Teaching a Child With ADHD

Teaching a Child With ADHD

Teaching a child with ADHD?

Do you have or are you teaching a child with ADHD? Whether you are a homeschool mom, a teacher in a classroom, a leader in children’s ministry or work with children ever… you have likely experienced the challenges that come from teaching a child with ADHD symptoms.  You know the signs:

  • Trouble paying attention to non-preferred activities (think math, reading, chores… whatever is not perceived as interesting is considered non-preferred)
  • Hyperactivity (the wiggle worms)
  • Difficulty taking turns
  • Impulsive
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another
  • Strong emotional responses to change
  • Is your child struggling with reading?
  • Does she become overwhelmed and shut down when staring at a sheet of math problems?
  • His room messy even after he spent “forever” cleaning it?
  • Copying from the whiteboard or from another text bring her to tears?
  • Do you become frustrated with chores being “half-done”?
  • Check out Attitudemag.com for more information.

When our children struggle with symptoms of ADHD, it can be extremely challenging for teacher and student alike.  The student struggles to maintain attention and becomes bored and distracted.  Teacher becomes frustrated with her inability to teach the child effectively.  Academic growth stalls out while frustrations and tensions between child and teacher grow.

So what does the homeschool mom or school teacher do to more effectively teach a child with adhd?  After all, a child’s engagement is critical to retention and understanding.

** This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible.  Appreciate your support.  

ADHD Teaching Tips

To gather some useful teaching tips to engage kids with ADHD, I sought out the advice of an amazing friend.  Alicia Matthews, MS, OTR/L, has walked alongside my family for years and is a wealth of information for helping parents and teachers more effectively engage and teach children with ADHD.  It is no wonder that I would seek out her ADHD teaching tips.

OT & ADHD

What is OT ? For those who don’t know, OT stands for Occupational Therapy. Many parents are catching on to the benefits of Occupational Therapy (OT) for kids. OT strategies are often used to strengthen various areas of development for children. According to Understood.org, a great resource for teaching students with ADHD:

Occupational therapy (OT) helps people who struggle to do everyday tasks because of poor motor skills. For kids, that includes tasks that are part of learning and functioning well at school.

Understood.org, Occupational Therapy: What You Need to Know

There is a common misperception about OT amongst many parents. I know because I used to be one of them.  I used to think that school-related OT was only useful if a student had handwriting issues. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Occupational Therapy for Teaching a Child with ADHD?

Occupational Therapy is not a new area of intervention for teaching students with ADHD.  However, recently more and more parents are learning of its effectiveness at addressing their student’s ADHD symptoms.  Fortunately, OT strategies can help with a variety of school-related issues. Today, we will discuss how OT strategies can assist with teaching students with ADHD.  Specifically,  today we will discuss a common ADHD-like symptom that impacts learning: visual attention weaknesses.

Why is it important to assess visual attention in students struggling with school?  Specifically, why do children who hate math and reading often have this attention weaknesses?

You may be shaking your head at the computer or phone screen mumbling, “Wait a minute, Lindsay. Huh? Visual attention? What is that and why do I care?  Just help me get my child to sit still and focus!”

Deep breaths, Friend… I’ve got you covered.

What is Visual Attention?

I love me some Understood.org… let’s see what they say about visual attention.

The brain, not the eyes, processes the visual world, including things like symbols, pictures and distances. Weaknesses in these brain functions are called visual processing disorder or visual processing issues.

Understood.org, Visual-Spatial Processing: What You Need to Know

Occupational Therapists (OTs) use their skills and knowledge of the brain and its connection to the body, to apply OT strategies to improve visual attention in children.

My Middle & Symptoms of ADHD Visual Attention Weaknesses

Like many other parents, I entered the world of OT through experience with my middle daughter.  My middle daughter began reading quite easily at the age of four-and-a-half. Because her early printing and handwriting was done fairly neatly and well, I always assumed learning would be easy for her. However, it wasn’t until the age of 7 that I began noticing some “little things” that were, in fact, becoming big issues for her.

I began noticing her aversion to school work or reading.  Physically flipping and cartwheels at all times. Physically writing answers on a piece of paper was a very laborious task for her. She quietly avoided writing answers to questions on paper. For her, the act of hearing a question aloud and then processing it into a coherent answer was enough for her. Having to physically write down her thoughts was an overwhelming task.  Additionally, I began noticing that she skipped words or lines of text while reading.  As the font became smaller, these reading “missteps” became more frequent.

I noticed her lack of attention to details, lack of focus and her continued hyperactive-like behaviors.

Physical Therapy Leads Us to Later Occupational Therapy

As a baby, my daughter was late to sit up, crawl and walk. Because of these delays, at around 10 months, I brought her to pediatric physical therapy for months in order to strengthen these areas. Later, these memories combined with other emerging challenges, prompted me to seek out an OT evaluation for her.

It was through this evaluation that I learned of my daughter’s struggle with visual attention. God blessed us with an amazing Occupational Therapist who ultimately worked with my daughter on visual perception issues. My daughter showed difficulty with visual convergence, visual tracking and overall control over her visual system.

Each week, Alicia, my daughter’s Occupational Therapist, implemented OT strategies to improve my girl’s visual attention skills. Alicia would then debrief me as to what “homework” I was to complete with my girl. It was crucial for me to support the continued strengthening of my daughter’s visual system.

Why OT for ADHD-Symptoms such as Visual Weaknesses?

Basically, visual attention is what helps us weed through all of the information that our brains receive at any given moment. In the case of this ADHD symptom, our brain must process all of the input that is collected from the eyes. The brain must then take all of the information it receives and focus on that which is most important.

Every day, our brains receive a mass amount of input from our body systems. We smell, we hear and we see, for example. Our brains then process the information and ultimately, decide where to focus.

For example, while at the park, you keep your eye on your child despite hundreds of other objects in your view. Your brain knows to focus on the little boy in the red shirt and not the trash cans.

Taking this into consideration, we can apply it to a child’s learning struggles. Often, when a child progresses in reading skills, he may begin to shut down or hate reading. This is indicative of a visual perception problem.

For more information on reading instruction, check out my blog post on Reading Instruction for Struggling Readers.

Are Visual Attention Weaknesses impacting your student?

In a child with a visual attention weakness, he may struggle when given a math worksheet. Often there are twenty or more equations on a sheet of paper. This can be very visually overstimulating for a child with visual attention weakness.

This child’s brain has to weed through the many digits and focus specifically on one problem. This can cause a student to become overwhelmed. Anxiety prevents him from processing the math problem well. and ultimately, this leads to gaps in educational success.

These symptoms are troubling for many parents and children to navigate. Often times there is the perception that the child is not trying, just sloppy or careless. However, experts now realize that these symptoms are associated with an actual cognitive deficit. Specifically, experts are finding that visual attention deficits are often at the root of these issues.

If this describes your child, do not fret. There are strategies to help.

12 Tips for Teaching a Child With ADHD 

Today, I am honored to have my sweet friend, Alicia Mathews, MS, OTR-L share her expertise with you. She will offer valuable suggestions on how to use OT strategies to improve a child’s attention. These OT strategies to increase attention are useful for home educators and traditional educators alike. I know you will find these tips useful.

Alicia, take it away!

Sensory: 5 Senses + Two More Senses

Get up and move!

As an OT, I start with sensory strategies to improve all learning challenges. For learning that requires visual attention while the child is seated, sensory input is recommended right before the child sits. When you can incorporate movement into a lesson, go for it!

Movement as a strategy to improve attention

While you’ve probably heard that getting up and moving can “wake up” the body, you’ve probably never been told why.

A full sensory diet should be developed by an OT based on your child’s specific needs – however, the rule of thumb for a “sensory snack” is that vestibular activities should be followed by proprioceptive activities.

1. Vestibular input:

Outside “vestibular” activities may include going down a slide, swinging high in the air, or riding a scooter.  Indoors vestibular activities may include log rolls, spinning in an office chair, or performing inverted yoga poses.

Vestibular sensory system involves changes in head position. This movement releases histamine, which increases arousal. Additionally, head movements also help organize other neurochemicals.

 2. Proprioceptive input:

Outside, activities may include climbing a rock wall, maneuvering through monkey bars, or jumping on a trampoline. At home, activities may include pushing/pulling a heavy bin of toys, deep pressure with a sofa cushion, or climbing up stairs on hands and knees.

This refers to movement that incorporate changes in joint position. This input is also described as deep pressure. This movement releases serotonin, which decreases arousal level and “calms” the body down.  (Think deep-tissue massage.)

Sensory tools and tips

3. Time

When working on a difficult activity, start with small increments of time (5 minutes can seem like a day for some kiddos). Increase time when accuracy and skill confidence develops. Don’t be afraid to use short movement breaks as small rewards – remember, vestibular activities increase alertness level and proprioceptive activities to decrease altertness.

4. Obstacle Course

When movement can be incorporated within a lesson, try utilizing an obstacle course. Place lesson materials throughout the course or incorporate a “writing/reading/math” obstacle within the course. Have your child help create the course for increased motivation.

5. Seating

Varying your child’s seating option can be helpful. A sensory cushion, therapy ball, or chair band can help a child stay “alert” during seated activities. For high arousal kids, they tend to become more of a distraction.  However, I think that they work best for kiddos that need to increase arousal level. For more active kids, these options tend to become more of a distraction.

In the end, we all know that every child is different! If something doesn’t work, try another option.

Warm up your eyes!

Why is it important to warm up the eyes?

When reading and writing, your eyes perform a variety of movements. When these foundational skills are not present or automatic, your brain has to work harder to compensate. Understandably, this negatively affects a child’s ability to focus and control extra energy because he lacks the mental effort that has been waster trying to control his eye functions.  Often, the following reading skills are overlooked at annual well-visits so it is entirely possible that a child may be struggling in this area:

  1. Fixation: the ability to focus on a target
  2. Saccades: the ability to jump from one target to another
  3. Pursuits: the ability to track a moving target

Occupational Therapy focuses on advanced eye movements and skills within formal treatment.  Here are some easy eye warm-ups you can do at home. 

6. Toss a Ball or Balloon

Hit a balloon or toss a large ball back and forth 10 times.

  • For older kids, you may vary the height and speed of the object.

7. Tick Tocks

Complete “tick tocks” by looking up and down 10 times in a slow rhythmical pattern. Follow with looking right and left.

  • You can complete with music to increase efficiency.

8.  Play “Eye Movement” Simon Says

  • Mirror eye movements made in the 4 corners of your visual field. Start with 1 movement and increase until someone loses the pattern!

Check out the environment

9. Lighting

Natural light is best. Florescent lights can quickly cause fatigue, especially with intensive reading activities. Use natural light when possible, and try to limit visual distractions. While it might be great to sit beside a window, it may be difficulty to “tune out” visual or auditory distractions from outside. When natural light is not possible, you can remove the amount of light bulbs in an overhead light or position your child with their back facing the light source.

10. Slanted Desk Area

Oculomotor (Lindsay’s Translation- Eye Movement) – Decrease eye strain.

Your left and right eye must converge (work together) to focus on text at near and far. Many children struggle with eye convergence. This often explains a child’s complaints of headaches and lack of desire to read.

You can decrease eye stress by using a slanted board or large binder under your child’s paper or book.  It is also helpful to maintain all text from one activity at either near or far. Instead of using a whiteboard, provide a handout or place the principal text beside your child’s paper.

11. Reduce Amount of Text on Page

Visual Field – Decrease the visual field.

Full pages of text can be overwhelming for children, particularly with non-preferred activities. For kiddos that are struggling with oculomotor skills, it may increase the likelihood of skipping words or full lines of text when reading.

A solid piece of paper can be used to cover half of a page, or can used as a line marker when reading or referencing. Some children may prefer a page “window.” A rectangle (to fill one or more lines of text) can be cut from a full piece of paper.

12. Use Color…Except Yellow

Perception – Increase visual perception. Visual discrimination, visual closure, figure-ground, form constancy, visual memory and sequential visual memory all contribute to visual attention and reading/writing skill development. There are some general suggestions that may help this area.

Ensure written and typed work is clear and without excessive text. Use contrasting colors, avoiding yellow text on white paper.

Research on color overlays and learning disabilities is limited. However, overlays are frequently used to decrease visual stress while reading or studying. There are a variety of colors available, and blues/greens are the most popular.

These can be used to cover a full page or a specific area of text. Similarly, highlighter strips may also be used to increase visual attention to text while reading. Older children can use a highlighter to maintain reading speed.

OT Evaluation

All in all, if your child is experiencing difficulty sustaining attention to seated tasks, or you suspect oculomotor and visual perceptual concerns, reach out to an OT for a sensory or visual-based evaluation!

Thank you to my sweet friend, Alicia Matthews, MS, OTR/L for her collaboration on this post.  She has been a part of my journey and I have learned so much from her.

Alicia is a pediatric occupational therapist with 8 years of experience in North Carolina. She has a Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She developed OT Avenue, LLC in 2017. Alicia currently works in home health and private practice in the Concord and Charlotte area. You can connect with her at OTAvenue@gmail.com

Holiday Hacks for Moms

Holiday Hacks for Moms

Like so many mommas, I am loving this cooler weather.  The colder weather lends itself to more cozy times at home with the family.  Though more indoor time at home as a family can be an opportunity for sweet memories, it can also lead to extra stress when our uniquely-wired kids begin to bounce off the walls.  Just as the cooler weather offers opportunities both for fun and stress, the holiday season itself adds even more nuances of joy and chaos. That means if we are raising uniquely-wired kids, we need to be prepared with some mom holiday hacks .    

Because many minds are way better than one, I reached out to my private AHFAS Facebook group to see what holiday hacks our moms had to share.  Of course, they did not disappoint. We are in this together, Sweet Mommas, and we need one another’s wisdom to set our kids and ultimately, our entire families for the sweetest holiday season possible.   We would love to have you join us.  Click here to join this tribe of brave mommas.  

Uniquely-Wired, Outside-the-Box Kids

The moms in the AHFAS private Facebook group are gifts to me and to one another.  This community has come together beautifully sharing openly and honestly the highs and often brutal lows of parenting children with a variety of cognitive differences or behavioral issues.  We are learning together that there is incredible hope and ways to raise our outside-the-box children so that they can thrive as the people God has created them to be.  Join us here. 

 

christmas, thanksgiving, holiday hacks, stress, mom, special needs

 

Diagnosis: Holiday Chaos (AKA Loss of Routines, Over-stimulation, & Lots of Junk Food)

How do some experienced mommas raising kids with special needs handle the holiday chaos?  Let’s turn to them and capitalize on the Holiday Hacks that have saved them one or two kid (and momma) meltdowns throughout the years.

Holiday Hack for Moms #1: Less Clutter!!

I encourage (as much as I possibly can) fewer gifts. In fact we don’t give any gifts to our children because we don’t want to add more on top of what family already gives. Most gifts = more mess = more frustration!!  

-Melanie, themathprofs.com

Holiday Hack for Moms #2: An Outside-the-Box Christmas

What I would say is think outside the box.. we go on a nice quiet family vacation every year for Christmas. (We try to go somewhere we’ve never been if we can). The holidays don’t have to be spent exactly like everyone else… we don’t all have to rearrange the house and put up trees and spend a fortune on things.. If you and your family absolutely love those things and it brings joy, do it. If that isn’t your thing, don’t! No need to feel any kind of guilt either way.. don’t be afraid to try out some new traditions that fit your family. It could be the best thing ever. My family thought I was a little nuts when I started thinking outside the box about holidays. Our kiddos say they like it the way it is and wouldn’t go back. 

 -Erica, Mom of two (one with dyslexia, anxiety & sensory processing issues)

christmas, thanksgiving, holiday hacks, mom, special needs, kids

Holiday Hack for Moms #3: Sticking to Nutrition Goals

I have my child on a strict no gluten, no dairy diet. So I just bring plenty of approved treats, with enough to share of course, and act like it’s no big thing. There are usually enough meal options so that I don’t worry about as much. 

-Maggie (1 child with moderate non-verbal ASD)  Maggie’s Fresh Kitchen

Holiday Hack for Moms #4: Think like a Boy Scout

Be like a boy scout and be prepared! Think ahead and try to get in front of as many possible situations as you can. The more prepared you are, the more calm you are likely to remain when something inevitably goes wrong. 

-Amy, Mom of 4 (Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Anxiety, SPD), Real Talk with Amy

Holiday Hack for Moms #5: Double Check All Itineraries

I learned the hard way to always ALWAYS double check the itinerary at any new or old town/city holiday festivities —and vacation outings. As well as to always travel with noise cancelling headphones.

It happened to us twice, when our oldest was 2 and again at 4. Once was during a tree lighting ceremony in a new town we had just moved to and at age four at Broadway at the Beach. Both places, fireworks went off and we had ZERO clue it was part of the evening’s agenda. 

My oldest was my sensory avoider and he was a runner. We almost lost him both times into the crowd (and he was non-verbal!) He was only a few feet in front of us but at the sound of fireworks he turned into “Dash!” Pure fight/flight mode.  Y’all, it was scary! 

For the town Christmas tree lighting, the fireworks were being set off on top of the parking garage that we were parked in and every business was closed. We found him banging on doors to get in, to escape. Once we caught him, there was no escaping the terrifying sounds!! He and I both cried through it as I held him inside my winter coat as far as we could get away from them. It didn’t help the sound was bouncing off all the downtown buildings.l, echoing loudly. At Broadway at the Beach, thankfully we saw him run into a busy candy shop with doors open. We found him hiding behind a trash can. Luckily we stayed there, in a restroom till it was over.

He is 15 now, verbal, and can handle and enjoys fireworks! But not my middle son (11.) So no matter how many times we go to a familiar place or holiday festivity, we travel with noise canceling headphones and double check the itinerary!  

 – Alicia, Mom of 3 boys (2 biological and 1 adopted through the foster care system.  ASD, SPD, RAD, Microcephaly, Mood Disorder, Shaken Baby Syndrome)

 

Holiday Hack #6: The Power of “No”

Be ok with saying no. If something doesn’t fit the needs of our family, we graciously decline—then celebrate in our own way. Sometimes we just decline because as parents we are too exhausted. We have become comfortable with only choosing what is best for us all.

-Anna

Holiday Hack for Moms #7: One Thing a Day

Holiday hacks for my SPD kiddo… We only plan ONE THING A DAY. JUST ONE.  However, we break our own rule on Christmas Eve but plan nothing the day before or after to cushion the overstimulation.  My husband and I always explain the plan in advance. We write out the overview of the week, then every morning we go through the schedule with our kids.  We pack familiar snacks. When we stay with family, we ask them to buy the same usual breakfast foods we eat at home. Practicing some family traditions at home is very important.  For example, we all sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, so we pre-teach them a few songs so they feel prepared when we are with extended family. 

 -Stacy, (mom of 3- one with SPD) The Semi-Crunchy Mama

My Bonus Holiday Hack for Moms #8: Plan Kid Friendly Holiday Table Activities 

Every year I make sure to fill the table time with activities to engage the whole family.  I print out Thanksgiving Word Searches, Thankful-For Activities, Christmas Make-a-Words, and a variety of other activities that engage the family in shared activities.  These simple activities are something that not only brings all of the ages together (we team up in pairs… grandparents and kids, etc), but also helps conversation flow for those kids who struggle socially.   I created a mini-family dinner table holiday pack that you can access for free here.  Thanksgiving and Christmas Word Scrambles and Make-a-Words.  Super easy to print out and have simple family fun around the holiday table.  

-Lindsay, (mom of three, 2 biological & 1 through adoption: Aspergers, FASD, ADHD, Anxiety) Our Adoption Story

 

God Chose You

Mom Friend, whether your child struggles with sensory issues, bounces off the walls when anxious, or simply needs the predictability of routine to self-regulate well, we can only do our best as moms.  Don’t be afraid to say no to holiday commitments and make sure to give your family plenty of wiggle room as you schedule the months to come.  God chose YOU to parent your child on purpose.   Release the worry about what Aunt Betty thinks when you have to duck out early or take your child to another room to calm down.  Trust in your role as your child’s mother and ask the Lord to lead you in the moments of anxiety this holiday season.  Praying for you to be flooded with His peace and joy in even the chaos.

What about you?  Do you have any hacks that may be useful to another momma?   Comment below.

Outside-the-Box Kids Can Thrive

Outside-the-Box Kids Can Thrive

Outside-the-Box Kids Made to Thrive

Too many children are daily being forced to meet expectations that they were never meant to fulfill.  These outside-the-box kids were made differently and distinctly with gifts, talents and purposes that cannot be met by others.  These outside-the-box kids must be equipped to thrive in this world.

Adoption of an Outside-the-Box, High-Needs Child

My hubby and I adopted a baby boy almost 6 years ago.  When our son hit 18 months, he began to destroy our home and our family.    His horrific and uncontrollable behaviors included aggression, destruction, and dangerous thrill-seeking behaviors. He screamed ALL.DAY.LONG. for about 3 years straight. Did not sleep more than two hours a time for almost a year and a half… that, of course, made things astronomically worse.

However, God used this 4 year experience of HELL in our desperate fight for answers.  He worked through relationships with amazing pediatric specialists.  God forced me into my own season of Christian counseling as I faced my own internal junk. tHe allowed this all to completely transform me as a Christian mother, wife, friend and educator.

And that transformation completely SAVED my relationship with my biological daughter.  Honestly, I believe it has saved her life.

Saved My Daughter

At the time that we adopted my son, we had no idea that our daughter was an outside-the-box kid longing to thrive.  We didn’t know that she was an Aspie girl.

For years, I tried to make her into a social butterfly like her older sister and me.  I didn’t understand why she way so “shy.”  I worried about her heightened-sensitivity level.  Her tears, her emotions… I wanted to “fix” her.
When she would not do what I wanted when I wanted it, I would become frustrated with her…

And she felt it… she felt my disappointment and the disappointment of others when she could not be who the world says a young girl should be.  It kills me to think about what she must have felt about herself knowing that she was different from her sister and a lot of the children we were surrounded by on a daily basis.

It is not the being different that likely made her feel less-than.  Nope, it was the messages she was receiving from the world around her, most importantly, in her own home.   The messages that told her she needed to be someone who God never intended for her to be that could have destroyed her life.

Circling back to 4 years of hell with my adopted son.  The education and humbling that I experienced, radically has changed me as a human being.

And, by God’s mercy, I am convinced that it saved my daughter!!

I fight the tears right now as I think about what she would have felt and believed about herself if I had continued parenting her with the idea that she needed to be someone different.  Someone who the world wants to be.

An Overlooked & Suffering Population

Aspie girls are suffering so much… for so many reasons.  One of the most crucial reasons that these girls are suffering is because they are being misdiagnosed.  They are being completely overlooked because Aspie girls present so differently than boys and the criteria has been based upon boys.  The mental health implications of being missed are astronomical.

Anxiety
Anorexia
Depression
Suicide
Trauma
etc…

But they do not have to!

Our outside-the-box girls are EVERYWHERE!

Except that so many have been told their entire formative years that they are not enough… they are inherently defective.  They have been told that they should not be who they have been created to be.

That their interests are “weird”… that they must change to be accepted.

That they must shove their outside-the-box selves into the one-size-fits-all facade that we have believed is the “right” way to live.

These outside-the-box kids do not thrive like this.  They often don’t even survive.

Can you imagine living your life like this?

So what do these outside-the-box girls do?  What do so many of our outside-the-box kids do?

They hide. At home. Alone.

There are likely millions of outside-the-box kids out there who are not thriving.

Kids with ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Learning Differences, Aspies, introverts… whatever.  It doesn’t matter if they have a diagnosis or not.  Who cares?!!!

These outside-the-box kids and outside-the-box adults are EVERYWHERE!

Mental Health Crisis Hamster Wheel

Why are we forcing  so many gifted, loving, talented and brilliant people onto the hamster wheel of mental illness?!

‘I’m not good enough.’

‘I always screw up.’

‘The teacher is mad at me again.’

‘I said the wrong thing.’

‘The noise was just too much and I couldn’t handle it.’

‘I cannot focus in a room full of other kids.’

‘What is wrong with me?’

The messages that our children consistently receive from the world are most often the ones that plague them for the rest of their lives.

How many more kids have to scream for help through drug-abuse, cutting, suicide, etc before we take a good look at this one-size-fits all system that is FAILING so many children?

Value Neurodiversity

We say that we value diversity in this country and yet we have a system set up for one type of child.

Our kids have gifts and talents and hearts that just want to love and be loved.

Often times, we try to raise our unique kids using the “world’s” expectations as our goal…

When our young kids cannot take it any longer, they explode… often times behaviorally.

I have learned, by God’s grace, that our children are gifts to this world and need to be raised in a way that allows them to thrive and shine.

Community of Moms Willing to Do it Differently

We must do this in community. We need one another to be brave for our girls… for all of the outside-the-box kids who are wired-differently than the world wants them to be. But again, what in the world is “different” when there are millions and millions of them in this world?!

I just want you all to know that there is a different way and I am rallying moms of outside-the-box kids to be BRAVE and do this parenting thing differently. 

Parenting Peanut-Gallery

We must stop being afraid of what the parenting commentary peanut-gallery people think of us as parents. We have to not care what the “experts” say if it is going to destroy the adulthood of our children.

These girls will spend roughly 75-80% of their lives as adults. These years matter. What they believe about themselves matters! They will carry this childhood with them into adulthood. We all do.

Let’s do this differently, Friends.

Rallying a Community of Moms

Please join me in this. I recently laid aside my side-business as a private tutor for kids with varying learning disabilities (again… they just learn differently that the system tells them they should…).

I did this to start an organization to equip moms to confidently parent their outside-the-box kids for a life of confidence and purpose.

I am rallying moms all over the country and the world to learn how to see Behind the Behaviors so they can “see” the true needs for their children. Then I equip them with tools, strategies and steps so that they can equip their outside-the-box children well.

Let’s equip these precious kids (our girls, in this instance) with what she needs to take the next step towards her amazing future.

I believe we must do this in community, Moms.   Join the private Facebook group, a community of moms partnering together to raise THRIVING outside-the-box kids.  

I cringe when I think of what could have been with my daughter if I had continued following on the path of traditional discipline and parenting with her.

She is thriving!!!

My son is thriving.

My almost 14 year old NT daughter is thriving…

Not because of me… but because of God and  how He has taken the lies I have believed for so many years.

The lies that told me that my value came from my children’s behaviors.  The lie that told me that if my child wasn’t behaving according to the culture’s expectations at one given moment-in-time, that I was a failure and that they would end up a mess.

Fear is a LIAR

I am a Christian.  I put my faith in Christ.  As such, I know that we have an enemy who would love nothing more than for me to look to the benchmarks and expectations of the world to dictate who my children “should be.”  The reality is though, that our children are each “wonderfully and fearfully made” and that God has a plan for each one of them.

Why can’t we trust that God has a plan for our children that may not look like every one else’s plan?  Why does every child have to be and act in the same manner in order to have value and develop confidence?

Let’s not fall into FEAR-based parenting… for the sake of our children.

Clearly with the mental health stats for kids off the charts, it makes perfect sense that we as moms should feel pretty confident that there MUST be a different and more effective way to equip our children.

Imagine a happy, thriving Aspie daughter who knows her worth… who finds her people… who knows that mom is in her corner and believes in her fully.

Imagine that same scenario for thousands and thousands of children throughout the country.  Imagine what they could do if they were encouraged to be who they have been created to be and equipped accordingly?

Oh my word… I cannot wait to see what God does with these amazing children He has so uniquely made.

 

What about you, Friend?  Does this idea of parenting our more outside-the-box kids differently resonate with you?  Would love to know more about you and your family.  Comment below.  Grateful for you.

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special needs moms, parenting, temper tantrums, meltdowns, emotions, mental health, self-regulation, ADHD, autism

Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation & Childhood Anxiety

We mommas love our kids fiercely, but can become overwhelmed when our children struggle daily with tantrums, meltdowns as a result of stress and anxiety.  A simple tool such as the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for the entire family.

End of the Day Exhaustion

As moms we often long to crawl into bed at the end of the night.  Sadly though, when we finally climb into our cozy sanctuary filled with fluffy pillows and blankets, we spend way too much time anxiously trying to fall asleep.   

That is often because we mommas have lots of trouble settling our minds.  The reality is that we are simply so preoccupied with the demands of our day that we access that first “quiet” moment when we lie in bed.  

To settle your mind when you are in the thick of a tough parenting season is like trying to staple Jello to a wall.  It’s just not gonna happen.   

Meltdowns & Emotions

More and more I am being connected with moms who have children who are struggling in so many ways.  Meltdowns after school, anxiety and stress trying to get them to school, sibling rivalry, volatile behaviors, impulsiveness… whatever it is… moms and kids alike are being hit with layer upon layer of stress.

Several months ago I did a Facebook Live in my Private Facebook Group where I discussed a simple tool that can be used TODAY by any and all parents.  Moms, I would venture to guess that whatever the situation may be with your child, that this tool will be able to bring about some major peace and stress relief for your entire family.

Throughout life, we have all at one time or another experienced some form of anxiety.   Often, we do not respond to our anxiety in the healthiest and most appropriate ways. We snap at our hubbies.  Yell too loudly at our kids. However we release it, if we don’t identify the emotion and the cause of the emotion we are experiencing, we frequently end up in trouble relationally.  

What seems like the tiniest thing can get you or your child amped up.   However, it doesn’t really matter what the trigger is. I would argue that unidentified emotions is most often at the root of all childhood meltdowns or tantrums.   

ACCESS ZONES OF REGULATION CHART

The Zones of Regulation

This tool was originally created by an awesome lady and teacher named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  Leah has created an entire program often used in school settings and at home.  I was originally introduced to this tool by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias. This is resource is phenomenal for children and families alike and has proven to be a lifesaver for my family.

When we notice our children struggling with certain behaviors, it is crucial that we as parents or teachers start challenging ourselves to shift our perspective about how to respond.   

If we only look at outward behavior at face value, we will likely not solve the actual problem.  We need to look behind the behaviors and help children identify triggers. Not only do we want them to know “what sets them off” but also how to process those events and resulting emotions.   The Zones of Regulation chart will help you equip your child to understand these concepts in a practical way.

Willful Disobedience or Not Yet Equipped

When a child behaves in a way that may initially appear as disrespectful, for example, the adult needs to pause.    If we take a moment to really think about what is happening, we will likely be able to propel the “behavioral” needle forward if we approach the behaviors differently.

 

Behavior is Information

I am constantly telling those in my sphere of influence that Behavior is Information.  Behavior is a form of communication.

When children “act out,” they are actually trying to tell the adults around them something that they can’t easily vocalize.   Let’s call this “mind-mouth disconnect.”  Children often do not have the vocabulary to communicate effectively and appropriately, and therefore, they respond through frustrated behaviors.

The child typically has thought that they can’t put into words.  There’s someone or something that is stuck running around in their heads.  Because they don’t have the language and awareness to know that the sensations they feel can be named with a word, they become frustrated and confused. They don’t know exactly what or why they feel the way they do, but they recognize that they’re “off.”.  

The Zones of Regulation chart is a tool that can be used by parents and teachers to provide children with a visual representation of a variety of emotions and mental states.  These zones are identified and broken down by colors to use in everyday situations.   

Simple Yet Highly Effective 

It’s so simple to use.  Print it out and post onto your refrigerator for easy access throughout the day.   Talk with your child about the various zones.  Give your child examples of when you have been in the “red” zone or the “yellow” zone.  Use stories to further clarify.  At bedtime, ask your child what “zone” the character is in and why.  Make the “zones” a part of your family’s language.

By providing kids with the language and tools to verbalize what they experience internally, your child is set up for a life of social-emotional success.  

Think about this:  How many adults do you know that don’t know how to handle their emotions? 

 

I would venture to say that we all know someone in this category.  Let’s set up our kids for life-long success by equipping them with the emotional tools that they need to promote healthy sense of self, which will only enhance interpersonal relationships now and in the future.  

The reality is that we can fill our kids heads with a ton of information about math and science, but if they cannot handle tough situations, they will likely be useless as adults.  

Check out this video teaching where I explain more about how to use this simple and yet effective teaching tool with your family.  The chart shown here was modified by me.  You can access all of Leah Kuyper’s resources and materials here.   

Video where I explain the Zones of Regulation Chart

Moms, Let’s Be Brave

Moms, Let’s Be Brave

To my momma friends and fellow educators who love and are invested in outside-the-box children, let’s be brave for our kids. ❤️ 

The children who are constantly hearing that they are not enough. 

The ones who will never live up the expectations of the adults around them. 

Like the kid back in school who was considered a troublemaker and ended up exactly as expected by the adults around him… 

The “loser” with a life that went nowhere. 

There is an underlying belief in our homes, schools, churches and our culture as a whole that there is a one-size-fits all approach to “unacceptable” behavior. We may try to deny this in the name of political correctness, but we must be honest about this reality for the sake of our outside the box kids. 

 

When we cannot control 

When adults cannot “control” the “challenging” behavior of children, the perception is that there is something wrong with the child. 

The idea that perhaps we are using the wrong approach with the more “challenging” kids rarely comes to mind. 

Again, the adults blame the child and continue with the same ineffective, life-sucking discipline strategies… and the behaviors increase as the child’s sense of self-worth decreases. 

 

Set Up to Fail

So many of our kids are placed in no-win situations as they continuously fail to live up to the accepted expectations of the world around them.

These expectations are often based upon benchmarks of development academically and behaviorally… Except these kids don’t meet the benchmarks and are always behind. 

They are repeatedly corrected, punished, and shamed. 😔 These kids spend their formative years hearing about their faults, and their inability to please the adults and even other kids around them.

 

 

 

 

Mental Illness Hamster Wheel 

These misunderstood children frequently end up trapped in a cycle of mental health issues that plague them for life. Rates of childhood anxiety, depression, cutting, and suicide are growing. 

We need to wake up to the fact that there are so many kids out there suffering under the pressure of inappropriate adult expectations. 

We are raising children to one day be adults. These formative years are crucial.

 

Mom Friends, it’s time to be BRAVE for our children.

 It’s time to be BRAVE for our outside-the-box children. 

Let’s stop approaching those who don’t fit the mold, who don’t respond to traditional discipline, with the belief that these kids are WILLFULLY making a choice to disobey. 

It is time for us to be our child’s cheerleader and coach. Let us coach them well while we encourage them on to be the best outside-the-box kid they can be. 

 

God Intentionally Chose You 

Moms, you know in your gut there must be another way for your “outside-the-box” kid.

You know that God has created your child uniquely and that He must have a plan for your child. You KNOW IT!! 

Yet, fear takes over. However, you don’t know what to do, but you know your child cannot thrive knowing that he is a constant disappointment.

We must be brave for our children who have been created differently. We must be willing to think outside-the-box with our outside-the-box kids. 

Let’s equip our children with tools and strategies so that they can live a life of confidence and purpose. 

Or we can continue to listen to the world and it’s rewards and punishment mentality. How is that working for your child? 

Every child needs an adult who believes in them… let’s be that for our kids.

  

Wisdom of Moms Raising Outside-the-Box Kids

 Mom Friends, it’s time to be BRAVE for our children. 

It’s time to be BRAVE for our unique outside-the-box children. We must be brave for our children who dare to be “DIFFERENT.” 

 

The Irony of “Different” 

Interestingly, referring to our outside-the-box kids as “different” is insanely ironic. Why? 

Hello?!! There are hundreds of thousands of them in our country. However, many of them are hiding out at home suffering alone because the culture’s expectations have destroyed any shred of their confidence. 

These kiddos need to be raised, educated, disciplined, and loved in a way that best equips them to flourish into healthy adults. God has equipped our children to be “salt and light.” 🥰 

Many of our kids display behaviors that are perceived as pure willful disobedience… Adults mistakenly believe that these kids are choosing to behave poorly. 

Further, we adults reek of hypocrisy and confuse our children. When we lose it, fly off the handle or meltdown in some way, we justify it by listing all the stress in our lives.

  

“It all just built up and I lost it.”

 

We give ourselves and other adults grace, but rarely our children. 

On the other hand, when children dare to meltdown in the grocery store after a long and exhausting day at school, we shame them. Onlookers often pass judgment and whisper, “He just needs a good spanking.” The self-righteous mom with her “perfectly” obedient, shakes her head a the mom wrestling her son into the cart. 

Unfortunately, I’m ashamed to say that prior to the adoption of my son with “hidden” cognitive special needs, I was incredibly oblivious to the severity of my pride and self-righteousness. 

The reality is that as a culture, we act as though we are surprised when a young, immature and growing child has a meltdown. 

 

Fear Leads to Meltdowns in Adults Too 

More importantly, when we as adults feel out of control, it scares us… 

Adults often respond to socially unacceptable behaviors from a place of fear and insecurity.. Because we believe we should be able to control children, we feel like failures and become increasingly frustrated.

Think about it. When we feel fear and insecurity how do we most often respond? punishment, aggression, anger. 

Let me repeat that: Adults respond to internal fear and insecurity very often through behaviors that look like anger and aggression. 

Could it be that children who behave through anger and aggression are actually struggling with fear?  This is a rhetorical question. 

Unfortunately, mom friends, if we really allow ourselves to go there, we will likely recognize that we often parent out of fear. 

We fear for the child’s future. ‘What will happen to him if I don’t stop behavior X, Y, or Z?’ 

Because we don’t know what else to do, we often fall back on the influence of a culture that is not invested in the heart, mind, soul and spirit of our “outside-the-box” child. The culture and traditional approaches often just want the inconvenient behaviors to stop. But at what cost?

 

Who cares most about your child’s future? 

The culture tells you that it is your kid that is the problem. You had better find a way to mold your child to fit in the box.  Discipline harder. Be more consistent.  Ignore him.   Your outside-the-box kiddo is expected to ‘suck it up’ and behave regardless of his capability to do so.  Parents are told that there is only one way. You are told to force your child to fit the mold. If you can’t change your child, people perceive you as a poor parent. 

Momma Friend, I hear it every day. 

  • The school called. My kid flipped out and hit a little boy in class. Now he is suspended.
  • My daughter clings to me at church because it is so loud and crazy in there. She started melting down in the middle of the foyer last Sunday.
  • The teacher said that my child is off in lala land and that’s why she can’t learn to read.
  • My son comes home from school every day and screams and has meltdowns. No one believes me.
  • My child begs me not to send him to school (church, sports, etc) each day.
  • Getting to get my child to do her homework always ends up in tears and stress. She just screams that it’s too much to do.
  • I just found out that my daughter is cutting. She is under so much pressure. How do I help her?
  • My child can’t sit for circle time. She is going to get kicked out of preschool.
  • My son came home sobbing because he was back on red today. He told me that he tried so hard to sit still but when he did that, he couldn’t focus on what the teacher said. The teacher then moved his card down because he wasn’t paying attention. He can’t win.
  • The mom down the street won’t let my child play with hers because he had a full-blown meltdown when it was time for him to share.
  • The counselor says I shouldn’t coddle him…
  • The list goes on.

 

We Know God Does Not Make Mistakes 

We know deep down inside of us that there must be a better and different approach in order to thrive. 

And yet, out of FEAR of the culture (the schools, the teachers, the church, our friends, the lady in the grocery store…), we mommas cave and anxiously try to force our child to meet the world’s expectations.

We don’t know what else to do so we then push harder, yell louder, punish longer…  Sometimes our kids acquiesce out of fear or exhaustion… having learned nothing about how to handle tough situations in the future. 

 

Immediate Obedience at What Cost? 

The cost of quick obedience through shame and punishment is HIGH... broken parent-child relationships, depression, anxiety, low self-worth, cutting, increased suicide rates… 

The price is exponentially higher for children with cognitive differences or delays. So many of these kids do not have the capability to comply appropriately through rewards and punishments because they are stuck in fight-or-flight. 

As a culture we say celebrate diversity and yet we have virtually no tolerance for children who are “different.” 

For the child who doesn’t fit inside the cultural box… the ones who are “different.” 

Let’s be brave together, Moms.

  

Let’s Equip Our Kids 

Our children need to be equipped with the skills, direction, tools, LOVE and support of adults so that they can learn to appropriately handle big emotions, thoughts, etc… 

When children are not taught these crucial life skills in a way in which they can receive and process, they fail and disappoint the world around them… over and over again. 

My heart aches for the children whose sense of self-worth and ability to function in this world are often dictated by a perspective of children that assumes the worst of them. 

No more sending our kids to their rooms yelling, “Go to your room until you can behave!!!” 

Let’s actually look behind the behavior FIRST. 

Let’s teach them to behave appropriately by equipping them with lifelong emotional regulation skills and tools. Momma, we must give them the education they need. Our children need to understand the LARGE sensations they experience inside their bodies… (aka feelings). We need to engage them in conversations about how their thoughts impact their feelings and behaviors. 

What if we rally together to equip them instead of shame them?

  

God Chose You to Parent Your Child 

Every adult remembers that kid from school who couldn’t get it together and behave in class… The troublemaker…  Maybe you were that kid.  Maybe you beat the odds… but most don’t. 

Eventually after never being able to please and “obey right away,” that childhood “troublemaker” believed that he could not ever do it right.  He was forced into the cycle of “I suck and I can’t do anything right.” 

These are the ones who will never know real relationship and love because they were never taught how to appropriately handle their thoughts, emotions and such…. 

These are the kids from school who never succeeded. 

 Is that what we want for our children?

 

Fight for God’s Gifts to Shine Through Your Child

 Let us parent our children from the perspective of the gospel. God loved us before we loved him. God sought relationship with us while we were still sinners. He looked beyond our behaviors and showed us love through his Son. 

When our children mess up, let’s pour out the grace that God has gifted to us. Let us pour into our relationship with our child and show them that they are valuable even when they mess up… even when they struggle to focus, are impulsive, can’t learn math, struggle with social awkwardness.  

God has a plan for each of these children.  

Let’s be brave, Friends, and do something different for our kids.  

Imagine fearlessly raising our “different” kids into confident, healthy and productive adults…🥳

God has made us all unique!!   We say we believe in individuality and diversity yet we expect all kids to be the same in development, wiring, behaviorally and we shame them when they don’t comply!!!

 

 Children are adults in the making…

Is it possible that perhaps there is a different, more peaceful, relational way to raise our children so that they can be “wired differently” and that be seen as a blessing?  

It is time that we rally together to love, relate to, teach and ultimately influence these more “challenging” kids in a way that equips them for their best.  

Every child can succeed.  I firmly believe that God has blessed us with so many amazing and UNIQUE children with strengths that may currently be perceived as weaknesses… 🥰 

What happens when we look behind the behaviors and see the strengths of these kids?  What happens if we choose to love them well even when they are behaving in ways that make us uncomfortable? 

Imagine what would happen if we as adults allowed ourselves to focus on what our child needs in this season in order to later be able to function and love others well in the future. 

One step at a time, let’s connect with our kids and equip them with a vision of who they CAN be…. ❤️

 

outside-the-box kids, adhd, autism, aspergers, aspie, asd, sensory, moms, parenting, homeschool, christian parenting, aspie girls, aspergers, autism, adhd, aspie girl

Let’s be ok with parenting naysayers’ judgement and focus our attention on what our hild needs to grow into the person God has equipped him or her to be… 

Moms, let’s be brave and rally together to fight for the different and outside-the-box kids… 🥳

 

Let’s be Brave for Our Kids Together.

 Join the private Facebook Group and find community, encouragement and actionable strategies to equip your unique child well. 

 

Grab Your Free Behind the Behaviors Intro Bundle!

Stop losing your momma mind!  Parent from a place of confidence & freedom! Deepen your parent-child relationship.

Equip your child with  tools to navigate BIG emotions in a healthy way.  Empower your unique child to live a life of confidence and purpose.

Create peace & joy in your home and ENJOY your child.

Let’s Equip our Neurodiverse Children Well

Let’s Equip our Neurodiverse Children Well

Neurodiverse children are people too

Do you believe that our children are all unique? After all, there are millions of neurodiverse children in our country.  Why, then, do we as moms struggle so much when our children think and process the world differently.  I think it is because we have believed a lie, Friends.
This idea that tells us something is wrong with us as moms if our children are struggling to fit inside the box? This false belief that if traditional approaches to discipline and education aren’t working then something must be wrong with our child?   Could it be that all of our children are actually unique?  Wait for it… could it be that all people are different in many ways and that diversity includes more than just gender or skin color?  Could we possibly join together and allow our neurodiverse children to thrive?
How about we trust ourselves and trust that God has chosen us ON PURPOSE to raise our precious children? How about if we try something different with our neurodiverse children?

What is neurodiversity?

According to Understood.org, neurodiversity is:

Neurodiversity is a viewpoint that brain differences are normal, rather than deficits.

The idea of neurodiversity can have benefits for kids with learning and thinking differences.

This concept can help reduce stigma around learning and thinking differences.

Mom’s Perception Can Change Everything

Mom Friends, we have to keep it real if we want to love our children well… Let’s keep it real for one another…

For the kids that can’t seem to “get it together”…

And the child who is struggling to fit inside the box…

What about the one who feels as though he can do nothing right?

Let’s be authentic for the tween boy. You know him… he is the one whose heartbeat skyrockets in gym class. His heart pounds profusely not because of a great game of basketball. He is dripping with sweat because he knows he is about to be humiliated yet again. Sports are NOT his thing.

 

Moms Equipping Neurodiverse Children

Fear not, Friends, for that momma who watches her child break down with anxiety when it’s “homework” time.

Can we please be brave enough to stand with the mom who has been “kicked out” of playgroup? The one whose child doesn’t know how to “behave” appropriately?

Shouldn’t we prioritize love for the momma who wakes at 2:00 am overwhelmed with anxiety because she knows her child is struggling.  Her mind races as to what she can do to lift up and support her child well for his future.

For the mom who is late to church because her child threw a fit in the parking lot because the tag on her new pair of pants is driving her INSANE.

For the family who would love to enjoy a family outing but that one child is screaming bloody murder because his sister won’t stop singing…

Our Kids Need Us to Believe in Them

Imagine what would happen to the kids, who most would tell us to continue pushing and disciplining and punishing for “bad behavior.”

What would happen if we as parents, came alongside these neurodiverse children and embrace their differences as a blessing.  Moms sharing a vision of a bright and thriving future for each of our unique children.  What if we moms rally together to provide our neurodiverse kids the tools they need to get there?

Perceived Weaknesses as Great Strengths

Our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses…

Our greatest weaknesses are often our greatest strengths…

What if we looked at our child through a new perspective and looked for strengths out of apparent weaknesses?

What if we then equipped them with the emotional, educational, and practical tools to use those gifts to grow into the adults that God has created them to be?

Can you imagine???

No more kids growing up with self-worth that tells them “they will never be good enough!”

Every child has gifts and talents and purpose.

Let’s begin to parent them this way, Mommas… and let’s watch them fly…



xoxo

Grab Your Free Behind the Behaviors Intro Bundle!

End the stress & parent with confidence!   Deepen your parent-child relationship.

Equip your child with  tools to navigate BIG emotions in a healthy way.   Empower your unique child to live a life of confidence and purpose.