a mom on a mission

ADHD is classified as a disability. I choose to look at it as a different ability. But, it is still a disability. We have all sorts of tools and helps for disabilities in our society. We have canes and wheelchairs for those physically handicapped. We have special computer programs for the visual and hearing impaired. We have full stores of products geared toward those with autism and helping them to connect to their families and communities. But where are the tools for ADHD?Why aren’t there tools to help ADHD kids succeed in school and the world at large? There are so many things that could help them.

I am on a mission to have Luke, my 6 year old son with ADHD, all set for school when he enters second grade this fall. We know the accommodations he needs to succeed in school — we know that he is a visual learner and needs visual reminders and organizational assistance in addition to being allowed to move in his space instead of being required to sit still in a chair.

His first grade teacher used visual symbols as reminders of appropriate behavior throughout her classroom and even wore a set on her lanyard outside of the classroom with her students. She was so great about giving these sort of discreet reminders instead of calling someone out for what they were doing wrong.

Everyone involved in Luke’s education realized how key these visuals were to keep him on track. As well, in thinking about how to help him come home each day with his jacket and water bottle in his backpack, something we really struggled with last school year, I thought about creating a reminder sheet with pictures to post in his cubby for reference as he is packing up his backpack each afternoon.

I began to search the internet for picture cards. I was astonished to find so many products like this. However, they are all geared toward autistic children. There are hundreds of picture exchange cards (PECs) products out there. But since these products are primarily for non-verbal or low-verbal autistic children, the pictures break down each task in great detail. For example, it takes 5-10 picture cards for getting dressed — there’s one for taking off PJ shirt, taking off PJ bottoms, taking off underwear, putting on clean underwear, putting on pants, zipping pants, etc… What I was looking for was, take off PJs, put in dirty clothes hamper, put on clothes, brush teeth, take pills, eat breakfast, put on shoes, put on backpack, off to school.

It’s not that Luke doesn’t know the routine. It’s that his hyperactivity, impulsivity, and distractibility take him off task many times during the morning routine. I thought a picture diagram to follow would keep him on task better than getting frustrated and raising my voice could. It would serve as a reminder for tasks that most children ignore too, like putting the dirty clothes in the hamper. So I wanted to create a picture story for the following tasks:

  1. Getting ready for school (as I described above)
  2. Bed time routine (we struggle with staying on task with this too)
  3. Packing backpack reminder for school cubby
  4. Reminder to lift the toilet seat to post in the bathroom (this is a step he feels confident he can skip unfortunately)
  5. Homework time (turn off t.v., gather pencil and homework folder, sit at table or desk…)

I found that I could purchase a computer program like Mayer-Johnson’s Boardmaker to create all the custom picture cards and picture schedules I could imagine. However, this program is geared toward schools and autistic households and is expensive. It is not worth the expense to create just these few things.

So I find myself planning to make it since I can’t find it. But I am still at a loss for why we don’t have these sorts of tools for ADHD families. Every piece of literature you read about ADHD children tells you to be sure to give lots of visual cues and visual and/or written instructions whenever possible. Why hasn’t anyone created these sort of tools for ADHD kids at home and in the classroom?

What I would like to create is an ADHD Back-to-School Kit. It would include a student planner for organization and parent-teacher communication, and picture cards for tasks related to school. It would also include storyboards, of sorts, with the title (like Getting Ready for School) and then velcro spaces to accept the different picture cards. This would be customizable for individual preferences and needs.

I am also going to start making the picture cards. Maybe I will make them available for purchase too. I will have a good chunk of time in them and so many children and families could benefit from them.

If you have resources along these lines or know of visual reminder or other ADHD products I did not find, please post links in the comments section. If you are using systems like this, please share your experiences with us.

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Flickr YouTube 

Related posts:

adhd and school, attention/focus, classroom accommodations, General ADHD ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

6 Comments

  1. Jenn says:

    penny,
    if you are going to make your picture cards, why not ask Luke to pose for each action that you want him to perform. It could possibly motivate him because he's invested in your program and hopefully it might be more easily understood because he's posing for them and using his own things to convey the message. I'm not sure if this is what you wanted but it might possibly be a start.

    I think you are definitely on to something here. Keep up the great brainstorming.

    Reply
  2. PaulS says:

    Penny,
    I can only tell you about Dutch sites because I live in The Netherlands. We also hava a board for our son with ADHD and we ordered our pictures from http://www.pictomaat.nl , a nice preview of the morning ritual can be found at: http://www.pictomaat.nl/components/com_virtuemart/shop_image/product/5d22f822599f56836318c21cee201333.jpg
    The pictures we didn't have were drawn by our son. He likes drawing and they are actually quite good.

    Reply
  3. Thank you for the comments. I am going to make the picture cards of pictures of Luke. I think I can keep him “blurred” in the distance so it wouldn't matter to have other people using too.

    I will look at the links @PaulS, thank you. I like the idea of your son drawing his cards. My son struggles with writing and drawing so it wouldn't work for him, but a great idea.

    Thanks to all for reading and taking the time to leave helpful tips and your personal stories for all my readers and for myself.

    Reply
  4. leonsmom says:

    GREAT IDEA! I love the pages you made, I am planning to make something simular for Leon.
    I love what his teacher did with the lanyard.
    Have you read The ADHD Book of Lists
    by Sandra Rief? It has visuals in the back of the book for use in school. I'd love to see what all you come up with?

    Reply
  5. I have not read The ADHD Book of Lists. Sounds like a great book. I wish my library carried it but they don't.

    Thanks for the feedback on the student planner draft. still struggling with what to put in that last hole.

    Reply
  6. leonsmom says:

    Maybe you can put some affirmation in the last box. “you can do it” “we are proud of you” or some reminders of goals he is working on “stay in your seat until your work is complete” “great job, staying on task” …just an idea

    Reply

Leave a Comment

The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

Powered by WordPress | Customized by KW Design