1. Hyperactivity or ADHD?

    August 13, 2013

    hyperactivity in teenagers

    by Connie Jameson

    Hyperactivity is a modern term that is increasingly used lately although the real hyperactivity is relatively rare. Most children may be more active than usual from time to time and their natural energy and temper sometimes may seem like a violent behaviour. However, these episodes are short.

    Real hyperactivity is something else. Children, who really suffer from hyperactivity, or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are easily excited, restless, their concentration is poor and they cannot hold their attention for long, which results in poor grades at school and overall retardation. These children seem to be not able to deal with their tasks, their mood is changed suddenly, they often have rage outbursts and may even become aggressive. When they grow up they can start breaking different things and are pretty destructive. They also do not tolerate any criticism towards themselves, they are impulsive and nervous and seem pretty clumsy. Their coordination is often poor, too.

    All of these ADHD symptoms can be monitored in about 1-2% of children and by some reason boys are affected by the disease 5 times more than girls. Of course, this kind of behaviour may have a family history as well. The problem is that it can’t be found until your child is just a baby, because most babies cry a lot. Nobody can say for sure what is the real reason of hyperactivity but there undoubtedly are some genetic and social components. Some specialists say that the cause is a minimal brain disfunction although there are no physical evidences for it. Allergies and hypersensitivity towards certain irritants may provoke such behaviour, too.


  2. Help! I Think My Son Has ADHD

    June 9, 2013

    ADHD child 

    by  Kassandra Brown

    Recently a client of mine (let’s call her Sue) shared that she had taken an on-line test to check whether she had ADD or ADHD. “A couple of my friends kept making jokes about me being ADD,” Sue said to me. “After a while I thought I’d see if they were right.” Her scores placed her in the ‘very strong probability’ category for ADHD.

    Sue shared this information with me in our parent coaching session because she noticed that her son exhibits the same ADHD traits from the on-line test. She was wondering if she should talk with her son’s teachers. She also wondered about the consequences of having her son labeled as ADHD.

    Labels: Harm or Benefit?

    In medical treatment, it’s easy to get caught up in labels. Labels have power. They can be useful when they indicate a well known and helpful treatment path. Unfortunately, labels can also take on an unhealthy life of their own.

    Are you curious about what’s right for your child? Asking a few key questions may help clarify your path.

    • Are you planning on getting a formal screening or evaluation for your child?
    • If you screen or evaluate, what do you plan to do with the information from that screening or evaluation?
    • What is the existing relationship between your child and their teacher?
    • Do you and your child experience trust and caring with the child’s teacher?
    • Is the relationship between your child and their teacher adversarial?

    Sue thought she should ask her son’s teacher to treat him as though he had ADHD. Sue thought doing this would help the teacher use a current model for ADHD to positively motivate the child. She also thought this might help the teacher to view the child’s disruption as a symptom rather than as misbehavior.

    How might Sue answer these key questions? Sue wants her son to be treated well in school. She wants him to have a learning environment that works with his natural tendencies. She is not planning on a formal screening. She also has no plans for medication. Currently her son has a respectful and kind relationship with his teacher.

    Creative Solutions (Without Labels)

    The teacher relocated Sue’s son’s desk to accommodate his active learning style. She gave him a desk in the back row of the classroom where he is free to stand and move as long as he’s also doing his work. Being in the back of the classroom allows Sue’s son freedom of movement without disrupting his classmates. The solution is elegant in its simplicity and effectiveness.

    Since the teacher is already showing a willingness to work with Sue’s child, I advised Sue not to share her ADHD suspicions. The danger of labeling Sue’s son is that that label will follow him from grade to grade. It may cause his next teacher to assess his needs, abilities, and mental health before getting to know him as a person. Instead, I suggested to Sue that she continue to form good relationships with her child’s teachers, advocate for his needs, and help implement positive solutions.

    You can do this too. Talk to your child’s teachers at the beginning of the year. Be willing to share past challenges and solutions. Share your goals for your child’s learning. Be willing to help support the teacher.

    Teachers are often busy trying to balance many needs and learning styles within the same classroom. Sharing your assessment of your child’s needs and also offering to help can help your child’s teacher hear better manage your child’s needs. Perhaps you can volunteer to come in once a week, teach something you know well, or support a subset of the class during small group work.

    Many parents hesitate to offer help in the classroom because of a belief that classrooms are only for ‘real’ teachers. “What do I have to offer?” you, as a parent, may wonder.  The answer is “A lot!” Just stepping in to sit with the kids and help them when they get stuck takes pressure off the teacher. The less pressure the teacher is under, the more likely he or she will be to be creative and flexible. This benefits everyone including your child.

    Another reason parents often hesitate to volunteer in the classroom is that they do not feel they have the time. In order to know if that’s true ask, “How much time does it take to help?” If you can’t volunteer weekly, perhaps one hour a month might be enough to make a huge difference. Often there is some way for you to help at your child’s school, perhaps even before or after school. If your offer is sincere, you can find a way.

    Getting to know the teacher, offering the teacher support, and communicating your child’s needs can create a successful learning environment that diagnosis alone cannot. This was true for Sue and it may be true for your family too. Before ADHD screening, evaluations, and medication, I recommend thinking about your goals and formulating a plan for positive change. If you need assistance in doing this, I am happy to help.

    Have labels helped you and your children? When have labels stood in the way? Share your experiences with us.

    Image Credit: Nwardez

  3. Robotic Pets for Animal Therapy?

    May 2, 2013

    animal therapy

    by Sandy Cosser

    You may have heard of animal therapy. In fact, you have almost definitely heard of animal therapy because it was used quite a lot after 9/11 to help survivors deal with the trauma. It is exactly what it says on the tin; animals (pets) are used as therapeutic aids. They’re used in a variety of circumstances. Psychologists use pet therapy to help autistic children, ADHD children, children in hospitals, and the elderly in aged care facilities. In fact, animal therapy goes back all the way to Greek God of Healing Asclepius.

    You may immediately think of dogs as therapy animals, but a number of animals can be used, including cats, birds, and horses.

    Even robotic seals get in on the action.

    Say again?

    Paro is a robotic seal that was first developed in Japan (where else) as a substitute for real pets in aged care homes. This was way back in 1993 – well, that’s when development started. By 2002 he was setting world records (for the most therapeutic robot, so he’s not alone in the world), and by 2004 he was winning over people in old age homes. In 2009, he started to achieve international success, especially in Denmark (web-japan.org).

    It’s not as crazy as it sounds because the furry therapeutic robot has proven to be as successful as real animals. In fact, Paro has a couple of advantages over the real thing; foremost of which is that he doesn’t need to be house trained.

    He’s also hypoallergenic, so there is no worry that ill children or fragile old people will end up in hives or with chronic sinus problems. And, there is no chance that he will be spooked or get overexcited and hurt someone (therapy animals are carefully selected for their mild nature, but let’s face it, all animals can be unpredictable – people included).

    Thanks to his robotic nature, Paro is not merely a passive toy, absorbing cuddles and giving nothing back. Shibata Takanori, senior research scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), designed him to be interactive. He responds to attention – spoken and tactile – and even has a range of facial expressions to express his joy at being petted. And, he doesn’t like it when people get too rough, which helps teach autistic kids some important lessons.

    Better than the real thing?

    Surely a robotic seal, no matter how cute and hygienic, couldn’t be preferred over a real live dog or cat? Well, it seems that the aged in Japan really do prefer their automated therapy.

    In April 2010, Robotic Zeitgeist reported that the demand for Paro was so great that Fujitsu was inspired to make its own therapeutic aid, this time in the form of a robotic teddy bear. It also comes with sensors galore so that it can respond to touch and voice.

    So, is it better than the real thing?

    Not everyone is sold on the idea of robot animal therapists. People in western world, for example, haven’t taken to robots with the zeal of those in the Orient. Perhaps too many sci-fi books and movies have made us wary of artificial intelligence, at least as far as trusting it with the mental health of our loved ones goes.

    As far as children are concerned, it seems that real animals are better than the robotic kind. This is because children form a real bond with the animals. In many cases, the animals have their own disabilities to overcome, which deepens the bond and promotes healing on both sides.

    Whether you like you therapy pets with real flesh and blood or with programmed emotional responses, there is a growing body of evidence that proves furry friends can play a vital role as companions and therapeutic aids in hospitals, aged care facilities, and even jails.

    Image Credit: yogamama.co.uk