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.

The Importance of a BFF

Everyone wants to have friends. At an early age, forming friendships allows a child to develop a multitude of skills needed throughout life: teamwork, cooperation, sharing, dealing with conflict, competition, etc.

If your children or clients are struggling with ADHD, they may need your guidance to help develop successful, long-lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help.

Keep Play Groups Small – One or two friends at a time will allow your child to be successful without being overwhelmed.

Form Friendship GroupsTeam Esteem is an organization based out of New York. Run by social workers and psychologists, their goal is to create an environment for children with behavioral, social, and academic challenges. Attitude Magazine says that if your child is having a difficult time forming friendships, a friendship group may be the answer. The article also goes on to caution parents that running the group themselves is not the best answer and should be left to professionals.

Plan Play Dates – Scheduling specific dates for playtime allows your child with ADHD to prepare for the event. It gives you an opportunity to discuss and role-play different scenarios. It also gives you an opportunity to plan what will happen during the play date. While not completely controlling the event, you’ll want to have some clear ideas on what will go on.

Control The Environment – Your child may be bursting with energy. Let them exhaust some of that energy during the play date by kicking a soccer ball with their friend, playing an informal game of basketball, or swimming in the pool. Then, after the little tikes are worn out, provide a snack and a quiet movie. This will help them transition into the next activity calmly.

Deflect Boredom – Play dates that are too long can lead to boredom. It’s important that these end on a high note for everyone involved. An hour after school is certainly adequate to get in some socialization without throwing nightly routines off. You can increase that time to a couple of hours on the weekend. Making an entire day of a play date may lead to disaster by forcing your child with ADHD to be on their best social behavior for far too long.

Positive Reinforcement – After friends go home, talk to your child about the play date. What did they like? What didn’t they like? What made them feel good about their friend? Be sure to provide positive reinforcement for things they did well. “I liked it when you shared your bike with Jimmy and let him ride it first.”

In his book, The Friendship Factor, Dr. Kenneth Rubin explores the impact of friendships on a child’s emotional, social, and intellectual growth. After 25 years of research, Dr. Rubin put his findings on paper to better prepare parents with helping their children form friendships.

If you’re looking for a children’s book, check out Making Friends. Written by American icon, Fred Rogers this book is intended to teach preschoolers about friendships and social skills.

Learn how Play Attention can help your child develop better social skills.

Sibling Relationships

Sibling Relationships

Being the sibling of someone with ADHD can be challenging. Children with ADHD are often creative, energetic, and always out for a good time. About Health’s ADHD expert, Keath Low, offers some great advice for helping form strong relationships with siblings. Low isn’t far off the mark when she states, “ADHD has an impact on all family members. Living with a brother or sister with ADHD can evoke a wide range of emotions in siblings.”

Here are some tips for helping sibling relationships:

  • Take time out to spend quality time with your non-ADHD child. Let them know they are special and helpful.
  • Let your child learn about ADHD. Provide age-appropriate materials to help with the learning process. Young children can learn a lot from Katy’s Secret, an ADHD Story.
  • Teach your child techniques on how to develop a good relationship with their ADHD sibling. Practice role playing to help children learn how to cope. Keep it positive. Use encouragement and kindness when you see siblings getting along. Be there when your child needs to vent.
  • Keep home life structured. All children flourish when things are predictable. Predictability and ADHD are like oil and water, so it’s much more important that you adhere to routines to keep consistent.
  • Make sure all siblings follow rules. Rules should remain simple so everyone easily recalls them. Making compensations for an ADHD sibling can cause resentment and feelings of being treated unfairly.
  • Be patient. If you are constantly on edge and irritated with your ADHD child, their siblings may pick up on this behavior. If they see you helping in a kind and loving way, they will learn the same.
  • Find a support group. CHADD is a nationally recognized support group for anyone struggling with ADHD. Social media weighs in with a multitude of ways to get support. Communities like ADHD Kids Care provide support for parents and families. Twitter holds its own with blasts about where to get help for ADHD.

For more information on Fostering Positive Relationships, attend a FREE webinar hosted by ADHD expert Dr. Shane Perrault. Attend Shane Perrault’s,Ph.D., webinar on Thursday, February 26th @ 11:00 AM EST. Topic: Raising an ADHD Child: Strategies for Turning Towards (instead of on) Each Other. 

 

Let’s Make a Meal!

Earlier in the month, we explored starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Then we looked at providing a lunch that would sustain your child with ADHD throughout the school day and help avoid the afternoon slump. Now let’s take a look at involving your little one in the meal making process.

For some of us, meal preparation comes naturally. We feel we can beat even the best home cook on Gordon Ramsay’s television show, MasterChef. However, some of us dread the thought putting together the evening meal for the family. Whether you can easily put together the perfect well-balanced meal or struggle to put something edible on the table each night, we all have to start somewhere.

The good news is, just like any other skill, cooking can be taught. And just like cognitive training for people struggling with attention, you’ll get better the more you practice.

Cooking with someone with ADHD can be a challenge. With short attention spans, things will have to be kept simple and quick. Also, keep in mind that nutritionists recommend a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates while keeping the diet low in refined sugars.

Here are some quick and easy recipes that will provide the right nutrition and start your child on the road to becoming a great home cook.  You will find that cooking with your child can be a great learning experience.  Your child will learn critical skills such as planning, time management, counting, fractions, money, weighing, measuring, and problem solving!

When my children were growing up, I started teaching them to cook at an early age. We started with simple things like making toast. Then we graduated to helping stir things (this gets a little messy, but be patient, it gets better). Eventually I tasked each of my sons with planning and helping prepare one meal a week for the family. Be prepared, you may be eating hot dogs with mac and cheese at first, or maybe PB&J, but this too shall pass.

As time went on, they both became more adventurous with their meal prep and it actually became a friendly competition on who could come up with the better meal. I have to say that after a couple of years, their meals were better than mine at times.  Plus it gave me a break from having to come up with something for dinner.

For teenagers, you can take it a step further. The Food Network’s show Chopped features chefs having to prepare meals from five random ingredients given to them in a basket. Imagine how fun it would be to give your budding chef random ingredients, and have them create a meal in an hour? On the show, the chefs are faced with some strange ingredients, for instance chicken in a can, or gummy worms paired with a pork loin. So be careful what you put in your mystery basket—remember you have to eat it!

For more information on health and nutrition Click Here

Watch Play Attention’s recorded webinar on nutrition here

 

 

 

Paging Dr. Pepper: Is soda a treatment for kids with ADHD?

Paging Dr. Pepper: Is soda a treatment for kids with ADHD? The Meadville Tribune ran this story earlier this month. The author says, “New research has found the Dr. Pepper may be a good option to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus. In children with ADHD, that stimulant tends to act as a behavioral control. What is interesting about the brand Dr. Pepper is that it is one of the most caffeine-rich drinks available on the market. It contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, as well as phosphoric acid, a compound that interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc — minerals that children with ADHD need the most.” (http://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/lifestyles/paging-dr-pepper-is-soda-a-treatment-for-kids-with/article_423a82a2-9556-11e4-83a9-ffe6670cc3a3.html).

Some parents actually give their children coffee, but according to Dr. Larry Silver, MD, “Caffeine is a stimulant, and people have long wondered whether it could be used to treat ADHD. But two major studies have shown that caffeine is not an effective treatment. While some of the children in these studies did report less “sluggishness,” caffeine can cause agitation and an increase in heart rate in young children — even more of a concern for kids already taking a stimulant medication. Thus, any benefits your friend’s son receives are probably outweighed by health risks.” (http://www.additudemag.com/…/ask_the_add_medical_…/1564.html). As a parent, you should be aware that while caffeine may provide a short-term effect, it will wear off quickly, most likely while your child leaves you and goes to school. This may prove to be a problem at school. The amount of sugar in soft drinks is also a health issue related to obesity. Overall, as Dr. Silver notes, it’s not a good idea even if it provides a short-term solution.

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today
Get an answer from an occupational therapist

Read the full post at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/08/why-so-many-kids-cant-sit-still-in-school-today/

We wanted to run this again for those who’ve missed it. Very good information. Additionally, this article is now further substantiated by recent research published in the journal Pediatrics which says that children who participated in regular physical activity had far better cognitive performance and brain function. The authors, University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues say their research, “demonstrate[s] a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.” Yet, schools cut PE and recess out. Read on…

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, wrote a blog post for the Washington Post. She asserts that the general trend of more seat work and less physical education and recess could be culprits.

A pediatric occupational therapist says schools keep kids in their chairs far too long.
washingtonpost.com

Have a Happy Healthy New Year

Have a Happy Healthy New Year
By Barb Rollar

When considering the diet of a child who struggles with AD/HD, there are numerous foods that can exacerbate the symptoms. Just like a food allergy, incorporating certain foods can be a trigger. Here are some simple tips that will help your child.

  1. Organic is best – By removing hormones and antibiotics that are often injected into animals, and pesticides used in growing vegetables, you’re improving the quality of the food going into your AD/HD child’s body. For more information on a healthy diet for someone with AD/HD visit http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-diets
  2. Remove processed foods – The human body is designed to break down food, take in nutrients, and eliminate waste. In other words, it’s designed to process food. If you put food that is already processed into the body, it has little to do. Therefore, metabolisms become sluggish. When you put foods into the body that it can break down, it functions properly.  In addition, most processed foods are high in sugar and salt, contain food dyes, and are high in carbohydrates, all which has been proven to trigger AD/HD symptoms. For more information on foods to avoid, visit http://www.activebeat.co/diet-nutrition/managing-adhd-15-foods-to-avoid/?utm_source=bing&utm_campaign=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_keyword=adhd%20diet%20for%20children
  3. Food Dyes, flavoring and preservatives – When purchasing food, read the labels. You’ll be surprised at the number of food dyes, flavoring and preservatives are in the foods we buy. My rule of thumbs was that if any ingredient started with the letter “x,” or if I was unable to pronounce any ingredient, it went back on the shelf.
  4. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store – If you think about the layout of your typical grocery store, the perimeter is where the healthiest foods are. Most grocery stores have the produce section, meat, deli, and dairy sections along the perimeter. The interior of the store contains aisles laden with high sugar content foods, processed foods, and lots of carbohydrates.
  5. Having a healthy diet may help alleviate some ADHD symptoms. Combining a healthy diet with attention training with Play Attention can be a powerful combination. Visit www.playattention.com

For more information on various food topics, visit http://www.playattention.com/category/adhd-diet/

 

ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Drugs, & Alcohol

ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Drugs, & Alcohol
New study sheds light on this alarming link

Read More: http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/12/11/young-teen-adhd-conduct-disorder-substance-abuse/78495.html

It’s not difficult to find ADHD teens who participate in risky behavior that includes excessive alcohol, drug, and tobacco use. Throw in conduct disorder and lives can spin even further out of control.

Conduct disorder is an emotional/behavioral disorder that (PsychCentral.com) involves specific repetitive behaviors. “These behaviors fall into four main groupings: aggressive conduct that causes or threatens physical harm to other people or animals, nonaggressive conduct that causes property loss or damage, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules time and time again.”

A new study by The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence links ADHD with conduct disorder, drugs, and alcohol.

They study examined data on more than 2,500 teens between the ages of 12 and 15. The scientists found that a teen with both ADHD and conduct disorder was 3 to 5 times more likely to use drugs and alcohol, and begin use at an earlier age than a teen without either disorder.

If the teen had ADHD alone, they had an increased likelihood of tobacco use, but not alcohol use.

“Early onset of substance abuse is a significant public health concern,” says William Brinkman, MD, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s lead author. “Adolescents who use substances before the mid-teen years are more likely to develop dependence on them than those who start later. This is why prevention is so important.”

Impulsivity and Calling Out in Class

Impulsivity and Calling Out in Class
Is it effective for ADHD kids?

The Journal Learning and Individual Differences published research titled ADHD and academic attainment: Is there an advantage in impulsivity?

Read More: http://dro.dur.ac.uk/9246/1/9246.pdf

Dr. Peter Tymms, DurhamUniversity’s (http://www.dur.ac.uk/) leading education expert, analyzed test scores spanning more than 500 British schools and found that ADHD students who shouted out answers scored better than their quiet peers.

Scores were significantly better; louder ADHD students were about nine months ahead of quieter classmates in reading and math. Tymms says the findings raise questions about how best to teach youngsters with ADHD.

Prof Tymms said, “Children with ADHD symptoms who get excited and shout out answers in class seem to be cognitively engaged and, as a result, learn more. Perhaps those children also benefit from receiving additional feedback and attention from their teacher.”

For most teachers, having children shout out answers in a classroom setting is not practical; other children don’t have time to reflect and then think of an answer. Shouting often interrupts the thinking process. However, research tells us that ADHD children who shout out answers in class often learn quicker than their quieter schoolmates.

Tymms’ study also seems to suffer from the problem of antecedence (think chicken and egg). Do these children do better because they call out, or do these children call out because they are cognitively ahead of their peers and are bored?

Is there a middle road? Perhaps setting a game format for review of classroom material in which it is fair to call out answers would assist ADHD children in learning quicker (think Jeopardy). At home, parents could allow their child to call out answers when doing homework.

This also raises the question whether we should teach ADHD children to be able to control their impulsiveness and to think before acting regardless of their cognitive abilities.