Could an MRI Scan Detect ADHD?

According to new research by Radiology, researchers identified low brain iron as a way to diagnose ADHD or could be used as a biomarker for ADHD. An MRI is a “non-invasive way to measure iron levels in the brains of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a new study. Researchers said the method could help physicians and parents make better informed decisions about medication” according to Science Daily.

“Brain iron, which functions differently than iron in the blood, is required for dopamine production. Abnormal brain iron levels have been related to abnormal dopamine levels, which may explain its potential as an ADHD biomarker” according to Virtria Adisetiyo.

Why would an MRI be helpful in detecting ADHD? Here are some reasons explained in the articles.

  1. To prevent overdiagnosis of ADHD.
  2. Reduce the amount of kids on medications that might be misdiagnosed with ADHD.
  3. Help make better informed decisions about using medication to treat ADHD.
  4. Psychostimulant medications have been shown to increase the brain’s dopamine levels, therefore reducing ADHD symptoms. However, there is no safe way to measure dopamine levels in the brain, so an MRI would help.

What do you think? Could this be the way to go to diagnose ADHD?

Clonidine for ADHD and Tic Disorder

A few weeks ago I took my son to the neurologist because he was having motor tics and slight verbal tics (specifically throat grunting). She immediately saw his tics, and he was diagnosed with a tic disorder. She told me that many children who have ADHD also have either OCD or a tic disorder. Last year my son was having excessive eye blinking. Apparently, that is also a tic. (If you haven’t already, read my previous post about his tics).

She prescribed him a medication that worked really well at first. But we had to switch because it would have cost several hundred dollars a month due to our health insurance plan. We have a high deductible plan plus the medication was time release. A timed release medication cost more than a non-time release medicine apparently. We eventually settled on prescribing him Clonidine. We found out that Clonidine is also used for ADHD. The medicine is prescribed for his tic disorder, but it happens to be the same medicine for ADHD. The neurologist made it clear she was not treating his ADHD but the medicine might help both issues.

My son has never taken a medication before except over the counter meds like Tylenol and antibiotics for strep throat so I was a little nervous. It turns out that the medicine has helped reduce his tics a lot. His teacher noticed his tics reduce significantly. Now since we have been home for a few weeks for summer break, I decided to experiment and see if he still needed the medicine. I honestly forgot to give him Clonidine for a few days. Unfortunately, the tics came back. I noticed his hands shaking a lot (definitely tic shaking), and he started shaking his head again. I feel like him going to school aggravated his tics more, but outside of school it seems like the tics are still there. He is now taking his meds again.

When it comes to ADHD symptoms, I am not 100% sure how effective the medicine is because he is not in school. This summer we have been doing a lot of swimming and activities, so I am not sure how he would be sitting in a classroom focusing. When he brought home one of his report cards this year, the teacher made a note that he had a hard time focusing. That was prior to him taking the Clonidine.

I am really interested if any of you have a child that has a tic disorder. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know!

Boy Without Instructions by Penny Williams: Book Review

I was lucky to be able to grab a review copy of Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD by Penny Williams (click here for the Kindle version). She is the creator of {a mom’s view of ADHD} and frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine.

Wow, I had a hard time putting this book down! I was hooked after just reading the first few pages because her description of her family reminded me so much of my own. She is also an excellent writer (way better than me!) and she is able to verbalize her thoughts and feelings so clearly. Penny dove right in and discussed the struggles she experienced when deciding to use medication for her son, the ups and downs of finding the right medicine, and her feelings as a mom finding out her son has ADHD.

In Boy Without Instructions, I felt like Penny and I were leading parallel lives at times. Although her son is older than mine, she begins talking about his journey when he starts Kindergarten. Her son’s struggles in Kindergarten sounded too familiar.  She discussed her fight trying to get her son proper accommodations extensively in several chapters, which was helpful and gave me insight on what I could do for my own child in the public school system. I say the word “fight” because unfortunately many educators don’t understand ADHD at all, and I believe her book would be very helpful because many caregivers don’t realize a child with ADHD qualifies for special accommodations. I cringed when reading about the teacher who didn’t want to give her son proper accommodations although it is the law.

Penny’s book was suspenseful to me because I was on the edge of my seat wondering when would they find the most effective medication and when would proper accommodations would be given to her son. Penny describes what her son’s day to day behavior was like, and she dives into the parent’s view of dealing with a child diagnosed with ADHD. I highly recommend Boy Without Instructions to anyone who has a child diagnosed with ADHD or any other disorder. The love for child is clearly shown in this book as she fights to get her son what he needs to be successful in school.

Boy Without Instructions is available on Kindle and paperback!

WatchMinder Review

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I am so excited to share this review with all of you! I was recently contacted to review the WatchMinder. The inventor, Dr. Becker, mailed me a WatchMinder for review. Dr. Becker has experience working with children who have ADHD and created this watch in mind for kids with ADHD.

According to the official WatchMinder webpage:

The WatchMinder is a simple wristwatch that can easily be programmed to set up discreet vibrating reminders throughout one’s day.  Invented by a child psychologist, the WatchMinder was designed to aid children with Attention Deficit Disorder (AD/HD) and others with special needs in staying focused, managing their time, and modifying their thoughts and behaviors.

My son has not owned a watch since he was like 2 years old, so I was excited for the opportunity to review this watch especially one as brilliant as this. Before I dive into the details, I want to say this is definitely a nice looking watch. He wanted the black one and it is very nice.

The first thing that is awesome about this watch is that it is chargeable! When my son opened the box he immediately went to charge it. Somehow he figured out himself how to charge it without me telling him what to do. He’s 6 years old, so it’s pretty simple to figure it out. After the initial charges, it is recommended to charge every month to keep the battery from fully discharging.

According to the manual, there are two basic modes. A training mode and a reminder mode. The training mode allows you to set a self help message that will alert you at a fixed interval throughout the day. There are pre-programmed self help messages but you can also add a customized message. The reminders will be sent by vibrations for 10 seconds.

The reminder mode allows you to create up to 30 reminders a day. My son recently started medicine for his tics, so we decided to set a medicine reminder at 6pm everyday. In the picture below, you can see where I set a homework reminder message for him at 4:20pm everyday. The watch vibrated at exactly 4:20 and looked like this when it went off:

WatchMinder-Review

The WatchMinder also has a countdown timer, which definitely comes in handy.

The WatchMinder is a brilliant tool for children who need extra help staying on task and reminders to get things done. What’s so great about the WatchMinder is that it is easy to use and can be worn. No need for a child to look at a daily to do list when all he has to do it look at his wrist!

Check out some other testimonials below and read more here:

“It’s very effective and to my knowledge, is the only one of its kind.” – ADDitude Magazine

“In no time you will develop the knack of knowing what time it is by feel.” – ADD Resources

“The Watchminder is a great way for asthmatics who take multiple medications to keep track of when to take their medications.” – About.com

If you are interested in ordering a WatchMinder, learn more here.

There are so few products on the market for children who have ADHD in mind. I think this a great invention!

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Motor Tics and ADHD Naysayers

Last Tuesday, my son started jerking his head back and forth. He then began grimacing and twitching his eyes. I was very concerned! After some research, I began to think he was displaying tics.

My husband called the nurse to ask about what we thought were tics. We were surprised when the actual pediatrician called us back. He told us to record the alleged tics and if he continues to display them to make an appointment.

By Friday he was still having the head movements. We were able to get an appointment the same day. The pediatrician confirmed my son was having motor tics.

Surprisingly the excessive eye blinking he has had for months are also tics. I had no idea! He doesn’t take any meds for ADHD, which I realize there is some research that says meds can exacerbate tics.

The pediatrician is referring us to a pediatric neurologist to weed other causes out. I’ll keep you posted. The good news is I’ve noticed that yesterday and today the tics have decreased.

On another note, I have accepted a temporary counseling position. That is why I haven’t posted since January! The job should be ending soon.

I am so amazed by the number of you that have subscribed to my blog. (Although some people forget they subscribe to my blog and send me emails about it). It seems like many caregivers out there know children who are experiencing ADHD symptoms.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the fact there are people who think ADHD isn’t real and that the cause is “bad parenting” (just Google it, there are tons of articles anti ADHD). I have encountered those people who email me on my blog. I don’t have time to debate them. I will say to those people that the symptoms are real and ADHD is the “label” given for those symptoms. My son gets plenty of outdoor exercise, plenty of rest, limits screen time, doesn’t eat much artificial flavoring, etc and still has symptoms. I also understand boys can be more rambunctious. However when there is a focusing issue that even teachers can see and it interferes with schoolwork, and I’ve tried everything as a parent that I know to do to help him, it bothers me when people try to argue that it must be a parenting issue. In fact, I just received his report card and grades were good but focusing is an issue according to the teacher.

What do you do when people tell you ADHD isn’t real? Also, has your child experienced motor tics?

Stressed Out? The Happy Mama Conference and Retreat Might Be For You!

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Hello readers! I just learned about a special conference and retreat for moms just like you!

Are you a stressed-out, overwhelmed, overworked, tired and under-nurtured mother of a child with ADHD, ADD, OCD, SPD, PBD, FASD, Autism, PDD, or any number of other brain-based differences that lead other people to judge your parenting, make you second-guess yourself, challenge your marriage, and keep you up at night worrying incessantly about your child?

On July 25-27, 2014 at the Washington Duke Inn on the beautiful Duke University campus in Durham, NC, moms just like you will be attending The Happy Mama Conference and Retreat. Think of this conference as a spa weekend, educational conference, and moms-only weekend all in one.

The 2014 Happy Mama Conference and Retreat early bird rates are $185 (through March 15), $200 (through May 15), and then $215 after May 15.The retreat fee includes the entire conference schedule, beverages, lunch and dinner Saturday, and the opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, learn new ways of coping, and hang out with a bunch of moms as over-worked and misunderstood as you.

Find out more about The Happy Mama Conference here! There will be speakers, activities, a relaxing atmosphere and more. This will be the 3rd year for this wonderful conference.

Check out the picture below of this beautiful hotel!

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Disorders, Conditions and Symptoms Mistaken for ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder presents similar symptoms of other disorders that can sometimes mislead parents into thinking their child has ADHD when in reality it is another disorder. It is also not uncommon for a child to have ADHD along with another condition. Below are some of the conditions/disorders that can mimic ADHD.

Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities can cause children to appear inattentive and restless in the classroom and to stall in their academic development. A child with ADHD is too distracted to focus whereas a child with a learning disability can’t comprehend the material. About 30% of children with ADHD have a learning disability.

According to Andrew Adesman, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children’s Hospital, “Also, children with learning disabilities will often have a history of language problems. They may have been late talkers or had speech problems. And they tend to confuse their prepositions or reverse numbers and letters, like seeing a 6 instead of a 9.”

Vision or hearing problems

If your child can’t see or hear well it can obviously cause some problems. I believe my son’s need for glasses delayed him from learning how to read.

Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)

According to KidsHealth: These kids can’t process the information they hear in the same way as others because their ears and brain don’t fully coordinate. Something adversely affects the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, most notably the sounds composing speech.

Petit mal epilepsy

Petit mal epilepsy is a form of epilepsy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation: There may be confusion between frequent absence seizures (brief staring spells that interrupt concentration) and the inattentive type of ADHD. During absence seizures, the child will not respond to being called or tapped on the shoulder. Children with ADHD may daydream but they respond as soon as you get their attention.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder and usually doesn’t manifest until after the age of 18. (The majority of people who develop Bipolar Disorder have their first episode after age 18, with a mean age of 26 years at diagnosis according to Additude Magazine). It is rare for children to be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. People with this mood disorder experience manic highs of happiness and energy and then lows of depression and sadness.

The best course of action is to have your child evaluated by a doctor.

ADHD Help Introduction and Updates

Hey all!

Today I wrote my first question and answer post from parents like you who have children diagnosed with ADHD. You can see the first Q&A here. That particular question I found online to get me started; however, I do get questions from parents who have joined our ADHD community on Google Plus. I want to educate other moms and dads online that there are MANY other parents out there with the same concerns. You are not alone!

I was not a very consistent writer in 2013. I think some people forget they signed up for my newsletter. Unfortunately, I had a couple of subscribers report my emails as spam. I know one in particular must have forgot she signed up for my newsletter because she wrote a note complaining that my email was spammy. Please, if you do not want my newsletters anymore, PLEASE click unsubscribe. Please don’t click spam! When you click spam, it gets reported to our newsletter provider (in my case, Mailchimp). Too many complaints can get our website banned from search engines!

Anyways, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to like ADHD Parenting Blog on Facebook and subscribe via email. Thanks for reading! :)

ADHD Help: Should I Medicate My 8 Year Old Son

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A mom is concerned about whether she should medicate her son who is 8 years old and has been diagnosed with ADHD. She is interested in learning the pros and cons to using ADHD medication. She also wants to know about ADHD symptom reducing techniques like foods to avoid.

Answers:

Several moms posted their responses, which you can read here. Below are the ideas these moms tried before they used medicine:

Many moms chimed in about their own child that takes medication. One mom said to medicate if the mom feels it is right for her son, not if the school wants her to medicate. ADHD medication seemed to help some of the kids but some moms said the meds didn’t work for their kids.

Did YOU consider medicating your 8 year old child with ADHD?

Discipline Techniques for Kids with ADHD

Discipling children can be a hard thing to do, especially when you have a willful child. Many children diagnosed with ADHD are strong willed. There are several books out there that discuss how to discipline. I know on this blog I’ve briefly discussed reward charts but haven’t really posted how *I* discipline. To be honest, I’m still learning, which is a huge reason why I am writing this blog post so I can investigate methods.

Here are some tips and discipline techniques:

Consistency

The most important thing that any parent can do is be consistent when it comes to disciplining. Consistency (but being flexible also) is important for most (if not all) aspects of parenting. For example, a consistent bedtime routine is important for your child. When it comes to children with ADHD, it’s very important to discipline consistently.

For example, if you tell your child you are going to take one of his toys away when he behaves inappropriately, then take the toy away. Do what you say that you are going to do! Don’t say something that you can’t follow up on. I have been guilty of doing that.

Play Therapy

In my counseling courses, I learned about play therapy. I think play therapy is a great way to communicate to any child. On my blog, I had planned to write a course about Teaching with Love and Logic, but guess who lost the book?? When I do find the book, I will start the lessons again. :)

Teaching with Love and Logic uses great techniques in the classroom. It is geared for older children but I think it could work well with younger children.

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12

From what I understand about this book, your children will learn to stop wrong behavior almost immediately. However, from reviewer comments, it sounds like the author doesn’t mention anything about explaining *why* to your child. I am not sure if that is true. I would like to buy the book myself and do a proper review. You can read the reviews on Amazon. I’m an advocate of explaining to children why I say no. You can read why I think it’s important to explain “why mama said so” here.

Rewards and Behavior Charts

Rewards can be used with smaller children when teaching them right and wrong behavior. It is effective with many children who are diagnosed with ADHD. You can see a roundup of behavior charts here.

Do Not Yell, Stay Calm but be Firm

I know this can be a hard technique, but whatever you do, try to stay calm and don’t yell. It is best to remove yourself from the situation and calm down before disciplining if you can’t control your own anger. It’s not always easy, but it is important for a parent to present themselves as in control. Although yelling and coming across angry can scare your child into doing what you want him to do, it is not a long term strategy.

Know Your Child’s Cognitive Maturity Level

Remember that you are dealing with a child. I have witnessed many parents who have very high expectations and seem to not understand that children of a certain age are not fully able to understand what the parents expect.

I will continue to add to this blog post over time. Are there any discipline methods you have used that work well?