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Caroline Towery

Let’s Talk about ADHD

Let’s talk about ADHD.  Most people have heard of ADHD but unless you have a child who struggles with it, many might not completely understand what it is and all the effects it has on cognitions and behaviors.  However, ADHD gets a bad rap but there are also many, many positive aspects as well. In the words of Dav Pilkey, “ADHD is a superpower!” Many bright, talented, creative famous people have come out as being diagnosed. More on the positives later.  According to the DSM-V (the diagnostic criteria):There are 3 types of ADHD:    1.  Inattentive Type    2.  Hyperactive/Impulsive Type    3.  Combined Type  In order to meet the criteria for diagnosis, a professional will evaluate for the following symptoms:        ‣ Displays poor listening skills        ‣ Loses and/or misplaces items needed to complete activities or tasks        ‣ Sidetracked by external or unimportant stimuli        ‣ Forgets daily activities        ‣ Diminished attention span        ‣ Lacks the ability to complete schoolwork and other assignments or to follow instructions        ‣ Avoids or is disinclined to begin homework or activities requiring concentration        ‣ Fails to focus on details and/or makes thoughtless mistakes in schoolwork or assignments.◦ Hyperactive Symptoms        ‣ Squirms when seated or fidgets with feet/hands        ‣ Marked restlessness that is difficult to control        ‣ Appears to be driven by “a motor” or is often “on the go”        ‣ Lacks the ability to play and engage in leisure activities in a quiet manner        ‣ Incapable of staying seated in class        ‣ Overly talkative    ◦ Impulsive Symptoms        ‣ Difficulty waiting turn        ‣ Interrupts… Read More »Let’s Talk about ADHD

Why is Writing So Hard for my Child?

“Every writer I know has trouble writing” – Joseph Heller   Ahhh….writing….the Big Kahuna! I can’t tell you how many students struggle with writing and it can be for a variety of reasons or a bunch of reasons simultaneously.  Either way, hear me when I say to you that your child is not the only one struggling in this area.   A list of cognitive processes that writing requires simultaneously :• hand-eye coordination• attention• executive functioning• language• memory (refer to the previous blog about types of memory)• creativity• insight• logic• spatial intelligence• abstract thought So ultimately, if any of these break down, written language breaks down.  To find out more, or what part is breaking down, you can request an evaluation.  However, the best thing to do when practicing writing is to break it down so far that the child is only focusing on the “written expression” part.   1. Don’t worry about spelling while writing!         – I can’t stress this enough!  Take spelling completely out of it.  You can tell them how to spell the words or use best-guess spelling, or        – Can use speech-to-text if they need to.   2.    ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pre-write/brainstorm ideas (“brain dump”) so it can be organized before writing.    (I tell my students, “this is where all the thinking is done!  Then, after this part, all you have to do is form sentences because you’ve already done all the thinking!”) 3.   We don’t write the way we talk.     This is a hard one for kids.  Eventually, they learn writing voice and how it’s different than our verbal voice.   4.  … Read More »Why is Writing So Hard for my Child?

Remember To Remember – The 3 Types of Memory for Learning

I was at my CrossFit gym the other day when the song “Shoop” came on and everyone started singing along with it.  Who can resist rapping alongside Salt N’ Pepa for some 90’s nostalgia?  Even though this song is probably about 30 years old, and most of us probably haven’t been rapping it on a daily basis, the lyrics just came straight to our lips without even having to think.  How come, I’m able to remember the lyrics of a 90’s rap song, but struggle to remember all the capitals in the United States?   There are 3 main types of memory that we need to be aware of: 1. Working memory2. Short-term memory3. Long-term memory  When working with students or kids, the majority of the struggles come from working memory challenges (especially if the kid has been diagnosed with ADHD or other executive functioning deficits).  Working memory is sometimes referred to as the “sticky note of the brain”.  It is an executive function and is the ability to hold onto information while attending to another task.  It organizes information to make its way into long-term memory.  It comes up a lot in writing and math.  An example in math might be solving a long-division problem.  The student must retrieve a multiplication math fact and while digging in their memory bank, they also need to remain focused on the division problem so they don’t lose their way.  An example where it might come up for an adult is at the grocery store.  If you made a mental list of the items you need to get, you need to hold onto this… Read More »Remember To Remember – The 3 Types of Memory for Learning

Motivating Reluctant Learners

Motivation is a huge topic.  So many times I have parents complaining to me that their child doesn’t seem motivated and they want to know how they can motivate their child to be more driven.  The short answer is:  you can’t.  The long answer is: you can help coach or guide them to find more motivation within themselves.  Especially with kids with learning disabilities or other challenges, finding the motivation to do the tasks that are hard for them can be especially tricky.   Bobby is a 4th-grade student diagnosed with a specific learning disability in reading.  He loves sports and thrives on the soccer field.  However, when it comes to reading, he is extremely resistant and any time he reads it’s because his parents have either promised him something afterward or threatened him with not being able to do something he wants to do.  Both Bobby and his parents are at their wit’s end and feel like they can’t continue on like this anymore.   When something feels good and is rewarding, it is motivating.  There are many things that can make something feel good but generally, it is fun, you are good at it, it is interesting, it is meaningful, or you really want something / are determined.   But how do you motivate for something that isn’t these things?   There is intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Simply put, extrinsic motivation is being motivated by external factors.  For example, praise received from adults is an external factor in motivating kids.  Intrinsic motivation is being motivated by something internal.  For example, Bobbie might be intrinsically motivated to become a great goalie… Read More »Motivating Reluctant Learners

Should I have my child assessed?

This is a very common question among parents and a very good one.  To have a full neuropsychological or psych-ed evaluation, can be extremely expensive. It’s also very time-consuming.  How necessary is it?  It depends on each child’s unique situation.   Jackie is a 2nd grader who attends private school.  She is struggling to read at the 2nd-grade level and is becoming more and more resistant to reading.  The parents have basically given up on getting her to read at home because it always results in a lot of pushback and getting upset.  Her parents are exhausted.  At school, she has been needing some extra teacher support and she’s having a hard time remembering which letters make which sounds and interchanging them often. Jackie’s situation is extremely common.  If any parents have a student like Jackie, they can know that they are definitely not alone in their struggles.  Sometimes the teacher will reach out to the parents if they are significantly struggling.  Other times, the parent’s concern is enough to make them wonder about testing. Why is it important? What age should I get my child assessed? Once the child starts showing significant trouble in keeping up with their peers in certain areas, I would suggest pursuing testing.  Generally, people wait until around second grade to see if it may be developmental, but in certain cases, I think earlier is better.  However, it’s also never too late.  Even if you have a child in high school, it can still be extremely helpful to do testing now.   Can I go through the school district? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that… Read More »Should I have my child assessed?