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This Month ADHDnews.com turns 5 years old !!
My summer was a busy one. My ADD daughter managed to fail two very important classes, English and Math. She also failed to pass her reading proficiency test. So, in an effort to correct this I signed her up for summer school through the home schooling program and I spent four weeks this summer home schooling my daughter. OH, the things I learned!!
I sat my daughter down and gave her the assignments for the day that she needed to complete and no kidding, it would take her on average at least 8 hours to get through 75 math problems and one chapter in English. Everything was a distraction and what looked to be pure daydreaming was some of her biggest challenges.
The other thing I noticed is that my child can not function in the morning. Even getting up at 7 a.m, she is not fully functionally until at least noon. She simply is not a morning person no matter how early she gets up, no matter how early the night before she goes to bed and no matter how much time she has had to prepare.
I started reading her math problems to her and set a "pace" for her to work at. Also, with my reading the problems and setting the pace, it kept bringing her attention back around to her work. We were getting through 75 problems in about 1 ½ hours. English was a bit more difficult to work with her on because it mainly consisted of work that she had to do on her own. If I let her tackle english late in the afternoon, she did real well and sailed right through it.
She earned 20 high school credits and completed math with an A- and english with an A.
Now, all I need to do is get the school to set a rhythm or beat for kids to work to and also to recognize that we have morning people and evening people and like jobs, offer an extended school day. School for some will start at 8 and run until 3 and for others, they can start at noon and attend class until 7 p.m. Not only will this address some of the issues that those who do not function well in the morning face, but it will make the class sizes smaller .......... well, one can dream : )
This month I'd like to say farewell to Dr. Dave Rabiner. He is moving on to bigger and better things and will no longer have the time to continue contributing his advice to ADDed Attractions. I want to wish Dr. Dave all the best. He was very important to the success of this newsletter and has been with ADDed Attractions since it's conception in 1997. Good luck Dr. Dave!!
** WELCOME !!**
I'd also like to say WELCOME to Terry Matlen M.S.W., A.C.S.W. and Steve Metz. Terry will be joining us at ADDed Attractions and addressing issues for ADDults. You can visit Terry's website at www.addconsults.com.
Steve Metz will be addressing advocacy issues for those of us who have children and who need help in dealing with schools and obtaining services for our children. Steve is the parent of an ADD child who was seriously mistreated by a school district that endangered the life of his son over issues concerning ADD and services for ADD/ADHD children. Steve has turned the years since that time, helping parents advocate for their children as well as lobbying law makers and senators in an effort to make his son's school district follow the laws that protect our children. I'm sure that EVERY parent will find the information and experience that Steve has to share a great resource! To read about Steve's journey, visit http://www.adhdnews.com/steve.htm
A parent writes: Do you have any advice for family vacations? My husband and I often conflict over expectations and consequences when we travel with our kids. I feel like he doesn't make allowances for the fact that we are away from home. He accuses me of always rescuing the kids from his punishment, and he's right! Help! Inside the minds of parents, family vacations are supposed to be a time of bonding and enjoying time together without the pressures of homelife. But so much of our usual routine is suspended that we can forget that on a family vacation one job can actually be harder to fill: parenting. Two primary reasons account for this paradox. First, we need a break, too, and may be less tolerant of the challenges of childrearing when we have invested time, money, and energy into a vacation. Second, our kids do not leave their personalities at home when the family goes away. They take along the same energy levels, sibling reactions, viewpoints, and everything else that makes them unique. Other reasons can be added to this list, including parental disagreements over how to prevent and manage misbehavior away from home.
For a happier and more peaceful family vacation consider these coaching points:
* Act preventively. Parents are wise to review past occasions and plan ahead so that they can back each other up. It's easier to negotiate with your spouse about vacation issues in the calmness of your home than in the lobby of your hotel. Identify issues about each other that will help both of you align a unified parenting approach, whether at home or on vacation. Counterbalancing is when one parent is more indulgent to compensate for the firmer, authoritative stance of the other. This can become a major barrier, making it hard to properly balance frustration and gratification in your parenting roles. It can also lead to decisions that attempt to undo the actions of the other parent rather than decisions based upon what is best for the child. Try to sort these issues out without casting blame and criticizing.
* Don't be lulled into the belief that your children should enjoy all aspects of the vacation. They won't. There is a lot of waiting, joint decision making, and new rules that children are exposed to when on vacation. Circumstances may not allow them much time to adapt. Misbehavior may be the result of your child's temperament clashing with the expectation that they quickly blend with the program, i.e., the stated rules and expectations. Rather than escalate the situation into a power struggle consider a more flexible response.
Find a quiet area to have a "private conference" where they can feel heard and hear you express your understanding of their point of view. And then explain that everyone will have chances to do what they want to do, and that vacations are a time of taking turns. Recognize that waiting for meals, traveling by car, and small, confined spaces can be more easily tolerated by children by using positive distraction. Use trivia and guessing games to keep their minds occupied during those times that require extended patience.
Provide for sufficient downtime where the only expectation is that your children have uncomplicated fun, such as frolicking in a swimming pool or riding bikes along a trail. These activities help them to discharge energy and don't require that they assimilate any new rules. Consider trimming back your itinerary if you haven't allowed enough time for these types of activities.
* Make sure that each parent has time to themselves. Ensure that your family vacation is not just an endless catering to your child, but that you receive some indulgence, as well. We need to recharge our batteries, too. Try out the statement that I turned to when my kids used to ask why I needed to do things without them, "When I give myself some grown-up time it makes me a better dad."
Dr. Steven Richfield is a child psychologist in Plymouth Meeting, PA. His column appears monthly. He can be contacted at www.parentcoachcards.com
Although we have already described the difficult child from a variety of angles, we have conspicuously avoided what most authors on the subjects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other diagnostic categories of behavioral disorders typically start out with front and center.
This is because we most certainly wish to de-emphasize jargon and labels, which have gotten out of hand in case you haven't noticed. The difficult child has been assigned many labels depending on current symptoms, current fads in diagnostic thinking, who is doing the labeling and the labeler's frustration with the child. Schools have become famous for rendering opinions on diagnosis, mostly out of frustration with the task of managing many challenging children.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Emotionally Disturbed, Behavior Disorder, Depressed, Conduct-Disorder, Incorrigible, Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Adjustment Disorder are just a few of the many terms that can be attached to a difficult child. Many more children have avoided formal labels but pose difficulties to their caregivers just the same.
These are children who can also be described as being "Energy. Challenged" in that they are consistently unable to handle or effectively control their physical, cognitive and emotional energy. Often these children are like a Mercedes Benz with the brakes of a Model T. They are blessed with abundant energy, great potential, strong intelligence, and curious and creative natures, but they have limited internal patterning and limited tools and skills to manage their incredible flow of energy, emotion and thought. Dr. Russell Barkley 1 aptly describes children who have been labeled as ADHD as having a disorder of self-control.
They often are gifted intellectually, artistically or with special sensitivities but at the same time are overwhelmed by their intensity. They may actually have a normal or superior amount of control but a far greater than normal amount of physical, emotional, temperamental or neurological intensity. Children do not come off an assembly line with evenly regulated energy systems.
To characterize the quality of being over-energized is to describe children who are struggling frequently to control or maintain appropriate behavior. These children require much greater effort, focus, inner-guid-ance and self-control than the average child to achieve and maintain success. Just as you have to work harder to meet the real demands of parenting such a child, an intense child has to work much harder than the average child to appropriately control and channel his intensity.
Over-energized children struggle with lack of inhibition. There are times when they cannot conjure up the inner control required to override their impulses to do the inappropriate… often in ways that place them in extreme conflict with their environment or the people close to them.
These may become children who are kicked out of school or childcare when adult frustrations accelerate, or who find themselves in out-of-home placements. Without tools to deal with their intensity, these chil-dren are prone to failure in most conventional support systems.
1. Barkley, Russell A., PhD., Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents, Guilford Publications, Inc., New York, 1995..35 Under-energized children can also be energy-challenged and difficult, but in different ways. They may be children who are so sensitive or reactive that they often function in an overly passive, depressed, withdrawn or shutdown state.
They are often overlooked in a busy classroom or family and do not actively seek to have their needs met in positive ways. They may also turn to misbehavior for attention, but usually in obtuse or inconspicuous and less pronounced ways. In some instances, this type of child is the "daydreamer," "doodler" or "worrier" who fails to finish or undertake required work and responsibilities. In other instances the child is quietly defiant.
Difficult or energy-challenged children are often recognizable by the frustrations of those who love and work with them and their own frustra-tion in failing to get in gear more than sporadically. The children we are referring to here invariably are not exercising the potential of their true worth and abilities. These children often defy treatment and educational techniques and are not being adequately served by the current school, home, juvenile and mental health programs.
Energy Is A Gift: The Other Side of ADHD Anyone who has experienced the glory of focusing his energies and accomplishing a goal or a project or mastering a skill knows that energy is a gift. The problems occur when energy is disorganized and unstructured. Although energy-challenged children manifest malfunctions of control in pronounced ways, at one time or another we all are flawed in our ability to control our energies.
How many of us can stick to a diet for more than a short period, despite our knowledge of the consequences? How many of us properly avoid ultraviolet rays or the intake of foods that can lead to disastrous effects? How many of us are self-disciplined enough to exercise daily or build the inner controls and skills necessary to overcome our fears or to handle our strong feelings or negative thoughts?
The truth seems to be that we are all at least occasionally compromised in our healthy ability to apply self-control. Hyper-energized and hypersensitive children are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to applying the brakes because they have so much more to overcome. The brakes on a cement truck have to work much harder to stop the vehicle at 10 miles per hour than do those on a little Honda going the same speed. Another important thing to keep in mind when dealing with children is that they are still learning to apply the brakes in general.
This is a major part of the developmental overlay of childhood. They aren't even close to our mature development in this department, and they certainly weren't born with any ability to control. Babies have virtually no control at all. If they did, there wouldn't be a diaper industry. Control is a process mastered through evolution and development. As things stand, very few people envy anyone with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). An ADHD child's inability to control his intensity and impulses is mainly looked upon as a curse. Children who are bouncing off the walls in over-energized fashions are considered by some to be a blight on society. Having a lot of energy is not a crime, however. Energy is the essen-tial element in all our accomplishments.
Anyone, though, who has experienced either unharnessed energies in themselves or in another knows that it can seem overwhelming. Just think to the last time you had too much caffeine or were extremely nervous or excited about an upcoming event. Energy is something that we all have in common. It is absolutely essential to every aspect of our endeavors. Without energy, it would be hard to accomplish anything, as is evident when we are feeling run down. In a like manner, managing our energies is another task we all have in common.
It seems that a lot of what we do is a matter of self-regulating our energy systems. When our energies are on an even keel, the management requirements are usually simple. When our energies drop or explode, the job of managing them becomes much more complex and difficult. Let's say, for example, that you or I feel nervous, angry or just plain excited about something we just heard about. We are now in the position of having to handle an extra boost of energy within the bounds of what is okay. If we are angry and we handle our anger inappropriately, then we often may be judged on the basis of an impaired level of skillfulness and the choices we have made under stressful conditions.
We all have been overwhelmed by our energy at one time or another and we all know the feeling of having our brakes, or our ability to control our energy, falter from time to time. The key is, you wouldn't throw away a Mercedes Benz if the brakes weren't up to snuff. You'd find a brake specialist, and if they were scarce, you'd probably insist that the one you located teach you the tricks of the trade in case the problem ever crops up again. There are too many treasured features of the car to abandon it, but it sure could under-function if the brakes were on the skids, so to speak.
Most ADHD children simply have underdeveloped abilities to apply the brakes and to contain their strong feelings and impulses. Their energies periodically or even frequently overwhelm them. They do not consistently get to enjoy the positive impact their energy can have on a project or personal endeavor. If they do, it only happens on and off, seemingly with no rhyme or reason. What's the difference between a highly efficient, energetic, successful child and a hyperactive child whose behaviors have fallen into patterns of impulsiveness, distractibility, poor response to directions, school failures, poor self-esteem, anxiety, anger, poor peer relationships or more?
The only difference is in how the child harnesses and directs his or her energy. It's the same energy with different manifestations.
It's hard to throw yourself fully into any endeavor successfully unless you feel self-assured. Take, for instance, a job situation that at first glance was new and confusing. One who knew exactly what was going on could approach the required tasks with absolute confidence. The ability to apply one's energies fruitfully is diminished to a large degree when there is anything less than clear understanding and a reasonable hope for success.
Energy-challenged children also require clarity of expectations and experiences of successfulness. Success leads to being self-assured in managing one's energy in a positive, confident and competent manner. Getting A "Brake" So, can we reach down deeper into the tool kit to see if there is a brake application to match the energy level of the modern high-powered, deluxe model vehicle? Can self-control be developed and augmented to match the intensity of the energy-challenged child? Absolutely!
We can moan and groan about the Model T brakes all day long, but it won't change anything. The brakes cannot change themselves. Likewise, no amount of urging the challenging child to apply the brakes will work for more than a couple of minutes, hours or days at best. If the brakes on my car weren't working, how much would be achieved by standing by the car and demanding improvement? "When I come back in five minutes, I want you to be working." Fat chance. Even if a miracle occurred and they worked again temporarily, the likelihood of long-term functioning is remote. The situation requires a mechanical solution: an intervention through action.
The Legacy of TV Parenting Most of us watched our fair share of "Ozzie and Harriet" types of family television growing up. Shows like "Cosby," "The Waltons" and "Father Knows Best" have had a strong influence on our collective psyches by depicting an idealized version of family life in which every problem gets solved in 30 minutes and everyone comes out smelling like a rose. It made for great TV. Situations or conflicts were invariable solved with a discussion, a warning, a reprimand or a lecture, and life then proceeded smoothly.
TV versions of parenting easily get co-mingled with our own idealized versions of what a family should look like. This gets in the way, especially when parenting a difficult child. Difficult children need crystal clear and predictable limits. We throw them a curve when we give warnings, look the other way or use fuzzy consequences that seem natural and logical and might work with children of easier temperaments.
For the difficult child-who is literally addicted to negative reaction-lectures, warnings, and reprimands are actually rewards of our attention and energy. The reprimand or sermon that worked on "Theo" backfires with the difficult child. The idealized textbook of television parenting that we've been ex-posed to doesn't come close to meeting the intensity required by the difficult child. Parents instinctively raise the intensity of their interventions with the challenging child, but more intense versions of conventional parenting only wind up reinforcing the child's impression that more reaction can be gained from negativity.
What looks good on TV backfires in real life. So many parents that we see are at their wit's end because the behaviors of their child have escalated beyond their own abilities to help. Ninety-nine percent of the time these are people who deeply care and who have gone to great lengths to apply the methods at their disposal. Unfortunately, they are also frequently condemned because schools, neighbors and extended families often attribute the continuing behavior problems to inadequate parenting.
No Blame It is so easy for the parent of a difficult child to feel blamed. Teachers, principals, other school personnel, as well as significant others in the family or the neighborhood are notorious for assigning blame, unintentionally or intentionally. Even therapists do it. The use of the term "dysfunctional family" has reached nauseating proportions. Telling a family that their child must be on medications to remain in school is yet another way of communicating to the parents that they are having no impact and there is no hope of their having an impact. In our experience, blame is almost entirely unwarranted. We know this because when we give parents who have been so accused different and stronger methods, not only does everything fall into place behaviorally for the child, but the parents come out shining and rightfully feeling great about the changes they have fostered.
The irony is that they usually have to expend a lot less effort using the new techniques. Handling problems on a frequent basis consumes a lot of energy.
Although many societal factors would have us believe that these families of difficult children are dysfunctional, they are far from dysfunctional when they have the right tools for the job. It's the tools that are culpable, not the parents. Taking the Dive This book is about the steps necessary to build success and competency, for both you and your child. It will involve some effort, as does anything involving change and energy. However, it will be surprisingly simple and the rewards will be enormous. It should be heartening to know that these strategies are designed to empower parents with powerful, non-conventional tools that work in a short period of time, even with very difficult children. In essence, you will be given all the tools necessary to become the therapist for your child.
If your child is currently in treatment, please discuss these techniques with your child's therapist. They are not meant to take the place of therapy, but you may be among the many parents who discover that therapy is no longer necessary once the entire regimen of strategies has been implemented.
You ultimately must be the judge as to what is most beneficial for your child. Some parents may hope an outside therapist can make the desired changes for their child by uncovering some hidden dilemma or by giving the child some new keys to life. However, most parents innately sense that some changes in the home and classroom are the key. Most experts would agree.
Most benefits or positive changes arising from outside treatment will be short-lived without the environmental shifts that support the child and the parent over the long run.
Committing yourself to all this book's steps in sequence, despite the level of challenge, will sharply increase your chances of a successful outcome. In our experience of bringing this treatment to thousands of families with difficult children, those who follow through with commitment invariably have excellent results.
A basic rule of thumb is this: the more intense the child, the more intense the intervention. Our system allows for higher levels of application when necessary. Conventional parenting systems would falter and make things worse when "amping up" the strategies for an extremely intense child. Our system is designed to meet this need. Many parents are already spending the better part of their mornings or evenings being drawn into time-consuming conflict with their child. Dealing with problems can take hours of your time.
The methods described in the following steps will altogether re-quire a small fraction of that time.
Some families certainly will have to work at this with more resolve than others. Families with older children, who have had longer experiences of entrenched negative patterning, as well as parents of children who have witnessed domestic violence, will frequently have to intensify the latter stages of this sequence. Foster and adoptive parents often have children who have had unusually chaotic early lives and will need to employ the steps that we are going to prescribe more vigorously.
You may well know the territory of hopelessness and be fully aware of the sense of helplessness that often comes from parenting a child with whom little works for very long, if at all. All parents of difficult children have experienced this to a certain degree. To persist in this situation is infinitely harder than undertaking anything you will read in this book.
If the challenge of changing your approach with your child concerns you, consider your frustrations up to this point and your worries about the future.
Frustration is excellent fuel to inspire change. It shows how much you care. These techniques will just be some new ways of putting caring into action.
September 22, 2000 Washington DC Hilton & Towers Hotel
This intensive, practical workshop will provide essential information for any mental health professional who works with girls and women. Drs. Nadeau and Quinn will focus on gender issues and ADHD including: under-diagnosis in females; special challenges; comorbid conditions; special considerations in medical treatment; non-medical treatment; and more.
You will leave the workshop with knowledge, resources and skills you can use immediately in your work. Drs. Nadeau and Quinn are dynamic presenters who provide an extraordinary learning experience in this much requested and critically important topic.
Dear Readers, I have presently given my son metabolife generics in capsule form to compensate for his activity level. This is another option to try if the level of activity is high and you are looking for yet another natural alternative that will work at an affordable price. My son is doing great and his appetite hasn't diminished.
We are still taking the vitamins though when my son was on visitation I slacked off at times and my body reacted to the lack of nutrition it needed. I had cramping in my legs that I had not experienced in more years than I can remember! I am back to taking them regularly and as usual they make a considerable difference in your body and attitude.
This is a lesson that definitely refreshed the reasons to be consistent and the rewards thereof. Follow through on any level is what is needed for success. I am working with another parent with two children who is having much success with taking the herbals along with the vitamins. She realizes that this does take time but is finding that by being consistent and applying good parental skills she is seeing marked improvement with both children.
Thank you again to all of those who have written to me and I will continue to be available to answer questions, research, comfort, and give direction to those who request it. I am now making available all three of the books that I have written in segments of information that can now be purchased individually from a dollar to no more than five dollars. If you would like a list please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (natural alternatives, vitamins, herbs, minerals, tests available, family issues, and much more!) It is costly to produce books and this way I can make the information available at affordable prices.
I look forward to your emails and (with permission) I would like to take and answer your letters in my article with your name or anonymously. I feel that this way we can learn and share together. The benefit would be that I could be much more in depth and therefore provide a more abundant amount of information instead of being vague but descriptive.
Many thanks to my sponsors who support my site and this newsletter. It's because of this support that I am able to continue bringing this information to you FREE month after month!
Phil Stinson Esq. Special Ed Attorney: www.specialedlaw.net
Copyright 2000 Brandi Valentine. All rights reserved. This Newsletter is copyrighted by the authors and/or publisher and is registered with the Library of Congress.
ADDed Attractions may be used for non-commercial purposes only and may not be redistributed for commercial purposes without the express written consent of Brandi Valentine.
Appropriate credit should be given to this resource and it's authors if It is reproduced in any form. Brandi Valentine
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