Occupational therapy Assessment for ADHD kids–
Before applying any sensory strategies, OT assesses all sensory problems and other issues, generally, OT check for these things–
- Sensory Issues like defensiveness or seeking behavior.
- Organizational skills or abilities.
- Distractibility and Impulsivity.
- Following of command.
- Difficulty in turn taking.
- Difficulty in organized group activity.
- Seating tolerance.
- Gross motor coordination
- Fine motor coordination
- Visual memory and other visual perceptual skills.
Occupational Therapy Intervention for ADHD children–
Some OT exclusively uses only sensory integration technique, and some use functional approach. We would feel better with a multi-model approach.
These kids have more energy and hyperactivity; the first goal would be to decrease hyperactivity by calming them. It’s very important that they should understand what we are saying and understand the command. If they are hyperactive and impulsive, they won’t listen or follow us.
Sensory integration techniques are useful to calming them and help to channelize the excess amount of energy. Below mentioned activities or techniques are not applicable for all ADHD children, techniques totally depend upon the needs of a child. Let’s have an example of what Occupational therapist do during a therapy session of an ADHD child.
Calming the ADHD child – when the child enters the room OT rolls him/her up in a mat and give him deep pressure with a ball. Next, OT settles him using the light music/ essence of lavender or vanilla and by dimming the lights. OT then put weight cuffs in his hands and put him in a bolster swing where OT give him an activity while giving gentle unidirectional movements. OT make him sit on a chair and do table top activities and writing activities.
Channelizing Energy – As the child enters the room OT give him bouncing on the trampoline, OT can also combine another activity of catching and throwing a ball while bouncing. OT can make climb the children’s gym or ladder. Running or cycling helps him to channelize extra energy.
Teach them organizational skills –
Many parents and teacher think about, how to teach organizational skills to ADHD kids. They are so impulsive and they just throw things here and there.
- Our first approach should be to Encourage and Support them. They are very easily distracted and impatience.
- Give them enough time to think and respond.
- Always ask them to organize things, if they don’t get it, first you have to make them understand by doing yourself. When they see the correct sequencing pattern, they may repeat it successfully.
- Always provide them a demo of a task and your demo should be slowly progressing with minimal verbal cues. (Too much verbal cues during one task, may distract them, instead use less and more meaningful 2-3 words).
Participation in activities –
- Initially, provide them activities which are simple, just to increase their self-esteem and confidence.
- You may encourage them in participating in sports activities; it will help them to improve self-confidence, self discipline, social skills, motor development and concentration.
- Initially, provide them activities for a short time.
- Encourage the child to finish a task.
- Provide some resting period, e.g. allow the child to stand up and go drink water.
Restructuring of home environment or school setting–
- Minimize visual and auditory stimuli–
- Reduce clutter – in both the rooms and on the desk. No other visually stimulating things like fancy balls.
- Restrict visual fields – It’s better to keep the desk in the corner of a room, facing towards the corner.
- Paint your wall with sober colors.
- Play low calming music, many children’s responds well in this setting but not all.
- Speak or instruct them in a calm voice.
- Sit next to him, provide verbal or physical clues if he needs.
Occupational Therapy Teaching/ Parenting tips for ADHD child-
Children with an Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without Hyperactivity are easily distracted, fidgety and talkative. They may interrupt you while you’re explaining things to the class and have difficulty waiting their turn. And while they are a disruptive influence on the class, they may also need extra help with learning. So as a teacher/ parents, you can do following things-
Teaching Tips / parenting Tips for ADHD child:
- Be predictable. Structured minimal rules/choices are important and work best.
- Establish a positive relationship with ADD/ADHD students/child.
- Encourage hands-on learning. Create learning opportunities where children experience things first-hand.
- Make learning fun: play games, draw pictures, invent funny acronyms to sustain interest.
- Provide visual reminders. Students with ADD/ADHD respond well to visual cues and examples. For instance, leave key points about a topic visible on the board.
- Follow-up directions. Ask the child if he or she understood directions and repeat the directions together.
- Ask questions. Allow a child sufficient time to work out the answer to a question.
- Assign work that suits the student’s skill level. ADD/ADHD students will avoid classwork that is too difficult or too long.
- Help students correct their own mistakes.
- Divide work into smaller units. Break down assignments into smaller, less complex tasks. For example, allow students to complete the first five math problems before presenting them with the remaining five problems, rather than presenting all ten together.
- Prepare for transitions.
- For special events like field trips or other activities, be sure to give plenty of advance notice and reminders.
- Define the appropriate behavior while giving praise. The comments should focus on what the student did right and what part(s) of the student’s behavior was desirable. Rather than praising a student for not disturbing the class, for example, a teacher should praise him/her for quietly completing a math lesson on time. Give praise immediately. The sooner that approval is given regarding appropriate behavior, the more likely the student will repeat it.
- Reward the child with privileges or activities, rather than with food or toys. Change rewards frequently as children with ADD/ADHD get bored if the reward is always the same. Make a chart with points or stars, so the child has a visual reminder of his or her success.
- Consequences – They should be spelled out in advance and occur immediately after the child has misbehaved. Try removal of privileges as a consequence for misbehavior. Remove the child from situations and environments that trigger inappropriate behavior.
- Allow for “escape valve” outlets. Permitting students with ADD/ADHD to leave class for a moment, perhaps on an errand (such as returning a book to the library), can be an effective means of settling them down and allowing them to return to the room ready to concentrate.
- Hurdle helping. Teachers can offer encouragement, support, and assistance to prevent students from becoming frustrated with an assignment. This help can take many forms, from enlisting a peer for support to supplying additional materials or information.
- Proximity control. When talking to a child, move to where the child is standing or sitting. This will help the child to focus and pay attention to what you are saying.
- Seat the child near the teacher.
- Seat the child near a student role model.
- Provide low-distraction work areas.
- Lower noise level.
- Remember that the child isn’t intentionally trying to forget his/her homework or fail a test.
- Having ADD/ADHD can be just as frustrating, if not more, than dealing with someone who has it. Keeping this in mind, it will be a lot easier to respond to the child in positive, supportive ways. As a teacher, one can help the student overcome daily challenges and channelize his or her energy into positive areas.
Jennifer Creek, Lougher (2011). Occupational therapy and mental health. 4th Ed. Churchill Livingstone publication.
Wagenfeld, Kaldenberg (2005). Foundations of Pediatric practice for the occupational therapy assistant. Slack Incorporated.
Hyche, Maertz (2014). Classroom strategies for children with ADHD, Autism & sensory processing disorders. Pesi publishing & media.