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Empathy activities

Some sombering news: Children with ADHD symptoms are almost 10 times as likely as others to be regular targets of bullies, according to a study in the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. Because children with ADHD are often misunderstood by their classmates, it increases the amount of bullying that occurs in schools. Since October is National ADHD Awareness Month, National Dyslexia Awareness Month, and National Bullying Prevention Month, it’s a perfect time to stress the importance of “walking in the shoes” of a child with a learning and behavioral disorder.

To help kids better understand learning and behavioral disorders and reduce the amount of bullying experienced during the school year, it’s important that educators and parents have the right tools to talk with their children about these challenges and what it feels like to struggle with learning. These type of activities serve as practical strategies that will promote both understanding and empathy in local communities.

Here are a few examples of empathy activities to try at home, or to discuss with your child’s teacher about implementing at school:

1)    The messy and distracted locker or closet: Children with ADHD tend to be disorganized and often lose or forget their belongings. For teachers conducting an in-school empathy activity, they can pack a locker full of things (papers, various books, pencils, etc.) and provide the children with a list of items to find. To distract the children, the teacher can consistently ask questions. After the activity is complete, the teacher can ask questions to help the students understand how it feels to have ADHD. This same activity can be conducted by parents at home using a cabinet or closet.

2)    Through the eyes of a dyslexic child: Educators and parents can show children a written sentence in which the letters in the words are flipped around. Showing a sentence to them this way is how a dyslexic child usually views a written sentence. Have the children attempt to read the sentence and then show them how it actually reads to demonstrate the challenge that dyslexic children face.

3)    Listen with your eyes, watch with your ears: Educators and parents can show children three separate movie clips at the same time with equal levels of volume. After a few minutes, ask three questions that pertain to the clips.

To demonstrate what a child with ADHD might experience during a reading assignment, point kids to this online simulation activity. To try it, click here.

About The Author
Dr. Robert Melillo is a researcher, professor, lecturer, bestselling author, creator of the Brain Balance Program, and co-founder of Brain Balance Achievement Centers. Since 2006, Brain Balance Achievement Centers has helped thousands of children between the ages of 4 and 17 reach their, academic, social and behavioral potential through a drug-free program. The individualized and customized program utilizes sensory motor, cognitive exercises, and nutritional guidance to address the root cause of most neurobehavioral issues. Melillo has been helping children overcome learning disabilities for more than 20 years. His areas of expertise include Autism spectrum disorders, PDD/NOS, ADD/ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, Asperger’s, Tourette’s, bipolar disorder, and other attention, behavioral and learning disorders. Melillo and his research partner Dr. Gerry Leisman are considered two of the world’s leading experts and pioneers in the area of functional disconnection and its relationship to neurobehavioral disorders. Melillo is the author of the textbook Neurobehavioral Disorders, as well as six chapters in other textbooks and many scientific papers. He is also the author of 3 bestselling books: Disconnected Kids, Reconnected Kids and Autism, and The Scientific Truth of How To Prevent, Diagnose and Treat Autism Spectrum Disorders and What Parents Can Do Now. For more information, visit drrobertmelillo.com.

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