Calendars and Lists

Calendars and Lists

ADHD Children are inherently distracted, their attention scattered. Life can become a cluttered mess with minds traveling at warp speeds.

Creating calendars and chore lists can remove a lot of the guesswork for those who have a hard time remembering and prioritizing time.

Additionally, children on the autistic spectrum tend to like routine and sometimes don’t adjust well to changes or unexpected events. It is important that you understand how to help in these cases.

Need more help with organizational tips? Click here to request my free, ‘How to Get Organized’ eBook.

All of life cannot be scheduled or calendared out, but we certainly can create routines and stay inside the parameters of those routines as much as possible. If your ADHD child can see upcoming events and plan for them, you will be setting them up for success.

For instance, let’s just say your family is going to dinner at your sister’s house on Sunday in two weeks. Your married sister has no children, has a dog and a cat, and has purchased a home with a playhouse in the backyard. So you write “Dinner at Aunt Sue’s” on the family calendar. You strategically place the calendar where the children can see it.

There is obvious turmoil by the look on his/her face and pouting when your child sees the event on the calendar.

“What’s up, buddy?”

“Mom, I hate going to Aunt Sue’s. There’s no one to play with and there’s nothing to do. It’s boring.”

“Well honey, I know Aunt Sue doesn’t have any kids, but remember she just bought a house that has that really cool playhouse. And remember last time we were there you played with the neighbor boy and threw a ball for Aunt Sue’s dog? You had a really great time.”

This type of dialogue goes a long way for a child who may struggle with memory. It turns an unpleasant situation around. The calendar insures that it’s not done as you’re running out the door to Aunt Sue’s house. You’ve invested the time at the right time. This is also time to interject possible scenarios to deal with the unexpected.

“The Saturday before we go, we will have to put together a bag of toys and things for you to do in case it rains or the neighbor boy isn’t home. That way you’ll have things to do, not to mention that Aunt Sue lets you throw a ball for the dog in the basement. And remember that cake she makes that you love? I can’t wait to see Aunt Sue!”

So it’s also a great idea to add “Get Toy Bag Ready” on the calendar so that everyone remembers to get this done in time for Sunday.

Use your calendar to plan out weekly events (grocery shopping, soccer, birthday parties). Remember not to over schedule. Kids need down time. They need unorganized activities to teach them hierarchy, unplanned teamwork, and just to have a little outdoor fun. You can also put play dates on the calendar.

Need more help with organizational tips? Click here to request my free, ‘How to Get Organized’ eBook.

 

Healthy School Lunches

Healthy School Lunches

Earlier this month I wrote about the benefits of a healthy breakfast. It is equally as important to provide your child with a healthy lunch to continue to fuel their body throughout the day.

The Internet does not lack evidence that typical school lunches tend to be unhealthy. While it may meet nutritional requirements, school lunches are laden with salt, fat, and calories. Because of the large volume needed to serve the average school’s population, cheaper grade products are used to feed the masses. Animal-based products used in the school-provided lunches are generally processed and contain a great deal of sodium, sugar, and fat.

Granted, First Lady Michelle Obama has heightened awareness with her Let’s Move campaign. With more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, the First Lady is passionate about providing healthier options for these students. When she started Let’s Move in February 2010, she was quoted as saying, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

If you consider the research done on food options and AD/HD, every meal should be considered a “make or break” for your child’s school day. Lunches that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates allow AD/HD students to focus better in the classroom and avoid the afternoon slump.

Lunches supplied from home allow better control. There are a lot of foods that come prepared for ease in putting together healthy options. It’s important when picking out lunch options that you read the ingredients. It is best to avoid prepared foods that are high in salt and sugar and contain a lot of preservatives.

In her blog, Register Dietician Rachel Brandies, MS, RD offers some really great ideas for healthy after school snacks. If you keep healthy snack options in your home and avoid buying the not-so-healthy snacks, you’ll teach your child and yourself to eat healthier. Choose frozen juice bars or yogurt over ice cream. Choose a cup full of high protein cereal over cookies.

For more information on Health and AD/HD, join Gay Russell, LCSW for a FREE webinar entitled Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health, Combating the A’s with Nutrition: Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger, & Academic Challenges. The webinar is scheduled for January 22, 2015 at 11:00 am EST. Click here to register.

Paging Dr. Pepper: Is soda a treatment for kids with ADHD?

Paging Dr. Pepper: Is soda a treatment for kids with ADHD? The Meadville Tribune ran this story earlier this month. The author says, “New research has found the Dr. Pepper may be a good option to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus. In children with ADHD, that stimulant tends to act as a behavioral control. What is interesting about the brand Dr. Pepper is that it is one of the most caffeine-rich drinks available on the market. It contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, as well as phosphoric acid, a compound that interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc — minerals that children with ADHD need the most.” (http://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/lifestyles/paging-dr-pepper-is-soda-a-treatment-for-kids-with/article_423a82a2-9556-11e4-83a9-ffe6670cc3a3.html).

Some parents actually give their children coffee, but according to Dr. Larry Silver, MD, “Caffeine is a stimulant, and people have long wondered whether it could be used to treat ADHD. But two major studies have shown that caffeine is not an effective treatment. While some of the children in these studies did report less “sluggishness,” caffeine can cause agitation and an increase in heart rate in young children — even more of a concern for kids already taking a stimulant medication. Thus, any benefits your friend’s son receives are probably outweighed by health risks.” (http://www.additudemag.com/…/ask_the_add_medical_…/1564.html). As a parent, you should be aware that while caffeine may provide a short-term effect, it will wear off quickly, most likely while your child leaves you and goes to school. This may prove to be a problem at school. The amount of sugar in soft drinks is also a health issue related to obesity. Overall, as Dr. Silver notes, it’s not a good idea even if it provides a short-term solution.

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is claimed to be the most important meal of the day. Yet research shows that 31 million US citizens skip this meal every day. Reasons vary from not enough time to weight loss. With growing brains and bodies, children need to continually refuel their bodies for good development. Research shows that children who eat breakfast come to school on time and are more successful.

How often do we get up and pour our favorite cereal into a bowl for our child or ourselves. While convenient, this sugary concoction may exacerbate the symptoms of AD/HD. It makes simple sense that adding sugar and carbohydrates may give that initial burst of energy, but that’s not exactly what one wants for someone who has a difficult time controlling their behavior.

Many authorities find that a breakfast high in protein is most beneficial for people with attention challenges. In her article in Additude magazine by food and nutrition researcher Laura Stevens offers her take on the benefits of the right breakfast for people with AD/HD.

Click here to attend a free, health webinar on Thursday, January 22nd @ 11:00 AM EST.
Topic: Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health.  Combating the A’s with Nutrition:  Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger,  & Academic challenges.

So how does one create the perfect protein breakfast on an already hectic morning? There are many ways to incorporate protein. Some easy make-ahead ideas can be found on the Internet. With a little planning, these high-protein breakfast ideas become “grab and go” for hectic weekday mornings.

It makes sense to start each day in the best possible way. What we put into our bodies is closely related to how we perform throughout the day, but diet alone is not the complete answer to the test. Cognitive attention training along with a healthy diet will create long lasting results when battling AD/HD. Play Attention, the world leader in feedback-based attention training, along with a high protein breakfast, will set anyone up for success.

Barb Rollar

 

Clear Up The Clutter

Clear Up The Clutter

Clutter is a huge distraction for people with AD/HD, and can sometimes make the problem even worse. Consider this; picture your grandmother’s house with all the porcelain dolls, pictures, and knickknacks everywhere. Put your five year old in the middle of this environment and ask them to pay attention. Everything in that room is something they want to pay attention to. So if your home looks anything like this, removing the clutter can help.

Organizational training, like any other training, should begin in an environment that is conducive for success. In the initial steps of teaching a new behavior (i.e. organization), it is in a person’s best interest to be in the optimum environment possible. Therefore, we must consider removing the clutter.

Just as a coach would not allow a player to go into a big game without training and practice, we can’t expect our child to learn to filter distractions without training them to be organized under the best circumstances, and then introducing distractions as training goes along.

Let’s just say that your child’s room has a sports theme (or even a fairy princess theme). You’ve decked it out with bold colors, lots of wall art, and some really cool memorabilia. There’s also a comfy area with a TV and the latest gaming console—not to mention his dresser and storage bins for toys. And over in the corner, facing into the room, is a desk where your eight year old does his homework. You can’t understand why he/she is never able to complete their homework, or why it takes them hours to do so.

In addition to removing the clutter, cognitive training should be considered. For information on the best feedback cognitive training program, consider attending an informational webinar hosted by master educator, Peter Freer.

The truth is that, even with the best of intentions, you’ve provided an atmosphere that is so over stimulating that it is a major distraction, making it difficult for your student to concentrate. In an article in Additude magazine, Dr. Larry Silver offers some sound advice on dealing with distractions.

That’s not to say that your child will never be able to concentrate in that environment, but if you are dealing with someone with ADHD, you must start with baby steps. By removing some of the distractions, even if temporarily, you will set your child up for success. So clear the clutter for a time. Put all that great memorabilia in a closet and wait to bring it back out once your child can deal with the distractions.

Much research has been done to say that the mind of someone with AD/HD runs a million miles a minute. It’s not really a lack of attention, but the ability to pay attention to many things at once when the environment is very stimulating. We don’t need to teach them to pay attention in this environment. We must teach them to pay attention when things are less stimulating.

Attend an upcoming Play Attention webinar and learn how you can teach someone in your life to direct and sustain attention to low stimuli activities at will.

Barb Rollar

 

The Importance of Exercise

The Importance of Exercise

Childhood obesity is an ever-growing concern in our country. Many articles have been written substantiating the need for regular exercise for children over six years of age. In his article, Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, offers some great suggestions.

With the introduction of “off the shelf” video games, there has been an alarming increase in cases of childhood obesity. It is the norm for a child to come home from school and plop themselves in front of the TV for hours on end, with the only exercise happening is the thumb muscles on a controller.

Dr. Thomas N. Robinson, who works in the MPH Division of General Pediatrics at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention in California, and is a member of the Pediatric Clinics of North America, points out the connection to television and obesity in his publicized study, “Television Viewing and Childhood Obesity.”

Many parents consider organized sports to be the form of exercise that is best for their child. While it certainly has its place, unorganized exercise is equally as important. Back in the day, the kids in our neighborhood couldn’t wait to get home from school to ride our bikes or throw a neighborhood football game together. After being cooped up in a classroom all day, we couldn’t wait to get outside and play. On her website, Emma Jenner, a trained childcare professional with 14 years of experience, explores the pros and cons of structured and unstructured play.

When you’re looking at a person struggling with AD/HD, it’s important to understand that asking that person to sit in a classroom or an office all day is like caging a lion. At some point, they need to get out and exert some of that pent up energy. Encourage your child to shoot some hoops each day after they get home from school, or stop by the local gym on your way home and work off some of the cobwebs.

Many people who have AD/HD and play organized sports struggle staying focused. Picture your favorite Little League player in the outfield playing with their shoelaces and not paying attention to the high-flying ball coming their way that will win or lose the game for the team. This player has lost focus on the game because they are “out in left field.” Just as with any other form of attention issues, it is possible to teach this player to focus where he/she needs to be. Many sports teams, including the US Woman’s Olympic Bobsled Team and NASCAR, have used Cognitive feedback training to help keep team members more focused.

When all is said and done, it’s time to get up off the couch. Incorporate at least an hour of exercise into your child’s schedule each day. Or for that matter, do it together. Take a bike ride, take a walk, shoot some hoops, play hopscotch. Whatever it is, just do it.

Barb Rollar

 

Martial Arts: Great Activity for ADD Children

5 reasons martial arts might just be a great activity for your ADD child:

  1. Exercise.  Though there are many mysteries surrounding attention challenges, one constant that almost all experts agree on is that physical activity helps.  Not only does it allow a child to burn off excess energy, it improves their overall health and well-being.  Children who exercise are shown to be happier in general, are more adapt at concentrating, and often sleep better.
  2. Camaraderie.  While the martial arts are generally not team sports like baseball or soccer, there is a substantial amount of social interaction.  Often students pair up to practice their techniques, and this shared experience often builds bonds of friendship.  On a larger scale, the class as a whole is collectively engaged in an endeavor that every member can identify with, allowing a child who might otherwise have difficulty socially, to “fit in.”
  3. Discipline.  One characteristic that is prevalent in almost every traditional martial arts school is discipline.  It is engrained in the culture of styles like Tae Kwon Do Karate and Kung Fu, with an emphasis on self-discipline above all else.  Being able to master one’s mind and body is paramount to learning the numerous punches, kicks and katas common in most schools.
  4. Confidence.  The martial arts often put a child in situations where they are challenged to excel, and success in such venues breeds confidence.  While this is true of many endeavors, the martial arts are unique in that an individual is taught to defend themselves if need be, and this often translates into a greater amount of confidence in situations that have nothing to do with self-defense.
  5. Patience.  Many children with attention challenges have a tendency towards impulsivity, but most martial arts schools adhere to a very structured training regiment, thus curbing impulsivity out of sheer necessity.  Also, since martial arts training is often done in a group setting, an attention challenged child is among others who also must be patient to succeed.

Michael Smith

Set Up Routines

Set Up Routines

When dealing with a child with AD/HD much success comes from setting up routines and sticking to them. It helps establish consistency and lands expectations. Many times your AD/HD child may know what needs to be done, but has a hard time prioritizing the tasks at hand.

It’s important to understand that it takes time to set up routines that are consistent and become ingrained. Normally, changes in behaviors take 21 to 30 days before they become habit.

Think about a routine that you tried to establish for yourself. If you were successful, it’s probably because you established the routine, executed on it, and were consistent.

So let’s just say you’re setting up a morning routine for your child. As it stands now, things are chaotic in the morning, always looking for the lost shoe, homework left in the bedroom, teeth rarely brushed, etc. To establish a consistent routine, you may want to start with a checklist. It may look something like this:

√ Eat Breakfast

√ Get Dressed

√ Brush Your Teeth

√ Make sure everything is in your backpack

Keep things simple. Set your child up for success. If your checklist includes too many things—like make your bed, make your lunch, etc.—and your child doesn’t have time to do them, you’re setting them up for failure.

It’s important to understand that a checklist is designed to successfully get them to the goal, which in this case is getting ready for school.

Since mornings are hectic, it’s not recommended that you overload it with chores that can be done after school. Just focus on what is needed. The only other thing you may want to add is:

√  Watch TV when 1-4 are completed.

You’ll be amazed how quickly and efficiently the list gets completed.

To learn more about establishing routines in conjunctions with cognitive attention training for people with AD/HD, register for a webinar with world renowned attention expert Peter Freer on January 12, 2015.

 

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today
Get an answer from an occupational therapist

Read the full post at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/08/why-so-many-kids-cant-sit-still-in-school-today/

We wanted to run this again for those who’ve missed it. Very good information. Additionally, this article is now further substantiated by recent research published in the journal Pediatrics which says that children who participated in regular physical activity had far better cognitive performance and brain function. The authors, University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues say their research, “demonstrate[s] a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.” Yet, schools cut PE and recess out. Read on…

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, wrote a blog post for the Washington Post. She asserts that the general trend of more seat work and less physical education and recess could be culprits.

A pediatric occupational therapist says schools keep kids in their chairs far too long.
washingtonpost.com

Have a Happy Healthy New Year

Have a Happy Healthy New Year
By Barb Rollar

When considering the diet of a child who struggles with AD/HD, there are numerous foods that can exacerbate the symptoms. Just like a food allergy, incorporating certain foods can be a trigger. Here are some simple tips that will help your child.

  1. Organic is best – By removing hormones and antibiotics that are often injected into animals, and pesticides used in growing vegetables, you’re improving the quality of the food going into your AD/HD child’s body. For more information on a healthy diet for someone with AD/HD visit http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-diets
  2. Remove processed foods – The human body is designed to break down food, take in nutrients, and eliminate waste. In other words, it’s designed to process food. If you put food that is already processed into the body, it has little to do. Therefore, metabolisms become sluggish. When you put foods into the body that it can break down, it functions properly.  In addition, most processed foods are high in sugar and salt, contain food dyes, and are high in carbohydrates, all which has been proven to trigger AD/HD symptoms. For more information on foods to avoid, visit http://www.activebeat.co/diet-nutrition/managing-adhd-15-foods-to-avoid/?utm_source=bing&utm_campaign=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_keyword=adhd%20diet%20for%20children
  3. Food Dyes, flavoring and preservatives – When purchasing food, read the labels. You’ll be surprised at the number of food dyes, flavoring and preservatives are in the foods we buy. My rule of thumbs was that if any ingredient started with the letter “x,” or if I was unable to pronounce any ingredient, it went back on the shelf.
  4. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store – If you think about the layout of your typical grocery store, the perimeter is where the healthiest foods are. Most grocery stores have the produce section, meat, deli, and dairy sections along the perimeter. The interior of the store contains aisles laden with high sugar content foods, processed foods, and lots of carbohydrates.
  5. Having a healthy diet may help alleviate some ADHD symptoms. Combining a healthy diet with attention training with Play Attention can be a powerful combination. Visit www.playattention.com

For more information on various food topics, visit http://www.playattention.com/category/adhd-diet/