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Breaking it Down for You and Your child with ADHD

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Let’s be honest, the diagnosis of ADHD has been around for over 40 years. We know what ADHD looks like, and may know a handful of children that “appear” to have symptoms. Twice as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD than girls. While 1in 50 children may be struggling with ADHD. What do children face? Here are a few items:

  • Gets distracted easily
  • Impulsive
  • Difficulty in School
  • Coordination challenges
  • Self Centered Behavior
  • Hyperactivity
  • Attention Demanding Behavior
  • Emotional challenges
  • Difficulty following through

While this list feels overwhelming to parents, let’s remember they are “challenges” and they are significant in every setting for the child.

How do we help? Let’s Break In Down!

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a topic that comes up frequently throughout my week; as a school psychologist in an elementary school, teachers often refer students for suspected problems with attention and concentration, hyperactivity, and impulse control difficulties. In my outpatient practice, I’m on the ‘other side’ of this equation, meeting with families often referred from school teams for suspected problems of this nature. Typically, these referrals seem appropriate and everyone is on the same page. Occasionally, the members are not. As in, ‘my child’s teacher told me my child has ADD and needed accommodations! Now what?!’ It gave me pause and consideration for this weeks blog.  Just who can and can’t diagnosis ADHD ? What might an assessment for ADHD include? Should school staff be bringing this subject up to parents to begin with? And, is it ADD or ADHD ?

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Fire Child, Water Child – Cowan’s 5 Types of ADHD

canstockphoto13998194Do you feel that you have a fire child? Parents of children identified as suffering from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) sometimes do. They may wish that their child was more identified with the properties of water – seemingly calm and serene.

Dr. Stephen Scott Cowan, in his book “Fire Child, Water Child: How Understanding the 5 types of ADHD can help you improve your child’s self-esteem & attention” encourages parents, as well as practitioners, to view their ADHD-identified child as one of the “five primal powers described in Chinese medicine as Wood, Fire,Earth, Metal, and Water” (p. v). The first line of the introduction in Cowan’s book, “ADHD is a symptom, not a disease,” sets the tone for the remainder of the book.

He explains that caregiver interactions with children identified as ADHD are less successful when they come from a place of fear.  Fear uses words like “something is wrong with my kid,” or “what can you do to fix him/her?” While Cowan admits that the ability to pay attention in class is definitely a problem, he disagrees that it is the problem and it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with a child. He shares how focusing on the problems a child exhibits will bring up feelings of judgment, guilt, and fear for both the child and the caregivers in his or her life. He instead chooses to direct the reader’s attention to what they ultimately want to see the child experience in the school setting: success. He suggests that we can learn to develop a “sense of compassion for the diverse ways in which we engage with the world” and recognize “the qualities each child has to offer” (p. 1)  in attempts to manage the natural gifts of a child’s personality. When we embrace and nurture these natural gifts, they can become strengths that aid in improving focus for the classroom setting.

What are the natural gifts of a child’s personality? Usually these are the behaviors that teachers observe in the school setting that are discussed in parent-teacher conferences and lead to a visit to the pediatrician’s office for a medical assessment. Behaviors such as being always on the move, active, easily frustrated (wood child); overly social, class clown, mood swings, impulsivity (fire child); worried or indecisive when stressed by the environment (earth child); difficulty shifting out of routine or moving from task to task (metal child); daydreaming, easily distracted and hard to keep on task (water child).

Dr. Cowan maps out the path toward improving attention so that children can enjoy school and function effectively at home. He enlists the support and love of parents and caregivers who have control over the home environment to create the first influences that can be shared with other caregivers and teachers to maintain behaviors in the structured school setting.  Dr. Cowan’s goal to educate and empower parents, caregivers, and teachers to understand the ways of holistically viewing their children through the 5 primal elements is clear – when we validate the qualities that children possess, we can bring them in tune with their world and help them learn the self-regulation skills necessary for success.

Whether your child is diagnosed with ADHD or not, the qualities that make them unique can sometimes contribute to struggles in the school setting. Utilizing Cowan’s 5 Types of ADHD may help you learn to embrace these qualities and identify strategies to nurture them to the benefit of your child’s ability to focus. Additional skills for focusing in the classroom can only lead to good things. As we transition into the end of the school year, this summer may be a great time to tune in with your child and create a path for improved focus and success at home as well as school!

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Children’s Books For The Hard Stuff: Anxiety, Divorce, ADHD, Depression…

Children’s Books For The Hard Stuff: Anxiety, Divorce, ADHD, Depression…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most common questions I get as a child therapist is, “What books do you recommend for (fill in the blank)? Here are some of my favorite books for specific issues. If you want to learn more about the books or order a book here is an Amazon list http://www.amazon.com/lm/R36QCME4OWNS7Y/ref=cm_pdp_lm_all_itms

Divorce/ Grief/ Trauma

When Dinosaurs Divorce by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Illustrator)

When Dinosaurs Die by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (Illustrator)

Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert , Chuck DeKlyen, and Taylor Bills

A Terrible Thing Happened- A Story For Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma by Margaret M. Holmes

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Ask A Therapist: Does My 2-year-old Have ADHD?

How do I know if my 2 year old has ADHD? He is not talking. He will not sit still for story time. He is a climber, runner, and so on. Bed time is not easy he thinks it’s time to play. He will say words every once in a while. He will sit still at dinner time. My Husband thinks there is nothing wrong with him. But as mom I am see red light for a problem with him.

A: As a mother, it’s important to trust your “gut” if you sense something is not quite right with your child. I suggest meeting with your pediatrician to discuss your concerns and see if your child is on target developmentally. Watch the rest of my response below…

Thanks for writing in. Take good care of yourself and your child!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask The Therapist: Psychiatrist Talks To Mom And Ignores Me

Q: I have bipolar disorder, along with ADHD and OCD. Recently, I have started going to see a psychiatrist about my issue. But when I go to her, I feel as though she doesn’t ask ME how I am, she asks my mother. There are so many issues I need to tell her, but I simply do not feel like I can. I am worried about myself. All I want to do is lay in bed. Please, tell me what I need to do to tell her about my issues. I tried writing them down to tell her, but I did  get the chance, because she only had a 2min session with me, after talking to my mother. Help!

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20 Ways To Lose A Friend

In KIDS group participants learn how to make and keep friends.  Sometimes it’s the negative Wasatch Family Therapybehaviors that make a bad first impression or push friends away.  These behaviors can be on purpose, accidental or driven by a desperate need to be accepted.  The group members came up with these 20 ways to lose a friend.  If your child struggles with friendship issues, challenge them to do identify a behavior and work on decreasing it.

  1. Being Mean
  2. Annoying behavior- not stopping when asked
  3. Trying to be friends with the wrong person (someone who is consistently mean)
  4. Being physically aggressive
  5. Cheating
  6. Gossiping
  7. Being too hyper
  8. Acting weird
  9. Inappropriate talk (swearing/potty talk)
  10. Being a know it all
  11. Being controlling
  12. Invading personal space
  13. Trying too hard (people pleasing)
  14. Not being yourself: (pretending to be like them to be accepted).
  15. Lying
  16. Antagonizing: Pushing people’s buttons on purpose
  17. Only talking about yourself
  18. One uping/ Bragging
  19. Getting jealous when they play with someone else
  20. Not taking care of yourself: (baths, brushing teeth, clean clothing, etc).
This summer KIDS group is teaming up with Mad Science to provide an innovative and hands on experience to learn social skills. Many kids excel in science because it is logical and predictable. Human behavior is much more complex. We will be using the laws of science to help explain social etiquette in a new and fun way. Click here for more information.

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Ask a Therapist: I Feel Stuck in My Own Mind

Q: I’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes trying to formulate my thoughts into a paragraph but I can’t do it so I’m just going to list feeling as they come to mind.
1. I feel nothing on a regular basis.  For example if I got a call saying that my mother died, I don’t think I would even cry.
2. I’m irritable beyond belief.  If someone asks me to do something I get pissed for them even asking me.
3.  I’m not suicidal, but I constantly question why I’m living and try to come up with reasons to continue on.
4.  I don’t see people as individuals.  I see everyone as a mammal, which leads me back to number 3.
5.  I want to ask my parents, or anyone for help, but I’m afraid of being laughed at.
6.  I don’t even try to interact with girls.  I’m not homosexual at all, I’m still attracted to girls, but the effort I need to put in to get an outcome is unbalanced.

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Ask a Therapist: Depression, ADHD, Self-injury, & No One Cares

Hello, I am a 16 year old Sophomore in high school. For the past 5 years I have struggled with addiction to self injury, depression and ADHD. My parents refuse too believe anything is wrong with me and every day scream at me and break things as well as insult me about how useless I am and how I am always ruining their lives! My friends all say that I’m amazing and such a good friend but I have a hard time believing them when my OWN parents seem to hate me…My grades have gotten a lot worse because my parents deny that I am ADHD even though my doctor has said I need therapy and medication.

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Does My Child Have ADHD? What To Do When The Teacher Calls

Licensed clinical social worker and therapist, Julie Hanks, has a step by step plan to offer support and find solutions to your child’s attention difficulties.

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