Focus/Attention Exercises and/or Help?


New Member
Does anyone know of any websites or personal techniques they have tried to help their child with ADHD?

easy child's Concerta is doing a fine job of keeping him calm, although really isn't helping much with focus/attention. Neither did the Adderall, and in all honesty, I am not willing to go down a long trail of medication trials with him.

I believe now that he's calmer on the Concerta, he may be able to be taught some techniques to help with focus and attention. Does anyone have suggestions or know of any websites?

Thanks in advance!



New Member
One werid thing that helped the boys esp Ken is building with his k'nex. The other thing that has improved is their ability to use board games esp longer lasting ones. We would slowly increase the length of the games. The best new one we found for a quick game that uses critical thinking skills is blokus.
Hope this helps.


trying to survive....
Some people recommend nuerofeedback. I know very little about this, but I have heard people say it has helped to improve attention and focusing. I'm sure you will get alot of information if you google it....

Maybe games like concentration or memory would help.


New Member
Thanks, ladies.

I really don't have any problems with easy child when it comes to focus/attention here at home. He can play a 2 hour game of Monopoly without issue.

The only problem is school (academics). The teacher claims as she's teaching he's either playing with pencils, tearing up paper, etc. Always something OTHER than paying attention.

I'm going to try to get him a TSS for school. Hopefully we'll get someone with a clue that can train him, so to speak, and help him with focus.

I'll check that out, Jannie. Thanks!



Playing with pencils and tearing up paper may actually be a sign of anxiety, not inattention. It's hard to differentiate unless a skilled professional observes your son.


New Member
For what it's worth, playing with- a pencil or tearing up paper may be his way of trying to pay attention. When we had our neuropsychologist evaluation, the recommendation was made that my son squeeze a ball during times that required concentration and attention because he needed to occupy one part of his brain to let another part attend. The act of squeezing the ball was enough to let his brain focus and attend more easily. This really helped him in the classroom. Sometimes behaviors that some find annoying are really done as self preservation.

This particular teacher reported that my son shredded paper while she was teaching and she would try and punish him for it. He would tell me that he wasn't even aware he was doing it (to which she believed he was lying or manipulating). She of course would make him put everything away so that he had nothing to busy his hands (thinking that was a good thing, I'm sure) and then he had almost no ability to attend. I fought for his right to squeeze the darn squishy ball and life improved for him in the classroom (not because of me but rather because he needed to occupy that part of his brain that was meddling in his learning). It's amazing what one has to go through at times...


New Member
<span style="color: #660000">playing with-pencils, tearing up paper is not necessarily a sign he's not paying attention. most adhd folks are good at multitasking. when jarrod was tested for adhd he was tapping a pencil, humming a tune & still answered a complicated math question just before the dev pediatrician was done asking. the doctor was amazed. he still can't do just one thing at a time.

those activities, while annoying for the teacher i'm sure, may actually be facilitating his concentration. how is he doing with-his classwork? is he getting it??? doing as well as he can be expected??? not taking an inordinate amount of time to finish?

kris </span>


Active Member
I remember from my school days, a girl near me was meticulously folding a handkerchief while the guest teacher was speaking. He stopped, said he was disappointed she was not paying attention and said, "I know you can't repeat the last thing I said."
She did, word for word, proving she HAD been listening. What makes this stick in my memory - the teacher apologised to her and told her to go right on folding her hankie if it helped her have such a good recall. And in future lessons he encouraged any others of us who wanted to draw or colour in while he talked, to do so. After all, why do we doodle when we're talking on the phone to people?

We have found with our boys that sitting in a classroom full of kids and having the lesson presented by a person out the front talking, was the worst way for them to learn. They simply couldn't cope with all the input. Kids like this can listen better if they focus visually on something meaningless and under their control (such as shredding paper).

What we did for difficult child 3 - we found if he listened to music he was able to keep his focus just on his bookwork. So knowing he had his music to listen to as soon as the teacher finished made it easier for him to concentrate on her words for as long as he could. When the work sheets were handed out he was allowed to go sit at his special isolated desk on the veranda and put his headphones on (cheap CD player, semi-disposable). The only drawback was that if the teacher wanted his attention, she had to go to him and touch him on the shoulder. But since you just about have to do that anyway once he engages his concentration, it was no big deal.

A rule with choice of music - nothing with lyrics (so he won't sing along and disrupt others); nothing too loud and distracting; music preferably classical. Best composers - Stravinsky, Mozart, Handel (Water Music is great), Vivaldi (The Seasons) and even some classic Beethoven (5th Symphony is a wonderful exercise in minor thirds - the original primal music, because our first music for all of us is minor thirds; think how a child calls out, "dad-dy" in two notes - they're a minor third). For more modern music, anything from animé soundtracks and just about any synthesiser music, especially Isao Tomita.
We burnt school CDs for difficult child 3, he was allowed to help choose the music. And because of his insistence on reading labels, he quickly learnt the names of the piece and its composer, for everything he played.

If you can, teach meditation/visualisation/relaxation techniques, especially using the same music (or similar). If they're relaxed they can often work more efficiently. Then you build up a conditioned response - they hear music, they relax, they work. It all connects.

We now use an iPod instead of a cheap CD player, but that's because it's under MY control, not at school. When we drive to the city for the occasional study day at school (an hour's drive each way), difficult child 3 chooses the music we listen to in the car - on the iPod. It's amazing how it calms him down. And he can still do his schoolwork on those long car trips.



New Member
agree with all the others.

Perhaps your child is kinestetic in his learning style? The more involved his body and muscles are in learning, the better he learns. My son is this way. He will pace when "memorizing" and will have total recall of what he memorized.

Of course, being this way does NOT fit well with traditional classroom set-ups!!

We also do the headphone routine. And agree, classical music is great - NL discovered he also like Celtic music, so we use a lot of that, too. Also agree - no lyrics, it must be strictly instrumental.

house of cards

New Member
I also agree, my older difficult child could always multi task. I remember trying to tell him that he had to appear to pay attention as well as pay attention to people or they would get annoyed but I had better luck telling the teachers that he was paying attention even when it didn't appear that he was, after a few tests, and good scores, they would begin to see he really was getting the information.
As far as a program, I bought a CD "Earobics" that basically helps teach listening skills. It wasn't cheap, about sixty $ for the beginner at home one but it does help with focus, listening and phonics as well, It comes across as educational even though they try to make it fun. I struggle to get my Learning Disability (LD) child to do it but his twin loves it.


New Member
Yes, my difficult child in the early grades multi tasked and he constantly played with items, wrote and seemed he had to have something in his hands. I finally got him the squishy ball and told him to use that instead. He could pay attention and still to these other things with his hands. He actually needed to do other things with his hands. Maybe that is part of what is happening?


Well-Known Member
Good ideas here...

We've tried neurofeedback. The only downside is that you have to practice it on your own. Eg, I did it for headaches, and when I was in a tense situation, I'd remember the computer screen with-the little seagulls on it and get my mind in a relaxed state. Eventually, I didn't have to remember the seagulls on the screen... I could just recall the feeling. But it took a lot of practice. difficult child used it for attention, and never really practiced it outside of the dr's ofc. It was just a game to him, left behind the min. the door was closed. So it's hard to know how much he permanently retained and if any new neuropathways were really kept. You can create new pathways but they have to be used.


Active Member
You can set up a conditioned response without intending to. Pavlov did it - the dogs did not intend to salivate when the bell went, they had no interest in learning this, but it was done to them.
In the same way, you can condition your kids. Or anyone. Purely by association, you connect sound, sight or anything to the experience they have while normally exposed to that. So if you only play certain music while they are sitting alone and doing schoolwork, they will associate (whether they want to or not) that music with the mental feeling of being focussed and on task. it will then actually help them 'switch' into focussing on the schoolwork. Without understanding why, they will find that although they may not especially like that music, it does help them concentrate.
That's just an example - you can use other things.
Something to guard against is negative reinforcement - having anything around which, by association, increases anxiety. An example - our dentist has a lovely tranquil tropical island poster on the ceiling of his surgery. But if you have to visit the dentist too often for unpleasant procedures, seeing the same poster in a travel agent's window will make you want to walk away because you feel anxious.

You can use this trick in many other ways - I used to take my pain killing medications with a hot coffee, so the medications would dissolve faster and be absorbed faster. I didn't realise I was setting myself up for conditioned response - what happened was I began to connect the taste of coffee with the reduction in pain soon after. One day I ran out of pain killers so I just had the coffee - it worked. I tried it again and found that the conditioning effect wore off gradually over three days without pain medications, but I was able to condition myself again.

So if you have a child who takes ANYTHING as a one-off treatment for an acute situation (such as anxiety) then if you link the medication with a meditation/visualisation, perhaps using a photograph or music, you can later on use JUST the visualisation, or the photo, or the music to stimulate the reaction, because just as the benefit of the medications kick in, you're deep in the visualisation too. This can be very powerful in its effect.

difficult child 3 won't do relaxation exercises. I can't slow him down enough to sit there and think for long enough - his brain is too active. But the music works for him, and he's accidentally conditioned himself in other ways, in terms of where he prefers to do schoolwork for each subject. Example - maths in his bedroom. English on the floor of the dining room. Science on the dining table. So if he's having trouble settling to work, I look at what subject he's working on, then look at where he's put himself. Sometimes I suggest a change in location to his usual spot and hey presto! he's working again!



New Member
Just a few thoughts about what others have said.

Our experience with neurofeedback was kind of disappointing. Wouldn't advocate you go that route unless you have lots of time and money.

Is this playing with pencil etc new? when we raised my son's stims a few years ago, I think it made him more anxious and he started tearing up and chewing on paper, really chewing on things. So if this is more a problem since he started the Concerta, I might look at that. The dose may be too high for him still.

Also echo what others have said about it possibly being anxiety. Squishie balls were also recommended for my son.

Finally, one of the things that is most misunderstood about ADHD is that children can attend fine to the things they find interesting. My son can play his gameboy or do other things for hours. It is really characterized by much more variable attention than anything.

Is the issue that he isn't focusing on his work at school? Is this new? Has a functional behavioral analysis been done? If you do get it done, make sure they analyze his behavior across a wide variety of tasks to get the true picture.

good luck figuring out what can help.


New Member
I don't know about the neurofeedback. No, pepperidge, money and time I do not have LOL!

I do not think easy child has anxiety.

The problem with easy child is (as the psychiatrist and therapist have noticed also) he is a huge attention seeker. So, pretend all of us are standing around and he starts doing something stupid. Marg starts laughing at him. He'll get goofier. Then smallworld starts chuckling, and he notices that. He'll get louder and dumber. See where I'm going? He thinks he's a comedian.

The problem with him is, he's not funny. And when he is, it's at times that are inappropriate, i.e. class.

So, he mimicks the teacher, the kids in the class laugh (during teaching time, argh), and he continues, because they're laughing. Gah!

The pencils, tearing up papers - I guess it's new this year. He really dislikes his teacher, because all she does is complain, whine, moan and groan about him. In all honesty, I don't care for her much, although I wouldn't dare tell him that. What, exactly, he is doing, I'm not sure of, because I'm not there. I take what the teacher says at face value, I honestly do not believe her 100% of the time either. I think one day he found a piece of paper on the ground, picked it up, started ripping off pieces, and she caught him. It was only one incident. Ditto to the pencils, one day, he was breaking them in half. I told him if he did it again I'd take the money out of his piggy bank and he could go buy the class more, and he never did it again.

He's doing these things because he's not paying attention to the lesson. No, he's really not paying attention, and no, he can't do the homework that evening because he's not paying attention. His focus/attention is in the trash can.

He doesn't have an Learning Disability (LD) problem. He understands. He's smart. In 1st grade he was doing Dylan's 2nd grade homework. I don't think he's gifted or genuis, but I think he just lost his attention span somewhere.

I honestly don't know what happened. Truthfully, I never had a problem with him at all until we moved to the mountains. When we lived in the city, he went through 2 years of preschool, kindergarten, 1st and half of 2nd grade, and I never got one call or one complaint. Never. So, figure that one out?

The mountains gave him ADHD? Yeah, that's believable.



New Member
Janna, this is so much like my son. This is exactly how he relates to those around him. He's always the comedian (but not really funny). I have gotten him involved in drama (drama camps, plays, small town drama groups, he had a part in the Middle School play and was fabulous) and he's totally excelled. I've tried to find an outlet for his ability to "perform". I just really didn't know what else to do other than find something positive to throw into the mix. He knows he's not supposed to do it during times when others have the floor (teachers, etc.) so he has always (well since about second or third grade...4th grade was really hard) gotten the negatives for it. It's part of him though and it's always been part...he just pushes it too far (which is classic it seems).

It's not motivational though with- him like you described in your son (you told him about the money thing and he stopped). My son can't do that. I mean you can take whatever or give whatever and it doesn't help him. He learns quite differently. He's very smart and for awhile I just thought he was bored but that's not's probably some form of ADHD.

When we saw Greene, he asked me about ADHD and I told him that he could attend to things he was interested in for long periods of time. Greene said that sure many kids with- ADHD could do that, the test is whether they can attend when they don't want to because kids with-o ADHD can do this for long periods as well (attend even when they don't want to). That's why the squishy ball came in gave him something to do to help attend. Not that it would help your son, but it did help mine and still does here when he's needing to listen to things that he'd probably rather not.