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!








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.