I did.

Finally one day I called Steve down to turn off the lights.  This time I said, "Okay Steve, Every time you leave the light on, and I have to call you back to turn it off, you have to drop and give me 10 push ups."
and he did....

Again, I told him, this isn't a punishment, its just a way to try to get you to remember... I said it in a loving voice, in a friendly and supportive manner and I patted him on the back and said "good job." when he was done.

I haven't had to call him back to turn off the light since then.

I wanted to share this story with you all to remind you about Currency.  Every kid has that "thing"  that "trigger" that is going to work with them. Persistence is what it takes to find that magic word, action or object that can help change behavior and create change.

This was just a behavioral modification, but it has clued me in to something about Steve that might help me further with his memory issues.  Steve remembers things via a physical connection!  Now this can be applied to anything he needs to remember.  I'm not saying he'll need to do Push-ups for everything he needs to remember, but perhaps some kind of physical action to remember important tasks... this is how his memory makes its connections in the brain.   Now I can apply this to other things and see if it helps in other areas of his life.

What do you think about Currency?  Share your stories, we'd love to hear them.