Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ADHD 101 - Week 3

Welcome! This weeks lesson is focused on Responsibility. In order to understand children with ADHD and what can seem to be lack of responsibility, I think it's important to understand something called Executive Function Disorder.

What many of us may not realize is that children and adults living with ADHD have some form of Executive Function Disorder. Executive Function refers to a set of mental skills that are coordinated in the brain’s frontal lobe. Executive functions work together to help a person achieve goals. 

Executive functions include the ability to:
  • Remember details
  • Organize and plan
  • Manage time
  • Concentrate and focus
  • Control inappropriate speech and impulsive behavior
When individuals have problems with executive functioning, it effects their ability to:
  • Develop and maintain appropriate social relationships
  • Work or go to school
  • Indepently achieve the activities of daily life
  • Planning meals and taking time out to eat
  • Paying bills, scheduling and attending doctor's appointments, etc.
It's important to realize there is no 'magic pill' that fixes or improves executive weaknesses. Positive reward systems or behavior plans or consequences, etc. are not effective in this case. Diets, medication and other parenting techniques are very effective for other issues, including ADHD symptoms but not for Executive Function Disorder.

So what is out there to help kids with these issues? There two are basic approaches you can implement today that will help your child: Routine Consistency and Simplifying Multistep Tasks.

Routine Consistency helps children have smoother transitions - especially morning routines, after school and before bedtime. Without it, children with executive dysfunctions are easily distracted, lost and become overwhelmed. They feel as if they are spinning in circles and not accomplishing anything. They have difficulty seeing how the ‘small tasks’ are needed to help them achieve a goal or accomplish something.

Simplifying Multistep Tasks breaks down the routine into simple steps. This makes it easier for your child to follow a task as well as feel accomplished when completing a task. Children struggle with deciding on prioritizing tasks and completing the small steps necessary for accomplishing the bigger task.  To tell a child with executive function weakness to “Get ready for bed.” you probably meant for him/her to put on PJ’s, wash face, brush teeth and pick out clothes for school. However, the child may see it as there being so many steps and options to choose and he/she doesn't know where to begin. Simplifying the task makes it less overwhelming and easier to accomplish.

A key to successfully implementing these changes is preparation. It will take a lot of patience and at least three months to make these changes in your home. It's also important to identify the primary purpose of implementing these strategies. It’s not just about raising grades or stressing the importance of brushing teeth.

Ultimately, it's about building a stronger family connection by minimizing stress and frustration. It's about increasing the child’s executive functioning skill of organizing so he/she will have more success and improving his/her self-confidence. 

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

All the best,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ADHD 101 - Week 3

I'll Be the Biggest Fan of Your Life

Happy Wednesday! Thank you for attending another week of ADHD 101. You may be wondering what the title of this blog has to do with tips for school. Stay with me, we'll get there! Success in school begins at home by building an understanding and appreciation of what works for your child. By doing this, you can be his/her best advocate when discussing his/her needs with the school. 

When you're working with your child at home, remember these important points:

1) The more your child is told to focus, the less likely they are to respond.  It’s the way his/her mind is wired. Your frustration will keep growing until you embrace and love your child’s beautifully wired brain. The same brain that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat and blow your mind with its energy and/or random thoughts. 
Dr.Amen, physician, certified psychiatrist and teacher, is the author of a book entitled "Healing ADD." In his book, he goes into great detail about the neurology of ADHD and breaks the disorder down into six different types.  I highly recommend this book. The information is extremely important when it comes to fostering an environment that is most conducive to your child listening, processing and retaining information.

2) Discover how your child enjoys learning and his/her way of processing information. Have your child draw a picture, write a list, use playdough to sculpt, etc. to show their preferred method of learning. Take notes of the different ways he/she expresses their preferred method. 

You ask your child a math problem from his/her homework assignment: “What is 8+2?” 

By using play dough, ask your child to build (whatever he/she's into that week – Transformers, Trains, Shoes, Soccer, etc.) 8 objects from one of his/her interest groups.  

Soccer is the theme: “The coach is starting practice and asked you to go grab 8 soccer balls.”  Once he finishes the eight balls, then point to the plus sign and say, “The coach is really happy two more players just arrived.  He needs two more balls.”  Have the child physically count each ball and answer what is the total number of balls needed for this practice. 

This exercise can be carried over into school by helping your child modify the fun math activity. Have him use a scrap piece of paper to draw 8 soccer balls then two more.  I’m a big advocate for children having either scrap paper or journals as they mature to work through problems using images and examples their mind understands. It also allows them to capture their great random ideas that tend to come bursting out of the mouth while the teacher is trying to teach. 

I often tell all my little friends during sessions that their amazing ideas are worth keeping! That is why having scrap paper or a journal is so important. When those awesome ideas come to mind, I tell them to write them down, draw it out on a picture, etc. Then they can earn a couple minutes with the teacher at lunch time or at some point of the day to share that captured memory as opposed to bursting out during class. This will not only allow them to remember their wonderful ideas, it will keep them from the hurt and embarrassment of getting in trouble by the teacher during class.

So what do you take away from today's lesson? That having a child with ADHD is a gift! They  have beautifully crafted minds full of exciting and interesting thoughts and ideas. Instead of trying to control them become the biggest fan of their life! Love them, cherish them and understand them because when it comes to school, your positive influence and home environment can make all the difference.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions. Have a wonderful week!

All the best,


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ADHD 101 - Week 2

Tips for Home

Welcome back! I'm excited you've decided to join me for week 2 of the blog series, ADHD 101. This week I am going to focus on tips for the home.

As I said last week, caring for children with ADHD may be very challenging. It is critical that parents remember that some of their child's disruptive behavior is a manifestation of the disability and the challenge is finding ways to help them change their inappropriate behavior.  

Key: The key to this is remembering to focus on the need for structure and routine for your child's daily schedule and thereby reinforcing the importance of learning self-control and self-regulation.

The following are suggestions for parents:

  • Focus on discrete rewards and consequences for appropriate and inappropriate behavior such as:
  • Tangible rewards and treats;
  • Movie night for a good week at school;
  • Removal of privileges; and
  • Time-out from reinforcing activities: the child is essentially removed from situations that foster inappropriate behavior.
  • Set a daily routine and stick to it. Bedtime and preparation for school are much easier if there is a structure already in place.
  • Have tangible reminders:
  • A big clock in the bedroom; 
  • Chart for chores;
  • Assignment pad to record homework and a specific folder to put work in upon completion; and
  • Gain the child's attention before speaking to him or her. Have the child repeat back directions for things that are really important.
  • Avoid the following:
  • Repeating patterns on inappropriate behavior followed by ineffective punishment;
  • Administering consequences without prior warning or without the child understanding why he or she is receiving them; and
  • Responding inconsistently to appropriate behaviors
I know that's quite a bit of information and implementing all of these changes at once would be very overwhelming. I challenge you to implement 1-2 new tips a week and stick with them.

Be sure to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Have a great week!

All the best,


P.S. Next weeks topic: Tips for School

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ADHD 101

ADHD 101 - Syllabus Day

This week I am very excited to announce my first blog series: ADHD 101! While obtaining my Masters Degree, I began studying Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, most commonly referred to as ADHD. After obtaining my Masters, I continued studying ADHD through specialized education courses and have been working with clients with ADHD for four years.

Through my education and experiences, I learned several tips for caring for children with ADHD in both home and school environments. I will share these tips each Wednesday for the next 4 weeks. My hope is that by the end of our "course", you'll have a better understanding of how to effectively care for children with ADHD.

Since today is our first day, I will give your the syllabus for our course. The course will be structured as follows:

Instructor: Renee Keller
Office: Glen Carbon, IL 62o34
Phone: 618.407.0900

Office Hours: By Appointment Only

ADHD 101 - Blog Series
             New Content posted every Wednesday          
             Course Content available 24/7 online

Blog Series Outline:

Week 1: Syllabus Week
Week 2: Tips for Home
Week 3: Tips for School
Week 4: Responsibility for Belongings
Week 5: Homework

Course grade will be based upon participation. Comment below with questions, feedback or more topics you would like to see featured.

I look forward to working with all of you and teaching you effective ways to handle ADHD.

All the best,


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New You

Happy New Year!


It's day 2 of your 365 page book entitled "2013." You're the author and every day you have the ability to write a page in this book. Like most books, I'm sure it will be filled with happy and sad days alike, exciting adventures, a little mystery and a lot of laughter.

At this point, I'm sure most of us are preparing our books with life changing resolutions, some of which will be kept and others forgotten. As you're preparing to write this book, I encourage you to examine resolutions which feature your mind and spirit.

The U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services and the Mayo Clinic suggest doing the following to the improve your mood and mental health.

Rest: Getting the appropriate amount of sleep helps you think better and prepares you to solve problems as they arise.

Share: If you have a concern or worry, share it with family or friends. Not only does sharing allow us to see things in a new light, it helps us to not feel alone in our situation.

Breathe: When you're stressed, a few good, deep breaths can help calm the mind and body.

Invest: Surround yourself with good people and good relationships. Put forth effort in your relationships and always let those around you know you love and care about them.

Be Grateful: Practice gratitude daily. Let it be the first and last thought of your day.

Live in the Moment: We cannot control the past or the future. Live for today and appreciate the little things in life.

Forgive Yourself: We have all made mistakes but our mistakes do not define us. Address the mistake and move forward.

Focus: The ability to multitask is wonderful, however, try focusing on one task, do it well and move on to the next.

Move: Everyday treat yourself to physical activity. Your body deserves it and it can improve general well-being.

Reward Yourself: Find a way to treat yourself. Whether it's a hot bath, yummy dessert or a good book. You deserve it.

As you begin your book, I challenge you to write each page keeping these things in mind. It'll make for a great, well-balanced book.

All the best,