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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman

10 Medication Free ADHD Tips and Tricks

Aaron runs into the house, grabs a popsicle, drops his backpack, drops his jacket (on the floor) and runs back outside. “Wait! “ his mom yells, “Pick up your jacket and don’t forget you have practice today AND you need to get your homework done!”  UGH! How does his teacher do it? At least 1/3 of his class must have ADHD and the other 2/3? Who knows?

Attention. What is it exactly? Most of us know when we’re paying attention. We are focused, listening, looking and absorbing. But for many, it’s not so simple. We enjoy paying attention to a great movie, a real page-turner, or a walk on the beach. But, the ability to attend really shows itself when we are asked to pay attention to something we are NOT interested in, such as a not-so-favorite subject in school, boring lecture, speaker, etc.  Yet there are tips and tricks for those who have some difficulty.

Lets take a look at some tools for helping you and your kids pay close attention before you grab for the medication.

1. Remove Distractions

Noisy hallways, noisy classrooms and noisy walls can all be auditory and visual distractions. So before we try some tricks, take a look around your classroom or work area and see if the room is actually distracting or engaging. Don’t’ fret though. Using carrels, noise cancelling earmuffs and light filters, can help a distracting room. You can also suggest putting tennis balls or padding on the bottom of the chairs to reduce chair noise.

2. Move to Learn and Learn to Move

Make sure kids are moving to learn and learning to move! Using chair balls, wiggle cushions, standing desks or even balance boards can really make a difference in their ability to attend and focus throughout the day.

3. Eye Hand Coordination

Toss and catch. It sounds simple but it’s actually therapeutic! By crossing midline and catching and tossing the brain can engage and perform. Try some Hand-Eye Coordination Scarves or puzzle Just 5 minutes can make a huge difference.

4. Position and Posture

How you sit can make a huge impact on your ability to attend and changing your seating can help as well. Using a wedge can put you in an active learning posture and offering alternative seating can provide a healthy change to a static posture.

5. Weight and Pressure

These two attributes are known for their ability to filter out sensory overload and the result can be better attention. Using a weighted vest, weighted lap pad or compression belt can help some kids make it through the school day with a better focus.

6. Sensory Break

Recess is great but a sensory break can offer just the right sensory diet when needed. Keep a Break Box or Break Bag at hand or install an Action Room! Or Chill Spa Room in your school, home or facility for improving school performance and attention.

7. Vibration

It’s like a mini massage, but vibration can really wake up the muscles and joint receptors. It acts as a sensory filter and can really assist some with concentration. Vibration can be applied to the mouth, back, arms or legs when the body needs a bit of a wake up call.

8. Chewing

The studies are out. Chewing helps us focus. But if gum is not an option, grab your favorite chewy. Keep one nearby at all times and throw in some great crunchy snacks throughout the day to keep the brain at its best.

9. Fidgets and Doodling

Though some teachers loathe it, doodling and fidgeting can be great brain boosters. It may appear as if kids are “out to lunch” but more often than not providing a hand fidget, foot fidget or doodle opportunities can have them ingesting all that you’re teaching

10. Deep Breathing

Take a moment, grab some bubbles or a wind instrument and get those lungs pumped up with air. Deep breathing has been shown to have a tremendous effect on our ability to attend.

And, remember. Attention is a learned habit. It takes practice. With small increments of time allotted to the subject at hand, a child’s ability to attend can improve dramatically over time.

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Ilana Danneman

Written on August 17, 2015 by:

Ilana Danneman is a pediatric physical therapist with over 25 years experience in the special needs field developing 100's of products, blogging, providing customer education, and catalog direction. She has worked for both School Specialty and Fun and Function and currently is a contract blogger and product developer as well as home health pediatric and geriatric physical therapist. She is currently the owner of the idea therapist and can be reached at [email protected]

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