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Boys, Kindergarten, & ADHD

Barry MacDonald started a buzz when he published his summer Boy Smarts News on the topic of boy’s development and if the start of kindergarten should be delayed for boys to give them a more equal start. The response about that topic came back strongly that it really depended on the individual boy. No big surprise there, but what grew out of it was a surprising discussion about ADHD diagnosis and boys who start kindergarten early.

Teachers and staff are stretched very thin and don’t often have the resources needed to adequately assess the educational needs of children. Very few have had adequate training in holistic, effective, positive behavior guidance. Without this, it’s difficult or impossible to address the normal and often challenging behaviors of children.

ADHD has become the “go to” diagnosis for boys when there’s a challenge in classrooms, daycares, and school-age care programs. However, misdiagnosis often has tragic consequences. Karen Elkins, a consultant to parents of children suspected of having learning or behavioral problems, has this sto say: “Too often children who can’t keep up or exhibit disruptive behavior become loosely labeled  with ADHD or some other behavior or learning disability. Sadly, once kids get labeled this way, it’s often very difficult to get them un-labeled. over time, unless core issues are addressed, these children suffer and get left behind.” This doesn’t even mention the unknown and possibly very negative long-term effects of stimulant medication for children. Karen recommends that parents seek a thorough assessment to understand root causes before jumping to conclusions or solutions. Often ADHD diagnosis can be very subjective, especially when teachers are comparing children in the same classroom or learning environment.

But is all of this fuss just an attempt to get more press attention? Is it really much ado about nothing? Not according to Todd Elder of Michigan State University who did research that clearly shows that ADHD misdiagnosis is more common for children who are younger than their kindergarten classmates. This study takes care to avoid downplaying the existence or significance of legitimate ADHD in children, but indicates that similar students have significantly different ADHD diagnosis rates depending on when their birthday falls in relation to the school year. Elders study is soon to be published in the Journal of Health Economics. A pre-publidshed version is available to read online on the Mentoringboys.com website. There’s also an article about it in the Vancouver Sun Times: One in five kids possibly misdiagnosed: study.

The behavior guidance techniques that I coach parents and educators in at Fiddlehouse are very effective at helping kids with ADHD as well as many other diagnosed and undiagnosed challenges. In fact, many children who were well on the way to an ADHD diagnosis no longer displayed the behaviors that got them there after parents and educators used the techniques that I teach. Be sure to get in touch if you would like to talk more about anything in this posting: joshua@fiddlehouse.com or 651-274-0031.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Present Moment Parenting

 

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Electronic media: magic or madness?

I’m teaching EDUC 1000 Careers in Education at Minneapolis Community and Technical College right now, and last night the topic on the syllabus was 21st century learners and the media. We watched two videos on Youtube.  

One video talks about the importance of engaging kids using electronic media for the purpose of education. Kids are growing up with almost unbelievably more media knowledge and understanding than their parents did. The way that technology in the last ten years has changed the world can only be compared to the invention of movable type, the industrial revolution, and the protestant reformation.

The other video talks about how the brain develops and the power of media to influence the brain. Connections that wire together fire together, and if kids are getting a lot of screen time and not much face time, it significantly affects the neural pathways that get formed and reinforced. There is growing research linking childhood screen time to ADHD and obesity.

Recently I’ve been learning about how using computer technology in learning can help visual spatial learners, especially boys, increase their academic performance and learning effectiveness. The National Center on Media and the Family recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day. If a children is use technology in school, have a little computer or video-game time at home, and watch a T.V. show with Mom or Dad after their homework is done, they will almost certainly exceed that. And what if their homework also requires time on the computer?

I think there is certainly a difference between active screen time and passive screen time. Active screen time could include interacting with others on social media and doing research for school. Passive screen would be sitting and watching T.V. Video games are a different category, because the fast, high impact images and quick reactions required to play video games are very overstimulating to the brain and release stress-related chemicals like cortisol when they are played. I say that I THINK there’s a difference because I’ve not seen any research done on active vs passive media.

So what’s a person to do about their kids and screen time? Here are my thoughts in a nutshell:

  1. Most importantly, be present and engaged with your kids during screen time. Know what they’re doing and watching. Let them know what you’re doing and watching (with appropriate boundaries). Talk to them about what’s on the screen, and teach them to be smart and critical thinkers about what they see and do.
  2. Make sure there’s a balance of screen time, active play time, outdoor time, and face time with you. It won’t always be equal, but if we’re mindful of it, we can use our best judgment to manage it.
  3. Do family activities like playing games, telling stories, reading books, playing sports and getting out into nature. This helps kids learn to find enjoyment in non-screen activities.

My best advice is: Use media; don’t let it use you, and teach your kids to do the same.

For more information about anything in this post, please contact me: joshua@fiddlehouse.com

www.fiddlehouse.com

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Present Moment Parenting

 

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Mind Monday: Avoid Infohurl and Feed Your Brain

You hear a lot about brain foods, but one stands above the rest both in credible research and bonus effects for the rest of your body.

This super-food can:

  1. Drastically benefit children and adults who have ADHD.
  2. Significantly assist in balancing brain chemicals that contribute to mood.
  3. Enhance learning ability for kids and adults.
  4. Immediately remedy skin conditions.
  5. Improve heart health and blood vessel health.
  6. Reduce cancer risks.
  7. And much much more.

Some of you have already guessed that I’m talking about cod liver oil, fish oil, and/or krill oil. There’s a lot of buzz on the internet about which is the best choice. There’s also lots of information about oxidization and refrigeration.

If you try to keep up with all of that you get a condition that Jim Ollhoff, a colleague and former professor of mine, calls Infohurl. It’s when you take in such an excessive amount of opinion and data that you get sick of it and feel like your going to…well…hurl.

After recovering from my case of infohurl, here’s what I decided for our family. I like two products:

  1. Fermented Cod Liver Oil
  2. Krill oil

They both have their own unique benefits. Below are two links from respected organizations that provide helpful information on both. My parting shot on this topic is: Don’t let infohurl keep you from the benefits of fermented cod liver oil or krill oil.


 
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Posted by on March 29, 2010 in Present Moment Parenting

 

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