ADHD: a Matter of Routine — Some great ideas and suggestions from Mark Bertin, a pediatrics doctor, who spoke at the CHADD conference recently.
His website: http://www.developmentaldoctor.com/online/
His session description: ADHD - A Matter of Routine
I’ve written two other articles about learnings at CHADD: one about Executive Function (search engine or orchestra conductor of the brain) and instilling habits. You can read both of them starting here.
ADHD gets in the way of managing habits. When you consider that ADHD is an issue with organizing, working memory, prioritizing, and motivation … this makes perfect sense. “I know what to do; I just can’t get myself to do it.”
Dr. Bertin’s session was about “Healthy Routines” and his list includes something new: nutrition, sleep, exercise and …. media and technology!
Technology checking tires the brain. He made the point that the constant checking of email, then Facebook, then your flight app or groceries or to do app … all this switching gears literally tires the brain. Hmm. Makes sense. I hadn’t thought of this, except I have noticed that when I shut off technology, I seem calmer.
But then if you ignore the pings of texts and emails, what happens? Stress increases as you stop yourself from checking!
And if you ADHD, this is all much more a significant an issue. So protecting the work and health of your brain is part of self-care.
Possible solution? Change the email settings so that your device/pc checks less frequently, and not constantly, real-time. Great idea. What email can’t go a bit longer until you see it and act on it?
Other points: Kids have to be taught what “healthy” looks like for technology use: what, when is it okay to be on technology, how long is allowed each day.
ADHD also gets in the way especially with morning routines. If your ADHD medications are what allow you to focus, stay on track, remember the steps to your morning routine … then your ADHD is going to get in the way.
Possible solutions? Post your routine checklist everywhere you show up in the morning, no matter the age of the child or adult. Use smaller steps to the routine. Take medications sooner than later (Check with your practitioner on this.) think about the morning routine as “mini routines” within the larger routine.
Arguably, depending on when your medications are taken, evening may also be difficult, plus just getting through your days can be tiring to your brain, keeping it altogether. So experiment with how much you accomplish in the morning versus evening, the types of tasks, how you can prepare earlier for whichever is more difficult for you … and use those checklists to make it easier. You may find that checklists are important at startup of a habit, and if you have a lot of stress in life. But then not in between. Or you might like the comfort of having the list all the time to be sure. ~sfw comments.
If you are an adult with ADHD and parenting a child with ADHD, he warns that you’ll need to think at two different levels of ADHD management: your own brain fatigue/energy limits and your child’s. You’ll also need to observe yourself, to know when you’re getting “hooked” by a discussion emotionally: And then, you’ll: Pause. Breathe. Return to the conversation.
Where to start if you’re trying to work on several habits
- Stop. What’s the most disruptive routine? That’s your primary focus and goal.
- Create the routine.
- Write it down. (I’d say mindmap it or draw it out, if that’s your method to brainstorm.~sfw)
Mindmap – SimpleMind+ website
- Post it where you can see it. Helps with working memory. Helps to sustain the habit. Helps to keep track of it in the moment. And helps you understand how much time is passing and how much work there is to this routine.~sfw
The national guideline is 10 minutes per grade. Homework can be part of an IEP plan.
What parents can do at home is decide on the routines:
- When IS homework time?
- Where will you choose to work on homework.
- Create a list of exactly the steps to accomplish the homework.
- When are the breaks.
- Break up homework into mini sessions (use your timer).
I’ve often written about sleep, so I’ll list the new points:
Consistency is key – when you go to bed and what time you wake up. The more inconsistent you are playing with the times, the more difficult it will be for your body to understand what it is supposed to do.
Start 45 minutes before you have signs of tiredness on your wind down routine.
Learn to settle yourself. Mindfulness works beautifully.
Overall, another excellent speaker who shared some new ideas with us at CHADD. Check out his HuffPost blog articles - much more detail awaits you, if you’re a family dealing with ADHD.