Many children and adolescents are diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar disorder at younger and younger ages. Let’s face it, asking a young person to sit still in a chair for extended periods of time is a chore for students and educators… (and parents!). Kids are designed to explore and try everything out. They go from copying everything to being curious to questioning everything to rebelling. This is the normal process of growing up. And, for any number of possible reasons, it is sometimes normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving as we wish at one time or another. The issue is when this lack of focus and inappropriate behavior in children begins to interfere with their learning or the focus of others. Also, some children move into adolescence and adulthood while maintaining the symptoms associated with ADHD or Bipolar disorder. Children who actually have ADHD do not grow out of the behaviors associated with this condition. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “a child with ADHD might: daydream a lot, forget or lose things a lot, squirm or fidget, talk too much, make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks, have a hard time resisting temptation, have trouble taking turns, and/or have difficulty getting along with others”. An assessment by a mental health professional is recommended to ensure a proper diagnosis and appropriate therapeutic intervention. However, there are some things that I have discovered over the years, from students and research, that have assisted persons with lack of attention, focus and ADHD symptoms. These are recommended to be used in conjunction with medical interventions as needed. They are not meant to be a substitute for professional assistance. Here are a few things that one can do to help themselves with symptoms. A full list of Tips & Tricks are located under Resources section of my website.
Have something to keep your hands busy like a small flat stone. Or you could squeeze a tennis, racquet or stress ball. There are also many specific devices for this now. I have linked to a couple of websites that offer ‘gadgets’ but am not being paid to endorse anything. Just offering something to look at to get ideas. The key is to not get something that is so distracting that it becomes the problem instead of the solution. Sometimes just a piece of paper, say a bookmark, is enough to keep busy and focused on the page being read and/or studied.
Make changes in your diet. Less sugars can be very important for many people who feel hyped up right after breakfast or lunch and then cannot stay awake an hour or so later. According to a nurse whom I worked with that specialized in diet and nutrition, the sugars and carbs burn off quickly and then the person’s energy level can go down as well. So, the child gets hyped up at first followed by not being able to stay awake or focused after each meal. Proteins and vegetables are best. Just a note about breakfast juices, check to make sure there is not too much sugar listed in the ingredients.
Some people just drift off when doing something boring… like sometimes reading a textbook. If it is possible, set a phone alarm to go off every 15 minutes, without disturbing others. Also, don’t break work or classroom rules. This will limit the time lost and redirect the attention to the task or studies needed to be accomplished. So only a small amount of time is lost to distraction instead of 30, 40 minutes, or more.
Hopefully these things will assist in dealing with staying focused and on track with your work or studies. Here are more Tips and Tricks: Attention and Focus Issues Sheet
tags: ADHD, Bipolar, focus, attention, tips, tricks, mental health, adolescent, child, work, classroom