ADHD Medication Not Working For Your Teen? It May Be a Sleep Disorder

Bedtimes-and-Adolescent-DepressionIt is yet another counseling appointment for Sam who is 13 years old and is struggling in school, home, and everywhere he goes.  He has been diagnosed with ADHD and depression in the past but all of the medications have failed to work and his is getting worse, not better.  He is a bright boy who can do well at school but he frequently falls asleep while doing homework saying that it is too boring.  Socially he struggles with his peers as he seems disconnected, detached, and distracted.  You are beyond frustrated, having tried numerous therapies and medications convinced that something is wrong but unable to identify it.  Finally you begin to believe that he is just lazy.

While laziness may play a factor in Sam’s teenage brain, there might be something else.  Frequently, lack of proper sleep can have waking symptoms of ADHD or even depression.  Without proper REM sleep, a still growing teenager will struggle to stay awake during the day, seem distracted, forgetful, moody, prone to anger, unable to focus for long periods of time, and sleep excessively.  A teenager should get approximately 9 hours of sleep with an additional hour of sleep if going through a growth spurt.  If you are concerned that your child may have a sleep disorder instead of ADHD or depression, ask your doctor to order a sleep study.  This is the best way to diagnose sleep disorders.

Narcolepsy.  The movie version of narcolepsy has a person walking in a mall and suddenly dropping to the floor and going to sleep.  This is not entirely accurate as there are many forms of narcolepsy all ranging from mild to severe.  In a teenager, narcolepsy looks like falling asleep while in class, doing homework, watching TV, or reading.  The teen may also be talking to you one minute, look away, seem to be somewhere else for a second and then return back to the conversation claiming an inability to follow the conversation.  This is likely to cause problems at school and home as it may seem disrespectful to you.  The good news is that once it is diagnosed, proper medication can mitigate the symptoms as well as a strict sleep schedule including a nap.

Sleep Apnea.  During the night, a person with sleep apnea is suddenly startled in the middle of a deep sleep because breathing has stopped.  This can happen many times during the course of the night leaving the waking person to feel exhausted in the morning.  In a teenager, falling asleep during class, jerking while asleep, and snoring are all commons symptoms.  The treatment varies for teens but common practices are to remove the tonsils and adenoids for relief of the symptoms.

Insomnia.  Having difficulty falling asleep at night, staying asleep or not feeling rested could be chronic insomnia.  Without regular sleep a teen seems distracted, depressed, struggles to concentrate at school, is moody, clumsy, and irritable.  Again, early diagnosis is the key as there are many medications which can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of insomnia.  In addition, a regular sleep schedule is essential to condition your body when to rest and when to remain awake.

While there are more sleep disorders, these are the ones most commonly seen in teens.  Still there are other medical conditions that could be contributing to sleep problems such as Restless Leg Syndrome so it is important to speak with your doctor to rule out any other contributing factors.  However, the most important element in teaching your teen about good sleep patterns is by modeling them yourself.  Develop a relaxing nighttime routine such as reading, yoga, a bath, or a cup of chamomile tea to release the day’s stressors and allow your body to naturally relax.  In addition, do your best to go to bed at the same time every night waking up approximately 7 hours later around the same time every morning.  This routine will not only improve your sleep habits but can aid in weight loss, reduce anxiety, depression and stress all of which can be beneficial for you and your teen.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Work Advice for Adults with ADHD

If you have ADHD or are married to someone with it, here is an excellent article outlining five things to keep in mind.  ADHD adults need structured flexible work environments which enable them to remain active during the workday.  This keeps boredom at bay and enables them to be more productive.

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/15/5-ways-to-pacify-hyperactivity-for-adults-with-adhd/?fb_action_ids=4497880318594&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

So You Don’t Think There Is Such A Thing As ADHD….

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the lit...

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a great article to pass on to anyone who doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as ADHD.  Written by someone who has it from their own perspective rather than from the outside looking in.  Pass it on to any of your non-believing friends.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2012/10/you-say-theres-no-such-thing-as-adhd/

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to parent a difficult child

You have read the parenting books, implemented the ideas, and tried new techniques but nothing seems to work.  While your other children seem to be responding and benefiting from intentional parenting, one of your children is still not thriving.  In fact, they are getting worse.  Maybe they have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, CD or Asperser’s.  Such diagnoses can help to explain your child’s behavior but it does not help in understanding how to effectively parent them.   So you read more books and try to be more compassionate only to find that your child’s behavior is still not improving.

All is not lost and your efforts are not in vain.  For the most part you are likely to be on the right track with firm boundaries, negative consequences and positive rewards for behavior combined with a look at the heart of your child.  These elements are essential to intentional parenting yet it is not enough for your child.  Instead, sometimes it is the small changes that you can implement that make the biggest impact.  By adding these three rules to the techniques you are already doing, you may see better results.

No questions.  Questions like, “Why is your room still messy”, “Why did you do that”, and “What were you thinking” are unproductive.  If your child answers these questions honestly with “I forgot”, “I don’t know”, and “I wasn’t thinking”, this is likely to frustrate you even more.  Interrogating your child is almost never productive in the positive sense as it fosters rebellion in the heart of your child.  While it may give you some answers, the negative consequence of a strained relationship is more damaging.  Instead of questioning them, make statements like, “Your room is messy”, “Your behavior is not acceptable”, and “Think about this”.  Statements rather than questions reinforce your boundaries and provide security to your child.

No explanations.  Long winded explanations border on lecturing.  Remember when you were a kid; did you enjoy the lectures from your parents?  Didn’t you just tune them out after a period of time or talk to yourself in your head when it went on and on?  So, don’t repeat the same mistake with your child.  Instead be short, sweet and to the point.  Long winded explanations invite opportunities for your child to argue back as they discover potential loop holes in your explanation.  Keep your explanations to one or two sentence at the maximum.

No emotions.  Getting angry, becoming emotional, crying, laying on a guilt trip, or nervously laughing are all inappropriate emotions during discipline.  Feeling these emotions is normal and you should express them privately, but doing so in front of your child while disciplining will add to the tension of the moment.  Instead deal with the moment as needed and then go back to your child later when you are no so angry, emotional, teary, guilty or laughing and explain to your child the emotion you were feeling in one or two sentences.  This small change will teach your child not to react when emotional, but rather to reflect and then respond.

Small changes can make a big difference in handling a difficult child.  They are likely to be more demanding, more time-consuming, need more attention, and use more of your energy.  But by implementing these three simple rules, you will find that you will feel less drained and more prepared to handle the next challenge that comes your way.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Managing ADHD: Getting Ready to Begin to Prepare to Start

One of the many challenges of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is taking the first real step in beginning a task or assignment.  There are the many sort of, kind of begins such as organizing your desk, sharpening all of your pencils (because one is never enough), going to the bathroom, adjusting the lighting, and checking your email again but in actuality, you have not really begun the task or assignment.  Rather you have gotten ready to begin to prepare to start the task or assignment and before you know it, time disappears and nothing is accomplished.

Sadly enough the rituals that you spent all of your time engaging in prior to beginning a new task or assignment and often repeated the very next time you begin to prepare to start.  Or worse, new rituals are added to the list even further delaying your start.  In the long run, such delays can negatively affect your work performance, a school grade, a messy garage or the other ten projects that are in limbo.  The pile up of tasks then becomes overwhelming which adds to increased discouragement, anxiety and can even spark bursts of anger.  There is hope.  Whether you have ADHD or are related to someone with ADHD these tips will help you to actually start and complete the new task or assignment.

Identify your anxiety.  One of the reasons you are delaying the start of a new task or assignment is the fear of increased anxiety.  Each new task or assignment carries with it expectations of thoroughness, completeness, and timeliness.  If you postpone starting, then in theory you are postponing the anxiety and fear of unmet expectations.  In reality however, you are increasing your anxiety because you are lessening the time you have to complete the task or assignment.  If instead you view each ritual as stealing time away from you, the desire to keep performing the ritualistic behavior will diminish.  In addition, taking several deep breaths and intentionally relaxing the muscles in your body can minimize some of the anxious feelings while beginning.

Live by the clock.  By setting time limits for how long you will work on a task or assignment or how long you will indulge yourself in ritualistic behavior, you self govern your own behavior rather than being governed by someone else like a boss, spouse, parent, or teacher.  In the end, you are in charge of your own behavior and while the temptation may be great to ignore the clock, it is an unbiased opinion as to your progress or lack of progress.  If for instance you give yourself ten minutes to engage in ritualistic behavior and one hour to begin the task or assignment, then you have taken control of both situations.

Stop narrating your progress.  A co-worker, friend, spouse or sibling does not want to hear that you gave yourself ten minutes to do your rituals and now you are going to start on the task or assignment.  Looking for praise and most likely not receiving it based on you past behavior will further discourage you from returning to work.  Instead, reward yourself.  Knocking off five minutes from your task or assignment, taking a walk, and doing another ritualistic behavior in-between blocks of time designated for work, are all good ways to reward yourself that do not involve others.

Yes, it is very hard to change the way you have been doing things for so long and adjust to new ways of thinking or performing tasks or assignments.  But in the end, a finished project without the increased anxiety, excessive rituals, unmanaged time and constant narration will bring you satisfaction for a job well done without all of the stress.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to know when your child needs therapy

When your child struggles for a period of time, has difficulty in school, seems different at home than at school, or acts inconsistently with their personality, therapy designed specifically for children can help them overcome these challenges.  Most children experience difficulties from time to time while growing up.  Some of these challenges are physical (their changing bodies), some are mental (their school work), some are social (their friendships), some are environmental (their home life) and some are spiritual (their religious affiliations).  For some children, these challenges are easily faced and they continue to have a positive outlook on their future.  For other children, these challenges become road blocks and they seem to be stuck in a negative cycle.

As a parent, understanding your child’s challenge and how to best motivate and encourage them is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with them.  Children take their cues from their parents so if a challenge is overwhelming for the parent, the child is likely to respond similarly.  However, if a parent is understanding, concerned and empathetic the child is likely to respond positively.  Sometimes just becoming aware of your child’s challenges and how best to deal with them will make all the difference in your relationship.

If your child has been dealing with abuse, developmental issues, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorderoppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, or post traumatic stress disorder then therapy is beneficial for both the parent and the child.  Other struggles include social pressure, divorce, depression, anger, eating disorders, addictions, self harm, and grief.  Some of the indications that your child may need therapy are:

  • change in appetite
  • nervous more than usual
  • difficulty concentrating
  • problems at school
  • aggressive or angry
  • nightmares
  • trouble sleeping
  • mood swings
  • seems depressed
  • loud noises are bothersome
  • regressing to younger behavior
  • refusing to talk
  • fears separation from parents
  • change in friends
  • socially withdrawn
  • personality change
  • problem with life transition (death in the family, divorce, move, new school)

Most of the time, therapy is not a long process for a child as they adjust and adapt more quickly than adults.  The combination of therapy for the parents and the child is doubly beneficial as it helps the entire family unit to be on the same page.  If therapy is not timely, some of the challenges can be so overwhelming for a child that they feel defeated and this belief can last a lifetime.  It is never too late to begin the therapy process with your child; it is only too late if never started.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

ADD/ADHD Students – Successful School Strategies

The school year is starting again with another opportunity to grow academically and personally.  For most ADD/ADHD students however the new school year can be intimidating with different teachers and a new schedule.  Here are a couple of tips for making the most of the new school year.

  1. Set your alarm for 30 minutes before you think you need to wake up.  This gives you time to find all of the things you need for the day.
  2. Have a list in plain view of what special item is needed daily.  For instance, band is on Tuesdays so you need your instrument; gym is on Mondays so you need a change of clothing.
  3. Start your day off right with a good breakfast high in protein and low in sugar.
  4. Get a planner that has enough space to write down assignments yet is small enough to carry around.
  5. Mark the days off and half days in your planner for the entire year.
  6. Take the syllabus from the class and mark any due dates in your planner now.
  7. Keep the syllabus from each class at the beginning of your binder so you can remember what is expected during the year.
  8. If on a block schedule (classes are every other day), mark the days for the entire year in the planner.  Keep another schedule and post inside your locker door.
  9. If on a block schedule, have two 3-ring binders: one for one day, the other for the other day.
  10. If classes are every day, keep two 3-ring binders: one for the morning, one for the afternoon.
  11. Have blank paper in your binder to doodle or draw during class, this will help to keep your focus.
  12. Taking notes during class will also minimize the distractions and help you to focus (these are not notes that you pass to your friends!).
  13. Keep a paper clip in your pocket to play with when you get fidgety.
  14. Minimize bathroom breaks as it takes even longer to regain your focus.
  15. Most teachers will work with you if they understand your struggle, so be honest with them.
  16. Bring homework with you to your classes in case you have some free time.  School time is the best time to complete homework because your focus is the best.
  17. Do a physical activity immediately after school, no video games or homework.  Save that for later.
  18. Do homework after a meal and after some physical activity, but before playing.
  19. Make sure you have a fun activity at the end of the day; this is your down time.
  20. Go to sleep at regular times whether you are tired or not, routine and proper sleep increases your ability to focus.

While these steps will not guarantee good grades, they can help to improve your performance.  More importantly, as you learn to minimize the challenges of ADD/ADHD, your confidence will improve and this may be your best year yet.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.