why People With ADHD Struggle in Relationships

For many, February is the month of love.  We focus on the people we care about and find ways to express our feelings. Perhaps you are in a relationship as an adult with ADHD. Or you are in a relationship with someone who has ADHD.  You may even be a parent trying to help your ADHD child with friendships. All of these situations can be very challenging.

Children with attention challenges generally struggle with keeping friends. They are not always able to pick up social cues that allow them to have successful friendships. For instance, your child with ADHD may say something to hurt another child’s feelings, but lacks the attention to see the sadness on the other child’s face. Therefore your child has no idea he has offended someone. No learning takes place and this behavior continues.  Before you know it, your child is coming home complaining that he does not have any friends.  And he has no idea why or how to fix it.  He simply thinks everyone is against him.

Play Attention, a cognitive feedback based program, has an activity that directly addresses teaching social skills. Through a series of attention enhanced activities, a child or an adult can start simply by focusing on a blank card.  Once the student is fully attentive, the card will be completely exposed.  If the student loses attention, the card begins to disappear.  Once the student is fully attentive, the expression on a person’s face is seen.  The student must match the feeling associated with the expression. For example, the picture may be of a little girl smiling with three word choices: happy, sad, angry. The steps get incrementally more challenging and will eventually teach the student how to respond if a person has a certain expression on his/her face.

While simplistic at the onset, teaching social skills takes foundational practice. Teaching an ADHD child to slow down long enough to actually see the expression on another’s face is the start.

What happens to those of us who were not taught social skills as a child? Many struggle with relationships as an adult as a result. Whether you are the person with ADHD, or you’re in a relationship with someone with ADHD, you are bound to face many challenges.

Attitude Magazine recently ran an article, “10+ ADD Relationship Tools for Lasting Love,” which explores the tools needed to have a loving relationship with someone struggling with attention issues. In this article author, Jonathan Halverstadt, states that in the beginning there are “strong and wonderful feelings — but you need much more to make an ADD relationship last.” Instead of falling into an “all you need is love” scenario, Halverstadt offers suggestions for your relationship “tool box.”

One of the first things that he explores is managing the symptoms. In the relationship, the ADHD person must take ownership of the symptoms and actively manage them. Many of the skills he talks about are addressed with the Play Attention program.

If you are a parent, or an adult, or love someone who struggles with attention, I encourage you to attend an informational webinar with ADHD Expert, Peter Freer. The webinar is FREE and Peter will address all your questions and concerns about ADHD relationships.

 

 

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.

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is claimed to be the most important meal of the day. Yet research shows that 31 million US citizens skip this meal every day. Reasons vary from not enough time to weight loss. With growing brains and bodies, children need to continually refuel their bodies for good development. Research shows that children who eat breakfast come to school on time and are more successful.

How often do we get up and pour our favorite cereal into a bowl for our child or ourselves. While convenient, this sugary concoction may exacerbate the symptoms of AD/HD. It makes simple sense that adding sugar and carbohydrates may give that initial burst of energy, but that’s not exactly what one wants for someone who has a difficult time controlling their behavior.

Many authorities find that a breakfast high in protein is most beneficial for people with attention challenges. In her article in Additude magazine by food and nutrition researcher Laura Stevens offers her take on the benefits of the right breakfast for people with AD/HD.

Click here to attend a free, health webinar on Thursday, January 22nd @ 11:00 AM EST.
Topic: Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health.  Combating the A’s with Nutrition:  Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger,  & Academic challenges.

So how does one create the perfect protein breakfast on an already hectic morning? There are many ways to incorporate protein. Some easy make-ahead ideas can be found on the Internet. With a little planning, these high-protein breakfast ideas become “grab and go” for hectic weekday mornings.

It makes sense to start each day in the best possible way. What we put into our bodies is closely related to how we perform throughout the day, but diet alone is not the complete answer to the test. Cognitive attention training along with a healthy diet will create long lasting results when battling AD/HD. Play Attention, the world leader in feedback-based attention training, along with a high protein breakfast, will set anyone up for success.

Barb Rollar

 

The Importance of Exercise

The Importance of Exercise

Childhood obesity is an ever-growing concern in our country. Many articles have been written substantiating the need for regular exercise for children over six years of age. In his article, Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, offers some great suggestions.

With the introduction of “off the shelf” video games, there has been an alarming increase in cases of childhood obesity. It is the norm for a child to come home from school and plop themselves in front of the TV for hours on end, with the only exercise happening is the thumb muscles on a controller.

Dr. Thomas N. Robinson, who works in the MPH Division of General Pediatrics at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention in California, and is a member of the Pediatric Clinics of North America, points out the connection to television and obesity in his publicized study, “Television Viewing and Childhood Obesity.”

Many parents consider organized sports to be the form of exercise that is best for their child. While it certainly has its place, unorganized exercise is equally as important. Back in the day, the kids in our neighborhood couldn’t wait to get home from school to ride our bikes or throw a neighborhood football game together. After being cooped up in a classroom all day, we couldn’t wait to get outside and play. On her website, Emma Jenner, a trained childcare professional with 14 years of experience, explores the pros and cons of structured and unstructured play.

When you’re looking at a person struggling with AD/HD, it’s important to understand that asking that person to sit in a classroom or an office all day is like caging a lion. At some point, they need to get out and exert some of that pent up energy. Encourage your child to shoot some hoops each day after they get home from school, or stop by the local gym on your way home and work off some of the cobwebs.

Many people who have AD/HD and play organized sports struggle staying focused. Picture your favorite Little League player in the outfield playing with their shoelaces and not paying attention to the high-flying ball coming their way that will win or lose the game for the team. This player has lost focus on the game because they are “out in left field.” Just as with any other form of attention issues, it is possible to teach this player to focus where he/she needs to be. Many sports teams, including the US Woman’s Olympic Bobsled Team and NASCAR, have used Cognitive feedback training to help keep team members more focused.

When all is said and done, it’s time to get up off the couch. Incorporate at least an hour of exercise into your child’s schedule each day. Or for that matter, do it together. Take a bike ride, take a walk, shoot some hoops, play hopscotch. Whatever it is, just do it.

Barb Rollar

 

Martial Arts: Great Activity for ADD Children

5 reasons martial arts might just be a great activity for your ADD child:

  1. Exercise.  Though there are many mysteries surrounding attention challenges, one constant that almost all experts agree on is that physical activity helps.  Not only does it allow a child to burn off excess energy, it improves their overall health and well-being.  Children who exercise are shown to be happier in general, are more adapt at concentrating, and often sleep better.
  2. Camaraderie.  While the martial arts are generally not team sports like baseball or soccer, there is a substantial amount of social interaction.  Often students pair up to practice their techniques, and this shared experience often builds bonds of friendship.  On a larger scale, the class as a whole is collectively engaged in an endeavor that every member can identify with, allowing a child who might otherwise have difficulty socially, to “fit in.”
  3. Discipline.  One characteristic that is prevalent in almost every traditional martial arts school is discipline.  It is engrained in the culture of styles like Tae Kwon Do Karate and Kung Fu, with an emphasis on self-discipline above all else.  Being able to master one’s mind and body is paramount to learning the numerous punches, kicks and katas common in most schools.
  4. Confidence.  The martial arts often put a child in situations where they are challenged to excel, and success in such venues breeds confidence.  While this is true of many endeavors, the martial arts are unique in that an individual is taught to defend themselves if need be, and this often translates into a greater amount of confidence in situations that have nothing to do with self-defense.
  5. Patience.  Many children with attention challenges have a tendency towards impulsivity, but most martial arts schools adhere to a very structured training regiment, thus curbing impulsivity out of sheer necessity.  Also, since martial arts training is often done in a group setting, an attention challenged child is among others who also must be patient to succeed.

 

Michael Smith

 

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.”

Holiday Dress Rehearsal

Holiday Dress Rehearsal
Practice behavior and manners before your visit

You hope that all will go well on the way to grandma’s house. Things go well in the car, but as the door opens at her house, your child turns into a Tasmanian Devil! A whirling dervish of mayhem that grates on family members and causes you unneeded embarrassment and stress. Here are some tips that can help prevent your child turning into a Tasmanian Devil.

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule. You and your child can sit together in a quiet place and draw a timeline with pictures. Start with a drawing of your car at your house with the time you’ll be leaving placed just below the car. Mark a point on the timeline where snacks will be eaten, where you’ll stop for lunch, take a restroom break, etc. Encourage your child to document your trip on the timeline including sights along the way, unique cars they see, towns you pass, etc. This gives your child structure, a sense of participation, and keeps him occupied.

2. New or different environments can cause rambunctious behavior. It can be difficult for your child to control himself with the added excitement of the holidays. To minimize inappropriate behaviors and maximize holiday cheer, rehearse the event before hand. Assign family members a part in the rehearsal; you and your child will play yourselves. Select one other family member to play the role of the friend or family member whose house you’ll be visiting. Brainstorm with your child Act I, Act II, Act III, and Act IV. Act I, driving to person’s house. Act II, being greeted at the door and spending time with the host prior to dinner. Act III, dinner. Act IV, activity after dinner and goodbyes. For each Act, discuss expectations and timelines. After this discussion, you should act out and rehearse each part of your ‘play’. Take the opportunity to redirect when behaviors are inappropriate and provide positive feedback when your child displays desired behaviors during your rehearsal. An interactive dress rehearsal will allow your child to develop a clear understanding of expectations over the holidays.

3. Use a secret code. A word like “snowball” or a gesture like touching the tip of your nose can be your secret code to your child that means they need to adjust their current behavior. Allowing your child to practice this during your dress rehearsal can be fun and will keep you from having to yell or discipline your child in front of family.

4. Make the most of your child’s talents. Recite a poem, do magic tricks, take care of a younger child, present the host with some artwork they did while waiting for dinner, set the table, or sing holiday songs.

5. Prep other family members you’ll see over the holidays, and ask them to provide positive praise for good behavior. This can make a world of difference.

Remember this is a very exciting and stimulating time. If you have a child that is easily overexcited, the holidays can easily exacerbate this. A little preparation clearly defining your expectations can lead to a far merrier and less stressful holiday season.