5 Design Tips To Keep In Mind When Designing For A Kid (Or Adult) With ADD/ADHD…From A Designer/Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist

As any dad or mum who has ever confronted an ADHD or ADD analysis for his or her children is aware of, the journey to get solutions is fraught with fear adopted by emotions of confusion about what to do subsequent, even with that analysis in hand.

As a licensed Marriage and Household therapist of 20 years, I know all too properly that as mother and father and youngsters with ADHD start weeding by way of weight loss plan, medicinal, and behavioral potentialities, post-diagnosis, so begins the deluge of well-intended however typically overwhelming opinions that may be heaped upon us you by your friends or different mother and father. These solutions, meant to be useful, can cloud the readability you suppose you’re gaining as you study extra.

In my ebook, House Remedy, I discuss quite a bit concerning the methods our houses can help our therapeutic paths, together with for ADD and ADHD. As you possibly can very properly guess, the environment could be supportive or destabilizing to our journey. The reality I’ve discovered is that this: how we exit into the world begins with the instruments we set up at house.

In my design tasks, I completely like to put these instruments into observe, as was the case with a household who employed me to make their house extra supportive for a son fighting ADHD. Particularly, this household introduced me in to remodel their 1988 house right into a related and purposeful dwelling house that will help each member of the family from the within out. Our objective – as is the objective for each design mission for me — was to place the psychological well being wants of the household in first place. By way of this very intentional mission, I used to be capable of enhance their calm and happiness all through the house.

Listed below are the locations I started that transformation:


Colour is by far the simplest and most impactful place to start with ADD and the house atmosphere. After we see colour, our retina sends a message to our mind. That transmission triggers the discharge of sure hormones in our brains comparable to dopamine and serotonin. In every mission that I’ve labored on with an ADD baby, we start with colour. 

Right here’s a enjoyable truth: rooms for ADHD don’t should be all white. There’s a notion that ADD or ADHD means you might be over-stimulated. That’s false. Many ADHD people — children and adults, alike — are literally being understimulated in a method that leads to their signs. Utilizing colours, particularly in these conditions, could be an applicable approach to enhance wholesome mind regulation. 

Blues, greens, and whites are the go-to when creating a way of calm, but when we wish to encourage productiveness or enhance vitality, pops of reds, oranges, and yellows are the place we flip. 

This room was designed for the son of my shopper who was struggling together with his ADD. We needed to land on a colour that would meet him on two planes. He needed an area to decompress on the finish of the day but in addition encourage an elevated quantity of focus for studying or homework when the time referred to as for it. Collectively, he and I landed on a blue that was each calming when he wanted it and invigorating when his objective was to be productive.


Group is an effective way to empower our children to be answerable for the behavioral signs that usually come together with this analysis — these signs being forgetfulness, lack of focus, and an lack of ability to remain on process…amongst others. Within the case of a beloved one struggling with ADHD/ADD it’s troublesome to observe them battle with signs whereas concurrently discovering your self pissed off at having to cope with the exact same signs they’re experiencing. In reality, I feel I’ve heard each dad or mum of an ADHD/ADD child say at one level or one other, “I get sick of asking them a thousand occasions to do one thing and them not doing it. It’s like they don’t even hear me,” — which by the best way is an issue for each dad or mum, however is certainly magnified for a dad or mum of an ADHD child. 

Identified or not, group is nice for all our brains. Issues like order, consistency, and schedules, not solely assist us be extra productive, they make us really feel safer. All of which is necessary, particularly for youngsters with both of those diagnoses. However, right here’s one thing necessary to know, individuals have completely different kinds of group that talk most to their mind. A few of us are visible, others are listers, whereas some are extra summary. What seems like chaos to you and I, is smart to them. 

After I’m designing organizational techniques right into a shopper’s house, I deliver them into the method, particularly if they’ve ADD or ADHD. Do the identical along with your children. Begin first with the intention of the room and set up to that objective. The reason is, what works for the cook dinner within the kitchen may not work to your 13yr previous who wants one thing very completely different for his or her house.

Additionally, develop your mindset round group. Sure, it’s bins and baskets, however it’s additionally habits. If we will clear up or set up a habits earlier than the disorganization begins then we’re remedying the symptom earlier than it occurs. What that appears like is that this:  

On this shopper’s house, we turned a 1988 moist bar right into a mudroom wall, full with a drop zone cubby system. Every member of the family had their very own cubby and we had decrease baskets for footwear, luggage, and purses. Hooks  — which I  love to make sure we’re utilizing all of the vertical house —  went on the opposing wall, retaining jackets, scarves, and hats off the ground.

The bar prime was additionally zoned to incorporate a spot for keys and an intention tray, my answer to assist in giving visible to your private objectives and desires.

This complete house, constructed first to provide their baby with ADD a system to maintain them on observe, rapidly turned a clear up for the entire household. 


There are three essential ways in which ADHD presents. These three are: Inattentive, which is the problem to concentrate, Hyperactivity-Impulse, which ends up in excessive struggles with sitting nonetheless or impulse regulation, or Mixture, which is a mix of the 2. What complicates all of this, is that there are different challenges that may appear to be ADHD or ADD however aren’t, like melancholy, anxiousness, or sleep problems. Whereas all of that provides to the confusion of what your baby could also be going through, one factor is obvious. For kids wrestling with a variety of those signs, there’s a actual battle for them to really feel answerable for or in tune with their thoughts/physique connection.

As science reveals us, the thoughts/physique connection is increasingly-important, affecting focus, productiveness, therapeutic, and a lot extra. As a software to resolve this, I prefer to create TIME IN areas, these are spots in our houses the place your baby can reset and be current.   

The payoff for TIME IN with children is HUGE. 

On this TIME IN house, I created a nook beneath the steps by DIY’ing a fake wall with foam board. I lined either side with temp wallpaper however on the opposite facet – going through into the eating room – I used the house to place in a wine rack.

This house is sort of at all times small in scale to cocoon the kid. It’s meant as a quiet house the place they will sit and skim or just daydream, all to calm the thoughts and physique.

On the wall we put in bins and stuffed them with intentional actions that analysis has proven, quiet the thoughts. These actions could be tailor-made to the kid however typically embrace a sensory focus comparable to aromatherapy and music to assist the kid join their thoughts to their physique, at all times including in quiet video games to extend focus and blankets or plushies to appease. 


With ADD and ADHD, it may be simple to provide extra focus to behaviors which might be lower than superb in our children than it may be to talk about what’s working. In different phrases, we danger no’s and criticisms turning into louder than kudos and compliments. I prefer to reverse engineer our considering on parenting from correcting habits to constructing it. 

I’ve three daughters hitting three completely different developmental phases — a 16-year-old, a youthful teen at 14, and a third grader. Our schedules are bananas! Sure, we’ve all types of scheduling apps that we will resort to, however one way or the other paper, muddle, and junk discover their method onto each floor from the stair steps to the kitchen counter tops. Like my shoppers, we too, had been desperately in want of our personal dropzone. To outline ours, I traced out the most typical path from the place we enter the house by way of the storage into the kitchen and I noticed how our stuff pile-up started the second our children hit the door. So, I adopted the recommendation I give to my very own shoppers. I created a FAMILY COMMAND CENTER. Like them, I selected the wall that we by no means paid a lot consideration to and maximized it.

photograph by ali harper

To start out, we added hooks to make the most of all of the vertical house. Subsequent – and I like this tip – I used paint to outline and body our wall workspace. It’s SO efficient as a result of the colour is the cue to concentrate, one thing that when you’re like me, you might be at all times shouting at your children to do. TBH, I lump my husband Travis into that, too. He has ADD and I’m on him as a lot as the youngsters to assist maintain the schedules and the house organized. This wall is my first line of protection.

By selecting an unused wall, you might be constructing a house organizational system seemingly out of nothing and tailoring it to your wants!

photograph by ali harper

One other great point is so as to add a behavior board to your wall. That is the place we will construct optimistic processes and patterns that change into the habits that maintain us on observe. No behavior is simply too small. Plus it permits us to have fun our wins as a household. 

I devised my very own behavior tracker in my main lavatory to assist me get into the groove of exercising and meditating, through the pandemic after I actually misplaced all of my private house, I created a small nook in my lavatory to elevate weights, do yoga, and meditate. My behavior tracker jogs my memory to maintain up with my habits in order that I don’t lose observe of my earlier routine. 

Between the colours or sticker techniques, this complete wall turns into a visible cue for our objectives. And for youngsters with ADD or ADHD, it may well assist construct focus and set up routines that result in optimistic behaviors. Don’t draw back from customizing this house with household objectives or reminiscences, no matter it takes to make this a vacation spot. 

Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, set a weekly household assembly. That is the place you all come collectively in the identical communal house every week. I just like the eating room. Telephones go away and we test in with each other. As mother and father, arm your self with a listing of household objectives, wants, and updates in addition to loads of inquiries to get these children speaking.

For my shopper teenager fighting ADD and his household, we discovered that their eating room was the proper impartial house to share emotions and frustrations in addition to problem-solve. Discovering a non-judgemental space within the house, the place they might meet often, was the important thing to opening up optimistic communication for his or her household. After I was a full-time therapist, this was the primary software I helped households implement.

There’s a lot wealthy knowledge that tells us that oldsters and children speaking like this results in goodness of their psychological well being and ours. That may sound apparent, however with gadgets, actions, and a zillion different issues vying for our consideration – to not point out an already over or under-stimulated mind — and it’s too simple for hello and bye to be the extent of our day by day alternate.

The primary factor to recollect about our areas and our struggles, be it ADD, ADHD, or one thing else, is that our houses are greater than only a backdrop for our lives. They’re a mirrored image of the habits and stability we’re creating in ourselves. After we evoke the design of our environment to help us, our houses can really elevate us up and enrich our psychological well being.

*Designs by Anita Yokota
**Styling by Emily Bowser
***Pictures by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
(except in any other case famous)

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings