Try these “Bright Ideas” for kiddos with ADHD

I can only imagine how my kiddo does it day in and day out…

Every day, I get an orange sheet from school that outlines my son’s behavior throughout the day.  Sometimes, when I read the notes in the margins, I completely understand where the teacher is coming from.  On other days, my heart hurts for my son.  Chase, has profound ADHD – combined type.  He struggles with inattention, impulsivity and hyper activity.  It also means that he is exuberant in all things in life – he experiences life full throttle and at warp speed!  

This really is nothing new for our family. He has struggled in organized environments since he came into our lives. It’s exhausting and discouraging to hear or read that your child has tough days every day.  If it’s hard for me, I can only imagine how he feels living it, experiencing it.   On the flip side, I know how exhausting he can be, and I only have two children to manage.  I can only imagine him in a classroom with 20+ other kids.  

Recent field trip for Chase, trying to share his thoughts.

The notes that really hurt my heart are when a teacher notes that he wouldn’t put down his hand and that he actually got up to tap the teacher to get their attention.  This means he felt so ignored that he made himself be seen.   This is so sad to me. It also makes me wonder, what about the times he doesn’t understand what is expected and he’s actually trying to figure out a lesson or has a problem. What if they don’t acknowledge him when he really needs help with the lesson?

Let’s rewind to pre-school. We had a GREAT staff at the Valley View Early Childhood Center with Ms. Jen, Ms. Diane, Ms. Courtney and everyone that was on his team.   Ms. Jen, his teacher introduced the idea of light bulbs for my sons “Great Ideas.”   Ms. Diane, his classroom aide, was totally in sync with my kiddo.  Ms. Courtney, the school psychologist, was a maverick for finding new ways to reach my son and give him opportunities for success. This team helped him in so many ways.  The light bulb idea helped him to participate without interrupting constantly and he knew he would have just a few minutes after the lesson to share his thoughts with the teacher.  It worked brilliantly!!!! (No pun intended.)

I’ve offered this great tool to his next teachers in kindergarten and again for 1st Grade.  It had not been implemented until now… I am so encouraged! His music teacher has taken to the suggestion and is willing to give it a try! My son is so excited to share this with her!  He just loves his music class and he’s so overstimulated with his excitement!  So, we sat down to make the light bulbs as a family.  

I made a template. I printed 3 copies to make sure there was a page for Chase, his sister, Emily and me.  We colored them.  Chase then asked a cool question… “Can we write things on them?”  Of course!!!!  He came up with sayings to include like “Your Ideas Matter,”  “I See You!” and “Be Strong, Great Waiting.”  My heart sings when he is so insightful.

I tell my son all the time that EVERY person has value and it is polite to acknowledge others.  I tell him that he is so smart and it would be great to share his ideas with others.   I also tell him that his brain is his super power and that his impulsiveness is his kryptonite.  I am so excited to see if Ms. Jen’s “Great Idea” will be brilliant for Chase and his new music teacher.

I’ve attached the template I created for my son for you.    You can laminate, use clear contact paper or even packing tape to make them more durable after coloring them.

There is a way for educators to use them.  When there is a super thoughtful child, the light bulbs can be very handy.  Introduce the concept by explaining:  “Sometimes I cannot be call on you every time you have great ideas.  The teacher needs time to teach and other kids need a chance to share, too.  I see you and I will acknowledge you if you have a thought or question.  If you need to raise your hand, I will give you a light bulb (or you can take a light bulb) each time you have a great question or something you wanted to share with me.  After the lesson, I will take a minute to listen to you and answer any questions you have. We may or may not get to all your thoughts and I want you to know your thoughts matter.”  I always find it helpful to ask my son to tell me what I just told him to make sure we are on the same page.

I learn so much when I stop and listen to his ideas on how to help himself.  He really wants to learn, he wants to get along, and he wants to have friends.  I’m willing to try things that worked before in new situations, and new ideas to see the results. I’m not okay with ignoring what’s worked in the past, leaving kids with executive functioning challenges to figure it out on their own, and limiting a person’s potential.  My son has so much to offer and because of how fast his brain works, he has learned things he’s eager to share.  I understand it doesn’t always get filed away correctly in that magnificent brain of his.  I know this is a multi-sensory approach that has worked for him.  Maybe it can be a help for your family or classroom too.  Best of luck!

Download the “Bright Ideas” light bulb template here to make your own cards.

Please leave a comment to let me know how this works for you.

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3 thoughts on “Try these “Bright Ideas” for kiddos with ADHD”

  1. This IS a brilliant idea. Listening is a super power, too. Feeling heard, understood, validated–You know this as a counselor and a parent and empathetic human being. Thank you for sharing this story of people working together to support a child. I’d like to offer this beautiful picture book title that depicts what listening can lead to: The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

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