Summer Activities and ADHD
Tips for a successful summer
Dr. Francis Maya states that while there is little research in this area, common sense should guide us. “The common sense answer is to keep them busy, as many parents have told me they had to do. Children should be involved in a litany of summer activities and they should avoid having a great deal of completely uncommitted free time with which they may tend to get into trouble,” he advises. Organized sports, hobbies, trips to the pool, summer camp, and even some weekly time spent refreshing school subjects can help fill the time productively.
Dr. Jeremy Gokey states that there are in fact therapeutic camps for children with ADHD. He explains that these ADHD summer treatment programs are designed and run by specialists in ADHD and other childhood behavior, and include many behaviorally oriented features. Less structured summer activities can also be helpful for the child with ADHD. “There should be a combination of scheduled events such as trips to the beach, with time for relaxing and playing with friends,” adds Dr. Brush.
Physical activity is an important component of a successful summer; whole days should not be spent playing video games or watching videos, no matter how educational they are. “Do continue with family routines such as doing chores and a maintaining a reasonable bedtime, otherwise the adjustment back to the school schedule will be too extreme,” advises Brush. Many parents may also decide to give their child with ADHD a summer vacation from medication. This can be fine if the child’s summer activities do not require intense concentration, but when focus is needed (e.g. on a trip to a museum), medication can make the difference between success and frustration.
Whether your child attends a special summer treatment program or becomes involved in organized sports or hobbies, our experts agree that keeping your child’s day filled with activities is the key to a successful summer.
At the end of summer, be sure you have reviewed your child’s treatment plan with your prescribing clinician. Make sure you have enough medication when school starts again. If you want to try a medication “holiday” to see if it is still needed, don’t do this at the start of school. Instead, give your child the benefit of medication when school starts, then, after discussing the plan with your child’s clinician, consider reducing or stopping medication for a brief time. During this time you can check on your child’s behavior and performance at home and school with reduced medication or none at all.
1. Tantillo, M., Kesic, C. M., Hynd, G. W., & Dishman, R. K. (2002). The effects of exercise on children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34, 203-212.
2. ADDitude Magazine. (2010). Summer activities for ADHD children and preteens. Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/7507.html