ADHD and Increased Risk for Substance Abuse

ADHD and Increased Risk for Substance Abuse
Fact or fiction?

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Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry reports that children with ADHD may be at significant risk for later substance abuse.

More than 600 children were followed over eight years. Those children diagnosed with ADHD at baseline (average of 8.5 years), had significantly higher rates of substance regardless of their sex 6 to 8 years later compared with their age-matched peers who did not have ADHD.

“Medication for ADHD did not protect from, or contribute to, visible risk of substance use or SUD by adolescence,” write the investigators.

“We Need to Do Better…However, similar to managing high blood pressure or obesity, there are nonmedical things we can do to decrease the risk of a bad outcome,” said Dr. Molina, one of the study’s authors.

“As researchers and practitioners, we need to do a better job of helping parents and schools address these risk factors that are so common for children with ADHD.

This echoes previous research by doctors Robert Whelan and Hugh Garavan of the University of Vermont and a cohort of international researchers.

Their report published in the journal Nature Neuroscience (online April 29, 2012) helps answer whether particular brain patterns are caused by drug use or established before drug use. Professors Whelan and Garavan found that certain networks in some teenagers cause a higher risk for experimentation with drugs and alcohol – simply because their brains are wired differently making the teens more impulsive.

A teenager exposed to peer pressure regarding smoking a joint or drinking alcohol, provided parental boundaries and structure have been set, would refuse the offer whild the teenager with lesser orbitofrontal control would likely say, “Yeah, gimme, gimme, gimme!” says Garavan, “and this other kid is saying, ‘no, I’m not going to do that.’”

Attention Problems and Behavior Problems

Attention Problems and Behavior Problems
What’s the connection and can they be fixed?

For an ADHD child who’s experienced failure or frustration at school, has a difficult time making friends, cannot process multiple step instructions, and who likely has poor self-esteem, defiance or misbehavior seem inevitable.

The off switch or filtering in their brains works differently, so they often have impulse control issues and a frequent lack of control over what they blurt out. Couple that with failure and frustration, and you have the perfect storm. No matter what you do; punishment, coaxing, bribing, yelling, pleading etc. don’t seem to work.

Play Attention not only teaches attention by making it concrete and controllable — Play Attention students can move screen characters by mind alone via BodyWave technology — but also teaches a variety of skills that make them successful at school or work. These successes greatly improve behavior.

Additionally, and this is important, since they can see their attention in real time, Play Attention makes it readily apparent that misbehavior negatively affects their success during game play. Success is predicated on their ability to stay in control and attentive. It’s simple to correlate this to being a classroom superstar. Play Attention students learn to self regulate or control their own behavior. This is the basis of the behavior shaping program built into Play Attention (it took us over 5 years to develop it).

The scientists and doctors of the prestigious Tufts School of Medicine researched Play Attention in Boston area schools over five years. They sent independent observers into the classroom to monitor students in their study of Play Attention. The observers were blinded to the students; they didn’t know anything about them but were required to monitor their behavior. Even though the students had been labeled ADHD with behavioral problems, the Play Attention students showed significant self-control — even 6 months after the study was completed! Never underestimate what your child can learn. We at Play Attention know there is an intelligent person hiding behind the defiance and frustration. Our goal is to set him free.


Attention Problems: What Can Be Fixed?

Attention Problems: What Can Be Fixed?
You can do far more than you’d think.

Can’t pay attention. Can’t finish homework. Trouble with social skills. Intelligent, but doing poorly at school or work. Struggling with behavior.

Our brain is our greatest asset, but what do we do when it doesn’t function optimally? Are we stuck? No.

The brain is incredibly moldable. Scientists refer to this as neuroplasticity. It constantly rewires itself based on its exposure to the environment. Learn multiplication tables? The brain rewires itself. Learn a new word? The brain rewires itself. Learn karate or to play the piano? The brain rewires itself. We’ve known this for many years. We know how this works even down to the molecular level. Do we apply it to attention problems? No. Odd isn’t it?

Attention is a skill. So, how do we teach it? It’s relatively easy to teach multiplication tables; you can use things like flashcards, blocks, and other tangible things. Attention is intangible; we cannot see it or touch it. That’s what makes it difficult to teach as a skill. It’s almost impossible to improve attention unless it becomes tangible.

But what if you could see attention? What if attention were concrete and controllable right in front of you? You could learn it quite easily — attention problems or not. That’s what Play Attention does; it uses brain sensing technology that allows you to control the computer by mind alone. You can move objects on the screen by your attention and learn other skills that make you successful.

Three incredible randomized, controlled studies done by Tufts University School of Medicine demonstrated that we can improve attention, behavior, social skills, and even homework skills. Play Attention is the 400 pound gorilla of attention training. It’s been around for over twenty years now. That’s an old gorilla with a heck of an attention span. You should come to a webinar and see it in action. There’s one tonight at 8:30 EST. See you there.

Are Mothers of ADHD Children More Likely to Be Depressed?

Are Mothers of ADHD Children More Likely to Be Depressed?
A small study raises questions…

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According to Dr. Louis McCormick, a Louisiana-based family physician, mothers of ADHD children may be at increased risk for depression.

McCormick conducted a year-long study of mothers of children with ADHD who were patients in his Franklin, La., medical practice. Dr. McCormick gave 39 mothers the Self-Test for Depression. Of those 39 mothers, 21 (roughly 54%) had scores that suggested depression.

While this is a small sample, it suggests something that ADHD parents already know: parenting ADHD children can be stressful. Depression caused by events in one’s life is termed ‘situational depression.’ Parenting children who are impulsive, hyper-active, accident prone, or unable to follow directions can be quite stressful.

Previous university research indicates that parents of ADHD children are at double the risk of divorce before their ADHD child even reaches the age of 8!

One may speculate that mothers of ADHD children may have a biological propensity to depression. McCormick postulates that the c may trigger that predisposition to depression.

The research cited indicates that one must take action as a parent not only for the ADHD child, but also for the parents’ own mental health.

Play Attention 800.788.6786

Do you have ADHD or a language impairment?

Do you have ADHD or a language impairment?

Read more: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published a study that examined language impairments (LI) and ADHD. They found an association, but perhaps not what you’d expect.

The research indicates that testing for LI is very important when testing for ADHD.

Language impairment may be defined as significant difficulties affecting listening comprehension, oral expression, social interaction, reading, writing, or spelling. Its very definition reads like a checklist for ADHD symptoms.

The researchers found that LI are commonly observed among children referred for psychiatric services — especially ADHD. This would seem to makes sense; many children with ADHD have the same symptoms as LI:

1. They have poor social interactions manifesting in an inability to make friends.
2. They have poor listening comprehension manifesting when they cannot take multiple step instructions (e.g. Go to your bedroom, put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, get in bed).
3. They have difficulty expressing themselves orally resulting in frustration and angry outbursts.
4. They often have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling.

The researchers concluded that children with LI were at the most disadvantage regardless of the nature of the psychiatric diagnosis.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that “…caution must be exercised in attributing to children with ADHD what might be a reflection of problems for children with language impairment generally. As most therapies are verbally based it is notable that language competence is rarely evaluated systematically before such therapies are undertaken.”

In another study performed in Norway, Speech Therapist Wenche Andersen Helland noted, “There is often a one-sided focus on the behavior of kids with ADHD. But these children may have communication problems as they grow older, particularly in a school situation, if their language skills are not given enough attention. If we don’t work hard enough to strengthen language development in children with ADHD, we increase the risk that they won’t learn what they should in school. They’ll also be more likely to fall short in social interactions with their peers. We need to intervene early to prevent a downward spiral.”

In other words, check for LI when checking for ADHD. This cannot be accomplished in the typical 20 minute session with a pediatrician. A speech language pathologist can determine a language impairment. The bottom line is that it is wise to get a full evaluation from a specialist that includes a full physical, vision test, language impairment test, and others.

The 5 Best Steps to a Great School Year Start for Your ADHD Child

The 5 Best Steps to a Great School Year Start for Your ADHD Child

1. Get your child ready by setting bedtime and wake up time at least a week before school begins. You already know how difficult it is to wake your ADHD. Get this routine established well before school starts to minimize your frustration.

2. Get organized! Get all the materials you need from notebooks to backpacks ready. You likely know your child’s strengths and weaknesses regarding organization. Knowing this can help you obtain the right binders, organizers, etc. For example, a simple backpack with few pockets is a better idea than one with loads of pockets if your child tends to lose track of things.

3. Schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher to review your 504 Plan or IEP. This meeting can make your child’s year a successful one. You might even request a team meeting if you believe it’s necessary. Bring documentation and a list of strategies that worked well the prior year.

4. Take a school tour. Meeting the teacher, knowing where the bathroom is, and seeing the classroom before it’s crowded with other school children can reduce your child’s anxiety level considerably. Observe how the room is organized and discuss expectations and procedures with your child and the teacher.

5. Establish home structure. It’s wise to prepare a location for your child to place books, backpacks, etc. just past the door upon which he or she enters your home. A simple cubby or table will do. If you’ve ever scrambled to find your child’s school materials, you’ll find this extremely helpful. It’s also a great start to becoming organized.

Ramya Goes from Teacher Complaints to Teacher Praise

Ramya Goes from Teacher Complaints to Teacher Praise
A Play Attention success story from her mother
Ramya was having trouble with finishing her homework assignments on time. Even once she finished them after a long time, there would be several mistakes and incomplete problems.

Eventually I found out about Play Attention a program designed to help kids with focusing, distraction, attention and listening. A few months after beginning her program with Play Attention, to my surprise I began receiving calls from her teacher that Ramya was doing great.

Read Ramya’s full story at

Ramya is very attentive in class and exceeded grade expectations! | Play Attention
I felt amazed the first time when I heard from Ramya’s teacher that she was doing great. I could see the happiness and…

Play Attention Opens in the United Arab Emirates

Play Attention Opens in the United Arab Emirates
Working to fix attention problems globally
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Play Attention is used around the world. Here’s the latest from our center in the UAE:Focus. Stop fidgeting. Pay attention.

If this what you are constantly telling your child, or yourself, then Emirati businesswoman Haifa Rashed might just have a cure for this lack of concentration.

“I feel like a lot of parents are complaining about their children not focusing or about them forgetting and I have experienced this with my son, so definitely this is an extra aid that will make a difference in people’s lives,” said Ms Rashed.

She said her firm, Know How for Management Consulting, is the first company in the Arabian Gulf region to offer children and adults specialised brain training meant to boost cognition using Play Attention.

The computer programme was developed by an American teacher to help students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to focus in class.

“We’re not just talking about ADHD here,” said Play Attention specialist Suzan Sherif. “It can be for normal people who have memory problems – they don’t remember names, they don’t remember numbers, emails and things like that.

“Same with children who can’t pay attention in classrooms when their teacher is talking. This is a programme that will actually help them to sustain their attention, focus more and improve their life skills.”

It takes about an hour of practice a week, broken up into two sessions of 30 minutes or four classes of 15 minutes, depending on one’s age and level of cognition.

The programme works by strapping a sensor – an electronic device called Body Wave, about the size of a deck of cards – to the participant’s arm. The sensor tracks their brainwaves and wirelessly transmits the information to the computer, allowing the person to control elements of the digital exercises with his or her brain.

“Just like when you’re going to the gym, you’re improving your muscles, but here we’re improving your brain muscles,” Ms Sherif said. “Children see it as a game. It’s a game exercise, it’s not something hard like maths and numbers and you have to memorize everything. It’s just a simple exercise, but it’s very intensive.”

Participants have to master 18 exercise games to complete the programme. The exercises use video-game-like computer graphics to depict different scenes where the student has to concentrate to move objects in a quest for points and, ultimately, greater brain function.

One exercise, called Attention Stamina, is an underwater adventure where the student animates a character of his choosing – a dolphin, scuba diver or submarine – by concentrating on it.

If the participant’s concentration breaks, the character stops swimming and floats up to the surface. But if they maintain a steady focus, the character continues its underwater excursion collecting coins from the ocean floor.

“The goal is to work up to five minutes of maintaining a steady concentration rate of 75 per cent or higher. A bar in the top left of the screen shows the level of concentration used.

“What you need to do is just ignore everything in your brain and focus on the submarine, look at the submarine. When you start to think only about the submarine, it will start swimming to the bottom,” said Ms Sherif, as she guided a user through the exercise.

“Each level basically is going to get more complicated. We’re going to see more fish around that try to distract you. Sometimes you’re going to see an octopus that comes from the bottom, and as soon as you see the octopus, you need to click on it with the space bar, so all of these instructions are going to get harder later on.

“But for the first level, this exercise targets sustaining attention because we have 18 exercises and each one does something different.”

Anyone over the age of six can sign up for the course, taught at the Know How office in Al Zahiyeh. The programme is also available for sale to clients who wish to practice at home. It comes with 24/7 technical support. American teachers are also on call to offer analysis of the home student’s performance for free.

“This is for anyone who actually wants to improve and anyone who wants to excel in what they’re doing,” Ms Sherif said, noting that it takes 12 hours of practice for change to take effect in one’s attention span. “You’re improving your skills. You’re improving your attention, you’re improving your memory, you’re multitasking, everything.”

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Emirati businesswoman launches brain game to cure people of short attention span | The National
If you or your child suffer from a short attention span, Emirati businesswoman Haifa Rashed might have the answer, with her brain game that uses a computer…

Are You a Better Parent if You’re Medicated?

Are You a Better Parent if You’re Medicated?
Penn State researchers say YES!

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Penn State News reports on a small study done at Penn State and funded by Shire Inc., the manufacturer of lisdexamfetamine, (aka Vyvanse) where ADHD parents received medication to help them cope with their children.

One of the lead researchers, Dr. James Waxmonsky noted, “Parents with ADHD are at increased risk to engage in problematic parenting techniques, including inconsistent disciplinary practices, making ineffectual commands and diminished use of praise. Having a parent with ADHD also decreases the chances that children with ADHD will respond to typically effective medication or counseling treatment.”

So, the solution? Medicate the parents! The researchers selected 20 parents who had children age 5 to 12. Both parents had a diagnosis presenting ADHD. The researchers then gave the parents ‘optimal’ doses of lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse).

The parents were then brought to the clinic for observation on two tasks: 1] The child performs homework with parental assistance, and 2] The child plays while the parent performs paperwork.

The parent was administered either a placebo or Vyvanse for the first observation. This was then reversed for the second observation period. Neither the researchers nor participants knew when the active medication was received.

According to Penn State News, “The results of the first phase showed no medication effect was seen during the homework component. During the non-academic component, parents were less likely to make negative statements toward their children on lisdexamfetamine than on placebo.

Children showed less inappropriate behavior during the homework task when their parent was prescribed lisdexamfetamine versus placebo.

Then, in the second phase, parents had a 50 percent chance of staying on active medication or a 50 percent chance of being switched to placebo for the remainder of the study. They completed the same parent-child interaction tasks as in the first phase.”

“In the laboratory setting, lisdexamfetamine treatment of parental ADHD was associated with significant reductions in children’s negative behaviors and improvements in parenting behaviors found to be adversely impacted by ADHD,” Waxmonsky said.

Can you think of a better way to expand this market?

Aging and Cognitive Decline

Aging and Cognitive Decline
Can omega 3 fish oil help?

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As we age or watch our parents age, we commonly see memory loss, and lower cognitive function. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are common — almost everyone knows or is related to someone who is afflicted.

A report published on June 20, 2014 in the Journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia describes a protective effect when using fish oil supplementation. The protective effect actually allows older men and women to preserve brain volume and cognitive function.

The study spanned five years and included 193 Alzheimer’s disease patients, 397 individuals with mild cognitive impairment and 229 cognitively normal individuals. The older men and women who used fish oil had better scores of cognitive function at any time over the course of the study.

What can we take away from this research? It’s preliminary and we need more studies, but this study validates previous research on fish oil supplementation. Will it cure dementia or Alzheimer’s? No. Is there a chance that it will assist us in maintaining brain function? Yes. Is it inexpensive? Yes. Is it worth using? You must decide.

Previous research has also shown a positive effect for brain function of ADHD children. Again, not a cure, but it may help.

Exercise and diet do play significant roles in brain health. One cannot forget those as well.