By its nature, school places a certain demand on the child throughout the day. Most children throughout their day typically face a number of tasks that they find challenging and difficult to manage. When faced with such challenges many will work through their difficulty to arrive at solutions and complete the tasks before them.

What about the kids who are the concerns of these blogs – the shut-down learner types who have ADHD tendencies?

 They aren’t working through their challenges so readily!

One of the biggest issues facing these kids is the issue of “sustained mental effort.”  Put another way, these kids have clogged fuel lines for  completing difficult tasks!  They simply don’t have enough “juice’ to get them through their difficulty.

Take Hannah, age 9.  By description, Hannah is a very affectionate, loving child who tries to be helpful. At the same time, she is quite impulsive and unable to manage tasks that require sustained mental effort.

When I start to work with Hannah, I see very quickly that she has a “clogged fuel line” for task difficulty. After two minutes into a task she’s start whining, “Do we have to do the whole page…I have to go the bathroom.”   Rolling around on the desk, dropping her pencil on the floor repeatedly whenever she faced the slightest difficulty, Hannah had virtually no capacity to manage frustration. 

There are no easy solutions for “clogged fuel lines.”  Medication can be helpful, but many parents are reluctant to go that route.  Trying to provide enough structure and incentive may also be helpful.  Joining the kid and acknowledging her feelings about the task can also reduce the building emotional resistance building.  At home, you might try something like, “Hannah.  I know you hate this activity, but I’d like you to give it a shot.  I’ll set this clock. We won’t do more than 15 minutes.”

Ultimately, a certain amount of realism is required.  Knowing the nature of your kid and understanding that this issue of “clogged fuel lines” is part of the child’s make-up is better than getting upset with her.  Try working in small steps, increasing a little at a time.  Keep the teacher in the loop as to what you are trying to accomplish so the teacher knows what you are trying to accomplish.

Any ideas are welcome.  I will be sure and post them if you respond.

Tag:  ADHD,  Learning Disabilties,  Shut-Down Learners