Teens with ADHD & Driving

Buckle up for the ride.

Teen driving can be a anxious time for most parents. If your teen child has ADHD, you may be even more concerned. There are some important facts and tips you need to know before letting your child behind the wheel.

According to a new study published by JAMA Pediatrics, “adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are licensed to drive less often and, when this group is licensed, they have a greater risk of crashing.”

Researchers found, “newly licensed drivers with ADHD had a 36 percent higher first crash risk than those without ADHD.”

Your teenager may have more difficulty being a safe driver due to many of the symptoms of ADHD. Distractibility, inattention, impulsivity, and risk taking behaviors can all contribute to unsafe driving practices. These concerns should be discussed and addressed prior to your child getting behind the wheel.

Additude Magazine has provided many good driving tips for ADHD teens and adults. Here are just a few:

Enroll in a defensive driving course.
Limit distraction.
Make things right before you drive.
Always use cruise control.
Use GPS wisely.
Get a copilot.

See entire article…

Having a driving contract with your teen is also a great idea. Rules such as where your child is allowed to drive, curfews, safety regulations, and authorized passengers should be included. You should also include a clear list of consequences for infractions and rewards for safe practices.See tips for developing your contract here.

Play Attention teaches the skills that are necessary to be a good driver. Improve your attention, ability to filter distractions, hand eye coordination, motor skills, memory, and more! Attend our speed webinar and learn more.

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.

When your child is inside this summer for a little “screen time”, make certain to use that screen time wisely! Learn how you can start your Play Attention program and improve attention, memory, impulse control, and more! Attend our free webinar.

Avoid Summer Brain Drain!

How to avoid summer vacation cognitive loss

Summer vacation means sleeping late, staying up late, and doing very little except enjoying time out of school. However, did you know that the average student loses one to three month’s math and reading gains made over the prior year? Academic losses are so common among students that educators have given the phenomena a name: Summer Brain Drain. This makes starting the following school year difficult.

Summer Brain Drain may even be worse for ADHD students already having trouble at school.

Going to school daily provides schedules and routines. The summer break means those routines aren’t there. Expectations are lowered or relaxed. Even sleep schedules are often totally abandoned.

Unfortunately, exercise is often replaced with computer time, watching movies, or playing video games with friends. That’s a bad idea. While there’s nothing wrong with playing video games or watching movies, sedentary activity must always be balanced with exercise. This is especially important for an ADHD student.

So here are some tips that should help prevent Summer Brain Drain:

• Take advantage of the summer months to start your Play Attention program (800.788.6786). Summer is a great time to start Play Attention because you will have the time to get a solid routine, begin strengthening cognitive skills, and work on eliminating distracting behaviors. Play Attention is the only program available that integrates feedback technology, attention training, memory training, cognitive skill training and behavior shaping. This guarantees you will have the most complete program available with the best possible outcomes.

Attend our informational webinar to learn how Play Attention can keep skills sharp and strengthened this summer!

• Set a consistent routine.

• Read. Decrease reading losses by developing a fun reading plan with your child. Select reading level appropriate books and have fun discussing them and even acting out some scenes!

• Plan trips to the library for story telling, selecting a new book, or even just browsing the magazine selection.

• You’ll likely go to the mall, grocery store, or gas station over the summer. Make these math trips! Use numbers found at these locations to create on the spot games with prizes. Even you car’s trip meter can be of service for math problems.

• Set a routine. Sleeping late is fine as long as it’s balanced with proper exercise and proper bedtime. Remember your teen will need far more sleep than your 6 – 12 year old.

• Get outside a lot. Working in the yard promotes better attention. No kidding! Being in a green environment has been shown to decrease attention problems, so get outside and play!

• Establish a balanced diet. The high fat, high sugar diet commonly consumed in the US has been shown to contribute greatly to attention issues as well as obesity. Avoid too much fast food even though it’s convenient. Dinner time at the table with a balanced meal promotes both family harmony and good health.

Kids treated for ADHD can still struggle in school, especially girls.

As reported by Channel NewsAsia, a study conducted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, suggests “Kids treated for ADHD can still struggle in school, especially girls.”

“Fewer girls are treated for ADHD, but when girls are diagnosed they fare worse than boys with ADHD,” said senior study author Dr. Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

“Having ADHD had a bigger effect on girls than boys in terms of having special education needs, being excluded from school, doing worse on exams, being unemployed and needing to be admitted to the hospital,” Pell said by email.

For the current study, researchers examined data on 766,244 children and teens attending school in Scotland between 2009 and 2013. This included 7,413 kids taking medication for ADHD.

About 85 percent of the kids taking ADHD drugs were boys.

Compared to kids not being treated for ADHD, boys taking medication for the disorder were more than three times as likely to get poor grades in school. Girls on ADHD drugs, however, were more than five times as likely to get poor grades.

Roughly 64 percent of students taking ADHD drugs dropped out of school before age 16, compared with 28 percent of other students.

When they dropped out, boys with ADHD were 40 percent more likely than kids without the disorder to be unemployed six months later. For girls with ADHD, the risk of unemployment was 59 percent greater. [1]

“The study adds to a large body of evidence suggesting that stimulant medication for ADHD may not be enough on its own to help kids succeed,” said Dr. William Pelham, director of the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University in Miami.

Play Attention teaches the skills that medication alone cannot teach. If you are using medication to control symptoms of ADHD, Play Attention can then be used to teach the cognitive skills that are weakest for people with attention difficulties.

View the cognitive skills addressed in Play Attention here.

Play Attention also includes a full behavior shaping program that successfully teaches students how to control self-distracting or impulsive behaviors.

Read more about Play Attention’s behavior shaping program.

Attend our FREE webinar to learn more about how Play Attention can help.

Tufts University School of Medicine performed a controlled study of Play Attention (termed “NF” in study) in the Massachusetts School System. The outstanding results were published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. View results here.

[1] http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/health/kids-treated-for-adhd-can-still-struggle-in-school–especially-girls-8816124

View study cited in articl: Educational and Health Outcomes of Children Treated for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2624340

What Motivates You?

– How to encourage higher levels of achievement through rewards.

Play Attention’s Reward System

ADHD can make it difficult for one to pay attention to low stimuli or mundane tasks in order to receive a future pay-off. This inability to be intrinsically motivated is sometimes interpreted as defiance or obstinance. Setting up the right rewards system can help your child persist and start completing more difficult tasks. An effective rewards system can not only motivate for the short term but can also help the child become intrinsically motivated.

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 by our special artificial intelligence Sheer Genius technology. Sheer Genius sets small, achievable goals for each student based on his/her performance. For example, a student may have played for three minutes in Attention Stamina. Sheer Genius will establish a new goal that the student plays for three minutes and 10 seconds during the next session, thus helping the student to work towards staying focused for longer periods of time. 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 with the student. Just as we save money to buy something, students can save points to purchase a reward.

While there are sample rewards set up, your Play Attention 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)
  • 30 minutes of video game time on the weekend (purchase price – 35 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 that your child gets to select the movie for family movie night! This reward costs 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 know it is a very important skill. We cited the Marshmallow Study in our last blog that shows how important this skill is in determining later success in life. We can teach this skill through the reward program.  To review the Marshmallow Study Blog and the importance of delayed gratification click here 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!

If you are a current Play Attention client make certain to visit our help desk to watch helpful videos outlining how to use Play Attention’s rewards system. Need more customized assistance? Call your support advisor.

Learn more about our rewards system at our free webinar or call 800-788-6786.

Why is my brain so noisy?

I am often asked why the brain incessantly chatters. It disrupts sleep. The noisy brain interferes with being able to pay attention. The uncontrollable chatter can create anxiety. It’s a problem that affects every sentient being on the planet.

Understanding brain development might help us understand the noisy brain. However, I always caution that understanding the source does not necessarily provide a solution.

The brain is comprised of billions of neurons or specialized cells that form networks which communicate with each other for us to perform even the most mundane tasks. In fact, we are born with almost all the neurons we’ll ever have. The brain’s rate of growth is quite remarkable; a baby’s brain will double in size in its first year, and by age three it will reach 80% of its adult volume. Coincidentally, children actually learn to lie at about year 3 or 4. During this period of growth, your memories will often be quite fuzzy even up to the age of 6 as the brain lives in a virtual state of daydream. This may also attribute to the brain’s ability to learn faster at this age than at almost any other. However, the brain is often incapable of acting judiciously in a variety of situations. A child the age of 3 or 4 may run into a street without looking for traffic. This temerarious behavior is the result of brain function, or better said, lack of brain function.

The prefrontal cortex and other associated cortices (orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex), as well as other brain structures, play major roles in executive functions such as behavioral inhibition, problem-solving, planning, impulse control, concept formation, abstract thinking, creativity, and other functions. The development of executive functions is a gradual, progressive process that doesn’t fully develop until adulthood at year 25 or so. Here’s where the noise may actually become involved; it seems the more these cortices mature and develop, the more we chatter internally. For example, when a 5-year-old learns to ski, his skis get strapped on and down the slope he skis. He may fall now and then, but he/she seems fearless and quickly learns to ski. Now watch a 35-year-old. Internally, he/she is conflicted as the various cortices activate and chat begins. Is anyone watching? Self-consciousness. How should I place my knees? Planning. I hope I don’t get hurt. Abstract thinking. The 35-year-old often takes far longer to learn to ski. We likely owe this to our various cortices that evolved over many thousands of years. They probably helped our progenitors escape the jaws of a sabertooth, but now they dominate our lives. We just cannot shut the chatter off.

So, while executive functions play incredibly important roles in our daily lives, they can also be quite detrimental – how quickly can you develop a second language compared to a 4-year-old?

Here’s a significant question you must pose to yourself every day; What is the state of my brain when I pay full attention? Answering that question, or better yet, just watching your brain while it pays attention may be one of the most revealing and important things you’ll ever do in the quiet of your room.

– Peter Freer, CEO & Founder of Unique Logic + Technology

Understanding the 504 & IEP Process

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 an intimidating and confusing process for parents.

If your child is struggling in the classroom, they may qualify for accommodations. 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.

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.

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. We are also accredited to provide the FOCUS assessment. If you would like an attention assessment conducted with your child that will report your child’s strengths and weaknesses, please contact us at 800-788-6786. The FOCUS assessment results can often be used to help design your child’s IEP or 504 plan. We can also use the FOCUS assessment results to further customize your Play Attention plan. Click here to learn more about the FOCUS assessment.

Play Attention teaches the learning skills that are often set as objectives within the student’s IEP or 504 plan. Attend our upcoming webinar to learn more.

Children Diagnosed with ADHD: Relative Age May Play a Crucial Role

The following research tells us that a proper diagnosis can sometimes be confused with a child’s maturity. Additionally, the combination of immaturity and a test heavy curriculum with inappropriate expectations make these students really struggle and stand out. Read on…

“Researchers examined medical records of nearly 400,000 children aged from four to 17 in Taiwan and found rates of the condition changed significantly depending on the month when they were born, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Just 2.8 per cent of boys and 0.7 per cent of girls born in September were diagnosed with ADHD, compared to 4.5 per cent of boys and 1.2 per cent of girls born in August.

Dr Mu-Hong Chen, a psychologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan and lead author of a paper about the research in the Journal of Pediatrics, said: “When looking at the database as a whole, children born in August were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and/or receive ADHD medication than those born in September.

‘Relative age, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, may play a crucial role in the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and receiving ADHD medication among children and adolescents.’

‘Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade [school year] when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication.’

Over the past decade in the UK, the number of prescriptions of drugs designed to treat ADHD has doubled to 922,000 a year. They can cause adverse reactions such as suicidal thoughts, weight loss and liver toxicity.

According to the NHS website, common symptoms of ADHD include a short attention span, restlessness, constant fidgeting, over-activity and being impulsive.

Dr Kuben Naidoo, consultant psychiatrist and chairman of ADHD Foundation, said: ‘The study highlights the importance of ensuring the assessment for ADHD is rigorous and relies on a variety of sources of information that support the clinician in deciding whether the diagnosis is met.’”[1]

The research was published in the Journal of Pediatrics.[2]

If you would like to have your child’s or your own attention assessed, contact us. Our attention specialists are now accredited to provide you with FOCUS assessment, a groundbreaking, standardized, continuous performance test that assess attentional control. Click here to learn more.

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/children-diagnosed-with-adhd-may-simply-be-immature-for-their-class-a6922301.html

[2] http://www.jpeds.com/content/JPEDSChen

Making Friends and Keeping Them!

Making friends and keeping friends can be difficult for children with ADHD. Positive peer relationships are critical to your child’s development and self esteem. You may notice that your child misses social cues, gets quickly bored with the games the other children are playing, or simply acts too impulsively when in social situations.

There are some steps you can take to help your child develop these essential social skills.

Discuss People’s Feelings: Look at pictures of different people in a magazine. Ask your child how she thinks that person is feeling and how she came to that conclusion. You may also prompt her to tell you what she thinks might have happened before the picture was taken that caused the emotion.

Role Play Social Situations: Act out different scenarios with your child. “Let’s pretend you are meeting me for the first time.” Or “Let’s pretend you see a group of children playing and you want to join in.” Role playing will allow you to model appropriate social behavior.

Positive Feedback: When you see your child display good social behavior be certain to provide immediate positive feedback. “I liked how you helped John up when he fell. That was so kind.” Or “Thank you for holding the door open for me. That is so polite.”

Play Attention:
Play Attention can help your child develop the skills she needs to make friends and keep friends. We have a fantastic add on game called Social Skills. It specifically teaches your child how to develop the ability to understand social cues. Most importantly, like all of our games within Play Attention, she can only play the game if she is in her maximum attentive state. If she loses her attention, the game will stop and wait for her to focus. This will ensure your daughter will get maximum benefit from the teaching method. See our Social Skills Game.

Attend our webinar and learn more…

Memoirs of an ADHD Mom

Every Sunday we post, Memoirs of an ADHD Mom, on our Facebook page. Be certain to read weekly, as Kate shares her real life stories as a mom with ADHD. This week – Love is in the air!

It is easy for all of us to complain about our issues, to talk about the things we don’t like about our ADHD or our children’s ADHD. It disrupts our lives, makes us work harder, causes turmoil.

But not this week! No, this week we are celebrating Valentine’s Day, the day of love. It’s time for us to talk about all the things we love about our ADHD. C’mon let’s celebrate it!

My ADHD makes me spontaneous and a risk taker. I am up for anything. Therefore I have had more experiences than a lot of people. I have gone on spur of the moment road trips, taken jobs I wasn’t necessarily prepared for, jumped from the highest rope swings I could find into the river below – the list goes on and on.

I am super generous. I give my time and support to all of those around me.

I think my ADHD makes me very funny. I can entertain a crowd and entertain myself. I crack myself up every day.

I struggle in a lot of areas and have a lot of things go wrong, so when the slightest thing goes right, I truly appreciate it. I celebrate the little things every day.

My son’s ADHD makes him so compassionate. He cares about everyone he meets. When we are in public, he is constantly looking at people to see how he can help. He will carry your grocery bags, open your door, or just give you that huge smile you need.

He loves legos and has the ability to hyperfocus on creating the most amazing structures you’ve ever seen.

He is always there to provide a fresh, new perspective on things. When his brother and sister are discussing a problem or issue, they typically have similar thoughts. But Mitchell, with his “out of the box thinking”, is always there to provide a new way to look at the issue.

This is the short list. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we fail. But we also excel in areas others may not.
Love me, love my ADHD. What do you love about ADHD? Post what you love on our Facebook page.

Attend our upcoming webinar.