Mamas, when your kid is driving you a bit nuts with their lack of organisation, I ask you to consider whether there may be a reason for this behaviour which is more than just laziness or naughtiness! Is your little genius a willful, infuriating monster at times or does she have reasons for her behaviour? Is she driving you crazy on purpose, not listening to you or ignoring you? Does she lose endless school kits, act impulsively and seem unable to concentrate in class? Before you start panicking about dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder or all three, there are actions you can take.
Many kids have mild developmental difficulties which may not be significant enough to lead to a specific diagnosis, but do cause you, your family and school to be concerned. They are often able to perform to a very high level on some tasks, but not on others, such as being great at thinking of ideas but weaker at translating these ideas into a well-constructed piece of writing. You may be worried that they are at risk of slipping through the net and failing to reach their potential if their needs are not recognised.
The good news is, mama, there are simple steps and strategies you can take to overcome obstacles when it comes to mild delay in child development. The first step? Identifying some common signs:
A Few Common Signs
- There may have been difficulties in the pregnancy or birth process.
- Sleeping or feeding issues may have been present almost from the moment the child was born, as well as persistent crying and restlessness, with no identified medical condition.
- They may have been slow to meet some of their developmental milestones such as crawling or talking.
- They seem to have slow or subtle processing problems when presented with instructions.
- You need to repeat basic instructions over and over again.
- They don’t seem to learn from experience.
Strategies for Younger Children
- Acquiring the ability to both sequence and organise is an essential part of your kid’s development. Disorganised kids often have problems with sequencing events, symbols, numbers and tasks. Start with checking that there are no medical/ physical reasons such as auditory processing: here is a useful checklist which can help you identify the difficulties more precisely and share/ discuss with teachers and other professionals.
- Make sure kids have regular exercise as they often benefit from this to improve balance and coordination. Some kids who seem to be disorganised may have developmental delays which respond well to a physical programme following an assessment. For these children, difficulties in pregnancy, the birth process or the first years of life might have led to immaturities in the ways in which they process information. This means that their disorganisation, lack of concentration and focus are the result of physical factors which can be improved.
- At home, tackle organisation in the bedroom by rotating toys: put some away to reduce clutter and increase their novelty. Set simple routines and use charts to keep on track. Victoria’s Charts are a great source. Disorganised children cope better when these routines are reinforced visually as well as verbally and it works better when your child is actively involved by cutting out pictures, adding photographs or drawings and the use of stickers.
- Bedtime can sometimes be an issue and bedtime routines should include a ‘quiet time’. Some children like a warm bath and to be tucked in firmly or may sleep better in a sleeping bag. In some cases a special pillow has been found to help (I can vouch for this as some of my clients love theirs). Research indicates that temperature is an important factor in getting off to sleep. Who knows, it could help you too!
If the difficulties persist, you may still want to consider a formal assessment and there are some great centres in Hong Kong where you can get advice and multi-disciplinary assessments.
For a free 30-minute initial Skype assessment, email Mary at email@example.com (for the first 5 Sassy Mamas to respond!). All Sassy Mamas receive 15% off full assessments.