The ADHD Family

Tips for Parents

We know family management can be challenging, especially when you or your children struggle with ADHD.  Below you will find some helpful tips to assist you with the day to day.  Also check out Nanny’s Circle, our complete family management app.  Give Nanny 20 minutes a week, and she’ll take care of the rest!

  1. Take care of yourself so you’re better able to care for your child. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, find ways to reduce stress, and seek face-to-face support from family and friends as well as your child’s doctor and teachers. If you are lashing out in anger because you are overtired or stressed, then you are contributing to the problem.
  2. Establish structure and stick to it. Help your child stay focused and organized by following daily routines, simplifying your child’s schedule, and keeping your child busy with healthy activities.
  3. Set clear expectations. Make the rules of behavior simple and explain what will happen when they are obeyed or broken—and follow through each time with a reward or a consequence. Consistency is key.
  4. Encourage exercise and sleep. Physical activity improves concentration and promotes brain growth. Importantly for children with ADHD, it also leads to better sleep, which in turn can reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
  5. Help your child eat right. To manage symptoms of ADHD, schedule regular healthy meals or snacks every three hours and cut back on junk and sugary food.
  6.  Teach your child how to make friends. Help him or her become a better listener, learn to read people’s faces and body language, and interact more smoothly with others.

Also, we have a new tool called FOCUS. It is a computerized measurement of “Attentional Control”, i.e. an individual’s capacity to choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Attentional control is the ability to remain focused on goal-relevant stimuli and information in the presence of potentially interfering distractions (visual and auditory).  FOCUS tests, administered by our certified professionals, can help pinpoint areas of weakness in a client’s Attentional control. Furthermore, we can use that information to help customize their Play Attention plan. The FOCUS assessment in conjunction with the Play Attention suite, brings structured practice of Attentional control, behavior shaping, and neurofeedback technology comfortably within your family’s reach.

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.

[1] http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/health/kids-treated-for-adhd-can-still-struggle-in-school–especially-girls-8816124

View study cited in articl: Educational and Health Outcomes of Children Treated for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2624340

Understanding the 504 & IEP Process

504/IEP So many Questions, So Little Time…

When it comes to getting the right classroom accommodations for your child, there is a sea of information. It can be an intimidating and confusing process for parents.

If your child is struggling in the classroom, they may qualify for accommodations. Students with one of thirteen disabilities are eligible for an IEP, which is the more formal of the two. A student can qualify for a 504 plan if they have any disability that affects their ability to learn.

One of the main differences is the way that each is developed. An IEP is constructed following a strict set of guidelines. To get an IEP, participants must meet two requirements. The first is that they must be formally diagnosed with one of the thirteen disabilities listed by IDEA. These disabilities range from dyslexia to traumatic brain injury. The second requirement is that the disability must affect the child’s academic performance and their ability to learn in a traditional classroom setting.

A 504 plan was actually developed from section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act established in 1973. The Rehabilitation Act is a national law that ensures that an individual cannot be discriminated against because of a disability. It offers equal opportunity for those with disabilities to thrive in a classroom setting. To get a 504 plan for your student, they must have a disability. This can include attention or learning disabilities. The disability must impair the child’s ability to learn in a conventional classroom setting, therefore accommodations are needed for a student to have a chance to be successful.

Another difference that stands out is the way that each is developed. An IEP is developed by a specific team that includes the parents, special education and general education teachers, a school psychologist, and a district representative. All members must be present during the development of the plan and at annual meetings. The plan must be approved by the parents, and cannot be modified without parental consent. The IEP team must review the plan annually and make modifications as needed.

A 504 plan is more loosely structured. In fact, it doesn’t have to be in written form at all. It can simply be strategies and accommodations developed to increase success in the classroom. There are no specific guidelines. However, most 504 plans include what accommodations are being given to the student, who is going to provide the service, and who is going to ensure that the plan is implemented.

In either case, there is an evaluation process. Parental consent is required before a student can be evaluated. Parents can request that the school district pay for an independent education evaluation (IEE), but they don’t have to agree. Parents do have the right to pay for an outside evaluation, but the district does not have to consider it when devising a plan for your child. If you’re seeking an outside evaluation, it’s best to consult with the school psychologist. They should have a list of approved evaluators and are more likely to consider the results if it’s done by someone on this list.

The Educational Support Advisors at Play Attention have a wealth of knowledge and resources available to you about the 504/IEP process. We are also accredited to provide the FOCUS assessment. If you would like an attention assessment conducted with your child that will report your child’s strengths and weaknesses, please contact us at 800-788-6786. The FOCUS assessment results can often be used to help design your child’s IEP or 504 plan. We can also use the FOCUS assessment results to further customize your Play Attention plan. Click here to learn more about the FOCUS assessment.

Play Attention teaches the learning skills that are often set as objectives within the student’s IEP or 504 plan. Attend our upcoming webinar to learn more.

Memoirs of an ADHD Mom

Every Sunday we post, Memoirs of an ADHD Mom, on our Facebook page. Be certain to read weekly, as Kate shares her real life stories as a mom with ADHD. This week – Love is in the air!

It is easy for all of us to complain about our issues, to talk about the things we don’t like about our ADHD or our children’s ADHD. It disrupts our lives, makes us work harder, causes turmoil.

But not this week! No, this week we are celebrating Valentine’s Day, the day of love. It’s time for us to talk about all the things we love about our ADHD. C’mon let’s celebrate it!

My ADHD makes me spontaneous and a risk taker. I am up for anything. Therefore I have had more experiences than a lot of people. I have gone on spur of the moment road trips, taken jobs I wasn’t necessarily prepared for, jumped from the highest rope swings I could find into the river below – the list goes on and on.

I am super generous. I give my time and support to all of those around me.

I think my ADHD makes me very funny. I can entertain a crowd and entertain myself. I crack myself up every day.

I struggle in a lot of areas and have a lot of things go wrong, so when the slightest thing goes right, I truly appreciate it. I celebrate the little things every day.

My son’s ADHD makes him so compassionate. He cares about everyone he meets. When we are in public, he is constantly looking at people to see how he can help. He will carry your grocery bags, open your door, or just give you that huge smile you need.

He loves legos and has the ability to hyperfocus on creating the most amazing structures you’ve ever seen.

He is always there to provide a fresh, new perspective on things. When his brother and sister are discussing a problem or issue, they typically have similar thoughts. But Mitchell, with his “out of the box thinking”, is always there to provide a new way to look at the issue.

This is the short list. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we fail. But we also excel in areas others may not.
Love me, love my ADHD. What do you love about ADHD? Post what you love on our Facebook page.

Attend our upcoming webinar.

Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It is commonplace for everyone to make New Year’s resolutions, however, adults with ADHD can experience frustration by not following the “list” of their resolutions for the following year.

In an effort to eliminate that frustration and improve the likelihood of keeping your New Year’s resolutions follow a simple process throughout the year.

Although New Year’s resolutions are “Life Changing” start with a simple task, such as cleaning out a closet, taking a ten (10) minute walk each morning, or organizing your important papers.

Make a list of your resolutions and each day keep notes under each item. Reflect on the event and memorialize your activity which relates to a success. As you progress you will believe you can achieve the goal and you will! Don’t rely on an excuse to avoid the resolution, such as, I must go shopping, it’s raining outside, and I just want to sit down! Each time you consistently undertake the resolution you change your behavior and success will follow.

By starting with small tasks, you will experience success by following through each day, next year your resolutions can be more “life changing” as you have experienced success in completing your New Year’s Resolution of the past year.

This is a process and you will build your confidence from your past year’s achievement!

Play Attention can help you develop the skills you need in order to reach your goals this year. Be more focused, more productive, and more successful in 2017 with Play Attention. Attend our webinar to learn how to get started.

Memoirs of an ADHD Mom

Join Kate, a real ADHD mom, as she addresses the principals . . .

Dear All Principals of All the Schools My Children Have Ever Attended,

     Let me introduce myself. I am the parent that consistently brings their child in late. I’m the one running through the door after first bell – my child trailing behind me dragging their half opened backpack eating breakfast on the go. I’m the one you give the ‘stink-eye’ to when you see me in the hallway. I’m the one whose child gets sympathetic glances from you that seem to say, “Poor you….your mom doesn’t care enough about you to get you here on time. Tsk,tsk…what a pity.” I’m the one you write the attendance warning letter to every spring. Anyway, Hi! Nice to meet you. I’m Kate.Kate_SM
     Can I tell you that any day I even get all three of my children to school is a win for me? If I get at least two out of three there on time, it’s a bonus win. All THREE to school ON TIME? Well, then I consider myself a gold medal finalist.
    Now, I love my kids. They’re delicious to me and I enjoy every minute with them, but to get them all out of bed, help find their clothes for the day, pack lunches, find shoes, let me repeat, find shoes, and get them all to their respective buses on time? Well…to ADHD me, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest every morning (without a Sherpa).
     You see, first I have to remember every day what time each one has to get out of bed, which is like…impossible. Then I have to remind myself not to get sidetracked by the stories they tell over their bowls of cereal. Then, I have to remember not to get sidetracked by the stories I tell them over my bowl of cereal. And so on..and so on…By the time we get to looking for that one shoe that is MIA, we hear the bus rumble by. “The Twinkie, mom! The Twinkie!” my son will yell. (Get it? Big and yellow and shaped like a…yup, Twinkie…Are my kids the only ones who even know what a Twinkie is anymore?)  Anyway, we’ll all run to the door to see the bus driver give us a sad little wave as he drives the Twinkie by our house yet again.
    So, dear principal, unless I receive a Sherpa for Easter, our relationship will most likely remain the same – you’ll give me the ‘stink-eye,’ and I’ll be pumping my fist that I got at least some of my kids to school today.
   Nice to meet you. See you tomorrow. (After first bell, of course)
~Kate

 

How to deal with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Learners

 

Written for teachers and parents as well, this article expounds upon the essentials of schooling a child with ADHD. The lecturer also accentuates the importance of communication between parents and teachers to ensure an appropriate leaning environment. She concludes by stating the key factor for handling an ADHD child – PATIENCE.*

“You probably have these kids in your class: their eyes gawk at everything else but you. Even if you used super glue, they wouldn’t be able to keep their bottoms in the chair. I am talking about those students whose hands go up before the question is asked, and will answer the question, ‘Who can tell me what a noun is?’ with ‘Mrs. M, do you dye your hair?’ They solely display the hallmark symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It gets more frustrating with the knowledge that the brainpower is there but just can’t seem to focus on the material you’re working diligently to deliver.

In spite of your patience and motivation, such students can easily arouse frustration in you. Most teachers end up reprimanding or even punishing them, not knowing that attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) is an undeliberate disorder. Students with ADHD pay the price for their problems in low grades, scolding and punishment, teasing from peers, and low self-esteem. Meanwhile, you, the teacher, wind up taking complaints from parents who feel their kids are being cheated of your instruction.

A child doing his homework in the witchen table

The ultimate question then is: how do you teach a kid who won’t settle down and listen? The answer: with a lot of patience, creativity, and consistency. As a teacher, your role is to evaluate each child’s individual needs and strengths. Then you can develop strategies that will help students with ADHD focus, stay on task, and learn to their full capabilities.”[1]

Concentration is crucial to learning. Play Attention’s staff is composed of teachers and parents who’ve had the same kinds of experiences you’ve had. We’ve taught children who couldn’t focus in class, fidgeted incessantly, or couldn’t make friends.[2]

“Teachers at schools must understand the struggle a student with ADHD goes through and make certain that an ordered, safe, predictable classroom environment is set for such students. Educators should equally establish a gallant, working relationship with the student’s parents. Learn about their child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and achievements outside the school.

Similarly, teachers should be aware of the teaching methods which are most effectively used at home by the parents. If teachers can communicate often and send encouraging notes home so that the parents are aware about the progress of the child, the results would be remarkable. However, it must be said that this depends on the mutual aid of the parents.

Further still, you can decide together on a sign or a code that you can use to remind the child to focus on the task. For example, make eye contact with the child or pick up a particular object to signal the child for attention.

Nonetheless, this can only work if they are looking at you. With their inattentive tendency, you may have to call on them most of the time to get their attention.

Teachers should avoid criticizing the child in front of his or her peers. Instead, they can use a point system, tokens, stars, or other methods to reinforce and appreciate appropriate behavior in the classroom. Notice and provide feedback on any improvement, however slight, in the areas of behavior and academics to the parents.

One other important thing that teachers should see to is giving directions in simple, concrete terms and simplifying instructions, tasks and assignments. Always get the child to complete one step before introducing the second step. Divide lessons into relatively short segments and use a variety of teaching aids such as movie clips, audio lessons, and group workshops to reinforce the child’s interest in the lesson.

Besides, you can also modify required homework to accommodate students who are severely impacted with ADHD. Avoid giving them long home or class assignments. Pause before asking questions or ask the inattentive child a question to gain his or her focus. Always Use the student’s name while addressing a question to him or her. Walk around the room and pat the child gently on the shoulder or tap the place in the child’s book that is being read to help him or her stay focused.

Seat the ADHD child in close proximity to you and in the area that has the least amount of distractions for example doors, windows and naughty students. Watch for signs of increasing stress in a hyperactive child. You may want to reduce the workload or provide an opportunity for the child to release some energy. For example, have the student assist you in carrying books to the staff room, minding the class, or running errands for you. Provide opportunities for physical activity. Choose the hyperactive child to hand out note books ,collect assignments or do other classroom jobs that can help release pent up energy and contribute to his or her feeling of self-worth.

Dear Teachers, ADHD children can perform better within a familiar, consistent, and structured routine at school with positive reinforcements for good behavior and subtle consequences for bad. Communication between parents and teachers is especially critical to ensuring an ADHD child has an appropriate learning environment. The key factor for handling such children is PATIENCE.[3]

*  Christine Osae: lecturer at The Adventist University of Central Africa.

[1] http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-03-09/197805/

[2] http://www.playattention.com/solution/focus/

[3] http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-03-09/197805/

 

Fidgeting May Help Students with ADHD Learn

Have you ever wondered why your ADHD child acts like the energizer rabbit? Well, so do the researchers. “We don’t know whether they do it to help or because they are anxious, or whether it is helping,” Interesting but inconclusive article read on to learn more…

“MONDAY, Feb. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Students who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often get into trouble for fidgeting in the classroom, but that fidgeting may help them learn, new research suggests.

‘The prevailing view has been and continues to be that hyperactivity is a core deficit in ADHD,’ said study author Michael Kofler, an assistant professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. ‘When we think of it as a deficit, we are saying it’s a bad thing and it’s interfering [with schoolwork]. Our work has been challenging that thought.’

Little cute active girl with key on back

Kofler’s team gave 25 boys and girls with ADHD, aged 8 to 12, a series of working memory tasks, observing the amount of fidgeting as the children did them. In one set, the students had to remember where a series of dots appeared on a screen and then reorder them mentally, based on color. They had to then remember a series of numbers and letters, mentally reordering them, numbers first from smallest to biggest, then the letters.

In the easier test of dots on a screen, the children knew in advance how many items they would have to remember. In the more difficult test, the amount of items they would have to remember was random so they didn’t know in advance how many items they would have to remember.

The children fidgeted during all the tests, but fidgeted about 25 percent more when they couldn’t predict how many items they would have to remember. The tests were alike in every other way, so Kofler said this shows that demands on working memory affect the level of hyperactivity in ADHD students.

The fidgeting may increase ‘physiological arousal,’ Kofler speculated, similar to what stimulant medication does for a child with the disorder. But the study didn’t prove that point, he said, and the researchers don’t know if the kids were fidgeting on purpose.

The study was published online this month in the Journal of Attention Disorders.

The findings echo some from a study published last year from the University of California, Davis. Researchers there looked at 26 children with ADHD and 18 without. They found that when the children with ADHD fidgeted more, they did better on a test. Fidgeting among kids without ADHD had no effect on test performance.

Dr. Trevor Resnick, a pediatric neurologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, said, ‘We’ve known [intuitively] for many years that kids with ADHD often do better when they are fidgeting.’

However, Resnick said, the interpretation of why they fidgeted more has not been proven. ‘We don’t know whether they do it to help or because they are anxious, or whether it is helping,’ he said.

Kofler agreed, saying his team next plans research ‘to link the movement with the arousal and the performance, to see if we are right about that is why the movement is helpful.’

Meanwhile, until more is known, students with ADHD should not have free rein to do what they want in the classroom, Kofler said.

But the new study does suggest that teachers and parents should focus less on whether a child is sitting still and more on whether the work is getting done, regardless of the movement level, he said.[1]

You should be aware that not all fidgeting is conducive to learning.  Some movements are simply self distracting behaviors that the students tend to start when they become bored or anxious.  Play Attention’s unique behavior shaping tool can actually detect which behaviors help a student’s attention and those that simply interfere.  Check out our unique, patented behavior shaping program that is integrated throughout Play Attention, http://www.playattention.com/solution/behavior/[2]

[1] http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2016-02-29/fidgeting-may-help-students-with-adhd-learn

[2] http://www.playattention.com/

Memoirs of an ADHD Mom

Join Kate, a real ADHD mom – what should I do!!! AGH!!!!

Well everyone, guess what I just found?

A stack of letters my mother asked me to mail out for her 4 MONTHS AGO!!! Good Golly! What do I do now?Kate_SM

I feel like I’m in that episode of Seinfeld where George forgot to mail out the wedding invitations and we all know how that ended! Seriously, what do I do?

My mom always has a cause and right now, her cause is helping women in prison. So…long story short, the letters are thank you letters the prisoners wrote to the people who helped them in November. IN NOVEMBER!!!

So…Do I fess up, call my mom and tell her that, yep, once again, I messed up? She already thinks I’m a wreck. Do I send the letters and cross my fingers no one mentions the late arrival to my mom? Do I hide them in the back of my closet? Will I be the next one in prison? My mind is racing!!!

I remember the day I was going to mail them very clearly. I even went to the post office. Of course, once I got there I noticed the really cute decorated mailing boxes for Christmas and I happily went right up to the counter and bought a few of those. I went home so excited about those darn boxes!  Letters completely forgotten in my bag.

I should just walk around with a sign on my forehead that reads, “Help me. I have ADHD. Please don’t count on me for anything.”

Any advice?

~ Kate

ADHD News & Updates: Study Suggests Drug Ritalin Makes No Long-Term Difference for Kids with ADHD

Time for a New Approach?

Although Ritalin has been a mainstay in the day-to-day treatment of ADHD symptoms, much debate continues whether the drug provides long-term benefits for children.

“A new study suggests that long-term drug Ritalin makes no difference to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to Sydney Morning Herald,[1] a research team at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has found that ADHD children who are treated with Ritalin continue to struggle mentally and academically as they get older.

For three years, the research team has been following 212 children without ADHD and 178 children with ADHD. The aim of the study is to identify the factors that make a difference to the development of children with ADHD.

Adorable five year old African American Girl and mother having an argumentAccording to Ten Eyewitness News[2], the Children’s Attention Project funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council has found that by the age of seven, children with ADHD show severe mental, social and academic differences compared with their peers. Preliminary findings suggest that these disparities persist three years after the start of the research.

Four times as many ADHD children aged 10 years old suffer from mental health problems such as oppositional disorder and anxiety. Children with ADHD are also well behind their peers in their reading and mathematical abilities. The study did not find differences in outcomes between girls and boys.

One of the chief investigators of the project, pediatrician Daryl Efron, said that all of the children with ADHD continued to be at risk of mental health and academic problems at 10 years old, just like when they were seven years old. At age 10, those children in the study under Ritalin medication for ADHD were not doing better than their peers not taking the medication. This suggests that Ritalin medication doesn’t improve the long-term outcomes of children with ADHD.

Dr. Efron cautioned that drugs like Ritalin can be very effective in reducing the day-to-day symptoms of ADHD, helping children to be calmer and more focused. However, the treatment options for ADHD haven’t progressed very much beyond treating day-to-day symptoms. Medical researchers need to find a better approach to ADHD in the future to make a real long-term difference.”[3]

[1] http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/no-evidence-ritalin-makes-a-difference-long-term-for-adhd-kids-20160311-gngmeb.html

[2] http://tenplay.com.au/news/national/march/study-reveals-the-truth-about-ritalin

[3] http://www.parentherald.com/articles/28101/20160314/adhd-news-updates-study-suggests-drug-ritalin-makes-difference-long.htm