Max Passed the Gifted Test!

Max Passed the Gifted Test!

Play attention helped my son Max (age 11) to improve his short-term memory and processing speed — the two important characteristics that kept him from from passing the gifted test. In spite of the the general opinion that short-term memory is something given and inherited, I was looking for ways to work on it. It was our goal to get Max into the gifted program at school. I was lucky to find Play Attention and its variety of games that help kids to get focused, stay focused and ignore distractions.


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Max passed the gifted test! | Play Attention Play attention helped my son Max (age 11) to improve his short-term memory and processing speed — the two important characteristics that kept him from from passing the gifted test. In spite of the the…

Can ADHD Meds Boost Grades?

What the long-term data reveal may surprise you

Reported in the Wall Street Journal:

In June, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a study that examined ADHD medication usage over 11 years and the educational outcomes of nearly 4,000 students in Quebec. The researchers found that boys who took ADHD drugs actually performed worse in school than those with a similar number of symptoms who didn’t take meds.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The possibility that [medication] won’t help them [in school] needs to be acknowledged and needs to be closely monitored,” says economics professor Janet Currie, an author on the paper and director of the Center for Health & Wellbeing, a health policy institute at Princeton University. Kids may not get the right dose to see sustained benefits, or they may stop taking the medication because side effects or other drawbacks outweigh the benefits, she says.

A central question puzzles those researching ADHD: If its drugs demonstrably improve attention, focus and self-control, why wouldn’t grades improve as well?

The medication’s ability to improve concentration and attention may even backfire when it comes to studying.

Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania who sits on the American Academy of Neurology committee that is drafting new treatment guidelines, recalls a student saying that after she takes her medication, she heads to the library. If she keeps her head down and studies, she gets very absorbed in her work and accomplishes a tremendous amount. But if a friend stops by, she becomes equally engrossed in the chat. Many students report they find themselves absorbed in cleaning their rooms rather than studying.

The National Bureau of Economic Research is a non-profit organization without any agenda on ADHD.

So Is My ADHD Child Covered by Section 504?

Your child may qualify to receive accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 states that:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].

Under Section 504, students qualify if they are between ages 3 and 22 and have a disability [34 C.F.R. §104.3(k)(2)].

So, the next question is, does ADHD qualify as a disability? The federal law states that:

“An individual with a disability means any person who:

i. has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity;

ii. has a record of such an impairment; or

iii. is regarded as having such an impairment” [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].

Does ADHD qualify as an “impairment?” This is the gray area in which ADHD seems to fit well but allows wriggle room for schools. Under Section 504, impairment may include any disorder or disability that “substantially” reduces a student’s ability to access learning in the educational environment because of a learning or behavior related condition.

The wriggle room for schools is that the law is always subject to interpretation. So, every school interprets and implements Section 504 differently. Since ADHD has no physical manifestation like epilepsy or cerebral palsy, it is a hidden problem. Compounding this is the fact that many educators still believe the myth that poor parenting causes the problem or that by giving the child medication, all will be solved without need for accommodation at school. Therefore, under these circumstances, the onus is not on the school, they believe, it is on the parent.

Unfortunately, Section 504 does not define a list of specific disorders (again wriggle room). Obviously, that list would have to be highly comprehensive and definitive.

Also, ADHD would have to affect “major life activities” Major life activities do include, among a variety of other things, concentrating (ADHD), learning, sitting, working, thinking, and interacting/cooperating with others. Many of these major life activities are often affected by ADHD. So, your ADHD child may be included, but the school must agree that some of these “major life activities” substantially limit your child’s education.

So, does your ADHD child qualify for section 504? The answer is, yes – most likely. It should be apparent to you that the law has left a large gray area for interpretation in some cases. 

Remember this: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Squeak loud, know your rights, and document everything. You should be able to make good headway with this approach.

Play Attention Excels in a Controlled Study

In late 2009, the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom performed a study on Play Attention. Children in the school system near the university used Play Attention 3 days per week for twelve weeks.  Also see:

We’ll discuss this study at our free webinar on January 13th. Please register here to attend.

These students were compared to a control group of students who did not use the system.  Play Attention students showed significant improvement in behavior and attention. One of the authors of the study said:

“Children with a diagnosis of ADHD find it hard to control their impulses and inhibit inappropriate behaviour,” said Professor Pine, “This can lead to educational and behavioural difficulties. The Play Attention method may prevent long-term problems by helping the children to be less impulsive and more self-controlled.”

The study will be published in a peer reviewed journal shortly.  The full press release from the University of Hertfordshire:

New Treatment for Hyperactivity in Children

07 January 2010 Hertfordshire, University of

A new thought-operated computer system which can reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children will be rolled out across the UK this month.

Professor Karen Pine at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology and assistant Farjana Nasrin investigated the effects of EEG (Electroencephalography) biofeedback, a learning strategy that detects brain waves, on ten children with an attention deficit from Hertfordshire schools

They used a system called Play Attention, supplied by not-for-profit community interest company, Games for Life, three times a week for twelve weeks.

The system involves the child playing a fun educational computer game whilst wearing a helmet similar to a bicycle helmet. The helmet picks up their brain activity in the form of EEG waves related to attention. As long as the child concentrates they control the games, but as soon as their attention waivers the game stops.

The researchers found at the end of the study that the children’s impulsive behaviour was reduced, compared to a control group who had not used the system.

“Children with a diagnosis of ADHD find it hard to control their impulses and inhibit inappropriate behaviour,” said Professor Pine, “This can lead to educational and behavioural difficulties. The Play Attention method may prevent long-term problems by helping the children to be less impulsive and more self-controlled.”

Professor Pine and Dr Rob Sharp a senior specialist educational psychologist are continuing to work on futuristic projects with Ian Glasscock, Managing Director of Games for Life. A means of assessing learning in children with
severe communication and physical difficulties by a thought-controlled computer game method is likely to have considerable potential for these children who cannot operate a computer manually.

“Attention-related difficulties including ADHD affects many children, young people and adults and has a significant impact on their lives,” said Mr Glasscock. "Mind-controlled educational computer games technology is the only intervention shown to reduce the core symptoms of ADHD, historically medication may have been prescribed for the child.”

Games for Life plans to roll out this new system across the UK this month.

ADHD & Fetal Development


Obviously, being pregnant can be stressful in itself, but current research shows that stress can affect fetal development which may lead to long-term problems including ADHD.

Dr. Vivette Glover of Imperial College London, surveyed pregnant women at her hospital. Of these, nearly one quarter felt anxious and depressed due to stressors including work, money, arguing with spouse, and moving to accommodate a larger family. When compared to their non-stressed counterparts in this research, the babies of the stressed mother had lower birth weight, lower IQ, slower cognitive development, and more anxiety. Lower birth weight has been an indicator for coronary heart disease in later life.

In 2007, research in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry indicated that being stressed during pregnancy is as detrimental for the baby’s development as smoking or being obese. Glover’s research reveals why and how this happens: stress produces the hormone cortisol. An abundance of stress can actually diminish the barrier enzyme that inhibits cortisol from reaching the fetus. Costisol impacts fetal brain development.

According to Glover, “People used to think that if something was congenital, apparent at birth, it had to be genetic. In fact it can be an in-vitro reaction of genes and environment.”

Glover also contends that her research shows stress greatly increases the likelihood of a child having ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), cognitive delay, autism , anxiety and depression. 

Glover’s research reinforces previous data from the UK where stress was shown to increase the risk for development of ADHD. In that research, the women who experienced the most stress doubled the chances of developing ADHD.

“The organs are forming during the first trimester of pregnancy, but the brain is developing all the way through,” Glover explains. “The organs are sensitive while they are forming and, once formed, they are harder to change.”

“In evolutionary terms, stress perhaps prepares the child for survival in a stressful environment. If a child is anxious and has attention deficiency, it will be very alert to danger. This may once have been adaptive, beneficial for the child, but it isn’t any more,” Glover says.

Significantly, Glover’s research implies that the changes may be on a genetic level so that it may be passed on generation to generation.

Therefore, it’s important to realize that taking care oshutterstock_3753070f ourselves during pregnancy is more important now than ever. Small efforts like seeking health services early, meditating, eating a balanced diet, taking pre-natal vitamins, and laughing are good practices.

Minimizing stress by maintaining a consistent schedule both at work and at home is a good idea.