Archive for ADHD School Strategies

Long Term Stimulant Use Improves School Grades

When kids or teens are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, doctors generally recommend medication to help to control the symptoms.The most commonly used medications include the stimulant medications – namely medicines like: Concerta, Adderall, Adderall XR, Vyvanse, Metadate CD, Ritalin LA, Methylphenidate, Dextroamphetamine, and others.

While there are many studies showing that the ADHD symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity improve with the medicine, and cause short term academic improvements, there has been a lack of research to show long term academic benefits.

The studies summarized here clearly document that ADHD stimulant medication helps with long term academic success.

In this research, the research team followed 5700 children from birth until 18 years old. In that group, 277 boys and 93 girls were diagnosed with ADHD. Of those with the diagnosis, some decided to use medication, and some did not. When kids took ADHD medication, they generally started in elementary school, and took it for (on average) 30 months (i.e. just under 3 years).

Of the ADHD kids who were taking medication, by 13 years old, the medication children had improved reading scores compared to the kids with ADHD who had not taken medication. Children taking medication were more likely to attend school (i.e. less absenteeism), and they were 1.8 times less likely to be held back a year at school.

The lead researcher, Dr. Barbaresi was quoted as saying: “We can’t simply focus on the symptoms of ADHD,” Barbaresi said. “We really need to be focusing on the risk for poor outcomes in school and in other aspects of the child’s life,” he said. “That’s why we have to recognize these children and make sure they get appropriate treatment.”

To read more about these studies, click here.

What do you think? Has ADHD medication helped your child (or yourself) over the long term? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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Back to School with ADHD

The end of the summer presents unique challenges for parents of kids and teens with ADHD – as they work to get their kids back into the routine for school.

We all want our kids to start off the year right, and to do the best that they can do this year at school.

I wrote an article on ‘back to school’ a couple of summers ago – and you can access it here: back to school with ADHD.

This year, on Wednesday August 17, 2011 at 8 pm Eastern time – I’ll be doing an interview on Attention Talk Radio about getting back to school.

You can read the information from the news release here:

DIG Coaching Practice Presents “Back to School with ADHD” on Attention Talk Radio with Host Jeff Copper and Psychiatrist, Dr. Kenny Handelman
Transitions can be difficult for those with ADHD, especially for children headed back to school. Host Jeff Copper talks with Dr. Kenny Handelman about strategies to transition back to school after the freedom of summer by gradually reintroducing homework.

Tampa, FL, August 09, 2011 –(– Attention Talk Radio, produced by DIG Coaching Practice, presents “Back to School with ADHD” with Kenny Handelman MD. Attention coach and host Jeff Copper talks with Dr. Handelman about the challenges facing ADHD children when it’s time to return to school after summer vacation. According to Dr. Handelman, the transition can be difficult for ADHD children, but parents can help prepare for the change by easing their ADHD child into it. Dr. Handelman shares strategies and tips for a smooth transition back to a routine after a summer of freedom.

Dr. Handelman, a board-certified psychiatrist in both the US and Canada, specializes in assessing and treating children and adolescents with ADHD. His practice is established at the Halton Healthcare Services in Oakville Trafalgar Hospital near Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario where he won an excellence in teaching award in 2006. He teaches parents, kids, and educators about ADHD. He has appeared on TV and radio, talking about ADHD, and maintains a number of websites and an ADHD newsletter to give evidence-based, up-to-date, online information about ADD/ADHD. His websites garner more than half a million visitors each year.

He is the author of Attention Difference Disorder: How to Turn Your ADHD Child or Teen’s Differences into Strengths in 7 Simple Steps, foreword by Edward Hallowell MD. The book was released in June 2011. More information is available at

The program will be aired on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, at 8 pm ET, on Attention Talk Radio, a live, interactive, Internet talk-radio show hosted each week by attention coach Jeff Copper. The show focuses on insight and insightful thinking, preparing the mind to solve problems through insight or the sudden comprehension after viewing something in a different light. The show is hosted on a web-based platform so that anyone with a phone or a computer can listen, participate, or interact with the show.

The public is encouraged to participate by calling 646-652-4409 to listen or ask questions. The show schedule, stream, and archives are available at immediately following the show. Listeners can also subscribe to the archives via the RSS feed located on the host page or on iTunes.

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ADHD: Teacher Horror Stories

We just posted an article to this blog about good communication strategies for parents to use with their child’s teacher.

We’d love to hear from you, as well as other readers from our online community.

While there are many great teachers out there, who make a dramatic difference in kids’ lives, there are also teachers who just don’t mesh well with kids with ADHD. I’d love to hear from you – have you had a real problem with a teacher for your child with ADD or ADHD?

Sometimes there are problems with teachers not helping, and other times there are teachers that seem to make things worse. I think the latter falls into the category of ‘horror stories’.

I open up this discussion, because I think it can be helpful for all of us to learn about the challenges that many people have gone through. That said – I want to be clear here about the ‘ground rules’ for comments below:

  1. All comments are moderated – so your comment won’t appear right away, and if it is deemed inappropriate in any way, it won’t be posted to this blog
  2. It is not OK to identify teachers by name and school – i.e. I don’t want this to turn into a place to specifically ‘get back’ at a teacher you were upset with. Please don’t use names or school names, and we can just learn about your challenges (and hopefully solutions you eventually found)
  3. It is not OK to include hateful, racial or threatening comments (it is completely up to us to determine the definition of those terms)

So — after reading those ‘ground rules’, you may wonder what I’m expecting… I’ve been blogging in the ADHD space for a few years now, and I know that when people are typing comments in (often late at night), they can include more than they intend to. If you stick to the ground rules, we’d love to hear your comments about struggles with teachers.

As I’ve posted before, teachers are wonderful and can be tremendously helpful. I hope that the comments below will help teachers and other educators to know what NOT to do, and it can also help parents to understand other people’s struggles and hopefully the solutions they found.

All the best,

Dr. Kenny

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Great Teachers for ADD?

We just posted an article to this blog about good communication strategies for parents to use with their child’s teacher.

We’d love to hear from you, as well as other readers from our online community.

Has your son or daughter had a teacher who has made a tremendous difference in your child’s life?

Please take a moment and share some comments below – we’d love to hear about it.

… and it could help to inspire other teachers, and let some parents know what is possible.

Personally, I remember many of my teachers over the years who had a dramatic impact on me. I remember them well, and I have stories about how they went ‘above and beyond’.

Please share your comments and experiences below.


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD in School: Parent Teacher Communication

One of the cornerstones of ADD/ADHD treatment is strategies which help at school. Academic challenges are one of the main reasons that people are referred for assessment and treatment of ADD/ADHD.

Treatment of ADD/ADHD needs to be ‘multimodal’ – i.e. more than just medication! We need counseling, strategies, as well as parenting strategies and school strategies.

When it comes to school strategies – parent-teacher communication is one of the cornerstones of the strategies that work.

Why is this?

Because your child is with the teacher for so many hours a day, and the teacher is the one who is evaluating your child, giving feedback to your child, and helping (or not helping) your child to get the right resources in the school.

Best Approaches To Good Communication With The Teacher:

  1. Respect the role that the teacher plays
  2. Understand that the teacher is often under tremendous pressure
  3. Book a meeting early in the school year, with regular follow ups
  4. If all else fails, Part 1: get help from the office
  5. If all else fails, Part 2: aim for the right teacher next year

Now let’s go through these one by one.

1) Respect the role that the teacher plays:

Teachers play a tremendously important role in our children’s lives. They teach our kids, and they also model good behavior, and evaluate how our children are doing. As they evaluate, they get an idea as to whether our children have increased symptoms of inattention, or hyperactivity, or sadness or even anxiety, for that matter.

Teachers can’t diagnose ADHD, and they can’t recommend medication, but they can let you know that your child may be having difficulties, and you should talk to your doctor.

Remember – the teacher will see your child in different circumstances than you see them in – so your child may display symptoms in a different way in school (i.e. you don’t see them doing math work in a class with 25 other children…). It is important to respectfully listen to the teacher’s feedback, and then take action on it. Don’t get defensive! This can just make things harder…

2) Understand that the teacher is often under tremendous pressure:

Realize that teachers are often asked to give more and more to their classes, with less and less resources. Even great teachers can get tired and frustrated with administrative issues and financial pressures. Be sure to share your appreciation for what your child’s teacher is doing to help your child to succeed. Like all people, teachers like to be appreciated. And they will be more likely to do more to help when they feel that what they are doing is helping and being appreciated.

3) Book a meeting early in the school year, with regular follow ups

Many parents wait for the teacher to call them for meetings. If you know your child has ADD/ADHD, be proactive. Contact the teacher early in the year, and let him or her know that your child has ADD/ADHD, and you’d like to touch base to discuss strategies that work. Even when teachers have notes on your child, the beginning of the school year is so hectic, that the teacher will usually appreciate the opportunity to hear from you about what works best for your son or daughter.

This first meeting also sets the tone of you being a proactive parent, who wants to keep in touch and work collaboratively with the teacher about your son or daughter. That can help a lot as the months go on through the school year.

Aim to have regular communication with the teacher. You can either ask to meet in person every 6 weeks, or if the teacher is OK with email, you can use that for weekly updates. Maybe a parent-teacher communication book would be ideal. Ask the teacher, and then work on your end to support that mode of communication. Remember – you should be more flexible! So, if the teacher wants to write in a communication book, and you prefer email – just accept the communication book!

4) If all else fails, Part 1: get help from the office

Sometimes, despite the best efforts (on both the parent and teacher’s side) the communication doesn’t work well. There can be frustrations and challenges. If that is the case – seek help from the office.

Often times a guidance counselor, special ed teacher, or even the Vice-Principal or Principal can get involved to help to smooth things out with the teacher if things aren’t going well. They may also be able to get more resources into the classroom to help your child on  a day to day basis.

5) If all else fails, Part 2: Aim for the right teacher next year

Actually, this idea holds whether your child has had a great year, or a not-so-great year this year. In the spring, ask the teacher, or the guidance counselor, “who would be the best teacher to help my son/daughter next year?”

Although staff in the school would never say: ‘make sure that Jim doesn’t get Mr. Smith’, they would say that, ‘We think Jim would do much better with Mr. Jones.’ This allows them to try to find the best match for your child.

Be sure to ask early enough toward the end of the school year to make sure that the school can have time to put the recommendation into effect for the next school year. Shouldn’t they do this already? Maybe… But they have so many administrative things to think about, that they may not come up with this without your reminder/request.

Hopefully these recommendations can help you to communicate well with your child’s teacher. Good communication with the teacher can make a great difference in your child’s outcome for any given school year.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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Software That Helps With Learning

Often technology can help kids in school to learn effectively. This technology can be helpful for kids, teens or adults with ADD/ADHD – and it is particularly helpful when there is a co-existing learning disability – like dyslexia or any other LD.

Listed below are a few software programs which may assist you. This is a list of a few programs that I have heard about from colleagues. Please note that I don’t have direct personal experience to strongly endorse any of these outright – rather I provide this list as a place for you to get started and to do your own research from here. Hopefully, the power of this community will help you – because people can share their experiences with these programs in the comments below.

  1. Dragon Naturally Speaking: This software is probably the best voice to text software. I have used this one, and I find that the newer version is much more accurate than previous versions. I will say that one of the biggest drawbacks if if someone has a particular accent, or a speech articulation problem, it can be quite frustrating.
  2. Kurzweil 3000 Kurzweil is described on their site as: “Kurzweil 3000™ is a comprehensive reading, writing and learning software solution for any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or those who are Enlish Language Learners.”
  3. Smart has a whole set of resources that help teachers be more interactive with students and use the technology to help with this.
  4. Word Q is a software program which helps with editing, by suggesting possible words and it also includes some aspects of speaking the words back to you.
  5. Text to Speech Software: This software helps to read text out loud to assist with learning.

Have you tried any of these software programs to help with learning (for ADHD or Dyslexia/Learning Disabilities)?

Have you used any other software programs which you would recommend?

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD in Families

When one member of a family has ADD or ADHD, it can have a big impact on ALL members of the family.
And, we know that ADHD is about 80% genetic, so often when one person has ADHD, one or more of the other family members actually have ADHD.

While ADD/ADHD can be a gift, it can also produce its fair share of challenges. It can lead to overwhelm – for the person with ADD/ADHD, as well as the whole family.

Unless you have the right tools and strategies.

Dr. Rory Stern is hosting an event to help to give you the strategies you need to help your family to thrive with ADHD. He is hosting many experts and doing teleseminars for you to learn from your home. The event starts on May 4th, and runs for 6 weeks. You can attend for free, and then you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase the recordings.

I interviewed Dr. Stern, when I was in Boston for an ADHD conference in March 2009. We were standing on the streets of Boston (actually, you can see Copley Square behind us…), talking about how ADHD can affect families, and we discussed this upcoming event. You can watch the video here: ADHD Family Summit Video.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the great opportunity in the ADHD Family Summit. I know that I will be sharing the best information that I can on the session I’ll be doing on Medications.


Dr. Kenny

p.s. you can register for your FREE spot on the ADHD family summit here.

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ADHD Family Summit

I’m pleased to let you know about a great opportunity to learn more about ADHD and specific strategies that can help you with ADHD in your family.

Introducing the ADHD Family Summit. This is a Teleseminar (teleclass) series that will be starting on May 4, 2009, and going every Monday night and Wednesday night for several weeks. It is being hosted by Rory Stern, PsyD. He has a number of top notch experts in ADHD and issues that affect your family who have agreed to share their expertise with you – for FREE.

Dr. Stern has pulled together these experts, and you can get access at no cost (during this economy – that’s great news for you!). You’ll be able to listen to the calls live, and I believe there will be a replay line for 24 hours if you miss the live call. If you decide that you want to get copies of these interviews to review in the future, then you’ll have an opportunity to purchase the recordings and PDF transcripts for a very fair price (i.e. less than one session with a Psychiatrist or Psychologist).

I will be speaking in this event – to discuss Medications for ADHD. I will provide you with all that you need to know to take medications safely and effectively. The title of my session: ADHD Medication Mastery – What You Really Need To Know About Safe And Effective Medication Management.

The other experts in this free series include:

  • Theresa Cerulli, M.D.
    Topic: Understanding The ADHD Brain And The Impact Of Co-existing Conditions
  • David Giwerc, MCC
    Topic: Beyond Signs & Symptoms – Is ADHD Who You Are Or What You Have?
  • James T. Webb, PhD
    Topic: But My Child Is Really Bright… The Potential Overlap For Misdiagnosis And Overdiagnosis Of ADHD
  • Keath Low, MA
    Topic: When Worlds Collide – Navigating The Turbulent Waters Within A Family
  • Robert Myers, PhD
    Topic: Mastering Total Focus To Help Support Your Loved Ones When They Need It The Most
  • Alex Doman
    Topic: The Ear-Brain Connection – The Role Of Auditory Processing In Attention
  • Cal Sumner, MD
    Topic: Everyday ADHD – Understanding Where The Science Leaves Off And Real Life Picks Up
  • Torkel Klingberg, MD, PhD
    Topic: Understanding Working Memory’s Role In Attention, Focus, And The Distracted Mind (And How Training Can Help)
  • Jennifer Koretsky
    Topic: Put On Your Oxygen Mask First – Self-care Strategies For ADHD Adults And Parents
  • Tara McGillicuddy
    Topic: Breaking The Stereotypes Of Modern-Day ADHD To Support Girls And Grown Women
  • Alexis Martin Neely
    Topic: Just The Facts! What You Simply Need To Know To Protect Your Family In Case The Unexpected Happens

I’m excited to be taking part in such a leading edge series. I know you’ll agree that the topics covered in this series are unique – and will give you great perspective on how to handle ADHD in whichever way it affects your family.

Spots are limited – please go and sign up today for the ADHD Family Summit.

Please invest your time into this series – I believe it will pay you dividends in your quality of life and improve functioning for your family.


Dr. Kenny

p.s. why not visit the site right now, while you’re thinking about it?
Just click here now, for the ADHD Family Summit

12 ADHD Family Summit

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ADHD The Good News – Back To School Edition

I have recently been fortunate enough to be the guest on a talk radio series on ADD and ADHD, called ADHD The Good News (click there to listen to the previous episodes).

Recently, a radio show was done on helping kids and teens with ADD or ADHD get back to school.
I was able to get a copy of this show for you, and I’ve placed it here. Just click on the player button to start listening.

I recently posted my ‘Back to School Tips for ADD or ADHD‘, and you can read them by clicking on that link.

Here is the radio show:

Back to School for Kids with ADHD: 8 Tips To Do It Successfully

By: Dr. Kenny Handelman
Child Psychiatrist and Expert in ADD/ADHD

To download a copy of this free report, just click here: ADHD Back To School Tips

Transitioning from the freedom summer holidays to the structure of being in a classroom can be difficult for children, especially those with ADD or ADHD (I will use ADHD for the rest of this article, but I mean both). To ease the transition, parents should prepare their child for going back to school and gradually re-introduce them to homework. I suggests parents follow these tips to ensure their child with ADHD is ready for school:

1. Changing the routine to suit getting to school can be a real challenge for children with ADHD. Start with the school bedtime and awakening times 2 weeks before school starts, so that your child has time to get used to being up early and being mentally alert for school.

2. Create a list of expectations for the different parts of your child’s day. Put extra planning into the areas of concern from last year – whether that is getting ready in the morning, getting homework done at the end of the day, or other chores or responsibilities.

3. Make a daily schedule for your child that includes recess, lunchtime and any after-school activities. Post it on the fridge where your child can see it the night before and send it to school with them so they know what is expected from them that day

4. Homework can be especially hard for children with ADHD. They may forget to write it down or leave a book at school. It is best to keep a homework log with the teacher and frequently remind your child to bring it and any necessary books home after school. You can also ask the teacher to make sure that your child brings it home each day, and you make sure she/he takes it to school. Create a ‘homework routine’ – designate a certain period of time everyday for your child to complete homework. Be sure to reward them when an assignment is completed

5. Remember that you are your chlid’s advocate at school. Make an effort to speak to the teacher about your child’s learning and behavioral needs early in the school year. Ensure that the resources which can help your child are put into place, and that everyone who needs to provide input is on board.

6. Consider a daily behavioral report card. This can be a useful tool to help parents and teachers communicate. It can also lead to the opportunity to provide frequent, small rewards to encourage your child to keep on track at school.

7. Remain positive with your child, and help them to build on their strengths. Remember that transitioning from summer holidays to school can be especially challenging for children with ADHD. Celebtrate all successes, no matter how small – anything from a good mark, to a good report from the teacher, to making a new friend.

8. Keep track of how your child is doing in the transition back to school. Be sure to review this with your child’s doctor 2-6 weeks after the school year starts.

I hope these tips help you to manage this successfully. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions on this post on my blog (just scroll down and enter them in the box below).

Dr. Kenny Handelman

p.s. To learn more about ADD/ADHD, please join my free newsletter: The ADHD Doctor

p.p.s. To learn the secrets to succeeding with ADD/ADHD, in a breakthrough program that I developed with leading researcher and author in ADD/ADHD, Dr. Russell Barkley, visit: Secrets to ADHD Success

p.p.p.s To find the highest recommended books in ADD/ADHD, visit: The ADHD Bookstore or The Canadian ADHD Bookstore

[tags]ADD, ADHD, School Strategies ADHD, Parenting ADHD, Parenting ADD[/tags]