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caedmyn

spinoff: how do you get a child to attend to you?

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How exactly do you get a child with ADHD tendencies to attend/pay attention when you're talking to them?  I have three kids like this and it is so frustrating.  I am sure that some of the time they are ignoring me, but it's difficult to sort out when that's happen and when they are just off in their own worlds.  I remember when DS1 was about five years old and I asked him to do something, doing all the "recommended" things to get his attention--I put my hand on his shoulders, had him look me in the eye, told him what I wanted him to do, and he said , "Yes mom"...and then I asked him what he was supposed to be doing and he had no clue.  What do you even do with kids like that??

And on related notes, once they are actually paying attention and hear whatever you tell them, how do you get them to remember it long enough to do it?  This is a perpetual problem here also. 

And is there any way to get them to remember multi-step directions?  If I say, "Wipe up the water on the floor with that towel and then hang the towel back up", if I'm lucky, the water will be wiped up, but the towel will never be hung back up.  Instead it'll be tossed on the counter, in the sink, left on the floor, kicked into a corner, etc.

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I wouldn't assume it's an attention problem. To me that sounds more like a language issue or that the child was *very* checked out (ie. spectrum). My straight ADHD dd was not like that. That's a really big whopping pool there, but I'm just saying it's an assumption to say it's ADHD. 

If it's the ADHD, put 'em on meds. Medicate every kid, right on down the line. Like I'm all for parenting strategies, but at some point you stop blaming yourself and you put 'em on meds and see what changes. That's an option.

It sounds like there are some working memory deficits (common to ADHD and just about every issue under the planning seemingly) and yes you can work on working memory. I hate to mention it, but reality is you already have. These kids have done through Barton 9, yes? They have killer working memory at this point.

The multi-step directions are something every SLP and person screening for development will ask about. Difficulties there can reflect working memory (which you've probably already done quite a bit for), and more disastrously issues with sequencing and language. So then we're back to language. And they're common with language issues.

So then we're back to evals. What about SLP evals and a nice screening by the ped for the rest? 

For some of that you get what you inspect. I don't envy you. But really, are you standing there trying to enforce and inspect and the kid is still kind of on his own planet, like why would I hang that up, and he just leaves? That's how my ds is. Like I'm just saying I think you know yourself and whether it's that you aren't following through or whether the kid is really kind of different in a hard to pin down way why.

I don't think you should lay on yourself guilt about parenting if the issue is the kid. If you have done follow through and the kid is on another planet, seemingly unable to continue the task and do the steps and comply, then there's more going on than run of the mill ADHD and parenting. To me, if you're banging out Barton 9, you're following through and it's the kid. Sigh. 

Edited by PeterPan

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16 hours ago, caedmyn said:

How exactly do you get a child with ADHD tendencies to attend/pay attention when you're talking to them?  I have three kids like this and it is so frustrating.  I am sure that some of the time they are ignoring me, but it's difficult to sort out when that's happen and when they are just off in their own worlds.  I remember when DS1 was about five years old and I asked him to do something, doing all the "recommended" things to get his attention--I put my hand on his shoulders, had him look me in the eye, told him what I wanted him to do, and he said , "Yes mom"...and then I asked him what he was supposed to be doing and he had no clue.  What do you even do with kids like that??

And on related notes, once they are actually paying attention and hear whatever you tell them, how do you get them to remember it long enough to do it?  This is a perpetual problem here also. 

And is there any way to get them to remember multi-step directions?  If I say, "Wipe up the water on the floor with that towel and then hang the towel back up", if I'm lucky, the water will be wiped up, but the towel will never be hung back up.  Instead it'll be tossed on the counter, in the sink, left on the floor, kicked into a corner, etc.

Meds and lots of micromanaging sometimes help. No meds is a non-starter here, but with meds, there is some kind of hope. 

One of my two kids with ADHD is like this, and he's my more socially typical one. There is familial proof that ADHD can cause this stuff--one side of the family is full of people like this. 

Multi-step directions are very, very difficult. While I don't know if you have more language stuff going on (my kiddo like this has auditory processing issues), it's usually best to write things down for this kiddo. You might need to use some other kind of visual cue--maybe a picture of the towel hung up.

Any chance that part of this avoiding a motor task? I HATED hanging up towels and stuff as a kid. If that is the issue, maybe you can find a different mode of hanging things. For instance, hanging clips or something like that. This is one option:https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/household-essentials-reg-hang-39-n-dry-plastic-clothespins-set-of-6/1062797757?skuId=62797757&&mrkgcl=609&mrkgadid=3303684528&enginename=google&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_closetlaundry_online&product_id=62797757&adtype=pla&product_channel=online&adpos=1o5&creative=224123843649&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu4OGh5Ot4QIVUL7ACh320AcWEAQYBSABEgLhG_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 We also have some that have a loop you can wrap around a towel bar. Those are "trickier" to hang up, but they stay put when they are hung, and then you're just manipulating the clip itself. If you have a magnetic spot, there are clip magnets for hanging things up as well.

I am betting there are multiple problematic tasks, but it could also be all attention. 

For remembering that there is some kind of pending task, maybe you can find some common pictures and put them on some kind of band. When you want them to do the task, have them put on the band with the task picture--you can probably make sure the task card is awkward enough to not be ignored. It would take some follow-through to be sure they don't just take off the annoying band vs. look at it, but it's probably not MORE follow through than you're stuck with right now.

15 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I wouldn't assume it's an attention problem. To me that sounds more like a language issue or that the child was *very* checked out (ie. spectrum). My straight ADHD dd was not like that. That's a really big whopping pool there, but I'm just saying it's an assumption to say it's ADHD. 

If it's the ADHD, put 'em on meds. Medicate every kid, right on down the line. Like I'm all for parenting strategies, but at some point you stop blaming yourself and you put 'em on meds and see what changes. That's an option.

For some of that you get what you inspect. I don't envy you. But really, are you standing there trying to enforce and inspect and the kid is still kind of on his own planet, like why would I hang that up, and he just leaves? 

I don't think you should lay on yourself guilt about parenting if the issue is the kid. 

I generally agree, except that my (sort of) straight ADHD kid IS like this. He's does have APD, dyslexia, etc., but not badly enough for Barton. There are family members with similar presentation. My other ADHD kiddo is not like this, and he actually has ASD, but he doesn't elope or ignore like this, generally. It would be odd.

While not all dyslexic kids have major issues with sequencing, etc., Barton does mention lots of practical things of that nature that kids with dyslexia struggle with. I have a dyslexic in-law that really struggles with organization, follow-through, etc., and one who does not. The one that doesn't, doesn't seem to have ADHD on top of the dyslexia.

It's hard. You are working awfully hard, and I agree that sometimes the way our kids respond to effort makes that effort SO MUCH HARDER to do over and over. I am not sure what the entire answer is. 

We do see stunningly different results with meds than without though. 

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I hate to say it, but the thing that helps the most for DS14 is the meds. At night, when the meds have worn off, he can walk to the sink to brush his teeth and forget what he was supposed to do by the time he gets there. There are so many tasks related to bedtime that either DH or I are in the room with him while he is getting ready. "Now brush your teeth. No, that's the wrong drawer for the toothpaste. Brush your teeth. Okay, now, deodorant. No, the deodorant is by the sink, so don't walk over here...." and so on and so forth.

A list would help, in theory, for tasks that are routine. In actuality, DS won't read the list. What I need to do is make a list anyway and then tell him over and over, "check your list," instead of naming the specific tasks. Bedtime and breakfast are the absolute worst for him.

So that is not very helpful, because it suggests that the problem does not improve. I don't know. I haven't seen much improvement with DS over the years, and I just have to say what has been true here. When medicated, he can do two to three things. But I still have to observe to makes sure he does it, because he will still get off track.

I do still say his name to get his attention before I speak to him, and I make sure he is looking at me. These do help.

Also, if it is something he does not want to do, he will not try to do his best at it, and things fall apart more easily. This happens a lot here. So he doesn't try to remember to hang up his towel and flush the toilet, because he really doesn't care.

It really is so hard. I haven't found answers. I heard the author of the book Smart But Scattered speak last year, so I would recommend that, if you haven't read it. One of the things in that book is the idea that we all have EF strengths and weaknesses, and they are all different for each of us, but we can learn to use our strengths to shore up our weaknesses. DS is very weak over all EF categories, so that idea didn't help me, but there may be ideas in that book that will help you.

In general, I think that routine can help with the multi-step things. It won't help everything, but if you can chain things together, it can help someone learn the things that have to be done every day. DS14 will clear his own dishes and put them in the dishwasher now, and I don't have to remind him any more. YAY! We've been working on that one since preschool. On the other hand, he does not necessarily do it well yet. Twelve years of daily practice.

Progress is really, really slow for him. But structure really helps.

 

Edited by Storygirl
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Oh, for my toothbrushing example. That may seem extreme for an almost 15 year old. It is. I agree with that.

But it's an example of something that he does not want to do and will not do well without support. Even with support, he does not do well enough for the orthodontist and dentist. So we have to step up. When we step back, bad dental care happens.

Teeth is the most obvious example, but it's true for him across the board. If I let support lapse, he does less well. In areas other than toothbrushing, he has more independence now than when he was younger, and I only have to check and not supervise.

But these kind of daily tasks require multiple steps, and so they have been hard for him to master.

 

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Sounds more like a language processing problem than adhd — to me. 

We have one dx’d adhd; two ASD. Our asd kiddos have receptive language processing issues. And our adhd dyslexic has auditory processing disorder.

Caveman speak 😄 

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I love white boards and post it notes. I have found that having a post it note makes a difference in steps and honestly its easier than saying it 5 times. my son remembers visual information far more than verbal information. 

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I have a friend who cleans and then takes a picture of her sons closet and then posts the picture next to the closet so he can match it up. 

she also has checklists of cleaning or chores or toothbrushes with pictures. Her sons are 8, 10,12 so it really helps. 

I laughed after posting this  because today my son was having a hard time sweeping and mopping  the kitchen floor. I literally picked up a dry erase pen and wrote down the steps on our kitchen white board. Then gave him some encouragement that I would check in when I finished  something in the dining room. 

I also clean side by side with him and have him follow recipes to make muffins etc . The mixes have nice pictures on them and it helps him figure out what to do and how to make sure he gets through the recipe. 

 

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To get my DS to attend, I had to prioritize and select the most important goal/task to be completed.  I then assigned the task with specific criteria that DS must meet along with a reward that DS cared about.  Basically, I set up a rewards system based upon clear achievable goals.  When he was younger, he could not really handle more than one task at a time.  I eventually wrote contracts for tasks that DS agreed to and signed.  If he balked or forgot, I pointed to the contract hanging on the fridge.  It was amazing to watch DS attend when he realized he could not game, fish, hike, or hang with friends if his tasks were not completed.  When son was younger, the rewards were Starbucks, air softing, taco truck, or Chinese takeout because that was what he liked.

I eased some tasks.  For example, his bed making consists of one duvet.  Shake it out across the bed, fluff a pillow, and the bed is made.  He started laying clothing out the night before.  School bag was packed the night before.  He uses a Sonicare toothbrush.  Again, I used currency and fair warning.  DH was involved 100%.

DS cannot take stimulant meds, and our one drug trial was a bust.  In high school, we worked with an excellent CBT coach who was amazing.  My only regret was not seeking the EF coach and ped PT sooner. 

Edited by Heathermomster
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