For individuals and kids who want to try/enjoy guided imagery and mindfulness). The CALM app is usually a paid subscription, but it is offering a lot of free access to its content right now: https://blog.calm.com/take-a-deep-breath
This past Friday, I attended a professional workshop held by Dr. Candice A. Alfano, Ph.D. She is the director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston at the University of Houston. We may assume that anxiety can lead to insomnia or sleep problems, but in her longitudinalresearch, lack of sleep directly causes a decrease in mood and increases anxiety. This is because the brain structures most affected by sleep, those that control arousal, emotions, motivation, and self-regulation are the ones that are directly impacted, in a bad way. She showed that even one or two nights of poor sleep increases a person's (yes, both children and adults) reactivity and arousal, and reduces the ability to self-regulate our responses. Thus, a person may be more reactive, irritable, and less able to handle daily life stress if they aren't getting adequate rest. This happens with just one or two nights of inadequate sleep, what about chronic sleep problems? She indicated that how much it negatively affects someone varies based on the individual, but many of us are more susceptible to even minor disruptions in sleep. Those with the highest level of trait anxiety (your genetic predisposition) showed the greatest increase of activity in their amygdala (the emotion center of our brain). This means that if you are a highly anxious person to begin with, if you are having poor sleep, it's continuing a cycle of always feeling anxious...and feeling less capable of handling what comes your way. Even more alarming, she found that those with the highest anxiety levels and the lowest amount of sleep was most predictive of suicidal ideation three years later (even when controlling for age, other diagnoses such as depression, etc.). Dr. Alfano also found that unaddressed sleep problems also increases a person's risk of relapse in individuals who were successfully treated for depression. All these studies lead to a pretty important point: sleep is critical and essential for good mental health. In our current crazy times, we have so many responsibilities and duties. Sleep is often the behavior that gets cut short, and my purpose in writing this article is to remind you how criticala good night's restis to our mental health, for both us and our children. While there are factors outside of our control that impact our quality or quantity of sleep, focus on the things that you can control. As Dr. Alfano mentioned, sleep is a learned behavior. Here are some basic tips she mentioned that I'd like to pass along for good sleep hygiene: -Don't sleep with the T.V. on (I know, I know, some of us think we need it). Dr. Alfano stated that the T.V. continues to make noise even after you fall asleep. Since we sleep in cycles (light sleep to deep sleep) throughout the night, it is more likely to wake you up during the lighter stages of sleep. She recommends that if you have to fall asleep with the T.V., at least use a timer feature. -Don't take more than a 20 minute nap during the day. Many of us (especially teens) fall into the trap of staying up late and then getting up early for school/work. Exhausted when we come home, we take a 1-2 hour nap. This disrupts our natural circadian rhythm and never allows for a healthy sleep cycle to take place. Also, Dr. Alfano stated that you can't make up sleep by crashing on the weekends and sleeping in until noon or later. You won't reap any benefits by doing so. Regular...sleep...patterns. -Bedtime should be associated with feeling sleepy. If after 20 minutes you can't fall asleep, get up and do something boring (read a cookbook, read the tax code, insert the boring activity of your choice). Try again when you feel sleepy. She also stated that biologically, adolescents circadian rhythm sets later. Thus their bodies many not be tired until late at night, which does not help when they still have to get up so early the next morning. There's not much we can do about that but advocate for later school schedules. -Taking Tylenol PM or other sleep aids (Ambien) is not recommended. Dr. Alfano says you develop a tolerance and need more of the medication over time. -She stated melatonin is not a drug, it provides a signal to the brain that it's time for sleep. It's also not a sedative. She stated that it can be helpful to take, but needs to be taken at least one hour before sleep so it can work with your body's other hormones to trigger sleep. -Sunlight is the best source for setting a healthy circadian rhythm. Get outside. -Focus on creating a healthy bedtime. Check the room temperature (67 degrees is the ideal temperature), use black out curtains, white noise machines, etc. Set up your bedroom for optimal sleep. -If you are having trouble getting a good night's sleep, or your child is resisting bedtime, Dr. Alfano recommends seeing a psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We can work with you on additional strategies to help you or your child get that good night's rest. I hope that this was informative even if in some small way. I wish you a great day and a great night's sleep.
A Section 504 plan is based on federal law that protects individuals with a disability. The law is meant to be very broad and inclusive. Many individuals can qualify for Section 504 services in schools, from conditions ranging from asthma, reading problems, to attention problems such as AD/HD.
Accommodations need to be appropriate for the child and the condition that he/she has so that their learning is facilitated and not limited. Thererfore, accommodations for ADHD need to be considered with what will be most effective for the student. Extended time on homework assignments or projects for example, is not going to be effective for a student with ADHD. Procrastination is usually a characteristic of ADHD, and giving students more time on an assignment will just faciliate the procrastination. What is more effective is shortened assignments so that the student can complete the task within the same amount of time. Of course, individual characteristics of the student need to be taken into consideration, but generally speaking, it is more effective than extended time.
However, extended time does have an appropriate place as an accommodation, and this is usually when it applies to test taking time. Many students with ADHD benefit from extended time on tests due to being prone to get distracted and off task more easily than their non-ADHD peers. Providing a quieter room to take tests are also appropriate in some situations where the student finds this beneficial (others find it more stigmatizing).
For more information on "band-aid" accommodations and more effective helpful accommodations, please read the article below from attitudmag.com.
Dysgraphia is a disorder of written expression. Many times (but not always) a child with dysgraphia has comorbid conditions such as dyslexia and/or AD/HD. Dysgraphia is not yet identified well in the public school system and tailored interventions are not common to adequately address it. Please see some of the common core characteristics below:
Letter reversals that do not improve by the end of second grade Writing too light or too heavy Frequently crossing out or erasing words on a page Spelling words three different ways within the same paragraph An immature pencil or awkward pencil grip Mixes up lower case and capital letters (that should not be capitalized) Letters are poorly formed or do not fit on the line The child can (sometimes) express him/herself well orally, but struggles with writing them down on paper Uses overly simple words in written expression to avoid having to spell more complex words Has trouble with orthographic processing (spells out words phonetically). A family history or reading or writing problems.
If your child has some or many of these characteristics, it is suggested that you seek a formal evaluation to determine if your child has dysgraphia, and most importantly, what interventions we can suggest to help him/her through school.
ADHD is the most widely researched childhood disorder. We know the MOST about this condition, including what has been proven to work, with multiple studies over decades of data to support this. There is a hierarchy that has been established to sort out all of these data. I've included it below:
Well-established (the most research to support its efficacy):
*Medication combined with Parent Training (how to educate parents on ADHD and how to apply effective techniques that will help improve a child's behavior at home).
*Parent Training alone (even without meds) *Behavioral Classroom Management (positive reinforcement, accommodations, specific goals to motivate behavioral change)
Possibly Efficacious (some research to support its efficacy for treatment of ADHD) * Neurofeedback training
Questionable Efficacy (research does not support that doing these things will be effective for treating ADHD) *Social Skills Training *Omega 3/6 Supplements (This is not to say that these don't have other health benefits, but they aren't proven as effective interventions for ADHD).
(Evans, Owens, Wyms, & Ray, 2017)
If you are unsure on how to best treat ADHD and aren't ready for medication (or perhaps you are) but have not yet tried parent-training, you should consider it. It's a research-backed method and a child psychologist either here at KPS or elsewhere- can help get things going on the right track.
Cannabidiol oil, most often referred to as CBD oil, is a product of the marijuana plant. I've been hearing a few parents utilizing it as an alternative treatment for ADHD, and I was a bit concerned as I had not heard of any research supporting the claims made. As psychologists, it is important that we disseminate factually-based information. Here is the conclusion from one reputable source:
The research on CBD oil and other cannabis products as a possible intervention for ADHD does not show effectiveness for managing symptoms, and actually shows increased mental and physical health risks. “We don’t want to misrepresent things, and with CBD oil, it is getting misrepresented,” Dr. Mitchell says. “When people say this works for ADHD, this is going way beyond the data. That’s too big of a leap.”
For the complete article, please click on the following link:
The article goes on the discuss the research-based interventions that are supported, including parent-training to better understand ADHD and how to implement tools that work for your child, and medication, particularly stimulants. (The type of medication is outside our scope, this is best chosen in consult with a pediatric psychiatrist).
Two resources that I find helpful and often recommend to parents are as follows:
"Taking Charge of ADHD" by Russell Barkley, Ph.D. "Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medication for Kids" by Tim Wilens, M.D. (3rd Edition)
Magination Press is sponsored by the American Psychological Association. They have complied a list of child-friendly books to help kids through a variety of psychological issues. Bibiotherapy (a.k.a., therapy through books) is an excellent way for parents to help their children identify with key issues that they may be dealing with, but do not want to talk about directly. Please take a look and browse through the catalog, it covers a range of concerns from anxiety, depression, self-control, grief, loss, and much more. Click on link below. I hope it's helpful to you or someone you know.
Parents often struggle with how to answer questions from their child/teen about sexuality. Adolescence is a time of finding one's identify, and for some, the exploration of one's sexual orientation starts to emerge. There are many terms that have emerged, from gay, lesbian, queer, questioning, and it may be helpful for to know more about them and what they mean. Research has shown that parental support/acceptance is the most important factor for the well-being of LGBTQ youth (Katz-Wise, Rosario, Tsappis, 2016).
Listed below is a resource to learn more information and tips that are helpful to know:
A student mentee of mine, Wenxin Chen, recently completed her semester project on creating a website where she has researched good parenting practice models as well as helpful links to help parents navigate useful information and tips for their child's psychological well-being.
As the mentor of her project, we have provided support to her website's content and we offer many of the services her research has referenced. If you are in need of a child or adolescent psychologist, we are likely the professionals to help you.
When we hear on the news about another senseless school shooting, it's hard to just listen. Listed below are some resources for children and adults on how to cope. These are just resources and they're not intended to substitute from advice for a mental health professional. Hopefully though, it gives you just a little more information and useful tips that may give you some support.