Saturday, January 28, 2012

Should your Child/Teenager Tell a Friend that he has ADHD?

After a child/adolescent receives a diagnosis of ADHD, the question always comes up of whether or not it is a good idea for the child/adolescent to tell his friends that he has ADHD. Oftentimes, kids are arguably fickle regarding their friendships. Therefore, one day, your child might tell a friend that he has ADHD, and then, all of a sudden, the next day, the children may not be friends, which might result in him telling everyone that your son has ADHD.

I do not mean to be hyper-sensitive to whom your child tells that he has ADHD, but I do think that it is a good idea to be cautious. Telling someone that you have been diagnosed with a certain disorder involves a certain amount of trust that they will not share what you are telling them with others. This is especially important regarding ADHD, because many people do not understand the derivation and the meaning of it. Therefore, they might look upon ADHD, for example, as some sort of disease. Seriously……That misperception may lead to the child being teased or bullied. Hopefully, instead, the child’s peers might say, “So that is why Eric is king of fidgety sometimes. Oh, that’s cool. Now I get it.”

I asked a 15 year old yesterday whether or not he has told his peers that he had ADHD. He said that he has told just a few friends, because “If you tell good friends, they won’t care. Having ADHD doesn’t change who you are.”

A very insightful comment, but what do you think? Who and why should a child/adolescent tell his friends that he has ADHD?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Maintain a Good Relationship with your Teenager with ADHD

We all know that the teenage years are difficult. That being said, when a teenager has ADHD, these years are so much more complex and complicated for him as compared to his peers who do not have ADHD. Let us remember that individuals with ADHD are arguably more immature than are their peers without ADHD. They are facing the onset of puberty; peer pressure; increased social pressure; more difficult school work as well as an exponential increase in the amount of the work that they are required to do; etc.

This is also a stressful time for parents as well, because no matter how good a relationship a parent has had with their child, all of a sudden when he becomes a teenager, he may behave in a fractious manner to his parent. Quite suddenly, a comment that the parent made yesterday to their child is misperceived today along with an angry retort.

What can parents do to decrease the number of possible arguments that might ensue? First of all, keep your teenager’s schedule very rigid and hopefully, the same as it has always been. In that way, everything will be predictable for him, which will certainly enable him to feel more relaxed.

Second of all, instead of allowing your child to remain insular about what is bothering him, use emotional intelligence. Ask him, for example, “You seem upset. What is bothering you?” Or “Would you like to talk about what is upsetting you?” Or, “Would you like to talk about what is disturbing you now or later?”

Third of all, do not let your teenager see that he has upset you, or that you are giving him negative attention as a result of his inappropriate behavior or inappropriate behavior. If he senses that you are giving him negative attention, his behavior and/or verbiage will be difficult to diminish.

More later….

Monday, January 23, 2012

According to Research, Students who Use Ipads in their Classrooms Improve their Math Scores by Twenty Per Cent

"Study says that iPads in classroom provide 20 percent jump in math scores
After a yearlong pilot program in California initiated by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the math scores of students using iPads jumped 20 percent compared with classrooms that used traditional paper textbooks."

If this study is replicated and found to be both reliable and valid, the results could impact teenagers with ADHD in a positive way. Oftentimes, teenagers with ADHD become confused and overwhelmed by the amount of text in textbooks, so using Ipads could be an easier way for them to learn Math.

Read more:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Stress that Parents Feel Due to Managing their Child with ADHD

If you watch parents saying good-bye as the school bus arrives to take their children to school, each of the parents appear to be smiling and relaxed. I can tell you from a personal standpoint that this is not how they actually feel. Parents of a child with ADHD make a huge sigh immediately after their child has stepped onto the school bus in response to the feeling that they have succeeded in getting their child to school, despite their child’s dawdling and their arguing.

The following is what the parent might have said that morning: Please get dressed; the bus is coming in five minutes; Are you ready yet?; You are sitting on your bed staring and are not dressed yet; I have an appointment, so I cannot drive you to school today, so come on, let’s go.

Here is what the child might have said: I am coming! I am almost ready; I’m tired; Don’t rush me; You always rush me. Please, please drive me to school like yesterday. I’m coming, I’m coming! I can’t find my other shoe! Where is it?

The parents’ stress is derived from both the anticipation of what might happen on that morning, as well as what actually happens. They almost feel that what happens that morning is out of their control, which adds exponentially to their level of stress. Additionally, they feel worn down by the sometimes continuous arguing, haggling and/or bribing that occurs each and every day in terms of their interaction with their child with ADHD.

When parents of a child with ADHD looks to a friend to talk about her struggles with her child, typically, the parent soon realizes that not only does her friend have a short attention span, but she is not compassionate about her plight, because she does not share a similar experience in any way.

What happens next? The parent of a child with ADHD feels isolated and alone in trying to diminish the difficulties that she has with her child who has ADHD. Have any of you experienced those difficulties? Please tell us about what happened and how you handled the problem.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Upon Request from my Followers: A Story about a Child with ADHD who may Remind you of your Own Child with ADHD

I walked into the school where I would be working for the next year and was stunned to see Timmy, an eight-year-old, curly haired, mop-topped imp sitting right outside of the principal’s office. He had his head down and was not talking to anyone. I sat down next to him and after just a few minutes, tears began to flow gently down his cheek. He told me that he was trying to make himself invisible so that no one could see him as they walked by, because unlike him, they were going to gym class.

Why was he not going to gym class like everyone else? His teacher told me that he was not yet ready to go to gym, art, music, or recess with the other children because he talked incessantly; he did not pay attention to instructions; he interrupted whomever was speaking; and he continuously touched others. How obstructive could a little boy’s behavior be that would prevent him from attending classes and activities that would seemingly be fun for him?

In a way, one could not blame his teacher. Apparently the last time he entered the gym, he immediately darted to the closet where all of the equipment was stored and one by one, threw each and every piece of equipment out onto the gym floor. In fact, he threw some of the balls at the other children. His behavior was certainly obstructive. However, was there not one teacher who could try to teach him how to behave appropriately?

Timmy’s teacher quickly told me the answer to that question. She said that “He just wouldn’t listen.” She also told me that she “just didn’t have the time to work with one child.” Timmy was one student in an eight-student class. Was she kidding? Her response gave me a clear picture of how she felt about Timmy and his behavior. I know that you are asking yourself, why did Timmy exhibit these socially inappropriate behaviors? Why did he exhibit poor social skills?

Timmy had a diagnosis of attention-deficit/ hyperactive disorder (ADHD) as well as a diagnosis of giftedness. The symptoms that he exhibited are typical for children with the diagnosis of ADHD as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). Certainly,

Timmy exhibited the following from the DSM-IV-TR:

(b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play


(c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

(h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

(e) is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”

(f) often talks excessively (APA 2000, p. 66).

In fact, if children with ADHD do not learn how to diminish or self-regulate these symptoms, they may arguably spend their entire adult lives feeling friendless, devoid of spouses, and having difficulty obtaining and keeping a job. As hard as it is for me to admit it, you can see how a child like Timmy could be annoying for other children to have around. It was just about impossible for Timmy to get children to like him, let alone to make friends. Each time I entered the classroom, Timmy appeared to be happy.

However, within a few moments, his face showed more and more sadness and hurt. Whenever he tried to talk to his classmates, they would ignore him or make insulting comments to him. His behavior would then suddenly become inappropriate. This was the cycle of Timmy’s behavior: he would talk to his classmates; they would ignore him or make hurtful comments to him; and then he would exhibit socially inappropriate behavior that would irritate them. This cycle was prevalent during all of his classes as well as throughout lunch.

When I came to school to work with Timmy, no one wanted to sit next to him at lunch. Let us look at what typically happened. As Timmy ate his lunch, if the other children did not get up from their chairs immediately upon seeing him walking toward them and sit somewhere else, he would speak to them.

They would say insulting comments to him, such as, “Oh no, here he is again, the talking monster,” or “The jumping jack in a boy’s body is sitting here, yuck.” He would then exhibit inappropriate behavior, such as purposely chewing his food with his mouth open. The other children would then say to me that “He grosses us out.” Since Timmy clearly did not understand how his behavior was causing his peers to respond to him in a negative way, he did not do anything to change his behavior.

I tried to talk to Timmy to help him to understand exactly why his peers were rejecting him, but he just did not understand. He would speak to me about feeling rejected and unwanted but just did not understand the origin of his own socially inappropriate behavior. So I tried a different approach. I asked for and received permission from his parents, the other children’s parents, and the school to videotape him during class, in lunch, in recess, and in gym class. I included the stipulation that the videotape was for my use only. The other children thought that I was videotaping them as well, so they did not complain. I only had to show Timmy a few minutes of the videotape before he got the idea of the annoying nature of his behavior. That tape was a great teaching tool for me over the year that I worked with him, but I will not get into those details here.

After working with Timmy during that year, I knew that I had to find a way to help teachers and parents teach social skills to children with ADHD, so that these children’s socially inappropriate behavior would not result in their becoming isolated, bullied, and rejected. I knew that I had to do something to try to prevent other children with ADHD from experiencing their childhood years in a sad and lonely place like the world in which Timmy lived. If children with ADHD learn positive social skills, they will naturally feel better about themselves. If they succeed in learning these socially appropriate skills, they will be less likely to form negative opinions about themselves, as Timmy had already done at eight years old.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Importance of Listening to your Child with ADHD

When you saw the title of my blog entry, you probably said to yourself, “I always listen to my child. What in the world is she talking about?” I am sure that all of you hear your child when he speaks.
I am talking about paying attention to the nuances in their conversation so that you can judge how they feel about themselves, what is going on in their lives, regarding their social life and how their academic work is going in school. That being said, the interaction between a child with ADHD and their parents is often fraught with struggle, so really paying attention to what they are saying, as I describe the essence of true listening, is not always so easy.

For example, as you drive in the car, the child talks incessantly, or is so quiet and unfocused that you simply cannot even think of anything but driving.  Additionally, as we go about our hectic lives, we rush to get home from work so that we can take our kids to activities, do personal errands, and oftentimes, go to a second job.

Realize that the end of the day is not the optimal time for talking with your child with ADHD about important topics. They are typically fatigued from working so hard to focus as well as trying to behave in an appropriate way for an eight-hour school day. It is also not an optimal time to talk to your child as he is trying to do his homework before his medication wears down.
How will you figure out when is a good time to have a meaningful conversation with your child with ADHD? You will most likely have to be an observer for awhile so that you can judge the typical cycle of your child’s behavior. Each child’s approachable moment is different.  

When is your child’s approachable moment? How will you begin the conversation with your child/teenager with ADHD?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Do some Teachers Think that Teenagers with ADHD are Lazy?

Unfortunately, some teachers do think that teenagers with ADHD are lazy. How does this type of thinking evolve? Teachers often understand when teenagers with ADHD forget to hand in their homework. However, how many times can we expect teachers to bend the rules that are rigidly enforced for teenagers who do not have ADHD? Should these teenagers’ ADHD be an excuse for not handing in their homework on time or at all?

Let me make it clear here that I do NOT believe that ADHD should be used as an excuse by these teenagers. However, one of the most typical symptoms of ADHD is being forgetful. Unless those teenagers with ADHD are taught strategies for remembering to do certain things, such as completing their homework and handing it in to the teacher, they arguably will continue to forget to hand their homework in to the teacher.

I have a teenager with whom I work who has come a long way since I first began working with him, in terms of both social and academic growth. However, he is in ninth grade this year, and is always behind in his work, both class work and homework. This could be part of the immaturity that accompanies his ADHD, or it may be that even though he knows that assignments should be handed in, unless the teacher specifically asks for his homework, he does not give it to them.

I explained to him the other day that teachers are very busy and may not always ask for his homework. Because he is in ninth grade, his teachers probably assume that he will place his homework in the homework file each day, like his classmates do.
When the teachers see that he has not handed in his homework day after day, however, even though he clearly did it and it is in his folder in his book bag, they begin to wonder if he was lazy and simply did not do it.

Teenagers with ADHD may expect teachers to be flexible, in terms of due dates for their assignments. However, these teenagers MUST go halfway and show their teachers that they care about their schoolwork, by trying to design strategies for remembering to do their homework, as well as handing it in on time.
Teachers need to know that teenagers care about the material they are learning and therefore, behave responsibly by doing and handing in their assignments on time. Teenagers with ADHD need to understand that they are responsible for doing their homework and handing it in on time. Those teenagers also need to understand that if they do not complete their homework and hand it in on time, their teachers may very well think that the reason that they have not done so is because they are lazy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Resolutions for Parents of Children with ADHD

I am not a big believer in making New Years resolutions. However, in terms of managing children with ADHD, any excuse that may help these children to become more accountable is a positive change. What New Year’s resolutions or changes can parents make that will impact their child with ADHD in a positive way?  The following New Year’s resolution is vital to the other changes: It is imperative that you have a conversation with your child concerning all of the parameters of this new regimen. In that way, he will be on board before he begins, which will reduce arguments, temper tantrums and deals.

1.      Insist that the child does his homework soon after arriving home from school. In that way, any medicine that he is taking will still be effective.

2.      As the child does his homework, give him two checklists to complete:

a.       Checklist 1. Design this checklist in five minute increments so that the child can check off whether or not he has been paying attention during those times-(If he has not gotten any homework done, then clearly, he has not been paying adequate attention.)

b.      Checklist 2. Design this checklist according to the homework the child needs to complete. Divide each task into several parts. In that way, the child will feel more optimistic regarding completing his homework, which will lead him to feeling more successful in terms of his academic achievement.

3.      Make sure that the child takes a break from his homework every fifteen minutes. However, before you agree to permit the child to have a break, make sure that he understands that he will have to return to his homework until it is completed, without any negotiations for more time.

There is simply no substitute for a child with ADHD to become self-regulated and accountable. In my next blog entry, I will discuss ways to help the child with ADHD to plan in such a way that he always is prepared in terms of his schoolwork.