ADHD and the Struggle with Relationships

For many, February is the month of love. We focus on the people we care about and find ways to express our feelings. Perhaps you are in a relationship as an adult with ADHD. Or you are in a relationship with someone who has ADHD. You may even be a parent trying to help your ADHD child with friendships. All of these situations can be very challenging.

Children with attention challenges generally struggle with keeping friends. They are not always able to pick up social cues that allow them to have successful friendships. For instance, your child with ADHD may say something to hurt another child’s feelings, but lacks the attention to see the sadness on the other child’s face. Therefore your child has no idea he has offended someone. No learning takes place and this behavior continues. Before you know it, your child is coming home complaining that he does not have any friends. And he has no idea why or how to fix it. He simply thinks everyone is against him.

Play Attention, a cognitive feedback based program, has an activity that directly addresses teaching social skills[1]. Through a series of attention enhanced activities, a child or an adult can start simply by focusing on a blank card. Once the student is fully attentive, the card will be completely exposed. If the student loses attention, the card begins to disappear. Once the student is fully attentive, the expression on a person’s face is seen. The student must match the feeling associated with the expression. For example, the picture may be of a little girl smiling with three word choices: happy, sad, angry. The steps get incrementally more challenging and will eventually teach the student how to respond if a person has a certain expression on his/her face.

While simplistic at the onset, teaching social skills takes foundational practice. Teaching an ADHD child to slow down long enough to actually see the expression on another’s face is the start.

What happens to those of us who were not taught social skills as a child? Many struggle with relationships as an adult as a result. Whether you are the person with ADHD, or you’re in a relationship with someone with ADHD, you are bound to face many challenges.

Attitude Magazine recently ran an article, “10+ ADD Relationship Tools for Lasting Love[2],” which explores the tools needed to have a loving relationship with someone struggling with attention issues. In this article author, Jonathan Halverstadt, states that in the beginning there are “strong and wonderful feelings — but you need much more to make an ADD relationship[3] last.” Instead of falling into an “all you need is love” scenario, Halverstadt offers suggestions for your relationship “tool box.”

One of the first things that he explores is managing the symptoms. In the relationship, the ADHD person must take ownership of the symptoms and actively manage them. Many of the skills he talks about are addressed with the Play Attention[4] program.

If you are a parent, or an adult, or love someone who struggles with attention, I encourage you to attend an informational webinar[5]. The webinar is FREE and your questions and concerns about ADHD relationships will be addressed.

 

[1] http://www.playattention.com/social-skills/

[2] http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/7504.html

[3] http://www.additudemag.com/topic/adult-add-adhd/friends-relationships.html

[4] http://www.playattention.com/adults/

[5] http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

The Importance of Exercise for Brain Health & Attention

Everyone knows exercise is great for the body! It’s also an activity that the brain loves!

Exercise stimulates growth factors in the brain which promotes new brain cells which keep the brain operating at peak efficiency. Just walking can boost these levels which regulates the sensation of attention. Exercise should be an essential component of your lifestyle. As a result, you may notice that it is easier to sustain mental focus for extended periods of time.

In an effort to make your workout part of your daily routine, start with something simple. Determine what you believe is the minimum amount of exercise you will deem acceptable, i.e., 15 minutes twice a week, then set a maximum goal, i.e., 30 minutes twice a week. Create a calendar so that you can input your actual exercise and keep notes after each session. You’ll see your successes and most likely will not have any trouble exceeding your minimum exercise goals. Meeting the goals will make you feel good and will encourage you to stick with your exercise routine. The results of your exercise routine will be priceless. You may notice that not only has your attention improved but so has your sleep, mood, and productivity.

It’s time for you to move your body – it’s great for the brain!

Learn how Play Attention is a great exercise for the brain, attend our upcoming webinar.

Help Me With My Exercise Routine

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 Kate requests your help with a new exercise routine.

Memoirs of an ADHD Mom
Kate wants to lose weight and needs help

Okay folks – this time I’m going to do it. I’m going to get in shape! (And all of you who know me can stop snickering now) I really am. I’m not just turning over a new leaf…I’m turning over a whole new tree.

I am overweight. I compulsively eat. I don’t really think of consequences…I just eat whatever looks good at the moment. I really have zero self-control when it comes to food. From what I hear, this is common to adults with ADHD. I also hear exercise is supposed to be good for the ADHD brain, and so..the tree. I’m making a promise to myself to exercise at least an hour a day. I know it’s the right thing to do and I know I’ll feel better about myself. The thing is, I have such a hard time sticking to my promises. I go all gung ho for a day and then before you know it I’m sitting in front of the TV with that party size bag of Fritos.

So, help me. How do I stick to my promise? How do I make myself do what I know is right? Is there any hope for me?

Make certain to post your helpful tips for Kate on our Facebook page.

The Importance of a BFF

The Importance of a BFF

Everyone wants to have friends. At an early age, forming friendships allows a child to develop a multitude of skills needed throughout life: teamwork, cooperation, sharing, dealing with conflict, competition, etc.

If your children or clients are struggling with ADHD, they may need your guidance to help develop successful, long-lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help.

* Keep Play Groups Small – One or two friends at a time will allow your child to be successful without being overwhelmed.

* Form Friendship Groups – Team Esteem is an organization based out of New York. Run by social workers and psychologists, their goal is to create an environment for children with behavioral, social, and academic challenges. Attitude Magazine says that if your child is having a difficult time forming friendships, a friendship group may be the answer. The article also goes on to caution parents that running the group themselves is not the best answer and should be left to professionals.

* Plan Play Dates – Scheduling specific dates for playtime allows your child with ADHD to prepare for the event. It gives you an opportunity to discuss and role-play different scenarios. It also gives you an opportunity to plan what will happen during the play date. While not completely controlling the event, you’ll want to have some clear ideas on what will go on.

* Control The Environment – Your child may be bursting with energy. Let them exhaust some of that energy during the play date by kicking a soccer ball with their friend, playing an informal game of basketball, or swimming in the pool. Then, after the little tikes are worn out, provide a snack and a quiet movie. This will help them transition into the next activity calmly.

* Deflect Boredom – Play dates that are too long can lead to boredom. It’s important that these end on a high note for everyone involved. An hour after school is certainly adequate to get in some socialization without throwing nightly routines off. You can increase that time to a couple of hours on the weekend. Making an entire day of a play date may lead to disaster by forcing your child with ADHD to be on their best social behavior for far too long.

* Positive Reinforcement – After friends go home, talk to your child about the play date. What did they like? What didn’t they like? What made them feel good about their friend? Be sure to provide positive reinforcement for things they did well. “I liked it when you shared your bike with Jimmy and let him ride it first.”

In his book, The Friendship Factor, Dr. Kenneth Rubin explores the impact of friendships on a child’s emotional, social, and intellectual growth. After 25 years of research, Dr. Rubin put his findings on paper to better prepare parents with helping their children form friendships.

If you’re looking for a children’s book, check out Making Friends. Written by American icon, Fred Rogers this book is intended to teach preschoolers about friendships and social skills.

Learn how Play Attention can help your child develop better social skills.

Attend our webinar to learn more.

Set Up Routines

Time Management
Set Up Routines

When working with a child with ADHD success often comes from setting up routines and sticking to them. It helps establish consistency and expectations. Many times your ADHD child may know what needs to be done, but has a hard time prioritizing the tasks at hand.

It’s important to understand that it takes time to set up routines that are consistent. Normally, changes in behaviors take 21 to 30 days before they become habit.

Think about a routine that you tried to establish for yourself. If you were successful, it’s probably because you established the routine, executed on it, and were consistent.

So let’s just say you’re setting up a morning routine for your child. As it stands now, things are chaotic in the morning, always looking for the lost shoe, homework left in the bedroom, teeth rarely brushed, etc. To establish a consistent routine, you may want to start with a checklist. It may look something like this:

√ Eat Breakfast
√ Get Dressed
√ Brush Your Teeth
√ Make sure everything is in your backpack

Keep things simple. Set your child up for success. If your checklist includes too many things—like make your bed, make your lunch, etc.—and your child doesn’t have time to do them, you’re setting them up for failure.

It’s important to understand that a checklist is designed to successfully get them to the goal, which in this case is getting ready for school.

Since mornings are hectic, it’s not recommended that you overload it with chores that can be done after school. Just focus on what is needed. The only other thing you may want to add is:

√ Watch TV when 1-4 are completed.

You’ll be amazed how quickly and efficiently the list gets completed.

To learn more about establishing routines in conjunctions with cognitive attention training for people with ADHD, register for our webinar.

Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It is commonplace for everyone to make New Year’s resolutions, however, adults with ADHD can experience frustration by not following the “list” of their resolutions for the following year.

In an effort to eliminate that frustration and improve the likelihood of keeping your New Year’s resolutions follow a simple process throughout the year.

Although New Year’s resolutions are “Life Changing” start with a simple task, such as cleaning out a closet, taking a ten (10) minute walk each morning, or organizing your important papers.

Make a list of your resolutions and each day keep notes under each item. Reflect on the event and memorialize your activity which relates to a success. As you progress you will believe you can achieve the goal and you will! Don’t rely on an excuse to avoid the resolution, such as, I must go shopping, it’s raining outside, and I just want to sit down! Each time you consistently undertake the resolution you change your behavior and success will follow.

By starting with small tasks, you will experience success by following through each day, next year your resolutions can be more “life changing” as you have experienced success in completing your New Year’s Resolution of the past year.

This is a process and you will build your confidence from your past year’s achievement!

Play Attention can help you develop the skills you need in order to reach your goals this year. Be more focused, more productive, and more successful in 2017 with Play Attention. Attend our webinar to learn how to get started.

Happy Holidays!

The excitement of tearing open gifts under the tree, the anticipation of visiting family and friends, staying up late to see if there really is a Santa – all of this can be overwhelming to the average child. It’s especially overwhelming to a child with ADHD. All of these holiday events can easily turn from joy to tears in a matter of moments. There are strategies you can employ to make certain all stays calm and joyous….

“Children with ADHD thrive with consistency.  They work well in a structured environment.  With the disruption of daily schedules, your child may suffer in school and their behavior at home may be disastrous.  Children that are normally hyperactive may become even more so. Children that are distracted easily will find it even more difficult to stay focused on the mundane school tasks.  Children that are impulsive may find their impulsiveness increase.  For some parents, this change in behaviors can begin as early as October and last well into January. 

For children that have a hard time socially, this time of year may be especially difficult.  Their classmates may make plans to get together with friends over the winter break from school. For the child that does not have many friends, this may make them feel even more isolated.  Family gatherings may be stressful if your child does not yet have the social skills to act appropriately, or they may spend the day feeling left out and alone.  Some parents complain that fights with siblings increase as well during the holiday season.

Parents must deal with their own commitments and responsibilities during this time as well as help their child cope with the daily stress the holidays bring.  Parents can end up frazzled and frustrated, impatiently waiting for the season to end rather than enjoying this special time of the year.”[1]

“To help keep sanity a part of your holiday routine, there are a number of tips that parents can incorporate into their daily life:

1)      Maintain routines as much as possible.  Sometimes this can be very difficult with the many activities that are going on. Schedule events around your child’s schedule. Bedtime routines and times are very important; children can cope much better with a good night’s sleep.

2)      Make up a holiday calendar to keep up in your kitchen. Make sure you include school events such as holiday parties and assemblies. Use the calendar to keep track of visits to friends and relatives, as well as times you plan to do holiday shopping.  Use the calendar to help your child know what is coming up and talk with them about your expectations during these events.

3)      Be proactive in your approach. Think about what problems may develop and determine if your expectations fit the situation. If necessary, shorten the time of a visit with friends or relatives. Talk with your child before each event about what to expect and what your expectations are. Be prepared with extra snacks or extra clothing that you know your child will like.

4)      Determine rewards and consequences for behavior prior to the holiday season and be consistent throughout.  Be sure to provide directions and instructions in small chunks and be sure to maintain eye contact while you are talking with your child. Let them know what the consequences will be if their behavior does not meet your expectations and what rewards will be. (Rewards can be simple such as staying up to watch a favorite television show or receiving a treat during shopping.)

5)      Be understanding of the extremes of children with ADHD. They may not be as reasonable in their demands, or their impulsiveness may lead to making more requests for gifts. Take time during the holiday season to talk with them about helping those less fortunate and add the purchase a gift to donate to other children to your shopping list. If you cannot afford to donate toys, find locations in your area that make up food baskets and donate some time to help make up or distribute food baskets to needy families.”[2]

“6)      Make sure your child understands that there are different rules in different households. When visiting friends and relatives, let them know ahead of time what behavior is expected in that house. If you are visiting a relative that does not have any children and normally has items out that can easily be broken, talk with your child before you enter the house. You may also want to shorten visits if you see that your child is not handling the situation well.

7)      Think about the invitation you have received before accepting. Is this a place you and your children will feel comfortable and accepted? Is this a place where you can gently excuse yourself for a short time to allow your child a few minutes of down time to calm down if they need it?  You do not need to accept every invitation; it is okay to politely decline if it is in the best interest of your family.

8)      When visiting friends or relatives at mealtime, ask ahead what the menu will be. If there are not any foods your child will like, bring along dinner for them or make sure to feed your child dinner before you go. Your child will be much better behaved if they are fed.

9)      When opening gifts, set rules ahead of time. Tell children that no toys are to be opened until all gifts are open and gift wrap is thrown away. This may cut down on toys being broken before they are even used or items accidentally thrown away with the gift wrap.

10)  Take time to have down time at home with the family. It is important during this season to remember and cherish your own family. Plan nights for your family to stay at home either preparing for the holiday or simply spending time together. Taking time out for ‘family movie night’ can do wonders in letting everyone catch their breath and stay focused.”[3]

“There are really no hard and fast rules that will guarantee ‘perfection,’ but making plans ahead of time will give parents a better sense of control over the unexpected holiday stressors.

It is also important to know your own limits, and take care of yourself so that the kindness and patience of the season will not be spread thin. Remember the simple rules of structure, clarity, and positive incentives can go a long way in helping you to make your holiday season calm and bright! “[4]

Incorporate Play Attention into your holiday season and bring in the New Year with cheer and joy. Attend one of our FREE webinars: http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

[1] http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/holiday-guide-196130-5.html

[2] http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/holiday-guide-196130-5_2.html

[3] http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/holiday-guide-196130-5_3.html

[4] http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/880.html

http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

ADHD & Sleep: During the Holidays

Holiday Time Management

Can’t get them to sleep because they’re too wired during the holidays? It’s important to take a few minutes at the end of the day to sit in a quiet spot and talk about how the day went. Take that same time to review the schedule for tomorrow. Remember, fewer surprises mean smoother days to an ADHD child. You can review the day’s schedule (both successes and failures) verbally and visually. Post successes on the fridge.

Doing this on a regular basis may seem a chore for both of you at first, but adhering to this will settle their minds for a full night’s sleep and get them prepared for the following day. Additionally, it teaches them effective time management while helping you maintain your sanity!

ADHD Adults: Start Pre-Planning for the Holidays.

ADHD Adults: Start Pre-Planning for the Holidays.

Tis the Season . .

When we think of the holiday season, we think of merriment and cheer, but for some adults with ADHD, this is not always the case. The shopping, the wrapping, the planning – all require organization, which can be a challenge to adults with or without ADHD.

The following is a compilation of great tips and tricks to stay organized, be efficient, and simplify this “holidazed” time of the year!

“Don’t forget that you set the tone for your home. Pace yourself and take well-deserved breaks!

List 1: Holiday Traditions

Create family memories by first holding a family meeting to discuss each person’s favorite traditions. It’s what you do, not what you buy, that’s important, so don’t overlook small but significant family rituals. This list might include:

Buy one new ornament for the tree
Keep favorite holiday music going in December
Hold a cookie baking session with the kids
Take holiday photos
Stock up on hot cocoa mix for Sunday evenings

List 2: Holiday Menus and Recipes

Plan to fix your family’s favorites – this is not the time to experiment!
Plan each course for the major holiday meals
List all the recipes you will use, noting the cookbook each is in and page numbers
List the ingredients you’ll need for each dish
List any specialty ingredients that you can’t get at the supermarket
Make a baking ingredients shopping list

List 3: Gifts

Break up your shopping by buying one or two gifts online each day. If you purchase from catalogs, place orders well before December 10 – to ensure that items are still in stock and to avoid express shipping fees. Make a shopping list that details for each person on the list:
Whether you will make or buy the gift
What you’re giving (keep homemade presents simple)
How much you can spend
The store or catalog where you’ll buy the gift. If you’re ordering online or from a catalog, write down the Web site and tracking number
Whether the present has been wrapped
Keep your receipts (in an envelope)

List 4: Dates to Put on Your Calendar

Fend off procrastination by reviewing this list each week.
Deadlines for homemade gifts
Shipping deadlines (mail early!)
Date to mail cards
Departure dates (if you’re traveling)
Arrival dates (if people are visiting)
Party dates
School, religious, office, and volunteer functions “[1]

“Louise Kurzeka, Minneapolis-based organizer, has three additional suggestions to help everyone make the most of their time and get the best use of their available space using practical, sustainable strategies.

A Gathering Place – Whether you’re having all the relatives over for Christmas eve dinner or just a few friends for a caroling party, start by designating a big tub or laundry basket as the gathering container for items you’ll need. By gathering items as you go and having just one place to look for them, you’ll be ahead of the game on the day of your big event.

Mad Money – Budgeting the dollars and cents of holiday spending can ruin anyone’s mood. But you’ll go from mad to glad if you simplify the process. Start with a sturdy business size envelope where you can list your gift recipients. Next to each name, pencil in the dollar amount you would typically spend on a gift for that person. Add up the amounts and compare the total to your checkbook balance. Are you within your budget? Go back to adjust the amounts as needed so you don’t end up with a post-holiday money-hangover!

Wrap it up – Hiding gifts, remembering where they are and digging them out to wrap them at the last minute is a lot more work than just wrapping them as you go. Commit to wrapping gifts as you return from each shopping trip. To make this job easier, decide on a place in the house that can serve as a gift-wrap center; a corner of the basement, a spare bedroom, even the formal dining room (comes with its own wrapping table!) Choose a place out of the main traffic areas. If needed add a card table so you’ll have a raised flat surface to use for wrapping. Stand wrapping paper rolls upright in a new garbage barrel or large pail. Place gift bags and tissue in one of the larger sized Ziploc plastic tote bags. Use another for bows, ribbon, gift tags, scissors and tape. The see-through bags make for a quick search for what you want and need. Unless you really enjoy the art of gift-wrapping, ditch the flat paper wrap. Bags are much faster (and reusable, so they’re environmentally friendly.)
Making just a few changes in how you handle common holiday chores can leave you with more time to enjoy the spirit of the season with the special people of your life.”[2]

We at Play Attention realize the holiday season can be a very stressful, overwhelming time of the year. Do you wish you could talk to someone who knows what you’re going through?
Simply call 800-788-6786, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experts. Tell us what day and time will work best for you to take about 15 minutes that will change your life. Our team of specialists have over 20 years of personal and professional experience with attention challenges. We will discuss your needs and provide you with a solution that will work best for you.

Remember Play Attention is a fantastic “Healthy Holiday Gift”! Give your loved one a gift that will last a lifetime – improved attention and a successful future![3]

[1] http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/903.html
[2] https://add.org/organized-for-the-holidays/
[3] http://www.playattention.com/speed-webinar/

Thanks ADHD!

This Thanksgiving week, we get together with our families and give thanks for a variety of things.  Many of us in the Play Attention family live with ADHD, so we wanted to know what makes you thankful for ADHD.  We polled our clients and this is what we heard: 

1. I think having ADHD makes me incredibly creative – Mary, 22 year old college student

2. My son has ADHD, and he has a huge sense of humor.  He makes me laugh every day – Lilly, mom of a 14 year old son

3. I find at work I am more successful because I am able to think outside the box.  Thanks ADHD! – Richard, 46 year old software engineer

4. In my practice I specialize in working with ADHD adults. I find my clients to be extremely passionate about the people and causes they hold dear – Dr. Zhang, Psychologist

5. My closest friend and old college roommate has ADHD. We have been friends for over 20 years. I treasure her quirky personality and (slightly exaggerated) stories about her life adventures – Gwen, Vice President of Play Attention

6. Although many people say the risk taking behavior of a person with ADHD is a negative. I have found it to be a positive.  I have had many more exciting experiences and traveled to more places than many of my peers – Jillian, 30 year old photographer

7. I teach gifted and talented 6th and 7th graders. Many of my students have ADHD. These students never stop surprising me with their ingenuity. When given an assignment where you only think there is one possible end result, they tend to produce results you never considered! – Roman, Public school teacher

8. My daughter and I both have ADHD. It has given us a common bond that other fathers and daughters do not have. This bond has strengthened our relationship, and I cherish that – Bill and Melissa, Father & Daughter with ADHD

9. I am an ADHD life coach. My clients are extraordinarily resilient. Life continues  to be challenging, and they never give up  – Maria, ADHD Coach

10. ADHD gave us Jim Carey, Will Smith, Lisa Ling, Justin Timberlake, Mary Kate Olsen, Cammi Granato, Josh Freeman, & Bubba Watson – The Wells Family (Mom, dad, 2 daughters, and 1 son all living with and loving our ADHD.)

Play Attention
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Attend our FREE informational webinar to learn more. Register Here.