Inattentiveness and Academic Performance

We recently posted about the correlation between Self-image and Academic Performance. And, interestingly, other studies also suggest that there is “a significant and replicated link between parent reports of inattention in their primary school children and future academic achievement, approximately 10 years later.” This, of course, compounds the issues tied to self worth because as inattention drags a student’s academic performance down, that poor performance impacts their self-image which then continues the cycle by impacting the student socially and academically. This appears to be a self perpetuating loop.

Astri Lundervold, a researcher at the University of Bergen, states “Parents of primary school children showing signs of inattention should ask for help for the child. Remedial strategies and training programs for these children should be available at school, and not just for children with a specific diagnosis.”

In the study, negative consequences associated with inattention were not restricted to children within the diagnostic category of ADHD. The negative consequences followed those students whose parents reported inattention at an early age, regardless of diagnosis. Even when factoring in intellectual function, childhood inattention remained an important predictor of later academic performance.

Play Attention, in conjunction with a supportive, nurturing parent/teacher, is just such a remediation strategy! In fact, Tufts Medical School engaged in a study with 41 students and found, of those students using Play Attention, primary parents reported significant change on all three Conners Rating Scales and the two Behavior Assessment Scales for Children. Also, parents reported changes on the Inattention scale and the ADHD Index. Furthermore, the Play Attention group displayed a trend toward lower levels of observed off-task behaviors. None of the other groups involved in the study displayed this change.

Play Attention games have been here for decades supporting students and parents, and can disrupt the negative loop of Inattentiveness.

Meet Nanny’s Circle

The App to Help with Chores, Behavior, Schedules & More

Nanny’s Circle is the premier family management app for families with ADHD children. Here you can manage your entire family while specifically addressing the needs of your ADHD child. Nanny’s Circle provides the tools you need to establish structure and consistency in a fun, nurturing format. Learn more here.

Nanny’s Circle is a new product from Play Attention — the #1 neurocognitive system for ADHD brains. It combines advanced neurofeedback and cognitive training to effectively improve attention, behavior, and learning skills in children and adults with ADHD. Available for home and professional use.

To win a Nanny’s Circle app subscription for one year (a $71.40 – $95.40 value) Click Here…tell us how you motivate your child or yourself to complete chores or stick to a reliable routine.

Fueling our Brains & Bodies

We know that ADHD is linked to higher incidence of Executive Function deficits. And, Executive Function supports our ability to make decisions about the foods we eat. Think about it. Do you ever eat as a reaction to stress, boredom or over-stimulation? Are you prone to emotional overeating? Are you waiting until the last minute to fix lunch?

People with ADHD do have difficulties with planning. And, they tend to be impulsive. It makes sense that a last minute impulse would lead to poor choices in what foods to eat. There is some evidence that ADHD is linked to impulsivity eating disorders like Binge Eating and Bulimia. Other studies suggest that a “Western” diet may contribute to a rise in ADHD symptoms in the study population. So, “energy-dense, heavily processed foods rich in saturated fat, salt, and sugars…” may contribute to ADHD.

Harvard Medical School says that certain foods MAY contribute to ADHD. But, there aren’t special diet recommendations for children with ADHD. In fact their recommendation is that all children “eat a diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthful unsaturated fats, and good sources of protein; go easy on unhealthy saturated and trans fats, rapidly digested carbohydrates, and fast food; and balance healthy eating with plenty of physical activity.”

The ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands finds that “a strictly supervised restricted elimination diet is a valuable instrument to assess whether ADHD is induced by food. The prescription of diets on the basis of IgG blood tests should be discouraged.” IgG blood tests have been used by some to group children into certain diet plans.

However, the Journal of the Academy of American Pediatrics, says “elimination, and additive free diets are complicated, disruptive to
the household, and often impractical, except for selected patients. Supplemental diet therapy is simple, relatively inexpensive, and more acceptable to patient and parent. Public education regarding a healthy diet pattern and lifestyle to prevent or control ADHD may have greater long-term success.”

If you would like more information Play Attention is hosting a guest speaker, Gay Russell LCSW, NMD, during our webinar on August 31st to discuss this very topic. Fueling our Brains & Bodies | Simple and Easy Solutions for the Best Learning, Behavior, Happiness, & School Year Stamina. Be sure to sign up now to reserve your space, you won’t want to miss this one. 

Gay Russell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She started her work with children in 1973 working as a Juvenile Parole Officer for the State of Ohio. After receiving her Masters in Social Work she began studying under psychologist and nutritionist, Dr. Richard Malter using Tissue Mineral Analysis to treat psychological, behavioral and educational challenges. She then further expanded her work with children as a school social worker for special needs students with autism and other developmental challenges. It was during this work that Gay became committed to improving the nutritional status of children and families. Gay has a private counseling practice in Schaumburg, IL called Feeling Whole Counseling Services where the team incorporates counseling, Play Attention learning system, community involvement, and nutritional awareness to support adults, children and families.

ADHD and School Sports

School has started, or is around the corner, for most of us here. There is the usual flurry of activity. Clothes shopping, school supplies, schedules, meeting teachers, and traffic that just always seems to get worse. But then there is the tap-tap at your elbow, and your littlest one hands you a form with imploring eyes. “Join the Football Team”, it reads. And there at the bottom, where your little angel is pointing, is where you are supposed to sign on the dotted line.

If you are at all like me, then the fearful visions of injury and nights spent in the Emergency Department of the local hospital with a leg in traction are just the first of many horrific reveries. There may be reason to pause and consider potential injuries and whether your child has a greater risk. Children with ADHD often are also diagnosed with Dyspraxia, the comorbidity with ADHD is so high that it has been argued it should just be included as a symptom. But, before you write off your aspiring athlete’s dreams of being the next Bo Jackson, there may also be potential upsides to students diagnosed with ADHD participating in organized team sports.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that students with ADHD tend to gravitate toward team sports rather that individual sports, which could increase their risk of injury. However, Dr. Trevor Kitchin, a fellow at the Wexner Medical Center, who was involved with the study, conjectures that it is the nature of the sport itself that may increase the risk of injury. Football is a full-contact sport, there will be more injuries than tennis or golf. Kitchin also states, that a student’s preference for team sports may be beneficial. “Team sports help with socializing skills,” Kitchin explains, and can even play a role in non-sports related activities, such as academic interactions requiring group involvement.
Dr. Danelle Fisher, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California says, “sports are a terrific way to channel the energy that kids with ADHD have. They can also help with learning how to function as part of a team as well as learning discipline and reaching goals outside of a classroom setting.” Dr. Oluseun Olufade, an assistant professor of Orthopaedics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, agrees: “There are reasons to encourage sports for kids with ADHD,” he says. “Sports help with symptoms like hyperactivity and inattention.”

“We’d love for kids with ADHD to participate more often in team sports,” says Yamalis Diaz, a clinical assistant professor in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Competing in sports can also help kids with ADHD who have less-than-optimal motor skills and who struggle in dealing with frustration. “Playing sports is good for learning how to manage frustration and improve one’s motor skills,” Diaz says. Competing in sports can have other benefits, too, Diaz says. Some kids with ADHD don’t do well in the classroom because they find it difficult to focus on their schoolwork. For a student who feels like he or she is constantly struggling in class, doing well in sports can prompt positive feedback, which is “intoxicating,” Diaz says. “They will throw themselves into their sport if they are hearing a lot of positive feedback. Who wouldn’t?”

Dr. Jack Lesyk, of the Ohio Center for Sport Psychology has an interesting article that outlines the Nine Mental Skills of Successful Atheletes. And, while some of these “mental skills” may seem out of reach for younger students, it is easy to see how adopting these as goals can move our students to higher levels of achievement and feelings of self-worth.

1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude.
2. Maintain a high level of self-motivation.
3. Set high, realistic goals.
4. Deal effectively with people.
5. Use positive self-talk.
6. Use positive mental imagery.
7. Manage anxiety effectively.
8. Manage their emotions effectively.
9. Maintain concentration.

Play Attention offers an affordable option to support ongoing strengthening of your student’s ability to maintain concentration. Using Attention Stamina and Time on Task as a cornerstone of your athlete’s training can aid in maintaining concentration. Discriminatory Processing is ideal for persons learning to filter out distractions, like a cheering crowd on the sideline, or random chatter on the field. In addition, Eye Hand Coordination and Motor Skills can help with the physical skills needed, and Social Skills can benefit those who struggle with social cues when dealing with interactions on the team.

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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/playattentionsupport/

Come join us!

References.
(1) http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(17)30205-8/abstract
(2) https://www.additudemag.com/talking-about-sex-with-your-te…/

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.

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.

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!

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!