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.



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


Set Up Routines

Set Up Routines

When dealing with a child with AD/HD much success comes from setting up routines and sticking to them. It helps establish consistency and lands expectations. Many times your AD/HD child may know what needs to be done, but has a hard time prioritizing the tasks at hand.

It’s important to understand that it takes time to set up routines that are consistent and become ingrained. Normally, changes in behaviors take 21 to 30 days before they become habit.

Think about a routine that you tried to establish for yourself. If you were successful, it’s probably because you established the routine, executed on it, and were consistent.

So let’s just say you’re setting up a morning routine for your child. As it stands now, things are chaotic in the morning, always looking for the lost shoe, homework left in the bedroom, teeth rarely brushed, etc. To establish a consistent routine, you may want to start with a checklist. It may look something like this:

√  Eat Breakfast

√  Get Dressed

√  Brush Your Teeth

√  Make sure everything is in your backpack

Keep things simple. Set your child up for success. If your checklist includes too many things—like make your bed, make your lunch, etc.—and your child doesn’t have time to do them, you’re setting them up for failure.

It’s important to understand that a checklist is designed to successfully get them to the goal, which in this case is getting ready for school.

Since mornings are hectic, it’s not recommended that you overload it with chores that can be done after school. Just focus on what is needed. The only other thing you may want to add is:

√  Watch TV when 1-4 are completed.

You’ll be amazed how quickly and efficiently the list gets completed.
To learn more about establishing routines in conjunctions with cognitive attention training for people with AD/HD, register for a webinar with world renowned attention expert Peter Freer on January 12, 2015.

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.

Auditory Processing Problems & ADHD – Part 4

Huh? What did you say?

Auditory processing is a skill. It can be increased by using techniques and technology. The following can help you increase auditory processing skill:

1. The game Simon Says is perhaps one of the easiest, fun exercises that can help stimulate processing of auditory information. Set aside time to play with your student or child. Start simply; work one on one initially in a non-distracting environment. Use simple commands and then progress to more complex commands over time. The immediate feedback and reward inherent in Simon Says makes this game a powerful tool.

2. Create flashcards. For example, a card might say, “Jan read a book under a tree.” Read the card to the child and let them view the card. Then ask, “Where did Jan read the book?” Start simply and then progress to more complex scenarios over time. Progressively wean off the visual component (card viewing) once basic mastery has been obtained.

3. Play Attention has games for auditory processing, auditory processing for school, auditory processing for home, and auditory processing for the office. 800.788.6786. http://www.playattention.com/adhd/auditory-processing-school/

You can gain significant improvement using these exercises and technology. Starting simply and working one on one initially in a non-distracting environment is essential.

ADHD Organizational Tips for the New School Year

ADHD Organizational Tips for the New School YearIn a new school year, auditory processing is the first point of failure for an ADHD child. When the teacher says, “Take out your textbook, a sheet of paper, and a pen, then turn to page 38,” your child likely won’t have heard anything after, “Take out your textbook.”

This is due to their brains’ inability to process multiple auditory pieces of data. Play Attention has 4 different games that teach this ability (see http://www.playattention.com/adhd/auditory-processing/).

You can try this strategy with younger children:

1. Make a game of it, just you and your child. Simon Says is a perfect way to get them to understand their capabilities and weaknesses. Begin by just saying, “Simon Says…” and then performing one simple posture. For example, you say, “Simon Says,” and then touch to your nose. Be certain your child can follow. Then increase the complexity to two movements like touching your head with your left hand and patting your stomach with the right hand.

Attempt this with auditory prompts that start with one command and then increase. Eventually, you should try to trick your child into a move that you don’t command. For example, you say, “Simon Says, stand on one foot and put your hands on your head.” However, you place your hands on your stomach. This will train your child to follow auditory cues instead of visual prompts which are seldom used at school.

Offer prizes when your child reaches certain benchmarks you both agree to attain!

Auditory Processing I | Play Attention
The Auditory Processing exercise develops your ability to follow directions. Your goal is to gradually increase the number of auditory sequences of information you can absorb, process, and carry out.

Top 5 Summer Activities to do with your ADHD child

Top 5 Summer Activities to do with your ADHD child
For more information: www.playattention.com
1. Avoid the summer “brain drain”. Children typically lose 1 to 4 months of academic gains made the prior year over the summer. It may be worse for AD/HD children. Play fun games with your child that enhance memory and attention. These games may include:
• Play Attention (attention, memory & behavior shaping)
• Concentration Card Game (memory)
• ISpy (attention)
• The Sims (computer game/critical thinking)
• Fun Remedial Games (either on the computer or board games)

2. Enroll your child in an event or summer camp that he/she would enjoy to boost self esteem. Churches and community centers offer inexpensive summer camps in painting, drawing, crafts, and more. Libraries offer reading camps too. While your child improves academically by participating in events that require math and reading, you’ll be able to get a personal break!

3. Set a structure. It is easy to become very unstructured during the lazy days of summer. It is important to keep in mind that your AD/HD child performs better when structure is set and expectations and consequences are known. Some tips to ensure structure:
• Post the schedule for the day with quality time and activities
• Use both visual and verbal reminders
• Provide lots of positive reinforcement for a job well done
• Make consequences clear and consistent
• Get on-line Nanny help from ADHDNanny.com at

4. Encourage physical activity and avoid too much computer and TV time. Activities such as karate and dance are great activities for your AD/HD child as they both require psychophysical integration. Believe it or not, a large body of scientific evidence tells us that physical activity promotes learning. That’s right; the brain tends to learn more when the body is active.

5. Plan lots of outdoor activities. AD/HD children often reduce their symptoms when exposed to outdoor activities. Make certain that you get your child involved in the planning process.

ADHD Attention Deficit Training Neurofeedback Tool | Play Attention
What is Play Attention? Play Attention was developed by a teacher who faced the same struggles you’re facing right now.

Introducing Dear Sheer Genius

Dear Sheer Genius,

We are pleased to introduce our new advice column, Dear Sheer Genius. This advice column will be sent out every week and we invite all of you to write to our very own attention specialist, Sheer Genius. You may write Sheer Genius and ask questions about Play Attention, attention problems, education, behavior shaping, parenting concerns, peer relationships etc.!

Sheer Genius is here to help!

Who is Sheer Genius?

Sheer Genius is the virtual member of the Play Attention family. His outstanding knowledge and experience is incorporated into Play Attention to help guide you through our program every step of the way!

How do I submit a question?

To submit your question please click here or email sheergenius@playattention.net. If your question is selected you will receive a personal email from Sheer Genius and your question/answer will be posted on our website as well as our Facebook page. We will only use your first name if you provide it.

Sheer Genius looks forward to hearing from you!

Photo: Introducing Dear Sheer Genius,
We are pleased to introduce our new advice column, Dear Sheer Genius.  This advice column will be sent out every week and we invite all of you to write to our very own attention specialist, Sheer Genius.  You may write Sheer Genius and ask questions about Play Attention, attention problems, education, behavior shaping, parenting concerns, peer relationships etc.!
Sheer Genius is here to help!
Who is Sheer Genius?
Sheer Genius is the virtual member of the Play Attention family. His outstanding knowledge and experience is incorporated into Play Attention to help guide you through our program every step of the way!
How do I submit a question?
To submit your question please click here or email sheergenius@playattention.net.  If your question is selected you will receive a personal email from Sheer Genius and your question/answer will be posted on our website as well as our Facebook page.  We will only use your first name if you provide it.
Sheer Genius looks forward to hearing from you!

Long-Term Use of ADHD Medications Changes Brain Function

What every parent and adult needs to know

Report By: Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Read the full article: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0063023

For many years, dopamine, a neurotransmitter (a brain chemical that transmits a message from a brain cell to another brain cell), was thought to be primary culprit in ADHD. Dopamine plays a major function in the brain as it is responsible for reward-motivated behavior. A plethora of studies have shown rewards increase the level of dopamine in the brain. This is what makes us motivated to get rewarded. Many drugs, including cocaine, Ritalin, and methamphetamine, act by amplifying the effects of dopamine. Too little dopamine means greater distractability and riskier behavior as the brain constantly seeks ways to increase its dopamine levels.

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory published a study in the journal PLOS One examining levels of dopamine in ADHD patients who had never taken stimulants. They reviewed dopamine transporter density. Transporters actually filter dopamine away from its receptors in the brain. More transporters means less dopamine (and therefore less bang for the reward). Transporter density was determined through PET brain scans.

Initial scans found no differences among their small population of 18 adults who suffered from ADHD but were never treated for it. This group was then treated with Ritalin. After a year, the researchers discovered that dopamine transporter density increased by 24 percent. What this study found was in fact what many parents have discovered during their child’s use of medication; taking ADHD medication may change the brain’s chemistry so that the effects of the medication are reduced over time. To accommodate this, one’s pediatrician or medical doctor will often increase the dosage due to drug tolerance.

More questions than answers arise due to this research. Here’s what’s now on the table:

* Medication is commonly taken over many years. The researchers are not sure whether the brains would return to their original state if they stopped taking the drug.

* Other studies have indicated that increased levels of dopamine transporters in the brain could be used as a diagnostic marker for ADHD — a way to screen for ADHD. This research tells us that long-term use of stimulant medications like Ritalin may actually cause these increased levels. So increase levels is not a good biomarker.

* Long-term effects are now questionable; will the medicated person constantly need more risk-associated behaviors including drug use as the effects of medication are reduced over time?

“In this study, we only proved that increased dopamine transporter levels cannot be used as a biomarker,” Wang said.

One of the patients in Wang’s study who had never received ADHD therapy was having difficulty in college and in her marriage, but she loved to paint. After taking medication she did better in school and with personal relationships, but she lost her creative drive, Wang said.

Crossing the Delaware from Play Attention!

Another funny episode of Inattention Theatre called Crossing the Delaware. Inattention can change everything!


Crossing the Delaware
Another funny episode of Inattention Theatre. What would George do?