|ADHD Information Home > ADHD Articles 1999 > July 1999 ADHD Newsletter
It will be 4 years in August when I went to the net with my experiences with ADHD. When I first started my site, it was one of the only sites out there that offered information to parents with ADHD children, now there are literally hundreds if not thousands of sites available on the internet.
I started my site because I was angry about how my son was treated and I wanted other parents to learn how to prevent the same things from happening to their children. I also wanted parents to realize that the schools do have services and help for our children and I wanted parents to know how to obtain them. I do it now, as I did then, from the heart.
Today, ADHD has, in my opinion, became an industry much like weight loss, where for many people ADHD is a business, with a bottom line. While I understand the valuable need for quality services and products, I have never subscribed to the notion of "charging" parents for information. Having to pay for information through memberships, subscriptions and the purchase of books and magazines, often adds additional stress and strain where there is little room for any more. When most HMO's and medical groups do not pay for the testing and medications that our children need, it's like adding insult to injury when one must spend additional moneys to get information desperately needed to improve the lives of our children. That is why I VOW to continue making my site and newsletter FREE for those who wish to use it.
It's been 4 years and over 400,000 people have passed through my site. Many of them have been with me since my site first went up and I believe subscribe to the same belief that I do, that as parents of ADHD children, WE have the ability to help each other by sharing our experiences and knowledge with others. And with our experiences comes the unique knowledge that living in the trenches with ADHD brings. We also are living proof that our children CAN and DO SUCCEED and that there is HOPE.
There is Power in Knowledge. What you know can make a difference in your child's life and SHARING what you know with others can make a difference in the life of another child. Every time you share what you have learned along the way, you could be making a difference in the life of another child/family.
Which brings me to CEPAC: The Coalition of Empowered Parents of AD(H)D Children. A non-profit group, created by Parents of ADHD children, who believe as I do, that by bonding together, sharing information, and reaching out a helping hand to other parents, that WE CAN come together to help one another. And like myself, this group comes from the heart.
CEPAC is in it's infancy stage. Started by a group of individuals who came together through ADHD and the internet, their mission is clear; a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring Parents, Teachers, Advocates, and School Administrators, to gain the knowledge, and the compassionate understanding, as well as the laws relative to Attention Deficit (Hyperactive) Disorder. To empower these people to secure a positive environment for their children, their students and themselves.
If you would like to be involved in the creation of this group whose goal it will be to work at the local level, in the trenches with the parent, the child and the school, rather than the national or government level that so many other groups have chosen to do, please contact me at Contact Us or, join the cepac list group at www.egroups.com. You can subscribe by signing up with a username and password (it's all free) t hen going to http://www.egroups.com/group/cepac to subscribe. We are looking for EVERYTHING at this stage to help get what I feel, will be a very beneficial group to many parents, families, and children.
Valuable Help for Marysville/Yuba City California Residents
If you are living in the Yuba County area, there is help for low income families who need help with legal issues regarding special education and other needs. The California Rural Legal Assistance is located on 818 D Street in Marysville. Their number is 530-742-5191 or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dr. Dave's ADDvice
For many children with ADHD making friends and getting along with peers is an important part of the difficulties that they experience. In recent years, considerable research has been conducted on children's peer relations in an effort to better understand how to help children who are struggling in this area. Within this broad area of research, a particular aspect that has received much attention has been looking at children's social problem solving skills and how this relates to children's ability to get along with others.
A recent issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (March, 1999; pages 311-321) presents an interesting article in which the social problem solving skills of 7-12 year old boys with ADD are examined. (Matthys, W., Cuperus, J.M., & Van Engeland, H. (1998). Deficient social problem solving in boys with ODD/CD, with ADHD, and with both disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 38(3), 311-321.) Before getting into the specifics of their study, let me first provide some background on efforts to understand social competence from a social problem solving perspective. A very influential set of ideas in this area have been proposed and developed by Dr. Ken Dodge of Duke University. Dr. Dodge has developed a model of the sequence of internal mental events that individuals go through in determining how to respond in any particular situation.
First, one must take in the various social cues that are present in the situation. For example, imagine a child who is standing at the water fountain and has just gotten bumped a peer. Before deciding how to respond, the child must first attend to various cues that could help him or her decide on an appropriate response. These could include such things as the "offending" peers facial expression (i.e., does he look contrite or provocative?), the expressions of others who may have witnessed the event, the tone of voice when the "offending" child apologizes (i.e., does he sound sincere or sarcastic?). The point here is that there are generally multiple cues in the social environment that can help one to accurately interpret what is going on, and the better able one is to attend to, and take in, those cues, the more accurate picture of the situation one can arrive at.
After the relevant cues have been taken in, the child must then "interpret" the information available. In many social situations, the intentions of others is not clear cut, but can be ambiguous. Think of how many times you may find yourself asking the question "What did he/she really mean by that?" "Is she really sorry about what happened or is she just saying that?" "Was that really an accident, or was it intentional?" The point is, that in many cases, there is room for multiple interpretations of the same event. In the example given above about a child being bumped, one child might decide it was just an accident and not become upset, while another might interpret the same situation as reflecting an intentional insult and thus feel some need to retaliate. You can easily see how problems at the first stage - not fully taking in the relevant cues - could have an adverse impact on the accuracy of a child's interpretation of events at the second stage. After the interpretation of an event has been arrived at, the child (by the way, this model certainly applies to adults as well) must develop and consider possible responses to the situation. In virtually all social situations, there are many different ways that one can respond. So at this stage, the child's task is to generate alternative ways that he or she might respond, and to then evaluate the costs/benefits of each different option. One can see here how problems could emerge in either of two ways. First, a child may not be able to generate many alternatives, and thus has a limited range of options to choose from. Or, a child might consistently select options that are problematic. For example, a child could tend to favor aggressive, retaliatory responses over those that would promote better social relations. The goals that a child has for social interactions are likely to come into play here. Thus, a child whose primary objective is to be in charge and not get pushed around is likely to choose different responses from a child whose primary goal is to establish and maintain good relations with peers. Finally, after a response has been selected, the child must be able to skillfully enact it. In this model, therefore, social competence is not just a matter of "knowing what to do" - one also has to be able to do it. This, as we all know, is not always so easy. Think about how many times you feel fairly certain about the way you ought to respond in a particular situation but are unable to skillfully pull it off.
Considerable research has been conducted based on this framework, and in general, it has shown that children who have difficulty in their social relationships, especially aggressive children, demonstrate deficient skills at each step outlined above. Thus, aggressive children tend to encode fewer social cues, to be overly prone to interpret other people's intentions as hostile even when this is not clear from the situation, to generate fewer and especially more aggressive responses, to evaluate aggressive responses more favorably, and to be more confident of their ability to successfully enact an aggressive response.
Although the above discussion is no more than a brief overview of this important and interesting area of research, it will hopefully provide a reasonable basis to discuss the study of social problem solving skills in children with ADHD that is the focus of the current article.
In this study, the authors sought to determine how the social problem solving skills of boys with "pure" ADHD compared to a control group of boys without ADHD, and to boys with other types of behavioral disorders (e.g. Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder), and to boys who had both ADHD and these other behavioral disorders. In particular, the authors were interested in determining which steps of the social problem solving sequence outlined above tend to be most problematic for boys with ADHD. In this study, boys were shown short videotapes that depicted children their age engaged in a variety of problematic social situations. For example, one vignette depicted one child struggling to build a model plane. Another child offers to help him, and in the process of doing so, the plane breaks into pieces.
After observing each short vignette, boys were asked questions to evaluate their problem solving skills at each of the stages described above. For the model plane example above, each child was first asked whether the boy who was helping intended to break the plane. This question assesses children's interpretation of events and is geared towards evaluating the tendency to make hostile interpretations. Next, the child would be asked what he observed on the tape that helped to make his interpretation. This question is designed to look at a child's ability to notice and take in the multiple cues that are present in most social situations. Children were then asked to think of different ways one could respond to assess their ability to generate alternative problem solving strategies. Finally, they were asked to evaluate different ways that a child could and should respond in such a situation. The responses they were asked to evaluate included both prosocial and antisocial types of responses. In addition to evaluating how good an option each strategy was, they were also asked whether they felt they would be able to enact such a response. In other words, even if they thought a particular strategy was a good idea, did they think they would be able to do it?
Several interesting and potentially clinically important differences in problem solving between children in the different diagnostic groups were found. There is A LOT of data presented in this article, but I will try to highlight what seem to me to be the major findings.
* Compared to boys in the control group (i.e., boys without any diagnosis), boys with ADHD were found to encode significantly fewer cues and to also generate fewer alternative strategies for dealing with the different problematic situations. They did not, however, evaluate alternative responses differently from control boys nor did they differ in their expectations about being able to enact different types of responses.
For boys with ADHD alone, therefore, the main problem solving deficits indicated by this study is that they are not as attentive to social cues that are important for accurately sizing up a situation. They also may have less options available to them as they were unable to generate as many alternative strategies.
* For boys with ADHD and an additional behavior disorder, these same deficits relative to control boys were found. In addition, however, these boys also provided more favorable evaluations of aggressive problem solving strategies and felt more confident in their ability to enact aggressive responses.
Thus, for these boys, not only do they take in fewer cues and generate fewer alternative strategies, but they also tend to regard aggressive problems solving strategies as the superior choice and to feel quite confident about their ability to successfully enact such strategies.
The results of this study may have important clinical implications for helping boys with ADHD, as well as boys who have ADHD plus a co-occurring behavioral disorder. For boys with ADHD alone, efforts to increase their attention to social cues and nuances may be especially important. They may also need assistance in learning how to broaden the repertoire of problem solving strategies that they are able to generate and then choose from.
For boys with ADHD who also have a serious behavioral disturbance, the task of improving their problem solving skills is likely to be more difficult. These boys have come to over value aggressive problem solving strategies - perhaps because they have frequently been successful for them in the past - and to be quite confident about their ability to employ these strategies. For these boys, therefore, enhancing the perceived value of non-aggressive and prosocial problem solving strategies may need to be an important aspect of helping them.
A few caveats. First, one can not assume that these results would also be found with girls. Hopefully, a follow-up study that includes girls as participants will be conducted. Second, just because differences between groups of children with the different diagnoses was found does not mean that every child in the group showed a similar pattern. This is virtually never the case. The value of this study, and the problem solving model on which it is based, however, is that it can provide parents and practitioners with a useful framework for thinking about their child's social difficulties. For example, if your child is having difficulty in peer relationships, thinking about how skillful and competent they are at the different stages of the model described above can be a valuable exercise. Paying attention to such questions as: * Is my child sensitive and attentive to social cues? * Is my child able to accurately interpret the intentions of others or is he or she prone to misinterpret other's intentions as hostile? * Is my child able to generate a good variety of ideas for handling different situations or is his/her ability to come up with alternative strategies too limited? * Does my child tend to overvalue certain types of problem solving strategies and undervalue others? * Does my child lack confidence in his or her ability to successfully enact certain types of problem solving strategies? Is he or she too confident about being successful with other kinds of strategies that can lead to problems? Paying attention to such questions, and trying to learn the answers, is bound to provide you with a richer understanding of your child's social world and how you may be able to help him or her. In thinking about these issues, keep in mind that different social situations are characterized by different demands, and a child can certainly have good problem solving skills in one type of situation but not in others. For example, a child may be quite skillful when the task is making a friend but be less skillful when the task is keeping a friend, or standing up to a friend who has a different idea about something.
Research has shown that well designed interventions that focus on children's social problem solving skills can produce important benefits for children's peer relations. This is an area where parents can be of help to their child, especially when working in cooperation with a skilled professional who can help in the design and implementation of a program suited for a child's unique and individual needs.
I hope the above was of interest to you. If you would like to learn more about new research on ADHD, please visit my web site at http://www.helpforadd.com.
Parenting Pointers: Coaching A Stronger Sibling BondBy Dr. Steven Richfield
A letter from a parent reads: "How does Parent Coaching apply to sibling rivalry? My 8 year old son used to treat his 5 year old brother very well until these past six months or so. Now he torments him with put downs, baiting behaviors, and by pushing him away."
The emotions that flow between siblings provide for some of the best and worst moments of family life. Affection, jealousy, loyalty, competition, and many others, can make relationships between brothers and sisters seem to swing on a pendulum. Parents can be confused by these extremes, and may resort to knee-jerk reactions, such as holding older children responsible for what goes wrong. Such skapegoating does not get to the typical source of the problem: hidden feelings and perceptions that get triggered by daily interactions. Here are some pointers that I recommend to parents when addressing sibling rivalry. Don't be afraid to intervene. Some parents have been schooled to "let the two of them work it out" as if the result will serve both parties. It won't. More often it serves the older child and places the younger one in an overly subservient role. Remember, the sibling relationship should plant the seeds for healthy social relationships outside the family. It isn't helpful for the older child to venture into his social world with the expectation of control and the younger one with the resignation of being controlled.
Consider the source of the problem behavior. It is important to remember that no matter how egregious the behavior, it is motivated by underlying feelings, thoughts, and perceptions. Simply telling your son that so-and-so was wrong doesn't give them an understanding as to why he behaved that way. In the present case, it is likely that the younger brother is now becoming more independent of his big brother. The older son may experience that as being symbolically pushed away, and therefore, react by doing some pushing himself. This dynamic normally takes place without the older boy's awareness, but parents can gently make him aware of it. This awareness can help him resist the temptation to retaliate.
Come with answers, not just questions. When approaching a problem behavior between siblings, our instincts are to ask why such-and-such happened, and then brace for the resulting war of words. While it's important that we get a sense of what happened, the actual "facts of the case" are often in dispute. Therefore, I recommend that parents focus less on questioning and more on offering individual answers to solve the problem sources. For instance, if the older son repeatedly tries to "spoil" the fun of his younger brother, parents can coach how not to trust his jealous feelings. Parents can explain how jealous feelings are becoming stronger inside him and offer tangible ways to control them. Parent Coaching Cards can be used, as well as solutions constructed by the child with the parent's help, i.e., traps to keep Mr./Miss. Jealousy out of the way.
Observe interactions that promote a positive relationship. As parents, we have a tendency to focus on what is going wrong rather than learning from things when they are going right. By listening to the ways our children positively interact we can pick up on subtle cues that help maintain the homeostasis between siblings. These can include compliments, offers to help, and warm tones of voice. Once we identify these "sibling bond makers" we can coach each child in how they help make the other child feel more secure and wanted.
July, 1999 Dr. Steven Richfield Parenting Pointers www.parentcoachcards.com
National newspapers and a number of disability rights advocates have complained loudly about several recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. These decisions directly affect several very important rights of adults with disabilities (employment, access to health care, community placements) but they do not directly affect Special Education situations. You need to make sure that your school district understands that they do not apply to special education programs.
If the decisions in these cases are mistakenly used by a school district to change policies, they will not only hurt students but also will really hurt the teachers and related service personnel who are trying to help these students.
One series of decisions, in employment cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act, seemed to say that if you have a correctable disability (such as poor vision that can be corrected with glasses, or high blood pressure that can be corrected with medication) that you are not "disabled" under the ADA and therefore have no protections.
Will a school say to a parent of a child with ADD "since your child takes Ritalin they are no longer disabled and we are dropping them from our special education list." That would be wrong because the ADA Title I employment statute and regulations that the Supreme Court was interpreting are not the same as Title IIA of the ADA and Section 504 which deal with special education.
Another case the Supreme Court just decided under the ADA dealt with adults seeking publicly provided psychiatric care in Georgia in their community rather than in a central lock-up facility. Looking at a number of factors not relevant in special education cases -- such as the authority of the state department of health to decide how to use scarce state funds -- the Supreme Court seemed to say under that part of the statute that waiting lists might be permissible and that lack of funds might be an excuse for not offering a program. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court level so the case is far from concluded.
Make sure your school understands that nothing has changed in special education rights by these cases.
This information is educational and not intended to be legal advice.
Looking for information on how family structure affects behavior disorders in children. Please email me at Ladahina@aol.com
Looking for information regarding sensitivity and hyperactivity. Any thoughts or ideas on this woulld be appreciated. Please reply to email@example.com
Nancy has started a club for kids with ADD/ADHD and their siblings, because "we are all in it together and it helps to know that there are others in it too!" She just started the club about a week ago and so far we has about 6 members, ages 8-12, boys and girls. Nancy intends to keep the club safe for children by checking into those who request access. For more information visit clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/ourspeciallittleblessings or write Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a new list for kids with ADHD. They can make friends and correspond with children who experience some of the same things they do. This list has adult supervision and if you'd like more information on kids with adhd, drop the moderator a note. You can reach Barbara at email@example.com
ADDitude Magazine. A Magazine for Everyone dealing with ADHD. Check them out at www.additudemag.com
www.rageanon.com Is a site dedicated to anger management for children and adults.
Medsupport FSF International: a non-profit Internet site that provides support and information for Multiple Sclerosis patients and their families and carries a lot of links on various medical issues including ADHD. www.medsupport.org
www.ADD.IDsite.com This site has a new webmaster. Be sure to check out the latest updates!
Wildwood Programs, a non-profit organization that serves children, adolescents and adults with learning and other neurologically-based developmental disabilities (including ADD and ADHD), has provided a link to your site from our "Internet Resources for Developmental Disabilities" page. You can view the Wildwood Programs site at www.wildwood.edu/ and the resources page at www.wildwood.edu/information/iresources.html
Just like everybody else, the media is looking for answers to the troubling question of "Why are kids shooting kids?" Apparently they have decided that ADD kids and their medications are easy targets - no pun intended.
OK... the pun was intended... so shoot me... Shortly after the Columbine Tragedy, CNN aired an interview in which their "expert", a Dr. Mary Ann Block, claimed that the increase in school violence was connected to the increased use of Ritalin and other psychotropic medications. These reports, which are not supported by any research, eventually made their way to the Office of the Governor of Colorado, and then from there to me. I researched the story and found that Dr. Block is connected to the Church of Scientology. The Church of $cientology --- oopss.. typo.. sorry --- believes that psychology is an evil thing and that Ritalin and other meds are only used in an attempt to control other people.
You can read the article for yourself at add.about.com/library/weekly/aa062999.htm
The Church of $cientology --- oops... sorry again --- is not the only group looking for a scape goat. An article in the April/May 1999 issue of "Policy Review" at www.policyreview.com/apr99/eberstadt.html, titled "Why Ritalin Rules" continues the same type of scare tactics regarding the use of medications among children who have ADD. The publisher of Policy Review, The Heritage Foundation, is "committed to rolling back the liberal welfare state and building an America where freedom, opportunity, and civil society flourish."
Apparently the vision of a civil society as defined by the Heritage Foundation is one in which medications, and not guns, are controlled. As I recall, it was bullets that killed the Columbine students - not Ritalin tablets.
Another article, dated July 7 and published by CBN - The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. , owned by Pat Robertson of 700 Club fame- www.cbnnow.com/newsstand/stories/990707.asp includes this bit of thoughtful wisdom from Dr. Peter Breggin: "We've had guns in this society for a long time, we've had angry children for a long time, but it's only in recent years that we're getting these really bizarre kinds of school shootings -- seemingly almost indiscriminate outbursts of uncontrollable rage. I believe that very well could be the influence of the drugs," Once again, we see the real villain here is not the guns, not the shooters and "society", which is usually included as at least an accessory to most crimes. The villain in this case, at least according to these sources, is medication.
I have searched all over the Internet, interviewed doctors, psychiatrists, researchers and pharmacists, and have yet to find any research linking ADD/ADHD medications with violence. There is research that links ADD people to violent acts; however, that same research also validates the idea that medication helps to control that behavior. Let me say that again: There is no research linking ADD medications to these murders.
Since I ran the story exposing the CNN piece as a lie, I have received more hate mail than I thought possible. I have been called a drug pusher, accused of receiving payoffs from Ciby, and all kinds of things. I even replied to some of the more strongly worded emails, suggesting that they could perhaps use Luvox or Depakote to help them control their aggression.
Why is this so important?
Parents need the truth about the medications they give their children. Ritalin does have side effects; however, spending a year building pipe bombs and then entering the school with automatic weapons is not among them. The decision to medicate a child is one of the toughest choices that a parent has to face. Must we make it even worse with false information?
Know the facts. Share them with people who don't know. And let's all pray that we never have to see another Columbine again. Bob
Over the several months I have sent in articles and given examples of what is available in one or both of my books to encourage you to help yourself and those around you. What I have accomplished has been done over a three year process and in the beginning took incredible dedication and perseverance.
With my son, I ran round the clock or at least that is how it seemed in the beginning with monitoring the amounts of herbal drops, the amount to give of each vitamin/mineral, and learning when I needed to give him certain herbs throughout the day to achieve results in behavior.
Natural alternatives take time to heal from the inside out and depending on the severity of the behavior it takes more dedication. You're wasting your time if you are looking for immediate results since the body's behaviors didn't arrive overnight. Chemical imbalances are just that an "imbalance" which means the body is undernourished and you cannot expect the body to just have one or two helpings of nourishment through supplementation and all is going to be well because it just doesn't work that way.
With my own family and those who have ordered the books and shown the commitment to try it has taken a month or more of giving the vitamins/minerals at night to see a difference. The differences than continue to build and then you have to deal with correcting learned behaviors. That's when good parental and coping skills are a must. The statement of "no pain no gain" is reality. I would do it all over again to be where I am today. My life is no longer a nightmare and my son has "DROPPED" four of his behaviors - compulsive behavior, conduct disorder, oppositional disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder.
The herbs were given in drop form and also others individually given in capsule form for the behavioral and attention problems. Herbal drops were given three times a day and capsules were three to four times a day. With some of the people I have worked with the drops have worked relatively fast and behavior changes were seen within the first couple weeks but the vitamin/minerals with these are what bring about lasting results. I have gotten a lot of response from people wanting free information when all the information you want is in the two books that I have written. I don't mind taking the time to work with those who have taken the steps to buy the books since it shows me that you at least willing to try. I'll work with you till you feel comfortable and then I generally get responses back from time to time to let me know all is well or an occasional what do I do now but it's generally something minimal.
Those of you who are not interested in buying the books and would like me to do your leg work for you will need to write down your diagnosis, prescriptions, weight, and what you'd like to see change. I will do the leg work for twenty five dollars and as always these are my opinions/research and it is always advised to seek a physician before trying something new. I am a single parent and I work two jobs plus what I try to do to make the information
I have researched available to those who need it. My time is valuable. To purchase the two books is 40.00 and covers everything the one is informational and the other is detailed steps to self help. They work hand in hand to answer your questions. Or to have me research for you. Michelle Davis P.O. Box 10757 Prescott, AZ 86304
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