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12 Tips to Navigate Summertime When Your Child Has ADHD

By MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, MS

12 Tips to Navigate Summertime When Your Child Has ADHDParenting a child with ADHD can be especially tough during the summer. “Kids with ADHD blossom when they have a structured schedule, and summertime is notorious for having a lack of scheduling,” according to Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, a psychotherapist and author of Making the Grade with ADD: A Student’s Guide to Succeeding in College with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Psychotherapist and ADHD expert Terry Matlen, ACSW, agreed. Because most parents can’t mimic the tight structure of school, kids often get bored — and may get into trouble, she said. That’s because when kids with ADHD get bored, they seek out stimuli, which can be anything from picking fights with their families to playing with fire, she said.

Some parents discontinue their child’s medication during the summer, which poses another challenge, said Matlen, also author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD. “That can create a situation where the child has a hard time with self-control, mood regulation [and] social behaviors.”

But while the summer can be challenging, you can absolutely overcome these obstacles and enjoy a fun break. Below, Sarkis and Matlen offer their excellent suggestions.

1. Create Structure

Again, structure keeps your child focused. You can create structure by engaging your child in activities at the same time each day or meeting on the same day each week.

Because ADHD runs in families, one of you may have ADHD as well, making it harder to establish structure. Enlist the help of your non-ADHD spouse to assist with planning out the day.

2. Incorporate Physical Activities

Physical activities are especially helpful for kids who are impulsive and hyperactive. It helps them direct their energies in acceptable, healthy ways. If your child is clumsy, try non-competitive activities such as swimming, running and biking. (Some kids with ADHD have fine and gross motor skills that may not be on par with others their age.)

3. Start a Rotating Playgroup

Sarkis suggested that parents set up a weekly playgroup with other parents around their neighborhood. You can meet once a week at a different home for a few hours. This is an inexpensive way of providing structure to a child, and it also giving parents time off in the process.

4. Consider Camps

According to Matlen, young kids do great in day camps that offer outdoor, structured activities, while overnight camps with physical outlets are ideal for older kids. If your child has a specific interest, such as art, horses or computers, specialized camps are another excellent option, she said.

Both Sarkis and Matlen also suggested camps for kids with ADHD. To find a camp, contact your local CHADD group or post on an ADHD forum, Sarkis said. “Look in your local paper, and ask your pediatrician, teacher, or school counselor,” she added.

(Also, this article has several helpful suggestions on finding a good camp.)

5. Try Local Facilities

If camp isn’t feasible, try a local swim club or the Y, Matlen said. These facilities offer an array of fun activities at an affordable cost.

6. Get Creative

Parents can also set up a badminton set in the backyard, purchase a trampoline [or] set up an obstacle course with tunnels and objects to hop over.

7. Engage Them in Nature

For instance, show your kids how to garden. Kids can get dirty while learning about nature. Also, setting up bird feeders and tending to the food gives kids the opportunity to learn how to care for living creatures.

8. Visit the Library

Kids with the inattentive type of ADHD often prefer quiet and calm activities. During the summer, many libraries offer either free or low-cost programs for kids.

9. Check out the Arts

Kids who prefer quieter activities also might enjoy attending concerts, plays and art classes.

10. Encourage Older Kids to Work

If your kids are older, talk to them about the many ways they can earn money, such as dog walking, pet sitting or even having a lemonade stand. This improves math skills and promotes a healthy independence and solid self-esteem.

11. Let Your Child Have a Say

Ask your child what they’d like to do this summer, including the new skills they’d like to learn, such as playing the guitar, camping or cooking. Once he sees that he has input and that his opinion is valued, the parent has a much better chance at getting him to try new things.

If your child already has a certain skill, ask if they’d be willing to teach that skill to a younger child. According to Matlen, this can “do wonders for his self-esteem, which for many kids, can get pretty battered during the school year.”

12. Consult your Doctor about Medication

Some parents take their kids off medication during the summer since there’s no schoolwork. However, it’s important to thoroughly discuss this decision with your child’s doctor, Matlen said. She’s seen kids significantly struggle without their medication. For instance, because of their hyperactivity and impulsivity, they may lose friends, she said. And their behaviors might cause tremendous stress on the family.

In addition to creating structure and engaging your child in a variety of enjoyable activities, don’t forget to find some alone time for yourself, Sarkis added.

Source: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/05/14/12-tips-to-navigate-summertime-when-your-child-has-adhd/H

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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in General

 

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Helping Children Thrive with LD/ADHD

By Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD

Helping Children Thrive with LD/ADHDAccording to the U.S. Department of Education, almost 1 million children have some form of learning disability for which they receive special educationParents report that over 5.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, a figure that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims are continuing to increase annually. Millions more have varying diagnoses that affect learning and life success, including autism spectrum disorders.

For those of us who have parented children with learning disabilities, ADHD, and associated mental health issues, these figures not only represent challenges for our educational and health systems, they are deeply personal matters that affect the core of our families and our children’s happiness.

Beyond the logistics of educational assessments, tutoring, and daily homework challenges lies the responsibility of all adults—parents, teachers, and counselors—to foster a positive mindset that helps kids overcome the many obstacles they face.

Like millions of other students, my daughter’s story is unique. Among her many hurdles was learning to compensate for a reading speed in the lowest one percentile, a challenge that continues today as a 29-year-old.

But with acceptance and encouragement, children and young adults are surprisingly resilient and learn to embrace their differences. Recently, my daughter wrote about five ideas that fueled her success from middle school through law school as a student with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. She presented these ideas as part of an article, To Parents & Educators: From an Attorney with LD/ADHD and gave me permission to reprint them here.

Needless to say, I am very proud of how my daughter developed a path to accomplish goals she set for herself. But more importantly, what she outlines below as critical steps in her journey to understand and embrace her differences supports much of the research on positive youth development. All children must learn to overcome obstacles in order to believe in themselves!

In her own words, here are the five steps that were critical to my daughter’s success, ideas she now tries to instill in other young people.

Understand your Disabilities

Every student has strengths and weaknesses. But kids with diagnosed disabilities need to understand their academic and emotional assets and liabilities really well. By middle school, educational testing can help students look inside themselves and understand how their disabilities impact their studies and social lives. Knowing what they need from teachers, tutors, counselors, peers, and parents is a foundation for future growth.

Ask for Help 

It’s okay to be different; embrace it. I can’t emphasize this enough. I have friends who were told to hide their disabilities from teachers. As a result, they felt unhappy and defeated. It wasn’t until they got tested, shared their disabilities, and requested accommodations that they were able to finally get into a college and get the degree they wanted. The earlier students learn to work with their disability and understand it as part of their identities the better. Embracing our disabilities give us the confidence to talk with teachers, administrators, and trusted friends about what we like, what we are good at, and what we need help with. We often can’t, and don’t have to do it alone.

Never Use your Disability as an Excuse

It can be easy to say to a teacher, “I need an extension on this paper because I am slow at writing.” While this may be okay early on in school, it doesn’t work in college or the real world. So why get used to it? Rather than using a disability as an excuse, students must find ways to compensate. Figure out how to work efficiently and effectively, rather than longer and harder. Most kids with learning disabilities need help developing efficient work habits. Ask for help!

Use Compensatory Strategies

Working longer hours is necessary at times. But it can also lead to burnout. There are lots of compensatory strategies for learning, and many books on the topic. You’ve likely heard of many, including, making lists, getting organized, using memory tricks, etc. The key is finding the strategies that work and altering others to make them your own.

For example, I’m a very slow reader and got frustrated when I couldn’t finish reading assignments. But I’m a good listener and I understand high-level concepts. My strategy was to listen in class, research the topic, and then boil down the minimum reading necessary. Finding strategies that worked for me helped me set limits on my school work, gave me time to socialize, and helped me have time for myself.

Taking time away from stressful school work is essential for students with learning disabilities and contributes to better mental health. It also allows students to focus on bigger dreams, careers that might take 4-8 years of secondary education!

Know you can Achieve your Goals

Setting goals is important for all of us. And most importantly, we have to develop the determination to achieve them! I encourage students with LD/ADHD to find adults who give them positive messages of encouragement, who listen to them when they express self-doubt. With the right support and strategies, we can do anything we set our minds to!

Having learning disabilities and/or ADHD is not easy. And it doesn’t end when we finish school. With every change, come new challenges and strategy adjustments. I always remember what the famous educator, Booker T. Washington said more than 100 years ago, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles overcome while trying to succeed.” Challenges are what make life exciting—they are what define who we are and who we become. Embrace the challenges!

Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201204/helping-children-thrive-ldadhd

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in General

 

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Starting School Early May Affect ADHD Diagnosis

By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Starting School Early May Affect ADHD DiagnosisSchoolchildren who are young for their grade may have a greater risk than their older classmates of being diagnosed with and treated for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers found.

Boys and girls born in the month before the age cutoff for entry into kindergarten were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and 41% more likely to receive a prescription for an ADHD medication than those born in the month after the cutoff, according to Richard Morrow, MA, of the University of British Columbia in Victoria, and colleagues.

And those born in the month before the age cutoff for entry into first grade were 70% more likely to get an ADHD diagnosis and 77% more likely to be prescribed ADHD medication, the researchers reported online in CMAJ.

Although the appropriateness of diagnosis and treatment could not be evaluated, the findings raise concerns about possible overdiagnosis and overprescribing in children who are younger — and presumably less mature — for their grade, they wrote.

“Children who are given medications to treat ADHD are exposed to adverse effects on sleep, appetite, and growth,” Morrow and colleagues wrote. They also noted an increased risk of cardiovascular events, although that link was disputed in studies published last year in Pediatrics and the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Inappropriate diagnosis of ADHD in a child born late in the year might lead parents and teachers to treat the child differently or adversely change the child’s self-perceptions,” they explained. “Our analyses add weight to concerns about the medicalization of the normal range of childhood behaviors, particularly for boys.”

Previous U.S. studies have yielded similar findings, but the issue had not been explored in Canada, which has lower reported rates of ADHD diagnosis and treatment and differences in healthcare delivery, cultural attitudes, and marketing by pharmaceutical companies.

Morrow and colleagues tackled the issue using administrative health databases from British Columbia, where the annual cutoff birth date for entering kindergarten or first grade is Dec. 31. So children born in December are typically the youngest and those born in January are typically the oldest in each grade.

The study included 937,943 schoolchildren who were 6 to 12 years old at any time from Dec. 1, 1997 through Nov. 30, 2008, and were covered by the provincial health plan.

The average age for children born in December and those born in January was similar (7.8 years).

For all years combined, the percentage of children who received an ADHD diagnosis increased from January to September birth dates and then leveled off. The proportion rose from 5.7% for those born in January to 7.4% for those born in December for boys and from 1.6% to 2.7% for girls.

Similar trends were seen for ADHD medication prescriptions.

Being born in December versus January was associated with a greater risk of receiving an ADHD diagnosis for both boys (RR 1.30) and girls (RR 1.70), as well as a greater risk of being treated for the condition (RRs 1.41 and 1.77 for boys and girls, respectively).

The relationships remained relatively stable over the study period and were present for all ages included in the study. The magnitude of the associations diminished for older girls, however.

“The potential harms of overdiagnosis and overprescribing and the lack of an objective test for ADHD strongly suggest caution be taken in assessing children for this disorder and providing treatment,” Morrow and colleagues wrote.

“Greater emphasis on a child’s behavior outside of school may be warranted when assessing children for ADHD to lessen the risk of inappropriate diagnosis,” they continued. “Further research into the determinants of ADHD and approaches to its assessment and treatment should consider a child’s age within a grade.”

Source: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/ADHD-ADD/31489

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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in General

 

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Ritalin Gone Wrong

Ritalin Gone WrongBy L. Alan Sroufe

THREE million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning. But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled? Read more @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/childrens-add-drugs-dont-work-long-term.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&hp

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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in General

 

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ADHD: A Modest Proposal

ADHD: A Modest Proposal

By Steve Balt, MD

I’m reluctant to write a post about ADHD. It just seems like treacherous ground. Judging by comments I’ve read online and in magazines, and my own personal experience, expressing an opinion about this diagnosis—or just about anything in child psychiatry—will be met with criticism from one side or another. But after reading L. Alan Sroufe’s article (“Ritalin Gone Wild”) in this weekend’s New York Times, I feel compelled to write.
Via thoughtbroadcast.com

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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in General

 

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