by Annie Crowe
Neurodivergent; Autism; ADHD; Kmart; Executive Function; Routines; Habits; Nutrition
I recently found some very interesting products at Kmart (in Australia), in the kids section, aimed at 4+ year olds. But I have the executive functioning skills of a 4+ year old so my curiosity piqued.
Visual Routine Boards
The first was a visual routine board. I paid over $200 for my Occupational Therapist to make one of these (that was far less attractive). Picked these two up at Kmart for $10 (Only $10 each - I got two!) Amazing! And so accessible!
This is clearly aimed at young kids, but I have actually found multiple uses for myself and as a parent - great executive function tools!
One of the struggles of being neurodivergent is in communication, and when you are tired with a little baby, that gets more complicated. My husband and I share the parenting duties of our son and this means we have to consistently communicate on any changes in his routine (which is a lot in the first year as they are always growing and eating more, sleeping less).
Having this visual board helps us stay on top of any routine changes and takes the pressure off communicating when we are tired and have so many other topics to discuss. It also means when we are exhausted we don't have to think about our sons routine, we can just glance at this and know what we are up to, without skipping a step (which happened a lot without this).
It's not a perfect solution. But it's definitely helpful!
Even before having kids, I struggles with basic routines. Remembering to brush my teeth (ew! I know), forgetting to eat breakfast, packing a bag for the day, etc.
This product has a few blank tiles that you can write on in whiteboard marker, easy to change, to suit your own routine reminders. So even though it's targeted at kids, I think it wouldn't be too difficult to manipulate into a teenager/adult routine board.
A big dopamine hit that us ADHDers love is rewards! This chart is great if you want a visual reminder of key responsibilities: like doing the dishes each night, feeding the dog, packing meals/bags for the next day, putting the bin out, etc. All the adulting things that come so naturally to some and are so foreign to others.
This chart can stick on your fridge or on a magnetic whiteboard. It's attractive and adaptable with whiteboard markers and can be useful to all ages. Only $5 - how did I not know about this?
I tend to lean towards digital executive functioning support as I always have my phone near by and am not always near the fridge... but this seems like a good solution for those who prefer more visual reminders and even for teaching kids how to track their own responsibilities.
I'm not sure how much I'll use this myself, as apps still seem to win out in the long term for me, but I am keen to use it on our son in a few years to start teaching him how to develop his own executive functioning skills.
Now, I'm not a big advocate of tracking food, as it feels too close to diets and disordered eating. Which I am trying to avoid and develop a healthy and neutral relationship with food. However, one of my biggest challenges in eating. The meal planning, the grocery shopping, the managing inventory (not letting things go off at the back of the fridge), the repetitive choices, the sensory seeking and aversions. All of which can add up to a lack of balance in my dietary choices. This doesn't concern me that much as I'm in eating disorder recovery and my main goal is simply eating regularly - which I'm doing great at! My son, on the other hand is in the early months of eating solids and entering toodlerhood. It is a huge worry of mine, that I can give him a diverse and balanced diet and overall a much better relationship with food and his body than I had.
Enter: FOOD Tracker! I like this chart as you can keep it high level, unlike apps that want you to log every last gram and calorie. In a week, I just want to know my son (and I) are getting a decent variety of food groups. This might sounds simple to you, but for someone like me who really struggles to plan meals and keep track of my eating, it's a big hurdle for me.
Starting my son on solids was one the biggest challenges I faced in his first year of life. Between the two competing schools of thought: baby led weaning and purees, and what foods to avoid (honey, salt, sugar etc.) and what to introduce to reduce likelihood of allergens (eggs, dairy, nuts, etc.), I felt in over my head.
Now that I've passed that initial overwhelm, my focus is shifting to maintaining variety and hitting his basic nutritional needs.
Also, as I reduce his formula (couldn't breast feed for health reasons) intake and increase his solids, he is supposed to drink the same amount of formula in water as it is reduced. So tracking his water intake (especially in summer) is also helpful! I'm not the type to track wet nappies (that made me very neurotic in the early weeks of his life), I like that this board has an option to track water intake too! And only $3 - mind blown.
I'd love to know if you have found any helpful tools like this to help yourself or you kiddies.
Feel free to leave a comment, and share your experience if they've used these products, or similar before. What worked for you and what didn't?