What to do this summer?

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 summer camp.

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.  Attend our Play Attention Virtual Summer Camp from July 6th July 31st.  Call 800-788-6786 to learn more.

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 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 virtual summer camp.

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 chill 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.

Picking the Best School for your ADHD Child

Picking the Best School for your ADHD Child
– What to look for…

When it comes to looking for the best learning environment for your ADHD child, the Internet will provide a long list of options depending on where you live. That being said, it’s important to know what to look for when considering which school your child should attend. Here are some things to think about.

 Evaluate your child’s education needs – Does your child work better independently or in a group setting? Will your child answer questions or shy away from being singled out? You’re your child need extra help with social settings?

 IEP/504 Needs – Can the school fulfill accommodations needed for your child to succeed in the classroom? Are there additional modification required that a traditional school may not have been able to satisfy?

 Ask the Questions that Matter – What are the class sizes?  How flexible is the school when meeting the needs of your child? What types of teaching methods are implemented by the teachers to meet the education needs of ADHD students?  What types of continuing education classes does the school provide for teachers?

  Take a Tour of the School – Evaluate the classroom structure. What is the overall feel of the school? Is it a positive learning environment? Are there special classes available for your child with special learning needs?

  Watch other students – Do they appear to be struggling? Are they excited about learning?

  Learning philosophy – What is the school’s approach to learning? How do they model good behavior? How flexible are they when it comes to adjusting your child’s curriculum?

 Parent/Teacher Communication – How involved will they allow you to be in your child’s education? Is there a team effort with open communication? Will the teacher communicate positive strategies being used in the classroom and how they can be incorporated at home?

  Role Models – Does the school have good role models for your child? Perhaps they use tutors who themselves struggle with ADHD. Are these success stories that will inspire your child?

  Lunch Program – Is the school providing lunches that are high in protein and low in sugar?

At the end of the day, no question you ask is a bad one. The important thing to remember is that you need to feel comfortable with the choice you make for your child. One way to learn more about the success of any school is to talk to other parents who have children attending that school. They are sure to give you honest feedback about their child’s success.


Group Effort Better for ADHD Kids

Group Effort Better for ADHD Kids

Study shows team approach works

It takes a whole village to raise a child. New research reported in the journal Pediatrics confirms that a team approach can improve outcomes for ADHD children. The study confirms what many parents often say; they need help and want far more than just medication.

A team of psychologists and MDs from Mercy Hospital in Kansas City conducted a randomized, controlled study pitting a team of doctors, parents, and a care manager against parent management alone.

The article reports, “All participants received care management with decision support. Care managers in the enhanced care arm also were trained in motivational and parent management techniques to help parents engage in their child’s treatment, address their own mental health needs, and manage challenging child behaviors. We used multivariable models to assess inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, oppositionality, and social skills over 1 year.”

Improved outcomes were primarily behavioral; children with ADHD experienced superior changes for hyperactivity/impulsivity and oppositionality, but not inattention.

This study echoes previous research conducted in the UK where parent training produced far better outcomes for ADHD children than parents who did not receive training to manage their ADHD child.

Unfortunately, Mercy Hospital is one of a very few places nationally that offers a collaborative approach.

Play Attention uses a collaborative approach and can also improve inattention and many other cognitive problems associated with ADHD. We’ve known its value and used this approach for over 20 years.

Your attention experts are at www.playattention.com. 800.788.6786. You can also use the Contact Us button at the top of this FB page.

The right school accommodations can lead to classroom success

School Accommodations – Get what your child needs

Since ADHD is considered a disability, your child may be entitled to modifications to their school routine. When it comes to getting the proper accommodations for your child, it is imperative that you become your child’s best advocate. Slight adjustments to the daily classroom setting can make or break your child’s success. Therefore, it’s important to understand what kinds of modifications you can request. Here are some things to consider:

  Seating in the Classroom – If your child is easily distracted where they are placed in the classroom can be of the utmost importance. Center front may be the most successful area. Also, seating your child next to a good role model is helpful.

  Length of Assignments – Since we know that most children with ADHD have a difficult time beginning and completing assignments in a timely manner, it’s best if longer assignments are broken up. You may also want to consider asking for additional time to complete assignments.

 Request a set of books for home – If your child has a hard time remembering to bring books home to do assignments, you can request that you have a set of books at home.

 Release the Energy – You can request that your child have breaks throughout the day that allow them to release some of the pent up energy often associated with ADHD. This can be in the form of a fifteen-minute break, supervised by an aid, where your child can run laps around the track.

  Encourage Social Interaction – This can be tricky for the student whose peers find them less than appropriately social. Assign a task that allows the student to briefly interact with other students, such as handing out papers, or collecting books. This gives the student a sense of accomplishment and belonging.

  Study Buddy – Have the classroom teacher assign a study buddy to your child. This person can help organize and keep your child on track. He can also set an example of good habits for your child.

  Use a digital recorder – Often times students with ADHD will only pick up part of instructions. Using a digital recorder will allow the student to rewind as many times as needed to get all of the instructions.

  Classroom Testing – Request multiple sessions or extended time for testing. You can also request that your child be tested in a setting that is less distracting. You may even be able to ask for a scribe for your child, meaning a person is assigned to read the questions and answers for multiple-choice tests. To which the student responds with the correct answer. Or in the case of essay questions, the scribe will write out the answer that is dictated to them by the student.

  Incorporate Play Attention – Asking the school to incorporate your child’s Play Attention program into the school day is not that far-fetched. In fact, since your program comes with an open-ended two-user license, you can be helping another student also. Classroom aids or parent volunteers are great resources for administering the program for your child.

Attend our upcoming special IEP/504 webinar on April 17th


504/IEP So many Questions, So Little Time…

504/IEP So many Questions, So Little Time…

When it comes to getting the right classroom accommodations for your child, there is a sea of information. It can be intimidating and confusing for parents as they learn to ride the waves instead of being sucked into the swell.

For guidance, register for our IEP/504 webinar on April 17th with Dr. Susan Crum.

Let’s start at the beginning. Who qualifies?

If your child is struggling in the classroom, they may qualify. Students with one of thirteen disabilities are eligible for an IEP, which is the more formal of the two. A student can qualify for a 504 plan if they have any disability that affects their ability to learn.

What is the difference between a 504 and an IEP?

One of the main differences is the way that each is developed. An IEP is constructed following a strict set of guidelines. To get an IEP, participants must meet two requirements. The first is that they must be formally diagnosed with one of the thirteen disabilities listed by IDEA. These disabilities range from dyslexia to traumatic brain injury. The second requirement is that the disability must affect the child’s academic performance and their ability to learn in a traditional classroom setting.

Request our IEP/504 eBook

A 504 plan was actually developed from section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act established in 1973. The Rehabilitation Act is a national law that ensures that an individual cannot be discriminated against because of a disability. It offers equal opportunity for those with disabilities to thrive in a classroom setting. To get a 504 plan for your student, they must have a disability. This can include attention or learning disabilities. The disability must impair the child’s ability to learn in a conventional classroom setting, therefore accommodations are needed for a student to have a chance to be successful.

Another difference that stands out is the way that each is developed. An IEP is developed by a specific team that includes the parents, special education and general education teachers, a school psychologist, and a district representative. All members must be present during the development of the plan and at annual meetings. The plan must be approved by the parents, and cannot be modified without parental consent. The IEP team must review the plan annually and make modifications as needed.

A 504 plan is more loosely structured. In fact, it doesn’t have to be in written form at all. It can simply be strategies and accommodations developed to increase success in the classroom. There are no specific guidelines. However, most 504 plans include what accommodations are being given to the student, who is going to provide the service, and who is going to ensure that the plan is implemented.

In either case, there is an evaluation process. Parental consent is required before a student can be evaluated. Parents can request that the school district pay for an independent education evaluation (IEE), but they don’t have to agree. Parents do have the right to pay for an outside evaluation, but the district does not have to consider it when devising a plan for your child. If you’re seeking an outside evaluation, it’s best to consult with the school psychologist. They should have a list of approved evaluators and are more likely to consider the results if it’s done by someone on this list.

The Educational Support Advisors at Play Attention have a wealth of knowledge and resources available to you about the 504/IEP process. In fact, there have been many cases where they have been successful in incorporating your Play Attention sessions into your child’s school day. Click here for additional information and resources.


Teaching a Child Self-Advocacy

Teaching a Child Self-Advocacy
- Guest Blogger, Karen Lauffer

As an educator, I believe that one of the most important skills we can teach our children, and, specifically, children with autism, is the ability to advocate for their needs. It is a sad irony that our kids with the most needs, often have the greatest difficulty asking for help. I always tell my kids that if they ask for help in a nice way, almost all adults will be willing to help them get what they need.

Teaching self-advocacy is something that I am very passionate about. It is a broad topic that we could talk about for days. When thinking about school-age children, I would break this process down into three simple steps:

  1. Identify the function of the behavior.
  2. Determine a solution that works for everyone involved.
  3. Teach the student to ask for help in a nice way.

So, the first step, identify the problem. When a child is having difficulty, he is communicating a need. All behaviors serve a purpose. We must determine whether the child needs something, is avoiding a task or if the behavior is sensory-driven. After we determine the function of the behavior, we must find a way for the child to get what he needs in a socially appropriate, more efficient way. Finally, we must work with everyone involved to find a way for the child to ask for what he needs and, ultimately, be able to advocate for himself.

For example, let’s say that we have a student who loves music class but seems to always fall apart on the days that the teacher lets everyone play an instrument. He seems to want to participate but he ends up getting more and more agitated and out of control. He has even gotten so excited that he has hit a student with his instrument accidentally. On these days, he ends up being wildly inappropriate and can even escalate to full meltdown mode. The student’s IEP team has determined that this student is becoming over-stimulated and needs to be removed from the situation. He has an “office” area in his resource room that he has created. Typically, the next step is to develop a crisis plan so that he can be directed to his office or escorted to his office if/when he is in meltdown mode.

How much better would it be to talk with this student, help him to recognize why he is getting upset, decide on a solution and then help him to know how to ask for what he needs in a socially appropriate way? Teaching kids how to ask for a break is a life skill. As adults, we give ourselves breaks all day long. When we become fatigued or stressed, we can walk away from the situation. We might get a cup of coffee or step over to a colleague’s office and chat for a second. We learned this skill in incremental steps as we were growing up and functioning in society. Our student with autism might not learn this skill incidentally. We may have to directly teach him how to take ownership of recognizing and obtaining what he needs.

A “Take 5” card is a great strategy that I love to use with my students. In the heat of the moment, the child might not be able to articulate that he would like to be excused to go to his office for a break. Rather than just leave the classroom without permission, or, worse, go into meltdown mode, the child can have a card in his pocket with a large number 5 written on it. We will have worked it out in advance with all of his teachers so that they know when he hands them this card, he is asking for permission to leave to take a break. It’s a win-win, because the child can feel good about himself for being responsible and asking for what he needs in a nice way. The teacher is happy because the student has asked to leave her room before being getting upset. In addition, the learning environment has not been disrupted.

All children need to be able to ask for what they need. Teaching self-advocacy is often difficult since there are so many moving parts to be considered. However, as parents and educators, we must try. When we are successful, our children, indeed, all of society benefits greatly.


Warning: Common Core Standards & Your ADHD Child

What the new state mandates mean

While the Common Core Standards mean big upcoming changes, you can be ahead of the curve. We’ll have a special webinar shortly and we’re also giving away a FREE Samsung Galaxy Tablet with Play Attention. The tablet is loaded with Core Standard apps to help your child perform at his best. Specifics for the tablet and webinar are at the end of this post or just register at http://www.playattention.com/free-galaxy-tablet.

The state governments have yet another program in place to better our education system. It’s called the Common Core Standards (remember No Child Left Behind?). According to www.corestandards.org, the standards were established “To ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.”

Forty three states have adopted the Core Standards that, “The new standards also provide a way for teachers to measure student progress throughout the school year and ensure that students are on the pathway to success in their academic careers.”

How these are implemented depends on your state. It is likely that your state has a website devoted to addressing the Core Standards. Find it and then review what this means to your ADHD child, his/her individualized education plan (“IEP”), and accommodations.

Register Now to attend our special 30 minute webinar on March 23rd at 11:00 AM EST. Learn how our educational specialists will help you select apps for your Galaxy Tablet that will enhance your Play Attention experience! We even have apps selected that will address the common core standards!

You can register at: http://www.playattention.com/free-galaxy-tablet.

Your ADHD experts are at www.playattention.com, 800.788.6786 or hburns@playattention.net

What Motivates You?

What Motivates You?

- How to encourage higher levels of achievement through rewards.

Play Attention’s Reward System

The Play Attention program is a success-based program. In simple terms, if the student is focused and paying attention, they are rewarded by the screen character moving in the right direction. When not focused, the program reminds the student to pay attention. So, through their own ability to pay attention, they are rewarded with their own success.

Just as with any training program, students need goals. Play Attention’s goals are set automatically and established as achievable goals. For example, a student may have played for three minutes in Attention Stamina. The program will establish a new goal that the student plays for three minutes and 10 seconds during the next session, thus pushing the student to stay focused for 10 seconds longer. If the goal is achieved, a point is awarded.

Once points are awarded, a bank is established where the student can accumulate an unlimited amount of points. This allows students to build points in their bank to purchase certain rewards. The coach establishes these rewards. Just as we save money to buy something, students can save points to purchase a reward.

While there are sample rewards set up, your support advisor will encourage you to set up rewards that will inspire your particular student. Caution is needed when establishing rewards. Play Attention is a long-term program, so the rewards must be something that can be sustained throughout training. If you establish a reward of $20 each time a student reaches a goal, it could get very expensive. Here are some reward ideas that many students like and cost little to no money:

  • Trip to the park (purchase price – 10 points)
  • Thirty minutes longer for bedtime on Friday night (purchase price – 15 points)
  • A two-hour play date on a Saturday (purchase price – 25 points)
  • One hour of video game time on the weekend (purchase price – 60 points)

The intent of the reward program is to give your student incentive for working towards achieving their goals.  This is a fantastic motivational tool.   When your student has accumulated enough points for their desired reward, they cash in the points. The program even prints a certificate congratulating them on their achievement!

Play Attention also encourages you to set short term and long term goals.  A short term goal may be a movie rental at Red Box for 6 points.  This is something they can probably purchase at the end of a session.  A long term goal may be a Trip to the Water Park for 75 points.  Your student will need to work towards saving those 75 points to get the larger reward!  This is teaching delayed gratification. Delaying gratification is a hard skill for both children and adults with ADHD.  However, we can teach this skill through the reward program.  To review the importance of delayed gratification can be reviewed here.

Remember rewards work equally as well for both children and adults!  Make certain if you are an adult you reward yourself for a job well done!

To learn more about Play Attention’s reward system, register to attend a FREE webinar with ADHD expert, Peter Freer.



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 www.playattention.com. 800.788.6786.




Behavior Shaping

Behavior shaping can be defined as encouraging a behavior that is wanted, like the ability to sit still in a classroom. It can also be defined as extinguishing certain behaviors, such as fidgeting or talking out of turn. In either case, we are changing behaviors to assist the person in becoming more successful.

Most people with ADHD, children and adults alike, often do not realize that they exhibit behaviors that affect their ability to pay attention. The first step in extinguishing behaviors not conducive to good attention is to actually show the person how certain behaviors affect their attention.

Since attention is an abstract concept, we need to begin by making attention concrete. Using the Bodywave armband, which reads brainwave activity, Play Attention makes attention concrete and controllable.  The user moves characters on a computer screen with their attention alone. In real time, they can see when they are paying attention and when they are not.

Behavior shaping is integrated into the Play Attention program to teach students how to extinguish distracting or disruptive behaviors. When an adult or child is using Play Attention, they are able to understand which behaviors affect their attention. For example, if the user taps his feet as a form of self-stimulation, the screen character will act adversely, giving them immediate feedback that they have lost focus.  The student now has a one to one correlation on how certain behaviors affects his attention.

By monitoring these behaviors and setting small goals to extinguish them, users are able to learn how to control these self-distracting behaviors. Over time the Play Attention learns how to better self-regulate and self-monitor.  The student can now recognize the unwanted behavior and control it at will.

Mike Smith, a Play Attention educational support advisor for over ten years, knows first-hand the benefits of behavior shaping when integrated into a cognitive attention-training program. “Families and adults that I work with are amazed at the impact that Play Attention has on helping with behavior shaping.” He goes on the say that many clients voice that they “never had a way to show how fidgeting or tapping affected attention. Finally, with Play Attention it was no longer me just telling him to stop. Now it’s right there on the screen! He can see how this behavior affects him in real time.  More importantly he knows he can control it!”

Smith, along with his team of educational support advisors, is very proud of his clients’ accomplishments. Thousands of children and adults have successfully graduated from Play Attention, and they continue to benefit from the cognitive training and behavior-shaping exercises integrated into the program.  Click here to see a demonstration of the behavior shaping program.