Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Kids with ADHD often experience challenges with attention and concentration. They may have difficulty maintaining their attention when doing tasks or playing. It can seem like their mind is elsewhere; it might appear that they don’t listen to instructions, or they might get easily distracted part way through a task. Kids with ADHD may show reduced attention to detail, appearing to make careless mistakes. They can be forgetful and have difficulty getting things organised, like getting things ready for a game.

Kids with ADHD can also be hyperactive and impulsive. They might fidget, appear restless, run or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or unsafe. They may talk a lot, interrupt others, and find it challenging to wait their turn or play quietly. They can be highly active. This can make group play challenging and can impact a kid’s communication and social interaction with others but it can also make a great athlete.

What might be some challenges on the footy field?

  • Kids with ADHD may sometimes look like they are ‘daydreaming’. It may appear that they are not interested in the activity and they may not respond straight away when their name is called.
  • They may get distracted part way through an activity, needing the instructions to be repeated so they know what to do.
  • Attention concerns can make it harder to learn new information.
  • Kids with ADHD who have challenges controlling their behaviour (e.g., they are hyperactive or impulsive) may be very active. They may jump into activities without all the instructions being explained, and they may be loud and very energetic. Being active and energetic can be great for playing footy!

Consider how you communicate

  • Engage the child’s attention before giving instructions: Call the child’s name before giving instructions. Making eye contact with the child, or giving a gently physical prompt (e.g. softly tapping their arm or hand) can help to make sure the child is listening and paying attention.
  • Simplify and repeat instructions:  Some kids might need instructions to be made simpler and repeated multiple times. You may need to limit the amount of information given, so that only 1-2 steps are explained at a time.
  • Check in with the child to see if they have understood: You can do this in a supportive way by asking them to tell you in their own words what they have to do for a particular task or activity.
  • Reduce background noise when giving instructions: Minimising background noise and distractions while giving instructions can help all kids hear and focus on the coach. You might need to face the group away from distractions behind you (like another game or people).

Add structure and routine to NAB AFL Auskick sessions

  • Have a consistent routine: Having a consistent routine at each session will help the child know what is planned for the day, so even if they have missed instructions, they will know what to do.
  • Use a visual schedule: Use a visual schedule for each session that kids can see at all times. This will help them remember what the plan is for the day or the activity if they have missed instructions.
  • Display a timer or clock: A timer or clock helps to structure an activity. Use a large clock or timer that kids can see at all times to know when the session or activity will finish.
  • Set clear rules: The rules of NAB AFL Auskick should be covered in the first session of the season. It can help to use pictures as well as words to explain the rules. Keep the rules in a place that is clearly visible to the children. Review the rules and consequences regularly if there are concerns about a child’s behaviour. You could ask parents to go over these at home with their child to help them remember.

Consider the activities

  • Shorten activities: Some kids might not be able to focus for a long time on one activity. You might need to shorten activities.
  • Use small groups: Some kids might find it easier to work in smaller groups. This will help reduce distractions and background noise, making it easier for them to focus.
  • Have short activity breaks: Allow kids to ‘let off steam’ and channel their energy by short activity breaks such as doing five push ups or star jumps.

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