Schooling Your Child’s Education: Getting the System to Work for You

All children in Canada have the right to public education, but getting educational needs met is easier for some than for others. Special ­needs children may require adaptations to the curriculum or extra support from paraprofessionals. Often, advocacy and collaboration with schools will be necessary for parents of these children, but both these tasks require some knowledge of how to navigate the system. Many of the parents who come to our clinic find that this can be a complex and frustrating process. As such, we’ve outlined some basic tips for parents below. Whether you’re just familiarizing with your child’s school or already have them on speed­ dial one, having good communication and a good sense of your child’s learning needs can only help your child have the best experience possible in the public school system. 1. Terms of the Trade: know the ABC’s of IEP’s (etc). Like all institutions, the education system has it’s own lingo and set of acronyms which aren’t necessarily obvious. Below is a list of some common terms you might encounter: Term Definition IEP (which stands for: “Individual Education Plan”) A plan which outlines the special educational programs and services that the child will receive. Psychoeducational Assessment An assessment completed or supervised by a registered...

Welcome to the ME Zone! An Introduction to Mindfulness Training for Kids

Lots of children, and children with ADHD especially have difficulty maintaining attention and staying focused; struggle to understand and regulate intense emotions, and act in impulsive ways. With all of the demands and excitements of everyday life including school, friends, family, technology, games, sports etc. it can be hard for any child to focus on one thing at a time and to be fully present in their everyday life. With ADHD the ability to stay focused and be present is that much more difficult. Difficulty with attention and over stimulation can also make self-regulation difficult for children with ADHD leading them to have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviours. Mindfulness meditation is a therapeutic technique derived from eastern philosophy that aims to reduce arousal, guide attention to the present moment, increase awareness and promote non-judgmental observation. Emerging research in the field of mindfulness meditation for ADHD demonstrates that mindfulness training has the ability to strengthen attention, executive functioning and emotion regulation for individuals with ADHD. The use of mindfulness training is increasingly being applied to work with children with ADHD. When children with ADHD are exposed to mindfulness training at a young age, mindfulness has the ability to strengthen a child’s...

The Pros and Cons of ADHD Medications

On March 30th, 2015, Health Canada released an alert emblazoned with the headline "ADHD drugs may increase risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours in some people; benefits still outweigh risks." Since the release hit the newswires and the media outlets, our clinic has been contacted by patients and their families who are justifiably concerned and in some cases quite alarmed. I’d like to take a moment to do what I can, as a medical doctor and as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist specializing in the field of ADHD, to answer those questions and calm any fears you may have. Let me state clearly and for the record, that Health Canada warnings are not a cause for panic. They’re meant to raise awareness of “possible” risks associated with medications, whether they be for ADHD, high blood pressure, or any other medical condition. They are meant to make patients aware so they can then better manage their condition with the help of their doctors and their families. In terms of ADHD specifically, however, this release gives us the opportunity to address and examine the important issues, facts and misconceptions surrounding ADHD treatments. What they said… The main points made in the Health Canada release address...

A rundown on “The Explosive Child” by Dr. Ross Greene, PhD.
A rundown on “The Explosive Child” by Dr. Ross Greene, PhD.

Review submitted by Danielle Burgess, MSW Candidate University of Toronto Behavioural challenges, whether at home or at school, are one of the most common reasons parents consult with the physicians and therapists at the Possibilities Clinic. Although not a substitute for seeing a therapist, the book “The Explosive Child” by Dr. Ross Greene, Ph.D. contains suggestions parents can put into action immediately. From the outside, the child who reacts to a simple request with a tantrum might seem defiant, badly behaved. While traditional wisdom might tell parents to get firm, set boundaries, or give kids rewards and consequences to change their behaviour, Dr. Ross W. Greene Ph.D. pushes back on these notions. In his book “The Explosive Child” he offers his thoughtful proposition: kids do well if they can. Imagine for a moment that the same child had a learning disability instead of challenging behaviour. Would boundaries and consequences help them learn to spell or do long division? On a cognitive level, kids with behavioural challenges lack skills like frustration tolerance, adaptivity and problem solving. Dr Greene explains that kids would prefer to handle themselves in more adaptive ways, but sometimes don’t simply because they lack the skills to. He shows parents how...

Striving at School Thriving at Play – Lecture Summary

Thanks once again to those of you who joined us for Dr. Almagor and Dr. Miles' lecture Striving at School Thriving at Play - New Approaches to ADHD. For those of you who couldn't make it to the, here's a brief summary courtesy of our sponsor Camp Kennebec's Director Rob Deman. Click HERE to learn more...

2015 Shire Canada ADHD Scholarship Program

The Shire Canada ADHD Scholarship Program was created to help people with ADHD who are pursuing higher education. This year 5 scholarships will be awarded each valued at $1500 CA as well as one year of ADHD coaching from the Edge Foundation. The Possibilities Clinic Director, Dr. Almagor is very pleased to be one of the judges and is looking forward to reading application essays from across the country. The Shire Canada ADHD Scholarship Program Application Deadline is April 20, 2015. For complete rules and eligibility requirements, click here....

New Approaches to ADHD: Striving at School, Thriving at Play

The Possibilities Clinic is pleased to present: A Free Lecture for Parents, Caregivers, Teachers & Other Professionals of Children and Teens Aged 6 to 19 Lecturers: Doron Almagor, M.D., F.F.C.P. (C) (Psychiatrist) & Brenda Miles, Ph.D., C. Psych. February 3, 2015 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM The University of Toronto George Ignatieff Theatre 15 Devonshire Place, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C8 (near Bloor & Bedford Avenues) Click here for directions. Registration is FREE, but you must call to reserve your seat: (416) 482-5558 or register online here. Sponsored by: Learn more about our overnight camp for kids and teens with ADHD, autism, OCD, anxiety and other special needs. (613) 335-2114 | info@campkennebec.com | www.campkennebec.com In 2010 Ontario report cards changed Grades, previously on the front page, moved to the back, and learning skills & work habits became front and center. Experts in the development of children and adolescents now believe that what’s important for long-term success and well-being is less about grades and more about skills like optimism, curiosity, perseverance, and self-control—skills that map nicely onto the learning skills & work habits on your child’s report card! Attention is a key ingredient for many of these skills, but are other factors important, too? Some leading thinkers in the field have argued that a growth mindset is essential. But...

12 ADHD Tips for Happy Holidays!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and possibly the most stressful. Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re managing the holidays and kids with ADHD. 1. Here’s a biggie to start… There is no real evidence to indicate a link between ADHD and sugar. There are personal accounts of a connection, but so far no solid scientific study to back it up. Best advice? Use your best judgment. You know your child best. There are other reasons you might want to consider limiting your child’s sugar intake of course like basic health and well being. 2. While there is no definitive scientific link between sugar and hyperactivity - there is some evidence of one between food dyes and an increase in ADHD symptoms. That being the case, keep in mind that most candies - candy-canes included - contain artificial dyes and it might be a good idea to limit their intake. Some children seem to be very sensitive to these effects and some not at all. You know them best so go by your past experiences to do what’s right for YOUR child! 3. Get moving! Instead of staying cooped up inside with family or video games, send...

Dr. Michelle Pearce, MD FRCPC joins the team

We are both pleased and excited to announce that Michelle Pearce, MD FRCPC will be joining the Possibilities team as of January 2015. Dr. Pearce is an eminent Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist (certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada) who has gained renown as an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Tourette Syndrome, Tic Disorders, and their associated conditions such as ADHD. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Toronto in 1991 and her post-graduate degree in Psychiatry in 1996 from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the Possibilities Clinic, she served for 16 years as a full-time consulting psychiatrist at Toronto Western Hospital’s Tourette Syndrome Neurodevelopmental Clinic, where she remains part time. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Pearce has spent many years teaching undergraduate medical and nursing students. She has also played a prominent role in teaching postgraduate medical residents in psychiatry, neurology and paediatrics. Her advocacy for the safe use of antipsychotic medications prescribed for children has led to her ongoing participation as a guideline developer at CAMESA (Canadian Alliance for Monitoring Effectiveness and Safety of Antipsychotics in Children). Dr. Pearce's professional...

Giving ADHD A Creative Rethink

One of our recent posts was all about looking at ADHD "Symptoms" as "Superpowers" (Thank you ADDitude Magazine for the phrasing). While surfing the internet ocean of information about ADHD we ran across this from Scientific American blogger Scott Barry Kauffman. In it, he asks us to think about "The Creative Gifts of ADHD". Recent studies in cognitive neuroscience indicates a link between people with ADHD and creativity. The Link? A difficulty suppressing brain activity in what Kauffman refers to the “Imagination Network“ in a previous article. (This one is all about Neuroscience of Creativity another interesting read that says that the whole "right brain/left brain" concept only scratches the surface.) Seems that the what educational systems often deem a "disability" might actually be, with the right training and focusing techniques, "immensely conducive to creativity". If our default position as healthcare provides, educators and parents is to see ADHD as a flaw or a fault that needs to be "fixed", we maybe, as Kauffman says "letting too many competent and creative kids fall through the cracks." We should be cultivating the gifts given to kids with ADHD rather than "curing" them - Time to be giving ADHD a creative rethink. Read Kauffman's full article...