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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Decisions, decisions, decisions! For the ADHD brain, making a decision can be quite the process. First, you will need to collect some information, but how much information? When do you know when you have enough information? Is it the best/most informed information for the decision you need to make? Has this ever happened to you? If the decision is made quickly, we may be called impulsive. Yet, if we take longer than expected we are accused of procrastinating. What makes making decisions so difficult? Every decision or choice we make uses up willpower according to Dr. Nowell, Ph.D. Since we have a limited amount of willpower it can be more challenging to make a decision because of our lower level of willpower. The brain is the organ in the body that requires the most glucose to keep it running. Each decision uses up a bit more of that glucose which can then deplete the reserves in the rest of the body. The less energy the harder even the simplest decisions can become. Simplifying certain decisions can free up what I call our “brain bandwidth” and can translate into more freedom and less stress. One strategy for simplifying is to make decisions ahead of time about the little things you don’t want in your life or don’t need to think about each day.  Darren Hardy of Success magazine calls them your “non-negotiables” – those things you no longer have to think about because you have already made a decision about it and are sticking to it.  It could be setting a specific bedtime or deciding a no cookies after 6pm “rule”...
Summer Fun to Build Executive Function Skills

Summer Fun to Build Executive Function Skills

Summer’s here and the learning never stops! Sure no one wants to even think about school during July and August. I understand that. But if your son or daughter struggles in school with organization, planning or focusing long enough to get through homework, then you might want to build some of their executive function skills this summer while having some fun. Below are three executive function skills with some activities you can do to strengthen them. Once you start to see your child/teen improving you’ll want to be sure they “transfer” their learning to school and their life by asking questions such as: “How might a stronger memory help in school?” or “What a fun day. Your plan was organized and we had everything we needed. Can you think of any other ways that great planning might be helpful?” Don’t forget to mention whenever you use planning, or working memory strategies so that your son or daughter sees that those skills are used every day. According to Bloom’s new hierarchy of skills the first step is the ability to remember. Working memory has been defined as being able to hold onto information long enough to use and/or manipulate it. For example, understanding the rules of a new game and being able to play it while keeping track of other players’ moves uses the working memory. Here are some ideas to increase working memory skills during the summer: Write it down! Use a planner, smartphone app (Google Calendar, Color note, Evernote, Remember the Milk, Hiveminder, etc.), or notepad to keep track of events, vacation, etc. so you don’t overburden your working memory. Practice...

15 Strategies to Get Things Done

AD/HD can effect both children and adults. The true challenge is the amount of impact that it has on someone’s ability to handle life’s responsibilities and that is important to be aware of. The impact may be interfering at home, work, school, or in social situations.  Often it is the executive functioning skills (or central control of the brain) that interferes with a person’s ability to focus, organize, plan, keep emotions under control and/or accomplish tasks. Executive functions skills are defined as: The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. Taken from:Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel (2008) http://www.ldonline.org/article/29122/ Here are just three of the top executive functioning skills and strategies to help handle them. The links are to blog posts I wrote with more information. 1. Task Initiation – or Getting Started Declutter your work space, set up materials you use often in easily accessible places. Get help understanding what is expected (call a friend or coworker). Break it down into smaller pieces and pick one piece to start. Visual timers, alarms, and phone reminders all serve to designate a start time if you use them. Start with the easiest to build momentum. 2. Memory – often called working memory or the ability to hold onto information while using it. Write it down! Use a planner, smartphone app (Google Calendar, Color note,Evernote, Remember the Milk, Hiveminder, etc.), or notepad to keep track Repeat out loud what you want to remember Simplify and slow down. (Multitasking reduces...
Attention 101

Attention 101

October is ADHD Awareness Month, so let’s talk about attention. Does your child take a long time to complete their homework? Have you heard things from the teacher like, “your child needs to pay more attention in class,” or “he/she is distracted and needs to focus more?”  Well, it turns out that it is not as simple as “paying more attention.” There are actually three different kinds of attention (according to the all kinds of minds website). I’ve summarized the three types below and added some strategies that might be helpful below that. (I used the pronoun, “they” rather than “he/she” to simplify.) 1. Mental Energy is really about how awake the brain is and how consistent the energy level stays. Alertness –can they concentrate when necessary? Sleep habits – do they get a good night’s sleep and wake rested? Mental effort- do they have enough energy to finish what they start Performance consistency-is their work of the same quality from day to day? 2. Processing Energy is about how well your child can put the pieces together. Can they separate important from unimportant? Do they connect new information to what they already know? How deep do they concentrate? Can they concentrate until they get through the task? Can they put the pieces together even when not interested in the topic? 3. Production Energy is about the consistency and quality of their work. Do they think ahead to what the end result should be? Do they consider different options before proceeding? Is the quality of their work consistent? Do they work fast, slow or just right? Do they learn...
What DID I Come in Here For?

What DID I Come in Here For?

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what you went in there for? Or sent your child to do two things and they only did one? If this kind of thing happens often then it may be a working memory issue. Working Memory is an Executive Function skill that plays an important role in remembering what to do and how to do it.  It can have an impact on how much you and your child get done and how quickly and/or completely. Peg Dawson and Richard Guare1 define working memory as, “the ability to hold information in mind while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future.” This explains why your child can do the homework one night and the next night not have any idea. It also explains why things are left unfinished, or multiple step directions are not followed and why they do the same thing over and over even though they “know” or should know that it is wrong. It also interferes with learning from past mistakes. Multitasking or being distracted and not paying attention to details can also have an effect on your ability to use your working memory effectively. In Children it may look like: Difficulty following multi step directions (or forgets some but not all of the steps during a project) Struggles with math, especially processes of more than two or three steps (ex. long division). Struggles to get out the door in the morning or to remember the steps in a...