Adult ADHD. Do I have it?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is currently defined as a neurological disorder (brain disorder). ADHD affects both children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and sometimes, hyperactivity. Conservative estimates indicate that AD/HD affects between 5 to 7 percent of school age children. Approximately 60% to 70% of ADHD children will continue their symptoms into adulthood.

Symptoms of ADHD, such as inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity often affect performance in the work place. Employers often complain ADHD adults cannot follow through with instructions, complete tasks, and frequently talk out of turn.

Research conducted by Harvard University found that ADHD adults with a university degree have annual household incomes approximately $4000 less than their peers without the disorder. The study also found that ADHD adults with high school diplomas had household incomes averaging $11,000 less than their peers without the disorder.

The study showed that adults with ADHD were less likely to have a full-time job and had a job turnover rate that was twice as high over the last 10 years compared with those without ADHD. Researchers also concluded that adult ADHD may make it more difficult to get education necessary to obtain high-paying jobs.

Research has also indicated ADHD adults had higher divorce rates, and were more likely abuse alcohol or drugs. Other research suggests that ADHD adults have higher rates of traffic accidents, and were less likely to have a positive self-image or be optimistic. Overall ADHD adults reported lower levels of satisfaction with all aspects of their lives including their marriages and social relationships.

Many ADHD adults use medication to ease their symptoms after consulting with their healthcare provider. Other interventions used include professional coaches, counseling, and cognitive programs to increase deficit skills and provide success at work.

Many adults have used Play Attention to develop the skills they need to thrive and succeed! Check out the following success stories from some of our adult clients:

“Play Attention has made a positive impact on both my professional and private life.”
Vincent’s Story

“I treat this as exercise for my mind. I’m pleased with the results.”
Michael’s Story

“Play Attention will allow me to know how to stay mentally active throughout my ‘golden’ years.”
Samuel’s Story

“I can think and communicate more clearly now.”
Ruth’s Story

You can also have your questions answered by an ADHD expert in a free webinar that is live, online, and in real-time.

Call 800.788.6786 to register.

The Correlation between Self-Image and Academic Performance

Is poor self-image affecting your ADHD child’s academic performance?

With the hustle and bustle of getting ready for back to school; filling those backpacks with school supplies, buying new clothes, making lunches, scheduling necessary pickups and drop-offs, we often forget the emotional feelings our ADHD child experiences when beginning the new school year. Poor self-image and negative feelings of poor self-esteem affect our child’s ability to perform up to grade level and vice versa: poor academic performance can also affect our child’s self-image.

Self-image is how you perceive yourself. It is a number of self-impressions that have built up over time: What are your hopes and dreams? What do you think and feel? What have you done throughout your life and what did you want to do? These self-images can be very positive, giving a person confidence in their thoughts and actions, or negative, making a person doubtful of their capabilities and ideas.

Portrait of a sad hispanic girl isolated on whiteSome believe that a person’s self-image is defined by events that affect him or her (doing well or not in school, work, or relationships.) Others believe that a person’s self-image can help shape those events. There is probably some truth to both schools of thought: failing at something can certainly cause one to feel bad about oneself, just as feeling good about oneself can lead to better performance on a project. 1

Studies show that there is definitely a correlation between ADHD and peer relationships, academic performance, and self-image.

One such study examined relationships between symptoms of ADHD, peer relations, academic performance, and self-image among university-level students. Eighty-three students at a private, Midwestern, comprehensive university participated in the study. None indicated that they had been previously diagnosed with ADHD or were currently receiving any form of ADHD treatment. The students were administered an adapted version of the General Adult ADD Symptom Checklist (Amen, 1995). Particular variables of interest included perceptions of peer relations, academic performance, and self-image. The results showed that 5% of students surveyed met the operational definition criteria for ADHD symptoms. Significant correlations were found with poor peer relations, less satisfactory academic performance, and poor self-image.2

To feel good about themselves, children need two things: the sense that they’re successful, both socially and academically, and unconditional love from their parents. If either ingredient is missing, a child will have a hard time developing a sense of self-image.

A child might reveal his unhappiness by saying, “I hate my life” or “No one likes me” or “I’m just dumb.”

Does your child say or do things that suggest that he feels he isn’t “good enough” or is unworthy of love? Do her words or behavior suggest that she feels like a failure at school? That her peers aren’t especially fond of her, or that she is otherwise unsuccessful socially?3

Tips for Building Self-Image:

There are steps parents and teachers can take to help build self esteem. For example:

1. Encourage your child’s strengths.
2. Praise effort.
3. Appreciate them for who they are.
4. Praise them to others.
6. Have reasonable expectations.

Read more…

Doing well in school, performing at your academic peak will no doubt increase your ADHD child’s self-image. Using Play Attention’s Academic Bridge is a great way for you and your child to know when they are truly paying attention and performing at their academic peak. Academic Bridge will monitor attention and let the student know when they have lost focus. Through consistent and repetitive training, your student will be able to pay attention for longer and longer periods of time.4

The Play Attention family hopes you have a successful school year! If you would like more information how Play Attention can help improve the cognitive skills necessary for classroom success, call 800‐788‐6786. Or register for an upcoming webinar.5









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.

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:

Teens with ADHD & Driving

Buckle up for the ride.

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

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

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

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

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

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

See entire article…

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

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

Get Outside, Play, & Ease the Symptoms of ADHD

A study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, researcher, Frances Kuo finds that “green time” has a positive impact on children and adults with ADHD.

“Those who play regularly in the same green outdoor settings do have milder symptoms than those who play indoors or in playgrounds. We also found that children who were hyperactive had less severe symptoms if they played in an open environment, such as a soccer field, rather than in a green space with lots of trees.” – Frances Kuo

Alternatively, a study conducted by University of Michigan researchers found that “simply spending a few minutes on a busy city street can affect the brain’s ability to focus and to help us manage self-control.”

So it is time to get out in the green! This is great news for summertime. Get out there and play with your child. It’s good for you!

Simple Outdoor Ideas:

Take a nature walk and play I-Spy along the way.
Play Follow the Leader around the yard.
Build a fort out of boxes or old sheets.
Play catch or frisbee.
Remember hopscotch? Teach it to your child.
Jump rope and sing songs together.
Run through the sprinkler.
Play with bubbles.
Plan an outdoor picnic together.
Just Play!

“As little as 20 minutes of outdoor exposure in an open green space could potentially buy you a couple of hours in the afternoon to get homework done with your child.” Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D.

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

Avoid Summer Brain Drain!

How to avoid summer vacation cognitive loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Set a consistent routine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View the cognitive skills addressed in Play Attention here.

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

Read more about Play Attention’s behavior shaping program.

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

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


View study cited in articl: Educational and Health Outcomes of Children Treated for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

What Motivates You?

– How to encourage higher levels of achievement through rewards.

Play Attention’s Reward System

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

The Play Attention program is a success-based program. In simple terms, if the student is focused and paying attention, they are rewarded by the screen character moving in the right direction. When not focused, the program reminds the student to pay attention. So, through their own ability to pay attention, they are rewarded with their own success.

Just as with any training program, students need goals. Play Attention’s goals are set automatically by our special artificial intelligence Sheer Genius technology. Sheer Genius sets small, achievable goals for each student based on his/her performance. For example, a student may have played for three minutes in Attention Stamina. Sheer Genius will establish a new goal that the student plays for three minutes and 10 seconds during the next session, thus helping the student to work towards staying focused for longer periods of time. If the goal is achieved, a point is awarded.

Once points are awarded, a bank is established where the student can accumulate an unlimited amount of points. This allows students to build points in their bank to purchase certain rewards. The coach establishes these rewards with the student. Just as we save money to buy something, students can save points to purchase a reward.

While there are sample rewards set up, your Play Attention support advisor will encourage you to set up rewards that will inspire your particular student. Caution is needed when establishing rewards. Play Attention is a long-term program, so the rewards must be something that can be sustained throughout training. If you establish a reward of $20 each time a student reaches a goal, it could get very expensive. Here are some reward ideas that many students like and cost little to no money:

  • Trip to the park (purchase price – 10 points)
  • Thirty minutes longer for bedtime on Friday night (purchase price – 15 points)
  • A two-hour play date on a Saturday (purchase price – 25 points)
  • 30 minutes of video game time on the weekend (purchase price – 35 points)

The intent of the reward program is to give your student incentive for working towards achieving their goals.  This is a fantastic motivational tool.   When your student has accumulated enough points for their desired reward, they cash in the points. The program even prints a certificate congratulating them on their achievement!

Play Attention also encourages you to set short term and long term goals.  A short term goal may be that your child gets to select the movie for family movie night! This reward costs 6 points.  This is something they can probably purchase at the end of a session.  A long term goal may be a Trip to the Water Park for 75 points.  Your student will need to work towards saving those 75 points to get the larger reward!  This is teaching delayed gratification. Delaying gratification is a hard skill for both children and adults with ADHD.  However, we know it is a very important skill. We cited the Marshmallow Study in our last blog that shows how important this skill is in determining later success in life. We can teach this skill through the reward program.  To review the Marshmallow Study Blog and the importance of delayed gratification click here reviewed here.

Remember rewards work equally as well for both children and adults!  Make certain if you are an adult you reward yourself for a job well done!

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

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

Why is my brain so noisy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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