Category : ADHD-Learning


ADHD – Learning: Will Ritalin Help My ADD Child?

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Okay, I know it seems like this subject has been beaten to death. You've probably done all the research you can possibly do, and have already made your decision about whether or not you will give your ADHD child Ritalin.

So to set the record straight, I'm not going to tell you whether or not to give Ritalin. Instead, I'd like to point out one very important point to consider when deciding whether or not to give Ritalin: could it possible your child has an auditory processing disorder, not ADD?

I've spoken to numerous parents and teachers who complain to me about their child being inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, or otherwise not in line with the program. They have taken their child for testing, and been told their child could benefit from Ritalin.

Then I do an evaluation with their child, and lo and behold, their child has a significant language disorder. The two most well known areas for possible language dysfunction are receptive (understanding) and expressive (speaking) language. There are, however, a lot of other different areas a child can have difficulty with.

For example, I tested one seven year old who was bilingual, and spoke beautifully in both languages. She seemed articulate, perceptive- an unlikely candidate for a language issue. However, testing showed that she did in fact have a language disorder. How could this be?

There are two types of speech, automatic and literate. Automatic language is everyday language. It is the language you use to talk to your friends, what you hear on TV, in movies, or on the radio. Literate language is the language of learning- what you find in a textbook, professional article, or literature assignment.

This little girl's parents were quite surprised when the results came in, since their daughter seemingly spoke so well. However, it is not as uncommon as you might imagine. They are two separate language functions, and therefore a child could be good in one and lousy in the other.

There are actually six levels of language. Think of an upside down pyramid. At the bottom are phonemes. These are the sounds that make up language. Then next are morphemes, which are the smallest bits of words that we can have that still make sense. These are prefixes and suffixes. The third level involves semantics, or word meanings. The fourth involves language on the sentence level, or syntax. The fifth, is called discourse processing, and refers to language on the paragraph level, while the sixth level, metalinguistics, is how we think about language.

All this may seem confusing, but really you only need to understand one thing: if your child has trouble in even one of these areas, she could have serious trouble functioning in class.

Not all of these skills develop in top to bottom order. Children first improve in syntax, and only later, in middle school or high school, are they faced with the more technical language that many subjects require. Don't assume, therefore, that because your child has done well up until now, she couldn't possibly have a problem. A child could have language breakdown at any developmental level.

Pay attention to your child; notice when they seem to be right with you, and when they seem to suddenly get hyperactive, or spacey. Do you often have to repeat directions? Does your child have trouble keeping up with the rest of the family during a fast and furious conversation?

When doing homework with your child, does it seem as if your child needs a lot of help understanding what they read? Do they have tend to speak in short sentences?  Are they able to gather new information from what they read?

Keep a journal if you need to, for about a two weeks, in order to help you see the overall picture. Children who have language issues may show an uneven ability to concentrate in school. Their math teacher may say they do just fine, while their science teacher may throw up his hands in frustration.

Sometimes a child will seem to do well on Ritalin for the first month or two. Then teachers start complaining, begin suggesting an increase. So the parents succumb after a while- the doctor did say this was a starting dose- and up the medicine. The teacher sees an improvement, but then in a year, the teacher says she sees a drop-off in his behavior...

You get the idea. Of course I'm not suggesting that Ritalin may not be the answer for some children; I've seen it work wonders for some children. The point here is that before you give Ritalin you need to make sure that a language delay is not the real reason they cannot pay attention.

By the way, the fact that there was improvement on Ritalin is not proof your child has ADD (although some people would like you to believe this). Many people -even non ADD- will see an improvement using it. Why do you think so many teenagers and adults use it illegally?

If you suspect your child may have a language disorder, have him or tested, preferably with a didactic evaluation. If you find your child does have a language issue, contact an educational therapist, who can help your child both compensate for his weakness, and improve his language skills. Doing so may just save you from going for a ride on the "Ritalin roller coaster."

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Attention Issues: 3 Must-Know Facts about Attention Issues in Children

Treating all attention issues with Ritalin is like treating all stomach aches with Pepto-Bismol

Attention issues in children are the most common mental health diagnosis for children today. And according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of every 10 children have a diagnosis of ADHD.

And though doctors most commonly prescribe Ritalin as the treatment of choice, many parents often find that Ritalin alone doesn’t achieve the results they expected. Despite being on various psychotropic drugs ranging from Ritalin to Haldol (a hard hitting drug with serious side effects), they’re still struggling with children who act out in class, or are failing because they’re busy doing everything but paying attention in class.

What your doctor won't tell you about ADHD

Most doctors respond by increasing the dose of Ritalin, or by prescribing another drug instead of or in addition to the original one. But there’s a simple explanation for why this happens, and this is it: no one drug can treat ADD since attention issues are due to numerous causes – some of which are very different from each other.

Treating attention issues with a one-size fits all approach is like treating every stomach ache with Pepto-Bismol. You could try it, but you might not always be too happy with the results. In order to help your child overcome their attention issues, you need to know exactly what the cause of their inability to pay attention stems from, so that an effective plan can be implemented to treat it.

Questions you should ask when considering your child’s attention issues:

Children with attention issues can’t be lumped together in one pile. Answer the questions below in order to get an understanding of what factors influence your child’s attention issues:

1) Does your child often appear tired in class, especially when they have to sit still?

2) Do they seem to fidget and squirm a lot, as if they’re moving around to stay awake?

3) Do they tend to miss the beginning of directions or discussions in school?

4) Does your child have problems with short-term memory?

5) Do they mess up when trying to remember details?

6) Do they get bogged down in the details, sometimes unable to see the big picture?

7) Do they seem to be uninterested in what they learn in school, no matter what they subject?

8) Do they seem too reliant on memorization, to the point of not understanding what they’re learning?

9) Do they complain of being bored in school?

10) Do they tend to start doing difficult tasks without planning out how to do them beforehand?

11) Do they have trouble being satisfied?

These are just some of the questions that can help you as a parent understand what specific attention issues are causing your child to have trouble in school and at home.

I’ll be releasing a podcast for my list that will explain the causes of attention in more detail. I’ll also be giving worksheets that wil help you identify the specific issue preventing your child from paying attention, along with a specific plan in order to help your child pay attention in school and at home.

It’s all free for those on my list, so if you want it, sign up here.



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