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How to Plan and Implement a Schedule for your ADHD Child

written by: Jeff Braid • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/27/2011

Learn how schedules can help your child with ADHD. This article describes several types of ADHD schedules that are specific to children with the disorder.

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    The Importance of Using Schedules for Children with ADHD

    Children with ADHD require a significant amount of structure in order to be successful. The best way to implement structure in a child’s life is by using a schedule. A schedule is a clear, concise, and formal way to keep kids on track regarding specific tasks. A schedule can also help keep the child’s parent, caregiver, or teacher on track as well. Schedules also help children with ADHD understand what happens first, next and last. This article will show you how to develop and implement an ADHD schedule.

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    Basic Necessities of a Schedule for ADHD Children

    An ADHD schedule needs to be specific and concise. The schedule should include realistic start and end times. For example, if the child is to brush his or her teeth at 8:00 pm and end brushing at 8:05 pm it is assumed that it would take this specific child 5 minutes to start and complete the task of brushing teeth. The schedule should consist of visual cues or pictures of the activity, as children with ADHD can experience difficulties making sense of words. A picture prompt can help the child create a meaning behind the words. It is also important to limit the amount of activities on the schedule. This allows you to limit the activities of a child who may often jump from one activity to another. Activities can be added to the schedule, as the child demonstrates mastery with three to four activities.

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    Different Types of Schedules for ADHD Children

    There are several different types of ADHD schedules that can be helpful for children who have the disorder. The schedule should be developed with the child and based on the child’s abilities and interests.

    An object schedule can be used for children who require a concrete way to understand the events on a schedule. It involves the child taking a specific object that reminds them of the scheduled event. For example, the child may have a fork to represent dinner; a toothbrush to represent brushing teeth; and a pillow to represent bed time.

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    Different Types of Schedules for ADHD Children (Continued)

    A picture schedule includes a series of events with pictures of those events. Picture schedules are often used with children who have difficulties reading and/or comprehending and are typically developed with poster board, laminated pictures and Velcro. Picture ADHD schedules can include generic pictures of objects or events, or you may want to take pictures of specific objects or events that the child can relate to.

    Written ADHD schedules can be used with older children and they include events written in time frames in a calendar style. Written schedules can be used like a check list, in which the child marks off each activity that they complete. This schedule can be paired with a token economy system. For example, if a child completes 10/12 activities within the allotted time frames, he or she will receive a reward.

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    Resources

    The Watson Institute: http://www.thewatsoninstitute.org

    Note - This article was written based on the author's eight years of clinical experience working with children, families, and educators in the treatment of attention deficit disorder.