The pandemic has brought new challenges for children with ADHD, from a loss of former support systems to the difficulties of remote learning.
It would be nice if parents of children with ADHD could pool their collective knowledge about coping with COVID-19.
Well, a new article in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology helps them do exactly that. In the article, researchers review 29 studies published in the last year in which parents of children with ADHD or autism share the coping strategies they use.
Several common themes emerged in families’ strategies:
- Online consultations and therapy: Social distancing has thrown a wrench into the in-person meetings with mental health professionals that many children with ADHD or autism and their parents rely on. But switching to regular virtual meetings can ensure continued access to this important resource for families.
- Teaching children about COVID-19: Understanding what is happening can help children make sense of why their lives have been disrupted. When teaching children about COVID-19 preventive behaviors like wearing masks, parents reported finding it helpful to give simple, positive reasons like “to protect grandpa.”
- Structured daily schedules: Although children have lost the structure of school, they can find new structure at home in everyday routines, with activities scheduled at certain times. Visual tools like whiteboards and calendars can help reinforce these schedules. Some parents also found positive reinforcement system like token economies to be useful methods for building structure.
- Finding activities: With children spending so much time at home, many parents described being mindful about selecting activities that fit their children’s needs and learning goals. These activities included a mixture of independent activities, collaborative activities with parents, educational activities, and household chores. Activities for children with autism often centered on a special interest. Whatever the combination, having some exercise and movement activities was considered important!
The pandemic has been a collective learning experience for all of us, as we figure out how to best reshape our lives under the “new normal.” For families of children with neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD and autism, that adjustment has meant experimenting with new approaches to coping.
This new study is an important step toward bringing together the knowledge gained by families during a year of coping. Maybe for some it will spark new ideas about how to cope with COVID-19 and ADHD. If you want to share other strategies, feel free to leave a comment below!