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Organizing The ADD Child

Some children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and others are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. What is the difference? Both diagnoses manifest attentional difficulties whereby the child/adolescent has a hard time FOCUSING and concentrating. Her or she is easily distracted. The child with the hyperactivity component has difficulty sustaining attention for lengthy periods of time, but also moves around, FIDGETS or nudges others. One might refer to these children as being in perpetual motion," never sitting still, always tapping a pencil or foot.

All children need structure and BOUNDARIES -- Attention Deficit Disorder children and adolescents need it consistently. The rules need to be clear and concise. Directions and assignments need to be WRITTEN down, as well as spoken. One cannot assume that the Attention Deficit Disorder individual knows what the assignment or rules are. Even chores and daily to do's should be written and clear.

Occasionally, time needs to be QUANTIFIED. For example, if the child takes a break to shoot baskets, how many baskets could he or she shoot in a 5 minute time frame? Hypothetically, if the answer is 25 baskets, then he knows that after shooting 25 baskets, the 5 minute break is over. Or if she listens to music, how many songs can be listened to in that 5 or 10 minute time frame?

Homework should be done at the same time every day. Consistent ROUTINES are very important. Of course, children need a break when they arrive home from school -- but at a designated time, the homework should begin. Use a TIMER to go off at intervals -- every 15 to 20 minutes. The student should take a 5- or 10-minute break and then return back to the homework assignments.

It is equally as important to set up a STUDY CENTER. The study environment should be clear of distracting objects. The area should be a quiet space where there is little activity. Therefore, the kitchen may not be the best place to do homework that requires concentration. The study environment should be equipped with all the materials and paraphernalia needed for homework activities. Keep supplies of pens, pencils, paper, glue, reinforcements, etc. close at hand. If an Attention Deficit Disorder student has to leave the study area and walk to another room to find supplies, you can be that he or she will become DISTRACTED along the way.

Coaching is a process in which the coach works with the client on planning and setting goals, organizational strategies, time management skills and how to PRIORITIZE things that need to be done. The coach helps the client develop strategies to try to maintain focus and CONCENTRATION at home, at work or at school or college. The coach also helps the Attention Deficit Disorder individual effectively manage his or her issues. This is a very proactive and positive activity for your child, helping to build confidence and self-esteem.

Coaching is not psychotherapy. Therapy goes back and discusses underlying issues. Coaching takes an individual and moves him FORWARD in life to the place he wants to be. This is done by learning new behaviors and strategies which will enable the client to overcome areas of difficulty. An Attention Deficit Disorder coach is like a personal trainer or a football or baseball coach -- the coach stands on the side-lines and pushes the client to become ACCOUNTABLE for what he or she wants and needs to accomplish. The Attention Deficit Disorder coach, in essence becomes the "nudge" rather than the parent, helping the child or adolescent stay on track and stay organized.


Sandra Einstein is an organizational consultant and an ADD coach. She works with adolescents and adults helping them to organize their time, space and minds. She is the mother of a 16 year old ADD son, who attends a college preparatory day school and has been successful in achieving goals and high performance even in honors level courses. She can be reached at .

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