posted on November 05, 2012 14:21
Yes, You Can Take Family Field Trips… with ADHD
by Karen Sampson Hoffman,
FAMILY FIELD TRIPS ARE
IMPORTANT. Parents and children have the opportunity to
see each other in different roles and in new places, replacing routine
with excitement and a chance for wonder.
Some families affected by ADHD hesitate to plan day trips, short
vacations, or an afternoon at a museum out of concern that the symptoms
will spoil the fun. Nothing ends a good day out faster than a meltdown!
It is possible, though, to have these short adventures if you do a
little planning ahead of time.
KNOW YOUR CHILD AND KNOW YOUR OWN
Be honest with yourself about how much your child can
handle and for how long. This goes for you and any other adults,
too—especially anyone who also has ADHD.
• How long can your child go without becoming
overwhelmed or losing focus?
• How much activity or stimulation can your
child take? Be aware of crowds, noises and transitions. How well can
they be handled?
• What does your child find interesting? What do
you find interesting? Focus on what grabs your child's attention, no
matter how quirky or different from your own interests.
KEEP IT LOCAL.
• Find out what activities or centers of
interest are in your area. The less travel time, the more time to spend
enjoying your field trip.
• Consider unusual spots or locations
experiencing slow seasons. Fewer attendees can mean more in-depth
information and attention for your family.
• Choose one activity or location and savor it,
rather than rushing between events or places.
RESEARCH THE DESTINATION FIRST.
Advance research about your chosen destination can
benefit the whole family.
• Call ahead. Find out when the destination has
the fewest attendees and schedule your trip for that time.
Ask if there is a tour guide or docent
available. Mention you are bringing a child with attention difficulties
and ask what accommodations are available.
• Reserve what you need ahead of
time—including the use of a quiet space to regroup if the activity
Find out what food is available! Hunger and
grumpiness can bring a good day to an end very quickly. Learn the
policies on bringing your own lunch or snacks.
• Help children discover what is important about
the point of interest. Help younger children find books on it. Older
children can search for websites about it.
Pick one special item to focus on—a
specific event, area, piece of art, or machinery.
• Let children help plan items to pack based on
what they learned about the destination.
ROLE-PLAYING ADDS TO THE FUN.
Anticipate situations that could arise. Role-playing prepares
your child and gives him or her tools ahead of time, helping to defuse
crises and keep things enjoyable.
• Practice talking with your
child in a quiet voice.
• Take turns being the tour guide and pretending
to ask questions (also a good opportunity to practice turn-taking).
• Practice with your child how to ask someone to
speak up and how to address someone who has spoken sharply.
Teach your child what to do should he or she
become separated from you. Practice what information to share and with
HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN READY.
Life happens, especially on field trips. Prepare.
• Plan one fun activity as a substitute if your
trip is rained out or canceled.
• Know where you can take a break anytime you
• Scope out alternate restaurants, food courts,
and picnic areas.
• Be able to leave the destination at anytime.
Be careful about selecting contained activities such as boat rides or
• Know whether you can send another adult with
one group of children while you stay with the other.
REMEMBER TO RELAX AND GO WITH THE
FLOW. The field trip may not turn out as planned, but it
will still be memorable for your child—and that is what
Karen Sampson Hoffman, MA, is a health information specialist at
CHADD’s National Resource Center on AD/HD.
From the February 2010 issue of Attention.
Copyright © 2010 by Children and Adults with
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission form CHADD