Hallowell Connections Color
MayNewsletter )
The Power of Connection May, 2008
In this Issue
  • FAQs - Homeschooling; Early Diagnosis
  • The Latest on Boys' Development
  • Motives and ADHD - Not What You Think
  • In the News - Creative Energy of ADHD; Heart Risks with ADHD Meds
  • Reviews and Resources
  • Hallowell Center Events and News
  • This month, Michael Thompson, Ph.D. shares his insights into how boys develop. He has written a new book with lots of reassuring words for parents about what they sometimes view is the "chaotic" development of their sons. We've asked him a few questions and his answers might surprise you (particularly about boys and online games).

    In a first, but hopefully not a last, we have had one of our readers contribute an article to the newsletter! Bernadette Berry, a clinical psychologist from New Zealand, writes about the importance of learning not to ascribe your own motives to the people you love who have ADD. I know that this is a big issue in couples struggling with ADD, but she points out it is also a big issue for parents of children with ADD.

    Dr. Hallowell is giving summer seminars in which you may well be interested, including his family camp at Leelanau. In addition, both NY and Sudbury have events coming up.

    Please read on!

    Melissa Orlov, editor

    FAQs - Homeschooling; Early Diagnosis

    Q: After years of trying to work with the schools, advocates and tutors, I've given up. I plan on home schooling my 13 year old son. Do you have any suggestions on homeschooling curriculum and/or websites that might be more helpful for his ADD?

    A: According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 2.2% of the US student population is homeschooled, so there are support organizations to help you plan your curriculum. However, make sure that you give your son plenty of social and group opportunities because reading social and emotional cues is an important skill for kids with ADHD. As he moves into his teen years, make sure he does get some classroom time, or his transition into college could be difficult.

    Resources to check out include the American Homeschool Association and a good resource page written by a former home schooler, Ann Zeise.

    Q: What's the earliest age one can get a diagnosis about whether or not a child has ADHD?

    A: According to Dr. Paul Sorgi of the Hallowell Center, the earliest age one can accurately evaluate a child would be 5-7.

    The Latest on Boys' Development

    Michael Thompson, highly respected expert on how boys develop and grow, has published a definitive new book for parents, It's a Boy! Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18. It's a terrific book and, after reviewing it, we decided to call Michael and ask him a few questions on behalf of our readers:

    HC: Michael, what inspired you to write "It's a Boy"?
    MT: Moms and Dads seem very puzzled by boy behavior. I get literally hundreds of questions from parents about things that actually are quite normal, but to the parents seem alarming and scary. I wanted an opportunity to reassure them and show them that much of what they are seeing is just normal boy development.
    HC: You've written about boys before. How is this book different from "Raising Cain" and your other books?
    MT: Those books were written to address specific cultural questions and were more alarmist in nature. Raising Cain came out right around the Columbine shootings, when people were concerned about the emotional lives of boys. They wanted to know "how did we get to this place?" It's a Boy! is development-centered. It's upbeat and optimistic. My basic message is that even though boy development can seem "messy", if you trust that boys are both "worthy" and "trustworthy" things generally turn out fine.
    HC: What's the most important thing that parents of boys need to know?
    MT: That boys do get there. They turn into loving, hard working men. The theme of the book is "trust in the development of your son". It's like our own family story of my mother being very concerned that my brother was still wetting his bed at age six, which is not all that uncommon for boys of that age. My grandmother simply asked her "how many 16 year olds do you know who are still wetting their beds?" To the modern, vigilant, anxious parent, boy development can seem distressingly slow and chaotic. But parents need to understand that boys just have a different arc of development in their brains.
    HC: What do you think that boys need more of?
    MT: My greatest wish for boys would be that they have more undirected free play.
    HC: So would you boot them off their computer screens and send them outside?
    MT: In the old days, boys would go out of the house unsupervised and have hours of fun away from their parents. Sometimes they would do dangerous things and sometimes hurt themselves, but mostly they would have fun and become more competent. Today, we're not willing to let our children out of the house for long periods of time so that they can have adventures. The computer screen has become the new outdoors for many boys. I would rather see them go outside, but I cannot deny parents' fears of stranger and neighborhoods where they don't know many other families. What parents have to acknowledge is that a child in front of a computer screen is, in some ways, reassuring.
    HC: But aren't there issues with all the violence that boys are exposed to online?
    MT: There is no shown connection between video violence and actual violence. The real issue is obesity. That is worth worrying about - boys need exercise and won't get it if they are in front of a screen all the time. Also, you worry about changes in their brains from too much exposure to the fast pace of video graphics - it shortens their attention span and can create a sort of "pseudo- ADD".
    HC: So what do you think parents need more of?
    MT: I wish parents could see the world through their boy's eyes for a little while. It's not scary, it's a very funny world - in fact, it's hilarious! In all seriousness, I think parents should tape pictures of men they love and respect up on the wall of their nursery. It would remind them that they are trying to raise someone like that - a real, living man who made it and is wonderful. Not some new age, super fantasy of a person. The bottom line is this - if you like boys, and show it, you'll find that they can be extraordinarily loving and wonderful.

    It's a Boy - Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18 is a wonderful, thoughtful, and complete look at how boys grow and change. You can start reading at whatever point is relevant for your own child and immediately learn new things. In each age and behavior-defined chapter, Thompson not only provides stories and details about that group, but also elaborates upon the "eight lines of development" appropriate for that age group - physical, attachment, social, cognitive, academic, emotional self-regulation and moral and spiritual development. This provides a steady, easy-to-digest thread through the entire book and provides an easy point of reference for parents interested in looking either backwards or to the future.

    Motives and ADHD - Not What You Think

    By Guest Author, Bernadette Berry
    It is important to alert non-ADD spouses and parents to the idea that because the ADD brain functions quite differently from the non-ADD brain, it is wrong to assign their personal motivations to their partner's or child's behavior. For example, it is frequent that non-ADD people believe:

    • that their ADD partner does not care about them when they do not arrive at an important date on time.
    • that their ADD child is being lazy when they step over things lying in the room rather than pick them up.
    • that their ADD partner is "lying" when they make up stories to fit events for which they have no other explanation or patently did not occur.
    • that their ADD child's frequent interruptions are the result of the need for instant gratification or just plain poor manners

    These assumptions assign a moral shortcoming to the ADD person, which is both incorrect and hurtful. To make these assumptions would be to miss important facts about how the ADD brain works.

    Russell Barkley argued in 2003 that inattention is likely the result of working memory, rather than poor attention, per se. As I work with people with ADD, I see that this manifests itself in a number of ways. Take the adult who blurts out the first thing that comes to their mind. This may make a person very funny, but it can also make them tactless. This blurting out has to do with an inability to inhibit their responses. Family members must learn that this is not intentionally hurtful behavior as all concerned work to get it under control.

    Children with ADD often cut into conversations. But I don't see this as the result of needing instant gratification. I believe it is better explained by one of the difficulties with working memory, which is an inability to hold information/events in their minds. By the time people have become adults with ADD they have often learned ways of dealing with this difficulty. They may sit rehearsing in their mind what it is they want to say (this of course makes them miss out on what is being said, and increases their apparent difficulty with attention); they simply give up trying to contribute and sit and listen as well as they can; or, of course, they may still cut in.

    It is easy to understand how people with attention problems may miss out on information. It is less easy to understand why they make up information and, therefore, are frequently accused of lying. But the literature on remote memory tells us that memory works by remembering a few salient points and 'filling in' the rest of the information with what is likely to be the case. The reconstructive nature of memory is likely to be influenced by people's desires, beliefs and the emotions associated with these events. This may give us some insight into the problem of the ADD adult "making up stories". It is important to remember that when we do this 'filling in' we are not aware we are doing it - we believe we are remembering it (confabulation). The threshold at which this "remembering a few points then filling in the rest" occurs appears to be different for the ADD person - they appear to do it for immediate memory as well as longer-term. Research suggests that children with inhibition control problems are more likely to have false memories than children without this problem.

    From my work with adults with ADD I have also noticed that not only do they seem to create 'false memories' more than non-ADD people but they appear to be more sure that they are right about this memory. It is easily seen how this creates huge problems/arguments in relationships. Couples frequently report to me that their ADD partner not only forgets to tell them important things but that they are convinced that they have told their spouse and can recite the situation where and when they passed on this information.

    Unfortunately, there are no specific solutions to these issues. Rather, there are a host of tactics that families with ADD can try to figure out what works for them. It is critically important that non-ADD family members be aware that these issues exist so that they can avoid assigning their own motivation to their ADD partners, children and friends.

    Bernadette Berry is a Clinical Psychologist from New Zealand who has been practising for 27 years. She works with children, adolescents and adults and specialises in helping individuals, parents and couples manage ADD within their lives.

    In the News - Creative Energy of ADHD; Heart Risks with ADHD Meds

    The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about The Creative Energy Behind ADHD which highlights the trials, tribulations, and benefits of ADHD. To read the article, go to this link.

    Get ECG Before Taking ADHD Meds: The American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that before children start stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD they be given an electrocardiogram (ECG) to determine if they have any underlying heart conditions that would not be detected by a standard physical exam. In addition, because children's bodies change so dramatically, the group suggested that if an ECG was taken before the age of 12 that it might be useful to do a repeat ECG after 12. For more information, go to this link.

    Reviews and Resources

    Two Career Planning Experts Start Newsletter for High Schoolers and College Students: The authors are Robin Roman- Wright, career counsellor at the Hallowell Center and Carol Christen, co-author of What Color is Your Parachute for Teens. Between them, these two women have lots of experience helping people find careers that fit their skills and interests. An added bonus is that Wright has helped many teens and college students with ADHD.

    The newsletter comes out every other month, with three issues a year for high schoolers and three for college students. The May issue, for high schoolers, looks at what you need to be thinking about between high school and college and offers "13 ideas to consider before you register for college", suggesting ways students can start exploring careers that might interest them. They also provide tips that help kids stay in college (40% don't graduate within 6 years).

    To sign up to receive the free newsletter, please go to this link. The authors also offer workshops and teleseminars, which they list in their newsletter.

    ADDA Teleseminars: Every Wednesday evening (9:00 EST), ADDA sponsors teleseminars with guest experts. Their topics vary widely, but are quite interesting. This spring, for example, includes sessions on sleep issues, addiction, juvenile crime, disorganization and more. Session are also available as recordings. To access either, you must become a member of ADDA. Go to this link for more information on classes.

    Two Great ADD Events with Dr. Hallowell - Once again, Dr. Hallowell is teaching his one week seminar at the Cape Cod Institute between June 30-July 4. The seminar is for adults, both professionals and non- professionals, interested in learning how to implement a strengths-based approach to treating ADHD.

    From July 13-18, Dr. Hallowell will join the staff of the Leelanau School for the Ned Hallowell ADHD Summer Enrichment Camp. The camp is for families with kids with ADHD entering grades 5-12. For more information go to www.drhallowell.co m.

    Hallowell Center Events and News

    Hallowell Center, Sudbury MA - is having a talk and demonstration of the Dore program on May 14 from 7- 8:30 pm. The Dore Program is a medication-free treatment for ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger's Syndrome, and other learning difficulties. Registration for the event is request by emailing Rebecca Goniwich at Rebecca.Goniwich@doreusa.com or phoning 978-287- 9570 EX 101.

    The location of the event is 142 North Road, Sudbury, MA.

    Hallowell Center, New York, NY - is hosting two open houses, one on May 12 from 5-7 pm and the other on May 20 from 10am-noon. The Center offers traditional and suppliemental treatments all in one upper-west side facility. Please RSVP to 212-799-777 or to Lorraine@ADHDNewYork.com.

    The location of the NY Hallowell Center is 117 West 72nd Street (Columbus - Amsterdam).

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