8 tips: Working with children with ADHD

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since the last posting (sorry!). Today we would like to share with you some tips and strategies for you to consider when you work with a child with ADHD.

  1. Provide structure – It will help the child know his/her boundaries. When there is no clear structure for the child, it becomes hard for the child to focus. For example, physical structure; have the child seated at the designated work station area when the child needs to do work. Keep toys away and ensure child is free from distraction (TV set off) so that the child knows and senses that it is ‘work-time’ as the physical structure has already been set.
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2. Break down tasks – It will help the child to know how much work needs to be done at a time. Be sure to tell the child how much work has to be done first, and how it’s being split (e.g. “We have three pages to do, but we will do one page first, then have a one-minute movement break. ) You may give the child options for the break activity so that the child feels empowered and has something to look forward to after a task is done.

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3. Keep it interesting – even as adults, we like it better when things are interesting right? Make the activity engaging and fun for the child. Incorporate movements, songs, videos or even explore different mediums for writing or paper activities so that the child feels motivated to learn and work.

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4. Take breaks – allow the child to regulate by taking short breaks in between tasks. This is especially for cognitive-heavy or demanding activities like Math word problems, reading comprehension activities, or physically demanding activities like running. When the child’s tolerance level towards task duration has increased, breaks can be planned later so that the child can get used to working at a sustained duration.

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5. Encourage exercise – exercising is a good form of physical activity to engage children. It also allows the child to focus the abundance of energy the child has to something productive. Exercising can train a child’s attention to following instructions, joint attention, social learning and developing focus on task. Plus it keeps the child healthy too!

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6. Think out loud – practise thinking out loud so that your child can model you on pausing to think before doing an action. Never underestimate the power of modelling; when you keep on modelling positive behaviours like Stop-Think-Do, the child is more likely to follow especially when the child sees you achieving success doing the strategy.

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7. Use positive language – positive feedback can help build the child’s confidence. When the child feels positive doing the task, the likelihood of the child persevering and completing the task will be higher. Children with ADHD tends to not complete tasks as they may like to quickly move on to another activity without checking the completion of their task. Encourage the child to check their task completion before moving on to another activity. Remember, the child models after the person the child looks up to, so use positive language so that the child will use the same language on others too.

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8. Praise and encourage – give positive feedback immediately so that the child feels satisfied and encouraged to repeat the positive behaviour again. You do not need to wait for the activity to be over before encouraging or giving positive feedback to the child, praise the child when you see the child showing positive behaviour during the task itself. Recognise effort, not just the outcome. It will give the child motivation further to complete the task.

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Hope these strategies will help you in working with the child positively. Till next time!

Early Intervention: To do or not to do?

You sit at the sofa and observe your child playing in front of you, in the living area. Your child seems fixated on spinning the ball or spinning the clip. You see that your child has short attention span on things that particularly don’t interest your child, even though other children seems to enjoy those things. You see that your child is not developing well as the siblings; crawl slower, not speaking yet, growth rate is lower than average. Will you be concerned?

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It is important to take note of your child’s progress and development in the early years as it will show you the possible trajectory that a child’s growth may take. In this modern times, developmental checklists can be easily accessible from the internet; just type ‘developmental checklist for children’ in the search engine and you will be exposed to the thousands of pages and sites that has the information. In Singapore, we do have the website healthxchange.sg that parents can refer to where they have collated the checklist from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

But you do have to bear in mind that each child does have a different growth trajectory and path hence, most parents with more than one children may agree with me, children development differs from one child to another. A child may take longer to speak but are better in motor skills as compared to the other siblings. A child may not be able to read but speaks well and is creative. So, the question is, when should parents consider to have early intervention?

It is recommended that if a child struggles in two or more domains of developmental growth (cognitive development, motor skills, social, language & communication, emotional, self-help skills) and there is notable delay in the developmental growth or skills, then the child should be brought to the paediatrician to be assessed. This assessment should be for recommendation for early intervention, but in some cases the recommendation to be formally diagnosed may be given so that the child can have access to the support or accommodations needed for learning. Hence if your child has been recommended to do early intervention, then please do it. This is so that your child will not be further disadvantaged in his/her development.

There are different types of early intervention strategies and approaches, such as behavioural based, routine-based or play based approach. Do talk to professionals and find out about these approaches before figuring out which approach will work best for your child and for you. Why you? Because the approaches and strategies will not work for your child if you and the other main caregivers of your child are not able to adopt and follow through with the strategies. Early intervention is not for your child only. Early intervention is a family oriented intervention. You may send your child to the most expensive program, covering all the domains by different experts, and have your child attend the sessions daily to record progress, but it will still not beat the holistic progress that a child will make when the intervention is done in the centre or school with the professional and at home too with the parents/caregivers.

We will share more about the different types of early intervention strategies in upcoming posts. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to post a comment. Please invite and share this blog and our other posts to other parents or caregivers who may benefit from our sharing so that it will be of help to them.

Thank you and till next time!

Which therapy service comes first?

This is the most frequently asked question that most parents have asked us: which therapy service should be done first?

The answer is simple: what does your child need at this point in time? I know it is a counter-question, but this is an important question for parents to reflect on.

If the child has issues only related to communication or speech & language development, then usually speech & language therapy is needed. If the child has issues only related to gross & fine motor skills, then the physiotherapy or occupational therapy service should help to address the needs and developmental gaps. If the child has behavioural and emotions management issues, behavioural therapy services like ABA or CBT is needed. If the child has issues with learning and thinking skills, then specialised educational therapy should do the trick to address the issues.

But usually, the children have comorbidity issues. This means they have more than one issue to work on. If this is the case, so which one should parents choose to work on first? It is important to take note that researchers have found that there is a pyramid of learning and that the body’s sensory needs have to be taken care of before learning can take place. If the child is not comfortable due to hunger for example, the child will not be able to concentrate on what is being taught in class. If the child has emotional issues, anger or sadness or frustration, and this is not resolved, then the likelihood of the child not learning anything at that point in time is high too. Therefore the understanding of the child, knowing what the child needs to do, before taking on therapy services is very important.

Call us or WhatsApp us at 97557352 to arrange for a consult and initial assessment of your child with our Board Certified Cognitive Specialist and Darrasa’s Educator /Therapist before committing to any packages so that you are better advised on what services to start for your child.

It takes someone special to take care of a special person…

I read a news article today on how in 2019, a mother sank deep into depression and resorted to killing her son and took her own life after she committed the deed. It made me really upset and wonder, why must it end this way?

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In all honesty, who are we to judge a caregiver who has been through a lot caring for a special person, be it a special child or a special adult? Caring and support for the caregiver is also as important as caring for the person with special needs. Caregivers need to know that there are more people around who will be there to support them and share their concerns. There are success stories, there are inspiring role models for parents and caregivers too.

We are proud to share such an inspiring story here. Darrasa is heartened to share this inspiring story with everyone.

Mdm Magdalene Ong, mother of a son with autism, founded Singapore Special Voices and Singapore Special Community to reach out to other parents and children with special needs through dancing, singing and music playing. She shares with parents and caregivers how to manage and care for children with special needs and she overcame a lot of challenges to make her son, Chalmers Wong, the person he is today.


Chalmers Wong, 16 years old, has his own online art gallery (SpecialThots.com) and was a winner of Goh Chok Tong Enable Award in 2019. Click on the link above to see Chalmers’ art gallery. Listed below is his story, as told by Mdm Magdalene, to be shared with other parents so that they are able to hear the struggles and journey undertaken by Mdm Magdalene and Chalmers.

Though the journey may not be easy, and the struggles can be daunting, with understanding, care and kindness, the walk in this life will be much easier; especially when you know that you are not walking alone.

To all parents and caregivers of children and people with special needs, please know that there are support groups and organizations like Darrasa and Singapore Special Community who are always ready to listen and support you. You are chosen because you are special and walk on, with your head held high.

We would like to express our thanks to Mdm Magdalene and Chalmers for letting us share their journey. They are an inspiration to all of us.

We would also like to hear more stories from other parents and caregivers too. Contact us directly so we may reach out to you. We are stronger when we are together and when we support each other.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological disorder. Individuals with ASD usually display impairments in the triad of social interaction, social communication and restricted behaviour, interests and activities. There are other diagnoses that are similar to, and classified in the spectrum of Autism, such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Diagnosis of ASD is just a label. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Individuals with ASD have more than the triad of impairment; they may experience sensory issues, language development issues, health & growth issues and even muscle tone issues. They avoid eye contact or give minimal eye contact when talking to others, some may not be able to talk and rely on alternative communication devices to ‘talk’ to others. They prefer to be alone as they have trouble understanding cues and norms of socialising (they have impairment in social communication and interaction, remember?) They may avoid loud noises, crowded spaces as the sounds may be unbearable and change in routines are not appreciated, especially if they are not made aware of the changes.

Individuals with ASD have strengths too. Their keen &acute senses may make them talented in their respective areas. People with autism who are highly talented are referred to as ‘savants’. There are savants who are able to remember names, numbers and key details at a glance, able to draw a whole city from just one look, and also become musical prodigies. Since people with ASD are excellent with keeping to details and being consistent, they make good candidates to become chefs, baristas, quality controllers and other jobs that require precision and consistency.

But not all children with autism will automatically grow up to be savants. A lot of hard work, intervention and mediation of skills, soft and hard, needs to be taught to the child with autism as they are not able to learn or pick things up as fast as a typical child. This is not to say that they are in any way less able or inferior, this is just to highlight that they learn and need exposure to learning differently.

What I have written here, is by no means the full picture of autism. It is just a small tip of the ‘iceberg’. There are a lot more information that can be shared and I am more than happy to have readers put in comments and share in this blog. Darrasa is here to learn too.

Till then!

Giving & Receiving

In this current COVID-19 climate, the workforce and economic situation is depressing for some families. Job losses, income losses, uncertainty over where the next income is coming from but knowing that the expenses are mounting day-by-day. This is especially worrying for families who have members that need extra care and support, medically or academically.

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I like this saying, “Dalam rezeki kata, ada juga rezeki orang lain” which means ‘in our sustenance, there is sustenance for others’. Sustenance is a blessing, people relates income to sustenance; hence they associate sustenance to income.

But are you aware that health is a blessing, wealth is a blessing, having free time is a blessing, education is a blessing, knowledge is a blessing and family is a blessing too? We receive these blessings and we can give these blessing to others too.

When we are blessed with the financial means to help others, we could donate it or spend on others to help out. With our knowledge and education, we can share it by teaching others and guiding them to promote independence and empowerment. When we have the free time, it could be put to good use by volunteering our services for good causes, utilising our good health and time for benefit of others. In Islam, Muslims believe that by giving alms and donations to help others, the act of faith will be able to purify their wealth and income that has been blessed upon them. Christians believe in helping and supporting fellow worshippers and Buddhists believe that good karma will come to those who help others.

Are you someone who believes in helping and giving to others too? Go on to Darrasa’s homepage to see how you can benefit and help the community today!

Different? Unique?

There is an increased level of awareness for people with special needs in Singapore nowadays. This is definitely good for all of us, especially for our children and the next generations. Good in the sense that there could be an increased level of self-awareness, an increased level of understanding from the general public and an increased demand for greater research and support for these special needs sector. But is it really all good now?

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It has been noted that in society, the unique and different tends to be frowned upon first. Society prefers conformity and it is arguable that humans prefer to have a sense of norm for them to function properly. Even the most dysfunctional person has a norm – it is their constant dysfunction! If you place a break in their routine or norm – for example a purposeful, functional and consistent routine in a dysfunctional person’s life – they will struggle. The same can be said to those who conform to norms and functional behaviour too. If they have a blip from their norms, they will struggle.

Life is a daily challenge for everyone who is alive. All of us are unique and different in our own ways. Some of us have diagnosis, placed upon us for us to get the help we need, some don’t. Some will prefer toast bread for breakfast, some prefer noodles. Some are gifted in some areas, some need help. All of us are different. All of us are unique.

I will be writing some entries to talk about some commonly known traits and causes of what people call ‘disorders’ from the common ‘order’ in the next few entries. I will write about Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Developmental Delay, Language delays and impairment, Specific Learning Difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dysphasia, Down syndrome and others.

Do follow and read our blog and I welcome comments too! If you have a question about other diagnoses or you would like me to talk more about a certain topic, then you can just write a comment under this blog or send an email to admin@darrasa.org so that we can have a look and respond to you.

Till next time!

People around Us

Good morning! I am intrigued by the sharing of a few paragraphs in a book by a friend this morning. I could not help but think, “How appropriate!”

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The writer wrote in one of the paragraphs about how people surround themselves with others who either elevates them or brings them down. These people around an individual will help a person be the better version of themselves or a lesser version of themselves. Now, let’s take a look at where we are at right now. Who are we surrounding ourselves with? People who are positive? People who give feedback and show solutions or ideas to improve ourselves? Or are we with people who are constantly whining and moaning and criticising without providing solutions?

The paragraph also stated, “No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them help to make them great.”

I really love this sharing because it helps me to keep myself in check. Who am I surrounding myself with? Am I one of the people who helps and lifts others up?

BE POSITIVE. Be around positive people. Feed off the energy and feel-good vibes around people who truly cares and values what you believe in. Help others be great and be the change that you want to feel.

Till the next sharing everyone!

Social Mobility

The term social mobility refers to movement by an individual or a family unit, up the ladder of a social class. According to Cambridge’s online dictionary definition, social mobility means ‘the ability to move from one level of society to another’.

What does it take for a person and a family to attain social mobility?

person rock climbing
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Knowledge, opportunity and timing.

With the presence of knowledge and information, the individual will be able to meet the challenges and questions of life in a confident, prepared manner. When the opportunity arises for the individual, he needs to be aware of the opportunity and grasp it with both hands. Sometimes, the individual have to be ready, confident and wait for the right timing to climb up the social ladder.

Darrasa is here, willing to help individuals and families climb up the social ladder. Are you ready and willing to take this opportunity?

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