Could Childhood ADHD Be a Sleep Disorder?

sleeping-childOver the past several decades, U.S. parents and teachers have reported epidemic levels of children with trouble focusing, impulsive behavior and so much energy that they are bouncing off walls. Educators, policymakers and scientists have referred to ADHD, as a national crisis and have spent billions of dollars looking into its cause.

They’ve looked at genetics, brain development, exposure to toxic substances like lead, the push for early academics, and many other factors. But now a growing number of researchers are asking what if the answer to at least some cases of ADHD is due to the fact that many kids today simply aren’t getting the sleep they need, leading to challenging behaviors that mimic ADHD?

Several studies in the past have identified links between ADHD and problems with the length, timing and quality of sleep. There seems to be growing evidence that some children have been diagnosed with ADHD when, in fact, they suffer from insufficient sleep, insomnia, breathing issues or other sleep disorders.

But now research, presented recently at  European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Conference in Paris takes this a step further and suggests that ADHD itself may be a sleep disorder. The latest data on this topic examined people’s natural cycle of sleeping and waking and showed that study subjects with ADHD had levels of the hormone melatonin that rose 1.5 hours later in the night than those without ADHD. As a result, they fell asleep later and got less sleep overall, with consequences for other body processes. When the day and night rhythm is disturbed, explained researcher Sandra Kooij of the Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre in Amsterdam, so are temperature, movement and the timing of meals. Each change can lead to inattentiveness and challenging behavior.

Karen Bonuck, a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, during her work for the National Institutes of Health, found that a large number of preschool children were going to sleep at 11 p.m. or later but had to be up before 8 a.m. to go to school. They were getting far less sleep than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children of that age. “Challenging behavior is a huge problem in the classrooms on a national level, and the symptoms of lack of sleep can look a lot like the symptoms of ADHD,” she said in discussing her findings.

While tantalizing linkages between sleep disorders and ADHD are becoming more evident, most clinicians will probably not be ready to accept that ADHD itself is a sleep disorder. William E. Pelham, a longtime ADHD specialist who directs the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University, represents this viewpoint when he says, “Sleep is an issue for anything where you are trying to measure attention. But I don’t believe it accounts for the vast majority of ADHD in the United States.”

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Tips for Helping Your ADHD Child Calm Down

 

Hyperactivity is Both Physical and Mental

For many children with ADHD, sitting still is a near impossible task. Their constant physical activity can be frustrating for parents and difficult for teachers when a child’s hyperactivity disrupts a class. But, as Eileen Bailey at HealthCentral.com explains:

“… for children with hyperactivity, physical activity is not the only aspect. Their minds often don’t shut down. Thoughts go a million miles an hour and in many different directions. To help a child learn to manage or reduce hyperactivity includes strategies to help lower physical activity levels and to calm thoughts.”

Calming Suggestions

So what is a parent to do in these situations? She offers these tips to help parents keep their ADHD kids calm.

Yoga or meditation – It is important to teach your child methods for self-regulation. Some examples include: deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi or meditation. These can all help a child learn to slow down their thoughts and their bodies.

Daily exercise – Adding at least 20 minutes of exercise each day to your child’s routine can help reduce depression, anxiety and other ADHD symptoms. A short walk can be an excellent way to help your child calm down during periods of high activity. On days when outdoor exercise is difficult, try using video games that incorporate exercise to help your child keep moving and entertained.

Music – Soothing music, such as classical music, can help some children calm down. You can try out different kinds of music to find out what works best for your child. Use music in the background for times when activity levels should be low, such as homework time, dinner time or before bedtime.

Boredom boxes and fidget alternatives – When boredom sets in, your child may become especially hyperactive.. Create a box of activities which contains art supplies, Legos, models or whatever activity tends to hold your child’s interest. Switch items once in awhile to keep the activities novel and interesting. For children who are continually restless or must fidget whenever they are trying to sit still, provide a stress ball or other object they ca manipulate to help them release energy and keep moving without disturbing others.

Structure – Kids with ADHD thrive in a structured environment where there are rules and routines, and they know what to expect. Establishing regular, daily routines can help them to stay calm.

Finally, she recommends that you stay calm yourself. She says,

“Children react to your reaction. If you get upset, frustrated or angry, their hyperactivity levels may increase. Take a few deep breaths, go into the other room, and take a short break if you need one. Staying calm and reacting with a neutral voice will help your child remain calm..”

Other tips for helping ADHD kids calm down at home and in the classroom can be found at Understood.org. You may also find it helpful to engage a specially trained ADHD coach to help your child learn to stay calm and focused.

Help! How to Deal With ADHD Meltdowns

Hyperactivity has Positive Aspects

Hyperactivity can be the source of inappropriate behavior in some situations. However, many adults with ADHD appreciate their endless energy and feel they are able to accomplish much more than those without hyperactivity. You can turn hyperactivity into a positive trait, by helping your children learn to harness their excess energy and use it to help them accomplish their goals.

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

Parenting Children with ADHD: 10 Lessons That Medicine Cannot Teach

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Monastra has treated more than 15,000 clients who have ADHD. In this important book he shares the knowledge he has gained. Engaging and straightforward, the book is directed at parents of children who have, or might have, ADHD. In a conversational style, Monastra offers a series of sequential lessons, beginning with the causes of ADHD and the most common medical treatments. He discusses all the relevant issues for parents, including psychological treatment, diet, educational laws, and practical coping strategies for both parents and children.

Dr. Monastra’s research examining the neurophysiological characteristics of children and teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as his treatment studies investigating the role of parenting style, school intervention, nutrition, and electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback in the overall care of patients with ADHD, is internationally recognized and has led to several scientific awards, including the President’s Award..

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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

How to prevent students from dropping out.

Bright young people drop out of school

About 7,000 students in the U.S. become high school dropouts every school day. That’s 1.2 million students who will not graduate from high school – each year.

It’s easy for important information to get lost in today’s never-ending flow.  But Edge Foundation founder, Neil Peterson, worries about the bright young people who are being lost because not enough of them are getting the help they need.

That’s why we continue to make innovations to find ways to empower more students with ADHD. The Puget Sound School-Based Coaching Program is  reaching previously underserved students within a school-based setting.

This one-of-a-kind intervention brings coaching into schools with a high proportion of at-risk students. Giaudrone Middle School in Tacoma (Tacoma Public Schools) and the Big Picture School in Burien (Highline Public Schools) are the two schools participating in the pilot program which is offered at no cost to these at risk students.

Students who are at-risk of dropping out can fall into a downward spiral; coaching can change that. Just read the words of one of the students who received coaching this year:

“My attendance was bad, so we made up this thing where I would text my coach when I came to school.  And, so, I’ve been texting her, letting her know. It gave me this push to start improving.  While I was improving on one priority; it makes all the other priorities better too.  You see, all of these goals kinda come down to my self-image… they reflect how I feel about myself. My coach didn’t give me answers.  She made me ask questions.  She made me get my own answers.” – Alicia B.

Edge is also measuring progress against its goals for participating students to refine the program and make it duplicable in other schools. Our goal is to see:

  • significant improvements in learning and study skills, will to learn, and self-regulation and
  • significant improvement in the areas of self regulation, including discipline, classroom behavior, attendance, homework completion, credits earned, progress toward high school graduation, and preparation being accepted to college.

We  have developed a promising and replicable school-based model for ensuring the success of middle and high school students with ADHD or severe executive functioning challenges.

Donate today! We value every contribution. When each of us gives a small amount, we can do great work together.

Juggling it all with ADHD

I have a friend who has ADHD. She is an established professional, in a stimulating and rewarding job. Work is a constant balancing act, but she somehow manages to juggle it all without dropping any important balls. In fact, I think because of her interpersonal skills and ability to react in the moment she is able to be more successful at her job than someone who is better organized, meets all the deadlines with ease, but has an abrasive personality.

Yesterday she was sharing how she was leaving town in 24 hours. She was stressing – as usual – with a huge list of undone tasks to be accomplished before the plane takes off. She confided that she’s just resigned herself to pulling an all-nighter before she left to get it all done. I could tell she felt like she was failing, again.

After she left, I realized that every time she has ever gone on vacation, the last few days are always in crisis mode. She sees other people who get themselves calmly organized, have every duck in a row, and leave town with a clean desk and wishes she could do the same.

Next time I see her I’m going to tell her about the most important thing you learn when you work with an Edge coach – discover what works for you, not for other people.

In her own chaotic way, she’s already done that. In all the times I’ve seen her go, she always gets everything done. Always. She never misses the plane. Nothing important goes astray or can’t be fixed. I think she needs the anxiety and adrenalin of the last-minute push to get her mind in gear and focused on the not-so-exciting job of getting ready to leave.

Novel concept: what if instead of feeling guilty for leaving it all to the end, she accepts that that is how she works best? And instead of letting her family or friends make her feel guilty for running at the last minute, she celebrates the fact she’s figured out how to work with her strengths – in this case the ability to pull it all together in a crisis. It’s that very strength that makes her so successful in the job she currently holds.

Sometimes it’s not about doing something differently. It’s figuring out how to make the ride less stressful for yourself – and the people around you. Instead of spending energy feeling bad about what works for her, what would happen if she spent that energy focusing on helping her family understand how to come along for the ride?

What do you think would happen if you looked at an ADHD “bad habit” and see where it’s also strength in your life? What would change for you