Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dealing with ADD & ADHD Scouts

Our Pack has a few ADD & ADHD Scouts, which I have found to be difficult to handle at times. Some of these boys are also my favorites to just sit and talk with at campouts or after meetings. I find it difficult to keep them engaged in a Den or Pack setting, even though I can do it when we're in a smaller setting, with only 1-2 other people around. It's been like that for the last 2-3 years and I've never really found a good list of advice that was specific to Scouting.

This morning I found one and here it is. Please forgive me for not giving credit- I found this on a Scouting mailing list.

Keep all activities down to 15 minutes or less. I would add that allowing and encouraging the boys to be creative in their projects helps tremendously.

Separate the ADHD boys from each other, and from other boys who are liable to follow the ADHD boys' lead in going wild. I seat my boys in a "U" shape with the Den Chief and my Asst Den Leader at the bottom of the "U". The three ADD and ADHD boys along with the most reactive of the other boys are seated in an alternating arrangement with the quieter boys. The two ADHD boys are seated right next to the leaders (DC and ADL) to allow for personal one on one control and the ADHD boys work harder at self control as they can get immediate words of praise from the leaders.

Let the boys know the plans for the meeting at the begining. Give them a goal and keep reminding them why they are doing what they are doing. Give recognition in the meeting for their achievements.

Maintain control of the meeting. I use a carrot and stick approach. The carrot is the "good conduct jug". Each boy places a bead in a clear water bottle at the start of each meeting. When disruptive or dangerous behavior happens, the Denner removes a bead. There are lines on the jug that will take about 3-4 months to cover. We just had our first reward, by their choice a trip to a local pizza/game center. The stick is first to "signs up", while using direct eye contact with the boys. A firm, non-stressed voice helps. Don't dwell on control, but quickly move to the focus activity.

Use short simple sentences. Ask the boys to repeat requests and directions back to you.

Have the boys draw up their own den meeting rules. I have a list that my boys made up posted in our meeting room. They point out infractions to each other.

Serve refreshments last. My boys do a round-robin for "snack". Every kid seems to prefer red drinks. The food coloring used, plus sugar in the cookies is guaranteed to have the kids bouncing off the walls in a half hour. Snack is a time for quietly going over the days activities and letting the boys know what will be done at the next meeting.

Be prepared. I prepare a month in advance what will be done at each meeting, and what must be done at home for each boy to earn the current activity pins. Having a well thought out plan gives me the freedom to adapt as the situation changes. In addition make one or more of each craft in advance so the boys have a model to "touch and feel" and so that you know how to do it, and that the boys are capable of doing the tasks needed for the craft.

Get the quick boys to help the slower boys. With supervision this can be a help. But watch out. Boys this age switch from cooperative to competitive modes very fast.

Keep the boys focused. ADHD boys are very easily distracted by external stimuli. I and my leaders constantly walk among the boys asking them to tell us what they are doing, complementing creativity. This seems to help in the longer more complex Webelos crafts.

Many ADD and ADHD boys take drugs (Ritalin, etc) to allow them to control their responses. Parents try to give the boys their dose about 1/2 hour before the meeting. But in real life, this does not alway happen. Be prepared for lasts week's angel to be this week's terror. My Asst Den Leader will become the terror's shadow when this happens. This is vital to a
controlled meeting.

Contact the ADD Warehouse, which has a catalog of reading and other things relevant to ADD/ADHD. You can call them at (800) 233-9273. I sat down with my ADD/ADHD parents and selected books that covered symptoms that were most common with their boys. The public library in my town had several books that gave me a good insight to the problem, but be warned, my parents told me that some the information was out of date.

ADD/ADHD kids need even more complements than other kids. But don't forget the other boys. Make the complement real, and word it in such a way as to encourage future growth. One of my ADHD boys has become quite an innovator in fishing for complements. He is begining to understand what actions will and will not earn him a complement and his behavior is slowly improving.

Cycle your activities. I have an active gathering game, den business, a focused activity, another short game, and then snack/reflection all within a 1 1/4 hour period.

My parents stay away from den meetings unless we are doing an activity that requires lots of supervision or assistance. The parents state that their boys are learning that all adults (Akeylas) require the same behavior, not just parents and teachers.

Relate information and activities to "doing" things. Somatic language that connotes physical activity helps. Many ADD boys learn best by doing, and are very poor at memorizing remote facts. This can slow meetings down, but will improve the experience for everyone.


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11:56 PM  

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