Practical and fun ideas to support children with ADHD and Autism.
Guest blog post, by Lottie at http://www.theramblingsoflottie.com
Hi, my name is Lottie. I own a blog called The Ramblings of Lottie and I’m a former Special Educational Needs Support Assistant. I have 4 years of experience working with children who struggle with Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) in an educational environment. I’ve worked with many parents on strategies they can use to help their children at home, whether it was with homework or social skills. I thought some of you may find it useful for me to share some of these activities!
The Times Table Ball
This activity really helped one of the boys I used to work with who really struggled to learn his times tables. He really struggled to sit at a desk and complete worksheets. The information just wouldn’t stick in his head. His ADHD would become too much and he would act out with bad behaviour because it damaged his self-esteem. When this would happen, I would take him out of the classroom and get the Times Table balls out.
They’re just different coloured balls. We used coloured sponge balls, easy to throw. We would throw the ball back and forth and with every throw, we would take turns to count in multiples. I would throw the ball to him and say ‘3’, he’d then throw the ball back and say “6”, then I’d throw it back and say “9” and so on. If he missed one or got one wrong we would start at the beginning of whatever Times Table we were trying to learn.
I even tried this activity out with kids I was supporting with autism. They loved it too. We picked a different coloured ball for different times tables (so the green ball was for our 4 times tables but the red ball was for our 6 times tables etc.). This is such a simple idea you can replicate at home with your kids whether they struggle with ADHD, autism or not.
Another very simple activity. A boy I worked with could not wrap his head around spelling phonics. So I wrote on some post it notes some of the phonics he was struggling with: ee, ea, ie, i_e. Then, I drew pictures of words with that spelling: teeth, feet, meat, heat, tie, pie, dice, pipe. I then stuck the post-its to a table and hid the drawings around the classroom or playground. He would then search for the drawings and run back to the table and place underneath the post-it he thinks it belongs under. Once he got all of the drawings, he would sit down and write out how he thought the words were spelt with the post-it note phonic by his side to remind him. That way he has two visual aids and an activity that he loves to help the information stick in his head.
Slap It Game
This game is great fun with more than one child. You can use it for nearly anything! The idea is you use a fly swatter to ‘Slap’ the right answer. So I might write “True” and “False” in big letters on a whiteboard and read out facts. The children would then have to slap the correct answer with their swatter as fast as they can. This is best with 2-4 children as it promotes a bit of competition but can work just as well 1:1 with a child. You could give them maths questions and give them a choice of 4 answers and they have to slap the right one. This was most popular after we finished a book.
The school I worked at, the children would have to take quizzes after they read a book to check whether they understood it or not. So, before a test I would help those who struggled with ‘tests’ by saying ‘facts’ from the book they have read and using the slap game they would choose if it’s true or false. This gave them a little boost of confidence walking into the real test or gave them another opportunity to read the book again to really understand it.
52 Card Maths
A fun Maths game that is high speed and keeps their concentration. All you need is a deck of cards. Lay one card down and whatever the next card is, you have to calculate the value mentally. So say you lay down the 3 of clubs and then the 5 of diamonds. They would have to calculate 3+5=8. Once they get the answer, lay another card down and they have to add that to their current value. So, if you then laid down the 9 of diamonds, they would calculate 8+9=17. You continue this until you finish the pack. It get their brains warmed up and a really good practise of mental maths. You could even time them to improve how quick they can do the whole deck.
I have found that with children who struggle with Autism and ADHD really flourish with practical, visual and creative activities. You can adapt these activities to your child’s needs and have fun with it. The idea is to make learning fun so that children want to learn and want to do it again. A fun activity will stick in their mind far more and for far longer than another worksheet. Create a memory and a learning opportunity.