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News and Tips for Thriving with ADHD

Why do some kids give up easily while others don’t?

October 17th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

Why some kids try harder and some kids give up is a great article published on the Huffington Post website recently that talks about what they call the “fixed mindset” vs. the “growth mindset.”

Essentially, a child with a fixed mindset holds the belief that “you’re stuck with however much intelligence you’re born with.” Any success, then, is labelled as a result of their ability, not effort. They believe that what they’re capable of should come easily to them. If something doesn’t come easily to them, it means they don’t have that ability to begin with.

A child with growth mindset, however, holds the belief that “the more you challenge yourself, the smarter you become.” Success is attributed to hard work in this mindset. They believe that if something is difficult for them, they can improve by working hard and putting in time and effort.

So, how do you “unfix a fixed mindset”? The video below is a great introduction to the idea that the brain is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. As they say, “failing is just another word for growing.”

ADHD Awareness & Stigma: What if we treated physical illness the same way we treated mental illness?

October 14th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

We came across this webcomic from robot-hugs.com that explores how we treat physical illness vs. mental illness, and we thought it was so apropos for ADHD Awareness Month this October.

Looking at focusing challenges alone, so many of us continue to face a wall of stigma and misunderstanding surrounding an ADHD diagnosis. Even well-meaning loved ones are not immune to assuming somebody isn’t “trying hard enough” or is just being “lazy.”

If you have ADHD and/or mental health concerns (it’s not uncommon for them to come hand-in-hand!), we can bet that this comic will resonate with you:

Perception of Mental Illness vs Physical Illness

October 10th is World Mental Health Day

October 10th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

Every year on October 10th, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World Mental Health Day, an initiative dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues around the world.

This year’s theme is “Living with schizophrenia,” but the sentiment behind the day is relevant to all mental health issues. The goal is to continue to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, mobilize support for those who need it, and put this important topic on the worldwide agenda.

At its core, advocating for mental health doesn’t have to be a big undertaking. It might be something as simple as reaching out to somebody that may be struggling, or knowing that it’s okay to ask for help. Check out the video below for inspiration:

What does ADHD medication do to the brain?

October 7th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

When an individual has ADHD, medication can often be an effective way to “kick-start” change. It can help an individual define and follow through on goals and to build skills that have previously been inconsistent.

That being said, it is not a “one size fits all” process, and must be accompanied by supportive treatment beyond medication. In most cases, we recommend coaching and behavioural support alongside the medication trial.The best part of combining a medication trial with coaching initiatives is that the skills learned during treatment will remain even if you decide to stop taking medication.

BUT, what does ADHD medication actually do to the brain?

One of the biggest reasons people are hesitant about medication is because they are worried that it is going to cause sedation, inhibit creativity, or change their personality. Once you understand what the medication is actually doing in the brain, you realize it is actually going to allow more personality to emerge. It is not a medication that sedates, but stimulates!

conductorLet us explain*. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that coordinates executive functioning, helping you to start tasks, stay on task, block out distractions, use working memory, and regulate your emotions. It helps organize the brain and manage projects and tasks from start to finish. In essence, the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is supposed to organize all the functions of the brain so its role can be compared to that of the conductor of an orchestra or the secretary of the brain.

When somebody has ADHD, it means that their prefrontal cortex is experiencing inconsistent levels of neurotransmitters. This means the conductor or secretary “falls asleep on the job”. You can imagine what the orchestra sounds like when the conductor is sleeping. Medication helps the conductor of the brain stay awake and stimulated, so that all the parts of the brain can work to the best of their ability. ADHD medication essentially evens out the neurotransmitters to the prefrontal cortex, so individuals can be more consistent with their focus.

Does medication work for everybody?

No, medication does not work for everybody and should not be recommended for every patient. For example, Methylphenidate has been found to be ineffective for 25% of people who appear to be genetic non-responders. That being said, we have seen some amazing results with ADHD medication when the optimum type and dose are prescribed. This involves careful understanding of your personal symptoms and your lifestyle, as well as keeping a close eye on height, weight, blood pressure, self-esteem, and mood.

*Please note, our intention here is to give a more simplified understanding of the impact of ADHD medication on the brain – the neurobiological mechanisms involved when you take medication are somewhat more complicated. 

I have ADHD and I am…

October 3rd, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

October is ADHD Awareness Month in Canada – a month dedicated to helping others become more informed about ADHD, and to help “toss the myths, stereotypes, and widespread information to the side.”

In honor of this important topic, we wanted to share the video below, which serves as an awesome reminder that individuals with ADHD are more than just their diagnosis!

For more information about what ADHD Awareness Month is all about, please check out our article from last year: ADHD Awareness Week: What is it all about? Or, check out the ADHD Awareness Month website.

Alternative Treatment for ADHD: Can brain games help?

September 30th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

It’s not uncommon for individuals with ADHD to look for potential alternative treatments to medication, or at the very least something that might complement it. Studies show that a combination of medication and behavioural treatment is more effective than medication alone.

One suggested treatment that we hear a lot about is “brain games.” But are things like Lumosity worth the price tag? Can brain games help manage ADHD symptoms?

We’ve talked about a similar concept before, with the debate of cogmed (working memory training). At the risk of repeating ourselves, the key point we have to make is that we still don’t know for sure if improvements seen in programs such as this truly translate outside of the program.Brain Games

For example, we came across research published online called Brain games as a potential nonpharmaceutical alternative for the treatment of ADHD. This particular study looked at a group of participants ranging from grade 5 through to grade 11 who were diagnosed with ADHD and were asked to play brain games for a minimum of 20 minutes each morning before school for five weeks.

The study suggested that games have the potential to be an extremely viable treatment option for ADHD, stating that the “daily use of brain games can help strengthen focusing ability and executive functioning in adolescents with ADHD.”

While this may be the case, if you look closer the study has some limitations that need to be taken into context. For example: “[the study did not give] enough time for the improvement to carry over to the classroom.” So, they seem to be implying that there would have been improvements over time, but they don’t know for sure. Other limitations: the sample size was only 10 participants, there was no control group, and parent reports may have been skewed because they felt obligated to report a positive result.

We LOVE alternate treatments for ADHD and we’re not dismissing brain games as a potential complementary treatment for ADHD, nor are we saying the above research article is not valid. We’re simply reiterating that there is so much more that we need to know before we can consider anything like brain games a viable, evidence-based treatment.

What are your thoughts about brain games as a potential treatment for ADHD?

Dating and ADHD: Disclosing your diagnosis

September 26th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

How do I tell my partner I have ADHD? When do I tell them? Should I even bother telling the person I’m dating?

Dating is already complicated enough, and to confuse things even more, having ADHD can often lead to some serious questions like the ones above.

First of all, if, how, and when you tell somebody in your life that you have ADHD is a personal decision. Nobody can take that away from you. That being said, let’s break things down a little bit more:

ADHD and DatingShould I tell the person I’m dating that I have ADHD? If you’re dating someone that you can see having long-term potential, it’s generally advised to let them in on your diagnosis. The more your partner understands about the impact of your ADHD symptoms on your life, as well as it’s potential impact on your relationship, the better. Not only that, ADHD is highly heritable, so if you’re planning on having children down the line your partner deserves to know about the potential for your children having ADHD.

When do I tell the person I’m dating that I have ADHD? Again, this is a personal decision. Some people will let the person they’re dating know right away – this can be a great way to put it out in the open and take the power away from it (and possibly weed out the easily spooked?). On the other hand, some people will wait a little bit longer to give a person time to get to know them before mentioning anything – this can be a great way to avoid another person dismissing you prematurely if they have misconceptions about ADHD.

How do I tell the person I’m dating that I have ADHD? Generally, the advice out there is to just provide as much education as you can, including what ADHD means for you, and an explanation for why you may do the things you do. There’s no need to put on a serious hat for this, it can start with something as simple as “Hey, just as a heads up, I sometimes have trouble with [whatever ADHD symptom you have difficulty with]…it’s not that I don’t care…”

Above anything else, the most important piece of advice we can give you is this: the more you know about ADHD and how it impacts you, the better you will be at advocating on your behalf and helping your partner understand your diagnosis.

We're curious: Would you disclose your diagnosis to someone you just started dating?

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Testing for ADHD: Is it immaturity or ADHD?

September 23rd, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

Does my child have ADHD, or are they simply immature when compared to other children in their grade?

ADHD or immaturityThis is a question that brings to mind a debate we’ve talked about before: Are children who are born later in the year being misdiagnosed with ADHD, when in reality they’re just less developmentally mature than the others in their grade?

The answer to this bigger question is not a straightforward one, but what about for your child specifically? Here are some considerations:

  • If you’re pursuing a potential diagnosis for your child, a comprehensive ADHD assessment should take age and developmental stages into consideration - not just your child’s grade.
  • An ADHD diagnosis should not rely solely on classroom behaviour, and should not rely on one (potentially biased) source of information. For an ADHD assessment to be comprehensive, self-report, parent, and teacher perspectives need to be considered. It should also look at areas of your child’s life outside of school, such as home life, their social interactions, and so on.
  • If you’re not sure whether you should even pursue an ADHD assessment, keep a close eye on your child’s behaviour and performance both at school and at home. If immaturity is the culprit, the concerns you have about your child should improve with time (e.g. as they mature). If, however, things do not improve, or they get worse, you may want to consider pursuing an assessment to see what else might be going on.

Every child is unique, and so every ADHD assessment should be comprehensive enough to consider every possible angle, including the question of immaturity vs. ADHD. Still not sure what to look for? Give us a call or talk to your doctor for more information!

Full Day Workshop on ADHD in Adults, October 4th!

September 19th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

Our friends at CADDAC (The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada) are hosting a workshop on ADHD in Adults in Toronto on Saturday October 4th!

Geared toward adults and their families who are dealing with adult ADHD, as well as interested health professionals, this will be a full day of presentations and workshops with speakers who are well-known experts in the field of ADHD. There will be talks about medication, non-medical treatment, emotional dysregulation, and ADHD in the workplace.

Tickets are only $50 for the whole day, so tell your spouse, tell your friends, tell your ADHD support group – anybody you think may be interested!

Register here

 

CADDAC Adult ADHD Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

September 16th, 2014 by Springboard Clinic

Question mark 2The difference between ADD and ADHD? Technically, nothing. They’re the same thing.

Right now, the diagnostic name is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It used to be called Attention Deficit Disorder, with a distinction of ‘with or without hyperactivity.’ This was changed when the third edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) was released in 1987.

The DSM is in its fifth edition (which was released May 2013), and as of now, ADHD is categorized into three presentations, or sub-types: predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and combined presentation.

What used to be considered ADD, without the hyperactivity, is in essence the predominantly inattentive presentation.

So, ADD is the now outdated term for ADHD. That’s the difference!

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