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Steve Kurtz interview on ADHD

I have found this most fabulous site.  The Coffee Klatch is a remarkable site that interviews many top notch professionals who work in the fields of Aspergers, OCD, ADHD and many other disorders.  
This afternoon, I listened to The Coffee Klatch.  I heard the interview with Dr. Steve Kurtz.  “Steven Kurtz, PhD, ABPP, is one of the nation’s leading clinicians in the treatment of children’s behavioral problems and disorders, particularly attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the social anxiety disorder selective mutism (SM)”  

Here is a brief summary of the interview.  I have a link below to click to listen to the entire interview.

What causes ADHD?  ADHD is difficulty with attention, materials, staying on task.  In addition, ADHD also includes, Difficulty with impulsivity not able to sit in seat.  There are two categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  There are differences.  As a teacher and a parent, it is important understand that the child with ADHD is painfully uncomfortable sitting still.  Dr. Kurtz compares a child having ADHD to wearing a straight jacket.  It is uncomfortable, frustrating and painful to wear.  Because ADHD causes a child to stand out, this affects the child’s self esteem.  The children tend to have low self-esteem.

How do children get ADHD?  According to Dr. Kurtz,  ADHD is about 77% genetic. Most of the time it is passed through the genes of the parent.  Other factors that can cause ADHD include, low-birth weight, and exposure to alcohol, nicotine or drugs. 

Students with ADHD have low executive functioning.  A recent intervention “Cog med”,, is a new computer assisted program.  “Cogmed” is about training your working Memory.  The idea of “Cogmed”, computer assisted program, is that it retrains the brain.  It is targeted for students about age 8 and up.   The primary intervention is still using medication.  The children  who improved in executive functions had a combination of psycho-pharmacology and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), and medications have made the most growth. 

In regards to CBT,  it is different from play therapy.  In the interview, Dr. Kurtz discusses that CBT is about providing the “parents and teachers skills to prompt, monitor and reinforce appropriate behavior, they do significantly better.”  It is important for the teacher and parent to know the behavior they are targeting.   It is important to reward for the appropriate behavior in order to support the child.  Dr. Kurtz said, “The child needs the adult to point out the behavior.” With older children, CBT works a little differently.  According to Dr. Kurtz, the teens are taught how to be there own monitors.  They teach the teen “how to organizer their world”.    Basically, teaching the young adults to advocate for themselves. 

As a teacher, I loved the idea about recognizing the ADHD student at least three times for something that child did well before I have that child change his/her clip (a very common behavior plan in many classrooms) for making a bad choice.   This is forcing the teacher to recognize that child for making good choices.  According to the interview, when teachers have the behavior plan and certain children change their clips for bad behavior, we, the teacher, are stigmatizing the child.  I had never thought of it in this way.

Click here and listen to the entire interview.–adhd-and-selective-mutism

Child Mind Institute – Anxiety Disorders and OCD 05/06 by The Coffee Klatch | Blog Talk Radio

The link below is an interview with  Jerome Bubrick, PhD, is a nationally renowned cognitive and behavioral psychologist who specializes in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

I really enjoyed this interview.  This interview talked about OCD and anxiety issues.  In addition, Dr. Bubrick discusses what the root of the anxiety.  He discusses how these are genetic and through the brain as well as, learned.   The most important part about their work is to teach parents, teachers to be proactive and intervening to help the children through the anxiety. Most important tip to remember is never be dismissive about a child’s anxiety.  It is not a good decision to say, “It is all in your head.”   The recommendation for treatment is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).  Through this therapy helps teach people how they think, feel and do.   CBT is not just therapy where people talk about their anxiety.  The person talks about how they think, how it makes them feel and then what the person can do about the feelings.   It is a structural approach that moves at the individuals pace. 

Click on the link below and take some time to listen.

Child Mind Institute – Anxiety Disorders and OCD 05/06 by The Coffee Klatch | Blog Talk Radio

For more information visit:

Getting Ready for the Transitional IEP

Our IEP is on May 21st.  My husband and I are already butting heads with some of the school’s IEP team members.  My husband and I would like the school and teachers to honor the spirit of the IEP with regards to testing accommodations.  Instead, the school is saying things like “It is difficult for the teacher.”  So, my question is, “When did IEP’s become about what is best for the teacher and not the students?” 
If our son wants to take an exam in the general ed setting, so that he gives the appearance of a regular student, then fine.  However, he should be allowed to retake the exam if he fails.  He should not be penalized because he is trying to find his way in the mainstream classroom.  Just so everyone is aware, my son does study for his tests, but usually fails because of his anxiety and other related issues.  The school is not willing to provide support for him when this situation occurs because it is inconvenient for the teacher.  So, the message from the school to my son is, “It is okay to fail and no we won’t help you.”  This is so encouraging. NOT!!!!!!!!!!  It is depressing.  It is ridiculous.  Where is the accountability?  Where is the understanding that the IEP is a contract between the district and our family to provide support for the students with disabilities? 

In my school district where I work, the teachers collaborate and would find a way to make the accommodations work.  At the school, where my son attends, the Special Ed. Dept. is afraid to ruffle feathers and do their job.  This Special Ed. Dept.  needs to advocate for the exceptional learners with IEP’s.  The IEP’s are in place so these kids will be able to be successful in the least restrictive environment.  THIS IS THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOLLOW IT!!!!!!!!!!!

Is Motivating a Teenager Similar to Training a Dog?

Let’s just start off by clearing the air.  I don’t think my son is a dog.  It is figurative language for all of you who are in a panic and thinking that I think my son is a dog.  This is not the case. 

Anyway, we are in the middle of training Aka, our lovely demented puppy.  He can’t walk on a leash to save his life.  He sometimes becomes aggressive and territorial with other doggies while walking.  My husband and I have been injured too many times because he sees a squirrel or another dog and bolts after him.  Just on a side note, we have spent a fortune training this beast.  This last time my husband was injured, I just said, “That’s it!!! I am calling a trainer.”  Aka does great during the training sessions.  Why is that?  I’ll tell you.  Aka does well because there are incentives.  There are treats after each time he does what we ask him to do.
So, how is motivating a teenager like training a dog?  Just this morning, my husband asked our son if he would play violin at this temple function we are going to next weekend.  Nolan said, “NO!!!!”  Then, a few minutes later, my husband replies, “Well if you had said yes, I would have provided an incentive.”  Ahhhh!  Now, Nolan’s ears were at attention.  “Incentive! What kind of incentive?” Nico asked.  
You see it is the treat that is the leverage or motivator to entice the teenager to do the task you want him/her to do.  That is why I think motivating a teenage is similar to training a dog.  

The Battle Begins!

This time the battle was not with me.  This battle was for alpha male of the Robinson house.  Who would win?  Would it be Dad or Nolan?.  Boy, did it get heated!  David and I were trying to explain the clubs and activities that Nolan might enjoy in high school.  We asked him to keep an open-mind.  Well, he just didn’t want to hear anything about clubs or high school.  I think it overwhelmed him.  Dad enlightened Nolan that sometimes, he can be close-minded.  Nolan then replies.”If I had the bravado, I would slap you.”  Well that’s all it took for Dad to demand Nolan leave the table.  I never thought it would happen.  David has never asked him to leave the dinner table.  Nolan refused to leave.  Dad was ready to physically move him out of the room. Oh boy, I could believe my eyes and ears.  Usually it is Nolan and I going head to head.  This time it is Dad and Nolan.  As this entire scenario is playing out, I am hiding my face behind my hand.  I kept laughing.  Why was I laughing?  This was not funny.  I realized this wasn’t about high school.  This was the fight for the “TOP DOG.” The  alpha and wanna-be alpha were challenging the boundaries.  This is like what animals do in the wild.  It was crazy.  I finally had to jump in and yell “TIME OUT!”  I had everyone go back to their perspective corners to chill. 
This time I was the “good cop.”  I went up to Nolan’s room and we had a great talk.   He realized his empty threat was not the best choice.  He understood he needed to apologize.  He felt that his dad had wounded his pride.  
Then, as a good ref, I went to Dad.  I explained that Nolan felt that his pride had been hurt.  I told Dad that he too needed to apologize.  For once, I was not at war with Nolan.  I was the peacemaker.
The boys each apologized and talked it out.  No one went to bed angry.

ADHD Expert: Is Concerta Making My Daughter Pick at Her Skin?

Read this article about ADHD medications and skin picking.  It is linked with OCD. According to this article, the consult your child’s doctor.  With your doctor, discuss if you should stop the ADHD medications and focus on picking disorder.  The article suggests congnitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).  Click the link below to find out more. 

ADHD Expert: Is Concerta Making My Daughter Pick at Her Skin?

Hope Floats!

This morning, I drove Nolan to school.  Before we jumped into the car, Nolan shared how beautiful the flowers at school looked.  He said they are red and yellow.  He said they looked like a trumpet.  I explained they are called Trumpet Vines.  Then he began to share another tidbit about his friends in PE class.  He said, “We like to suck the nectar out of the flower. The other kids think it is gross but my friends and I think is sweet like ambrosia.”  I asked him the names of his friends.  He has about five new friends. 
Why is this such a big deal?  Well for one Nolan is new at this school and all year long he said he has no friends.  Then just last week he said he had acquaintances but no friends.  NOW HE HAS FRIENDS.   This is so exciting.  I try now to seem over excited.  But, I plant the seed to obtain phone numbers so he could hang out over the summer.  Another plus, these kids my be going to the same high school next year.  If Nolan maintains a friendship, he will not feel alone when he starts his new high school. 

This made my day! 

So Tired of Bureaucratic BS and Lack of Response!!!!

Nolan is starting 9th grade next year. The placement test for his high school is June 2nd. I have tried to connect with the RSP teacher at the new school since March to arrange the placement test accommodations. It is now the end of April. I sent several emails and a few phone calls. The one time she did get back to me was to ask for the IEP, which I sent her the following Monday. I asked the RSP teacher to confirm she received it. Do you think she has confirmed ? It has been 3 weeks since that email. How hard is it to say,”Hey, I received your email. I am swamped. Let me get back to you by…”. What kind of customer service is this?
If I treated parents in my school district, like the some teachers I have come across in my son’s school experience, I would be written up in a heartbeat. I am shocked at the lack of respect some of these educators have when they speak with parents, whether special needs or not, is  unacceptable. Communicating in a positive and encouraging way with both parents as well as students should be part of their professional responsibility. The age and/or grade should not matter. If that child is under 18 and living under the parents roof then that educator should be communicating with that parent. Without the excuse they don’t have time. I know they don’t have time. I don’t have enough hours in the day either, but I make the time. Why? These kids and their feature success is important to me!!!!!  So, why isn’t it important to the other educators?  Did these educators forget why they signed up for this job?

I am not the perfect parent!

Well, Nico and I had one of those nights.  He became irate about two things:  I belittle him and I make decisions about his life without discussing them with him.  This is for the most part true when it come to school and enrolling him in support camps or classes.  However, it was one of those nights where Nico was agitated and I was grumpy from a long day and in pain from an injured foot.  Nicolas wants to discuss this field trip that he was to go on through the special ed dept.  to the LAPD.   The kids were going to spend a day out of school and have Dodger Dogs, what could be so bad.  Well, Nico said became furious that I signed the permission slip and didn’t consult him.  He said none of his friends were going (which I am happy he found friends).  He said he wanted to be in school.  It wasn’t his message that upset me, but the tone and the anger that came with the message that sparked me.  After a challenging day at work and re-injuring my foot, I was in no mood to go ten rounds with Nico, each round being louder than the next.  I raised my voice back at him in a loud roar that shook the walls, this is something people should try not to do with kids with Aspergers.  Once I raised my voice, he raised his even louder.  We went two rounds of this back and forth.  Finally, I shouted back, “You have two choices:  We can stop here and discuss this later once we are done with studying for your test  or I can totally unleash all my frustrations and anger on you and we will get nowhere.”  Nico definitely had to think about this one.  What was he going to choose?   He decided for the “Mom and Nico time out”.  He made a good choice.   We studied for his test and then about a half-hour later, we discussed “How could he have asked me differently?”  He realized his tone was harsh in the beginning.   I explained I understood his feelings of wanting to make his own decision.  He is growing up and I do have to let go a bit.   We then discussed the issue as a family and made the decision together.  

Thank goodness for “Time-Outs!”

Report card time:)

Well, we received our son’s report card.  He did really well.  I knew he would.  The only low mark was in PE.  He earned a “U” for effort.  The comment from the teacher was that my son was uncooperative.   When I ask our son about this effort grade and comment, he had no idea why the teacher marked him that way.  So, I sent an email to the teacher of record and asked if she knew anything about this situation.  She told me that “Nico wanders off to areas he is not supposed to be in”  also she stated when redirected he is “often rude to adults”.   We told her we would talk to him.  When my husband picked him up from school he calmly spoke to Nico.  Nico began to get enraged screaming, “It’s not true.  You always take the schools side.”    My husband quickly replied, “Really?  Do you think the school has a conspiracy against you?”    Nico does have a problem being redirected by some of the teachers.  He tends to be flippant.   He can behave that way at home.  The difference is that my husband and I have been dealing with him for years.  We know how to deescalate the situation.  I have a feeling these teachers need more training on how to redirect students with Aspergers.   

How do you get your son or daughter to see his actions and reactions cause this behavior?   How do you teach them to respond to adults in a polite manner?