We have received many questions from concerned parents asking: “Does my child have ADHD or ODD or BOTH”? The answer is yes, yes and yes. There is a link between having ADHD and developing ODD. The correlation rate for being diagnosed with ADHD and ODD is staggering, ranging between 60% and 80%. It is the most common co-existing condition associated with ADHD. People with ADHD are 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with ODD than the general population.

In this blog we will discuss each of the disorders as separate entities and conclude with the interrelationship between the two. In Part II we will discuss how to deal with the effects of these disorders in relationship to each other.

ADHD as defined by the Mayo Clinic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD may include:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
  • Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities
  • Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toysDaydreaming_SMALL
  • Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Frequently fidgets or squirms
  • Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
  • Excessively talkative
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or games
  • Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn

Play Attention can improve all of these skills mentioned above.  Click here to view the cognitive skills addressed within the Play Attention software.

ODD by definition: Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is defined by as “a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the symptoms and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling”.

Children with oppositional defiant disorder are not aggressive towards people or animals, do not destroy property, and do not show a pattern of theft or deceit.

Signs and symptoms of ODD may include:

  • actively refuses to comply with majority’s requests or consensus-supported rules
  • performs actions deliberately to annoy others
  • is angry and resentful of others
  • argues often
  • blames others for their own mistakes frequently loses temper
  • is spiteful or seeks revenge
  • and is touchy or easily annoyed

 These patterns of behavior result in impairment at school and/or other social venues

So, the question is – what is the link between the two disorders? According to Dr. Russell Barkley, world-renowned Clinical Scientist and Researcher in the field of ADHD, there absolutely is a link between having ADHD and developing ODD. In fact, Dr. Barkley believes that if you have ADHD you have a propensity for developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder from the start. Why? Because, he believes that ADHD involves one more vital component that has been left out of the Clinical diagnosis for ADHD – Emotional Dysregulation: deficits in inhibiting and regulating emotions.

Emotional Self-Regulation is the ability to manage your behavior in relation to the events that happen in your life. This can involve suppressing or inhibiting your response, self-soothing to calm or comfort yourself, prolonging your pleasurable experience, or refocusing your attention to a more positive goal directed activity. By providing compelling evidence where he analyzed neuro-anatomy, psychological evidence, and clinical research, Dr. Barkley found that children diagnosed with ADHD also exhibited difficulties in Emotional Self-Regulation. He found that every rating scale that is given to children who have been diagnosed with ADHD that measures symptoms of emotions is elevated dramatically for hostility, anger, frustration and impatience. These children exhibited much stronger emotional reactions and had much greater difficulty in controlling their reactions once elicited.

To be continued . . .

To learn more about the Play Attention technology sign up for the free webinar at Additude Mag. Your attention experts are at Chat with us from that site, or call us at 800.788.6786 to learn how Play Attention can help you overcome both of these disorders.

Humans Have Less Attention than a Goldfish

Humans Have Less Attention than a Goldfish
Microsoft study finds technology a key factor

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A goldfish has an average attention span of 9 seconds, but a new Microsoft study concludes the average human has only 8 seconds before losing focus.

The study cites that technology has changed the way our brains function, stating, “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media.”

The study also cites that on the positive side, our ability to multitask has greatly improved. But is this true? Not likely. Numerous studies concluded that the human brain does not multitask well. It takes twice the time to complete a task as it would if one did not multitask. Secondly, a great example of our brains’ limited capacity to multitask is texting while driving. These are two tasks we do quite well when we do them independently. However, combining them is more dangerous than drunk driving. goldfish

Knowing our depleted attention capabilities, movies and TV shows are cut into approximately 7 – 8 second increments before switching the camera view. This not only accommodates our limitations, but likely causes continued decreased attention.

Learn how Play Attention can increase your attention span!  Register here for our Speed Webinar.

What’s the key to increasing attention? Attention is a skill. Practice it. Read. Put down the screen. Talk with human beings face to face about something important. Exercise. The list is long…we just feel lucky if you’ve read this far!

Your attention experts can be found at Use the Contact Us button above, or call 800.788.6786.

Theme Park Behavior & Safety

Theme Park Behavior & Safety

Theme parks and state fairs can be daunting environments for someone with ADHD. With all the stimuli of noise, rides, food, and people, you’ll need to establish some expected behaviors and safety before getting to the park. That way you won’t be trying to control unwanted behavior when your child is focused on everything but you.

Safety In Numbers – Depending on your child’s age, you’ll want to begin with the concept of safety in numbers. It’s important that you explain that if your child isn’t paying attention they could get lost in the crowd. Young children should be told they need to hold your hand at all times. Older children could practice a buddy system. Lastly, have a plan in the event that someone gets lost. Most theme parks have steps in place when children get separated from their parents. Find out what those steps are upon entering the park and go over them with your child.

Plan the DayWhen you pay admission, you’ll usually get a map of the park’s layout. Take a few moments to plan the day. Often times, theme parks have special events throughout the day at specific times. You’ll want to time these out so you don’t miss anything. It’s also a time when you can eliminate certain areas of the park that no one has an interest in seeing (like the new snake or spider exhibit).Theme_Park_SM

Dress for SuccessThis is not the event where you want to bring out the Sunday best. Dress in appropriate clothing depending on the temperature, weather, etc. Wear comfortable shoes, not new ones that may cause blisters. Prepare for unexpected weather changes. Inexpensive plastic ponchos can be purchased at your local dollar store and several can be stored in a backpack for the unexpected rain shower. It may be wise to pack an extra shirt also. This way, if you’re slashed by the resident whale or someone spills a drink on you, the day won’t be a bust.

Plan MealsJust like the admission to theme parks, buying food in the park can be costly. Talk this through with family before getting to the park. For instance, you may get breakfast before getting to the park, plan to have lunch and an afternoon snack at the park, and grab a quick dinner after leaving the park (remember theme park days are long, so don’t plan anything too extravagant – quick and simple is better). Remember to make good food choices throughout the day. Avoid super sugary drinks that won’t quench your thirst. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if it’s summertime.

Bring First Aid SuppliesPack a small plastic bag with first aid supplies. Even though most parks have first aid facilities, a simple cut can be taken care of on the spot if you have antiseptic cream and a Band-Aid. Always remember to use sunscreen.

Prepare for Meltdowns Waiting in lines and walking a lot can be tiring. Have a plan in place to have rest times throughout the day. Find a gassy spot under a shade tree and take 20 minutes to relax and re-energize.

Do It in TwoMany theme parks offer package passes that allow you to see the park over a period of time, often it’s two days. Consider taking this option rather than cramming the whole visit into one day. This will allow you to see the park at a much slower pace and even re-visit some of your favorite spots.

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Whether you’re an ADHD adult or the parent of a child with ADHD, preparing for travel can be very stressful. Organizational skills are usually not inherent for someone with ADHD; therefore, planning for a trip can be daunting. Here are some tips that can be used by adults and parents alike:

  1. Make a list of items that need to be packed. This can be started weeks in advance so that items can be added as things come to mind.
  2. Many people pack more than enough clothes for their trip. Consider scaling back. If you’re renting a house for the week, it will likely have laundry facilities. One load of laundry during the week will freshen clothes to be worn again.
  3. Bring entertainment for the trip. Boredom during a long car ride can be a nightmare. With onboard DVD players, travel versions of board games, or a favorite hand-held device, there are plenty of options.summer travel
  4. Be prepared to stop for stretch breaks. Whether you’re flying, driving, or travelling by train, ADHD folks have a difficult time sitting for long periods of time. Rest areas along the highway have safe places for running around. Walking up and down the aisle of a train or plane when it’s safe can be a great way to burn energy.
  5. Find a routine wherever you go. Once settled in, establish a routine that fits into your vacation. Mealtime together, swim time, and chill time are all important things to fit into a vacation schedule. Since people with ADHD like consistency, establishing a routine will make the trip less stressful.
  6. Be flexible. Scheduling every moment of a vacation can create the same rigidity as everyday life. Vacations should be more about not Go with the flow and let the natural course of events take place.
  7. Scope out where the playgrounds are. There’s nothing like a quick trip to a nearby playground to allow your energetic child to release some of that energy.
  8. Buy a kite. Kites sold today are very interactive. So investing in an interactive kite for the beach is a great way to keep yourself or your child entertained for hours.


Managing Video Game Use Part III

Managing Video Game Use Part III
6 secrets to managing screen time

Your child likely spends more time, much more time, in front of a video screen than with parents or teachers. Video screens include phones, TVs, desktop computers, game consoles, tablets, etc.


1. Treat screen time like dessert. You wouldn’t let your child sit and eat an entire cake. Instead, it’s healthier to eat a small piece. Treating their screen time like dessert is a refreshing, non-combative way to begin management.

2. Use screen time as a reward. Screen time is like dessert, so it’s more a reward than a right. If they get their homework done on time and do a good job, they earn, for example, 15 minutes of screen time.

3. Set your rules and stick by them. Once you begin a screen time as dessert program, you can develop a set of rules with your child. Chores done, 15 minutes of screen time. No chores, no screen time. No more. No less. Once you establish your rule set, post it on the refrigerator or other public area so there’s no argument about the rules. Consistency means success. Inconsistency means failure.Play Attention's photo.

4. Set family viewing time. Your habits as a parent greatly affect your child’s behavior, so if you’re watching TV and on the computer for 4 hours a night, don’t expect something different from your child. Set a family time to watch TV together. Also, set a family time to go outside and play. Setting a family viewing time and play time establishes your values as a family.

5. Control video screens. Did you realize that your child is likely using video screens while in bed? Video screens are ubiquitous, found everywhere. TV in their bedroom? Not a good idea. Cell phone texting while in bed? Again, not a good idea. Minimize or totally remove video screens from the bedroom. At the very least, have a strict policy that all screens are turned off a half hour or more before bed.

6. Be aware of content appropriateness. Just because your child says, “Jake’s parents let him watch it,” doesn’t mean it’s right for your child to watch a movie with explicit adult content or violence. Being a good manager means taking the time to know what your child is watching or playing (video games). Know the ratings for your child’s videos or video games. Discuss their interests and understand your child’s motivations. Set boundaries according to your family values and stick to them.

Forming Friendships

Everyone wants to have friends. At an early age, forming friendships allows a child to develop a multitude of skills needed throughout life: teamwork, cooperation, sharing, dealing with conflict, competition, etc.

Starting with the impulsive natures, hyperactivity, and inability to pick up social cues, your ADHD child may need your help to have successful, long-lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help.

Ornate  Keep Play Groups Small – One or two friends at a time, in the beginning, will allow your child to be successful without being overwhelmed.

Ornate  Form Friendship GroupsTeam Esteem is an organization based out of New York. Run by social workers and psychologists, their goal is to create an environment for children with behavioral, social, and academic challenges. Attitude Magazine says that if your child is having a difficult time forming friendships, a friendship group may be the answer. The article also goes on to caution parents that running the group themselves is not the best answer and should be left to professionals.Circle_Friends

Ornate  Plan Play Dates – Scheduling specific dates for playtime allows your ADHD child to prepare for the event. It gives you an opportunity to discuss and role-play different scenarios. It also gives you an opportunity to plan what will happen during the play date. While not completely controlling the event, you’ll want to have some clear ideas on what will go on.

Ornate  Control The Environment – Your child is bursting with energy. Let them exhaust some of that energy during the play date by kicking a soccer ball with their friend, playing an informal game of basketball, or swimming in the pool. Then, after the little tikes are worn out, maybe provide a snack and a movie.

Ornate  Deflect Boredom – Play dates that are too long can lead to boredom. It’s important that these end on a high note for everyone involved. An hour after school is certainly adequate to get in some socialization without throwing nightly routines off. You can increase that time to a couple of hours on the weekend. Making an entire day of a play date may lead to disaster by forcing your ADHD child to be on their best social behavior for far too long.

Ornate  Positive Reinforcement – After friends go home, talk to your child about the play date. What did they like? What didn’t they like? What made them feel good about their friend? Be sure to provide positive reinforcement for things they did well. “I liked it when you shared your bike with Jimmy and let him ride it first.”

In his book, The Friendship Factor, Dr. Kenneth Rubin explores the impact of friendships on a child’s emotional, social, and intellectual growth. After 25 years of research, Dr. Rubin put his findings on paper to better prepare parents with helping their children form friendships.

If you’re looking for a children’s book, check out Making Friends. Written by American icon, Fred Rogers this book is intended to teach preschoolers about friendships and social skills.

You may also want to consider incorporating the social skills component into your Play Attention program. Starting with simply identify facial expression and working to complex situation of body language and voice tone, the social skills component of Play Attention will provide the help needed to form friendships and keep them.

Adult Public Gatherings

It isn’t hard to understand why adults with ADHD have a difficult time with public gatherings. Often times they lack the social skills that many expect from them such as being able to listen or be polite. So if you’re an adult wanting to be part of social gatherings, what can you do? Here are some suggestions.

Practice Makes Perfect – As we’ve talked about in other blogs on social skills, it’s important to practice this skill before the big event. Social skills requires one to pay attention long enough pick up queues that those without ADHD take for granted. Your local public park is the perfect setting to practice. Sit on a bench and spend some time looking at the people around you. Watch their facial expressions and body language. If close enough, listen to the tone of their voice. Then decide if this person happy, sad, or perhaps even mad.

Partner with a Friend – A close friend can be your best advocate when trying to become more public-friendly. They will be honest with you. Have a friend help you with listening skills. To practice, have your friend tell you a story. At the beginning, you may even want to take notes as the story unfolds. Then have your friend ask questions to test your listening skills. Keep the story short, about five minutes, which will likely allow you to get through a typical conversationAdult Social (1).

Learn not to interrupt – This can be a challenge for adults struggling with ADHD. Without the attention needed to have a successful interaction, interruptions are typical. Again, solicit the help of a close friend and practice having a conversation so you can practice your conversation skills. Be sure to tell your friend that they will need to clue you in when you interrupt. Don’t take it personally. Consider this training like learning to play the piano; if you hit a wrong note, you’ll want to practice more until you get it right.

Limit You Time – To be successful, you may want to limit the time you spend at a public gathering. If an hour or two is the most you can handle to stay focused, then leave when you need to. It’s better to explain that you’ll need to leave then to stay too long and blow it.

Pick and Choose Events – Social gatherings that are casual allow you to be a more successful setting. The ability to move around and jump from conversation to conversation will give you some flexibility with your inherent ADHD symptoms (i.e. hyperactivity, inattentiveness, etc.). Choosing to attend a formal dinner that requires you to sit and converse with the same people for long periods of time could lead to disaster.

Be the Host – What better way to ensure that you are successful at a public gathering than to host the event. Since you know where you’re the most successful, why not set up a gathering that you know will work for you. Think outside the box. Maybe your outing is a rafting trip and a picnic lunch after, or maybe a pick-up game of basketball with friends, or a group trip to the movies and dinner afterwards. Any of these will allow time with friends and the activity that you need.

Social skills can be taught, and with practice they can become as second nature as walking. To help with practice, your Play Attention program will address this directly. Not only will Play Attention offer you the ability to learn to pay attention for longer periods of time, but also the program provides a specific training for social skills. Starting with simply identify facial expression and working to complex situation of body language and voice tone, the social skills component of Play Attention will provide the right platform to transform you from publicly challenged to a social butterfly.


Playground Safety

Playground Safety

When working with your ADHD child on social skills, what better way to spend a summer morning than at the public playground, with big shade trees, lots of running around and tons of other kids to play with. This setting gives many opportunities to test out the social skills you’re working on but safety needs to discussed also. Just like our segment on campground safety, it’s equally as important that your child know the safety rules at the playground. Here are some things to discuss:

  1. Go out early. Try to head outside earlier in the day before it gets too hot. Late morning before lunch may be the best time. A couple of hours of play time, and your little one will be ready to head home for lunch and perhaps some cooler, inside activities. Another option is to save your trip to the park for after dinner when it’s cooled down.
  2. Know the rules. Most public playgrounds have rules posted at the entrance. It’s important that you read these and explain them to your child. There may be some additional rules that you establish for your child, but they also need to know what the park rules are. Don’t take for granted that your child knows things like that they shouldn’t wander off. Be sure to lay down the rules before you get there.
  3. Safety first. With slides, swings and merry-go-rounds, there are multiple ways your child can get hurt. Without restricting their ability to play freely, you’ll need to explain some safety rules to better eliminate the chances for an accident. These could include one person on the slide at a time, no walking behind moving swings, and not jumping off a moving merry-go-round.
  4. Talk about taking turns. On a pristine summer day, many parents flock to public playgrounds with their kids. Taking turns is part of the picture. At home, your child doesn’t always have to wait for a swing or to go down the slide, and there certainly aren’t lines six kids deep in your backyard. So having a multitude of other kids to play with can come at the price of having to wait for a turn.
  5. Bring a friend. Even though there are usually plenty of kids to play with, it can be a good choice to bring a friend along. This will create a natural buddy system, because they are likely to stay together since they know each other. It also gives you an opportunity to help the friend’s parents out by freeing up time for them to do other things, and they may actually return the favor.
  6. Bring plenty of liquids. Summer heat can sneak up quickly. Research shows that drinking water every fifteen minutes during hot days when exerting oneself is recommended. Try to avoid super sugary drinks and soda. These tend to make a person thirstier. Water and sports drinks are the best options.
  7. Dress properly. Flip-flops or other opened-toed shoes may not be the best option. Stubbing a toe or getting a splinter from mulch can turn your fun-filled day into a tear-soaked mess. Sturdy closed-toe shoes or sneakers are the safest choice.


Social Skills at a Restaurant

Social Skills at a Restaurant

Whether you’re on a family vacation or it’s just too hot to cook, a restaurant may be the answer for mealtime this summer. It is understandable if sometimes you try to avoid bringing your child to a nice restaurant.  Often times a child with ADHD has a difficult time riding in the car straight to a restaurant where he will have to sit even longer and adjust his behavior to this new social setting.  This can be a recipe for disaster!  However, you can take some steps to make your restaurant experience an enjoyable event.

Ornate  Land Expectations – No parent should expect their child to understand how to act in a restaurant. After all, at home things are completely different. In most cases, children are busy playing while their meal is being prepared. It’s important that you explain the differences to your child so they can understand what is expected.

Ornate  Explain Restaurant Etiquette – When landing expectations, explain to your child that everyone in the restaurant wants to have a good time. Also, explain what is appropriate so they understand that unpleasant behavior affects everyone’s experience, not just theirs.

Ornate  Start Simple – When introducing this new concept to your child, start simple. Maybe you’ll begin with a quick trip to the ice cream store where the wait time isn’t as long. Or perhaps you’ll start with lunch, which is usually served quicker than dinner. In any case, you want to be wise when picking where you’ll start so that your trip will be successful.OutToEat

Ornate  Arrive Prepared – Some restaurants provide crayons and coloring placemats to keep your child entertained during wait times. It’s best that you come prepared with your own arsenal of restaurant-friendly activities for your child. Keep a bag in the family car so that the contents stay new by only using them for restaurant outings.

Ornate  Choice Matters – Choose restaurants that are kid friendly. Many reputable chain restaurants offer play areas and outdoor eating areas for kids, which gives them an opportunity to move about. Don’t expect your six year old to be content in a high-class restaurant where dining can be a lengthy event.

Ornate  When needed, move – Since you know there is a hyperactive part of most children with ADHD, you’ll have to take this into consideration. When you see your child start getting antsy while waiting for food to arrive, create a distraction. Have someone in the party take the child for a walk. Maybe you’re in a seafood restaurant that has a big tank that you can visit. Or maybe you’re visiting an outdoor restaurant on a boardwalk where a quick walk can take up some time.

Ornate  Diet Considerations – Most restaurants can accommodate diet restrictions. Don’t be afraid to order food the way your child likes it. Also, encourage your child to try new things, but have a backup plan if their choice doesn’t pan out.

Ornate  Dinner Conversation – Dinner with your child at a restaurant is not the time to have an adult conversation. Because of wait times, be prepared to be a part of keeping your youngster entertained. Whether it’s playing a game of tic-tac-toe or just chatting as a family, it’s important that your child is not struggling for your attention. Keep adult conversations for date night without your child.

Managing Video Game Use Part II

Managing Video Game Use Part II
Setting firm rules for screen time is good parenting

“The American Academy of Pediatrics ( recommends children older than 2 should watch no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality entertainment media per day.” The AAP also recommends children under the age of 2 should have zero hours.

Based on years of research, the AAP realizes that screen time on a computer, TV, phone, tablet, or console changes brain function. These devices are ubiquitous and found in almost every room in the average home now.

Several studies have concluded: ” Viewing television and playing video games each are associated with increased subsequent attention problems in childhood. It seems that a similar association among television, video games, and attention problems exists in late adolescence and early adulthood. Research on potential risk factors for attention problems should be expanded to include video games in addition to television.”

Setting limits is critical. Granted, the genie is out of the bottle; setting limits may be met with strong opposition initially. It’s also important to know that as a parent, your viewing habits greatly influence your children’s viewing habits.

The AAP says that, “The amount of time that children and teens spend watching television may have more to do with their parents’ TV habits than with family media rules or the location of TVs within the home, according to a study in the August 2013 issue of Pediatrics, “The Relationship Between Parents’ and Children’s Television Viewing.”

Research has also shown that day care centers often expose children to more screen time; ” The researchers found that among preschool-aged children, those in home-based care watched TV for 2.4 hours on an average day, compared to 0.4 hours in center-based settings.”

So three take aways from this post:
1. Screen time is not necessarily quality time and can affect brain function.
2. Setting limits on screen time will depend on a firm policy that is influenced by parents’ habits.
3. Day care settings typically offer more screen time. You should request limitations at the facility.

We’ll tackle an actual management plan next post.

Your attention experts are at Chat with us from that site, call us at 800.788.6786, or use the Contact Us button at the top of this FB page.