Get Outside, Play, & Ease the Symptoms of ADHD

A study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, researcher, Frances Kuo finds that “green time” has a positive impact on children and adults with ADHD.

“Those who play regularly in the same green outdoor settings do have milder symptoms than those who play indoors or in playgrounds. We also found that children who were hyperactive had less severe symptoms if they played in an open environment, such as a soccer field, rather than in a green space with lots of trees.” – Frances Kuo

Alternatively, a study conducted by University of Michigan researchers found that “simply spending a few minutes on a busy city street can affect the brain’s ability to focus and to help us manage self-control.”

So it is time to get out in the green! This is great news for summertime. Get out there and play with your child. It’s good for you!

Simple Outdoor Ideas:

Take a nature walk and play I-Spy along the way.
Play Follow the Leader around the yard.
Build a fort out of boxes or old sheets.
Play catch or frisbee.
Remember hopscotch? Teach it to your child.
Jump rope and sing songs together.
Run through the sprinkler.
Play with bubbles.
Plan an outdoor picnic together.
Just Play!

“As little as 20 minutes of outdoor exposure in an open green space could potentially buy you a couple of hours in the afternoon to get homework done with your child.” Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D.

ADHD Children More Likely to Live Unhealthy Lifestyles

New study sheds light on improving symptoms

A recent study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders [1] looked at the health recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Their recommendations include:

*Drinking more water
*Decrease consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks
*Exercise at least an hour
*Limited screen time to a maximum of one to two hours daily (laptops, phones, tablets, TV)
*Get 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night

The study examined a group of 184 children ages 7 to 11 with ADHD and compared them to a group of 104 children who did not have ADHD. Children with ADHD were reported to adhere to fewer of these recommendations, regardless of taking medication for their ADHD. That means that the ADHD children in the study ADHD drank less water, drank more sweetened beverages, spent more time in front of a screen, engaged in less physical activity, consumed fewer vitamins, read less, and slept less than the participants without ADHD. These behavioral patterns were exhibited regardless of whether the ADHD children were taking medication for their ADHD. Unhealthy lifestyles have been shown to exacerbate ADHD symptoms or be correlated thereto.

The lead author of the research, Dr. Kathleen Holton, contends that, “Having their children follow healthy lifestyle behaviors may be an effective intervention either alongside or in the place of traditional ADHD medications. Parents of children with ADHD should talk with their pediatrician about how to improve health behaviors, such as limiting screen time, encouraging physical activity, improving bedtime routines, and drinking water rather than other beverages.”

[1] Kathleen F. Holton, Joel Nigg. The Association of Lifestyle Factors and ADHD in Children. Journal of Attention Disorders, April 28 2016; Online. DOI: .1177/1087054716646452

What to do this summer?

With your child’s thirteen week hiatus right around the corner, now is the time to plan for the summer. Whether it’s a week at the beach, some academic tutoring, or just some well-deserved down time, planning is the key to a stress free summer vacation.

Make a Plan – Children with ADHD do much better when they know what to expect. So when you’re planning out summer activities, it’s best to calendar them out. That way your child has a visual on upcoming activities. This information should include any summer school, play dates, family vacations, summer camps, and your Play Attention sessions.

Get Them Involved – Involving your child in planning your summer vacation. Think of several ideas and let them help do some research. Whether your vacation plans are to visit Disney Land or have a restful week at the beach, teaching your child to plan will help with their organizational skills.

Summer Camps – Plan Ahead – Many summer camps tailored to children with ADHD fill up quickly. Space is limited so now is the time to think and prepare. Decisions have to be made to insure that a spot is saved for your little one.

Academic Tutoring – If your child needs a little extra help during the summer, now is a perfect time to get your child signed up. Many college students look for summer jobs at this time of the year. Contact your local college for students studying education. You may also have many established tutoring services in your area as well offering summer programs.

Cognitive & Behavioral Attention Training – Summer is a perfect time to involve your child in a Play Attention program. If started now, your child can be well on their way to completing the program by the beginning of the new school year. And, they’ll have an advantage that will lead to success in the classroom. Take this survey and help us build your Play Attention program.

Remember when you purchase Play Attention by May 20th, 2016, you will receive a FREE 2-in-1 laptop with your Play Attention software installed and ready to begin! Call 800-788-6786 for more details.

Chill Time – Just like when adults are on vacation, children just need time to unwind. Summer is the time to sleep late, play a lot, and relax. Make sure you aren’t over scheduling your child this summer. Give them the time they need to rejuvenate for the next school year.

Let’s Get Outside – Exposure to green outdoor spaces can improve concentration and impulse control in children and adults. So get out there and play! Put up a basketball hoop, get a ball, and watch all of that energy be exerted in a positive way.

Start your summer Play Attention program now and be prepared for the next school year! Call 800-788-6786.

Using the summer months to prepare for college

The transition from high school to college is a challenge for even the most well-rounded student. Factor in ADHD and there are a whole new set of challenges. Parents should use the summer months to prepare their students for life at college. It’s a great time to test the waters while having the safety net of home to help them through.

Play Attention is a great brain training tool for both children and adults with ADHD. Use Play Attention over the summer months to help your college bound student develop the skills necessary to be a good, independent learner. Play Attention strengthens skills such as attention stamina, working memory, visual tracking, task completion, impulse control, and more! Start now and give your child an edge as he/she departs for college.

    Here are some additional ideas you can use this summer to help with the transition:

Make Organization a Priority – Since organization is a struggle for students with ADHD, most parents help with this process throughout high school. Now that your student will be on his own, it’s important that he takes on the responsibility of organization. Having your student keep his room organized through the summer months will create a great foundation for his journey into college life. Make certain to discuss steps he can take to help with organization.

Keep Things Structured – The summer months are usually the time when schedules go by the wayside; bed times are looser, meal times vary more, etc. Keeping things structured throughout the summer will help your budding college student stay in a routine. Since consistent and repetitive behavior gains proficiency, consider this type of structure the same as if you were helping your athlete prepare for the big game.

Research the College’s Resources – While the hope is that you looked into this before applying, it’s important that you help your student familiarize himself with the resources available to him on campus. There will be big adjustments like longer classes, later nights, more independent studying, etc. Create a plan for when things get tough, so your student isn’t scrambling to find resources for support.

Visit the Campus – Many college campuses have programs throughout the summer months. There are typically concerts, sporting events, and lectures. It’s a great time to visit the campus and get familiar with the layout. Even if you’re not there to attend an event, a campus visit will allow your student to map out his day without the distraction of hundreds of other students.

Create a Game plan – Your student will need a game plan if things get challenging. This might include a discussion with your student’s roommate to help keep things on track, or a plan to connect with a counselor once a week to discuss the week’s obstacles.

Talk about Spending – With books paid for and meal plans established, what more could your student need to spend money on? The answer is everything else! A trip to the movies or the mall, dinner with friends at the local pizza place, etc. These expenses can get out of control without a plan. Create a budget for your college student that will allow him to have a social life that won’t break the bank. Also, talk to him about planning meals at college. Your student could run into financial difficulty with poor planning when meal halls are closed after late-night classes.

The more planning and discussions you have before your student goes off to college, the better prepared he will be. If you can help with some pre-planning and addressing any anxieties, it will be easier for your student to be successful as he ventures into college life.

Let’s Make a Meal!

We recently discussed some tips on how to plan a meal. Now let’s take a look at involving your little one in the meal making process.

Remember when you start Play Attention this week, you will receive a 6 month FREE subscription to Cook Smarts!

For some of us, meal preparation comes naturally. We feel we can beat even the best home cook on Gordon Ramsay’s television show, MasterChef. However, some of us dread the thought putting together the evening meal for the family. Whether you can easily put together the perfect well-balanced meal or struggle to put something edible on the table each night, we all have to start somewhere.

The good news is, just like any other skill, cooking can be taught. And just like cognitive training for people struggling with attention, you’ll get better the more you practice.

Play Attention provides fantastic cognitive training.

Cooking with someone with ADHD can be a challenge. With short attention spans, things will have to be kept simple and quick. Also, keep in mind that nutritionists recommend a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates while keeping the diet low in refined sugars.

Here are some quick and easy recipes that will provide the right nutrition and start your child on the road to becoming a great home cook. You will find that cooking with your child can be a great learning experience. Your child will learn critical skills such as planning, time management, counting, fractions, money, weighing, measuring, and problem solving!

Consider teaching your child to cook at an early age, start with simple things like making toast. Then graduate to helping stir things (this gets a little messy, but be patient, it gets better). Eventually task your child with planning and helping prepare one meal a week for the family. Be prepared, you may be eating hot dogs with mac and cheese at first, or maybe PB&J, but this too shall pass.

As experience in the kitchen is gained, your child will become more adventurous with their meal prep. It actually can become a friendly family competition to see who can come up with the better meal. Your child may really begin to surprise you with some wonderful meals.

For teenagers, you can take it a step further. The Food Network’s show Chopped features chefs having to prepare meals from five random ingredients given to them in a basket. Imagine how fun it would be to give your budding chef random ingredients, and have them create a meal in an hour? On the show, the chefs are faced with some strange ingredients, for instance chicken in a can, or gummy worms paired with a pork loin. So be careful what you put in your mystery basket—remember you have to eat it!

ADHD & Meal Planning

Meal planning. It seems like such a simple task. We eat 3 times a day, every day. So this should be something we can all just inherently do. However, if you are an adult with ADHD, you know how difficult this seemingly simple task can be. This can lead to a lot of missed meals and fast food.

What makes meal planning so difficult for people with ADHD? If you break down this task it is very involved. You must be able to plan ahead. This is a hard skill for many with ADHD. Even though we eat daily, the inability to plan ahead causes many ADDers making a trip to the grocery store every single day. This can be frustrating and time consuming. Once you get to the store, you must be organized. Not being organized and lacking a list of items that must be purchased, leads to forgetting necessary items and more time lost. Once you do have all of these ingredients in front of you ready to prepare the meal, you have to be good at prioritizing, time management, and staying on task. If you are not good at these skills, dinner can be very late and cookies can be burned!

With a few tips, this is a task you can master! Once you master this skill, you will notice you are less stressed and able to eat healthier!

There are many grocery apps to help you with planning and organizing your lists. Check out free apps such as Out of Milk and Our Groceries. Not only will these apps help ensure you get the items you need, they can also help you avoid impulse buys which are usually unhealthy and expensive. Stick to the list!

Additude Magazine has many helpful tips for the six-step meal system to make certain dinner gets to the table:

1. Hold a family meeting. Dinnertime is the perfect occasion. Ask family members for their favorite dinner menus. Although children’s preferences should be taken into account, think about the nutritional balance of each meal they suggest.
2. Create a “Top-10” dinner list. You’ll cook these meals over the course of two weeks, leaving two nights per week free from cooking to order in or eat out.
3. Write your dinner menus on individual index cards, listing all of the components as well as the ingredients for complex dishes.

Read the entire plan here.

Play Attention can help you strengthen the cognitive skills necessary to plan ahead, be more organized, and stay on task. Plus when you purchase Play Attention this week, you are going to receive a six month free subscription to Cook Smarts. Cook Smarts creates weekly meal plans, cooking guides and infographics, and online cooking lessons, all designed to help anyone build a strong cooking foundation.

Play Attention. We’ll Transform Your Mind. You’ll Transform Your Life.

Children with ADHD at Risk for Binge Eating

Children with ADHD at Risk for Binge Eating
Lack of control increases risk

Many medications taken for ADHD result in appetite loss, so it’s hard to fathom that binge eating could be related to ADHD. Yet a new study from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center reveals that children with ADHD are significantly more likely to have an eating disorder.Late Night Binge

The researchers term the disorder, ‘loss of control eating syndrome’, and find it quite similar to binge eating, a disorder commonly found in adults. The disorder is defined by an inability to stop eating at times with lack of control to stop at will. ADHD children were 12 times more likely to have this disorder than children without ADHD.

The findings of this research indicate a possible link between ADHD and a lack of control for binge eating. However, Dr. Reinblatt, lead author of the study, says the roots of the underlying connection remain unknown and require additional research. Reinblatt thinks the two conditions may result from a genetic predisposition to impulsivity. This view would reflect prior research.

Reinblatt, thinks it would be wise for clinicians to screen for both ADHD and loss of control eating behaviors as a preventative measure.

Brain Food!

Brain Food

Top 10 secrets to get your family eating better – for the brain!

We have all read about the recommended foods for healthy brains.  But let’s face it; “brain foods” usually aren’t too kid-friendly. Omega-rich fish like salmon, vegetables like spinach and kale, and oatmeal are not typically your child’s favorite things to eat.  They may not be even some of your favorite dishes! When it comes to integrating these foods into your family’s diet, it will take some ingenuity. Here are some ideas:

  Oatmeal – Instead of the traditional bowl of gruel that most kids turn their noses up at, consider making a granola bar packed with oatmeal and other healthy ingredients.

  Spinach – Slightly wilting leaves in olive oil make this brain food much more palatable. Also, consider baking spinach leaves into chips.

  Iron Rich Foods – Beef, chicken, and turkey are kid-friendly sources of iron. Since there has been a direct correlation made between iron deficiencies and brain deficiencies, keeping healthy levels of iron in your diet is paramount.

  Chocolate – Flavanol, which is present in dark chocolate, has been known to be a key factor in reducing memory loss. It is also speculated that flavanol can help regulate your mood and battle depression. Dark chocolate can be easily substituted into your child’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

  Eat your Veggies – Many vegetables are excellent sources of brain food. Cauliflower, green peppers, onions, broccoli, and winter squashes (such as acorn or butternut) will all help boost brainpower. Serve vegetable creatively. For example, cauliflower can be easily hidden in mashed potatoes!

  Eggs – Eggs are an excellent source of protein and the yolks contain choline, an important nutrient for memory development.

  Peanut Butter – Kids love peanut butter, which is packed with Vitamin E and thiamin and are good for the brain. Peanut butter makes a great dip for fruit such as bananas, apples, and even pretzels.

  Whole Grains – Whole grain bread is packed with Vitamin B, which is great for the nervous system. If your child turns their nose up at whole grain bread, consider whole grain crackers or wraps.

  Berry Simple – Blueberries, strawberries and all the other berries that fit in here are a great source of brain food. The seeds in these berries contain Omega-3 fats, which are good for the brain. The more intense the color, the better the berry is for your brain.

  Yogurt – Yogurt is a great source of Vitamin D and B, both important in healthy brain function. Can’t get your child to eat yogurt? Turn it into a healthy frozen treat.


Eat right for a healthy brain and contact us at Play Attention to teach your brain the cognitive skills it needs! 800-788-6786


IEP Accommodations for End-of-Grade Testing

It is hard to believe that for many of us end-of-grade testing is just around the corner. This can be a very difficult time for students, parents, and teachers alike. If you have a student with ADHD, you know this can be an especially stressful time. Many students with ADHD struggle with testing for a variety of reasons; distractibility, anxiety, sleepiness, impulsivity, and carelessness, just to name a few.

Most of these students are highly intelligent, but their poor test results seldom indicate this. However, there are some accommodations that can help your student really show what they know!

Selecting appropriate accommodations for students with ADHD in order to equally and successfully participate in testing is an essential component of developing a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. Testing accommodations must be identified in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan and used regularly during instruction and similar classroom assessments.

The IEP team or Section 504 committee are responsible to determine the accommodations. However, parents are given an opportunity to review and discuss these accommodations during meetings. The state-approved testing accommodations must be considered as well.
Some of the most frequently used accommodations on EOG (End of Grade) Testing include:

1. Scheduled Extended Time
2. Testing in a Separate Room
3. Extended Test Time
4. Student Marks Answers in Test Book
5. Multiple Testing Sessions

There are certain cognitive skills that students need in order to be successful during test taking. Some of these sills include:

Attention stamina
Task completion
Auditory processing
Working memory

Play Attention can help your students strengthen these cognitive skills and more! Attend our webinar or visit to learn more.

Read about Max, a 16-year-old Play Attention student, who discovered how Play Attention could help him with test taking!
There are many test taking tips that cannot be written into an IEP or 504. Additude Magazine provides additional test taking tips you may want to teach your student. View here.

What you can learn from a marshmallow!

What you can learn from a marshmallow.

– It will change your life!

It’s an age old dilemma; we stare at a plate of chocolate chip cookies after eating just one. We know well that’s all we should eat, but the impulse kicks in and we have another. And another.  Science tells us how this lack of control will affect us long-term, and it’s not just about your waistline.

Impulsive behaviors are often associated with children and adults with autism or ADHD. At times, they lack self-control. Impulsiveness is simply acting without forethought. There is no cause-and-effect rationale with impulsivity; in most instances, this population does not understand the consequences of their impulsive behaviors. The importance of developing self-control or self-regulation has been studied for more than 50 years.

In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel from Stanford University did an experiment on delayed gratification – the ability to fend off the impulse to eat another cookie. In his study, the Marshmallow Experiment, Mischel offered preschool children one marshmallow that they could eat immediately. However, he also instructed them if they waited for a little while, he would give them a second marshmallow. This video shows the agony some of these preschoolers went through as they sat alone in a room when having to decide to eat the one marshmallow staring them in the face or wait to reap the rewards of a second marshmallow.

The children used different strategies; some imagined the marshmallow was only a cloud; others distracted themselves by covering their eyes or turning away. They delayed gratification for 15 minutes and earned their second marshmallow.

The preschoolers were followed for many years thereafter. Researchers found that those who were able delay gratification had far better long-term outcomes compared with peers who immediately devoured the marshmallow in less than a minute:

  • They were significantly less likely to have problems with behavior.
  • Far less likely to develop drug addiction.
  • Far less likely to develop obesity by the time they were in high school.
  • The gratification-delayers also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT.

While these outcomes are significant, delayed gratification, in essence, planning for longer-term goals also has practical value. We would like to teach our children to save money for college, save for a new car, or insurance for that car.

Socially, we also want them to make good decisions with careful consideration. This involves everything from what they eat, who they date, and what they try when alone with their friends.

So, it’s incredibly important to teach this skill for every child, but how can we help a child or adult with ADHD or autism learn how to delay gratification?

Modeling the behavior you desire from your child is an important first step. If you tend act impulsively around your child, they are likely to see that behavior as acceptable and not attempt to control it. If you practice a calmer, more planned approach to life, you’ll set a great example.

Because most impulsive people are not aware that they are doing anything wrong, the first step is to create awareness. Strategies can be implemented once awareness has been developed.

The behavior-shaping component in the Play Attention program brings concrete awareness to people who want to understand how to control these impulsive behaviors. We specialize in teaching this behavior and welcome you to attend a webinar to see how this clinically proven method works to teach self-regulation.

More (and somewhat comical) videos of the Marshmallow Experiment:

Mature Marshmallow Experiment

Your attention experts are at 800.788.6786.