ADHD

Accommodating Hyperactivity in Children with ADHD

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

ADHD which affects approximately 7.2% of children worldwide (Thomas, 2015) presents as either the hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive or combined subtype (Willcutt, 2012). It is often first suspected by classroom teachers who witness the symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. An interesting new study suggests that students with ADHD are more attentive when allowed to fidget.

While behaviour modification efforts, especially in the classroom setting, are often aimed at reducing both hyperactivity and inattention, new research published in Child Neuropsychology suggests that fidgeting may actually help children with ADHD increase focus and exercise better mental control, contributing directly to an increase in performance on cognitive tasks (Hartanto, 2015).

Professor Julie Schweitzer of the Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences department at the MIND Institute at the University of California, spearheaded the study of 26 children with confirmed diagnoses of ADHD, which saw the leg movements of each child recorded by ankle monitors that each child was wearing during a series of computerised activities testing both cognition and attention.  The results of the study confirmed that incidents of increased fidgeting directly correlated with a high level of accuracy in test performance.  Conversely, the more still the children were during the test the more poorly they performed on the tests of cognition and attention.  According to Schweitzer these results suggest that constant movement probably increases mental arousal for children with ADHD, much as stimulant drugs do.

The practical application of the study’s results seems clear to Schweitzer. Adults should encourage children with ADHD to fidget rather than correct them for it, especially during activities that require a high level of focus.

While Schweitzer’s research supports her conclusions, other scholars suggest that simply making accommodations for ADHD students to fidget misses the mark entirely, and that the real solution for children with ADHD when trying to focus in school is one that would support the student population as a whole (Tomporowski, 2011).  That is, all people benefit from the opportunity to move around regularly throughout the day, whether diagnosed with ADHD or not, and incorporating more physical activity into the school day might alleviate the need for fidget-friendly classrooms in the first place. Harvard-trained educator and McLean Hospital alumna Nina Fiore emphasises that, “Regular movement has been shown to increase focus and retention in children and adults of all ages…and diagnoses would be lessened if more movement was incorporated into every aspect of school.”

Schweitzer and Fiore are in agreement about one thing, and that is that all children can perform better when they are provided with an outlet for physical activity.  It may be that in the future more schools around the world will incorporate a degree of movement into the daily schedule high enough to alleviate the need for classroom-friendly fidget solutions.  In the interim, however, Schweitzer offers some practical solutions that are designed to avoid distracting other students in the classroom.  Her ideas include:

  • allowing children to stand and stretch as needed, attaching elastic bands beneath children’s desks so that they can pull and play with them in a way that shouldn’t bother other children, or using yoga balls as chairs, so the children can bounce.
  • The yoga ball seat approach in particular, has gained popularity among educators, as evidenced by three American elementary schools that have replaced classroom chairs with yoga balls entirely.  One such educator, Robbi Giuliano, who teaches 10-year-olds in West Chester, Pennsylvania, describes the switch as one of the best decisions she has ever made, saying, “I have more attentive children.  I’m able to get a lot done with them because they’re sitting on yoga balls.”

Many other opportunities exist for physical activities in the classroom, particularly ones that are neither disruptive nor stigmatising, and they can be used in school settings to help children perform cognitively demanding tasks.

To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us.  If you are considering an assessment for your child, please review our assessment pages.

Suggested resources

References

Hartanto, T. A., Krafft, C. E., Iosif, A. M., & Schweitzer, J. B. (2015). A trial-by-trial analysis reveals more intense physical activity is associated with better cognitive control performance in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Child Neuropsychology, (ahead-of-print), 1-9.

Thomas, R., Sanders, S., Doust, J., Beller, E., & Glasziou, P.  (2015). Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 135(4), 994-1001. 

Tomporowski, P. D., Lambourne, K., & Okumura, M. S. (2011). Physical activity interventions and children’s mental function: an introduction and overview. Preventive Medicine, 52, S3-S9.

Willcutt, E. G., Nigg, J. T., Pennington, B. F., Solanto, M. V., Rohde, L. A., Tannock, R., … Lahey, B. B. (2012). Validity of DSM-IV attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom dimensions and subtypes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(4), 991–1010. 

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What’s in a label? Should I get a diagnosis for my child?

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

What’s in a label? Should I get a diagnosis for my child?

‘Labelling a child’ is the term used to describe the process where a psychologist or psychiatrist assesses a child, resulting in a diagnosis or ‘label’. The diagnosis is based on a set of criteria defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

About 10% of children and young people will have a mental health problem. The most common diagnoses for children include anxiety disorders; attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorders; autism spectrum disorders; and eating disorders (for example, anorexia nervosa).

If you suspect your child may have a mental health condition, chances are you’ve wondered if it’s beneficial to obtain a professional opinion and perhaps a diagnosis. While professionals were traditionally hesitant to diagnose pre-adolescents with DSM-IV conditions, diagnoses have been on the rise since the 1980s, partly as a result of greater research into child mental health.

What is a diagnosis?

A reputable mental health professional will not give a diagnosis without a thorough evaluation of a person’s symptoms, behaviours, and developmental history. In the case of a child, specialists will usually consult with several other sources (for example, parents, teachers, and family doctors) before confirming a diagnosis.

What are the advantages of a diagnosis?

An accurate diagnosis will give parents and their child a clear and realistic sense of the limitations and challenges the child may face as a result of the disorder. Following a diagnosis, you should also have a good sense of what treatment plans are available, their pros and cons, and how effective they are. This knowledge can provide tremendous peace of mind for families who are struggling.

Other advantages of a diagnosis include:

  • An accurate understanding of your child’s strengths and how to best harness them.
  • Individual support from Specialists at your child’s school (for example, regular hours with a Learning Support teacher or funding for resources or appropriate training for teachers).
  • Subsidized help for the family (for example, home-based intervention such as ABA for children with autism spectrum disorders).
  • Effective collaboration between health professionals. For example, a Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist and Psychologist can work together to give your child comprehensive treatment.

What are the disadvantages of a diagnosis?

Most professionals agree: forming a diagnosis can be difficult. A child’s behaviour can change depending on their environment, their food intake and the people around them, which can impact the assessment process.

The disadvantages of a diagnosis may include:

  • Stigma from other parents or peers.
  • Difficulties reversing the diagnosis should behaviour change or improve.
  • Children need support when discussing a diagnosis.
  • Some families might find a thorough assessment and Diagnostic Report costly.

Finding more support:

Quirky Kid has offices in Sydney and Wollongong,

If you are concerned as to whether or not obtaining a diagnosis for your child is right for your family, you may find it helpful to talk through the decision with a professional yourself. Ask your health care provider about counselling or support services in your community or contact Quirky Kid on +61 2 9362 9297.

Parents may find useful resources at the Quirky Kid Shoppe.

Sources:

National Institute for Mental Health in England (2008). The Mental Health Act: Essential Information for Parents and Caregivers.

Harakavy-Friedman, Jill M (2009). Dimensional Approaches in Diagnostic Classification: Refining the Research Agenda for DSM-V. American Journal of Psychiatry 166, 118-119

Kimberley O’Brien (2011). Interview on the advantages, disadvantages, benefits and challenges of diagnosing children.

The Cleveland Clinic (2005-2009). “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/Attention_Deficit_Hyperactivity_Disorder/hic_Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity_Disorder.aspx. Retrieved September 24, 2011.}

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ADHD and Education

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Recent discussions on education is pointing to the need for re-thinking the way children receive education. Here at the Quirky Kid Clinic, we have long advocated on a child-focused approach where each child receives the most appropriate education strategy or intervention. We work from the child’s perspective, making use of strong creative approaches and make sure parent and child understand each other. To-date, we offer consultancy to a range of educational institutions

The same perspective – on the education system and ADHD – was echoed by creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. During his presentation, he makes a strong argument against the use of medication as the principal method of treatment with children diagnosed with ADHD. This is also a strong focus of Quirky Kid’s work with children and families experiencing ADHD.

In summary, he indicates that our children are living during the mot stimulating period of our existence and we are penalizing children and demanding they listen to, at times, boring non- interactive classes – by medicating them. There are much more to his presentation, so please watch below:

Please see the video below:

If you would like more information on ADHD interventions at the Quirky Kid Clinic, please contact us.

Educational Revolutions

Recent discussions on education are pointing to the need for re-thinking the way children receive education. Here at the Quirky Kid Clinic we have long advocated on a child-focused approach where each child receives the most appropriate education strategy or intervention. We work from the child’s perspective, making use of strong creative approaches and ensure parent and child understand each other. To-date, we provide consultancy to a range of educational institutions

The same perspective – relating to the education system and ADHD – was echoed by creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. During his presentation, he makes a strong argument against the use of medication as the principal m

Educational Revolutions

Recent discussions on education are pointing to the need for re-thinking the way children receive education. Here at the Quirky Kid Clinic we have long advocated on a child-focused approach where each child receives the most appropriate education strategy or intervention. We work from the child’s perspective, making use of strong creative approaches and ensure parent and child understand each other. To-date, we provide consultancy to a range of educational institutions

The same perspective – relating to the education system and ADHD – was echoed by creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. During his presentation, he makes a strong argument against the use of medication as the principal method of treatment with children diagnosed with ADHD. This is also a strong focus of Quirky Kid’s work with children and families experiencing ADHD.

In summary, he indicates that our children are living during the mot stimulating period of our existence and we are penalizing children and demanding they listen to, at times, boring non- interactive classes – by medicating them. There are much more to his presentation, so please watch below:

Please see the video below:

If you would like more information on ADHD interventions at the Quirky Kid Clinic, please contact us.

ethod of treatment with children diagnosed with ADHD. This is also a strong focus of Quirky Kid’s work with children and families experiencing ADHD.

In summary, he indicates that our children are living during the mot stimulating period of our existence and we are penalizing children and demanding they listen to, at times, boring non- interactive classes – by medicating them. There are much more to his presentation, so please watch below:

Please see the video below:

If you would like more information on ADHD interventions at the Quirky Kid Clinic, please contact us.

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The Likes of Youth Kit

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

It gives us great pleasure to unveil our most recent youth–friendly resource.

The Likes of You{th} is a  Tool to Boost Social and Emotional Well–being for Adolescent Boys.

The Likes of You{th} Kit is a set of 12 Picture Cards, 24 Questions Cards and a User Manual written by Child Psychologist, Kimberley O’Brien. The LoY Kit has been developed to help boys (10–16 years) through the often turbulent transition to young adulthood. With an emphasis on self-awareness and coping strategies. The Likes of You{th} Kit empowers young boys to improve their social and emotional well-being through collaborative activities and discussion.

Covering themes such as Authority and Rebellion, Motivation and Depression, Confidence and  participation, Freedom and Escape, Study stress and conflict, Girls, rumours and sexuality, Screen Addiction and boredom, Companionship and loyalty, Independence and Identity, Pa rents and Responsibility, Self-esteem and style, Gangs and aggression this resource is perfect to complement the practice of those working with young people.

> Download a Flyer

Buy The Likes of Youth

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The Tell Me a Story cards

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

We are incredibly proud to introduce a very special Therapeutic Resources – The Tell me a Story cards.

The highest you ever climbed! – The furthest you ever swam! – The fastest you ever ran! –

Children love stories, especially true stories describing adventure and emotional extremes. Often they will ask to hear our stories but how often do they get to tell theirs?

The TMAS cards invite young people to recall and retell their own memorable moments of extremity (Luckiest! Loneliest! Bravest!), as they rediscover a sense of pride in their own achievements. The story topics have been carefully chosen to appeal to young storytellers, with the capacity to engage listeners of all ages.

The TMAS cards are a useful tool for parents and professionals working with young people to facilitate communication, highlight strengths, give praise and boost self-esteem.

The TMAS collection is designed for young people and adults, (aged 6 years and above). We all have stories to tell and the TMAS cards provide a forum for all people to share their experiences, children and adults alike. The cards have been tried and tested with individuals and small groups, throughout a number of different contexts.

>> Download a Flyer

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