Supporting Children With Executive Functions

Executive Functions serve as a command and control function.  Think of your brain as a conductor directing an orchestra.  Throughout the day we use these executive skills.  For children, this could be organizing a school project, controlling their emotions, and making transitions.  All individuals with ADHD have executive dysfunction.  Brain imaging shows that children with ADHD are as much as 2 to 5 years behind in development of the pre-frontal cortex connected to executive functions.  Here is a list of all the executive functions:

  1. Inhibition is the ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time (a.k.a. putting on the brakes).
  2. Shift is the ability to move freely from one situation to another (a.k.a. transitions).
  3. Emotional Control is the ability to reflect on one’s own feelings, put them into context, and use thinking to guide behavior.
  4. Initiation  is the ability to begin a task or activity, generate ideas, and problem solve (a.k.a. procrastinator).
  5. Working Memory  is the ability to hold information in your mind.  This is the brain’s internal search engine.
  6. Planning/Organizing  is the ability to map out a route to reach a goal; the ability to impose order on work, play and storage spaces.
  7. Self-Monitoring  is the ability to monitor one’s own performance and to measure it against the standard of what is needed (a.k.a. personal GPS).

What can you do to help your child?  I recently came across an excellent list of strategies.  You will want to print this!  http://www.sc.edu/scatp/expo/expo12handouts/Executivefunctioning_03%2005%2012.pdf

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to www.ADHDC.com.

ADHD and Your Diet: Are you following these recommendations?

1.  Eat more protein.  Aim for 20 grams per meal.  High protein breakfasts help your child’s blood sugar stay level and avoid any ups and downs in the day.

2.  Avoid food coloring, preservatives, and artificial flavoring.  Studies have shown these additives may aggravate ADHD symptoms.  Besides, doesn’t blue Gatorade scare you a little?

Drs. Oz and Roizen recently shared this information about labels on produce and packaged food. Smart reading will tell you where it’s from, if it’s genetically modified and what food colorings, fats, sugars and preservatives are in it.

Did you know that the little tag on fruits and vegetables holds a world of info?

•  A four-digit code starting with the number 4 equals conventionally grown and may have been sprayed with synthetic pesticides; not genetically modified.

•  A five-digit code beginning with 9 equals organic; not genetically modified.

•  A five-digit code starting with an 8? Genetically modified produce.

To know what’s in your other food purchases, and get kids involved in making healthy food choices, go for a smart app. Like a cool video game, Fooducate (for Androids) and Good Guide (from iTunes) are free mobile apps that scan bar codes and tell you what’s in that sports drink, canned soup, cupcake or frozen meal. And they offer you healthy alternatives. Kids love the game of it, and they can discover first-hand why you say, “No, we’re not buying that.” Better yet, soon they’ll be saying it too.

3.  Reduce your sugar intake.  Too much sugar aggravates ADHD symptoms.  Once you do this for a while it gets easier.  Your child stops begging you because you are consistently enforcing your rule.  Obviously this is not a hard limit.  At soccer games and birthday parties, your child will have more and that’s okay.  It’s the routine you are trying to set.  Try to sneak in protein with it like offering chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels or nutella.

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to www.ADHDC.com.

There is no shame in having ADHD

It’s hard to believe in 2012 people still feel stigmatized about having a neurological disorder like ADHD or dyslexia.  I can understand in previous generations how a stigma would exist, but now?

When a child is near-sighted we buy them glasses.  When a child has asthma, we medicate them.  Why is it that when a child has ADHD, they are scrutinized, ostracized, and demonized by teachers, peers, and parents?

This has got to stop!  Dr. Hallowell, a well-known ADHD expert and advocate, speaks this message loud and clear.  I echo his sentiments. The real disability is not the impacts of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness.  It’s the invisible disability — that is the shame kids feel.  This permanently damages their self worth and self esteem.   Instead we need to accept these kids for who they are and embrace them!  It’s the same message we are saying to school age children to reduce bullying.  Acceptance and tolerance.    Parents, is your ADHD child accepted by their teachers?

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to www.ADHDC.com.