ADHD, ODD, or BOTH – Part I

ADHD, ODD, or BOTH – Part I

We have received many questions from concerned parents asking: “Does my child have ADHD, ODD, or BOTH”? There may be a link between having ADHD and developing ODD. The correlation rate for being diagnosed with ADHD and ODD is staggering, ranging between 60% and 80%. It is the most common co-existing condition associated with ADHD. People with ADHD are 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with ODD than the general population.

In this blog we will discuss each of the disorders as separate entities and conclude with the interrelationship between the two. In Part II we will discuss how to deal with the effects of these disorders in relationship to each other.

ADHD as defined by the Mayo Clinic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD may include:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
  • Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities
  • Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toysDaydreaming_SMALL
  • Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Frequently fidgets or squirms
  • Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
  • Excessively talkative
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or games
  • Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn

Play Attention can improve all of these skills mentioned above.  Click here to view the cognitive skills addressed within the Play Attention software. Take our survey to see if Play Attention is right for you.

ODD by definition: Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is defined by as “a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the symptoms and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling”.

Children with oppositional defiant disorder are not aggressive towards people or animals, do not destroy property, and do not show a pattern of theft or deceit.

Signs and symptoms of ODD may include:

  • actively refuses to comply with majority’s requests or consensus-supported rules
  • performs actions deliberately to annoy others
  • is angry and resentful of others
  • argues often
  • blames others for their own mistakes frequently loses temper
  • is spiteful or seeks revenge
  • and is touchy or easily annoyed

 These patterns of behavior result in impairment at school and/or other social venues

So, the question is – what is the link between the two disorders? According to Dr. Russell Barkley, clinical scientist and researcher in the field of ADHD, there absolutely is a link between having ADHD and developing ODD. In fact, Dr. Barkley believes that if you have ADHD you have a propensity for developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder from the start. Why? Because, he believes that ADHD involves one more vital component that has been left out of the Clinical diagnosis for ADHD – Emotional Dysregulation: deficits in inhibiting and regulating emotions.

Emotional Self-Regulation is the ability to manage your behavior in relation to the events that happen in your life. This can involve suppressing or inhibiting your response, self-soothing to calm or comfort yourself, prolonging your pleasurable experience, or refocusing your attention to a more positive goal directed activity. By providing compelling evidence where he analyzed neuro-anatomy, psychological evidence, and clinical research, Dr. Barkley found that children diagnosed with ADHD also exhibited difficulties in Emotional Self-Regulation. He found that every rating scale that is given to children who have been diagnosed with ADHD that measures symptoms of emotions is elevated dramatically for hostility, anger, frustration and impatience. These children exhibited much stronger emotional reactions and had much greater difficulty in controlling their reactions once elicited.

To be continued . . .

To learn more about the Play Attention technology sign up for the free webinar. Your attention experts are at Chat with us from that site, or call us at 800.788.6786 to learn how Play Attention can help you develop cognitive skills and decrease impulsive behaviors.

Using the summer months to prepare for college

Using the summer months to prepare for college

The transition from high school to college is a challenge for even the most well-rounded student. Factor in ADHD and there are a whole new set of challenges. Parents should use the summer months to prepare their students for life at college. It’s a great time to test the waters while having the safety net of home to help them through. Here are some ideas you can use this summer to help with the transition.

  • Make Organization a Priority – Since organization is a struggle for students with ADHD, most parents help with this process throughout high school. Now that your student will be on his own, it’s important that he takes on the responsibility of organization. Having your student keep his room organized through the summer months will create a great foundation for his journey into college life. Make certain to discuss steps he can take to help with organization.
  • Keep Things Structured – The summer months are usually the time when schedules go by the wayside; bed times are looser, meal times vary more, etc. Keeping things structured throughout the summer will help your budding college student stay in a routine. Since consistent and repetitive behavior gains proficiency, consider this type of structure the same as if you were helping your athlete prepare for the big game.
  • Research the College’s Resources – While the hope is that you looked into this before applying, it’s important that you help your student familiarize himself with the resources available to him on campus. There will be big adjustments like longer classes, later nights, more independent studying, etc. Create a plan for when things get tough, so that your student isn’t scrambling to find resources for support.college_2
  • Visit the Campus – Many college campuses have programs throughout the summer months. Whether its concerts, sporting events, or lectures, it’s a great time to visit the campus and get familiar with the layout. Even if you’re not there to attend an event, a campus visit will allow your student to map out his day without the distraction of hundreds of other students.
  • Create a Game plan – Your student will need a game plan if things get challenging. This might include a discussion with your student’s roommate to help keep things on track, or a plan to connect with a counselor once a week to discuss the week’s obstacles.
  • Talk about Spending – With books paid for and meal plans established, what more could your student need to spend money on? The answer is everything else! A trip to the movies or the mall, dinner with friends at the local pizza place, etc. These expenses can get out of control without a plan. Create a budget for your college student that will allow him to have a social life that won’t break the bank. Also, talk to him about planning meals at college. Your student could run into financial difficulty with poor planning when meal halls are closed after late-night classes.

The more planning and discussions you have before your student goes off to college, the better prepared he will be. If you can help with some preplanning and addressing any anxieties, it will be easier for your student to be successful as he ventures into college life.

Ten Test Taking Tips

Ten Test Taking Tips

Many of the accommodations needed for successful test taking should be in place in your child’s 504 or IEP. Here are some of the recommended accommodations for test taking:

  1. Separate Setting – Allowing your child to take tests in a separate setting may be the single most important accommodation you request. Not only will this environment be less distracting, but it will also eliminate some of the pressure when other students are finishing tests much quicker than your student with ADHD.
  2. Extended Time – Timed tests can be a nightmare for an ADHD student. Having extra time to complete the test may be the second most important modification you can request. This will also allow for any breaks that may be needed during testing.
  3. Incorporate Breaks – Just like with studying, your student with ADHD may not be able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time. You can request that your child be able to take breaks during a lengthy test. These breaks should be reasonable, say a two-minute stretch break, so that testing does not go on for hours.
  4. Use a Scribe – Most states will allow an accommodation that requires someone to read the questions and answers to a student. Then the scribe transfers the answer dictated by the student on to the test. Also, answers to essay questions can be spoken orally to a scribe who then writes or types the answers dictated.Pretty blond girl taking a test with her high school class.
  5. Sleep, Eat, and Drink – Take care of your child who is going into a test just as you would your star athlete going into the big game. Make sure you child gets a good night’s sleep, eats a healthy protein-packed breakfast, and drinks plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  6. Play to Strengths – Perhaps your child’s teacher would allow him to show his knowledge on subject manner in a less than traditional approach. For instance, if a test were on multiplication facts, perhaps the teacher would allow your child to recite the data to the rhythm of a song. Or for a test on American history, your child could act out the important parts as a skit.
  7. Break Up Test Into Sections – If you place a standardized test packet on the desk in front of your ADHD child, it’s likely to cause anxiety. Consider separating the pages and only putting a few on the desk at a time. This will give the student an achievable goal without overwhelming him.
  8. Don’t transfer answers – Many standardized tests require students to answer questions and transfer answers to a form. Instead, request that your child be allowed to circle the answers in the book and then have someone transfer the information to the answer sheet.
  9. Ask: What is Most Important – Find out from the teacher what the most important part of the test is. Is content more important than punctuation and grammar? Is it possible to get scored separately? This will allow you to prepare you student appropriately for the exam.
  10. Keys to Memorization – Memory is a challenge for students with ADHD. Focusing long enough to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory is a trial. Consider more unconventional methods. For instance, studying for a spelling test could include drumming a rhythm for each letter of the word. Of course, a separate setting is needed so that your child can drum the beat during the test.

If you are using Play Attention, our Academic Bridge program is great to help learn how to maintain attention to the tests. Your educational support advisor can assist you with this process. Call 800-788-6786 to learn more.

Video Games & ADHD Part I

Video Games & ADHD Part I
Why can’t they stop playing?

If you literally have to yank the video game controller from your ADHD child’s hands to get him to come to dinner, then you’re aware how compelling, even addicting, video games are to an ADHD child.

Video games were introduced in 1972. According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), video games are ubiquitous as they are played on everything from home consoles such as Xbox to live streaming Internet tablets or hand held devices. Not surprisingly, computer and video game sales in the United States are over a $19 billion industry.

The KFF also reports that more than two-thirds of all children ages 2-18 live in a home with a video game system. Video game playing, even more than television watching, is an activity that kids tend to do alone.

What does this all amount to? The average young person accumulates 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21. How does that compare to school attendance? It’s just 24 hours less than they spend in a classroom for all of middle and high school if they have perfect attendance. It’s the equivalent of a full time job at more than 40 hours a week.video_games

So why are video games so intriguing? Many ADHD children seek increased stimulation. Their brains demand bigger, louder, and faster paced visuals. Often accompanying these demands is an increased need for risky behavior and high intensity action. Video games provide just this, and it can be somewhat like a drug or a favorite slice of pizza to a binge eater.

Some speculate that this is due to neurotransmitter problems and others attribute it to a genetic link. Whatever the cause, it makes video games incredibly irresistible and mundane tasks like homework almost impossible.

Part II coming soon: What do video games do to the ADHD brain?
Part III coming soon: How to manage video game use.

Your ADHD experts are at Call them at 800.788.6786


End Of Year Test Time!

Tackling the Most Dreaded Time of Year: End Of Year Test Time!

Creating a study space

It is often the most stressful and dreaded time of year for a student with ADHD: End of Year Test Time!  There are some steps you can take to help your child or student feel more confident and be more successful.  Let’s start with the study environment.

The environment in which your child studies can help or hinder the end result. Whether your student is preparing for the 4th grade EOG math exam, AP bio exam, or college entrance exam; it’s important to keep the following in mind when creating a study space:

  • Remove Distractions – Since we know that people with ADHD are easily distracted, the first step to success is to remove distractions. A clean, uncluttered, organized work area will provide the optimum environment.
  • Environmental Considerations – Make sure that the study area is well lit and well ventilated. Putting a study area in a closet under the stairs may be less distracting, but if the lighting is not sufficient and it’s stuffy, it will not be an appealing study area for your student.
  • Materials – Make sure that your study area is well supplied with pencils, pens, calculator, rulers, etc. Your student should have everything necessary to complete assignments at his fingertips.  This will avoided wasting time on trying to locate materials.
  • Create a reading nook – What better way to study than in a big comfy chair or beanbag to complete reading assignments? Add shelves full of reading favorites, and you’ve created your own special library area.
  • Hang a Calendar – A simple calendar is a great way to post dates when assignments are due. This will allow better planning to make sure projects are completed and turned in on time.
  • Keep it Simple – Don’t overdo it. Keep furniture and fixtures simple and kid friendly. Keep things economical so that you can change things out as your child grows and their needs change.
  • Time Check – Hang a simple clock in the study area. This will allow you to help with timing assignments.
  • Hang a Brag Board – A simple corkboard will give an area to hang awards, achievements and well-done assignments. This will encourage even the most frustrated student to push through.
  • Book Bag Hook – Hang a hook where a book bag can be hung. This will keep assignments close at hand and help with organization.

For more tips, call 800-788-6786 and request our e-book on Organization.


Children with ADHD at Risk for Binge Eating

Children with ADHD at Risk for Binge Eating
Lack of control increases risk

Many medications taken for ADHD result in appetite loss, so it’s hard to fathom that binge eating could be related to ADHD. Yet a new study from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center reveals that children with ADHD are significantly more likely to have an eating disorder.

The researchers term the disorder, ‘loss of control eating syndrome’, and find it quite similar to binge eating, a disorder commonly found in adults. The disorder is defined by an inability to stop eating at times with lack of control to stop at will. ADHD children were 12 times more likely to have this disorder than children without ADHD.

The findings of this research indicate a possible link between ADHD and a lack of control for binge eating. However, Dr. Reinblatt, lead author of the study, says the roots of the underlying connection remain unknown and require additional research. Reinblatt thinks the two conditions may result from a genetic predisposition to impulsivity. This view would reflect prior research.

Reinblatt, thinks it would be wise for clinicians to screen for both ADHD and loss of control eating behaviors as a preventative measure.

Top 10 tips when selecting a summer camp for your ADHD child

Top 10 tips when selecting a summer camp for your ADHD child

For years, children have looked forward to going to camp during the summer. For some families, attending the same summer camp goes back generations. When selecting a camp for any child, here are some tips you should consider:

  1. Day Camp or Overnight – Most experts say that a child is ready for an overnight camp by the age of twelve. Before that, day camps are recommended so that your child can experience the camp environment and have the security of returning home at the end of the day.
  2. Camp History – Look into the history of the camp. Interview employees and other parents whose children have attended the camp. Ask about safety and emergency medical qualifications. will offer reviews by campers and their parents based on type of camp and location.
  3. Inclusion and Diversity – Does the camp emphasize inclusion and diversity? Is there a zero-tolerance policy on bullying?
  4. Staffing – Is there an adequate counselor-to-camper ratio? The norm is a 1 to 10 ratio for children aged 8 to 14. What certifications are staffers required to have?
  5. Background Checks – Are staffers required to pass a background check to be employed at the camp?
  6. Security – What is the camp’s policy on pick up and drop off? Many require a list of people who will be allowed to pick up or drop off your child. You’ll also want to look into what security is in place should the staff take your child on an off-site trip.
  7. Communication – Don’t be surprised if your camp restricts cell phone usage. Parents receiving text messages throughout the day are not letting go. Look into the camp’s philosophy on communication. What steps are in place to let you know about upcoming events or if your child becomes ill.
  8. What is the camps main focus? Whether it’s sports, the arts, or science, you want to make sure that the camp’s focus meets your child’s needs. Is academic tutoring included or available?
  9. Accreditation – Make sure that the camp you choose meets American Camp Association (ACA) standards. This will ensure that the camp is run professionally. If the camp does not meet ACA standards, they may still have a great program. You’ll just need to ask more questions.
  10. Financing Camp – Camp fees vary throughout the country, ranging from $50 to thousands a day. Some camps fall under the same tax guidelines as daycare and can be funded by your flex plan. Scholarships are another way to finance summer camp for your child.

No matter which camp you choose, keep in mind that, just like the first time you dropped your child off as school, there will be some anxiety for both parent and child. Know that camp staff has experience in dealing with this apprehension and are trained to get your child’s mind off these concerns. In no time, your little one will be jumping into all of the fun.



What to do this summer?

What to do this summer?

With your child’s thirteen week hiatus right around the corner, now is the time to plan for the summer. Whether it’s a week at the beach, some academic tutoring, or just some well-deserved down time, planning is the key to a stress free summer vacation.

Make a Plan – Children with ADHD do much better when they know what to expect. So when you’re planning out summer activities, it’s best to calendar them out. That way your child has a visual on upcoming activities. This information should include any summer school, play dates, family vacations, summer camps, and your Play Attention summer camp.

Get Them Involved – Involving your child in planning your summer vacation. Think of several ideas and let them help do some research. Whether your vacation plans are to visit Disney Land or have a restful week at the beach, teaching your child to plan will help with their organizational skills.

Summer Camps – Plan Ahead –  Many summer camps tailored to children with ADHD fill up quickly. Space is limited so now is the time to think and prepare. Decisions have to be made to insure that a spot is saved for your little one.  Attend our Play Attention Virtual Summer Camp from July 6th July 31st.  Call 800-788-6786 to learn more.

Academic Tutoring – If your child needs a little extra help during the summer, now is a perfect time to get your child signed up. Many college students look for summer jobs at this time of the year. Contact your local college for students studying education.  You may also have many established tutoring services in your area as well offering summer programs.

Cognitive Attention Training – Summer is a perfect time to involve your child in a Play Attention program. If started now, your child can be well on their way to completing the program by the beginning of the new school year. And, they’ll have an advantage that will lead to success in the classroom. Take this survey and help us build your Play Attention virtual summer camp.

Chill Time – Just like when adults are on vacation, children just need time to unwind. Summer is the time to sleep late, play a lot, and relax. Make sure you aren’t over scheduling your child this summer. Give them the chill time they need to rejuvenate for the next school year.

Let’s Get Outside – Exposure to green outdoor spaces can improve concentration and impulse control in children and adults. So get out there and play! Put up a basketball hoop, get a ball, and watch all of that energy be exerted in a positive way.

Group Effort Better for ADHD Kids

Group Effort Better for ADHD Kids

Study shows team approach works

It takes a whole village to raise a child. New research reported in the journal Pediatrics confirms that a team approach can improve outcomes for ADHD children. The study confirms what many parents often say; they need help and want far more than just medication.

A team of psychologists and MDs from Mercy Hospital in Kansas City conducted a randomized, controlled study pitting a team of doctors, parents, and a care manager against parent management alone.

The article reports, “All participants received care management with decision support. Care managers in the enhanced care arm also were trained in motivational and parent management techniques to help parents engage in their child’s treatment, address their own mental health needs, and manage challenging child behaviors. We used multivariable models to assess inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, oppositionality, and social skills over 1 year.”

Improved outcomes were primarily behavioral; children with ADHD experienced superior changes for hyperactivity/impulsivity and oppositionality, but not inattention.

This study echoes previous research conducted in the UK where parent training produced far better outcomes for ADHD children than parents who did not receive training to manage their ADHD child.

Unfortunately, Mercy Hospital is one of a very few places nationally that offers a collaborative approach.

Play Attention uses a collaborative approach and can also improve inattention and many other cognitive problems associated with ADHD. We’ve known its value and used this approach for over 20 years.

Your attention experts are at 800.788.6786. You can also use the Contact Us button at the top of this FB page.

The right school accommodations can lead to classroom success

School Accommodations – Get what your child needs

Since ADHD is considered a disability, your child may be entitled to modifications to their school routine. When it comes to getting the proper accommodations for your child, it is imperative that you become your child’s best advocate. Slight adjustments to the daily classroom setting can make or break your child’s success. Therefore, it’s important to understand what kinds of modifications you can request. Here are some things to consider:

  Seating in the Classroom – If your child is easily distracted where they are placed in the classroom can be of the utmost importance. Center front may be the most successful area. Also, seating your child next to a good role model is helpful.

  Length of Assignments – Since we know that most children with ADHD have a difficult time beginning and completing assignments in a timely manner, it’s best if longer assignments are broken up. You may also want to consider asking for additional time to complete assignments.

 Request a set of books for home – If your child has a hard time remembering to bring books home to do assignments, you can request that you have a set of books at home.

 Release the Energy – You can request that your child have breaks throughout the day that allow them to release some of the pent up energy often associated with ADHD. This can be in the form of a fifteen-minute break, supervised by an aid, where your child can run laps around the track.

  Encourage Social Interaction – This can be tricky for the student whose peers find them less than appropriately social. Assign a task that allows the student to briefly interact with other students, such as handing out papers, or collecting books. This gives the student a sense of accomplishment and belonging.

  Study Buddy – Have the classroom teacher assign a study buddy to your child. This person can help organize and keep your child on track. He can also set an example of good habits for your child.

  Use a digital recorder – Often times students with ADHD will only pick up part of instructions. Using a digital recorder will allow the student to rewind as many times as needed to get all of the instructions.

  Classroom Testing – Request multiple sessions or extended time for testing. You can also request that your child be tested in a setting that is less distracting. You may even be able to ask for a scribe for your child, meaning a person is assigned to read the questions and answers for multiple-choice tests. To which the student responds with the correct answer. Or in the case of essay questions, the scribe will write out the answer that is dictated to them by the student.

  Incorporate Play Attention – Asking the school to incorporate your child’s Play Attention program into the school day is not that far-fetched. In fact, since your program comes with an open-ended two-user license, you can be helping another student also. Classroom aids or parent volunteers are great resources for administering the program for your child.

Attend our upcoming special IEP/504 webinar on April 17th