Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic disorder that begins in childhood and often persists into adulthood. Inattention can create difficulty with organization, which can pose problems in school during childhood and the teenage years.
Problems with organization stem from problems with executive functioning in the brain (i.e., the level of detail and the time it takes to complete the task). Learning organizational skills can help a child or teen overcome this obstacle. It can also be helpful with the other symptoms of attention deficit disorder, such as time management.
The NYU Child Study Center notes that some children have difficulty with organization, though the deficits are more severe in children with ADHD. But learning organizational strategies early can prevent the symptoms from interfering with productivity. Parents can play an essential role by teaching the child different techniques and monitoring progress.
For example, the parents and child can make a schedule for homework with due dates, and leave space for checking off the assignment when it is done. A homework schedule helps with other symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, as it keeps the child on a specific routine.
Parents can use the schedule to make sure the child submits his assignments on time, and see if there are areas in which he is struggling. When making the schedule, part of it should be kept open to review assignments, as careless mistakes are also a symptom of inattention.
Besides creating a method to keep track of assignments, the child or teen also needs an area to work where the number of distractions are limited.
For example, the child should have a consistent place to do homework with all clutter removed. The study area should also be quiet. The child can also create a storage area to hold important papers for school, such as a binder labeled for each class. Parents should also encourage the child to pack his bag at night to prevent school work from being lost or left at home. Experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also say that the child should also clean his desk at the end of the day to help maintain organization; this also encourages the establishment of a daily routine.
Since inattention can make it difficult for the child to do complex tasks, caregivers can help break tasks into steps and write out each step. This exercise also helps the child learn planning and follow-through. Leave room on the list to check off when a step is completed. When taking notes, the child should leave the page margins open to add more information when reviewing the material.
Parents should also consider the use of a reward system, which reinforces the child’s new organizational skills. Here are some ideas for ADHD behavioral interventions for the home that work and have been proven effective.
Parents should remember that a child’s or teen’s behavior takes time to change — it’s not going to happen overnight. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, which are usually temporary in nature. Help be a cheerleader and positive support for your teen or child. You may find the results encouraging and beneficial, not just for your home life, but for your child’s mental health as well.