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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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…

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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.

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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/

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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.

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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.

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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.

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