Executive Functioning

Smart with ADHD: Lessons From Ross Greene

Smart People Don’t Always Get Work Done When it comes to Attention Deficit Disorders and being smart—even gifted—things can be confusing. Smart brains can absorb complex information quickly—and make sense of that information when others can’t. But here’s the confusing part. When work needs to get done—even easy work—smart people can feel unmotivated, deadlines can get missed, and work can go undone.  Does this sound familiar? Think about your own life. Maybe on parent-teacher nights the teacher praises your child’s brilliance and creativity. Then, like every other year, the teacher adds this: “But he needs to take responsibility for his learning” or “she’s not working to her full potential.” Maybe you, too, feel like you’re working in a job that doesn’t capitalize on your tremendous strengths. Is it Boredom and Just Not Wanting to Do the Work? At the Possibilities Clinic in Toronto, parents with smart children often blame boredom—and not wanting to do the work—for procrastination and missed deadlines. “It’s not interesting enough for him. He’s bored.” Why would she finish easy tasks when what she really wants is a challenge? She doesn’t want to do the simple work the teacher gives her.” Explanations like this—blaming boredom or just not wanting to do the work—might apply...

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...

Hair-Pulling, Skin-Picking, and Other Repetitive Behaviours: Can the cycle be broken?

Max is 14 years old. Max has been picking at the skin around his fingernails for two years, particularly when he is stressed, anxious and bored. His repetitive picking has caused bleeding and scarring, despite Max being routinely told to stop by parents and his family doctor and despite his many attempts to stop (e.g., putting Band-Aids on all fingers to prevent picking). Max feels alone, ashamed, frightened, and confused about his picking. After some googling, Max thinks he might have a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior disorder. What are Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs)? BFRBs is a term used to describe a number of ongoing repetitive behaviours (including hair-pulling, skin-picking, nail-biting, teeth-grinding) that result in physical damage (e.g., bleeding, noticeable hair loss, skin lesions) to the body despite considerable efforts by the sufferer to try and stop these behaviours. BFRBS cause lots of distress (e.g., shame, isolation) and impairment (e.g., avoidance of social situations, missed school) despite efforts to try and stop these behaviours. BFRBs are not simple habits that are easy to just stop if one tries hard enough (or else all youth I see with BFRBs would have definitely stopped!). Instead, BRFBs have underlying brain mechanisms and factors that cause urges (e.g., itching, tingling,...

How Occupational Therapy can help your child with ADHD/ADD

Occupational Therapists (OTs) are trained in task analysis so they can work with children, families and their family health and school teams to identify their strengths and challenges in an activity, the factors in the activity and the environment that affect their participation in the activity. OTs not only help the child learn the skill, they may also modify the activity or adapt the environment so the child can participate fully and perform the task. Simple changes, like an adapted pencil grip, carrying around a fidget toy or adjusting the classroom and/or desk & chair set-up, can help a child be more successful. Here are some strategies you can try at home to help your child: Use a visual timer during tasks where your child has difficulties focusing: Analog clocks show the passage of time more visually than digital clocks, which allows us to anticipate events. To provide further visual cueing and reduce anxiety of not knowing when time is up/being told to end an activity “all of a sudden”, try a sand timer or a Time Timer so your child can see how much time is left! Try a visual schedule for daily routines: A visual representation of the various...

8-WEEK MINDFULNESS & EMOTION REGULATION WORKSHOP FOR CHILDREN
8-Week Mindfulness & Emotion Regulation Workshop for Children

8-Week Mindfulness & Emotion Regulation Workshop for Children 8-11 years old Starts Thursday, Feb. 16th for 8 Weeks from 6-7:30 PM Ends April 13th with no session March 16th due to March Break 8 x 90-minute sessions. Cost: $375 Reserve your spot today by calling us at 416-482-5558 or email This eight-week program will engage children in mindfulness-based activities and introduce them to emotion regulation coping skills. Through mindfulness exercises, children will learn strategies to help cope with attention difficulties, anxiety and hyperactivity. The interactive group format will engage children in a fun and relaxing way to boost confidence, reinforce positive behaviour and promote positive social behaviours and well-being. What to expect from this workshop: Improve Focus By learning how their brain responds to stress & by practicing strategies to calm their mind, your child can become better at self-regulating. Taking Action Mindfully Learning to express gratitude and compassion, your child can build the awareness and understanding of others' feelings. Sharpening Your Senses By mindfully observing their senses, your child will become adept at sharpening their attention and enhance memory and creativity. Understanding Emotions: As your child learns new ways to cultivate a positive mindset, they prime their brain for learning and for building healthy relationships. Reserve your spot today by calling us at 416-482-5558 or email    ...

HOME DESIGN FOR ADHD & BEST PRACTICES
Home Design for ADHD & Best Practices

Well, the 2017 IKEA catalog has arrived and already I feel a love-hate relationship brewing. Sure, a love-hate anything is probably not healthy, but let me clear my cluttered desk with a quick swoop of the arm (oops—grab coffee cup before it topples) and settle into my quiet chaos as I explain. The IKEA brand boasts clean lines and organized living, not to mention fabulous meatballs and short pencils you can pop in your pocket if you choose to walk away with something other than furniture on a visit to any IKEA store. Seeing everything in its proper place—on shelving and on hooks, in bins and in baskets—is truly inspiring, and definitely worth loving on page after glossy page. But picture-perfect configuration can be deflating, too, (hence the hate part) if you scan your home and are smacked with strewn knapsacks, a scattering of shoes, and a tornado of toys. It’s easy to grant yourself a pass, and that’s more than fair. Comedian Phyllis Diller once said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” How true! And with limited hours in any day, it goes without saying that meal prep, bath...