School’s Re-opening: Protect Your Child’s Privacy

August 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Advocacy, Featured, Tips

As children return to school, parents are often swamped with forms and informational packets. One of them, however, is something that you really need to pay attention to if you want to protect your child’s privacy.

Under FERPA, schools that receive public education funds must notify parents every year as to what types of information the school district considers “Directory Information” that they can share with others – without your knowledge or consent – unless you opt out of information sharing.

Given how massive databases compile more and more data about ourselves and our children, and given that you do not know how that information may be used against your child in the future, you may want to be cautious and opt your child OUT of sharing of directory information.

Remember: if you do not actively opt your child out by returning the opt out form, they will be able to share lots of information about your child without your consent throughout the school year. Read the form they provide and then decide what is best for your child.

Keep in mind that opting out of sharing directory information has nothing to do with opting out of Common Core testing. They are totally separate issues.

For more information on the dangers of directory information sharing, see this informative site from the World Privacy Forum.

If your child is over the age of 18 or attends college, they will receive the notice about directory information and the opt-out form. Remind them to look for it.

Elimination diets for ADHD: beyond the media hype

March 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Commentary, Tips

I am often asked by parents about whether their child’s diet could be causing their ADHD or worsening it. My answer is that yes, there is some controlled research demonstrating that foods or additives can produce the symptoms of ADHD or exacerbate them, but let’s not jump to an elimination diet.

One of the most well-known studies on diet and ADHD was conducted by Dr. Lidy Pelsser and her colleagues, and was published in Lancet in 2011. That study – and an earlier study by Feingold – are the ones that seem to have attracted a lot of parental interest in the topic.

Dr. Pelsser and her colleagues randomly assigned 100 children aged 4-8 years who were diagnosed with ADHD to either a 5 -weeks restricted elimination diet or to a control group who were simply given instructions for a healthy diet. In the ADHD restricted diet group, 41 of 50 children finished the first phase. In that group of 41 children, 32, or 78%, responded favorably by having fewer symptoms. Overall, 32 of 50, or 64%, had decreased ADHD symptoms while on the diet. Associated symptoms such as oppositional behavior and tantrums also decreased. Most parents hear that over 60% improved on the diet and think, “Wow, that sounds great!” But not so fast, because the methodology was seriously confounded by relying on the reports of parents who were not blind to the child’s experimental condition, which can introduce a bias or placebo effect into their reports of improvement.
Children who showed a significant improvement in their ADHD symptoms while on the restricted elimination diet were then assigned to one of two food-challenge groups based on their individual immunoglobulins (IgG) blood tests. Significantly, two-thirds of the children displayed a relapse in their symptoms when challenge foods were re-introduced to their diet.

More recently, Joel T. Nigg, PhD and  Kathleen Holton, PhD, MPH reviewed the literature on research on foods and additives. Their full article is well worth attempting to read if you are considering undertaking an elimination diet for your child, as they point out that adequately controlled experiments generally do not provide evidence of dramatic effects in symptom reduction for the majority of children with ADHD:

The best estimate on the small literature is about a 25% rate of at least some symptom improvement. For some children, perhaps a minority of 10% of children with ADHD, response can include a full remission of symptoms equivalent to a successful medication trial. In short, the literature suggests that an elimination diet should be considered a possible treatment for ADHD, but one that will work partially or fully, and only in a potentially small subset of children.

Of course, every parent hopes their child will be in that subset who do respond to diet changes, but if you are not sure whether foods or additives are causing or exacerbating your child’s ADHD-like symptoms, speak with your pediatrician about whether an elimination diet might be in order as a 5-week trial or test. Maintaining a restricted diet is difficult, time-consuming, costly, and unlikely to work if you do not have pretty much total control over what your child eats both outside of the home and in your home. It is also important to ensure that the elimination diet does not deprive the child of important nutrients, so don’t just start removing everything from your child’s diet. Reading Drs. Nigg and Holton’s detailed review of studies may help you understand what to consider and what to ask your child’s physician.

Here’s An Easy Way To Help Your Children Improve Their Writing

September 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Research, Tips

Now that the kids are back in school, it’s a good time to address a common situation. Your child is supposed to be working on a paper or an essay, but you see that they are texting friends and checking Facebook while they are working on it. Being a thoughtful parent, you tactfully suggest that they focus on the task, only to be met with, “No problem, Mom, I can multitask!”

But can they really multi-task without paying a price for it in the quality of their work?

The answer is “no.”

Great writing requires clear thinking. Just ask Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. “There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking,” he has said. Writing, even though you’re most likely a long way removed from your college essay days, remains a key skill for success.

Which is what makes new research out of George Mason University relevant to you. Something that you are probably doing every day is making you a much worse writer than you otherwise would be, the findings revealed.

What is this simple activity that severely dips your writing skill? Simple, everyday interruptions.

Good Writing Requires Concentration

The series of studies conducted by PhD candidate Cyrus Foroughi looked at the impact of short interruptions on writing quality by asking a group of student volunteers to plan and write an SAT-like essay. Some were left in total seclusion while they completed their composition, while others were given non-taxing puzzles and other simple tasks every several minutes during the planning phase. A third group completed the same tasks while they were actually writing.

If you’ve done any reading recently on the mental effects of multitasking, the results probably won’t come as a complete surprise. Those who were allowed unbroken concentration wrote better essays than those who were interrupted during the planning phase. Those who were interrupted while writing did the worst.

“People don’t realise how disruptive interruptions can be,” Foroughi said.

So the next time your child gives you the “I can multitask” argument, tell them that research and neuroscientists are quite clear that we can only focus on one thing at a time and that claiming otherwise is just deluding ourselves.

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Resource: Tic Management 101 for Parents: A CBIT Perspective

August 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Event, Featured, Tips

Douglas W. Woods, Ph.D. recently presented a webinar  for parents on CBIT (Comprehensive Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics).

If you missed it, you can watch it on TSA’s website and view/download the slides he used in the presentation..

Healthcare professionals may want to view an earlier presentation oriented to professionals.

Back to School: Is your child ready? Are you?

August 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Tips

It’s that time again, so I thought I’d re-post links to some articles I’ve written in the past to help parents:

If you have any questions, use the Comments section below this post, as the original posts now have comments closed.

Good luck!

Next Page »