ADHD and Teen Pregnancy Risk

We already know from former studies that ADHD is associated with a higher incidence of risky sexual behaviors. In addition, The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has recently published an article (1) that asserts there is a higher risk of teenage pregnancy in children with ADHD. Compared with individuals without ADHD, those with ADHD were significantly more likely to become parents at 12 to 19 years of age, females and males are 95% more likely to become pregnant. Obviously “it might be appropriate to target this group with an intervention program that includes sexual education and contraceptive counseling.” But, talking to teens about sex has never been an easily broached topic. How do we engage our children so that they understand the weight of consequences?

“We were expecting to find an increased risk, but not of this magnitude,” said lead study author Dr. Soren Dinesen Ostergaard, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. He and his colleagues suggest that sexual-education programs — particularly those focusing on the use of contraceptives — should be tailored specifically toward teens with ADHD, who may not respond to traditional education methods. Building an effective ADHD-friendly sex-ed program should be explored in future studies on teen pregnancy, the researchers said.

“It is well established that becoming a teenage parent, irrespective of your mental health status, is burdensome for both parents and children,” Ostergaard said. “It is also well known that parenting is often difficult for individuals with ADHD.”

Dr. Wes Crenshaw, writing in Additude Magazine (2), encourages us that “sex education for teens with ADHD should focus, first and foremost, on mindfulness. This doesn’t mean your child must meditate before kissing his boyfriend for the first time! Rather, it means that before engaging in any sexual activity, your teen should ask himself: “Is this what I want to be doing? Am I making this decision for me, or because some outside force is influencing me? Will I look back on this positively five years from now?”

We here at Play Attention appreciate that your journey as parents and caretakers of these special children is, at times, difficult. You may want to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor for encouragement and wisdom. We would like to also invite each of you to our private Facebook group. We recognize that discussions on your public FB wall may be uncomfortable or inappropriate, so we would like to provide a safe, moderated space for parents and professionals to come together and discuss their challenges and triumphs without Trolls. The Play Attention Facebook Group can be found here:

Come join us!


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Focusing is hard! Brain response to reward in ADHD

Scientists decided to have their findings reviewed by both scientists AND students! Which is odd, certainly. But, it’s also very exciting to see students engaged in new ways.  The object was to encourage students to get involved with science and to train them to read scientific journals. The study was titled  “Focusing is hard! Brain responses to reward in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” The researchers found that when measuring activity in the part of the brain associated with rewards/pleasure, called the striatum, the “students without ADHD to be much more active in anticipation of the reward, potentially helping to focus onto the task at hand knowing reward was likely to follow. Students with ADHD however displayed the opposite pattern: receiving the reward triggered higher activity in the striatum compared to the anticipation of the prize.”

Russell Barkley, PH.D, says in Additude Magazine, “token systems, chip programs, or other external rewards help kids with ADHD persist. Without these rewards, kids with ADHD cannot themselves create the intrinsic willpower they need to stick with the task.”

Play Attention has long utilized a “Reward Bank” system to encourage students to continue their work within the application. The reward is customized for each student and coaches can assign the appropriate number of points to earn a reward, thereby tailoring the distance between “anticipation” and the “prize.”

This feature, as implemented in Play Attention 6, helps you organize the rewards and provides an easy way to adjust when the rewards are given.

Perhaps you have experienced this with your own student, a decrease in focus unless the rewards come readily. If “anticipation of the reward” doesn’t drive “the pleasure center” for ADHD students, how can we, as parents, coaches, or teachers, administer rewards effectively?

Join us on our Facebook page or on Twitter and tell us about how you use Rewards with your student.

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It only took one session for me to decide that we need this system at home!

We started using the Play Attention suite of games for our seven year old son, Eli during the spring of his kindergarten year. Eli was born with Down syndrome. He struggles with global developmental delays and especially struggles with poor impulse control as well as hyperactivity. In addition, Eli is a very restless sleeper. I have longed for him to sleep more deeply knowing that it would give his impulsive brain a restful break. We have used different supplements throughout the years to calm him. Eli also sleeps under a weighted blanket. While I’m certain none of our attempts have been harmful, nothing seems to show long-term benefit. As a mother on a mission, I have researched therapies, supplements, dietary changes, and calming techniques for years. When I discovered neurofeedback, I knew I had to try it for Eli. We used a system with a local psychotherapist and realized very quickly that it brought calming to Eli’s restless brain and body. Quickly, it became difficult to keep multiple weekly appointments for his neurofeedback sessions.

I was introduced to Play Attention by a friend who is involved in pediatric counseling. We were able to try out the system at Harding University’s Compassion Clinic with the intention of completing a series of sessions. It only took one session for me to decide that we need this system at home! Play Attention is one of the only neurofeedback systems that has a home based package. It certainly is the most affordable option on the market that I could find!

We have received excellent support from the initial training to learn to use the system to periodic troubleshooting. Play Attention has a great team and has been so helpful for us on this journey.

Eli started using the Play Attention system during his kindergarten year. He is in the self-contained classroom at his school. I have full confidence that he could participate in mainstream class activities on a limited level if he could better manage his impulse control. His classroom uses a color-based behavior chart. If he has a good day, he gets a ‘green’. A worse day warrants a ‘yellow’ and a difficult day produces a ‘red’. While Eli had a good school year, he NEVER had a week where he earned all ‘green’ for the week. Ever. Until we started Play Attention. Consistent use of the Play Attention suite of games has calmed Eli and given him the ability to attain quite a few all ‘green’ weeks of behavior at school! This is a miracle. While the support team at Play Attention stressed that long-term use of the games is essential for seeing behavioral changes, we saw changes in Eli almost immediately. Among other things, he began sleeping better almost immediately which in turn lead to better behavior in school. His teachers and our extended family are all amazed at the changes seen in Eli since starting Play Attention. I attribute this incredible change to the Play Attention suite of games as we did not make any other dietary or supplemental changes at the time.

We love Play Attention and are excited for the upcoming school year. With improved impulse control, we hope Eli will get to experience some mainstream classroom activities.

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ADHD, Memory, and Depression

An interesting study done at the University of North Florida, published last year by Tracy Packiam Alloway and John C. Horton in the Journal of Applied Psychology, explores the relationship between our ability to encode, store and retrieve data, and how we regulate our emotions. They assert that Working Memory plays a role in our coping with negative life events. “There is a growing body of research supporting the role of working memory in emotional regulation. We know that those with clinical depression have difficulties in suppressing irrelevant negative information, while those with high working memory are able to ignore negative emotions,” said Alloway. 
This presents families dealing with ADHD with a unique clue. 

We know that ADHD is often comorbid with depression, and that depression is often a cause for irritable “acting out.” But, this study shows that if we are able to attain a higher working memory, then we also gain a more optimistic view of the future. Not only does working memory come to define a person who can remember phone numbers, or which word to use in a sentence, or the steps in a series of instructions, it also means that a person with higher working memory may be happier as well.

Another study, this one in Stockholm authored by Torkel Klingberg, reminds us of the value of our brain’s neuroplasticity, and “that it (Working Memory) can be improved by adaptive and extended training.” Play Attention’s Working Memory module is designed to train this aspect of our brains. This simple, fun memory game encourages students to remember the locations of positive and negative conditions on the map, while maintaining attention. transferring this skill to everyday tasks can be aided by using Play Attention’s Academic Bridge module. It’s important to remember that skill training for the brain, especially for working memory, may not be permanent, but with the proper encouragement and persistence, with positive reinforcement, those habits learned while training contribute to a student’s on going success. 
You may have some anecdotal evidence of this. As users of the Play Attention system, and specifically our Working Memory training module, have you experienced a heightened, positive mood in conjunction with your student’s increased working memory functioning? If you would like to join the conversation, follow us on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!
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ADHD and Your Finances

A recent blog posted by June Silny, a contributor at Huffington Post, addresses an often overlooked aspect of ADHD. Finances, and our ability to manage them. It stands to reason that if we have difficulty sustaining attention, then our fiscal outlook might suffer. As adults with ADHD are all too aware, it is a ​struggle to get organized, stay committed, and not get derailed by all the daily distractions. Growing up with ADHD is difficult enough. As an adult with responsibilities to our bosses, spouses, and children, the difficulties can seem insurmountable. As adults, we are supposed to be the ones with all the answers. Then why is the task of managing personal finances so difficult? How can we improve this skill?

Ms. Silny, discussing a freely available ebook, points out 3 positive things to remember to help us get started.

  1. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. If it’s not simple, more than likely we are going to get overwhelmed and aren’t going to do it.
  2. Use positive Self-Talk. Negativity is not going to help. All too often we are our own worst enemy, right? Stop that, say something nice to yourself and make it a routine.
  3. Make it a Game. Finances can seem like such drudgery, but it is also the source of making our dreams a reality. Have fun, and enjoy the newfound ability to save and manage your money.

There are many apps designed to assist you. One digital app called Acorns can be downloaded to your phone. You can authorize it with your bank and debit card and whenever you use your debit card to make a purchase, at the pump, grocery store, or out to eat, the app rounds the purchase up and invests the additional amount into a stock purchase plan that you control. A few pennies here and a dollar there really adds up at the end of the month. You quickly save hundreds of dollars, and you’ll never miss it.

Another group of useful tools within Play Attention that can assist you include the Attention Stamina, Time on Task and the Academic Bridge exercises that are provided with your core system. These three activities, used together, are like a gym routine for your brain! Strengthening your ability to focus for longer periods of time, maintaining your attention until the job is done, and applying these skills to everyday tasks, can transfer to an improved ability to manage your finances.

Small but consistent amounts of time spent working on building up your attention-potential will propel your life forward. Contact your Play Attention Educational Support advisor and ask for details on how you, as an adult, can use Play Attention to create a better, more successful you!


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Play Attention will be attending the APA conference in Washington, DC on August 3rd-6th. If you are planning to attend, we would love to see you there. Be sure to stop by our booth. We will be located in the Technology Pavilion, Booth # 353.

Great news!
The FOCUS team will also be in our booth. As you know, FOCUS is the premier CPT used to assess attentional control. i.e. an individual’s capacity to choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore. This is a great opportunity to see FOCUS in action and talk to key members of the FOCUS team to learn how you can start using FOCUS with your clients.

There’s more!
We will also be giving a sneak preview of our on-line family management tool! Our family management tool is a fantastic online resource for families with ADHD children. Here you can manage your entire family while specifically addressing the needs of your ADHD child. Your family will have a virtual nanny who provides the tools you need to establish structure and consistency in a fun, nurturing format!

FREE Passes:
If you are not attending the conference but would like to stop by our booth on August 5th, we do have a few complimentary exhibit hall passes available. We will be giving these out on a first come first serve basis. If you are interested in receiving one of our passes, please click here to submit your request.
Our attention is focused on your future.

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New Study on Sleep & ADHD

Researchers in Melbourne Australia, at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), recently published a study that found proper sleeping habits may reduce the impact of ADHD, as reported by to article). Melissa Mulraney, the lead researcher says that “making simple adjustments to the bedtime routines of children with ADHD could make a significant difference.”

We can all make small adjustments to our routines. If the benefit can be an increased ability to concentrate, why wouldn’t we want to do this? As we see, after using the behavior-shaping component within the Play Attention program, small incremental steps can add up to significant changes over time. Simply making small adjustments like changing a child’s evening time diet, the temperature in the room, or the lighting in the room can have profound effects on their daytime behaviors.

“Researchers will now undertake a trial study with 300 children to establish if programs developed by psychologists and pediatricians can change sleep habits of children and alter their behavior.”

Knowing we can do something to positively change our life is one thing. It’s deciding “What to do,” that can be the hard part. Following through with these changes and being consistent can be the biggest challenge. We can start by doing small things. Our friends at Additude Magazine have published several great articles on sleep, sleep patterns, and tips to help us sleep better. If you haven’t read these, check them out.

Tips & Tricks:
Ending Sleep Deprivation:
A Sample Schedule:

To learn more about Play Attention, attend our free webinar. Click here to register:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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