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Ask our ADHD Expert

Meet our ADHD Expert who will answer your questions

Dr Merrilyn Clancy trained as a speech pathologist in Australia and went on to practice in the USA (California & New York). With a career spanning across research, universities, hospitals, private practice and schools, Dr Clancy’s approach is always child-centric and integrates whats happening at home, at school and on the playground to adopt an holistic approach. 

She answers your questions about unwanted behviours in children, especially those with ADHD.


What is the best way to manage routines and charts in a busy family with lots of commitments?

DrClancy's picture

Hello and thank you for your question

Any parent with a child with ADHD knows that leisurely on-time readiness is not achievable. First, adjust expectations.   Think about the way each child functions and how to make it simpler.  Example for mornings: Prepare things the night before, Do ItYourself breakfast tray that cues the child on what to make.  Use photos that show routine - washing face, doing hair, dressing, clearing dishes.  Make a video/audio of the routine.  Overlook mistakes like non-matching socks.  Stagger each child's morning routine so they're less prone to challenging each other.  Accept that your family's needs are different and that fewer activities may create a steadier routine.

Marie's picture

Merrilyne, what do I do when my 16 year child with ADHD cannot control his impulsivity and hurts his sibling. Its never intentional but he does not seem to be aware of the impact of his actions. 

DrClancy's picture

Thank you for your question.  

I'm sure you have tried many things that are sensible but haven't worked. A teen with ADHD is contending with the emotional skills of a much younger child, puberty blues, and an inability to relate actions and consequences in the moment.  

Accept that he will often be challenged by impulsivity and work on it with him over time.  In the moment, separate the children and explain you'll talk about it when things are calm.  Avoid any adjudication about what you see.  

Talk with your teen about what happened by asking questions that will direct his thinking to problem-solving.  The problem to solve is "hands are not for hitting" so how can you relate with your sister/brother without hitting?  What's another way you could.....?  Explain that this is his problem to solve, and that he will continue to flunk out with others by using violence.  He will end up in trouble, instead of getting what he wants.  This can only be done afterwards, not in the moment.  

Likewise, talk with his sibling in the same way, by asking questions that him/her thinking about how to solve the problem by not challenging the brother.  You will gain insight into their judgment skills and how to improve them.  

Finally, hold regular family meetings to discuss ways in which your family can work together to help your son with impulsivity.  He can express ways in which he can help as well.

Marie's picture

Hi I am writing as I am frustrated that although I have a child with the above diagnosis I am unable to get any government help, not just monetry I mean funded help with additional schooling resources required to assist my son succeed. I have done the right thing to get a diagnosis for him, however now what to do with this information, there's no go to organisation, I have to spoon feed the school on how best ' I think he should be taught' I've asked for a weekly aid / remedial reading however they cannot provide this, do he just sits in class, hoping something makes sense. What am I to do for him?

DrClancy's picture

I understand that it is hard to accept that there are few supports for children who learn differently in Australia. 

But he has you.  You are his best resource.  Get to know his strengths and skills.   Ask him about what he thinks his strengths and challenges are.  Write them down.  Do your very best to understand his feelings about himself and the road ahead.  Think about what he says and think about ways you can help him move forward.  Let him know you're there for him - and always will be, and that you'll work it out together.  

Ask questions of his teachers to understand what is happening in class, rather than imposing your views on them.  Ask what you can do, instead of commenting on what can't be done.  Start with one small thing you can work on.  Be his cheerleader, not his challenger.