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Coronavirus and ADHD. Survive the COVID-19 Lockdown

By now, we are all aware of the new pandemic Coronavirus (or it’s formal name COVID-19), but there is a unique challenge for Coronavirus and ADHD families.

It is wreaking havoc all over the world, and now in the US.  Schools in many locations are closed. Many workplaces are closed and employees are being forced to work from home – if they are lucky.  Public places for entertainment and even restaurants are closed.  Public gathering in general are being discouraged.

This is a tough situation for all of us, but for Children with ADHD, this unprecedented set of circumstances presents an especially difficult challenge.

ADHD kids may be out of school for a long time, and besides needing to be kept busy during this time, the simple lack of routine can also be an additional challenge.

Tips for helping our precious ADHD children cope during the COVID-19 Crisis

1.       If they are out of school, create a routine for them.  Many children with ADHD will perform better when their daily routine is structured and scheduled.  This includes sticking to their regular wake-up times and bed times.  In between, their eating, play time and scholastic work schedules should be maintained.  Allowing ADHD kids to go through the day without a routine will hinder their ability to cope with a situation that is already stressful enough for everybody

2.      Provide plenty of age-appropriate mental stimulation.  Besides schoolwork (from home), encourage kids to read books that are fun for them or interesting to them.  Activity workbooks, coloring books, puzzle books and all kinds of educational material can be found free online – however not all online resources offer a necessarily educational experience.  A good approach for parents to find good quality educational material is to search for teacher resources.  In effect, during these Coronavirus days, you are their teachers.  We Are Teachers has a great list of free teacher resources.   What is great about this list is that includes sites such as National Geographic, NASA, the Library of Congress, Smithsonian and other top notch educational sources.  One particularly excellent source is this official USA government site providing lesson plans.   On this page you will find a small list of lesson plans, each of which could be a stand alone topic you and your child can make into a project.  Why not take this time and teach kids about Taxes, Branches of Government or the court system?  Many of these lesson plans have activities built in.

3.      Build in Physical activity and exercise regularly during the day.  This can’t be stressed enough.  Don’t let your kids become couch potatoes, or too wired from excess video games.  It’s not good for their bodies or their brains.

4.      Minimize Anxiety.  Your child may be anxious about the huge changes in all our daily lives.  They be hearing news or talk on the streets that can easily scare them.  Be very careful of what you say , and how you say it in talking about the situation.  If your child hears your anxiety, imagine how that will get processed in his/her mind.

5.      Watch out for OCD.  We are all being encouraged to practice good hygiene, including washing hands often.  Now, imagine how a person with OCD may respond to this.  Make sure your child is taking the proper hygienic precautions, but not overdoing it.  If they do show signs of overdoing it, you will need to help them find the right balance. 

Adults with ADHD

If you are an adult with ADHD, or living with one, all of the above tips are still relevant and can adapted to an adult version.  For example, for and adult with ADHD, working from home can be a bit more of a challenge due to a change of routine, and household distractions.

If you are one of those “lucky” enough to be working from home, make sure to set up a proper work desk.  This will help set the tone that while you are sitting there, you are at work.  Working from the couch is not a great idea.

Set up a timer to give yourself regular intervals.  Make sure you stay focused during those times, and likewise, be equally disciplined to take breaks at the set times.  Only you can decide what the time structure should be – everybody is different.  But setting up this structure in advance will help prevent you from floating from one activity into another and will also ensure you get the correct physical and mental break. 

Looks like this major disruption in our lives is here for a long haul.  Everybody is struggling with it.  People living with ADHD will need some extra effort to get through this crisis with the additional challenge of the Coronavirus lockdown.

But our ADHD community is strong, and we will get through this too. 

March 19, 2020
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