Tips on Setting up a Productive Homework Spot for Your ADHD Child
For kids with ADHD, getting through an average school day can be a monumental achievement. After a day of trying hard to focus during a seemingly endless math lesson and successfully ignoring all of the really cool stuff on the classroom’s walls while finishing a science worksheet, kids with ADHD are usually really glad when the school day ends.
Of course, once kids with ADHD are back home, they are not out of the “must sit and focus” woods quite yet — homework is calling their names. As a parent of a kiddo with this challenge, it’s important to come up with a workable homework station that will not cause both of you to proverbially lose your marbles. In order to make sure your child with ADHD can successfully complete his homework, consider the following ideas:
Create a specific homework spot
Look around your house and come up with a place that your child can call her own — at least in regard to schoolwork. According to Additude Mag, it’s important for the place to be comfortable and include all of the needed furniture such as a large enough desk and chair, and it should also be free of as many distractions as possible. In other words, it probably won’t be the end of the kitchen table but maybe a corner of a rarely used guest room.
Let your child help you decorate it
In order for the homework spot to be successful, your child must feel like it’s a welcoming and relaxing place to be. Ask your kiddo with ADHD to help you to decorate it, while being careful not to add too many things that will be overly interesting or stimulating.
A great option is to take your child shopping for homework supplies that will be her very own. New packages of mechanical pencils, markers, rulers and other items can help your child feel special and also have the supplies needed to get the work done.
You might also want to keep the homework area stocked with activities and worksheets that play to your child’s strengths and weaknesses; for example, if your son or daughter struggles with reading comprehension, you can print out reading worksheets from BusyTeacher and work on them together when you both have some down time.
Add things to help them focus
As Everyday Health notes, many kids with ADHD work really well when they have something to occupy their hands while their brain works out a stubborn math problem. Talk with your child about what will help her focus, and add these items to the homework corner.
It might be a CD player that will play soft music in the background, a stress ball that she can squeeze while reading, packages of gum to chew or a wooden foot massager that she can roll her foot on while working on an English paper.
Remove items that will throw them off track
Although your other kids might want to have access to the homework corner too, their presence will probably distract your ADHD son or daughter, so make it a rule that during homework time, no one else except you or your spouse can have access.
As much as your son loves the family kitty, pets can be really distracting so keep it fur baby-free as well. Wall and desk decorations should also be kept to a minimum.
Joyce Wilson loved being a teacher, and though she has recently retired, she hasn’t lost that passion. She continues to educate (and help educators) by mentoring teachers in her area. She is also the co-creator of TeacherSpark.org, a resource for teachers to gather fun, engaging lesson ideas and activities.
Children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) may have other challenges not directly associated with their verbal motor planning difficulties, which have an adverse effect on academic success. Working memory gives us an isolated measurement of what a student is capable of learning. The SLP plays a critical role in identifying suspected working memory problems, which has a great impact on learning.
Children who receive poor grades in reading and mathematics, have problems finishing schoolwork, and have a hard time paying attention are often labeled “unmotivated” by parents and teachers. The challenge may not actually be a lack of intelligence or even a lack of motivation for many struggling students, but simply a poor memory, in particular a poor working memory.
Working Memory is a critical cognitive function that refers to the ability of the brain to hold and manipulate verbal and visual information in the mind for brief periods of time. An example of working memory is remembering a telephone number or remembering someone’s name 30 seconds after they have introduced themselves. Working memory precedes short term memory. It works like a mental notepad to help us store important information to carry out tasks.
Children with working memory deficits are easily distracted, struggle to remember instructions, and have difficulty starting, prioritizing and finishing tasks. Studies have shown that they also have difficulty in school, particularly with reading comprehension and math, due to their inability to hold in mind sufficient information to allow them to complete the task at hand.
Having a limited working memory capacity often results in losing crucial information when trying to follow instructions and details of what to do next. If information is not stored properly, or at all, a child most certainly cannot retrieve this information for future tasks or build upon prior information for learning. Children with working memory deficits demonstrate difficulty remembering information from one lesson to the next. Children with working memory deficits often:
- · Get poor grades in reading and math
- · Are easily distracted
- · Have problems finishing classroom assignments
- · Have trouble following directions from teachers
- · Are reluctant to answer questions in class.
Studies conducted at York University concluded that working memory skills at 4 years old are excellent predictors of children’s achievements three years later on national assessments in reading, writing and mathematics. Children with good working memory skills perform better in school. In contrast, children who did not achieve at expected levels in national assessments in literacy and mathematics typically have weaker working memory skills compared to their age-matched peers.
Many researchers in the field of cognitive skills related to academics believe working memory is the most important predictor of learning, much more so than a student’s overall IQ score. Working memory gives us an isolated measurement of what a student is capable of learning. It measures a child’s potential to learn and not just what they have already learned.
Working memory plays a key role in Attention Deficit Disorders. Poor working memory leads to poor attention, and good working memory results in good attention. Many children diagnosed with AD/HD also have a limited working memory capacity. Research shows that children with AD/HD have an average working memory level roughly equal to that of a non-AD/HD seven year old. Strengthening working memory can help to reduce the social, academic and other challenges that children with AD/HD face every day.
There is good news for students with poor working memory skills: there is something that can be done about it. The human brain has the ability to reshape and rewire itself. This is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, also referred to as brain plasticity or cortical re-mapping, is the brain’s ability to change shape and re-network, creating new connections between neurons, as well as establishing new neurological pathways in the brain. Working memory impairments can be addressed using a combination of research-based working memory training techniques to actually create a neurological change in the brain’s ability to expand working memory capacity, and directly teaching and implementing memory strategies in the classroom and everyday life.
You may also wish to read these articles by Lynn
The Boss is Out! Impact of Executive Function Deficits in Children With ADHD and Related Learning Difficulties
When first Words Don’t Come Easily
For BHSM we have a giveaway for 2 copies of Lynn’s Speech-EZ Apraxia Picture Sound Cards App ($179.99 value)
About the author
Lynn Carahaly, M.A., CCC-SLP is a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist and app developer in Gilbert, AZ. Her private practice specializes in diagnosing and treating children with apraxia. She is the developer of The Speech-EZ Apraxia Program and has created several apps to support the treatment of apraxia, auditory processing disorders, and promote phonological awareness skills. She is a mother of two beautiful children.
Guest article by Paul Beljan, PsyD, ABPdN, ABN and Lynn Carahaly, M.A., CCC-SLP
Researchers have identified a combination of critical brain processes known as executive functions that influence a student’s ability to succeed in school, if not life. Executive functions act as the management system of the brain. The following is one way executive functioning can be described: Picture a symphony orchestra whose members are excellent musicians. Despite the fact that the musicians are superb, if there is no conductor, who can organize and integrate the efforts of the individual musicians in the same piece, at the same time, the overall performance will suffer.
Students with executive function deficits (EFD) have difficulty managing themselves consistent with same age peers.
Parents and educators must be aware to the danger of attributing negative EFD outcomes to lack of motivation or poor attitude. A particularly damaging assumption is reflected in the often-heard statement that the student “should be able to do this by now,” “he’s just hard headed,” and s/he “needs to take more responsibility for their actions.”
Certainly, students with executive function deficits must learn to take responsibility for their behaviors, but this learning must occur in the context of their own developmental timetables. This means discipline is imposed in a very different manner than with children who willfully misbehave. If students cannot appropriately self-direct their behavior/organization in school to ensure success, then IDEA and Section 504 mandate the provision of supports and accommodations for eligible students.
Although executive function may improve with age, the student’s delays at the middle and high school levels are often too profound to overcome without help, encouragement, support, and understanding from teachers and parents. Age and grade level expectations for students such as self-directing routines of daily living, working independently, following through on tasks with minimal supervision, organizing assignments and materials, and “acting their age,” are unrealistic for students with EFD. These students are functioning at their best, but their outcomes are not consistent with same age peers. They require assurance and appreciation for their effort over outcomes.
Educators expect most teenage students to remember assignments, complete homework, turn it in a timely manner, and manage long-term projects without frequent monitoring. Unfortunately, students with EFD experience poor development in the skills necessary to perform these tasks in a timely manner despite immense effort.
It is estimated that middle school and high school students with EFD are delayed by about 4-6 years from their contemporaries to manage critical academic and social/behavioral tasks.
While these teen students can look and seem mature is some areas, their ability to organize, remember details, manage time, act responsibly, use self-care skills, use appropriate social skills and be self-aware typically are not as well-developed as they are in aged-matched peers. Therefore, parents and educators must provide more supervision and support that is commensurate with the student’s developmental age rather than the student’s chronological age. Unfortunately, teens tend to thwart environmentally imposes structure, consistency, and routine.
The following are definitions of specific areas of Executive Functions and their behavioral, social, and educational impact.
WORKING MEMORY is the ability to maintain two or more bits of information in immediate memory and use that information simultaneously, to purposefully generate novel solutions or behaviors. Working memory allows an individual to ‘think ahead’ and self-direct behavior to complete goals.
Results of working memory tasks are often variable, which suggests intact working memory capacity, but poor expression of the skill set secondary to inattention and/or distractibility. Intact but inconsistently expressed working memory skills suggest a child can think ahead to factor consequences into behavioral decisions and maintain ‘future memory’ to plan and meet goals, but often do not. Unfortunately, the variable expression of working memory skills often undermines appropriate goal completion despite intact capacity, and it can lead to poor behavioral decisions. It also can lead to the child being misperceived as oppositional or malicious when they are not.
INHIBITION is the ability to withhold responding to stimuli that should not be responded to. As working memory allows an individual to direct behavior, a lack of working memory will result in poorly self-directed (impulsive/dysinhibited and stimulus bound) behavior. As well, one can have large working memory capacity and quite poor inhibition, which in turn undermines working memory.
An impulse control deficit is characteristic of ADHD. A child’s impulsive responding has the potential to make them appear willful and defiant when, in fact, the impairment causes them to act before they think. Impulsivity also has the potential to undermine academic performance as the child frequently responds without thinking, toxifies performance, and requires additional time to correct inadvertent mistakes.
PLANNING and ORGANIZING is ability is the direct result of a functioning working memory and inhibition system.
A child may have intact ability to plan and organize for problem solving; however, their abilities are frequently undermined by inattention and impulsivity. Inattention and distractibility can result in the failure of information to get encoded into working memory. Impulsivity causes one to act before they are using working memory. In each scenario, working memory is undermined and planning and organization for problem solving becomes inefficient. Therefore, when a child must self-direct behavior for planning and organization for problem solving, they sometimes have difficulty making the best behavioral and social decisions. For example, this may be the child who continues a joke when everyone else is done with it. The negative outcome may lead to learned helplessness if the child frequently experiences impulsive failures despite much effort and good intent, as they are unaware of their impulsivity. This also causes the child to blame others for their poor behavioral outcomes. Imposing structure around problem solving approaches likely will improve the expression of planning and organization for problem solving efficiency.
FOCUS EXECUTION is the ability to blend a novel trait or behavior with a habituated behavior or skill. For example, going from training wheels to a two-wheeled bicycle is a focus execution adaptation. Focus execution requires reasoning flexibility, consolidation of basic skill sets, and procedural memory. Focus execution is learning.
If a child performs in a manner that is negative for a focus execution deficit they tend to show an innate disorder of learning. It is not uncommon that a math learning disability (dyscalculia) and orthographic dyslexia (aka surface dyslexia) are likely to exist. As well, the child with such learning disabilities tends to express behavior that is somewhat socially out of step. They may be mis-diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or so called Nonverbal Learning Disability. These children are figuring out things as they go as opposed to showing habituation of skill sets. Part of the problem has to do with cerebellar functioning that consolidates procedural memory. Focus execution can be intact, but the outcome can become variably expressed due to inattention and impulsivity. Children with this problem must put forth more effort to complete tasks than same age peers as learning is slow and cumbersome, and the child requires considerable repetition and additional practice to habituate new skills.
COGNITIVE SHIFT is the ability to incorporate feedback from one’s environment (via attention) to form and adjust concepts for problem solving. Therefore, one must be sensitive to the information their environment is providing. If a child responds well to an environment characterized by a high degree of imposed structure, they tend to perform well. If, in the face of such structure, the child does not shift and adjust, they likely have the deficit. When considered in contrast to the unstructured tasks where the child has to self-direct problem solving, performance on shift tasks should drastically improve with the provision of environmentally imposed structure and feedback. In other words, the environmental provision of routine, structure, and feedback both at home and at school help to prevent children from making attention-based and impulsive mistakes.
SUSTAINING ATTENTION is concentration directed/allocated by the frontal lobes, but otherwise produced in other regions of the brain. One must prioritize attention.
Children are generally unaware of when they are being inattentive and impulsive. This causes them immense difficulty trying to remediate the problem on their own or based on natural or imposed consequences. As well, attention and impulsivity are ‘have/have not’ skill sets. This means that if one is a have for attention and inhibition they can sustain the skill sets and inhibit behavior for as long as they want and whenever they want. If they are a have not, it does not mean the absence of attention and inhibition; it means the incomplete or inconsistent expression of the skill sets. In this way, children who are inattentive and impulsive are often described as lazy, hard headed, or willful because they are sometimes witnessed paying attention and inhibiting behavior. The problem is the child cannot sustain or inhibit reliably.
A further difficulty with attentional and inhibition system problems is that the individual is largely unaware of when they are expressing the problem. Therefore, if an individual does not know when they are being inattentive or impulsive, they cannot be completely expected to change the behavior on their own, based on imposed consequences, or repeated discussion. Change for individuals with these problems tends to be slower, causing them to appear concrete and emotionally less mature than same age peers.
ENCODING is how one places information into memory for later recall. Encoding requires working memory, inhibition, planning and organization, and intact language abilities.
In the absence of brain injury, disease sequela, or seizure disorder; encoding and recall deficits are rare. The key is that the child must sustain attention to that which is to be encoded. If the child cannot sustain attention, then they may show a ‘Swiss cheese’ manner of recall since much information was not encoded in the first place. Sometimes children may seem forgetful, but this is due to intermittent attention paid to information they were supposed to encode, but missed. Even when a child puts forth maximum effort, they still may be unable to consistently sustain attention to information meant for encoding. Learning efficiency may be compromised since the child requires repeated exposure to information for encoding. They may benefit from repetition of information to be encoded as it may allow them to ‘fill in the gaps’ left by attentional drift.
There is good news for students with EFD; something can be done. The human brain has the ability to reshape and rewire itself. This is called neuroplasticity. Also referred to as brain plasticity or cortical re-mapping; neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to re-network, creating new connections between neurons, as well as establishing new neurological pathways in the brain. EFD can be positively impacted by using a combination of evidence-based cognitive training techniques that aim to create a neurological change in the brain resulting in improved working memory, attention, and learning aptitude.
For further information on Executive Functions, ADHD, and related Learning Disabilities and effective interventions contact the following below. Dr. Paul Beljan and Lynn Carahaly will be hosting a free 90 minute educational workshop June 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm at Foundations Developmental House, LLC:
What we love…
Totally kid friendly and Internet safe! Love-love-love the sparkling hints to activate the hidden special features within the story.
What we’d love to see…
A hint to turn off multi-tasking gestures in settings so that all shortcuts work properly (those on the main page and those within the story itself).
A beautifully illustrated story with captivating voice-overs that put readers in Axel’s shoes as he faces daily social challenges and as he uses his special talent to become the story’s hero.
This beautifully illustrated and well thought out story takes readers through Axel’s daily challenges – difficulty attending to his teacher, trouble getting his thoughts out clearly, unintentionally bumping into friends, … But, it also lets readers see a side of Axel that his friends haven’t seen yet – his special talent for creating new toys out of common everyday household items. Axel cannot contain his excitement as his teacher shares the latest class project – kinetic art. Within the story, readers click the computer monitor to see clips of real-life pieces of art created by modern day Kinetic Artists. Readers can learn more about these artists via biographies within the main menu. The app also shows users how to make three different kinetic art pieces of their own! Details for all needed materials are listed along with step-by-step written instructions and pictures of each step. A video clip of the final product is also provided to help users see the completed project in action before they start to create their own.
The app is compatible with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod (requiring iOS 5.0 or higher). The main menu shows a link to a game feature that is soon to come. The upbeat music and character voices are captivating and entertaining (a separate on/off feature is provided for each for those that may be too distracted). Within the story itself, readers help Axel along his adventures as he creates his own kinetic masterpieces (from helping him unglue his fingers to helping him design his creations). Actions and movements required go beyond the simple click and drag – requiring users to use a variety of fine motor movements (finger-to-thumb opposition, bilateral coordination, wrist rotation, etc – an OT’s dream.)
My testers enjoyed reading and watching the story over and over. It opened up conversations with my older students about accepting other’s differences and recognizing that everyone has something special to offer. It also was reassuring to some of my students like Axel – helping them see that everyone has a special talent to share. My youngest students loved activating the sparkling hint buttons and watching the moving kinetic art – I have to admit, I was mesmerized by the rhythm and pattern too.
Overall, a beautifully illustrated story with captivating voice-overs that put readers in Axel’s shoes as he faces daily social challenges and as he uses his special talent to become the story’s hero.
Code drop November 27
If you would like to download this app please use this link: Axel’s Chain Reaction – Laura Allison Pomenta Badolato
Axel's Chain Reaction
by Laura Allison Pomenta Badolato
Category: Education, Books
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone4-iPhone4, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 312.89 MB
Screenshots (Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad (Click to enlarge)