Supporting a child with a cognitive deficit disorder
In recent weeks, the news agenda has been saturated with discoveries of ‘off-rolling’, whereby schools suspend ‘problematic’ students, forcing them to look for other schools or to be educated at home. The issue has been so extensive, that Ofsted is set to target and investigate a number of schools in the near future. For many parents whose children are affected by cognitive deficit disorders, such as ADHD, ADD and autism, this is likely to be a near-constant worry, especially if their child is in mainstream education, where teachers are stretched and students are plentiful. Here, Melissa Würtz Azari, co-founder and CPO at Tiimo, shares her best tips on how to support a child with a cognitive deficit disorder.
Establish and explain routines
One of the most difficult things to do when your child is affected by a cognitive deficit disorder is to establish and maintain, a sense of routine. While all routine, no matter how rigorous, can be broken on occasion, you should aim to have set rules around certain things, such as when the child goes to school, when they have lunch and dinner, or when their play time is. For example, Tiimo allows parents to schedule these events, with reminders appearing on a child’s digital device (iOS or Android tablet, smartphone or smartwatch). Sticking to the basics will help your child find focus and reduce some of the day-to-day chaos and stresses.
Find tools that work for them
In a bid to establish routine, you might find that certain tools are more helpful than others. Experiment to find what works for you and your child. Many families use physical solutions, such as wall-mounted calendars or notes, reminding their child to complete certain tasks. While this might work in a home environment, reminders like these can be embarrassing and difficult to remember in a school environment. Try digital tools such as Tiimo – the app allows parents to schedule in daily activities, editing them whenever necessary, and accompanying them with visual reminders or notes, should the child need this. The great thing with a technological solution like Tiimo is that it is discrete – the child can glance at their phone or smartwatch and centre themselves, without having to ask for guidance or get distracted.
Create a structure (and allow for flexibility)
Creating a structure is important in any family, but especially so in a family where a child is affected by a cognitive deficit disorder. Setting parameters and sticking to them is difficult, but it is paramount you do so, as that will help your child’s development. To maintain the system, create a reward system – points work very well in this instance. You can award points for good behaviour, the timely accomplishment of tasks and so forth. The child can then redeem them for pocket money, time playing games, or watching a TV show. Make sure to follow through with this process, as the more you do it, the more your child will understand the rules.
Children with cognitive deficit disorders are very prone to easy distractions, whether those are playing on their phone or watching TV. It’s important that you minimise these distractions, especially whenever the child needs to focus. Set limitations and encourage your child to use up their energy in a healthy and productive way – encourage them to play outside as much as possible.
Focus on positive communication
As humans, all of us want to succeed, feel appreciated and well-liked, and as parents, we should encourage and nurture these emotions in our children. This is especially true for children affected by cognitive deficit disorders – setbacks can be frustrating and discouraging. Make sure to foster what the ADHD Society in Denmark refers to as ‘positive communication’ – praise successes, no matter how small they are. This activates the reward centre in the brain, boosting self-esteem. Encourage them and point out successes, no matter how small they are. Positive encouragement and a reward system will help your child feel more confident, developing and growing their strengths.
Encourage their way of thinking
Every person has their own, unique way of thinking and learning. Some prefer visual learning to auditory, while others might like to learn through sense and touch. Whatever your child’s way, try to understand it and encourage it. If you don’t understand why your child is acting the way they are, ask them to verbally explain their thinking to you – not only will this help you, but it might also teach the child to act in a calm and thought-out manner.
Encourage healthy habits
Lastly, it is important that you encourage your child to develop healthy habits, especially exercising and maintaining what is known as ‘sleep hygiene’. Regular exercise is a great way to use up excess energy, while also helping the child concentrate. Sleep is important because not enough sleep can cause irritability, inability to focus, frustration and even hyperactivity, which is especially disruptive for children with cognitive deficit disorders.
Tiimo is the assistive app that provides visual guidance and structure to those affected by ADHD, ADD and autism.Tired of analogue calendars, post-its and walls with pictograms? Tiimo is for everyone who needs structure and visual guidance in everyday