help your child with adhd get their homework done

6 Tips to Help Your Child with ADHD Get His Homework Done!

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions found in children.  The hallmark features associated with ADHD in children and adolescents are as follows:

  • Difficulty initiating and sustaining attentional regulation
  • Trouble with task completion
  • Difficulties organizing materials and work
  • Difficulty with initiation on tasks

Given the above concerns, homework completion is often found to be a difficult chore.  Several of the below tips prove beneficial for improving the completion of daily work and assignments.

6 Tips to Help Your Child with ADHD Complete His Homework:help your child with adhd get their homework done

  1. Have the child start the work when he or she gets home.  These children oftentimes have difficulty with transitioning between tasks and initiating action with their work.  Children were in school all day and already have the mindset of doing academic work.  It may prove difficult for the child to take a break and then attempt to initiate the work.
  2. Have a set location established for homework routines.  Keep the desk or table as clear of clutter as possible.  Keep the location in a quiet room away from extraneous distracters such as the television, other children and family members, and other items such as toys that may be distracting for the child.
  3. Have the child create a list of daily homework tasks as well as an expectation of how much time each task would take.
  4. Have the child stick with one subject and complete the work to fruition before moving to another task.
  5. Encourage the child to take short, non-stimulating breaks between tasks.  Breaks should be going to get a light snack, walking around the house, etc. and not be anything that might be overly engaging such as playing videogames or watching television.
  6. Have consistency with expectations of homework.  Make studying and homework completion daily habits.

Click here to download your ADHD Symptom and Treatment Checklist!








memory and adhd

Wait… What Did You Say? Memory in the ADHD Student

Making memories is an important part of being human, and our beloved camera phones seem to make the process that much easier! However… our cameras aren’t the only ones doing the work. What about when you have to remember that long 10 digit phone… oh wait… we don’t have to do that anymore either! I suppose a modern day challenge would be to remember all those tedious passwords we have to keep!

But that’s neither here nor there!

Our awesome brains deserve a little credit, too, actually a lot of credit for that (grey) matter (just a little brain joke for ya!)

While memory is a challenge for all of us, it can be an exceptional challenge for a student with ADHD. In order to understand this, we will look at the 3 basic stages of memory.

Three basic stages of memory:

Encoding: Information enters into our memory systemmemory and adhd

Storage:

  • Short-term memory (STM) : 20-30 Seconds: Information that is transferred from the STM enters into the HIPPOCAMPUS! When we repeat information over and over again it’s like sending it through the hippocampus several times!
  • Long-term memory (LTM): Can last a lifetime

Retrieval:

  • How you store depends on how you get those memories back OUT
  • Organization is key here (i.e. using the alphabet to categorize things or remembering numbers in chunks)

Something happens around you that you can see, hear and/or touch. This sensation lingers in our short-term (working) memory for about 20-30 seconds. For example, when you are having a conversation with someone and they are talking, you may be thinking of what to say next (thanks to your working memory).

Kids use their working memory all day in the classroom to follow instructions, remember where they need to be, and to keep track of their belongings and assignments (just to name a few). Kiddos with ADHD tend to struggle more with these tasks, which can make learning difficult, specifically reading comprehension.

Let’s say a teacher says, “Go to your desk, grab your book and a pencil, go the center, and finish the worksheet.” That can be a lot to remember for a child who has a deficit in this area and can be misinterpreted as purely inattention.

“How can you plan ahead if you don’t use working memory to keep your goal in mind, resist distractions and inhibit impulsive choices?” says Matthew Cruger, PhD, neuropsychologist with the Learning and Diagnostics Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York.

Here are 4 ways to help teach ways to integrate learning for kids with ADHD:

  • Teaching mnemonic devices: “Never Eat Soggy Waffles” : North, East, South,West
  • Creating visuals
  • Use songs or a melody to learn concepts
  • Ask follow-up questions

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a child has a memory deficit or if it is a by-product of ADHD or a Learning Disorder. Receiving formal testing can be beneficial to tease them apart or better identify how they influence one another.

ADHD accommodations for adults in the workplace

ADHD Accommodations for Adults In The Workplace

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, you may be familiar with some of the classroom accommodations that are typically recommended. These may include sitting in the front of the class and getting a hard copy of the notes, for example.

These accommodations prove to be beneficial… so what about when the classroom days are over and you are supposed to rely on yourself to stay productive and organized in the workplace?

Whether you are an adult diagnosed with ADHD or think you may have ADHD, here are some workplace accommodations to consider:

  1. Take breaks: go for a walk or sit outside with some coffee or tea.ADHD accommodations for adults in the workplace
  2. Avoid working in a cubicle, if possible, to avoid distractions.
  3. If you don’t have a door to close, wear ear plugs during times you need to focus.
  4. If your boss does not set a deadline for you, set your own!
  5. Break large projects into smaller tasks.
  6. Keep a paper trail!
  7. If a co-worker requests something from you, have them send it in an email.
  8. Keep a bulletin or dry erase board nearby and write down any important dates, notes, or ideas right after you hear them and go back and add them to a calendar or notebook.
  9. When you are given an assignment, repeat it back in your own words to make sure you understand (and remember!) all parts.

These are accommodations you can implement yourself. If you think you might need something a little more concrete, you do have the choice of disclosing your ADHD diagnosis to your employer and working with them to help you be even more successful!

These awesome tips were derived from the book, 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADHD by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD. It is a great book that has more tips and tricks to stay organized and accomplish your goals!








smart strategies to build your childs executive functioning skills

10 Smart Strategies to Foster Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functions (EF) refers to our self-regulatory behaviors needed to guide our behaviors to follow rules and reach our goals.

Typically in children, there are 3 basic components of Executive Functioning:smart strategies to build your childs executive functioning skills

  1. Working Memory – being able to hold information in their mind and use it (organizing, planning)
  2. Inhibitory Control – being able to control (stop, pause) thoughts and impulses while being able to resist distractions, temptations, and habits, while also thinking before acting
  3. Cognitive Flexibility – being able to switch gears and adjust to new rules, demands, and perspectives

The simple of act of ‘turn-taking’ addresses all of these components of EF. Help your child stop what he is doing and let another child take control (inhibitory control) – when it is his turn again, he needs to remember what he was supposed to do (working memory) – initiate play again and in the instance of a new child joining the group and the rules changing, help him adjust again (cognitive flexibility).

Research has shown that early childhood experiences build the foundation for fostering productive members of society!

Here are 10 activities to help your child blossom his Executive Functioning (EF) skills!

  1. Peek-a-boo: This challenges baby to remember who is hiding (working memory) and teaches self-control in waiting for the adult to pop back up!
  2. Pat-a-cake: Predictable rhyming develops working memory as he gains familiarity with the rhyme and inhibiting (pausing) his anticipatory reactions
  3. Freeze dance: This requires active inhibition.
  4. Narrate your childs’ play: This helps your child understand how language is connected to actions and how asking questions about what is next can help him to plan his next move (planning and organizing)!
  5. UNO: Switching between matching colors versus numbers helps to practice cognitive flexibility.
  6. Cooking: Waiting for instructions (inhibition), trying to remember the directions (working memory) and measuring and counting steps (sustained-attention) all help to develop EF skills.
  7. Sports: Rule following, and quick decision making (cognitive flexibility) make this a great EF skill building activity.
  8. Music, singing & dance: Holding music/choreography in mind (working memory) develops EF skills.
  9. Puzzles: This develops EF skills for all ages by encouraging thinking about shapes and colors needed (planning & organizing) to complete the puzzle.
  10. Storytelling & imaginative play: Older children may naturally use ordinary objects as something creative (i.e. using a block as a car)- (Cognitive flexibility).



Resources:

developingchild.harvard.edu

oppositional defiant disorder

Top Warning Signs for Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

How can a child’s irritable mood, lack of awareness into how their behavior impacts others, and resistance towards engagement in unfavorable tasks be differentiated from age-appropriate/typical behavior to something more serious, like a clinical diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

What is ODD?

According to the DSM-V, a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is characterized as “a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months as evidenced by at least 4 symptoms from these categories.” The DSM-V also outlines that to qualify for a diagnosis of ODD, the individual must demonstrate these symptoms during an interaction with at least one other person other than a sibling.

Warning signs for ODD include:

  • Often loses temper
  • Negative outlook/mood
  • Defiance
  • Disobedience
  • Hostility towards authority figures
  • Regular temper tantrums
  • Blames others for his mistakes or misbehavior
  • Does not comply with rules of tasks assigned by adult
  • Spiteful or vindictive nature
  • Enjoys annoying others and is easily annoyed themselves

Treatment for ODD includes clinical intervention and potential medication management to address related symptoms such as mood dysregulation or impulse control as resonate of an ADHD diagnosis. Parent training for education on how to effectively discipline and avoid power struggles, individual/family therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy are all treatment modalities to holistically treat ODD.





 

mastering morning routines

Mastering Morning Routines

 

 

 

Many parents report the most anxiety prone time of the day is the weekday mornings. There is much going on in a very limited time. Parents often need to ensure that they are ready for work and have their children ready for school. This time of day is difficult for most children; however, children with attention problems or executive functioning weaknesses are much more prone to exhibit significant weakness with regard to their ability to follow routines and get out the door on time. Although it is difficult, it is not impossible for these children to be ready to go on time! Mastering the morning routine is the best way to get the family out the door, happily, each day.

Steps to Master the Morning Routine:

The main recommendation is to keep the mornings as structured and consistent as possible. Have the schedule planned and written out. Think about all daily routines from waking up, brushing teeth, getting dressed, to leaving the house. Think about not only the tasks that are expected of the child but also a reasonable amount of time to complete each task. It may come down to it that the list of expectations placed on the child’s morning is not realistic (today) and there might have to be some modifications.

Once it has been established that the tasks in the morning are reasonable, create a chart with picture cues for each task. Also, have the time expected for each task written down next to that item.

The first few days or weeks will require a significant amount of adult assistance to help ensure the child is finishing the tasks in the appropriate order within the required time allotments. Use strategies such as reinforcing completed tasks, timers, and praise.

Morning routines can be hectic but do not have to be impossible. With structure, organization support, and use of reinforcement, many children with attention concerns and executive functioning weaknesses are able to stay to the routine and get out the door in time.




504 or IEP

504 Plan or IEP: Which Is the Best Vehicle for Your Child?

 

 

Today’s guest blog by Pam Labellarte, Special Education Advocate,  explains how to navigate accommodations plans when your child receives a diagnosis.

Before we can even address the question of whether a 504 plan or an IEP is the best vehicle for your child, we need to unravel the process required to get your child identified as a student with educational needs that cannot be addressed through the general curriculum, without support of additional accommodations and/or services.

Your Child Has a Diagnosis, Now What?

You get the news from your child’s teacher, your pediatrician or after your child has been evaluated by a neuropsychologist…your child has a disability. Maybe it’s a Learning Disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or any one of several other disabilities that is limiting your child’s academic progress. Your first inclination is to ensure your child is provided whatever supports are necessary to maximize his potential. But, you are at a loss as where to begin. If your child’s teacher has not taken any further action, the first step is to connect with your school district’s Special Education Director/Coordinator. The initial request for consideration for services should be a letter hand delivered, sent certified mail or an email with a letter attached.

The “Special Education Maze”:

You are now about to enter what is often called “the Special Education Maze”. Understand, Special Education is NOT a PLACE. Special education services are driven by the needs of the individual child. Therefore they are delivered in a variety of places, sometimes within the classroom and other times outside the classroom in a smaller setting. It is critical that the initial and any future contact with the school district be documented in writing. This means documenting any important verbal conversations that occur between you and the school district staff, with an email confirming the conversation. By law, once a school district receives written requests from a parent regarding special education, they are required to respond within specific timelines, hence, the importance of written documentation.

Important Steps to Take to Receive Special Education Services:

Upon receipt of your written request for consideration of special education services for your child, the school district is required to respond to you in writing within 14 school days whether they believe your child should be evaluated. If they agree, a meeting will be scheduled to identify specific areas to be evaluated. Often referred to as the “Domain Meeting”, it the place where the school team and the parents review the major areas or “domains” to be evaluated, such as achievement, cognitive, communication, etc. The Domain Meeting is one of the most important meetings you in which you will ever participate, because you and the school team will determine which areas need to be evaluated and how (formal evaluations, informal assessments, observation, review of records, etc.). In order for the process to continue you have to provide “informed consent”, agreeing to allow the specific evaluations/observations to be conducted only after you understand what information they will provide. If a critical area is not addressed it may negatively impact the services provided to your child.

Developing the IEP:

Once you have provided consent, the school staff has 60 school days to complete all evaluations and observations, publish their findings and conduct an eligibility meeting. Most parents do not realize they can request that the draft reports be provided in advance of the eligibility meeting (three school days prior is sufficient time). If you wait to review the reports at the meeting, how can you hear the information (much of it foreign to you), digest what you have heard and then make “informed” decisions about your child’s programming? Once your child is found eligible the school district has 30 days to develop and implement an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

IEP or 504 Plan?

What if your school district has responded to your request in writing that they do not believe that your child has a disability requiring special education services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But, they are willing to consider developing a 504 Plan to provide accommodations to your child. Would a 504 Plan be appropriate? How do they differ? Which would provide your child the most appropriate support?

Click here for a Section 504 and IDEA Comparison Chart (obtained from the National Center for Learning Disabilities) that provides details regarding the differences in the two laws. Don’t make any quick decisions until you understand the basic difference between the two educational programs.

Click here to view the webinar: Getting the Best IEP for Your Child!

diabetes

Neuropsychological Aspects of Diabetes

 

 

 

Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder associated with an inability of the affected person’s/child’s pancreas to secrete insulin. There are two types of diabetes (type I and type II). Read on to understand the neuropsychological aspects of Diabetes.

Type I Diabetes:

Type I diabetes is considered to be insulin dependent in which the child must take insulin injections, as there is a complete inability for the body to produce insulin. Type I Diabetes is associated with unusual thirst, excessive urination, rapid unexplained weight loss, and overwhelming fatigue. This is one of the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases with approximately 29,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The peak incidence rate of type diabetes is between 10 and 14 years of age.

Type II Diabetes:

Type II diabetes is considered to be non-insulin dependent and is rarely signaled by a clinically obvious medical crisis. Type II is most common in individuals who are over forty years old and whose body mass index is greater than 25 (considered overweight). This is a fairly common condition in that there are approximately 600,000 new cases identified each year.

Neuropsychological Aspects of Diabetes:

Research has indicated that age of onset of diabetes is a critical factor in secondary cognitive impact. What this means is that children who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the first four to six years of age are more prone to significantly lower cognitive scores. This is also found to be true with concerns with attentional regulation. In general, children and adolescents with a diagnosis of diabetes are not more prone for a diagnosis of ADHD; however, if the child had been diagnosed with diabetes early in life, they are more likely to exhibit symptoms of ADHD.

Children and adolescents with late onset diagnosis of diabetes are more prone to concerns with verbal cognitive functioning and academic achievement in comparison to a control group of non-diabetic children and adolescents.
Overall, diabetes can be a pretty well-controlled disorder. If children and adolescents control their insulin levels, they tend to not demonstrate more neurocognitive concerns than their non-diabetic peers.

Click here to learn more about our Neuropsychology Diagnostic and Testing Center!

medication for mental health in kids

When is it Appropriate to Seek Medication Management for Mental Health Symptom Reduction in Children?

 

 

 

For many families, the conversation about medication management to reduce mental health symptoms in children is off the table before the realities of this intervention can be explored. Medication can be a beneficial intervention, in tandem with therapy, to translate the skill development from the clinical setting into positive behavioral changes in the natural environment.

When is medication recommended to manage mental health symptoms in children?

Medication might be recommended as a therapeutic approach early on in treatment depending on the severity of the presented concerns and the impact of these symptoms on the child’s overall quality of life. For instance, if the child struggling with impulsivity and reduced focus/attention is doing poorly in school, if he has challenges reading social cues in peer relationships, and is he is internalizing negative feelings of self as the result, medication may be recommended sooner rather than later to improve client’s overall level of functioning.

The goal of social work intervention is to address the socio-emotional concerns through teaching client awareness into the triggers that precipitate the maladaptive behaviors (i.e. distracting thoughts/stimuli that reduce focus, decisions that elicit anger that snowballs into a meltdown, etc.) and the skills to modify their behavior. In some cases, the client can demonstrate and prove comprehension of the skills presented but in practice, have a hard time implementing the learned coping strategies in real-life scenarios. If the child’s quality of life and overall functioning remain to be negatively impacted despite intellectualization of how to handle their emotions or redirect their behavior, medication might serve as the glue to carry these compensatory strategies into reality.

To decide if a medication consultation is right for you, use this checklist:

  • Does my child struggle with implementing the therapeutic skills they learn in treatment?
  • Despite involvement in therapy, is my child’s quality of life negatively impacted socially, academically, personally?
  • Has there been an increase in the frequency and duration of symptoms (i.e. more meltdowns per week, more redirections to re-regulate body to remain calm, etc.)?
  • Does my (the parent) and my family’s quality of life continue to be negatively impacted with frequent impulsive reactions, mood dysregulation, or hyperactive nature of the child?

Consult with your pediatrician and therapist if you have any questions about if medication would be a right fit for your child. And remember, just because you may decide to try medication does not mean that it is a magic bullet fix or that it has to be a life sentence. Ongoing therapeutic intervention in addition to medication can be the right course of treatment for some children.


mental illness in children

The Rise of Mental Illness in Children

 

 

The Journal of Pediatrics published a recent article that childhood developmental conditions including ADHD and Autism are increasing at a rate of 16% from 2001 to 2011 (Read a review of this article on the CNN blog, The Chart, here). Although this might sound astounding and like this should be an area of concern, the researchers have posited that this actually might be a positive.

In all likelihood, these rates were probably the same. What we have now is an increased awareness of a variety of developmental disabilities as well as increased acceptance of such conditions. Having increased acceptance is extremely positive in that now we are able to provide support and services to help these children that otherwise would not be available.

Here are some tips for parents for children who might have a neurodevelopmental condition like ADHD or Autism:

  1. Seek out a good, comprehensive evaluation in order to first help identify the specific condition that the child might present with.
  2. Identify your treatment team. Your team will consist of multiple individuals including teachers, therapists, administration, and special education teachers. Make sure the team is all on the same page and aware of the specifics that the child presents with.
  3. Seek out resources and information to help support you and your family. There are multiple, empirically supported organizations that provide parents and family members with not only support but also resources to help the child out.

Although the rates of a variety of neurodevelopmental conditions are on the rise, it is likely that these conditions have always been as prevalent as they are today. The social stigma associated with the conditions is no longer as strong, and these children are now able to receive specific services and interventions that would be beneficial for them.