ADHD/ADD

BE ADHD SMART…ABOUT MEMORY

With ADHD, it’s tough to keep a set of instructions in mind until a task is done. That’s because working memory gets overloaded—and distracted—really fast. Working memory is the brain’s juggler. So, if you ask your child to do three things—brush your teeth, put on some socks, and get your knapsack—the juggler tries to hold onto all the pieces at once while it runs upstairs to get the tasks done.   But often those tasks don’t get done. Why?  Because in ADHD the brain’s working memory can juggle only a few things at once, and it often gets distracted. Maybe the juggler is doing just fine holding all three things in mind as it runs upstairs—until it gets bounced off-track by something much more interesting than socks. A toy, a game, a book? Suddenly, the juggler wants to pick up those balls, too. And the toothbrush, socks and knapsack are forgotten, because balls drop when more balls are added.  So, what’s a parent to do? Blogs and books on ADHD will encourage you to do this: 1) look your child in the eye to get your child’s attention, and 2) ask your child to repeat the instructions before heading upstairs. Does this work? Nope. Probably...

Busting the Priority Myth: Stop Prioritizing and Start Succeeding

You want what’s best for your child. You always have. So, when worries arise, your inclination might be to prioritize—to target the problem immediately, and exclusively, before it escalates. In prioritizing, other concerns may become secondary in your mind, relegated to “let’s deal with them later.” Intuitively, prioritizing makes a lot of sense. But it might be working against you. Challenging behaviour? You go to a doctor and seek treatment—and for a while, things settle. Failed exam? You talk to the teacher—and for a while, things settle. Adolescent heartbreak? You enlist a therapist—and for a while, things settle. You prioritize again and again and again, at every turn, at every heartbreak, at every challenge. But development is a moving target, and the priorities keep shifting. You’re exhausted, hopeful, frustrated, confused.  Why aren’t your priorities yielding more success? Maybe because you’re doing just that: prioritizing. And maybe it’s time, once and for all, to bust the Priority Myth. Priorities, listed from highest to lowest and given attention as needs arise, are simply not sufficient for best outcomes. So this notion that priorities are your best bet when it comes to helping your child is a myth.    How do you prioritize when it comes to...

Five Ways To Fit Mindfulness Into A Busy Routine

For kids with ADHD/ADD, it’s easy for their minds to wander to other things, especially when completing tasks they find challenging or less interesting. Mindfulness is a great tool that parents and kids can have in their toolbox. It can help bring our attention to the present moment and help cope with difficult feelings and the challenges of day to day life. Mindfulness has all sorts of benefits, but one roadblock can be fitting in time to practice mindfulness during a busy daily routine. Good news - mindfulness isn’t just about sitting quietly, picturing a calm place, or doing yoga. Mindful moments can happen anywhere and anytime - really! Let’s have a look at 5 ways parents and children can fit mindfulness into a busy daily routine: 1. 4-3-2-1 Game The 4-3-2-1 game is simple: Ask your child, what are four things you see? What are three things you hear? What are 2 things you feel? What’s one thing you smell? Attending to what’s in our environment, right here and right now, can help orient kids to the present moment and to what they are experiencing. Another benefit of this game is getting distractions out of the way before settling down to the task...

Improve Your Child’s Reading Through Direct Instruction

I remember watching all the other kids skip rope. It looked so easy for them, yet no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I was left feeling frustrated and embarrassed. For children that struggle with reading and writing the feelings of frustration and shame can be just as intense. What’s more, if you have a child that struggles to read or write, you will likely know how difficult it is to get them to practice as they, for good reason, avoid things they find difficult. As a Direct Instruction Tutor my first goal is to see my students succeed and feel confident and motivated. Direct Instruction is a trademark program that works by teaching students all the skills needed to read and write. As students begin to experience success they become less reluctant to tackle reading challenges. Using the programs, along with patience, understanding, games and prizes, struggling readers learn to read. Through Direct Instruction, children will develop the tools to ‘crack the literacy code’. If you are interested in a consultation to see if the program is a good fit for your child, please contact The Possibilities Clinic and we will be happy to assist...

The Memory Mullet: ‘Business in Front’ meet ‘Party in Back’

If you’re an adult of a certain vintage, you probably remember the mullet. It’s a hairstyle that’s hard to forget. The hairstyle of choice for aspiring rock stars, the cut had two distinct features: short hair in front and long hair in back—or, as it was affectionately coined, “business in the front and party in the back.” Personal tastes aside, this was probably a tough cut for stylists to achieve (and a tough style for me to draw, obviously!). How do you take short hair in front and long hair in back and create a style that looks cohesive? No doubt, it was hard work for even the most experienced stylist. At The Possibilities Clinic, I talk with parents and students about memory a lot. I draw a lot, too—on the newly installed whiteboards—to try and illustrate abstract concepts from neuroscience, like how memory works.  When I speak with students about memory, I often hear this: “I have a bad memory,” or “I studied hard, but I completely blanked out on the test!” My next question is usually, “Well, how exactly did you study?” The answers tend to have similar themes: highlighting the textbook, reading notes repeatedly, writing out notes over and...

How To Optimize Development While Waiting for an Assessment or Therapy

When I see families for assessment of development, learning, attention or behaviour, many recommendations are patient- and condition-specific. However, others are useful for any child with any developmental concern. There are many aspects that contribute to healthy child development, many of which are modifiable. No diagnosis is required for these interventions so anyone can start them at any time. Here are some things to consider: Early intervention is key! Referral: If there are red flags at 15-18 months, a referral should be made. Wait lists range from several months to over one year so a child still may not be seen until 2.5-3 years. If concerns dissipate, the appointment can be cancelled. Speech and language assessment: Any parent or physician can refer to Early Abilities/York Region Speech and Language/ErinoakKids etc...

FREE LECTURE! Making Memories Stick: Study Skills for School Success in ADHD

A Free Lecture for parents and professionals who work with children and teens with ADHD and Learning Disabilities, or who may struggle in school. Based on their observations that students with ADHD who study hard for tests and exams still struggle to remember the information at test time, Drs. Almagor and Miles will discuss effective memory strategies that are fun and creative, and that will make information more memorable for students with ADHD and Learning Disabilities. In the Q&A session, the experts will answer your questions about memory, ADHD and Learning Disabilities strategies inside and outside the classroom. Speakers: Doron Almagor, MD, FRCPC and Brenda Miles, Ph.D., C.Psych. When: Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 7pm Where: University of Toronto’s George Ignatieff Theatre 15 Devonshire Place, near Bloor & Bedford Avenues Registration is FREE (sponsored by Camp Kennebec), but you must register in advance at https://www.campkennebec.com/adhd-experts-talk/  ...

Possibilities Pick

Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities Author: David Flink Publisher and date: William Morrow/ Harper Collins Publishers 2014 Readers: Parents, teachers, clinicians, secondary and post-secondary students Category: ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Advocacy Link to purchase: http://amzn.to/2ANye0f Let me be honest from the outset. Often books for parents are text-heavy, uninspiring, and do little in the way of clearing a path for action (at least in my opinion). So, when I stumbled upon this resource that promised to be inspiring—with the word “inspiring” right in the title—I thought maybe this book might be different. Keyword: might. Guess what?  David Flink delivers, and I love, love, love this book! Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities is a book that crept up on me. The first few chapters are straightforward and informative. In Chapters 1 and 2, Flink covers the basics of Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and explains the danger of well-intentioned but misguided pleas to “just try harder.” Chapter 3, appropriately called “Take Action,” is a call for advocacy as Flink outlines, very concretely, how to support students with learning needs from all sorts of angles—by becoming familiar with education and accessibility laws, exploring interventions...

Parenting Children and Teens with ADHD

Being a parent is sometimes difficult. Being the parent of a child with ADHD is often Difficult with a capital “D.” Perhaps the parenting techniques and tricks you use successfully with other children just don’t seem to get the same results. Maybe the behaviour and challenges you see are so overwhelming you don’t even know what to try or where to begin. So often, the parenting strategies and approaches that we normally use aren’t fitting and our usual bag of parenting tools just don’t work. If you have experienced any of these challenges parenting your child or teen with ADHD, you are not alone: trouble getting your child’s attention trouble getting your child to listen to you long enough to hear all of what you say children forgetting instructions or rules children getting distracted and not finishing tasks having to ask your child to do something 1,000 times dealing with your child’s impulsive behaviour and decisions struggles and fights during transitions (e.g., morning routine, bedtime) children having BIG emotions or meltdowns children being easily frustrated or angry children experiencing low self-esteem and feeling they are always “bad”   Having ADHD is not an excuse for your child to get away with not following...

The Practice of Mindfulness

In the most basic terms, mindfulness can be seen as the practice of paying attention to the people, places and things around you. This includes personal behaviours, emotions, and their related triggers and responses. Jon Kabat Zinn, creator of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program, defines mindfulness as: “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” This definition adds flesh to act of paying attention and differentiates being mindful as being present and attending to every moment while not holding any judgment or opinions about what is happening. How many adults can find moments in their week where they are truly mindful? The intent behind this state of present-focused awareness makes it harder than it sounds and practicing being mindful can help us self-regulate throughout our day. Self-regulation is our ability to maintain an optimal state in the given context by adjusting our level of alertness and engaging in behaviours that are socially adaptive. How does mindfulness come into play?  The “moment to moment” awareness from being mindful requires the ability to focus and also recognize the many thoughts, feelings and sensations that happen to and around us. This skill...