ADHD and Summer

If your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), summer may be a difficult time. However, by maintaining a regular routine, scheduling playtime, and organizing various other activities, it can make it easier when transitioning from the school year to the summer holiday. Also, this may be a good time to try a different medication, adjust the dose, or give your child a break from ADHD medications.

Does Summer Change How You Manage ADHD?

Summer can be a difficult time for families who have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The school year provides a predictable routine that can be helpful in managing ADHD symptoms. Transitioning from the school-year routine to summer break can be challenging for children with ADHD, who often find it hard to adapt to change.
In addition, some parents may wonder about the use of ADHD medications during the summer months. Common questions include whether medications are needed over the summer and whether summer is a good time to try a change in dose or switch to a completely different medication altogether.

Strategies for the Summer Holiday

With a few strategies and some advanced planning, the summer holiday can be less stressful and more fun for you and your child. The following are some suggestions for helping you and your child cope with ADHD over the summer months:
  • Maintain structure and a regular routine. Because children with ADHD typically don't handle change well, structure and routine are important for creating a calm and safe environment, which can help lessen symptoms. Although your summer schedule may naturally differ somewhat from the school-year schedule, try not to change things up too much.
  • Plan activities. Find some fun things to do during the summer. Consider things like play dates, outings around town, family game nights, and a vacation, if possible. Write the activities on a calendar your child can see so he or she knows when they will happen.
  • Schedule in playtime. In addition to structured play activities, make sure to schedule in time for unstructured play as well. This unstructured playtime allows children the chance to play on their own, which gives them the opportunity to come up with their own activities for fun.
  • Get outside. Plan outdoor activities and play time, such as sports, picnics, or simply unstructured play outside. This gives children the chance to run around and get some exercise.
  • Consider a summer camp. Summer camps geared toward children with ADHD are available in many areas. These specialized camps typically teach social or self-help skills in addition to providing structured camp activities. Less specialized camps not exclusive to children with ADHD may also be appropriate for some kids.
  • Continue to work on school skills. Include academic activities in your summer schedule. This could include things like tutoring, playing games that require math or reading skills, or choosing books to read over the summer.
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