Persistence and Resilience in Children with ADHD, Autism & Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

It is often the case that children with ADHD, autism, and related neurodevelopmental disorders are easily frustrated and have a tendency to give up in the face of challenges.

These children lack the ability to be persistent and resilient when things don’t instantly go their way. This has been a theme for me in working with children at the clinic recently, and I have seen several examples of how this is growing in patients on my caseload.

Persistence and resilience are some of the biggest factors in learning and finding your full potential. People who lack persistence and resilience are those that give up or refuse to try, causing them to miss out on so many things in life. We all have times when we want to call it quits, or feel defeated. When we possess persistence and resilience, we are able to get up and dust ourselves off to try again. This is the quality I have seen developing over the last few weeks in several children who struggle in this area.

I had a discussion with a dad the other day about resilience. We were talking about how his son with speech delays and sensory processing disorder is still developing the ability to recover from upset and frustration. A year ago he would fall apart and take a long time to recover. Now he still becomes upset when things don’t go his way but is able to recover in just a matter of minutes without a meltdown. This shows immense growth in his ability to be resilient. Today, I witnessed this same little boy demonstrating his persistence and resilience. He wanted to get into our Lycra hammock even though he had been asked to do something different, and was therefore not receiving any help. He spent several minutes working at getting in by himself, going back time and again even when he repeatedly failed. I sometimes allow this to happen just for the purpose of improving persistence and resilience. He did not make it into the hammock, but he was persistent even while showing frustration. This is a huge step for him, and continued growth is definitely on the forefront.

I watched another one of my clients with developmental delays work diligently and persistently with blocks to build a jungle for his elephant. He would put the blocks together, and adjusted them as he added more. He persisted until he had used all of the blocks in the box. As he was finishing, he constructed some trees using a few round and triangle shaped blocks. The trees fell over several times, but with resilience and persistence he continued to fix the trees until his scene was complete. We were then able to play with the elephant in the jungle.

These are just a few examples I have seen in the last few weeks. I know that these boys will be successful in building their persistence and resilience over the next several years. They both have a great foundation for being successful in whatever they choose to do. Persistence and resilience need to be modeled and practiced in order to become a routine part of life. I challenge you to think about what kind of model and lessons you are teaching your children.

How can you demonstrate persistence and resilience for your child or students?

Post written by Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP – Speech Language Pathologist at Horizons Developmental Resource Center

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