Tips

ADD and ADHD in College: Are You Ready?

With summer in full swing, you probably prefer to think about hitting the beach rather than hitting the books. Heading back to high school is one thing, but heading to college or university is something else entirely. Are you ready? It’s exciting to think about new friends, new experiences, and new possibilities. There is so much to be positive about. Being optimistic helps you look forward and dream big!  But your new Psych 101 professor will probably tell you this: the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. So, if you’ve always left your assignments until the last minute, that’s probably going to happen when you hit campus, too. If you’ve lost your wallet, cell phone or keys over and over again, that’s probably going to happen at college, too. If you‘ve struggled to follow your high school teachers—because taking notes and listening at the same time seemed impossible—that’s probably going to happen at university, too. And university or college means new and tougher challenges will be thrown your way, as well. Bigger classes, more reading, more deadlines. Okay. Enough said. You get the idea. If challenges at school are part of your past, they’ll probably be part of your future. And...

Fun (and Functioning) for the Whole Family!

With summer in full swing, you’re probably doing some vacation planning. Maybe you’re seeking “fun for the whole family,” as some venues and theme parks advertise. Not an easy task. How do you plan an experience captivating for your 8-year-old, fun for your preteen, and even entertaining for you and your college-bound young adult? Inherently you know an inclusive experience—one that includes everyone—is key. You are a family, after all.  When thinking about whole-family fun this summer, don’t forget about other things that require a family-focused perspective. You know from experience that when one child is struggling, it can be upsetting—not just for you but for everyone else in your family. Social-emotional functioning can suffer, and so can whole family functioning, if challenges aren’t addressed with an inclusive perspective. Because you are, after all, a family.  When it comes to ADHD, a whole family perspective is also key. If you or your spouse has ADHD, then there’s a 50% chance that one of your children has it, too. And if your 8-year-old child has ADHD, chances are also high that your pre-teen or college-bound kid is heading to high school or university with it, too, threatening mental health and academic success if...

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...

Keeping Learning Skills Sharp During the Summer: Five Ways to Do It

Summer can be a time of relaxation, fun, and long, lazy days in the sun. It’s also an opportunity to keep kids’ skills fresh and to minimize measurable loss of academic and learning skills, known as ‘summer learning loss,’ during out-of-school time. Here are five ways to help your child to make the most of holiday time while keeping skills sharp: Schedule it: Keeping a daily or weekly schedule in place that builds in both downtime and activities need not be confining for families. Scheduling can facilitate planning ahead for parents, keep a sense of reliable routine in place (especially important for children who may struggle during unstructured time), and build excitement and anticipation about upcoming events.  Parents and children/teens can work together to build a plan that’s right for them. Read (and write) all about it: Summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on reading and to read together. Gather recommendations from your local librarian, children’s reading lists, or from friends and family and compile a list of must-read material geared to interest, age group, and reading level. Converse about the characters and themes, and encourage children to extend the story through their own writing or recordings. Pick out...

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...

PARENT LIKE A SHARK AND RAISE A CONFIDENT CHILD
Parent Like a Shark and Raise a Confident Child

As a psychologist and consumer of pop culture (and popcorn!), I love borrowing from unlikely sources to inspire those “aha” moments that help children and families. ABC’s Shark Tank, a personal favorite in my go-to TV line-up, is one of those sources. It’s a show where brave entrepreneurs lay it all on the line for approval, mentorship and yes, even money, to propel their biggest dreams. So maybe you’re thinking, sure, my kids come to me for money, but where are you going with this? Bear with me. Here’s my pitch. Children crave and require unconditional love. They need to know you love, accept, and support them, no matter what, even when their ideas, dreams and behaviors don’t make a lot of sense to you, or you’re certain their strategies will fail. So what can the sharks in business teach you about raising confident children at home? Here are 4 strategies inspired by the tank. Avoid the whole “you’re dead to me” shtick: It probably goes without saying that Kevin O’Leary’s classic line, “you’re dead to me,” spewed when an entrepreneur fails to see the world from his perspective, is to be avoided. Your child will disagree with you at some point...

FOUR WAYS TO MAKE ANY TOY EDUCATIONAL
Four Ways to Make Any Toy Educational

Seems to me there is a whole lot of pressure on parents to buy toys that are “educational.” With the holidays around the corner, you might be looking for that perfect educational toy to complete your shopping list. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know what the heck an educational toy is. Really, I don’t. But from the looks of it, a toy is “educational” because 1) someone says it is, 2) it’s sold in a fancy store with other “educational” products, and 3) you’re told, more or less, “buy this toy and you’ll stimulate your child’s brain.” Sadly, these toys aren’t cheap, especially those backed by experts selling fun-tastic fertilizer for growing brains destined for the Ivy League. Thankfully, I can forgive my parents for failing to buy me fancy, educational toys. Instead (how dare they?!) they bought me, well, toys. Plain old regular toys. And sometimes they didn’t buy me toys at all (the nerve!). Sometimes I played with pots (gasp!), yarn (yikes!), and, wait for it, sticks (noooooo!). All these items were toys, if I chose to impose my imagination on them, and my parents made sure I did so by granting me free, unstructured time...

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...

Helping Your Child with ADHD: Techniques to Regulate Emotions
Helping Your Child with ADHD: Techniques to Regulate Emotions

ADHD and Emotion Regulation: Emotion regulation is our ability to provide adequate control over emotional responses. While difficulty with emotion regulation is not a symptoms of ADHD, individuals with ADHD tend to get flooded or overwhelmed with emotions. Strong and intense reactions can sometimes have positive consequences, such as getting really excited about a family trip, but these reactions can also make getting through the day a challenge. Emotion regulation is a skill that can be learned, often with the help of parents or other adults. Here are some strategies that may help at home or at school: Provide as much consistency as possible. Regular mealtimes and sleep schedules are essential for children's emotional and physical development. Talk about your feelings when appropriate. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings. Label your child’s feelings and discuss emotions as they arise in books or television shows. Model emotion regulation. What strategies do you use when you are feeling frustrated or worried? Practice deep breathing. This is a tool that the whole family can practice and it can be used anywhere! If you are looking for more support, psychotherapy using collaborative problem solving or cognitive behaviour therapy may help your child and family. What is...

iNeedtofocus: ADHD in the age of Tablets

“Difficulties with attention? Yes she does, but not all the time. She can pay attention to her tablet for hours” - are the words we often hear from parents who visit our clinic. These parents are not strangers to the mesmerizing power of tablets, which seem to draw the attention of children like moths to their iridescent glow. Many have experienced the profound ability that tablets have to calm fussing babies, enrapture busy toddlers and entertain children and teens who otherwise can’t seem to focus for long enough to finish their math homework. But what is the nature of the power that these tablets seem to wield on children’s attention? And what is its relationship to ADHD? Those who are reading this are likely from a generation when the mode of play was tinker toys rather than tablets. The launch of the first ipad was in 2010, meaning that these devices, Ontario’s most popular hand-held object next to a Tim Horton’s double-double, are also younger than the average child we see at our clinic! Because of their newness, the literature on these devices and their impact on ADHD is scant, often leaving more questions than answers. But this is not to...