Kids with ADHD: How Occupational Therapy can help

Do you have a child you know is bright, yet he or she can’t seem to pay attention long enough in school to excel?

Do teachers tell you your child is not completing homework assignments, is making careless mistakes, or acts impulsively in the classroom?

At home, is your child extremely fidgety and rarely able to play alone quietly?

These are just a few of the difficulties parents deal with when their child has ADHD.

How Occupational Therapy can help kids with ADHD

Parents face many challenges trying to raise a child with ADHD, and often the whole family feels overwhelmed by stress.

However, there is help for families of children who have ADHD.

Studies show that, because of their training in children’s behaviour and body awareness, occupational therapists with experience in supporting children’s sensory processing can provide relief by helping children with ADHD and their families.

Develop a Sensory Diet for your Child

Many children who are diagnosed with ADHD are also very sensitive to sensory stimulation. You may have noticed this if your child with ADHD becomes overwhelmed or overstimulated by simple stimuli such as lights, sounds, or touches.

You can recognise this sensory sensitivity in your child if they have a reaction to things that don’t tend to bother other kids.

Bright lights or sounds that do not seem too loud or high-pitched to us, may be overwhelming to your sensory sensitive child, and are often not tolerated well by children who have ADHD.

On the other hand, some children with ADHD have the opposite sensory need, meaning they crave extra stimulation.

These kinds of sensory processing difficulties can get in the way of learning unless they can be regulated.

Occupational therapists can help kids with ADHD by developing a sensory diet based on their individual needs.

By studying your child, the occupational therapist determines how and when they focus and learn best.

Then they create a series of short daily exercises that will stimulate your child’s body so that their mind is ready to learn.

This ‘sensory diet’ may include a program of mini sensory breaks for such things like jumping, lifting heavy objects, wearing weighted wraps, spinning, and so on.

These activities, done at the right time and in the right way, can help to ‘re-set’ your child’s brain and body so that it’s easier for them to concentrate.

Connecting the Right and Left Brain

You are probably familiar with many of the exercises occupational therapists do with children. Some involve such things as using their right hand to touch their left foot. At first, this seems to simply give your child exercise and help with coordination, but when your child has ADHD, it actually does much more.

The brain includes the right and left hemispheres and in order for your child to perform their best at school, they need to use both hemispheres (or sides).

Children with ADHD tend to be more dominant with the right side of their brain.

Simple exercises like the one described help connect the two hemispheres of the brain and so improve the ability to think, problem-solve and moderate impulsivity.


One key to having a more stress-free home and child is building confidence in your child.

Nothing puts a smile more on a child’s face than accomplishment.

Accomplishments also give kids the courage to strive for greater challenges.

Occupational therapists help your child with ADHD build confidence by teaching him or her the keys to self-control.

With the structure and gentle guidance of compassionate therapists, children begin to learn the steps of self-regulation.

It all begins with making a plan for situations that may arise (or will arise).

Often, your child’s occupational therapist will start with simple strategies like a ‘visual schedule’ that helps your child to predict the activities that will be part of their day.

Expert Home Advice

It’s normal for parents to feel frustrated by the turmoil that can result from a child with ADHD.

Chances are that a good deal of this frustration comes from not knowing what to do.

You may not understand how to respond to your child, and sometimes your efforts appear to make the situation worse.

When your child attends occupational therapy, not only does your child get much-needed help, but you do too.

OTs who have experience working with kids with ADHD can advise you about how to respond to situations and provide methods for managing stressful problems.

Many parents say that learning what to do and how to support their child comes as a relief because it not only practical, but can also bring peace of mind.

© 2017 Kids First Children’s Services

Does your ADHD child need help?

Occupational therapists at Kids First understand children with ADHD and we are dedicated to ensuring your child reaches his or her fullest potential.

Our therapists have learned several secrets along the way to help make your home more enjoyable and peaceful with your ADHD child, and we would be happy to share them with you

Contact us today for more information!

We’re here to support you and your child - no matter what.

Chat to us today

School Ready: get the guide for school readiness you've been looking for