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. Mysummercamps.com 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 www.playattention.com. 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


What Motivates You?

What Motivates You?

– How to encourage higher levels of achievement through rewards.

Play Attention’s Reward System

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 and established as achievable goals. For example, a student may have played for three minutes in Attention Stamina. The program will establish a new goal that the student plays for three minutes and 10 seconds during the next session, thus pushing the student to stay focused for 10 seconds longer. 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. Just as we save money to buy something, students can save points to purchase a reward.

While there are sample rewards set up, your 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)
  • One hour of video game time on the weekend (purchase price – 60 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 a movie rental at Red Box for 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 can teach this skill through the reward program.  To review the importance of delayed gratification can be 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!

To learn more about Play Attention’s reward system, register to attend a FREE webinar with ADHD expert, Peter Freer.



What You Can Learn From a Marshmallow

What you can learn from a marshmallow.

– It will change your life!

It’s an age old dilemma; we stare at a plate of chocolate chip cookies after eating just one. We know well that’s all we should eat, but the impulse kicks in and we have another. And another.  Science tells us how this lack of control will affect us long-term, and it’s not just about your waistline.

Impulsive behaviors are often associated with children and adults with autism or ADHD. At times, they lack self-control. Impulsiveness is simply acting without forethought. There is no cause-and-effect rationale with impulsivity; in most instances, this population does not understand the consequences of their impulsive behaviors. The importance of developing self-control or self-regulation has been studied for more than 50 years.

In the late 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel from Stanford University did an experiment on delayed gratification – the ability to fend off the impulse to eat another cookie. In his study, the Marshmallow Experiment, Mischel offered preschool children one marshmallow that they could eat immediately. However, he also instructed them if they waited for a little while, he would give them a second marshmallow. This video shows the agony some of these preschoolers went through as they sat alone in a room when having to decide to eat the one marshmallow staring them in the face or wait to reap the rewards of a second marshmallow.

The children used different strategies; some imagined the marshmallow was only a cloud; others distracted themselves by covering their eyes or turning away. They delayed gratification for 15 minutes and earned their second marshmallow.

The preschoolers were followed for many years thereafter. Researchers found that those who were able delay gratification had far better long-term outcomes compared with peers who immediately devoured the marshmallow in less than a minute:

  • They were significantly less likely to have problems with behavior.
  • Far less likely to develop drug addiction.
  • Far less likely to develop obesity by the time they were in high school.
  • The gratification-delayers also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT.

While these outcomes are significant, delayed gratification, in essence, planning for longer-term goals also has practical value. We would like to teach our children to save money for college, save for a new car, or insurance for that car.

Socially, we also want them to make good decisions with careful consideration. This involves everything from what they eat, who they date, and what they try when alone with their friends.

So, it’s incredibly important to teach this skill for every child, but how can we help a child or adult with ADHD or autism learn how to delay gratification?

Modeling the behavior you desire from your child is an important first step. If you tend act impulsively around your child, they are likely to see that behavior as acceptable and not attempt to control it. If you practice a calmer, more planned approach to life, you’ll set a great example.

Because most impulsive people are not aware that they are doing anything wrong, the first step is to create awareness. Strategies can be implemented once awareness has been developed.

The behavior-shaping component in the Play Attention program brings concrete awareness to people who want to understand how to control these impulsive behaviors. We specialize in teaching this behavior and welcome you to attend a webinar to see how this clinically proven method works to teach self-regulation.

More (and somewhat comical) videos of the Marshmallow Experiment:

Mature Marshmallow Experiment

Your attention experts are at www.playattention.com. 800.788.6786.




Behavior Shaping

Behavior shaping can be defined as encouraging a behavior that is wanted, like the ability to sit still in a classroom. It can also be defined as extinguishing certain behaviors, such as fidgeting or talking out of turn. In either case, we are changing behaviors to assist the person in becoming more successful.

Most people with ADHD, children and adults alike, often do not realize that they exhibit behaviors that affect their ability to pay attention. The first step in extinguishing behaviors not conducive to good attention is to actually show the person how certain behaviors affect their attention.

Since attention is an abstract concept, we need to begin by making attention concrete. Using the Bodywave armband, which reads brainwave activity, Play Attention makes attention concrete and controllable.  The user moves characters on a computer screen with their attention alone. In real time, they can see when they are paying attention and when they are not.

Behavior shaping is integrated into the Play Attention program to teach students how to extinguish distracting or disruptive behaviors. When an adult or child is using Play Attention, they are able to understand which behaviors affect their attention. For example, if the user taps his feet as a form of self-stimulation, the screen character will act adversely, giving them immediate feedback that they have lost focus.  The student now has a one to one correlation on how certain behaviors affects his attention.

By monitoring these behaviors and setting small goals to extinguish them, users are able to learn how to control these self-distracting behaviors. Over time the Play Attention learns how to better self-regulate and self-monitor.  The student can now recognize the unwanted behavior and control it at will.

Mike Smith, a Play Attention educational support advisor for over ten years, knows first-hand the benefits of behavior shaping when integrated into a cognitive attention-training program. “Families and adults that I work with are amazed at the impact that Play Attention has on helping with behavior shaping.” He goes on the say that many clients voice that they “never had a way to show how fidgeting or tapping affected attention. Finally, with Play Attention it was no longer me just telling him to stop. Now it’s right there on the screen! He can see how this behavior affects him in real time.  More importantly he knows he can control it!”

Smith, along with his team of educational support advisors, is very proud of his clients’ accomplishments. Thousands of children and adults have successfully graduated from Play Attention, and they continue to benefit from the cognitive training and behavior-shaping exercises integrated into the program.  Click here to see a demonstration of the behavior shaping program.

Helping Hands Provide Family Support!

Family Support 

– It takes a village to raise a child.

When you read this ancient African proverb, you can appreciate the sentiment that a child needs more than just the parents’ direction when growing up. It is important that the entire society is involved to nurture and meet the needs of the child.

Family support comes in many forms. It may come from a spouse, older siblings, a grandparent, teachers, a pastor, or a licensed professional. Parents need to feel they can reach out for help.

If you are a parent raising a child with ADHD, it’s even more important to ask for help when you need it. Here are some strategies to use when thinking about support:

  • Family units need to remain strong. If you’re in a marriage, divorced, or raising a child as a single parent, your family can be the greatest source of strength. Be sure to include friends, immediate family, and extended family members in your support circle. Even the smallest thing like an older cousin taking your child out to shoot some hoops while you clean the house is a huge help. While you’re tidying up, your child is exerting some of that never-ending energy and forming another family bond.
  • Daily support – Find support from a spouse or friend. This person should be someone you can talk to on a variety of difficult issues. It may be someone who is also raising a child with ADHD. Even if they’re not, it’s helpful to have someone to share your thoughts.
  • Divide and conquer – Don’t be afraid to divvy up responsibilities. Solicit the help of an older sibling, or a friend’s high school student to help with homework. Have a grandparent come over while you take a walk or go to the gym.
  • Keep things simple – To offset crazy schedules and hectic lives keep things simple whenever possible. For instance, once a week, serve a nutritious meal of “make your own sandwich,” along with a salad, served on a recycled paper plate.  This simplifies at least one evening meal.
  • Support from school – Talk to your child’s teacher often. Take time to discuss your child’s progress in the class and strategies you can use at home. A classroom teacher deals with many students with attention challenges. You can learn from their expertise.
  • Spiritual Guidance – You may choose to ask for guidance from a pastor that you have a relationship with. Meditation may also offer a way to de-stress and keeps one grounded.
  • Consult a professional – When a child or adult is diagnosed with ADHD, professional counseling may be recommended. When looking for a professional, be certain that person understands your outlook on ADHD. Look for a counselor that is willing to help the whole family. Since we know that it takes a village to raise a child, getting the entire family involved will lead to a greater understanding and a better chance of success.