Attention Problems and Behavior Problems

Attention Problems and Behavior Problems
What’s the connection and can they be fixed?

For an ADHD child who’s experienced failure or frustration at school, has a difficult time making friends, cannot process multiple step instructions, and who likely has poor self-esteem, defiance or misbehavior seem inevitable.

The off switch or filtering in their brains works differently, so they often have impulse control issues and a frequent lack of control over what they blurt out. Couple that with failure and frustration, and you have the perfect storm. No matter what you do; punishment, coaxing, bribing, yelling, pleading etc. don’t seem to work.

Play Attention not only teaches attention by making it concrete and controllable — Play Attention students can move screen characters by mind alone via BodyWave technology — but also teaches a variety of skills that make them successful at school or work. These successes greatly improve behavior.

Additionally, and this is important, since they can see their attention in real time, Play Attention makes it readily apparent that misbehavior negatively affects their success during game play. Success is predicated on their ability to stay in control and attentive. It’s simple to correlate this to being a classroom superstar. Play Attention students learn to self regulate or control their own behavior. This is the basis of the behavior shaping program built into Play Attention (it took us over 5 years to develop it).

The scientists and doctors of the prestigious Tufts School of Medicine researched Play Attention in Boston area schools over five years. They sent independent observers into the classroom to monitor students in their study of Play Attention. The observers were blinded to the students; they didn’t know anything about them but were required to monitor their behavior. Even though the students had been labeled ADHD with behavioral problems, the Play Attention students showed significant self-control — even 6 months after the study was completed! Never underestimate what your child can learn. We at Play Attention know there is an intelligent person hiding behind the defiance and frustration. Our goal is to set him free.

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Attention Problems: What Can Be Fixed?

Attention Problems: What Can Be Fixed?
You can do far more than you’d think.

Can’t pay attention. Can’t finish homework. Trouble with social skills. Intelligent, but doing poorly at school or work. Struggling with behavior.

Our brain is our greatest asset, but what do we do when it doesn’t function optimally? Are we stuck? No.

The brain is incredibly moldable. Scientists refer to this as neuroplasticity. It constantly rewires itself based on its exposure to the environment. Learn multiplication tables? The brain rewires itself. Learn a new word? The brain rewires itself. Learn karate or to play the piano? The brain rewires itself. We’ve known this for many years. We know how this works even down to the molecular level. Do we apply it to attention problems? No. Odd isn’t it?

Attention is a skill. So, how do we teach it? It’s relatively easy to teach multiplication tables; you can use things like flashcards, blocks, and other tangible things. Attention is intangible; we cannot see it or touch it. That’s what makes it difficult to teach as a skill. It’s almost impossible to improve attention unless it becomes tangible.

But what if you could see attention? What if attention were concrete and controllable right in front of you? You could learn it quite easily — attention problems or not. That’s what Play Attention does; it uses brain sensing technology that allows you to control the computer by mind alone. You can move objects on the screen by your attention and learn other skills that make you successful.

Three incredible randomized, controlled studies done by Tufts University School of Medicine demonstrated that we can improve attention, behavior, social skills, and even homework skills. Play Attention is the 400 pound gorilla of attention training. It’s been around for over twenty years now. That’s an old gorilla with a heck of an attention span. You should come to a webinar and see it in action. There’s one tonight at 8:30 EST. See you there.

http://www.playattention.com/seminars/

A Little Play Attention Goes A Long Way

A Little Play Attention Goes A Long Way

Additude Magazine

To Read more: http://www.additudemag.com/adhdblogs/19/10697.html?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=April

A Little Neurofeedback Goes a Long Way www.additudemag.com
One more study shows that controlling brain waves…

Play Attention Rocks New Study

Research shows Play Attention to be highly effective

To read more: http://www.playattention.com/clinical-studies/

Once again in a randomized, controlled, long-term clinical study performed by the prestigious Tufts School of Medicine, Play Attention has shown to be highly effective.

The results are published in the Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, this month. Play Attention (NF in the article) was tested in 19 Boston area schools and pitted against cognitive training (brain games) and a control group. Here are the high points from the researchers:

“Parents of children who received NF [Play Attention] training reported significant improvements in attention and executive functioning…Parents of children who received cognitive training (CT) did not report significant improvements compared to those in the control condition.

The parent-reported improvements of participants in the NF [Play Attention] condition on the learning problems subscale might reflect important generalization of skills to the academic setting. It is noteworthy that parents of children in the NF condition did not seek an increase in their children’s stimulant medication dosage, although these children experienced the same physical growth and increased school demands as their CT and control peers.”

It is noteworthy that the researchers found no significant improvement in students who did simple cognitive brain training alone. These students performed worse in many areas and had to increase medication dosages over the period of the study. Play Attention produced the exact opposite effect.

Why are math facts so difficult for my ADHD child?

Math Facts & ADHD

You use mental math every day. You use it when you go to the grocery store, calculate a tip, make change, figure out daily expenses. The list goes on and on. The foundation for your ability to do all of these daily math calculations started in elementary school when you memorized your math facts. Learning math facts is an essential life skill, but one that can be incredibly difficult for your ADHD child or student.

Why are math facts so difficult for my ADHD child?

Students with ADHD do tend to have higher rates of math learning disabilities. Math requires students to use skills such as attention, short term memory, working memory, and organization. These are all skills that tend to be weak for students with attention problems.

How can Play Attention help?

Play Attention has specific cognitive skill activities that strengthen the skills necessary to be a good learner. Play Attention teaches and strengthens attention, short term memory, working memory, and organization.

Play Attention Now Has Math Games!

Now your child or students can practice their math facts but only while they are paying maximum attention to the task! New Play Attention Math Games are now available!
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ADHD & The Fountain of Youth

A recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE reveals how we can all look younger and decrease cognitive deficits like ADHD. The secret:  exercise! That’s probably not what you want to hear, but it makes sense.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University found that "endurance exercises," aerobic exercise like running or cardio kickboxing not only help burn fat, but can also make us look younger and decrease symptoms of cognitive decline.

The team at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine led by
Prof. Dafna Benayahu propose that their data reveal why older people who have exercised throughout their lives age more gracefully.

"When we age, we experience sarcopenia, a decline in mass and function of muscles, and osteopenia referrers to bone loss," says Dr. Benayahu. So without daily exercise, the muscular and skeletal systems weaken and are more susceptible to injury. This may also play a role in the increased likelihood of falling as we age.

The key to staying young seems to lie in stem cells that get activated during endurance exercise. To determine this, Benayahu and her team studied rats. Basically, making the rats exercise actually increased the number of muscle stem cells that typically decrease as we age.

The results were quite compelling when contrasting rats that exercised against sedentary rats:
* The number of youth producing stem cells increased after rats ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day for a 13-week period.
* The younger rats showed a 20% to 35% increase in the average number of stem cells per muscle fiber retained.
* Older rats attained a 33% to 47% increase in stem cells meaning they benefited even more significantly than the younger rats!
* Endurance exercise prompted the older rats to get up and go more often!

Aging while embracing a sedentary lifestyle significantly contributes to the development of disease. Furthermore, it contributes to a decline in cognitive abilities.

In other previous studies, researchers have also found that exercise in outdoor or ‘green’ settings reduces the symptoms of ADHD.

What’s the future? Well, it’s likely that scientists will try to discover the chemical process behind  stem cell activation to produce more youthful bodies. It  can then be sold as a pill. It seems the world would rather do that than just get up and dance! And no side-effects except sore muscles that are getting stronger, more youthful, and defined!

ADHD’s Genetic Link

What causes attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD? Research in the English medical journal, The Lancet, says it’s not too much sugar, bad diet, or poor parenting. Professor Anita Thapar, lead author of the study, says it’s likely genetic.

Thapar and her group of scientists at Cardiff University in Wales compared 366 children with ADHD to 1,047 kids without ADHD. In particular, the researchers examined differences in the children’s DNA. They found that kids with ADHD were more likely to have small segments of DNA that were duplicates or missing (copy number variants or CNVs — either a deletion or duplication of genetic material).

"We hope that these findings will help overcome the stigma associated with ADHD," Professor Anita Thapar, the study’s lead author, said in a written statement. "Too often, people dismiss ADHD as being down to bad parenting or poor diet. As a clinician, it was clear to me that this was unlikely to be the case. Now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease and that the brains of children with this condition develop differently to those of other children."

While being media friendly, Thapar’s last statement is a stretch in relation to her research. People and the media love statements that provide seemingly conclusive answers.

Let’s go beyond the media hype that says this research concludes there is a definite genetic link. The researchers really only say there seems to be a possible “genetic link.”  However, their research did not conclude that it is purely or even primarily genetic. What they truly are saying is that this study is evidence that ADHD is not purely social.

The authors conclude:

    “Our findings provide genetic evidence of an increased rate of large CNVs in individuals with ADHD and suggest that ADHD is not purely a social construct.”

This is logical because only 15% of the research subjects with ADHD demonstrated increased CNVs. So is it safe to conclude that genetic makeup may contribute, at least in some particular cases, to ADHD? Yes, but to be clear,  this research did not conclude that it is entirely genetically based and was only partially genetically based in a small segment of their study population. This is very similar to other genetic research.

Why is it, if ADHD is genetically based, at least in part, that 30% don’t have it as adults when diagnosed as a child? What happened? Where did it go? This is what is most  important to parents and professionals.

Epigenetic theory, now being widely embraced by the scientific community, maintains that human development  includes both genetic origins of behavior and the direct influence that environmental forces have on the expression of those genes (nature/nurture). Epigenetic theory regards human development as a dynamic interaction between these two influences.

Simply put, how our genes express themselves is greatly impacted by environment. This is likely why, over time, 30% of children don’t display symptoms as adults. The brain changes, rewires, or (a radical version of epigenetic theory) their genes change.

Do tools exist to do this? Yes. See support.playattention.net.

If I may quote Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, “What seems to have happened is that parents have lost the awareness that they had for decades – if not for centuries – that concentration and self-discipline do not come naturally to children, and have to be taught (as well, sometimes, as enforced).”

Training the ADHD Brain

For years, we at Play Attention, have trained thousands and thousands of people to better pay attention, learn the cognitive skills they need to succeed, and change their behavior. Our results have spoken clearly for us since 1994. Now science is catching up.

Two recent distinct studies validate the brain’s ability to change. While a vast plethora of research confirms these studies’ findings, they are noteworthy. The first study demonstrates the efficacy of skill training, and the second demonstrates how teaching skills rewires the living brain.

The first study, published in the August 25 Journal of the American Medical Association, was performed by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). They utilized cognitive behavioral therapy as a direct intervention for ADHD adults. Cognitive therapy teaches skills for managing life challenges.

The researchers at  MGH found that while medications were the first line of treatment, many patients still persist with underlying symptoms.  While previous studies on cognitive behavioral therapy for ADHD were small and short term, the researchers at MGH claim their study to be the first to conduct full-scale randomized, controlled trial of the efficiency of an individually-delivered, non-medication treatment of ADHD among adults.

“Medications are very effective in ‘turning down the volume’ on ADHD symptoms, but they do not teach people skills,” commented Steven Safren, PhD, ABPP, director of Behavioral Medicine in the MGH Department of Psychiatry, who led the study. “This study shows that a skills-based approach can help patients learn how to cope with their attention problems and better manage this significant and impairing disorder.”

“Sessions were designed specifically to meet the needs of ADHD patients and included things like starting and maintaining calendar and task list systems, breaking large tasks into manageable steps, and shaping tasks to be as long as your attention span will permit,” commented Safren, an associate professor of Psychology in the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry. “The treatment is half like taking a course and half like being in traditional psychotherapy.”

Like Play Attention has been doing since 1994, the researchers provided training sessions mainly that included skills training in filtering of distractions, organization, problem solving, and planning.

Safren’s group receiving cognitive and behavioral training demonstrated advanced control of their symptoms over their control group.  This benefit had persisted when measured three and nine months after the training.

The second study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience (August 25, 2010, 30 34 11493-11500 doi 10.1523 JNEUROSCI.1550-10.2010), examined the brains of rats when they learned to control their impulses.  The researchers documented synaptic changes in the medial prefrontal cortex. They concluded that the rat’s brains rewired themselves to produce the impulse controls necessary to be successful in the tasks the scientists had established for them.

Other past studies have confirmed that the brain will rewire to make changes for skills, impulse control, organization, etc. We’re glad that science is catching up to an learning process that we’ve done at Play Attention for sixteen years now.  That’s beyond cutting edge; it’s leading the way for others.

ADHD and dropout rates

The July issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research reports a study by the University of California, Davis. The researchers examined whether ADHD could be predictive of failure to graduate high school on time.

When the UC Davis scientists reviewed different types of ADHD, they found all of the types of ADHD are associated with a high dropout rate.

"The study found almost a third (33%) of students with ADHD, don’t graduate with their peers. That’s high compared with the national high school drop out rate of 15 percent. High school dropout rate really is a national crisis. We know that a third of kids nationally who start in ninth grade don’t graduate in four years," says  lead study author Dr. Joshua Breslau.

The researchers conducted structured diagnostic interviews with a US national sample of adults (18 and over). The interview process also correlated smoking and smokeless tobacco use. According to the National Institute of Health, nearly a 25% of high school students in the U.S. smoke cigarettes and another 8% use smokeless tobacco. The study found that students who use alcohol, smoke cigarettes and use other drugs are more at risk to drop out.

"There are really two main disorders, ADHD and conduct disorder, and there is an interlinking of smoking and drop out that is troubling…it really suggests that socioeconomic differences in health are already becoming established very early in life in adolescents…whether they smoke is probably the biggest indicator of their health in adulthood," said Breslau.

Intuitively, as parents and educators, we know this to be true. We have seen it in other families too. Intuitively we also know that we must do something as education and medicine alone fall far short.

Cognitive training, behavioral shaping, memory skills, and more must be instituted if we are to change the tide.

Is ADHD all in your head?

A study published in the June 14 edition of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics has sparked controversy regarding ADHD medication and the brain’s power to regulate itself.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by Dr. Adrian Sandler, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and medical director of the Olson Huff Center for Child Development at Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.  The research was performed over the course of eight years using 99 patients from Western North Carolina.

Sandler found that children with ADHD can do just as well on half their medication when the medication is combined with a placebo. They performed as well even when parents and children had full knowledge they were taking a placebo.

[Placebo –  A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient’s expectation to get well. The placebo in this research was akin to a harmless inert pill].

Previous studies have shown that common stimulant medication causes side-effects like tics, weight loss, stunted growth, and even heart complications in some instances. This often causes trepidation in parents afraid of the possible side-effects on their children.

Sandler compared fully medicated children, children on reduced medication, and children on reduced medication with a known placebo. The results were quite intriguing.  Both the fully medicated and reduced medication groups had increased side-effects while the reduced medication with placebo demonstrated decreased side-effects. Furthermore, the reduced medication group reported decreased control of their ADHD symptoms. However, the control of ADHD symptoms was no different in the reduced medication with placebo group than in the full dose group, i.e. the reduced medication with placebo performed as well as the fully medicated group with less side-effects as well.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls and e-mails,” said Sandler,, who conducted the research with James Bodfish, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and pediatrics at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and study coordinator Corrine Glesne.

“Medications work,” Bodfish said in a statement. “The question is whether we always need to use them at the highest dose. Many parents are concerned about placing their child on medication. Some choose not to treat their child because of concerns about side effects.”

While the research doesn’t address it, the obvious question is, Why? Parents and children in this study knew they were taking a placebo. Why then did they perform as well as their peers without the side-effects — at essentially half the dose as their peers? While the placebo effect has been studied widely, the exact mechanisms are unknown. We do know that the mechanism is governed by the brain. This clearly tells us that having ADHD or not, our brain is still a powerful weapon in our arsenal.

We also cannot exclude the influence of the parents during this research. Did they expect their child to do better? The authors suggest that this was so. This dynamic cannot be overlooked in your family either.

The bottom line is that we likely have far more control over our behaviors and cognitive processes than we are given credit for. Modern medicine, as this research suggests, is just beginning to understand the brain’s role in shaping our lives. We’ve known this for years at Play Attention. Cognitive training. Memory training. Motor skills. Attention training. Behavioral shaping. It’s time to take control over our lives. We’ve all got the power to do it. It lies right behind our eyes.