Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Blog by Author Jackie Minniti

Parents and Teachers – Partners in the Process

     It’s been almost thirty years, but I can still remember the “Eureka!” moment when I first learned about ADHD. Dr. Carlo Mellini was speaking to the faculty about a neurobehavioral condition recently identified as Attention Deficit Disorder. I was teaching kindergarten at the time, and every year, I’d notice few kids (usually boys) who seemed bright but were so distractible they had trouble functioning. As Dr. Mellini spoke, I realized that an “attention deficit” was exactly what I was seeing. Even though there was no extensive body of research back then (and no Internet!), from the little I could find, I realized that these students faced unique challenges in the traditional classroom. I also became convinced that there were things teachers could do to help them. I decided to test some ideas while studying for my Master’s degree. The results of my thesis project showed that some simple strategies could help ADHD students improve. Since ADHD currently affects over 9% of school-age children, it’s more important than ever to find ways to work with them. Here are some things parents and teachers can do. 

Don’t take their impulsive behavior personally. Children with ADHD often say or do things without thinking about the consequences. 

Involve your child in activities that will boost self-esteem. Dealing with the problems associated with ADHD can cause feelings of guilt, hopelessness, failure, and depression. Try to identify the child’s strengths or talents, and think of ways to capitalize on them. 

Ask the teacher not to discipline your child by singling him/her out. Students with ADHD tend to be sensitive about their behavior. Calling attention to them can increase their feelings of frustration, and stress can make the behavior worse. 

Suggest that the teacher use a discreet signal to help refocus your child’s attention. Children with ADHD are often unaware that their attention is wandering. A gesture (like a tap on the shoulder or a predetermined “secret sign”) can serve as a reminder to stay on task. Parents can do this too. The discreet signal can eliminate the nagging cycle that often triggers oppositional behavior. It also puts the focus on changing the behavior, not criticizing the child. 

Help your child learn to express feelings more appropriately. Kids with ADHD are often unaware of how their behavior affects others and have difficulty “reading” people. Activities like conflict resolution, modeling or role-playing can help. So can teaching them to use “I” statements (ex. “I get upset when you stare at me” instead of “Quit staring at me!”) 

Ask the teacher to seat your child where distractions are minimized, like the front of the class and away from windows and doors. Provide a distraction-free study area at home, away from the TV, where you can monitor your child’s work. 

Help your child get organized. Suggest that he/she:
-Write down all assignments, and cross them off when finished;
-Clip all completed homework papers together where they’re easily accessible (like the inside front cover of the assignment book) and in the order they’ll be needed;
-Note important due dates, test dates, etc. on a calendar and cross off each day;
-Use different colored folders to separate work into subjects.
- Ask the teacher if he/she would be willing to sign your child’s assignment book each day to verify that all assignments have been copied correctly. Then you can sign the book when you’ve seen the completed work. The assignment book can also serve as a communication link between parent and teacher. If either has any questions or concerns, they can be noted in the assignment book. 

Break down large tasks into smaller components. Kids with ADHD often have trouble managing time and can become overwhelmed if a task seems too complex. Focus on a single part of a task for a limited time (timers can be helpful here); take a break; then go on to the next. Tackle difficult jobs first, and save the easiest ones for last.

While these strategies can help ADHD students, the most important element in the equation is finding an understanding teacher who is willing to work with them and with their parents. This parent-teacher-student partnership is an unbeatable combination for school success.

Jackie has documented some of her classroom experiences in a novel titled Project June Bug, winner of several book awards, including a Mom’s Choice Award for Parenting/Special & Exceptional Needs. Project June Bug is available in paper or e-book from Amazon or any online bookseller. It can also be ordered through your favorite bookstore or Jackie’s website at

Thank you, Jackie, for sharing these great tips for parents & teachers! I value your experience and insight!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest Blog by Katherine Ellison

"Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist, former foreign correspondent, writing consultant, author of five books, and mother of two sons...." (taken from Reading this entry has warmed my heart and put a smile on my face. Kindred spirits we are. Check out this youtube clip:  Thank you for stopping by, Katherine!

From Katherine Ellison: As anyone who has read my ADHD memoir knows, my dear, brilliant, first-born son, referred to as “Buzz,” has caused me lots of aggravation. Along with that, however, has come the silver lining of extraordinary friendships with other mothers in the same boat . We’re like wry war veterans, vying to outdo each other with our stories of blood and gore. No one who hasn’t been in our shoes could possibly understand us like we can. Take Cindy – a nom de mom – whom I met when Buzz was just starting kindergarten. She and I share a diagnosis of adult ADHD , but have been super-organized, through the years, in collecting and trading referrals for therapists, tutors, and, alas, on more than one occasion, lawyers. During crises, like the time her son spent a night in juvenile hall for something that actually wasn’t his fault, or the time my son came home unexpectedly from a planned school trip to Costa Rica, for something that was, we’ve called each other up to eight times a day, usually just to say, “Are you okay?” I read somewhere that when mothers were asked their favorite coping method, the most common answer was “red wine.” For me, it’s often schadenfreude, that admittedly vaguely antisocial sensation of taking a little bit of pleasure in someone else’s misfortune. Moms of difficult kids often generously exert ourselves to offer it to each other. When Buzz got suspended from high school for the second time in a month for talking back to his teachers, my friend Mary (another nom de mom) eagerly shared a story about her son, who had recently been arrested – by a SWAT team – after carrying a pellet gun down a city street. In a world of bumper stickers boasting about honor students, this rare camaraderie, also reflected in the website-turned-movement, “Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid,” is a balm. Jill Bolte Taylor, in her entertaining TED talk about the teenage brain, concludes with the motto she offers parents: “Just keep ‘em alive ‘til 25.” It’s easier said than done, when half the time you want to strangle them yourself. For mothers of difficult kids, the teenage years are of course particularly full of stress and peril, with the light at the end of the tunnel of their living at home sometimes all too faint. What keeps me on my feet is the support from these brave gals who know me better than anyone. We never have to tell each other how much we love our kids; that’s understood. We can also talk about how much we want to kill them without our friends calling the police. Friendship –and of course the capacity to laugh about what in any other context would be major embarrassments – puts it all in perspective, holds us together, and makes up for quite a lot. Katherine Ellison was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 48. She is the author of five books, most recently “Square Peg: My Story and What it Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers.” and Healthline - Connect Here

Friday, October 18, 2013

Where Is The Snake?

"Mom, my snake is missing!" There was no doubt in my mind Bobby was telling the truth. Nothing surprises me any more. I hate snakes. All of them. Even if they are harmless little ones." The idea that at any point I may now stumble upon a snake inside my own home, makes me angry beyond belief. I told him only an hour earlier that I wanted his newest pet taken outdoors. We had argued about this because it is getting cold outside and Bobby was concerned for his reptile's safety. I told him he could keep him in the garage where there was some heat. But alas, this conversation is now behind us.
The "Attention Deficit" portion of the ADHD looms in the face of such circumstances. There are lots of kids out there who really can't focus on the details necessary to raising pets. They are so excited about the idea they become caught up in that excitement and any awareness of details such as shutting & locking cages is tossed aside.
Bobby, you're a super-cool kid but really!  This is over the top and Mom isn't very happy about it. I usually save the end of my blog entries for something like "I love you to the moon and back," but tonight I reserve the right to wish that in 20 years when you have a bunch of your own kids, one of them loses a snake in your house. That would be Bobby Jr.  Can't wait to meet him. I'll love him to the moon and back too,  I'm sure!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The 13 Best ADHD Health Blogs of 2013

Thank you, Healthline, for your recent acknowledgement of my ADHD blog! I will admit, I know little about how you make this determination but thank you.

(From The 13 Best ADHD Health Blogs of 2013:

1. The CHADD Leadership Blog
2.'s ADD/ADHD Blog
3. a mom's view of ADHD
4. ADD Moms
5. ADDitude Magazine's ADHD Parenting Blog
6. Charlotte's ADHD Web
7. ADDitude Magazine's ADHD Expert Blog
8. Dr. Stephen Ferrari's Attention Deficit Disorder Blog
9. ADHD Management
10. ADDerworld
11. Totally ADD Blog
12. My ADD/ADHD Blog
13. Mungo’s ADHD

Check out all of these great resources!

"The Gift of ADHD," by Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D

Edited & reposted from 2010 blog entry:

Couldn't wait to FINALLY get this book primarily because of it's positive angle! "The Gift of ADHD," by Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D, will be at the top of my stack for a while. I can already tell I'm going to like it.

Lara has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay area and has written several books. This particular book is available from: Barnes & Noble Book Store.

Here are the "5 gifts of ADHD," according to Dr. Honos-Webb:

1) creativity
2) attunement to nature
3) interpersonal intuition
4) energetic enthusiasm
5) emotional sensitivity

First of all, I have to admit that if you told me 3 yrs ago that my son's ADHD was a "gift" I would have said, "If you think this is a gift, you come raise this kid!" But WOW! I can only imagine what this thinking would do for the self-esteem of ADHD kids everywhere, if the adults around them began looking at their issues in a different way. I must add that in no way do I desire to make light of the negative affects of ADHD in our kids and homes. These are real. I have for the past year however, for my own health and my son's, needed to take a hard look at ways to embrace his particular differences. Here's the common generalization of ADHD kids:
1) Outspoken 2) Headstrong 3) Spun out of control 4) Destructive 5) Inattentive at school

Deep breath....time to look at that TOP 5 list a little more often!  Thank you, Dr. Honos-Webb!

Why Read An ADHD Blog? Why Write One?

It's been not quite 3 years since I sat down with my laptop and googled "How To Create Your Own Blog." What I was experiencing was far from interesting. I had no intentions of sharing this adhd adventure with the general public. Why didn't I just put my musings in an old-fashioned diary?

It all started with a longing for support. All of my free time became consumed with a quest for knowledge. I found a counselor, bought a pile of books & then searched online for other moms who just might be blogging their experiences. Amazingly, I found not one blog written by a mom who had kids with ADHD. (Now I know better..."A Mom's View of ADHD" is just one of many great blogs out there!)

I began to write. This writing was for me. In the beginning there was pain. Pain initiated by fear. I was a scared mom wanting to help my precious boy focus. I wanted to teach him the valuable skills he would need in life. He was too hyperactive and far to impulsive to learn these skills. What could we do to reach deep into his soul and find his strengths? I wanted to build on those strengths.

My blog became my go-to place after hours of research on the subject. I talked to doctors, counselors, authors, family members, friends. Bobby's wild and crazy ways fueled my writing. My search for answers became the foundation for this blog.

I read somewhere recently of a physician who strongly cautioned against reading adhd blogs written by parents. Something about "all kids are different" etc... Well, hopefully anyone who has stumbled upon or returned to this blog has found:
#1 the support of another parent going down a similar path
#2 ADHD educational resources
#3 a wide range of useful strategies to try  
#4 some humor on the subject

Writing my own blog has given me strength for my journey. I am delighted it is helping others. Inspired by Mr. Bobby himself. He's one of a kind! Love you to the moon and back, Buddy!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mentors A Must!

Goes without saying that our kids keep us busy. All kids. I'm convinced mentors are a helpful addition to the family. Our lightning bolt is blessed by the significant other people that surround him. Why are they significant? Bottom-line is they "get" what's happening here. They look at Bobby's strengths and converse with him in those areas. They are friends and family who take a particular interest in speaking to him when they see him, patting him on the back, inviting him to do things with them and quite frequently, ignoring those impulsive things he says and does that well-meaning parents would dearly love to address and fix. These safe people love him unconditionally. They are a cherished treasure.
If I didn't have mentors right now in my family or circle of friends I'd be starting an earnest search. Scouts, Sports, Church, School. Good people are out there. My child is worth the search.   Today I'm once again thankful for the friends we have who are helping us raise ou4 super-cool and rock-star kid, Bobby! Here's to mentors. Every child deserves them!