Helping Your ADHD Child Win the Homework Battle

Getting homework assignments done can be a huge struggle for kids with ADHD. It is important as homework problems are often a reason kids with ADHD fail in school. However, with some planning, you can help make homework less of a struggle for both you and your child. .… READ MORE

Homework battles

Outsource your willpower

Do you ever feel like you work so hard at school to keep focused and do a good job that you are exhausted when you get home? You’re so tired from school you just want to forget it all when the bell rings? And when it’s time to do your homework, you just … can’t … make … yourself … get … started? Scientists have been discovering there are limits to willpower. You don’t have to do it all on your own! Use your ADHD coach as a way to outsource some of your willpower. . … READ MORE

quit

Dyspraxia – the Little Known Learning Difference

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards -- it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.

Although dyspraxia is fairly common, most people have never heard of the condition. Children with dyspraxia may have difficulty performing physical tasks such as speaking, jumping or gripping a pencil. Dyspraxia may also affect a child’s social skills, and kids with dyspraxia may act immaturely even though they usually have average or above average intelligence.

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia affects co-ordination, spatial awareness and sensory perception. It is part of an umbrella of conditions known as specific learning differences which are defined as exceptional variations in a person’s ability, as well as problems with concentration and short-term memory. Dyspraxia affects between 2% and 6% of the population, meaning there’s likely to be at least one person with the condition in every school class or workplace. Around 70% of those affected are male.

Researchers believe that the condition may have a genetic component. Current research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neuron development in the brain rather than to brain damage. This interferes in some way with the messages that the brain sends to the body, though the exact mechanism is not known. It usually occurs in children who have had a difficult birth–either being born prematurely or with low birth weight. It can be accompanied by other learning disorders such as dyslexia or ADHD.

Dyspraxia can affect children in a variety of ways:

  • Communication – Children may have difficulty pronouncing words
  • Emotional / behavioral skills – Children with the disorder may have difficult in social situations and can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Academics – School work can be difficult for kids who have trouble with the physical process of writing
  • Life skills – e.g., performing routine tasks like brushing teeth or buttoning a shirt

Warning Signs & Treatment

While the symptoms of dyspraxia may vary depending on the age of your child, they generally start be seen early in life.  Understood.org provides a breakdown of the most common symptoms by age, beginning at the toddler stage and progressing through high school. It is important to monitor and record any of these symptoms so you can share them with your child’s doctor.

A general practioner or primary care physician will probably need help from a specialist to make a diagnosis of dyspraxia. These specialists might include occupational therapists, child health specialists (paediatricians), physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, neurologists and educational psychologists. An assessment can be made to determine whether a child has missed the usual milestones of development, and identify any issues with co-ordination and motor skills.

There is no medication to treat dyspraxia at this time. Treatment usually consists of a mix of occupational therapy, perceptual motor training, and speech therapy.

Childhood dyspraxia: James’ story

Achieving Academic Success With ADHD & Executive Function Challenges

Apps for Students with Learning & Attention Issues

kids-using-tablet-computersIn today’s world, apps are indispensable. They give us directions to keep us from getting lost, allow us to manage our money, and a hundred other daily tasks. So it is no surprise that apps have been created for helping students, especially those with learning and attention challenges such as ADHD, to organize and perform tasks more effectively. Apps, in combination with treatment modalities and coaching support, are empowering these students to perform at a higher level than they might otherwise.

Distributed Cognition

Brock Eide, M.D., and Fernette Eide, M.D. discuss an interesting idea called “distributed cognition.” It has emerged as educational researchers rethink the concept of intelligence. Traditionally, intelligence has been measured by our ability to remember and regurgitate something we have studied. The Eides define distributed cognition in their article “A New View of ‘Smart’ for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues.”

One helpful idea is called distributed cognition. That term is a mouthful, but the concept is simple.

Cognition means how your brain knows and understands thingsDistributed means shared. So distributed cognition is what you can know and understand if your brain cooperates with outside helpers—whether they’re tools, printed information or other people.

It also means that your intelligence isn’t fixed by the information you carry around in your head. Intelligence can be increased by the way you interact with your environment.

In other words, how “smart” you are is really the sum of two things: The first is what you know on your own. The second is what you can easily learn by interacting with the things you have easy access to.

Apps, search engines and other software tools assist students with learning and attention issues by freeing them of the necessity for memorization which is difficult. Apps can be especially useful in memory intensive areas such as:

  • Procedures, especially multi-step instructions for how to do things
  • Rote facts, like times tables, state capitals or the lists of chemical elements in the periodic table

Apps Aplenty

There are dozens of apps to help students and adults with learning and attention issues, and more coming to market each year.  Understood.org provides an excellent survey of apps for students of all ages.  For example, the Voice Dream Reader helps students with reading issues: it is a customizable app that lets kids highlight text and have it read aloud to them. Healthline also publishes a regular survey of apps for people with ADHD.  Below are demonstrations of some apps for users with ADHD.

Traxion is a mobile app aimed at helping those with ADHD organize your time and time tasks more effectively.

The Social Navigator helps children and teens with social and behavior issues learn to cope more effectively in various social situations.

Time to Rethink Our Educational Model?

As software becomes more deeply embedded into our world, it brings greater urgency to the work of updating our traditional educational model to match what we encounter in life. Distributed cognition is a way of life now outside of the classroom. Most adults would find it hard to navigate the complexities of modern life without Google and smartphone apps. In school, these technologies can be a great leveler for kids struggling with learning and attention issues.

Scholarships for college students with ADHD

iStock_45005750_XXXLARGE v3Financial scholarships for college students are wonderful, but they don’t ensure successful completion and graduation. That’s why we provide Edge Coaches to support scholarship recipients as a form of scholarship insurance.

The Shire Scholarship Program

Since 2011, the Edge Foundation has partnered with Shire PLC who provides scholarships for college students with ADHD. Shire U.S., Inc. funds the Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship program, which is for residents of the United States who are under the care of a licensed health care professional for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and have been accepted to or enrolled in undergraduate programs at accredited colleges, universities, trade schools, technical schools, or vocational schools located in the US.

The Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship awards recipients in the U.S. $2,000 in tuition assistance and one year of ADHD coaching services provided by the Edge Foundation to assist in meeting the challenges of higher education. A similar program, operated by Shire Canada offers Canadian students $1,500 in tuition assistance and one year of ADHD coaching services provided by the Edge Foundation. In May 2016, fifty-five scholarships were awarded in the U.S. and six scholarships were awarded in Canada..

The scholarship application process for 2017 opens in December, 2016, and the application process closes in March, 2017. To learn more about the Shire Scholarship program or for help with the application process, contact:

Denise von Pressentin
888.718.8886
206.632.9497
dvonpressentin@edgefoundation.org

 

Sign Up for Scholarship Support

If you are an organization, institution or individual who provides financial  scholarships to college students, and are interested in providing funds for Edge Coaches to support those students, please contact:

Neil Peterson
Founder, Chairman, and CEO
206.910.7515
npeterson@edgefoundation.org

What We’ve Learned About Trauma and Learning Challenges

What are traumatic events?

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network defines a traumatic event as “a sudden and unexpected occurrence that causes intense fear and may involve a threat of physical harm or actual physical harm. A traumatic experience may have a profound effect on the physical health, mental health, and development of a student.” These events are often referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Traumatic events can arise from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse.

The impact of trauma on learning

Recent neurobiological, epigenetic, and psychological studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can have many long term effects.They can:

  • Diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school.
  • Lead to problems with academic performance,
  • Result in inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships.

According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser-Permanente, these impacts can add up to poor academic performance, and later problems in life, including:

  • Risky health behaviors,
  • Chronic health conditions,
  • Low life potential, and
  • Early death.

Resilience can make the difference

According to a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Lifelong Consequences of Trauma, past traumatic events do not necessarily dictate the future for the child.  The report authors cite the ability of “protective factors” that can counter adverse childhood experiences and  build resilience that allows a child to thrive. They state:

“Children survive and even thrive despite the trauma in their lives. For these children, adverse experiences are counterbalanced with protective factors. Adverse events and protective factors experienced together have the potential to foster resilience. Our knowledge about what constitutes resilience in children is evolving, but we know that several factors are positively related to such protection, including cognitive capacity, healthy attachment relationships (especially with parents and caregivers), the motivation and ability to learn and engage with the environment, the ability to regulate emotions and behavior, and supportive environmental systems,including education, cultural beliefs, and faith-based communities.”

Toward a practice of building resilience

Today, research is leading to a better understanding of the role that non-cognitive capabilities – e.g., grit, self-control, perseverance and delay of gratification play in a child’s ability to succeed in school.  Paul Tough, bestselling author of How Children Succeed and Helping Children Succeed, outlines this research in a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, “How Kids Learn Resilience.” These non-cognitive capabilities form the foundation of the executive functioning skills everyone needs to perform well both in school and at work. Executive function coaching, a proven method for helping students with learning challenges, succeeds because it builds both interpersonal relationship skills and non-cognitive capacity.

Read more from Edge

help-2