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]





Could Adults’ Expectations Drive Up ADHD Diagnoses in Kids?


We have been discussing how parents’ attitude may affect their ADHD child’s severity and longevity. Recent studies show that ADHD has risen globally and that adults’ expectations and greater academic pressure could be reasons why.

“Reporting in the Feb. 22 issue of JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Miami point to evidence that the rise in ADHD diagnoses coincided with ever-growing demands on young children’s attention and focus.

10 year-old asian elementary schoolboy appears to be frustrated while doing homework.

Since the 1970s, the researchers said, elementary school children have been getting more and more homework, while preschoolers have spent more time in full-day programs—and getting coached in reading and numbers by mom and dad.

During those same years, the prevalence of ADHD doubled in the United States.

Of course, many other things have also changed since the 1970s, and it’s not possible to pin the rise of ADHD on any one trend, said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, associate director of the university’s Mailman Center for Child Development. His research letter only points to an association and not cause-and-effect.”

But, Brosco said, it makes sense that greater academic pressure would set the stage for more ADHD diagnoses.

“You may have a young child who has difficulty paying attention to boring things,” Brosco said. “That’s only a problem if you’re trying to force that child to pay attention to boring things.”

“In the U.S.,” he added, “we’ve decided that increasing children’s academic demands is a good thing. But we haven’t really considered the potential negative effects.”

A child psychologist not involved in the study agreed there’s a “plausible” connection between academic expectations and ADHD diagnoses.

It’s not that homework is causing ADHD, said Stephanie Wagner, an assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center in New York City.

ADHD is a “neurobiological” disorder, Wagner said, which means it’s brain-based, and not caused by environmental factors.

“But we do know that the environment can exacerbate symptoms,” she added.

So the more time that children with ADHD have to sit, do homework and have no freedom for play, Wagner said, the more difficulty they’ll have—and the more apparent that will be to adults.

According to Wagner, children with ADHD typically do best in environments where there are clear rules, plenty of hands-on lessons, and less “down time.”

In the United States, about 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 have ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health experts believe genetics might play a role in its development, as well as lifestyle behaviors like smoking or drinking during pregnancy.

Critics have long charged that some children diagnosed with ADHD are wrongly labeled as having a “disease” and given drugs they don’t need.

Recent decades have seen a number of trends that could feed the rise in ADHD diagnoses, Brosco said. Those include changes in how the disorder is diagnosed and aggressive marketing of ADHD drugs, Also, kids with ADHD are sometimes eligible for special education services that were not available in the 1970s, Wagner said. “So there likely are families who seek a diagnosis for their child, in order to help him or her receive appropriate services in school,” she said.

But, Brosco said, there has also been a shift in academic demands. Looking at government statistics and previous research, Brosco’s team found that between 1981 and 1997, U.S. children dedicated more and more hours per week to studying.

The biggest change was seen among 6- to 8-year-olds. By 1997, they were spending over two hours a week on homework, versus less than one hour in 1981.

Even preschoolers were feeling the pressure. By 2005, 77 percent of parents said they “frequently” taught their 3- to 5-year-olds letters, words and numbers. That was up from 58 percent in 1993.

It’s not that parents shouldn’t engage their preschoolers’ minds, Brosco stressed. But it should be done through play and connection, rather than lessons, he said.

“Parents should read to their children,” Brosco said. “That’s social interaction and storytelling.” The problem, he added, arises when parents use flashcards and other ways of pushing young children to “get it right.”

Another change, the study found, is that many more preschoolers are in full-day programs now—58 percent in the mid-2000s, compared with just 17 percent in 1970.

Brosco said there’s nothing wrong with full-day preschool, if children are playing and learning things that are developmentally appropriate—like how to get along with other kids. But some programs get into academics, he noted.

“At that age,” Brosco said, “what’s most important is free play, social interactions, using your imagination. We need to be careful that our demands aren’t making children feel like they’re getting it ‘wrong.’ We want them to love learning.” [1]

Does your ADHD child suffer from unfocused, inattentive behavior? We are here to help, attend one of our FREE Live Speed Webinars:


ADHD and Seasonal Affective Disorder


Are you SAD during the Winter Months?

This month we have discussed how diet and exercise can affect your ADHD symptoms. There is another disorder highly associated with ADHD and that is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

“According to the National Mental Health Association, the most difficult months for SAD sufferers are January and February, and younger persons and women are at higher risk. Many SAD individuals also have ADHD.”[1]

“As seasons change, there is a shift in our ‘biological internal clocks’ or Circadian rhythm due partly because of changes in sunlight patterns,” says Andrea Rogers, Supervisor for Intensive Outpatient Programs in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai. “According to Rogers, melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, is produced at increased levels in the dark winter months.” [2]

young woman in depression near the window

In the previous blog we discussed the different food groups and how they can help improve your ADHD symptoms. Below are nutrients that are mind and body boosters and can help with your ADHD/SAD symptoms.

Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9)

Increased intake of folate is associated with a lower risk of depression.

Folate is especially important for pregnant women, but everyone needs folic acid for production of cells. It is especially important for healthy hair, skin, nails, eyes, liver and red blood cell production.

Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains have high amounts of folate, or folic acid.

Vitamin D

Rates of depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D is thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression that commonly starts in the fall, lasts through winter and subsides in the sunnier spring and summer months.

Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium for strong teeth and bones, and the health of muscles and the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with heart disease and increased risk of heart attacks.

Most foods do not naturally have Vitamin D, but many are “Vitamin D fortified.” Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most naturally occurring Vitamin D. Other foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals have Vitamin D added.

Our bodies also produce Vitamin D as a result of being in the sun. Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure twice a week generally produces enough Vitamin D, with lighter-skinned people requiring less time than those with darker skin. Time in the sun beyond the suggested amounts above requires use of sunscreen to prevent skin damage and reduce risk of skin cancer. Vitamin D supplements may be used in fall and winter months.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some studies suggest that omega-3s may be helpful in the treatment of depression and seem to have a mood-stabilizing effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids may also help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and help young people with ADHD.

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be important in reducing inflammation, the primary cause of conditions like arthritis and asthma, and play a role in heart health by reducing triglycerides (blood fats). They may also reduce risk for certain kinds of cancer.

Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) are the most highly recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the American Heart Association suggests eating these types of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flax (or flaxseed oil), olive oil, fresh basil and dark green leafy vegetables.”[3]

Time just seems to slip away during the darkness of the winter months. Focus and attention along with organizational skills seem to falter as the days become shorter and the nights longer. You are not alone, Play Attention has written an eBook to help with Time Management:

Let Play Attention help you improve focus and attention during these winter months! Go to: and schedule a FREE consult at a time that best meets your busy schedule. Or, call 800 788 6786. Play Attention not only offers customized, individualized programs – full support is included in the program.





ADHD: Diet and Nutrition

Best Foods for Kids With ADHD

In our previous blog: ADHD and Food Additives, we discussed how certain types of diets may help to control ADHD symptoms and how sugar and gluten may worsen ADHD symptoms.

“Diet may play a significant role in managing symptoms in children with ADHD. Adding certain foods and nutrients that may boost brain function, eliminating foods that seem to worsen ADHD symptoms, and trying other diet and nutrition tips to improve your child’s diet may all help with ADHD.”[1]

Below, is a compilation of fruits, dairy, vegetables, protein, and food high in Omega 3, which may improve ADHD symptoms in children and adults as well.


“Apples are a great source of complex carbohydrates. Doctors have recommended that children with ADHD increase their intake of complex carbohydrates. Eating these types of foods right before bed has also been known to help children sleep better. An apple a day will keep your ADHD symptoms at bay. Much like apples, pears are a good source of complex carbohydrates. Similar to apples and other complex carbs, eating pears at night can help aid sleep. Much like oranges, apples and pears, kiwis are an incredible source of complex carbohydrates.

x-ray image of human head with vegetables for a brain.

Eating oranges or grapefruits – and drinking 100 percent pure orange juice – are both great ways to add more complex carbohydrates to your diet. These foods are known to help aid with sleep (falling asleep can be very difficult for kids with ADHD) and are a great source of Vitamin C as well.


Cheese is a great source of protein and protein. However, many who suffer from ADHD suffer with a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance, which can exacerbate  ADHD symptoms. If you suspect you or your child has an allergy to cow’s milk/dairy, try switching to goat cheese instead to improve concentration and improve how ADHD medication works.


Spinach is one of the most effective vegetables when it comes to controlling ADHD symptoms in children. Doctors often recommend leafy green vegetables and spinach is most definitely at the top of that list.


Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to significantly decrease ADHD symptoms in many children. Tuna is a phenomenal source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to tuna, nuts are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and Brazil nuts have been shown to have the most impact when managing ADHD symptoms but other types like almonds are a great alternative as well.

Eating salmon at least once a week will help alleviate some of the symptoms your child might be experiencing from ADHD. Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. White fish is a great way to incorporate more Omega-3 fatty acids into you and your child’s diet. If you’re eating too much salmon (or simply looking for an alternative or addition to salmon) white fish is a great option.


Eggs are also a great source of protein. Protein is essential in maintaining a balanced diet and controlling symptoms in children and adults with ADHD. Much like cheese, eggs will improve concentration and increase the time ADHD medications work. Beans, much like cheese and eggs, are a great source of protein as well.

Chicken boasts countless health benefits but the biggest nutritional factor when it comes to chicken is the amount of protein. Most kids love chicken and there are countless ways to incorporate it into your weekly meal planning. Adding protein to your meals will improve concentration and will increase the time ADHD medication works.

Lastly, we’d like to mention cereals. Whole grain cereal can be a very healthy breakfast option for kids suffering from ADHD but there are a few key things to remember. First, you’ll always want to choose multi-grain options. Instead of normal Cheerios, choose multigrain. Secondly, you’ll want to avoid cereals with artificial colors and artificial sweeteners. What does that mean? It simply means opt for kinds like Corn Flakes and Fiber 1 instead of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms.

We need to stress this: Every person is different and will react to certain foods differently. Some people have allergic reactions to certain types of food (dairy etc.) which can trigger ADHD symptoms. It’s always best to talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to diet.”[2]

Play Attention realizes that all individuals with ADHD are different from one another and require different needs. Play Attention not only offers customized, individualized programs – full support is included in the program.

Call: 800 788 6786 for more information or attend one of our FREE upcoming Speed Webinars to learn more.








Memoirs of an ADHD Mom

I need help.

I realize this as I sit and stare with confusion at the 10 red plaid, ear flap hunting caps that lay on my kitchen table.red_plaid_cap_sm

Why are they there? Because they caught my eye as I was holiday shopping, and I thought they’d be a funny gift to all the men in my extended family – for a family photo shoot or something… I don’t know. Why did I buy them? Does anyone need them? Do I really have the hundred dollars I spent to buy them? I went in to the store to buy one Lego set for my son and came out with almost a dozen of these hats.

Agh! Impulsive shopping and the holidays.  It happens every darn year. I can’t seem to go into a store without coming out with a thousand things I don’t need or going way over my budget. If I use a credit card, it’s almost like “out of sight out of mind,” and I can buy whatever I want and figure it out later.

Any ideas or help out there for me before I wind up in the poorhouse wearing my red flapped hunting cap?


Warning: Common Core Standards & Your ADHD Child

What the new state mandates mean

While the Common Core Standards mean big upcoming changes, you can be ahead of the curve. We’ll have a special webinar shortly and we’re also giving away a FREE Samsung Galaxy Tablet with Play Attention. The tablet is loaded with Core Standard apps to help your child perform at his best. Specifics for the tablet and webinar are at the end of this post or just register at

The state governments have yet another program in place to better our education system. It’s called the Common Core Standards (remember No Child Left Behind?). According to, the standards were established “To ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.”

Forty three states have adopted the Core Standards that, “The new standards also provide a way for teachers to measure student progress throughout the school year and ensure that students are on the pathway to success in their academic careers.”

How these are implemented depends on your state. It is likely that your state has a website devoted to addressing the Core Standards. Find it and then review what this means to your ADHD child, his/her individualized education plan (“IEP”), and accommodations.

Register Now to attend our special 30 minute webinar on March 23rd at 11:00 AM EST. Learn how our educational specialists will help you select apps for your Galaxy Tablet that will enhance your Play Attention experience! We even have apps selected that will address the common core standards!

You can register at:

Your ADHD experts are at, 800.788.6786 or

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 800.788.6786.




Autism is a Spectrum of Disorders

To read Dr. Gina M. Carucci‘s bio please visit:

Autism is a spectrum of disorders that some 30 years ago was unheard of.  In the mid 1980’s autism was diagnosed at a rate of 1 – 10,000.  Today we see the rate of diagnosis at 1 in 50 with boys still more likely than girls to be diagnosed.  What has happened for this rise in diagnosed cases?  Theories abound:  vaccines, toxic food and environment, over use of antibiotics, genetics etc.  The reality is that a combination of these variables is responsible in most cases.  As parents, healthcare providers, teachers and coaches we all play a different role in the lives of these children.  As a healthcare provider myself, my approach is from the side of “function.”  Is the child’s body and brain getting what  it needs to function optimally and is something getting into this child’s body and brain which is interfering with its ability to function optimally.

As a chiropractor first and a functional medicine doctor second I always look to the spine first.  Aligning the spine for optimal neural communication and expression is primary.  There are a variety of chiropractic techniques which can achieve this goal.   In fact, from a functional neurological perspective, I often recommend parents to consult with a chiropractic neurologist to optimize the brain’s connections with the  body.  As you know,  these kids are often “qwirky” – hypersensitive to touch, sound, taste, smell,  textures.  Often there are amplification of signals reaching the brain that can be dampened by a functional neurological examination and treatment.  Google “chiropractic neurologist” to find a doctor of chiropractic specializing in this discipline in your area.

As a functional medicine doctor I then consider the nutritional side of the child.  This involves a thorough history from the parents and caregivers regarding the pregnancy, birth, post-natal period and life from infancy to present.  This includes medications the mom was exposed to including vaccinations, vitamins, exercise and traumas during pregnancy.  The nutrition of the child is very important and often includes a food diary to include breast feeding history, formula feeding, when the first solid food was introduced and what it was.   Additionally the food diary should include what the child eats and what his/her most favorite food and most desired foods are.  A list of the child’s vitamins and supplements and medications are important.  Food sensitivities, leaky gut, dysbiosis (imbalanced gastrointestinal bacteria), inflammation of the gut and brain, poor detoxification abilities, mitochondrial dysfunction (genetic) and immune imbalances including auto-immunity are all considerations for these children.

Various laboratory tests will help to identify the above issues to determine if the child is getting the nutrients the body and brain needs as well as to determine if there is a toxic overload in the brain or body.  Example:  leaky gut will allow improperly digested materials to exit the digestive system too early – often these items will enter the brain and act as irritants.  Gluten and casein are quite often two of the most common culprits.  Having the child remove these from his or her diet for 3 months will give an indication if these items are part of the problem.  These foods as well as soy will often cause sensory issues, silliness, poor eye contact, inattention, stimming activity, head-banging and other self-injury behavior.   Seeking the consultation of a functional medicine doctor can help unlock the mystery around your child’s behavior, health, sleep patterns, potty habits and social ability.  For chiropractors specializing in functional medicine go to  “” select “Find a Doctor” on the left hand side.

Dr. Gina M. Carucci is a chiropractor with a specialty in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics and a second specialty in Internal Disorders.  She can be reached at:  gina@,