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Book Strikes Blow for Imperfect Kids

You might expect a book called "Shut Up About... Your Perfect Kid" to be a confrontational attack on parents who say their kids are perfect. In reality though, the book was written to encourage parents whose kids struggle with everything from Asperger's to ADHD.
"The book approaches with honest and humor the dashed expectations and Herculean challenges that can come with have a child with disabilities Among other things, the sisters write about the dreaded calls from schools, visits to the hospitals and the yin and yang of medication and therapists."
The sisters are Gina Gallagher and Patty Konjoian, whose daughters have been diagnosed with Asperger's and bipolar disorder respectively. Though much of the book contains their personal stories, they also talked to over 50 other families while conducting research for the book. The over-arching message of the book is that "while my daughter may be imperfect, she is wonderful..." Read more at Telegram.com.

Labels: aspergers, parenting, support groups

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Study Shows Near-Tripling of Global ADHD Drug Use

The use of drugs to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has more than tripled worldwide since 1993, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. And spending on such drugs rose nine-fold between 1993 and 2003, the team at the University of California, Berkeley reported. Read more online.

Labels: medications, research, studies

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The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health

What is most important to reiterate is that the causes of health and disease are generally viewed as a product of the interplay or interaction between biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. This is true for all health and illness, including mental health and mental illness. Read more online.

Labels: mental_health, biological, surgeon_general

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Bipolar Disorder Commonly Misdiagnosed

In an essay appearing March 17 in The Lancet, Franco Benazzi, MD, PhD, writes about a common but poorly recognized form of bipolar disorder, called bipolar disorder II. Because the disorder is so often misdiagnosed, patients are often wrongly treated with antidepressants alone, which can make the problem worse, the professor of psychiatry tells WebMD.

Labels: misdiagnosis, studies, bipolar_disorder

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Horses as Therapists

Horses as therapists for your differently-abled child? That's true. Equine facilitated learning (EFL) is now being looked upon as a fun-filled therapeutic option for physically, mentally and emotionally challenged people, especially children. Read more online.

Labels: equine-therapy, therapy, animal-assisted-therapy

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Psychiatric Meds Eyed After Girl's Death

A 4-year-old diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity and bipolar disorder died Dec. 13 of an overdose of prescribed drugs. Her parents have been arrested on murder charges, accused of intentionally overmedicating their daughter to keep her quiet and out of their hair. Read more online.

Labels: medications, parenting, mental_health

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Parents Mental Health May Influence Child's ADHD

Researchers at the University of Maryland have found a connection between a parent's mental health and behavior problems of children with ADHD.
"The study... found that early positive parenting during the preschool years predicted fewer conduct problems as the children grew into early adolescence. The strength of the findings led researchers to conclude that maternal depression may be a risk factor, whereas positive parenting may be a protective factor."
Having this research information means that early intervention programs can be developed which are aimed specifically at the children who are most at risk. Read more at PsychCentral.com.

Labels: behavior, mental_health, prenatal

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Some Doctors Prescribing Adderall "Off Label"

Adderall is one of the most well-known and frequently-used medications for controlling symptoms associated with ADHD. As with any prescription medication, it has side effects  one of which is weight loss. Some doctors have begun prescribing Adderall to young patients who are overweight, even if they don't have ADHD.
"[Dr. Fuad] Ziai says about 90 percent of his patients on Adderall have lost weight. He credits Adderall (along with a prescription for Glucophage, a diabetes medication) with helping [children] avert diabetes."
Prescribing a medication for its side effects (like weight loss) rather for its primary use is called prescribing "off label", and is not uncommon. Though Dr. Ziai stands by his use of Adderall to treat obese children who seem unable to lose weight, others in the medical community question whether such actions are ethical. Read more at CNN.com.

Labels: medications, side_effects, childhood_obesity

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Principles for Parenting Adolescents with ADHD

Teenagers are challenging. Teenagers with ADHD can be especially challenging. Not because they determine to be unusually difficult, but simply because of the nature of ADHD. Arthur, L. Robin, PhD offers some suggestions for effectively guiding your teen through these difficult years.
"The principles outlined... are meant to be general guidelines, not rigid rules. They will work some of the time but certainly not all the time. I would urge you to consider them especially when you are stumped by your adolescent's actions, and derive your actions from one of these principles rather than reacting impulsively."
Some of the suggestions include ways to maintain adequate structure, facilitate independence, and use consequences wisely. Read more at ADD.org.

Labels: parenting, teens, tips

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Attention Problems Tied to Teen Smoking

Warnings against women smoking during pregnancy aren't new. But researchers have recently discovered that teens who were exposed to nicotine while still in the womb and who also smoke have increased attention problems. A total of 92 adolescents who were exposed to smoke and 89 who were not were tested on their abilities to focus on both auditory and visual cues.
"The study found that teen boys who smoked and were exposed to nicotine in the womb were the most vulnerable, showing significant problems paying attention to things they heard... Those who did not smoke and whose mothers did not smoke while pregnant fared best."
Though nicotine isn't exclusively responsible for causing attention problems, the study shows that it can play a significant role. Read more at Boston.com.

Labels: health, prenatal, smoking

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Children in Hospitals Harmed by Off-Label Drugs

Doctors routinely prescribe drugs to hospitalized children that have not been tested on children, according to a new study by the U.S. Pharmacopeia. About 12% of the children taking such medications suffer harmful effects.

Researchers with Pharmacopeia, an agency that sets drug industry standards, reviewed records of 11,000 medical errors from 500 hospitals between 1998 and 2005. The errors involved 700 different drugs, causing 165 harmful effects  including the death of one child.

In another study of 31 children's hospitals for the year 2004, 79% of the hospitalized children received "off label" drugs or those that had not been tested on pediatric patients.

Only a small number of drugs are tested on children, because it is not required by law. Children with bi-polar disorder, conduct disorder, autism and other conditions routinely take "off label" drugs.

Labels: medications, research, hospitals

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Exercise may Help ADHD

Last week, researchers released a study stating that they had caused the human brain to grow new nerve cells, some that has been thought to be impossible. They did it by putting subjects on a three-month aerobic-workout regimen. Researchers also discovered indications that physical activity may stave off the beginnings of neurological conditions like Alzheimer's and ADHD.
"Armed with brain-scanning tools and a sophisticated understanding of biochemistry, Newsweek reports, researchers are realizing that the mental effects of exercise are far more profound and complex than they once thought."
Though researchers don't fully understand why exercise has the effects it does, they are learning that it affects more than mood or self-esteem. Read more online.

Labels: exercise, green_time, playtime

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Family Helps Single Mom with ADHD Son

Sherry Young's son struggled with school, even in kindergarten. It was hard for him to pay attention, and he was disruptive. He was diagnosed with ADHD and began a combination of medication and counseling to help him learn to control his emotions. Young did her best to help her son, but her own battles with depression and anxiety were limiting her effectiveness.
"Her brother, Eddie Young, a former marine, became a positive role model and provided the discipline Alexander needed. His wife, Regina Sitton-Young, a speech pathologist, was able to help with homework."
Their willingness to help gave Sherry's son the structure he needed, and Sherry the time she needed to become healthy as well.

Read her story at GreenvilleOnline.com.

Labels: education, support groups, single parenting ADHD kids

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Playtime with an ADHD Child

Playing is a natural part of childhood (and hopefully of adulthood, too!). Parents who play with their children develop stronger bonds, and deeper levels of affection and trust than parents who don't. But for parents whose children are ADHD, playtime can be more frustrating than bonding or enjoyable. K.C. Gagne offers some suggestions.
"When you begin to play with your child, make sure that you both know what to expect. As the parent of an ADHD child, you should remember that your child may want to quit before you're done. They may also get distracted easily and stray from what you are doing. Do your best to avoid distractions."
She also suggests that playtime be one-on-one, as it will help your child stay focused. Frequent breaks and limited stimuli will also help. Read more at FamilyPlayandLearn.com.

Labels: stimulation, development, playtime

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Book Offers Hope to ADHD Kids

"Dusty's Dilemma" is the story of a young boy who hears the label ADHD so much that he has a dream about it. In the dream, all of the kids in his classroom have ADD, and the teacher has a magical pair of glasses that allow her to see every child's future.
"'The goal with this book, [Author Drema] Hymon said, 'is to get kids to believe that no matter if you have ADD or ADHD, you can still learn.'"
Hymon's own son was diagnosed with ADD in grade school. Though his early years of school were tough, he went on to earn a 4.0 in his first year of college.

One of the characters in the book, Sammy, grows up to be a Harlem Globetrotter. The real-life Harlem Globetrotters team has read the book, loves it, and intends to give it their official endorsement. Read more online.

Labels: college, hope, book

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"Godfather" of ADHD Diagnoses Voices Concern

Twenty-five years ago, when other doctors were calling rowdy, uncontrollable children "brats", Dr. Robert Spitzer developed a different classification - ADHD. His ground-breaking classification table gave doctors the tool they needed to more accurately diagnose ADD and ADHD. Now, more than two decades later, Dr. Spitzer's opinion has taken an unexpected turn.
"He says 30 percent of children diagnosed with a mental disorder don't actually have it and are instead showing perfectly normal signs of being happy or sad. 'Many of these conditions might be normal reactions which are not really disorders.' Dr. Spitzer said."
While he's not dismissing his revolutionary classification table altogether, he is urging caution - for parents and doctors alike - when diagnosing ADD or ADHD in children. For some, behavioral therapy may be more beneficial than medication. Read more at News.com.

Labels: diagnosis, pediatricians, classification

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The Transition to College

College is a unique and exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming, especially for teens with ADD/ADHD. As a parent, there are steps you can take to help your teen make a smooth transition into college life.
"Around February of his senior year, begin to withdraw your daily supervision and support. (Of course, you should warn him first!) Think of the next six or seven months as college training camp, a time for him to learn how to handle freedom. Without the help of mom or dad, he should practice living independently..."
The better prepared your child is for living on his own and managing the often hectic pace of college life, the more he'll be able to enjoy his college experience. Read more at AdditudeMag.com.

Cedars Academy, a private boarding school for boys and girls with ADD/ADHD, has a Post-Secondary Program designed to help students build their college experience after they finish their senior year. Cedar's progam gives students a year to experience college life, while still having the support of a structured environment.

Labels: schools, college, young_adults

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ADHD Not Just an American Condition

The use of ADHD medications is growing worldwide, which dispels the idea that it's a condition unique to Americans. Currently, usage rates are increasing faster in countries like France and Japan.
"A lot of people are saying this is an American problem and that medications are over prescribed in this country. This (study) shows other countries are finding they have the same problems."
The study looked at the use of psycho-stimulant medications globally and found that the number of countries using these medications increased from 31 to fifty-five.

Read more online.

Labels: medications, research, studies

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The Dangerous Combinations of Teens with ADHD and Driving

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) ADHD is considered a neurobehavioral disorder which affects about 4.4 million children ages 4 to 17. Without medication a child, teen, or adult with ADHD has a difficult time following instructions, completing tasks, or concentrating on one thing at a time.

19-year-old Alison O'Brien of Virginia, learned an important lesson about driving NOT being under the influence of her ADHD medication.
"I started to feel a little woozy," she says, looking back at how she felt before the accident. No one was seriously hurt in the accident, but Miss O'Brien took a court-ordered driver's education course afterward, along with her father, who was there for support. She now keeps extra medication in her car just in case, although lethargy isn't a typical concern for ADHD teens behind the wheel.
Studies show that teens with ADHD can improve their ability to concentrate, therefore making them better, safer drivers when they regularly take their medications. Experts agree that when it comes to teen drivers, those diagnosed with ADHD and those without, extra precautions, like prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving, should always be taken. Read more from WashingtonTimes.com.

Labels: medications, teens, driving

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New ADHD Medication has Less Potential for Abuse

This week, the FDA approved a new drug, called Vyvanse, for the treatment of ADHD. The active ingredients in Vyvanse aren't new, but its designed to be absorbed into the body slowly, which is new.
"Drugs that are rapidly absorbed and achieve higher blood levels can produce a euphoric effect. This effect is easier to obtain by crushing short acting tablets and snorting or injecting them."
Vyvnase is a once-a-day pill that, when taken in the morning, is significantly effective until at least 6pm. Read more at WebMD.com.

Labels: medications, abuse

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