Here’s everything you need to know about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thomas E. Brown, PhD, discusses ADHD diagnosis, ADHD symptoms, available ADHD treatment options, and ADHD medication.
Here’s everything you need to know about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thomas E. Brown, PhD, discusses ADHD diagnosis, ADHD symptoms, available ADHD treatment options, and ADHD medication.
Trying to teach a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a different job than parenting them. You will become more acutely aware of their shortcomings in terms of attention and focus, and you might find that you become frustrated trying to get through that list that their teacher provided while keeping yourself from pulling out your hair!
At ADHD Ireland, we want you to know that you are not alone and that we are hearing from parents all over Ireland with the same challenges and struggles every day.
We have put together a simple guide to coping with this new “normal” for parents and we hope that it will help you find the right balance for your family:
Being outside our usual routine unsettles all of us, even more so a child with ADHD. Both adults and children may be happier with a rough schedule day to day. Use a piece of paper or whiteboard and post it somewhere that everyone can see it. If you can build it with your children, that’s even better because then they will feel involved and that their input is valued.
But don’t forget, it is about balance between school work and free time. Don’t try to do it all.
Getting up and dressed at around the same time every day and going to bed at the usual time is the best way to keep your children in their normal healthy routine. There can be a tendency to relax the rules around bedtime and switching off TV and devices at night during holiday times, but you need to remember that technically, this isn’t a holiday! Most parents are going to be juggling work at home as well as home schooling and entertaining their children, so it is best to try and treat this time as if you are in school-mode and stick to the usual routine.
The bombardment of news and doom and gloom can take its toll on all of us, but it can especially impact children who are exposed to it throughout the day. Children are very intuitive and they pick up on our anxieties and fears. If we are overly obsessing about the corona virus, you can be sure your children and picking up on that too. This can cause anxiety in children – quite often children with ADHD can tend to hyper-focus more on a topic than neurotypical children – meaning that it can end up affecting their sleep and their overall wellbeing. Explain COVID-19 and the purpose of being homebound in an age-appropriate and positive manner to children. Explain that it is temporary and things will be back to normal very soon. Create an open and positive environment where children feel they can ask questions or express their concerns.
The instruction to stay homebound does mean that your children are probably starting to miss their close friends and their wider family members such as grandparents or cousins. To keep them connected to their wider family circle and their friends, arrange Skype or FaceTime calls and even encourage younger children to write letters to their friends and if they live close by, drop the letter into their post box – what a nice surprise!
While digital devices serve a valuable purpose for us all now during this time of social distancing, it is important to avoid over-exposure to screens for your children. If your children are young teenagers, there is a risk that they will be on social media and might find that there is too much information there on corona virus for them to fathom. For younger children, too much screen time can cause them to become agitated, edgy and wound-up. Open-ended limits on screen time can lead to arguing, so it is best to set the time limit in advance so that everyone knows where they stand.
Daily exercise will make your children happier, even if they complain—and probably make you happier too. It is widely proven that exercise is beneficial to mental health and can be a real advantage to those with ADHD, releasing much needed dopamine which aids focus and concentration. It also releases endorphins, the “feel good” chemical in the brain thereby lifting spirits and boosting one’s mood at this challenging time. A great tip for getting your kids moving is the Operation Transformation 10 at 10 exercises which can easily be done either inside or outdoors, weather allowing. You can access the easy to follow videos here https://rtejr.rte.ie/10at10/
Remember every parent in the country is in exactly the same shoes as you and very few of us are teachers! Take it easy on yourself and don’t stress yourself trying to keep up with the syllabus that your child’s educators were working through. It is okay to just get by now with a minimal amount of academia for your child. He or she will not fall behind their peers – remember we are all in the same boat! Let it be enough that you just appreciate this gift of time that you have been given with your little ones and just roll with it. Enjoy the time together. Teach your child how to bake, sew, dance or draw a giraffe. There isn’t an exam at the end of this for parents. See it as a positive opportunity to enjoy some precious time with your children.
For more information on COVID-19 corona virus log onto https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear.
Look out for one, some or all of the main symptoms:
Other symptoms are fatigue, headaches, sore throat, aches and pains.
If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test.
This is only a guide but close contact can mean:
If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and you do not have symptoms, you need to restrict your movements. You only need to phone your GP if you have symptoms of coronavirus. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.
You could get the virus if you:
As it’s a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person. Spread is most likely from those who have symptoms.
The virus may only survive a few hours if someone who has it coughs or sneezes on a surface. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated.
Drink plenty of water. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help with symptoms such as pain or fever. Paracetamol is usually recommended as the first-line treatment for most people. Before taking any medication you should read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. You should also follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.
If you get the virus, your healthcare professional will advise treatment based on your symptoms.
Antibiotics do not work against coronavirus or any viruses. They only work against bacterial infections.
Supportive treatments, like oxygen therapy, can be given while your own body fights the virus. Life support can be used in extreme cases.
To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) it’s important to think about how the virus is spread.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces). Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.
Some of the things you can do
To help slow the spread of coronavirus:
Follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to follow this advice too.
You should wash your hands:
Updated 17th March 2020
Following our attendance today at a consultation with the Department of Education on the new SNA model, here is an update of our understanding of the new model:
For any further information please reference the Department of Education website.
Disorganised daydreamers. Social butterflies. Space cadets. These are all awful labels applied wrongfully and thoughtlessly to girls with ADHD. Learn the signs and symptoms of attention deficit in girls, and save your daughter a lifetime of shame.
ADHD symptoms in girls can be hard to decipher, which is why the condition is often overlooked and underreported by teachers. The following behaviours, occurring frequently and in various combinations, may indicate ADHD.
1. Daydreaming quietly in class
2. Looking out the window while twirling her hair
3. Picking at her cuticles often
4. Feeling anxious and sad (but not meeting the criteria of any diagnosable disorder)
5. Talking incessantly or hyperactively
6. Appearing to be silly, a show-off, or boy-crazy
7. Seeming to fade into the background; acting shy and inattentive
8. Having trouble maintaining friendships
9. Putting in extra effort to hyperfocus in order to compensate for inattentiveness (and feeling anxious and self-critical as a result)
From ADDitude Magazine, www.additudemag.com for more information.
Updated on January 17, 2020
Does an ADHD diet work? Yes, following an ADHD nutrition plan rich in protein and vitamins can help control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But only if you avoid sugar, artificial flavours, and common allergens as well. Here’s what to eat and what to avoid.
The bad news: Deficiencies in certain types of foods can worsen symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. The good news: An ADHD diet that boasts adequate levels of the right foods actually optimizes brain function.
Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — can have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity and impulsivity.
“Because the body makes brain-awakening neurotransmitters when you eat protein, start your day with a breakfast that includes it,” says Laura Stevens, M.S., a nutritionist at Purdue University and author of 12 Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child. “Don’t stop there. Look for ways to slip in lean protein during the day, as well.”
Faye Berger Mitchell, a registered dietician from Bethesda, Maryland, has a nine-year-old daughter who received an ADHD diagnosis two years ago. While her daughter takes stimulants to control her ADHD symptoms, Mitchell concluded that a pill is not enough. She finds that when her daughter eats a well-balanced diet, including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and plenty of protein, her behaviour tends to be more consistently under control.
Ned Hallowell, M.D., founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and New York City, advises all of his patients with ADHD to think about their plates when preparing a meal. Half of the plate, he recommends, should be filled with fruits or vegetables, one-fourth with a protein, and one-fourth with carbohydrates.
Hallowell also advocates eating several servings of whole grains, which are rich in fibre, each day to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking and then plummeting.
“Many diets are deficient in key vitamins, minerals, and fats that may improve attention and alertness,” says Richard Brown, M.D., author of How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care. He suggests that children and adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD be tested for nutritional deficiencies.
“Supplements and diet can correct nutrient shortfalls that exacerbate ADHD symptoms,” adds Brown.
Zinc regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine and may make methylphenidate more effective by improving the brain’s response to dopamine. Low levels of this mineral correlate with inattention. Iron is also necessary for making dopamine. One small study1 showed ferritin levels (a measure of iron stores) to be low in 84 percent of children with ADHD compared to 18 percent of the control group. Low iron levels correlate with cognitive deficits and severe ADHD. Like zinc, magnesium is used to make neurotransmitters involved in attention and concentration, and it has a calming effect on the brain.
All three minerals are found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, soy, and fortified cereals. While diet is the safest way to increase all three mineral levels, a multivitamin/multimineral with iron will ensure that you or your child gets the daily reference value (DRV) of these minerals.
Studies suggest that giving children who have low levels of B vitamins a supplement improved some IQ scores (by 16 points) and reduced aggression and antisocial behaviour. “Vitamin B-6 seems to increase the brain’s levels of dopamine, which improves alertness,” says Brown.
If your child is a picky eater, or if he eats lots of take-out food, chips, and soda, he probably isn’t getting the daily recommended value of vitamins and minerals. A daily multivitamin/multimineral will ensure that he does, no matter how finicky he is.
Omega-3s are believed to be important in brain and nerve cell function. A new study2, conducted at Göteborg University, in Sweden, concluded that daily doses of omega-3s — found in cold-water, fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, and salmon — reduced ADHD symptoms by 50 percent. Dr. Sven Ostlund followed a group of ADHD children aged 8-18 who took fish oil daily. Within six months, there was a noticeable decrease in ADHD symptoms in 25 percent of the children.
Another study3 showed that omega-3s tend to break down more readily in the bodies of patients with ADHD than in those without the condition. “People with ADHD who have low blood levels of omega-3s will show the biggest improvement in mental focus and cognitive function,” says Brown. “Sometimes the change is dramatic.”
John Ratey, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, recommends that you choose a supplement that contains more EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) than DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
“Herbs may improve blood flow to the brain, increasing alertness while reducing aggressive behaviour,” Brown says. Talk with your doctor, before starting an herb regimen.
“These herbs are cognitive activators,” says Brown. They act like stimulants, without the side effects of ADHD medication. Typically, adults and children who take ginkgo and ginseng improve on ADHD rating scales, and are less impulsive and distractible. Asian ginseng may overstimulate younger children. If this happens, switch to American ginseng.
Several studies suggest that some kids who have ADHD are “turned on” by copious amounts of sugar. One study5 concluded that the more sugar hyperactive children consumed, the more destructive and restless they became. A study6 conducted at Yale University indicates that high-sugar diets increase inattention in some kids.
Some common items to avoid include fruit “drinks” or “cocktails,” both of which are higher in sugar than 100 percent fruit juice. Read food labels carefully, looking for the following ingredients (code words for sugar): high-fructose corn sweetener, dehydrated cane juice; dextrin; dextrose; maltodextrin; sucrose; molasses; and malt syrup.
Studies published in The Lancet7, Pediatrics8, and The Journal of Pediatrics9 suggest that some children with ADHD are adversely affected by food additives. A recent study10 indicates that artificial food coloring and flavours, as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, make some kids without ADHD hyperactive.
Avoid colourful cereals, like Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms. Cheerios are better, and lower in sugar. Substitute 100 percent fruit juice for soft drinks and fruit punches, most of which are artificially coloured and flavoured. If your child wants a treat, offer him something which is free of dyes and low in sugar.
According to studies, gluten, wheat, corn, and soy cause some children to lose focus and become more hyperactive. Vincent Monastra, Ph.D., author of Parenting Children with ADHD, suggests that all children be screened for food allergies before being prescribed medication for ADHD. Talk with your doctor about testing for allergies.
Log onto www.ADDitudemag.com for more articles on ADHD.
We know that school for many children with ADHD brings a lot of challenges. Here are some tips on how to build a morning and afternoon routine to help your child keep on track and get them off to the best possible start!
On 17 December last, the Government decided to introduce a new model for allocating Special Needs Assistants to primary and post-primary schools for students in mainstream classes only with effect from the commencement of the 2020/21 school year as part of the phased roll-out of the School Inclusion Model (SIM).
A pilot of the new system is currently underway.
The recent Government Decision means that the allocation of SNAs for mainstream classes to primary and post-primary schools from 2020/21 onwards will be based on the school profile used for the allocation of Special Education Teachers. The additional 1,064 SNA posts provided in Budget 2020 will facilitate the transition to the new allocation model as well as meeting other priorities.
Under the new allocation model:
These new arrangements will not impact on the way SNAs are currently allocated to special classes and special schools. Professional assessments will continue to be required in these cases and the normal application process will continue.
We will continue to update via our social channels as this project progresses. If you are looking for any further reading on this, please log onto www.education.ie
A smart morning routine — thoughtfully planned and religiously executed — can reduce your family’s daily chaos and stress, though it won’t happen instantly. The trick is exercising patience and praise as you follow these guidelines for getting everyone dressed, fed, and out the door on time and with all socks, shoes, and backpacks accounted for.
Without our bullet-proof morning routine, there isn’t enough coffee in the world to help me manage my family’s chaos. Before our routine, rousing my oldest was like waking the dead. My other two, meanwhile, would take a bite or two of their protein-filled breakfast while whining for frosted cereal, begging, “Please, can we watch TV?”
Many mornings would go like this: When I would ask them to get dressed, put homework in backpacks, and meet me by the front door after brushing their teeth, only one would show up, with no shoes or pants on. I’d spend the next 10 minutes shouting orders while pulling on socks. The youngest, meanwhile, would sometimes start crying. As we finally drove off to school, my oldest would turn to me, unprovoked, and say she hates me. And then we were late for school – again.
There’s no magic fix for such chaos when you have one or more kids with ADHD. Their brains are under-stimulated in the area responsible for planning, organising, and working memory. Caregivers, then, need to work on reinforcing these skills for longer than they do for neurotypical children. Setting up a clear morning routine can work wonders in putting everyone’s best foot forward.
Setting up a good morning routine begins well before the morning of. It starts with preparation days before, along with communication on best steps to make sure everyone is on the same page.
To counter erratic mornings, start by creating a weekly overview of what’s to come. While steps in my morning — like brushing your teeth or making the bed — may not change on a daily basis, erratic changes like dentist appointments, a hockey tournament, or a school project can certainly throw off mornings and create unpredictable situations.
The weekly overview, therefore, should be reviewed every night with everyone in the family. You’ll soon note that the kids will start to plan ahead themselves and come to feel more secure about the week ahead.
Here are other ideas to make the most out of a morning routine:
1. Shape your child’s path by using visual prompts or morning routine checklists that remind them what to do or ensure that potential distractions are out of sight. Giving multi-step directions to a child with a working memory deficit means they may hear only the first or last steps, so visual cues can help. A path may look like physically setting out clothes, a favourite hat, a notebook and pen, and a sticky note with a written reminder before going to bed.
2. Always take off shoes by the front door and place in a basket, so they don’t get lost in the morning flurry.
3. Automate everything you can think of — eventually, your child will do these things on his own.
Take the guesswork out of breakfast by co-designing a menu for the week with the family — you’ll reduce morning stress and ensure that your children get the brain food they need to start the day off right.
Preparing breakfast with the family on a Sunday, for instance, can make the rest of the week go smoothly. You can prepare a batch of batter for quick pancakes, slice fruit and stick it in the fridge, cook sausages so they can quickly heated up in the microwave — the possibilities are seemingly endless. Bonus points for making it easy for your child to prepare breakfast themselves! A chart with the week’s breakfast in the kitchen for all to see can also help.
Your children may not be able to use a knife or stove, but they can pass things, break eggs, or set the table. The more involved they are, the more likely they will eat the food that is prepared. This will also instill responsibility in them as they come to understand their part in having an organised, efficient morning.
These breakfast-time tips won’t instantly change a child’s ability to sit quietly while eating, so be flexible. Some behaviours, like standing to eat, are biological responses that can’t be helped. If they need to stand to eat, let them. If they need to do a lap mid-meal, it’s OK. Your kids will eventually be able to sit through breakfast and all other mealtimes as they mature.
Children with ADHD are notoriously bad sleepers. For some, it’s the residual effect of ADHD medication. For others, it’s hyperactivity. Key to a peaceful and successful morning routine is a fairly rigid evening routine that starts with a consistent (and early) bedtime.
Many parents put off bedtime for their kids until late, hoping that they’re exhausted and practically begging for sleep. But this actually has the opposite effect.
When the body misses its natural sleep window, a child becomes overtired, can’t fall asleep, wakes frequently, and sometimes winds up crawling into bed with you. To avoid this, do the following:
1. Watch for signs of tiredness (yawning and stretching).
2. Move bedtime to an earlier hour.
3. Eliminate screen watching at least an hour before bedtime, and establish a nighttime ritual: candles and lavender soap (calming), story time, a song, lights out.
Consistency is crucial. This may mean declining the invitation to the back-to-school dinner or the basketball party. Or, if you go, anticipate the probable meltdown afterward and prepare accordingly.
It’s important to impress upon your child that they can be in control of how they want the morning to go.
Teaching your child to write down or state intentions can set them up for a better day, and can lead to the formation of positive habits. Intentions can take on the form of: I’m going to wake up feeling rested or I’m going to have a super smooth morning!
Exercise, meditation, affirmations, reading, writing, and visualisation can all help with reducing stress for everyone in the family, helping that much more with better mornings. Practicing daily visualisation for a couple of minutes, like lying in bed, listening to a song, and envisioning how we want our day to go can help you feel more calm, inspired, and focused.
Our sensitive kids are also highly attuned to our energy, so if we’re feeling rushed, stressed, or frustrated, our kids will know it (likely before we do). It’s critical that we do our own work to set our energy each morning — anything from a minute of conscious breathing or doing a guided meditation (I love the app Headspace for this) to going for a walk or engaging in living room yoga. Taking this time helps to quell the morning chaos puts us in the best frame of mind to deal with challenging situations that may arise.
A new morning routine won’t take hold overnight, but implementing the structure and encouraging these behaviours will pay off. Reinforcing good behaviour with praise is essential, so compliment and reward your child when they do something right. And be patient with yourself. You will falter, but stick with it. One day, the dreaded witching hour may turn into sweet, cozy family time that you greet with a smile.
The holiday whirlwind is kicking up dust already. The endless parade of celebrations, parties, and concerts has begun its march. Cooking, decorating, shopping, and entertaining already dominate our weekends. And so it’s no wonder that our kids (and us, too!) are beginning to feel exhausted, disappointed, and quite frankly, put out this time of year.
We asked Edward Hallowell, M.D., an ADHD expert, best-selling author, and founder of the Hallowell Centers, for tips on managing the holiday frenzy so that it doesn’t suck the joy out of the season. Here is how he makes December work in his ADHD household.
Holidays are meant to be fun. Try to approach them with an attitude of joy and celebration, as opposed to trying to run the season like a well-managed classroom. Not only does over-planning and over-orchestrating ruin the fun for your kiddo, “it will probably fail,” Dr. Hallowell says. “The holidays are supposed to be a time to connect with our loved ones, so make that your goal — not maintaining order.”
Concerts, celebrations, and bazaars can throw a wrench into a child’s weekly schedule flow, but if you give your family members a heads up, they have time to adjust. Just be sure to tell them that even the best-laid plans may be interrupted — and that’s OK (sometimes it’s even part of the fun). Advanced warning — and ample time to ponder — helps many children with ADHD to tame their reactions when things don’t go as planned.
When an issue is likely to trigger unease, confusion, or discomfort in your child — from mealtimes during winter break to who is giving gifts to whom — try setting basic ground rules in advance. This could be as simple as saying, “Instead of lunch, we’ll be having dinner at 4 p.m. because the meal is so big and Aunt Jenny has to drive all the way home after.” Explaining when something is happening, and why, can help a child make sense of a disruption in her routine. “Be sure to ask family members who don’t have ADD to help you out with the ground rules, so everyone’s on the same page,” Dr. Hallowell suggests.
No matter how much you try to plan ahead, holiday excitement always seems to unravel things. When you speak to your child in a calm voice and excuse yourself — and him — from situations that intensify, it makes it easier to return for another round later. Remember that you are your child’s best role model; know when a break is in order, and take it.
Holiday meltdowns are practically inevitable. If you find yourself faced with a whopper, Dr. Hallowell suggests demonstrating calm, cool, and collected behaviour for your child. “Sit down on the floor, lower your voice, say nothing if need be, just do the opposite of explode,” he says. Keep in mind that your body language sends messages just as powerful as does your voice (if not more so). “When you model the behaviour you want, it’s easier to de-stimulate.”
The holiday blitz and bling permeate everything — from TV to school to playground conversations — so Dr. Hallowell suggests designating a music- and tech-free spot where your child can go to shut off and recharge. “With so much stimulation already around them during the holidays, it’s important to regulate it from time to time,” he says. If you’re travelling over the holidays, your car may be your peace zone. Wherever you choose, make it a place your child can retreat to easily.
Chopping the tree, attending the winter carnival, and baking cookies all seem like fun, but pack everything into one weekend — or even one day — and it’s a recipe for dysfunction. “Over-committing is a common mistake during the holidays,” Dr. Hallowell says. It can leave the whole family feeling exhausted and burnt out. Take stock of how many invitations you accept, how many dishes you agree to cook, and how many nights off you have. Over-stimulation of any kind is often what prompt kids with ADHD to misbehave, so pace your schedule and practice saying, “No.”
Sit down with a calendar and plan out the best days for shopping, wrapping presents, cooking, and cleaning. Starting each day thinking you can “squeeze in” these extra tasks will only lead to frustration and stress. “Procrastinating causes stress, which is a major trigger for meltdowns,” Dr. Hallowell says. Pacing yourself by giving activities the time and attention they deserve. Whenever possible, start early!
Updated on November 25, 2019
From ADDitudemag.com https://www.additudemag.com/surviving-the-holidays-with-adhd-children/
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