calm down with yoga

5 Yoga Activities to Help Your Child Calm Down

As a yoga instructor, parent and teacher, I have seen the benefits of yoga for kids time and time again. Yoga is a fantastic way to help all children relax, work out the wiggles and find a sense of calm.  It can be an even more beneficial tool for children with ADHD or other attention or hyperactivity disorders. Read on for 5 at-home, yoga-based activities you can do with your child that will serve as a foundational tool set for self-soothing and positive thinking as your child gets older.

5 Yoga Activities to Help Your Child Calm Down:

  1. Belly Breath-Have your child lie on his back. His palms should be turned up and his feet gently5 Yoga Activities to Help Your Child Calm Down relaxed. Have him close his eyes. Place a small stone on his belly and tell him to see if he can move the stone up and down with his breath. This move inspires immediate relaxation as the breath deepens and teaches the child to use the full lung capacity while breathing. This triggers a relaxation response at any time.
  2. Rocket Ship Breath-Have your child sit cross-legged with his palms pressed together at his heart center (as in the photo).  His hands are his ‘rocketship’. Have him take a big inhale and send his ‘rocketship’ up to the sky. Oh his exhale, have him part his hands and circle his arms back to the ground. Repeat 3-5 times.
  3. Down Dog House-First, have your child practice down dog pose. This is a basic, traditional yoga pose where the body is in the shape of an inverted ‘V’. In down dog, hands and feet stay on the ground while hips lift into the sky. Next, move into down dog pose yourself and have your child crawl in the space created underneath your body. This cozy space created by a loved one is fun, silly and creates a cozy, relaxed space for your child to enjoy.
  4. Cloud Thinking-When your child is bothered by something, have him practice cloud thinking. Have him sit cross-legged, and then have him articulate his troubling thought. Have him imagine that he is putting his troubling thought on a cloud. Then have him blow away the thought by taking big inhales and then exhaling through his mouth to blow the thought away. Once he has blown the thought away with several breaths, have him watch the cloud and negative thought dissipate in space. Let him know his mind is clear now and that he can send his negative thoughts away on the cloud whenever he needs to.
  5. Reframe It-When your child is upset and recounting a frustrating event, have him re-tell the story. Have him explain the ending of the story in a positive way with a focus on what he learned and what can be done better or differently the next time. Let him know that he can always turn a negative into a positive and reframe his thinking.

Click here for more calm down strategies for young children.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ADHD and School Success

ADHD and School Success

Even though it feels like summer has just begun for many in the Chicago area, it is not too early to begin preparing for success in the upcoming school year. We all want our children to be successful in school, especially those children with challenges with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Below are some helpful tips to prepare your child with ADHD for back to school time:

  • Review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. Take a look at the current plan and consider which goals were met andADHD and School Success which areas still need to be addressed (click here for more on how to have a successful IEP meeting).
  • Organize school systems together. Head out to an office-supply store (with your child) and check out different ways to help your child with organization and time management. Be open-minded to trying different approaches.
  • Stock up on school supplies. Have fun picking out some of the child’s favorite items as well as some of the supplies you anticipate they may need (poster board, pens, protractors, etc.).
  • Consider this year’s after-school activities. Talk to the child about interests and activities for the school year. Build on what your child has done in the past and what activities they want to try.  Be creative and encourage him to not only try activities that enhance proven skills, but also ones he finds challenging.
  • Find a tutor or homework helper. If you foresee some areas of struggle reach out now for people to assist in the fall.
  • Make a calendar. In order to give your child a sense of control and have him more engaged in the process, talk about daily, weekly and monthly schedules.
  • Set goals together. Brainstorm goals for school. Focus on strengths and challenges.  Make goals attainable in order to empower the child.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of heading back to school. Discuss the areas your child is interested or excited about with regards to returning to school.
  • HAVE FUN! Make sure to spend quality time with your child this summer. Talk to them about their feelings about returning to school.  What are they looking forward to most? What fears or anxiety do they have?

Click here to read 8 ways to ease homework time stress.

ADHD Resource Center

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the WISC-V

Understanding the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V)

In the world of psychological assessment, the Wechsler Intelligence Scales are considered to be the gold standard measures of intellectual functioning.  The assessments represent over 70 years of research and subsequent revisions that reflect advancements in neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive research, psychology, technology, and changes in population. (Wechsler, 2014).

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V):

One of the most commonly used assessments for school-aged children is the Wechslerchilds-brain-Portrait Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V). The assessment generates five composite score indices:

  • Verbal Comprehension (VCI)
  • Visual Spatial Index (VSI)
  • Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI)
  • Working Memory Index (WMI)
  • Processing Speed Index (PSI)

Together, a Full Scale Intelligent Quotient (FSIQ) is developed.  When large discrepancies are identified between the indices which comprise a child’s FSIQ, alternative scores can be calculated to best capture a child’s cognitive profile.  Alternative scores may be considered when deficits in language, attention, or motivation appear to have negatively impacted a child’s overall performance. Through the analysis of the general and specific domains of cognitive functioning, clinicians are better able to make informed decisions regarding diagnostic conceptualization and treatment recommendations.

WISC-V Composite Score Indices:

  • VCI: The VCI measures verbal reasoning, understanding, concept formation, in addition to a child’s fund of knowledge and crystallized intelligence.  Crystallized intelligence is the knowledge a child has acquired over his or her lifespan through experiences and learning.  The core subtests which comprise the VCI require youth to define pictures or vocabulary words, and describe how words are conceptually related.  Children with expressive and/or receptive language deficits often exhibit poorer performance on the VCI.  Studies have also indicated that a child’s vocabulary knowledge is related to the development of reading abilities, and as such, weaker performance on tasks involving vocabulary may signal an academic area of difficulty.
  • VSI:  The VSI measures a child’s nonverbal reasoning and concept formation, visual perception and organization, visual-motor coordination, ability to analyze and synthesize abstract information, and distinguish figure-ground in visual stimuli.  Specifically, the core subtests of the VSI require that a child use mental rotation and visualization in order to build a geometric design to match a model with and without the presence of blocks.  Children with visual-spatial deficits may exhibit difficulty on tasks involving mathematics, building a model from an instruction sheet, or differentiating visual stimuli and figure ground on a computer screen.
  • FRI: The FRI assesses a child’s quantitative reasoning, classification and spatial ability, knowledge of part to whole relationships.  It also evaluates a child’s fluid reasoning abilities, which is the ability to solve novel problems independent of previous knowledge.    The core tasks which make up the FRI require that a child choose an option to complete an incomplete matrix or series, and view a scale with missing weight(s) in order to select an option that would keep the scale balanced.  A child with fluid reasoning deficits may have difficulty understanding relationships between concepts, and as such, may generalize concepts learned.  They may also struggle when asked to solve a problem after the content has changed, or when question is expressed differently from how a child was taught (e.g., setting up a math problem by using information in a word problem).  Difficulties with inductive reasoning can also manifest as challenges identifying an underlying rule or procedure.
  • WMI: The WMI evaluates a child’s ability to sustain auditory attention, concentrate, and exert mental control.  Children are asked to repeat numbers read aloud by the evaluator in a particular order, and have memory for pictures previously presented.  Deficits in working memory often suggest that children will require repetition when learning new information, as they exhibit difficulties taking information in short-term memory, manipulating it, and producing a response at a level comparable to their same age peers.  It is also not uncommon for youth with self-regulatory challenges, as observed in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to present with difficulties in working memory and processing speed (noted below).
  • PSI: The PSI estimates how quickly and accurately a child is able to process information. Youth are asked to engage in tasks involving motor coordination, visual processing, and search skills under time constraints.  Assuming processing speed difficulties are not related to delays in visual-motor functioning, weaker performance on the tasks which comprise the core subtests of the PSI indicate that a child will require additional time to process information and complete their work.  In the academic context, school-based accommodations may include allowing a child to take unfinished assignments home, focusing on the quality of work over quantity, shortening tasks, and allowing extended time.

In summary, IQ is more than one aspect of functioning and encapsulates several factors described above.  As a result, it is often more helpful to assess the indices which comprise a child’s FSIQ separately in order to best inform treatment and intervention.

Neuropsychology testing IL
NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


adhd and summer organization

How to Set-Up an Organized Summer for Children with ADHD

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) frequently exhibit concerns with regard to their executive functioning including organization, initiation, time management, and ability to transition between tasks.  The school year often provides a natural structure and organization for children as the daily expectations are often clearly stated.  Summertime can often provide a source of frustration for these children (and parents) as the days may not be as structured and routine.  It is important to try to keep daily events organized and structured so that the child has clear expectations as to what to expect.  Some strategies that might prove beneficial are listed below.

Strategies to Organize the Summer for a Child With ADHD:

  1.  Try to keep daily routines the same.  Have the time the child wakes up, meal time, bed time the same asHelp Your Child With ADHD Stay Organized This Summer much as possible.
  2. Have an organized plan for the week.  Try to set up a calendar and list of weekly events in a clearly stated place.  Make sure the child is well aware of the schedule.
  3. If there are any changes in routine, plan on informing the child as soon as possible about the change.

Summer does not have to be a free for all in which there are no expectations or routines.  Try to keep daily routines as set as possible with clear expectations for any changes.  

ADHD Resource Center

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

What Can Happen When ADHD Goes Untreated

The Long Term Effects of Not Treating ADHD

A recent article published in Healthline indicated that there are numerous long-term negative effects of not treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

One of the concerns is that children who do not receive either behavioral and/or pharmacologicalThe Long-Term Effects of Untreated ADHD intervention to address their inattention and impulse control never learn strategies to deal with impulsivity when they become adolescents and adults.  It has been documented that there is an increase in unemployment or underemployment for adults with ADHD who never received any form of intervention.  These individuals were also found to make between $8,000 to $15,000 less then non-ADHD workers in similar jobs.

There have been studies that indicate that adults with untreated ADHD are nearly twice as likely as non-ADHD adults to get divorced.

Many times in my clinic I hear parents indicate that they do not want to medicate their children, as they are afraid that it may lead to later substance use.  The research actually indicates the direct opposite in that adolescents and adults with untreated ADHD are at an increased risk for substance use in the form of self-medication to help alleviate symptoms of distress associated with their inattention or impulsivity.

There is ample evidence to indicate that children who never receive treatment for their ADHD are at increased risk for negative social and behavioral concerns as they reach adolescents and adulthood.  If a parent or teacher believes a child may have symptomology of ADHD it is important that the child receives intervention to help deal with the concerns they exhibit.

ADHD Resource Center

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

keep your child organized this summer

Strategies to Keep Your Child Organized This Summer

Spring is in the air and with the warm temperature creeping in, this is a sure sign of one thing to come…school’s out for summer! For many, this is a time of year we look forward to, but it can also be a difficult time for our kiddos with ADHD that benefit from the structure and routine that school provides Monday through Friday. Check out these useful tips to help ward off the “I’m bored” summer bug.

Tips to Keep Your Child Organized This Summer:Keep Your Child Organized This Summer

  1. Keep them happy campers: There are many summer camps out there that range from 1 week to several months long. Figure out what would work best for your family. This allows your child time to burn off some energy and engage in social interactions in a structured, monitored environment. Contact your local YMCA or park district for local camps or classes offered near you.
  2. Keep morning routines the same: When kids know what to expect in the morning, it can help to limit meltdowns.
  3. Post a weekly schedule of activities: These can range from very simple tasks like chores and reading to more involved activities like an outing to the park or museum. Make your child part of this so they feel empowered too! This can also be helpful for your child’s sitter if both parents are working.
  4. Plan for at least one success a day: Let your child pick activities they enjoy doing (or do well J) and give praise for their work. Give them an opportunity to tell you about what they did, too!
  5. Join a sport: Many times a child with ADHD may do better in an individual sport. If you child has a low frustration tolerance, difficulty following directions, or acts before thinking, think about enrolling your kiddo in martial arts, golf or bowling!
  6. Dust off the old board games: Games like checkers, chess and UNO help with executive functioning skills. Uno helps kids practice switching between matching colors versus numbers helps to practice cognitive flexibility. Chess also can provide a platform for teaching impulsive children to slow down and think carefully before making their next move
  7. Cook together:Waiting for instructions (inhibition), trying to remember the directions (working memory) and measuring and counting steps (sustained-attention) all help to develop executive functioning skills.

Have a fun and organized summer!

executive functioning

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ADHD and medication

Medication and ADHD

As a pediatric psychologist, I am often asked the question: “Do you think medications are over-prescribed in children with ADHD?”  The question is a valid one and the numbers are pretty clear: the rates of stimulant medication prescriptions in children rose dramatically in the 1990s (from under 1% to 2.7%) and have been rising at a more modest rate ever since (Zuvekas & Vitiello, 2012).  The most recent rate of prescription in children and adolescents was 3.5% in 2008 (nimh.org).  This sounds like a lot but the truth is, this number is still lower than the 5% prevalence rate of ADHD (American Psychiatric Association, 2014).  What this suggests is that, while the majority of children with ADHD are on medication, there remains a large number who are not.

Medication and ADHD-What We Know:

What we know about stimulant medications is that they can be very effective in treating the coreADHD and medication symptoms of ADHD (inattention, distractibility, and hyperactivity).  What we also know about these medications, which is equally as important, is that they do not do much to impact the long-term course of ADHD (Molina, Hinshaw, Swanson, Arnold, Vitiello, Jensen, Epstein, Hoza, Hechtman, Abikoff, Elliott, Greenhill, Newcorn, Wells, Wigal, Severe, Gibbons, Hur, Houck, and the MTA Cooperate Group, 2009.)  Furthermore, for reasons that remain unclear, the maintenance of medication treatment over time is not well sustained despite the fact that we know ADHD tends to be a chronic condition (Molina et al., 2009 and American Psychiatric Association, 2014).

Other Treatment for ADHD:

This is where additional intervention approaches are vital to supporting children with ADHD and thus far the consensus is a prolonged multi-modal treatment approach that adapts as the child progresses through differing developmental stages.  Such approaches include behavior therapy with the child that focuses on specific skill building and self-awareness, parent training and psycho-education, teacher consultation, and classroom accommodations.  As children enter middle school, it can also be beneficial to spend time with an executive function tutor to begin to lay the foundation for keeping oneself organized, compensate for weaknesses, and feel a sense of control in their lives.

Medication is often an essential part of the treatment plan but to just treat the core symptoms of ADHD, without attention to the functional impairments it creates or the additional psychiatric conditions that often accompany it (learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and conduct problem), would be remiss.

Click here to listen to Dr. Amy Wolok discuss ADHD and medication in an interview on Bloomberg radio.


ADHD

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ADHD and Social Skills

Social Skills And ADHD

Many children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) exhibit significant concerns with regard to their social and emotional functioning.  Research has indicated that there is a high correlation between children who have ADHD and their social skills.  What is important to understand is that many of these children do not have specific social deficits (such as those often associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder); however, the issues with impulsivity and attention to detail impact the social success of the child.

Social Concerns for Kids with ADHDADHD and social skills

Children with impulse control issues and inattention are often at risk for social concerns because of the impact that these issues have on the child’s socialization.  Oftentimes the children have difficulty ‘putting the brakes on’ when playing with peers and struggle with regulating behavior.  The other children might become upset and shy away in future social events.  These children are also at risk for missing social cues when engaging peers which might lead to rejection or neglect in future interactions.

Strategies to Build Social Skills in Kids with ADHD

It is important to provide strategies and support to improve the socialization of children who have ADHD.  These children often need extra support in non-structured situations such as the playground, recess, gym time.  Parents and teachers should work closely with the children to ensure that they are able to provide extra guidance during these activities.  Provide the child with immediate feedback about how his or her behavior is impacting the social environment as well as how to better handle the situation in the future.

Oftentimes with ADHD we are worried about a child’s academic performance; however, we must also be concerned and intervene for his or her socialization and emotional functioning.

Click here to read more about how ADHD affects your child’s social skills and friendships.


ADHD Resource Center
NSPT offers Behavior Therapy in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood (coming soon), Glenview and the Neuropsychology Diagnostic and Testing Center in Des Plaines. If you have questions, or concerns, about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

sensory strategies for a happy holiday season

Sensory Strategies for a Happy Holiday Season

Melodious songs fill your rooms, the aroma of scented candles waft through the hallways, oven timers ding from the kitchen and everyone feels a bit overwhelmed by all the preparations being completed in every nook of the house! The holiday season brings joy, excitement and family time. It also brings with it enough sensory stimulation to last you until next December! Whether it be tactile, olfactory or auditory stimulation, the holidays bring with them a copious amount of sensory information. Holidays can be a tough time for children who have sensory processing difficulties. Just remember, like any other time of the year, there are strategies to help with sensory sensitivities during the holidays.

Prepare your child for a holiday party and other family get-togethers with these sensory strategies:

  1. Create a visual schedule. Include the big details of the event, including dressing up for the get together, thesensory strategies for a happy holiday season commute to the event, expected activities and the friends/family that your child will get a chance to play with. A visual schedule is a great way to prepare your child for the types of sensory experiences they are about to have.
  2. Upon arrival to your holiday destination, help orient your child to the new space. Take a little tour of the venue, pointing out the bathroom, a quiet room and a play space. If you are familiar with the venue prior to arrival, make a map of the space and have your child put their favorite stickers on the areas that seem safe!
  3. If your child is has auditory sensitivities provide him with head phones or ear plugs to help dampen the sounds in his environment.
  4. Holiday parties provide adults with a bountiful feast but can leave children with squeamish looks on their faces. Encourage your child to try something new if the opportunity exists; but if the textures and smells seem overwhelming, have her preferred snacks hiding in your purse.
  5. If your child has tactile sensitivities to clothing, allow them to be comfortable. The holidays can be the time to bring out your best party attire, but that doesn’t mean your child needs a skirt filled with tulle or a bow tie. Allow your child to choose his holiday outfit based on preferences and tolerable textures. Those casual clothes may raise eyebrows, but that’s nothing to worry about as long as you know your child feels safe!
  6. If your child is movement-seeking, encourage a movement break as needed. Use gross motor activities like jumping jacks, dancing or toe touches!
  7. Holiday parties can be filled with the smells of candles, cooking and other guests’ perfumes. Allow your child to bring a comforting object from home, whether it be a familiar blanket or stuffed animal that has the scent of home and provides a sense of safety.

Remember that the holidays are a time for fun, for you and your children! Making the environment more sensory-friendly can enhance your child’s fun and create positive and lasting memories!






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!