Succeeding in College for ADHD Freshmen – 10 tips to help ADHD college students achieve academic, social and personal success.

Source: ADDitude Magazine

A car’s poor alignment can lead to resistance and difficulty maintaining a steady course, and the same is true for students. Haven’t you ever struggled with a task that you find boring, only to breeze through a challenging, but more interesting, assignment? When you’re involved with something you enjoy, you’re better able to focus and work becomes easier.

Whether you’re starting college next fall, weighing your options, or are already enrolled, there are several things to keep in mind for a smooth academic ride.

Your interests. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do more than anything else?” The answer should become your road map for choosing a school, a major — even specific courses. You’re more likely to earn good grades in a class you find interesting than in one that puts you to sleep.

How do you handle required classes that you find boring — or overly difficult? Wait a semester before tackling them — one at a time — until you have some experience, and support systems, behind you.

Talk with professors about your learning disability and see if they’re willing to work with you. Free tutoring may be available; if the class is especially difficult, start working with a tutor before you fall behind. If the course is unrelated to your major, you may be able to have it waived.

Of course, you should take your college studies seriously. But there’s no need to sacrifice involvement in sports, clubs, or other extracurricular activities you enjoy. Regular exercise is a great way to work off extra energy, unwind after a stressful day, and, of course, stay in shape. And whether it’s writing for the school paper or playing in the marching band, pursuing your interests will energize you and boost your confidence.

Your environment. Do you thrive in warm weather? Apply to schools in the South. Love the energy of a busy city? Stick with an urban campus.

Consider the size of the schools you look at. You might feel lost in a lecture hall that holds 300 students. In smaller classes, you’ll be drawn to the material, feel like an active participant, and be in a better position to ask for help, should you need it.

Do what you can to make your dorm room feel like home. If you prefer a minimalist look, leave your clutter behind. If you enjoy nature, consider bringing some plants and full-spectrum bulbs or a small indoor fountain. The more attuned you are to your environment, the more energized you’ll feel.

That’s also the case when it comes to studying. If you need quiet to do your best work, find a private room at the library. If you need noise and activity to help you focus, make yourself comfortable at a coffee house near campus.

Your roommates. To get started on the right foot, be totally honest on your roommate questionnaire. Are you messy? Do you stay up until 3 a.m. each night? Admit it. You’re not the only student with these habits, so frankness is your best bet for a good match. Even if you and your roommate don’t end up being best friends, you’ll at least have a shot at a peaceful co-existence. Single rooms are hard to come by, but you may be able to get one as part of your ADHD accommodations.

Seek like-minded friends through university organizations and clubs, whether you’re interested in saving the Earth or starting a corporation.

Your support system. One of the first things you should do after unpacking is to visit the office for students with disabilities. The professionals there understand your needs, and can help you put together an appropriate course schedule (no early morning classes, only one prerequisite class at a time, and so on), identify helpful professors, and put accommodations, such as extra time for exams, into place. They can also refer you to an ADD coach, who can help you develop a successful study routine and build the organizational skills you’ll need throughout college.

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Why is My Child So Distressed?

 

By Jane Hersey
Author of “Why My Child Can’t Behave”

 

Many things can lead to the development of behavior problems in children, and there are many ways to address them.

If the reasons for a child’s problems stem from a family situation, interaction with peers, events at school, etc., then the place to look for resolution is clearly there. But if the child has always been hard to parent, the answers might be as close as your kitchen pantry. Here are some children whose families have found answers in their kitchen.

Joshua had a history of social and behavior problems and was expelled from several day care centers and private schools. He did not cope well in special classrooms with a ratio of six children and three teachers. His diagnoses included: severe ADHD, ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Tourette syndrome and mood disorder syndrome. He was angry, aggressive, compulsive, threatening to kill others and himself, and nothing helped. The counseling, drugs, and even the psychiatric facility did not impact on his downward spiral.

Betsy was only 7 years old, but was haunted by thoughts of death; one of the pieces of art work she brought home from school was a black paper with three tombstones, bearing the initials of her parents and herself. She quietly planned on ways that she could end her life, which held no joy for her despite a loving family that desperately tried to help her.

Sean was expelled from preschool for his violent aggression and uncontrollable behavior. His family tried a therapeutic preschool, and he was at risk of being kicked out of a hospital treatment center because even they could not deal with this little boy’s behavior. No amount of medicine controlled his “bi-polar behavior” and psychotic episodes, and his parents were told that Sean was “seriously mentally ill” and would require life-long support.

Frank had a history of violent behaviors and at age 17 it was only a matter of time before he would be incarcerated. But he heard about a special diet and decided he wanted to try it. His meeting with the doctor who was using this diet to help children like Frank, Sean, Betsy and Joshua meant flying from Tennessee to California. Because his mother was afraid of him, Frank’s older brother accompanied him to visit with the doctor, Ben Feingold, who was chief of allergy at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in California.

Dr. Feingold discovered that some of the many chemicals routinely added to foods have the ability to affect any system of the body, including the brain. When a child is predisposed to be sensitive to these chemicals, they can wreak havoc. In order for a brain to function well, there are many chemical and electrical processes that must work appropriately; in other words, a lot things have to “go right.” When you add in a potent chemical such as an illicit drug (or even a legal one) our brain chemistry can be dramatically affected. Our bodies handle food additives and drugs in a similar manner.

All of these children described above have stories with happy endings once the offending chemicals were identified and removed. Joshua is an outstanding young man who has won numerous honors in school, in sports, and is a leader in an Air Force program for future officers.

Betsy is a normal, happy girl, Frank is a successful adult and Sean has no remnants of any “permanent mental disorder.” In fact, his mom reports he has recently joined the church choir.

Our bodies are composed of the food we eat; this is where we obtain nutrients of all types, including essential fatty acids, trace minerals and the many vitamins a healthy human body requires. But more and more children are no longer consuming food. Instead they are existing on a diet of synthetic substances that do not deliver the needed components to keep bodies working well and keep our brains operating rationally. These so-called foods might look like real food, fooling our eyes. They might even taste like food, fooling out taste buds. But our bodies are not fooled and when they do not receive the nutrients they need in order to function, things begin to go wrong. In addition to the nutrients they do not receive children today are ingesting a chemical stew of foodless ingredients, many of which are derived from crude oil (petroleum).

Dr. Feingold’s experience with troubled children showed that there are a few food additives that appear to be the worst offenders, and removing them brought about significant – often dramatic – changes in behavior, mood, and the ability to focus and learn. These additives include synthetic food dyes (such as Yellow 5 and Red 40); they are created from crude oil, and most of the dyes added to our food start out in petroleum refineries in China. Common preservatives, artificial flavors and even fragrances typically are created from petroleum; rose petals no longer are the source of those pretty scents!

The Feingold diet has been helping families for decades, and the non-profit Feingold Association continues to offer information and support to those who want to learn more. Parent volunteers show others how they can find the foods they enjoy, but minus the unwanted additives; most of them are available at neighborhood supermarkets. See www.feingold.org.

In addition to removing the offensive additives, researchers have found the many benefits of adding supplements to nutrient-starved bodies.

Researchers at Oxford University have shown that the behavior of young male prisoners calmed down when their diet was supplemented with a combination of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs). Other British research has shown the dramatic benefits of the EFAs, including help for children with ADHD and autism. In the US EFA research has been ongoing at Purdue University for many years.

When nourishing food was given to teens in juvenile detention facilites the improved behavior was documented. And when the Appleton Alternative High School in Wisconsin switched from the usual school food to fresh, healthy food, the behavior problems evaporated and learning improved.

Another risk factor for children with behavior and learning problems.

The drugs that are generally given to children with these problems offer additional concerns. While they may bring about improvements, they are not risk-free. The Food and Drug Administration now requires ADHD drugs to carry warning labels that some children might have reactions that include:

psychotic behavior, depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, violence, as well as a host of health effects including cancer, liver damage, strokes and heart attacks.

Risk factors with antidepressants and related drugs

Psychotropic drugs are routinely given to children who are diagnosed as depressed, bi-polar, etc., and these also carry warnings that side effects can include depression and violent behaviors. It can be difficult to sort out whether a behavior is originating within the child or is a side effect of some of the medications he is taking. The fact that all of these drugs are now being given to children who are still infants raises many red flags. Who knows what long-term effects they will have?

While it’s comforting to think that only a minority of children experience the most dangerous reactions, the number of children now being medicated means that a minority can be a very large number of children. (It has been estimated that 10% of all 10-year-old boys in the United States are now on drugs for ADHD.)

A new awareness in Europe

The scientific evidence for the harm caused by petroleum-based food dyes is now so compelling that the British government is seeking to ban them and the European Parliament has voted to require warning labels on foods that contain them. While dyes are not the only additives that can cause adverse reactions, they are the most notorious, the easiest to replace, and offer no value to the consumer.

So, for the child whose behavior has gone over the edge, or if you worry that your youngster is on this path, one simple change that you can implement with no risk, very little cost, and relatively small effort, is to replace those mixes, cookies, candies, sodas, and fast food with nearly-identical versions that are free of the worst of the additives. And while you’re at it, try eating the good food yourself; every parent needs to have their brain cells working at optimum levels as they deal with that temporary insanity called “adolescence.”

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Positive Parenting Tips for ADHD Children

By ADDitude Magazine
Five Tips for Smoother Mornings

Shift as many tasks as you can to the night before. Sign permission slips, make sure book bags are packed, and leave everything by the front door, in a “launch pad.”

If your child takes ADHD medication, wake him up half an hour early to take his pill. Then, let him fall back asleep or just relax. By the time he needs to start getting ready, his medication will have kicked in.

Draw up a checklist that spells out your child’s morning routine (“get dressed,” “come to the kitchen for breakfast,” and so on), and have her check off steps as she completes them.

Use a timer to remind your child when it’s time to move on to the next task. This will keep you from micromanaging his routine, and give him more control over his own schedule.

The morning rush is already hectic, so don’t add extra stimuli to the mix. Leave the television and the computer off until your children are out the door.

Five After-School Strategies

Establish a start time for homework, and stick to it. Some kids work better after a little downtime; others find it harder to switch back to “school mode.”

Find the homework environment that works with your child. The kitchen table is often the ideal homework station-there’s plenty of space to spread out books and you can stay close by.

ADHD kids can have trouble staying focused for long periods, so let your child take frequent, short breaks. A five-minute break for every 20 minutes of work should be sufficient.

Get your child in the habit of packing her completed homework in her book bag as soon as she’s finished, before moving on to any other activity.

Have fun afterward. Your child is more likely to apply herself if she knows that a fun activity, such as playing a game or watching TV, will follow homework.

Five Ways to Ensure Happy Meal Times

An all-carb breakfast is a recipe for inattention. Make sure your child eats plenty of protein, along with complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and/or vegetables.

Keep a supply of grab-and-go breakfast foods, like protein bars, hard-boiled eggs, and cartons of yogurt, on hand, in case you fall behind schedule.

Create a “Top-10” list based on family members’ favorite meals that you can cook over the course of a two week-period. Soliciting everyone’s input means everyone will be happier around the dinner table.

Share the responsibilities for dinner preparation. Younger children can set the table, older kids may appreciate the responsibility of helping to prepare the meal.

If your child’s medication impacts his appetite, keep meal times flexible. If he doesn’t eat much for lunch, for example, give him a hearty snack rather than make him wait.

Five Keys to the Bedtime Routine

Wind down slowly over the course of an hour or so. Find the bedtime routine that works-bath, brush teeth, 20 minutes of reading, lights out to soft music-and stick to it.

Set a realistic bedtime. Put your child to bed too early, and there’s a chance that he’ll remain awake-and restless-for a long time.

Enforce bedtime consistently-on weekends, too. Letting your child stay up late on weekends will disrupt his circadian clock; on Monday, he’ll wake up with something akin to jet lag.

If your child gets up, tuck her back into bed and gently but firmly remind her that it’s time to go to sleep. Reassure her that you’ll be nearby.

Keep in mind that some ADHD kids are kept awake at night by restlessness and mental activity caused by a lack of medication. If you suspect this in your child, ask her doctor about an evening dose.

Learn more at www.additudemag.com

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Standing Up for Your Child’s Educational Rights

By ADDitude Magazine

Learn your child’s educational rights to get him the support he needs in the classroom.

In an ideal world, teachers and school administrators would be as eager as parents to see that children with ADD get what they need to succeed in school. Unfortunately, teachers are pressed for time as never before, and school districts are strapped for cash. So it’s up to parents to make sure that their kids get the extra support they need.

“The federal government requires schools to provide special services to kids with ADD and other disabilities, but the school systems themselves bear much of the cost of these services,” says Susan Luger, director of The Children’s Advisory Group in New York City. “Though they’ll never admit it, this gives the schools an incentive to deny these services. The process of obtaining services has become much more legalistic over the past 10 years.”

Click here for the entire article.