Archive for School

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.

Best,

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 –(PR.com)– 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 www.attentiondifferencedisorder.com.

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 www.attentiontalkradio.com 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.

Best,

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.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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