It’s ADHD Month: How Are You Doing? 

Parents who learn their child is atypical in some way often struggle with a sense of loss and disappointment, which can also drive a wedge in the relationship with their child.

 ADHD can be a particularly frustrating condition since it appears as if your child could do it if s/he wanted to. Remind yourself that ADHD is a very real condition and work on increasing your bond with your child. 
 Here are some activities that a parent can do to help reconnect with a child struggling with ADHD: 

Parents of ADHD children can get exasperated, if not downright frustrated with their child’s behavior. Children with ADHD process information differently, so cultivating a new way to view them is important. 

Here are a few suggestions:
1. “Special time”: create daily 20 minutes of time where you are alone with your child, where he or she gets to choose the activity, or just to hang out. Bonding without external distractions will help you rediscover what a wonderful kid you have.

2. Bonding activities that include – whatever your child likes! Cooking, art, or something active like playing ball in the yard or even having your kid teach you to play their favorite video game can help you both enjoy each other.

3. Create memories: do activities that you can talk about and reminisce in the future (“remember that time when…”) / Shared memories creates long -lasting bonds.

4. And finally, remember to laugh together -a lot. Sharing joy can be an important piece of the parent-child bond.

For more info on ADHD and parenting, here’s the link to the whole article:

Ask Our Experts: How to Parent a Child Struggling with ADHD


How to Love Your Weekdays 

Why We Don’t Love Our Weekdays as Much As Our Weekends 

Everyone loves time off from work; we become have gotten used to looking forward to the weekend from an early age. “TGIF” is cultural influence that creates the mindset from an early age of work work work and then – ahhhh, the weekend. 
The truth is, nothing could be further from what is truly beneficial to maintain a healthy mind and body. 
Our work week should be a positive activity in terms of anticipating, going through and feeling satisfied by the weeks end. 

Although the workweek does not conjure up positive images in many people’s imagination, there are ways to adjust your mindset. 

This is especially important if you are a parent, because your “work week” is most often 24/7. 
The human brain has a negativity bias, that is, if left alone, the brain will continually look on the dark side. This was evolutionarily built into our brains as a survival mechanism. It is, however, no longer valid in our modern world and people who maintain an negative or angry mindset are actually less healthy and more prone to heart attacks and illness. 
So since both our culture and our evolutionary wiring keeps prompting us to view our weekdays through a negative lense, we need to purposefully re-shape our thinking and energy towards thinking positive and creating a positive and enthusiastic mindset that enables us to feel more joy during the week. 
Here’s what to do: 

1. Breathe : really. Take three deep satisfying breaths. In and out. Ahhh. Instant refresh 

2. Self talk : we know from research about positive psychology that what you tell yourself influences how you feel. Practice saying good things: “isn’t is a beautiful morning”. “I’m so happy that I have packed my delicious lunch today”. Look for good moments; they are there. Actions such as putting fresh flowers in your cubicle or kitchen will lift your mood. 

3. Smile: the physical act of smiling actually influences your mind as well as those around you. Smile often and you will get a thousand smiles in return. (Ok, maybe in New York you will get 5 smiles in return) 

4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respect yourself. Know when you’ve hit ground zero. No one is a work machine. Learn to recognize your body signals that you are depleted. Take an hour off for that walk or massage. Take a mental health day off. It will do wonders to replenish yourself. If your burnout continues, get some therapy to learn more self help techniques. 

Is it a Learning Disorder or Disordered Learning? 

It’s that time of year when kids are starting to buckle down to some consistent learning and the homework load is increasing. It’s also about time for those first teacher conferences. Are you starting to have some concerns about your child’s progress? Do you wonder if your child might have a learning disorder? 

Struggling in school doesn’t always necessarily mean there’s a learning disorder. Here, are a few ways to tell the difference: 

It’s probably not an LD if your child . . .

Used to do fine in school. Divorce, death in the family or a pet, family problems, dealing with bullies, or getting used to a new school can all cause setbacks or cause a good student to suddenly fall behind.

Benefits from short-term help. Extra attention from the teacher or weekly meetings with a tutor can get many kids over the hump.

Is able to follow through on complex instructions. Even if kids forget a step now and then, they mostly know what to do when parents or teachers tell or show them.

It could be a learning disorder if your child . . .

Has had trouble with classwork from day one. A kid with an LD struggles with the acquisition of basic academic skills, from reading decoding to spelling to figuring out math problems.

Can’t keep up with tutoring. Some  kids need frequent sessions with specially trained educational therapists and effective methods to stay on track.

Can’t get through a set of instructions. Kids who process information differently may find it difficult to remember all the steps they need to follow directions.

When Your Child Needs Help

All public schools must evaluate kids for free. But you often have to to ask for testing. Among issues that may propel you into getting private independent testing include long delays for public school testing and cursory or superficial testing which end up denying your child services. 

These tips can get you started on the right path:

Gather information, such as your child’s work samples. 

Make copies of your child’s report cards and tests, along with teacher comments and your observations.

Make a written request to school for testing or get a referral from your pediatrician for a private assessment 

Kids diagnosed with an LD are entitled to an individualized education plan (IEP) that spells out special services (say, speech therapy) provided by the school free of charge.

If your child doesn’t get an IEP, ask for a 504 plan, which gives kids with learning issues special accommodations, like extra time to finish tests.
If your child goes to a private school, it’s good to get accommodations formalized for future testing accommodations. 

Don’t give up on your quest to figure out how your little puzzle works best! Knowledge will help empower both you and your child to get the most out of his or her education! 

“Not What I Expected”Wins Again!

In an unexpected turn of events, I randomly checked my Twitter account last week. Having a very busy clinical psychology practice doesn’t allow me much time to keep up with social media. But somehow on an unexplained whim,  I checked my  Twitter feed and discovered this: 

Not What I Expected has won the silver medal in the “Living Now Book Awards” a division of Independent Publishers! To be more correct, it was tied for silver with Dr Laura Markham for her book “Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings” for which I have no problem giving a big shout out to her wonderful book as well! 

Parents now have more and more resources to inspire them to be the best parents they can be! 

As I’ve said before, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an army to raise an atypical child. If you’re reading this, I am so honored to be part of your “army”. 

Best wishes until next time, Dr Rita 

Have You Found Your Mind Yet? 

Hi Parents! 

Is that you in the picture? No, I didn’t think so. Summer with atypical kids is not exactly  bucolic, in fact summer with atypical kids can be quite challenging!

So, It’s finally back to school time! Is this going to be your time to reclaim your… Self? And find your mind that you said you were losing back around mid-summer? 
As parents, it’s a natural instinct to put your personal needs on the back burner during the child rearing years. Certainly with atypical children, their needs become urgently front and center while parents needs get seriously back-burnered. It can lead to some stressed out parents, for sure! What parent hasn’t looked in the mirror at least once and said “I feel like I’m losing my mind!” 
Now that summer is in the rear view mirror, parents have a few extra hours daily to reclaim their own lives. Or do they? 
Not necessarily! It takes a conscious effort to S.T.O.P. 

  • Stop. Really stop. 
  • Take a breath. A deep one. Go for it. 
  • Observe. What is going on around you? Inside of you? 
  • Proceed mindfully

And in doing so, please take mindful stock of what gets neglected inside yourself as a harried parent. Is it that physical exam you’ve been putting off? How about your long neglected tennis game? Massage? Or…… What about your resolution to work on de-stressing? 

My recommendation is to begin with examining your current stress level and consciously taking steps to work on it. For some, it can be an introduction to yoga. Or mindful meditation. 
Here’s why, from one of my favorite yoga sites, which highlights the research based benefits of having a yoga practice. 

(And tip: if you’re not the “bendy” type, or have physical limitations, don’t leap into doing any yoga poses without medical guidance, you might be happier with the sitting practice of meditation. More to come about the benefits of meditation as a de-stress practice.