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Expat parenting a child with ADHD

Moving abroad with children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can seem especially daunting.

Find out how to prepare and nurture them throughout the move with our top tips.  

Before you go

Talk to your child’s doctors about your move. Ask for all diagnosis paperwork and contacts for arranging similar care in your destination. Find out if you can keep in touch by email, online chat or Skype when needed.

Shore up medication issues. Find out if your child’s medications are legal and available where you’re going. You can ask your international health care insurer this or check with the embassy of the country you’re moving to. You may need to have the medications shipped with proper permission. If they’re allowed, plan to place them into your carry-on luggage along with the actual prescriptions. They should be stored in their original, labelled containers.

Find the right school. Not all schools are equipped to accept children with ADHD or willing to make accommodations for them. You’ll probably need help identifying the school that will best meet your family’s needs abroad. You can turn to your child’s current school counselor or such resources as the U.S. Department of State’s directory of overseas schools offering support to children with special needs. International schools may offer more accommodations than local ones. But experts say it’s best to confirm everything in writing before you make the big leap. Depending on quality, availability and affordability, you may have to consider alternatives such as boarding schools or home schooling.

Line up resources. Look up international support groups such as International ADHD Parent on Facebook, and research local or regional groups where you’re headed for ideas and help. Gather information on the specific public, nonprofit and private resources available in your destination for families of children with special needs.

Once you arrive

Follow a routine. Establish a daily schedule and stick to it. Make it simple enough that your child isn’t overwhelmed. Create quiet spaces for relaxing.

Set clear expectations and simple rules. Notice and reinforce good behavior.

Provide healthy meals and snacks, and ensure that your child gets enough sleep.

Protect your own health. Stay positive, take breaks and seek support when you need it. Find ways to reduce stress such as regular exercise, meditation or yoga. And be sure to get enough sleep yourself.

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