Calendars and Lists

Calendars and Lists

ADHD Children are inherently distracted, their attention scattered. Life can become a cluttered mess with minds traveling at warp speeds.

Creating calendars and chore lists can remove a lot of the guesswork for those who have a hard time remembering and prioritizing time. In addition, children on the autistic spectrum tend to like routine and don’t do well with surprises. So, if you have a child like that, it’s important that you understand how to help.

Need more help with organizational tips? Click here to request my free, ‘How to Get Organized’ eBook.

All of life cannot be scheduled or calendared out, but we certainly can create routines and stay inside the perimeters of those routines as much as possible. If your AD/HD child can see upcoming events, and “plan for them in their head,” you will be setting them up for success.

For instance, let’s just say your family is going to dinner at your sister’s house on Sunday in two weeks. Your married sister has no children, has a dog and a cat, and has purchased a home with a playhouse in the back yard. So you write “Dinner at Aunt Sue’s” on the family calendar, which you have strategically placed in a spot where the children can refer to it.

When your child sees the “event” on the calendar, there is obvious turmoil by the look on his/her face and the pouting.

“What’s up, buddy?”

“Mom, I hate going to Aunt Sue’s. There’s no one to play with and there’s nothing to do. It’s boring.”

“Well honey, I know Aunt Sue doesn’t have any kids, but remember she just bought a house that has that really cool playhouse. And remember last time we were there you played with the neighbor boy and threw a ball for Aunt Sue’s dog? You had a really great time.”

This type of dialogue goes a long way for a child who may struggle with memory. It turns an unpleasant situation around and it’s not done as you’re running out the door to Aunt Sue’s house. You’ve invested the time at the right time. This is also the place to interject possible scenarios to deal with the unexpected.

“The Saturday before we go, we will have to put together a bag of toys and things for you to do in case it rains or the neighbor boy isn’t home. That way you’ll have things to do. Not to mention that Aunt Sue lets you throw a ball for the dog in the basement, and remember that cake she makes that you love! I can’t wait to see Aunt Sue.”

So it’s also a great idea to add “Get Toy Bag Ready” on the calendar so that everyone remembers to get this done in time for Sunday.

Use your calendar to plan out weekly events (grocery shopping, soccer, birthday parties, play dates, etc.). Remember not to over schedule. Kids need down time. They need unorganized activities as a way to teach them hierarchy, unplanned teamwork, and just to have a little outdoor fun.

Need more help with organizational tips? Click here to request my free, ‘How to Get Organized’ eBook.

Healthy School Lunches

Healthy School Lunches

Earlier this month I wrote about the benefits of a healthy breakfast. It is equally as important to provide your child with a healthy lunch to continue to fuel their body throughout the day.

The Internet does not lack evidence that typical school lunches tend to be unhealthy. While it may meet nutritional requirements, school lunches are laden with salt, fat, and calories. Because of the large volume needed to serve the average school’s population, cheaper grade products are used to feed the masses. Animal-based products used in the school-provided lunches are generally processed and contain a great deal of sodium, sugar, and fat.

Granted, First Lady Michelle Obama has heightened awareness with her Let’s Move campaign. With more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, the First Lady is passionate about providing healthier options for these students. When she started Let’s Move in February 2010, she was quoted as saying, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

If you consider the research done on food options and AD/HD, every meal should be considered a “make or break” for your child’s school day. Lunches that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates allow AD/HD students to focus better in the classroom and avoid the afternoon slump.

Lunches supplied from home allow better control. There are a lot of foods that come prepared for ease in putting together healthy options. It’s important when picking out lunch options that you read the ingredients. It is best to avoid prepared foods that are high in salt and sugar and contain a lot of preservatives.

In her blog, Register Dietician Rachel Brandies, MS, RD offers some really great ideas for healthy after school snacks. If you keep healthy snack options in your home and avoid buying the not-so-healthy snacks, you’ll teach your child and yourself to eat healthier. Choose frozen juice bars or yogurt over ice cream. Choose a cup full of high protein cereal over cookies.

For more information on Health and AD/HD, join Gay Russell, LCSW for a FREE webinar entitled Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health, Combating the A’s with Nutrition: Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger, & Academic Challenges. The webinar is scheduled for January 22, 2015 at 11:00 am EST. Click here to register.

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

 

Clear Up The Clutter

Clear Up The Clutter

Clutter is a huge distraction for people with AD/HD, and can sometimes make the problem even worse. Consider this; picture your grandmother’s house with all the porcelain dolls, pictures, and knickknacks everywhere. Put your five year old in the middle of this environment and ask them to pay attention. Everything in that room is something they want to pay attention to. So if your home looks anything like this, removing the clutter can help.

Organizational training, like any other training, should begin in an environment that is conducive for success. In the initial steps of teaching a new behavior (i.e. organization), it is in a person’s best interest to be in the optimum environment possible. Therefore, we must consider removing the clutter.

Just as a coach would not allow a player to go into a big game without training and practice, we can’t expect our child to learn to filter distractions without training them to be organized under the best circumstances, and then introducing distractions as training goes along.

Let’s just say that your child’s room has a sports theme (or even a fairy princess theme). You’ve decked it out with bold colors, lots of wall art, and some really cool memorabilia. There’s also a comfy area with a TV and the latest gaming console—not to mention his dresser and storage bins for toys. And over in the corner, facing into the room, is a desk where your eight year old does his homework. You can’t understand why he/she is never able to complete their homework, or why it takes them hours to do so.

In addition to removing the clutter, cognitive training should be considered. For information on the best feedback cognitive training program, consider attending an informational webinar hosted by master educator, Peter Freer.

The truth is that, even with the best of intentions, you’ve provided an atmosphere that is so over stimulating that it is a major distraction, making it difficult for your student to concentrate. In an article in Additude magazine, Dr. Larry Silver offers some sound advice on dealing with distractions.

That’s not to say that your child will never be able to concentrate in that environment, but if you are dealing with someone with ADHD, you must start with baby steps. By removing some of the distractions, even if temporarily, you will set your child up for success. So clear the clutter for a time. Put all that great memorabilia in a closet and wait to bring it back out once your child can deal with the distractions.

Much research has been done to say that the mind of someone with AD/HD runs a million miles a minute. It’s not really a lack of attention, but the ability to pay attention to many things at once when the environment is very stimulating. We don’t need to teach them to pay attention in this environment. We must teach them to pay attention when things are less stimulating.

Attend an upcoming Play Attention webinar and learn how you can teach someone in your life to direct and sustain attention to low stimuli activities at will.

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.

Play Attention Invites You!

Play Attention Invites You to Attend Our Start Up & Grow Virtual Business Conference on May 5th – May 9th

Click here to learn more or register for free: http://www.playattention.com/play-attention-invites-attend-start-grow/

Photo: Play Attention Invites You to Attend Our Start Up & Grow Virtual Business Conference on May 5th - May 9th   </p><br /> <p>Click here to learn more or register for free: http://www.playattention.com/play-attention-invites-attend-start-grow/

The seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is TODAY!

Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. How will you celebrate? To share your events, photos and Autism Kindness Acts (#AKA) go to Autismspeaks.org/LIUB or click on the links on this page.

Light It Up Blue with Autism Speaks!
liub.autismspeaks.org
On April 2, 2014 I am Lighting It Up Blue for Autism Awareness. Learn how you can participate too!

Is It ADHD or Typical Toddler Behavior?

A great article from Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-sense/201207/is-it-adhd-or-typical-toddler-behavior).

10 Early signs of ADHD risk in young children.

Young children often have problems paying attention or concentrating, but when are these problems serious enough for parents and teachers to be concerned? According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control, one in 11 school-aged children are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but research suggests that the warning signs often appear before a child first goes to school. Some experts estimate that as many as 40 percent of children have significant problems with attention by age four.

Why should parents be concerned about ADHD in their preschoool chidlren? “We want to catch ADHD early because it has such a profound effect on learning and academic development. Children whose symptoms begin in early childhood are at the highest risk for academic failure and grade repetition.” says Dr. Mark Mahone, director of the Department of Neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD.

In children ages three to four years, Dr. Mahone recommends looking for the following signs that are associated with an ADHD diagnosis at school age:

1. Dislikes or avoids activities that require paying attention for more than one or two minutes

2. Loses interest and starts doing something else after engaging in an activity for a few moments

3. Talks a lot more and makes more noise than other children of the same age

4. Climbs on things when instructed not to do so

5. Cannot hop on one foot by age four

6. Is nearly always restless — wants to constantly kick or jiggle feet or twist around in his/her seat. Insists that he/she “must” get up after being seated for more than a few minutes.

7. Gets into dangerous situations because of fearlessness

8. Warms up too quickly to strangers

9. Is frequently aggressive with playmates; has been removed from preschool/daycare for aggression

10. Has been injured (e.g., received stitches) because of moving too fast or running when instructed not to do so

“If parents observe these symptoms and have concerns about their child’s development, they should consult with their pediatrician or another developmental expert,” says Dr. Mahone. “There are safe and effective treatments that can help manage symptoms, increase coping skills, and change negative behaviors to improve academic and social success.”

Do People Think ADHD Is Caused by Poor Parenting?

A new survey reveals some astonishing perceptions.

The perceptions of over 1000 parents were revealed in an online survey conducted in a collaborative effort by Parents Magazine and New York’s Child Mind Institute, a treatment center for children with mental health issues (http://www.parents.com/kids/health/childrens-mental-health/child-mind-institute-survey-results).

While the perceptions often don’t reflect actuality, they do offer a glimpse into the average American’s mind regarding ADHD.

About a third of parents surveyed believe ADHD is caused more by poor parenting rather than being a true medical problem.

A majority of parents surveyed thought children were being misdiagnosed and put on medication too quickly by doctors.

Harold Koplewicz, M.D., president of the Child Mind Institute and advisor to Parents Magazine said, “Stigma, lack of awareness, and fear around mental health care prevent many parents and teachers from getting kids the support they need.

Other interesting results:

96% of parents said… They would want their child’s pediatrician to tell them if he thought their child should be evaluated for a psychiatric or learning disorder.

83% of parents said… They would want their child’s teacher to tell them if he thought their child should be evaluated for a psychiatric or learning disorder.

74% of parents said… Kids are often put on medication as a quick and easy fix.

72% of parents said… Doctors and parents are too quick to put kids on medication for ADHD rather than looking for other solutions.

63% of parents said… Too many children are being diagnosed with ADHD when they just have behavioral issues.

52% of parents said… Starting kids on medication so young in life is dangerous.

50% of parents said… Many doctors downplay the risks associated with putting kids on medication to treat ADHD and depression.

45% of parents said… Normal children are being labeled as mentally ill or having learning disorders simply because their teachers can’t handle them.

45% of parents said… Kids with learning disorders tend to have other behavioral issues that hamper their learning.

32% of parents said… ADHD is sometimes more a result of insufficient or absent parenting rather than a true medical condition.

16% of parents said… Kids who take medication now are more prone to drug or alcohol addiction later in life.

13% of parents said… ADHD should not be treated as a medical condition, but rather as a behavioral issue that can be corrected with discipline.

10% of parents said… Extended time on standardized tests give children with learning disorders an unfair advantage.

6% of parents said… Psychiatric or learning disorders are more common in single parent families.

Obviously, true ADHD is not caused by poor parenting although poor parenting can exacerbate the problem.

However, I must agree, and research bears this out, that too many children are being diagnosed with ADHD when other problems are really the cause.