How to Deal with Unstructured Situations for the Children with ADHD

Because children with ADHD may have trouble reading social cues, body language, voice and tone, unstructured situations and new events may cause problems.

Planning ahead for future activities and assessing the situation with the child with ADHD in mind is necessary because these children find change and unpredicted events particularly unsettling and challenging. This mainly relates to impairments in the ability to think flexibly and creatively, and to be able to adapt to a novel situation.

Children with ADHD

Children with ADHD need time to adjust and take on board information about a new event or change to their normal routine. Try alerting the child to a change in the normal routine in advance. Think carefully about how far in advance you will need to do this – too early and the child may become fixated on the event and the changes may create anxiety, too late and they won’t have time to prepare themselves. You will need to judge this based on your knowledge of the pupil and what has helped or hindered in the past. Speak to the parents, who may have a better idea of how much planning and warning will be necessary. And make sure that all members of staff and parents have adequate information and agree on the amount of detail to give to the child.

Be prepared to be patient – you may need to repeat new information several times before the child is able to assimilate it and his anxiety may mean that he will persist in asking the same questions. It is important to be calm and reassuring about the event. After a while, test the child’s knowledge of the event and what he expects by deflecting questions back to him.

In some cases it may be necessary to write down an action plan or timetable for the event, giving details of •he demands that will be placed on the child, what he will need to do and when. Events such as school trips or a school play are likely to make him very excited. You may want to establish one or two essential rules about expected behaviour or ‘what to do if…’ before the event so that he knows what is expected of him and what to do if he starts to feel overwhelmed. It may be necessary to plan for a parent or classroom assistant to be present at the event to offer one-to-one support.

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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