The three words which define my business have never changed! Imagination, inspiration, innovation: these lead my insatiable brain to discover more as I constantly search for links between the never-ending stimuli taken in by my hungry senses!
‘I suppose that’s where it all begins. In the flicker of an idea which, like a vivid firework, takes your attention for a moment and then paints a rainbow in your mind, demanding exploration and hungry for that creative spark which will turn it into a fully-fledged idea.’
Children are naturally imaginative creatures and those with ADHD have the awesome superpower of unbounded thinking outside the box; I often wonder if I’ve ever even see my box! When I was a child, ideas flowed from my brain like a waterfall of unbridled creativity and I remember telling long, detailed stories to adults who sat open-mouthed and wondered how such a young child could produce such elaborate tales.
However, I never enjoyed the planning side of stories – creativity doesn’t always want to behave logically – and I don’t feel I lived up to my writing potential in school. Even in year eleven, I still didn’t really know how to use apostrophes correctly and I always felt as though the curriculum was largely uncreative and involved too much planning for my liking. Nowadays, even though I plan some of my longer stories, I enjoy writing without boundaries and always come up with my best ideas on the spot – I just love writing spontaneously! If a parent asks me how to get their child to write more, I will always ask if they’re writing about something which interests them. Yes, it is important they follow the topic rules in school, but to really engage a child in writing they should be given the chance to write about something which fascinates them! When I work with children who have ADHD or similar, I always remember back to when I was younger and what really ignited my fire! When I am writing, ideas flow so quickly and it can be difficult to pin them down and stretch them into a story which actually makes sense, although with practise it is possible! This is true with most children who have ADHD and many I have taught give up so quickly because they don’t want to go through the monotonous process of planning. In my lessons, we do spontaneous writing, writing which captures the interest and takes all the necessary tangents needed to prolong engagement. In my mind, globes of multicoloured energy bounce around and whenever I sit down to write, I can imagine it as a whole universe inside my mind, with so many ideas and so many connections. Yes, it can be hard to choose which avenue to explore, but with so many, the mind of someone with ADHD is naturally created for storytelling!
My top tips for getting children with ADHD (and those without) to write:
- Let them write about what interests them! I’m a natural chatterbox and I love engaging children by asking them what has made them feel excited recently. A child I worked with today told me he’d been to the zoo and so we spent the lesson writing about favourite animals; there was no reluctance to begin and I know he was more focused because we chose a subject which piqued his interest!
- Give them something physical! I remember telling the most elaborate story about a an orange vase at my auntie’s house which kept a room of adults entertained. Like most children, especially those with ADHD and similar SpLD, I like to be able to see, and ideally touch, what I am writing about. When I used to do visiting lessons, we used physical stimuli in most of our sessions and this always enhanced writing quality.
- Give regular breaks! Unless I am hyper-focused on something, my attention span is limited and to keep concentration, I like to take regular breaks. Luckily, I am usually hyper-focused on writing (hence this blog) so I’ve never really had too much of a problem staying on task with creative exercises. However, many children (especially those who have had bad experiences with writing), will benefit from short bursts of focused-writing rather than long stints! It’s all about building positivity around writing!
- Give rewards! If a child dislikes writing, it’s important to reward progress, however small the steps might be. I am a big fan of sticker charts and certificates as these are inexpensive, yet build resilience and also improve a child’s general self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Embrace Creativity! The mind of someone with ADHD is like a universe waiting to be explored and it never really stops linking and creating. Embrace this. Always. There are no rules on how stories should develop and sometimes the most zany ideas can make the most fantastic stories!
Enjoy writing. Enjoy Creating. Make the most of your fast mind!