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June Newsletter )
The Power of Connection June, 2008
In this Issue
  • How Distractibility and Procrastination Work in the Brain
  • Exploring Educational Options for Your Teen
  • In the News - St. John's Wort; Dore In Bankruptcy; ADDA Conference
  • Resources - Too Many to List!
  • Hallowell Center Events and News
  • This is a time of year in which families with high schoolers are thinking about colleges, and others are relecting on last year's school experience. In this issue, Hallowell Center experts Renee and Marvin Goldberg offer insights that can help you decide if your child might want to look at alternative educational options.

    There are several options to hear Dr. Hallowell speak this summer - the Hallowell Summer Enrichment Camp at the Leelanau School July 13- 18, a week long seminar at the Cape Cod Institute (starts June 30) and the ADDA conference in Minneapolis, July 10-12. It's not too late to sign up for any of these programs If you think that learning more about ADHD is a way that you or your family would like to spend part of early summer.

    Finally, we are looking for your input! What would you like this newsletter to cover in future issues? Please send your ideas to me at morlov@HallowellConnections.com

    We hope the lazy days of summer are giving you and your family a chance to spend some quality "down time" together!

    Melissa Orlov, editor

    How Distractibility and Procrastination Work in the Brain

    This month, instead of our Q&A, we offer an interesting explanation of how the brain actually works when it is distracted by brain expert, Dr. John Ratey. This excerpt is taken from Nancy Ratey's hot new book on self-coaching, "The Disorganized Mind".

    Within the Brain: Distractibility
    Persons with ADHD have a "sluggish" frontal cortex, which results in many of the manifestations of ADHD. Directly affecting focus is the ability of the frontal cortex to help block the entry or inhibit the entrance of other stimuli into our consciousness. If the frontal cortex is not working properly, the result is distractibility.

    Also, owing to lowered amounts of dopamine in the synapse in the striatum (the reward and motivation area of the brain) the attention of individuals with ADHD doesn't remain motivated enough or fixed on a topic. It flips instead to the next new, and often random, stimulus that comes into awareness.

    Increased dopamine helps rein in attention by making a particular stimulus more important. For example, rewarding, challenging, or intense thoughts or external stimuli can cause an increase in dopamine in the synapse, helping to increase focus and decrease distractibility. This is why medications such as Ritalin, which increase dopamine levels, are used to help correct attention issues such as distractibility.

    From The Disorganized Mind by Nancy A. Ratey. Copyright (c) 2008 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press.

    Exploring Educational Options for Your Teen

    Students with ADHD are confronted with challenges, large and small, each day. Sometimes it's "where's my homework, where's my backpack, did I write down the assignment, when's my next test?" For some teens, ADHD can be a burden, a challenge that is difficult to manage successfully even when using the medicinal or alternative therapies offered at the Hallowell Center. School remains a challenge to the point where the child wishes to drop out, or friends and behaviors change in alarming ways.

    Renee and Marvin Goldberg, educational specialists with the Hallowell Center, offer some ideas:

    Troubled Teens: When Staying at Home is Not an Option

    Parents can often see the signs of a teen who is moving into troubled territory. The student's grades slip, friends and behaviors change, and the adolescent may start to self-medicate with substances as well as react to their parents with inappropriate behaviors for their ages. These students, whose lives are spinning out of control, may need resources and programs other than the treatment they are receiving from their doctors to get back on track.

    If your teen is facing some of these difficult times, then an outdoor program may be in their future. These programs run at any time of year, not just in the summer.

    Started more than 25 years ago, outdoor/wilderness programs are designed for teens to provide appropriate physical challenges, promote healthy relationships, and improve their ability to communicate with parents and peers. A teen who enters one of these programs has no cell phone, no text-messaging, no i-pod, no illegal substances, just him/herself, trained program staff, a peer group and a therapist. Outdoor programs, which can last from 4 to 8 weeks, are not punitive and rely on nature and natural consequences, teaching principles which help teens become successful in society.

    By the end of their stay, participants have more self- awareness and emerge from the program with increased confidence, personal introspection, and greater self-esteem. For some students, a wilderness program is all that is needed, but for most students, it is the first step towards confronting personal and family issues and moving forward in their lives.

    Which College is Best for My Child with Learning Disabilities?

    Will there be any support for my child in college? Should he tell a prospective college about ADHD or other learning disabilities? Which college will balance adequate support with opportunities to soar? Will he fit in with the other people there? What are the best ways for a teen to help a prospective college to look past some low grades to see his potential?

    Finding the right college for a teen with learning disabilities can be a stressful challenge for parents and applicants. The best process includes a great deal of personal assessment and obtaining feedback from previous teachers and from schools in order to develop a list of potentially good fits. Knowledge of what is out there, and the personality of specific therapeutic schools as an option, is important as well.

    Parents have come to understand the value that consultants add to the college application process, particularly in the hyper-competitive environment that the class of 2009 is facing. (2009 is the largest class of graduating seniors in the last 30 years!) Many parents are hiring tutors for SAT prep or consultants who can help ease them through the process. Educational consultants like the Goldbergs can be hired on a project basis (i.e. through the entire search, application and placement process, which can take a year or more) or on a more limited, hourly, basis. Expect the fees of good consultants to be substantial because the deliberation and application process is very time consuming. But finding the right fit can mean the difference between a strong freshman year and the psychological and financial strain of a very poor one. Using a consultant can also ease the tension that the college search can create in the household, as the burden of helping the teen structure the search is taken on by the consultant rather than the parents.

    It is a critical time for teens with learning disabilities, and particularly ADHD. The transition between high school and college is so difficult that there is an entire chapter devoted to it in Delivered from Distraction (see "Major Danger Alert: College and ADHD"). In addition, teens need to learn during senior year how to advocate for themselves so that they will be able to do so when they are in college and on their own. For an interesting article on this subject that finishes up with 11 specific tips for skills that high schoolers with learning disabilities should work on before they get to college, go to the link below.

    Renee and Marvin Goldberg would be happy to talk with you further about whether or not your child might benefit from educational counseling. The Goldbergs spend 20 percent of their time visiting schools, colleges and programs across the United States. They can advise families from anywhere in North America. Please call the Hallowell Center at 978-287-0810 to reach them.

    In the News - St. John's Wort; Dore In Bankruptcy; ADDA Conference

    St. John's Wort Not Effective in Treatment of ADHD - A small research study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that St. John's Wort is not effective in treating ADHD. However, the doctors managing the study noted that the product does interfere with about half of all drugs, mainly by flushing them out of the body quickly and thus reducing their effectiveness. Thus, taking St. John's Wort can have negative side effects.

    Dore Declares Bankruptcy - Dore has closed its doors worldwide, and is currently looking for ways to restructure its business. While the Dore program helped many relieve the effects of ADHD and Asperger's, it seems the company may have expanded too quickly. The company is currently looking for a way to address the needs of current patients as well as find a stronger method of delivery for its product. To stay tuned to this, please go to the Dore website in your country (DoreUSA link is provided below). Hallowell patients undergoing Dore treatment should have already been contacted by their Center.

    ADDA Conference Hotel Deadline Extended: If you are interested in seeing Dr. Hallowell, Nancy Ratey or Sari Solden speak live at this year's ADDA conference in Minneapolis (July 10-12), there is good news - the deadline for getting the special ADDA discount at the Hyatt has been extended until June 26. Please call the hotel directly for more information at 1- 800-233-1234. For more information about the conference itself, go to the ADDA homepage.

    Resources - Too Many to List!

    More on Homeschooling:One of our readers who has been homeschooling her daughter, sent in these resources:

    The major national organization which deals with homeschooling is HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association): www.hslda.org. Probably the most well known magazine in homeschool circles is The Old Schoolhouse . Many great resources can be found at the state or local level. Each state has its own state organization (sometimes more, depending on the size of the state), and these are listed at HSLDA. The state organization would be able to direct parents to local support groups where they might be able to ask questions. There is also a site for homeschooling kids with learning disabilities: NATHHAN (National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network). Christine Field has an excellent book called "Homeschooling the Challenging Child."

    I use Sonlight curriculum for a good portion of our work, and they have their own forum for kids with learning challenges. I would assume that the same is true for almost any major curriculum.

    Dr. John Ratey Lecture Online: John Ratey recently gave a lecture at Google headquarters about the effect that exercise has on the brain. Google obligingly recorded the lecture and the slides and put it up on YouTube. You can see the lecture (45 mintues) at this link.

    Organizing with Flylady: The Flylady has a baby-step by baby-step system for getting organized. It's online, and it's free. If you can get past her VERY bright purple boxes (!) you can create your own system for getting and staying "well enough" organized. Or, you can gradually create your own organizational bootcamp. She does sell some products, but they are not necessary for using the site or her system. Check out the day-by-day beginner's manual....

    Don't Forget the ADDA Conference: Dr. Hallowell is one of a large number of top speakers who will be at the ADDA conference in Minneapolis in mid July. For complete details, go to the ADDA website.

    Hallowell Center Events and News

    The best way to get an update on all that is going on at the Hallowell Center this month is to go to the website homepage.

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