Using the summer months to prepare for college

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. Here are some 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 that your student isn’t scrambling to find resources for support.college_2
  • Visit the Campus – Many college campuses have programs throughout the summer months. Whether its concerts, sporting events, or 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 preplanning and addressing any anxieties, it will be easier for your student to be successful as he ventures into college life.

Picking the Right College

Picking the Right College

Just as in elementary and high school, college can be a challenge for someone with ADHD. The good news is that there are a growing number of colleges and universities offering special programs for students with disabilities. Currently there are over forty colleges with such programs. Click here for a list of these institutions and the services they provide.

When selecting a college that is more mainstream, it’s important to understand what programs are available to ensure your student’s success. Be sure to ask the right questions about support provided by the school. Here are some ideas to help guide you.

  1. Is a traditional college the best choice? We know that people with ADHD can pay attention when they are interested in the subject matter. So a traditional, four-year college may not be the best road to take. With lots of general courses needed to graduate, you may lose the student’s attention and ambition. Consider a solid technical college focused on your student’s area of interest.
  2. Can my student’s IEP transfer to college? Colleges are not required to adhere to a student’s IEP from high school. They are, however, required to make necessary accommodations for your student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of
  3. Do I have to disclose my disability? Colleges cannot discriminate against people with disabilities and you are not required to disclose your disability to any educational institution. However, it may be to your advantage that you do. This will allow modifications to be made early on, ensuring a greater chance for success. When you disclose your disability, you will be required to provide proof. In the case of ADHD, this proof can come from your physician.
  4. How do I help my ADHD student get into college? Getting into college is extremely competitive. Many colleges reject a large percentage of their applicant pool. Declaring your child’s disability may give them a better chance of getting accepted, especially if your child improved their academic performance after being diagnosed.
  5. Consider taking a year off. – Consider taking a year off to work or travel. By taking a year off, your student will enter college more grounded and ready to take on academic challenges. The year also gives your student time to decide where their areas of interest are.

In her report “Success for the ADHD College Student,” Stephanie Sarkis offers some helpful information such as, “If the student’s college conducts random drug testing, students with prescribed stimulant medication must carry a signed note from their clinician stating the name of the medication, the fact that it is a stimulant, the reason for the prescription (ADHD), and a statement that a drug test could show up positive for amphetamines due to this medication.”


Planning and Surviving a Summer Family Vacation

Planning and Surviving a Summer Family Vacation

Summer travel means a transition from routine and structure. And summer break means just overall excitement. All of this can add up to a stressful vacation for a parent of a child with ADHD. However, there are some steps that can help you have a happy, stress free family vacation.

  • Hold a planning meeting – Solicit the family’s ideas on what they want to do for a summer vacation. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a voyage overseas, every family member should have a vote. After all, how relaxing is the vacation going to be if everyone hasn’t bought in?
  • Be Realistic – If your family vacation has time limitations, don’t plan one far away. It will be no fun to be in the car for three days and at the beach for two, just to turn around for a three-day road trip back home. Try to plan a vacation that will only take a day of travel time each way.
  • Assign Duties – Once you’ve determined where the family will go, assign duties needed to make the vacation happen. This ensures the burden of preparation is not just placed on one person. For instance, if your vacation takes you to the beach, someone will need to research accommodation options, travel arrangements, meals, etc.
  • Calendar Out Dates – Use a calendar to set deadlines for planning the vacation. This will allow all family members to know when they have to complete their duties. It will also help build excitement as the vacation date gets closer.summer_travel
  • Plan the Travel Day – Talk to family members about what to expect on the travel day. If you’re flying to your destination, explain what will happen. “We’ll flying out early in the morning and land in Georgia at lunch time. We’ll have lunch at the airport and fly out to be beach after lunch. We’ll drive from the airport and be at the beach house by about four o’clock.” This will help, but may not eliminate the “Are we there yet?” statements. Do the same if travelling by car. Planning out the day with stops for meals, bathroom breaks, and any site seeing you’ll be doing along the way.
  • Create Down Time – Bring along activities that your child can do to slow down the pace a bit. Packing a vacation full of activities will leave everyone exhausted. Since vacations are designed to decompress, be sure that you are taking time to do just that.
  • Pack Wisely – Packing all of your child’s favorite toys may not be the wisest move. Favorite blankets can be easily left behind in hotels, causing a multitude of meltdowns and derailing even the best-planned vacation. A better idea is to pack one favorite toy and make the rest things that won’t cause a problem if lost.
  • Relax and Enjoy – With the hectic lifestyles that we all lead, summer family vacations are precious time that we have to relax and enjoy our family. It’s time to throw away bedtimes, wake up times, and strict schedules – just relax. The time you spend as a family just relaxing on the beach will be better than an activity-packed week where everyone ends up exhausted and cranky.Have fun!

Remember you can travel with your Play Attention system!  Start your Play Attention program now and take advantage of the summer months to prepare for the next school year!  

Call now 800-788-6786.

Part II: What Do Video Games Do to the ADHD Brain?

Part II: What Do Video Games Do to the ADHD Brain?

The bad seems to outweigh the good

Not all video games are created equal. The most popular games, according to Forbes magazine, are first person shooter games and role playing games such as Batman Arkham Knight, Battlefield Hardline, and Bloodborne. The primary goal is to kill one’s enemies with a variety of sophisticated high-tech guns and save the world.

Other video games create environments with good story lines, puzzle solving, and empire building. Cognitive games or games that teach mental tasks are also available. However, studies performed on these games show they have very little to no impact on ADHD either positive or negative.

Play Attention uses a body-based attention controlled feedback system inspired by NASA where players can actually move game characters by mind (attention) alone. This system has been tested by medical schools in randomized, controlled studies and has proven to have lasting positive effects for ADHD students.Boy playing video games making faces isolated in white

A new study says that playing video games can create a vicious cycle for ADHD children. In the past, most research has focused on biological and genetic factors. Very little has been done to determine how much the child’s environment affects their outcomes. However, Douglas A. Gentile, PhD, of Iowa State University and lead author of the study published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture shows that environment, especially video games,  can have a significant impact on children with issues like impulse control and ADHD.

Gentile’s team tracked the behavior and gaming habits of more than 3,000 Singaporean school children, aged 8 to 17, over three years. The children were administered various self-reporting tests to diagnose ADHD and impulse-control issues. The reports also required the children to track how often they played video games and the video games’ degrees of violence. The study, Gentile said, was part of a much larger study on the positive and negative effects of video games.

As has been found in past research (Christakis 2004; Landhuis 2007, etc.) the researchers found that video games both help and hurt with attention issues.

Video game play seems to increase short-term visual attention which is the ability to rapidly process information from your surroundings. For example, if you’re playing an aerial combat game, it’s necessary to quickly process and assess the number of opposing combatants so that you don’t get shot down. While this skill is necessary for this task, it is of little value in the ordinary classroom or workplace.

The negative impact is far greater than the benefits. Gentile thinks it can make it harder for some children to complete goal-oriented tasks that require long-term concentration. According to his research, the excitement and excessive stimulation of playing a video game far exceeds any ordinary daily stimulation making the real world less interesting.

Gentile also notes that time spent playing video games may also detract from the time a child might spend developing their impulse control. “Electronic media use can impair attention necessary for concentration even as it enhances the ability to notice and process visual information.”

So, the bottom line for ADHD brains: Gentile’s research and prior research have found that children who spent more time playing video games were more impulsive and had more attention problems. Even more importantly, he discovered that children who have those issues also tended to play more video games producing a vicious cycle.

Part III coming soon: How to Manage Video Game Use

Your ADHD experts are at Call them at 800.788.6786

Ten Test Taking Tips

Ten Test Taking Tips

Many of the accommodations needed for successful test taking should be in place in your child’s 504 or IEP. Here are some of the recommended accommodations for test taking:

  1. Separate Setting – Allowing your child to take tests in a separate setting may be the single most important accommodation you request. Not only will this environment be less distracting, but it will also eliminate some of the pressure when other students are finishing tests much quicker than your student with ADHD.
  2. Extended Time – Timed tests can be a nightmare for an ADHD student. Having extra time to complete the test may be the second most important modification you can request. This will also allow for any breaks that may be needed during testing.
  3. Incorporate Breaks – Just like with studying, your student with ADHD may not be able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time. You can request that your child be able to take breaks during a lengthy test. These breaks should be reasonable, say a two-minute stretch break, so that testing does not go on for hours.
  4. Use a Scribe – Most states will allow an accommodation that requires someone to read the questions and answers to a student. Then the scribe transfers the answer dictated by the student on to the test. Also, answers to essay questions can be spoken orally to a scribe who then writes or types the answers dictated.Pretty blond girl taking a test with her high school class.
  5. Sleep, Eat, and Drink – Take care of your child who is going into a test just as you would your star athlete going into the big game. Make sure you child gets a good night’s sleep, eats a healthy protein-packed breakfast, and drinks plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  6. Play to Strengths – Perhaps your child’s teacher would allow him to show his knowledge on subject manner in a less than traditional approach. For instance, if a test were on multiplication facts, perhaps the teacher would allow your child to recite the data to the rhythm of a song. Or for a test on American history, your child could act out the important parts as a skit.
  7. Break Up Test Into Sections – If you place a standardized test packet on the desk in front of your ADHD child, it’s likely to cause anxiety. Consider separating the pages and only putting a few on the desk at a time. This will give the student an achievable goal without overwhelming him.
  8. Don’t transfer answers – Many standardized tests require students to answer questions and transfer answers to a form. Instead, request that your child be allowed to circle the answers in the book and then have someone transfer the information to the answer sheet.
  9. Ask: What is Most Important – Find out from the teacher what the most important part of the test is. Is content more important than punctuation and grammar? Is it possible to get scored separately? This will allow you to prepare you student appropriately for the exam.
  10. Keys to Memorization – Memory is a challenge for students with ADHD. Focusing long enough to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory is a trial. Consider more unconventional methods. For instance, studying for a spelling test could include drumming a rhythm for each letter of the word. Of course, a separate setting is needed so that your child can drum the beat during the test.

If you are using Play Attention, our Academic Bridge program is great to help learn how to maintain attention to the tests. Your educational support advisor can assist you with this process. Call 800-788-6786 to learn more.

Developing Great Study Habits

Developing Great Study Habits

It’s easy for the average student to create good study habits. They know how to filter distractions, stay focused, and complete assignments in a timely manner. Students with ADHD struggle in these areas. The good news is there are some simple strategies that you can use to help your child develop great study habits. Whether they’re in elementary, high school or college, the following tips will help your student cram for any test.

Ornate Create a Plan – Using a calendar or planner should be your first course of action. Planning out assignments, mapping out testing dates, and listing projects will set structure needed for good study habits. Schedule everything out so the plan is clear. For more information on organization, call 800-788-6786 for a copy of our Organization eBook.

Ornate Study in Increments – Cramming for a test in one night is ineffective. Our brains are not structured to absorb and hold on to a lot of information at one time. Consistent and repetitive learning is more effective. Consider studying for 15-20 minutes a night for a week leading up to a big exam.

Ornate Consider Course Choices – Many students with ADHD have a difficult time reading because it requires extended concentration that they cannot sustain. If your student’s school schedule is laden with classes that require a lot of reading, this may not be realistic for success. It may be better to schedule classes that incorporate some reading, hands-on learning, and brain power courses.Exam date reminder

Ornate Take Breaks – Setting a timer for younger children is a great way to help them stay focused for a period of time. At first, your child may only be able to study for five minutes at a time. So set a timer for five minutes, take a two-minute break, and then set the timer for six minutes. Continue to repeat increasing the study time by a minute each time. Monitor progress closely. If your child is struggling to stay focused for seven minutes, move back to six and stay there for the rest of the study period, and then try for seven the next day.

Ornate Incorporate Play Attention – Using Play Attention’s Academic Bridge is a great way for you and your child know when they are truly paying attention. Academic Bridge will monitor attention and let the student know when they have lost focus. Through consistent and repetitive training, your student will be able to pay attention for longer and longer periods of time.

Ornate Be A Study Coach – Most athletes have a coach, a person designated to make sure the player practices, improves skills through training, and is there to encourage progress. The same is true of a study coach. You can be that person who makes sure schedules are cleared for study time (i.e. practice), help out when it’s needed, and be your child’s cheerleader for even the smallest successes.

Video Games & ADHD Part I

Video Games & ADHD Part I
Why can’t they stop playing?

If you literally have to yank the video game controller from your ADHD child’s hands to get him to come to dinner, then you’re aware how compelling, even addicting, video games are to an ADHD child.

Video games were introduced in 1972. According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), video games are ubiquitous as they are played on everything from home consoles such as Xbox to live streaming Internet tablets or hand held devices. Not surprisingly, computer and video game sales in the United States are over a $19 billion industry.

The KFF also reports that more than two-thirds of all children ages 2-18 live in a home with a video game system. Video game playing, even more than television watching, is an activity that kids tend to do alone.

What does this all amount to? The average young person accumulates 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21. How does that compare to school attendance? It’s just 24 hours less than they spend in a classroom for all of middle and high school if they have perfect attendance. It’s the equivalent of a full time job at more than 40 hours a week.video_games

So why are video games so intriguing? Many ADHD children seek increased stimulation. Their brains demand bigger, louder, and faster paced visuals. Often accompanying these demands is an increased need for risky behavior and high intensity action. Video games provide just this, and it can be somewhat like a drug or a favorite slice of pizza to a binge eater.

Some speculate that this is due to neurotransmitter problems and others attribute it to a genetic link. Whatever the cause, it makes video games incredibly irresistible and mundane tasks like homework almost impossible.

Part II coming soon: What do video games do to the ADHD brain?
Part III coming soon: How to manage video game use.

Your ADHD experts are at Call them at 800.788.6786


Brain Food

Brain Food

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

We have all read about the recommend 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


End Of Year Test Time!

Tackling the Most Dreaded Time of Year: End Of Year Test Time!

Creating a study space

It is often the most stressful and dreaded time of year for a student with ADHD: End of Year Test Time!  There are some steps you can take to help your child or student feel more confident and be more successful.  Let’s start with the study environment.

The environment in which your child studies can help or hinder the end result. Whether your student is preparing for the 4th grade EOG math exam, AP bio exam, or college entrance exam; it’s important to keep the following in mind when creating a study space:

  • Remove Distractions – Since we know that people with ADHD are easily distracted, the first step to success is to remove distractions. A clean, uncluttered, organized work area will provide the optimum environment.
  • Environmental Considerations – Make sure that the study area is well lit and well ventilated. Putting a study area in a closet under the stairs may be less distracting, but if the lighting is not sufficient and it’s stuffy, it will not be an appealing study area for your student.
  • Materials – Make sure that your study area is well supplied with pencils, pens, calculator, rulers, etc. Your student should have everything necessary to complete assignments at his fingertips.  This will avoided wasting time on trying to locate materials.
  • Create a reading nook – What better way to study than in a big comfy chair or beanbag to complete reading assignments? Add shelves full of reading favorites, and you’ve created your own special library area.
  • Hang a Calendar – A simple calendar is a great way to post dates when assignments are due. This will allow better planning to make sure projects are completed and turned in on time.
  • Keep it Simple – Don’t overdo it. Keep furniture and fixtures simple and kid friendly. Keep things economical so that you can change things out as your child grows and their needs change.
  • Time Check – Hang a simple clock in the study area. This will allow you to help with timing assignments.
  • Hang a Brag Board – A simple corkboard will give an area to hang awards, achievements and well-done assignments. This will encourage even the most frustrated student to push through.
  • Book Bag Hook – Hang a hook where a book bag can be hung. This will keep assignments close at hand and help with organization.

For more tips, call 800-788-6786 and request our e-book on Organization.


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.

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.