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Adolescent and Child Psychologist Edmonton

ABC Psychological Services


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Summer Vacation Tips for Children with ADHD

Posted on June 11, 2014 at 4:54 PM Comments comments (660)

Hooray for the arrival of summer! With just a few more weeks of school left, I’m sure everyone is excited for summer vacation to finally begin. If you have children with ADHD, chances are they are already itching to burst out the door to enjoy what the season has to offer. It is already difficult for adults and children to hold back on the things they want, and it is even more so for children with ADHD. Therefore, during the summer, it is important for you, the parent, to make sure that you have a plan ready for your child to prevent any mishaps that could turn summer fun into summer boos.

Tip 1: Plan an itinerary
Do not fall into the trap of waking up with nothing planned to do when you have a child with ADHD. Chances are, your day will quickly turn hectic and your child will be more likely to get into trouble if they become bored and try to self-stimulate. Children with ADHD are inherent sensation-seekers, and are more impulsive than children without this behavioral disorder. Without you to provide a structured day, leaving them to their own devices will likely result in mischief and headaches for you to deal with afterwards.

Tip 2: Take advantage of community resources
If you have trouble planning out your activities, consider using local resources. Your local community should offer ample summer recreational and educational opportunities for youths such as day camps, sports leagues, and lessons. If your child enjoys sports, enrol him/her in teams and take him/her to games. Encourage your artistic children to express their talents through art classes. In addition, check out local museums and zoos to see if there are any summer events scheduled. 

Tip 3: Assign them work
Summer is not just all fun and games. Incorporating work and assignments can make the pleasurable activities that come later more rewarding. If your child is old enough, consider helping them apply for a part-time job. If they are still young, consider assigning them a daily task at home, such as walking the dog, and compensating them to simulate paid work. Start with a few hours then gradually add more time and responsibilities once they show they can handle the responsibilities. The responsibilities that come with work will build a sense of maturity, independence and self-competence. The structure that a job affords can also help regulate children with ADHD, and with the right guidance and encouragement, you may see dramatic changes in your child yet.

Tip 4: Set a bedtime
After a fun-filled day, children will need their sleep in order to function the next day. However, children with ADHD often have trouble going to bed on time. As a result, they become tired and irritated the next day, driving you mad. Therefore, it is critical to have a regular bedtime for these children. The hours can change slightly to accommodate the longer hours of summer, but should not deviate too much from regular school time in order to prevent adjustment difficulties after the summer is over. Talk to your child and come up with a mutually-agreed bedtime schedule and precedent activities, such as story/bath time, to create a pleasant transition from an active phase to a rest phase.

Tip 5: Consult your medical professional about medication
It is tempting to take your children off medication when there is no more school. However, before you make any changes to your child’s medication, it is important to thoroughly discuss this with a medical professional, be it a child psychologist or a physician. Some children may fare well, while with others their symptoms may exacerbate quickly. Each child is different, and it is important to take into consideration your child’s symptoms and medical history before making any changes to his/her medical regimen.

Following these tips for children with ADHD may help make the transition from school to summer vacation a lot less stressful for you. If you organize your days well, you will enjoy your child a lot more as well. Of course, each child is different and requires individual accommodations. For more information on a personalized assessment from a child psychologist, please refer to our services page.  

Tips for parents of children with ADHD: How to bring your child’s symptoms under control

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 5:04 PM Comments comments (897)
Parenting is no easy feat, and the responsibility is made even more strenuous when your child suffers from Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD are characterized by a myriad of symptoms that make daily functioning difficult, such as impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. It is often a challenge for parents to regulate their children who are afflicted with the disorder. Therefore, it is quite common to become frustrated when trying to apply parenting measures that would typically work for other children and seeing ineffective results. Although it may feel hopeless at times, as a parent, there are actually many things you can do to help make the symptoms more manageable. Realizing that you have the power to help your child overcome daily challenges can significantly reduce the stress for you and your family. The key is to address the problems early and to implement the strategies consistently. In the next few months, we will offer a series of themed tips aimed to facilitate your management of your child’s symptoms. This month, we will focus on the importance of incorporating structure and organization in the tasks your child undertakes.

Children with ADHD exhibit disorganized behavior; they often have trouble completing tasks. Instilling structure in tasks will therefore make it more likely for your child to finish them. As the parent, your job is to maintain predictable patterns in the tasks to be taken on by your child. The following are some tips for you to consider in helping your child to stay focused and organized in completing the tasks.

Tip 1: Plan daily routines
It is extremely important for children with ADHD to have structure in their lives so that they know what to expect and what they are expected to accomplish. Set up routines for different aspects of the home life, such as chores, homework, and bedtime, to make them more predictable. For example, asking your child to set up the table can be part of the daily dinner ritual.

Tip 2: Simplify schedules
Children with ADHD can easily fall prey to distractions. Therefore, it is important to make their schedules and routines as simple as possible. Break complex tasks into components will make them more manageable for your child. Also, it may be necessary to adjust your child’s daily schedules. Consider cutting back on extra-curricular activities and individualizing commitments according to your child’s abilities and interests.  

Tip 3: Use organizational tools
Consider using organizational tools such as agendas, daily planners, and calendars to make your child’s tasks more concrete. Placing more clocks around the house in highly-visible places will also serve as a constant reminder to your child. Using a timer during transitional times (e.g., taking a bath before getting ready for bed) will make the tasks more transparent and easier to follow as well. 

Tip 4: Provide a ‘private/quiet’ zone
Giving your child a private and quiet place to call their own can work wonders in bringing calm to erratic behavior. This place does not have to be a bedroom, but any comfortable place that is relatively quiet and private, such as a nook, will do. Just make sure that the space is dedicated solely and specifically for your child’s private and quiet time.

Tip 5: Be organized yourself
Be neat and organized in your home management, and make sure your child knows that everything has its place. In addition, try to set an example of organization and structure for your child to follow suit. Remember that as the parent, you are the key role model for your child.

Establishing organization and structure in the daily lives of children with ADHD will significantly increase their chances of completing the tasks. As the parent, you can help extend the success to areas outside the home by working with professionals such as child psychologists. To see how a child psychologist can help improve your child’s behavioral success in school and in the local Edmonton community, please refer to our services page.  

What Every Parent Should Know About ADHD

Posted on March 17, 2014 at 5:56 PM Comments comments (8735)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder comes as one of the most common mental health problems in children. The condition is characterized by children having problems socializing with others, academic and school related problems and emotional problems. As such, families with ADHD children suffer because of the problems associated with the condition. 

Nevertheless, help is available to children with ADHD and their families. Here are some facts about the condition that every parent with ADHD child should know.

Quality of Life of Families with ADHD
A pan-European study conducted on the daily life of a child with ADHD and families with ADHD found that the majority of the parents experience consistent disruptive, demanding, impulsive, noisy and disorganized behavior from their children. They indicated that every day, children that took 12-hour medication can be quite difficult in the afternoon to early evening. Children that took 8-hour medication can be quite difficult from the afternoon to bedtime. The families also indicated despite their medication, the condition negatively impacts their homework, family routine and socialization with other children. The results of the study suggest that:

  • Medication alone does not control some of the most important issues of ADHD
  • A need for better treatment that includes behavior management for the condition

Profile of Children with ADHD
In another study conducted, children aged 6 to 18 years old; it was found that the children with ADHD may suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Minor Depression/Dysthymia, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The severity of these associated conditions varies from child to child. For example Depression/Dysthymia is usually present in the subtypes of the condition while Oppositional Defiant Disorder is more common in combined hyperactive and inattentive ADHD. Anything a parent can do in childhood to manage the condition helps lessen the effects of the more severe symptoms.

One of the possible reasons why medication may not be working as intended is because children with ADHD suffer from various related conditions that may be present in one but absent in another. In other words, unlike other diseases or conditions, ADHD has a set of unique symptoms for every child. A psychologist can offer suggestions in managing the behavior of an ADHD child without additional medication.

The Case of Over-diagnosis and Stimulants
One of the most illuminating studies conducted on ADHD is the Great Smokey Mountain study which found that among the children in the community studied, 6.2% have ADHD while 7.3% received stimulants. This means that even children who do not have the condition may be diagnosed as having ADHD and may be prescribed with stimulants. To avoid such misdiagnosis get the opinion of a child psychologist Edmonton. Psychologists prescribe behavior or cognitive modification rather than drugs.

If your child has ADHD, it is best to seek professional help to ensure that he is not over-diagnosed with medication. 

Is an assessment necessary now?

Posted on September 30, 2013 at 3:08 PM Comments comments (706)
September is coming to end and the leaves are quickly changing colors. School has been in for nearly a month already for most of us and our children should be settling into their daily routines. However, sometimes children can become frustrated with their daily routine because they’re experiencing some trouble with their studies.

Often, parents do not know when their child may need a psychological assessment or a psychoeducational assessment to improve their learning capabilities.I have compiled a short list of behavioral signals to help you make sure your child is not at risk of falling behind in class.   

 Things to watch for in your children are:
·         Frustration with reading, writing, or math
·         Taking longer to complete assignments
·         Avoiding schoolwork
·         Functionally having difficulties with reading individual words or getting ideas on to paper
·         Troublewith organization
·         Attention problems, lack of persistence, distractibility
These are just a few behaviors, but certainly not an exhaustive list. An assessment with a psychologist may help to identify learning difficulties or learning disabilities and provide helpful strategies to overcome these challenges.

I have been registered as a psychologist and conducting these types of assessments since 2001. I am well-practiced in intellegence tests, which assist me in understanding how your child learns, as well as in standardized academic tests, which let me know how your child is functioning academically compared to other children his/her age. I have experience with some emotional and behavioral issues as well, including ADHD.
Please give me a call if you have questions or concerns. I would be glad to talk them out and better determine if an assessment is necessary or if it could help your child.

Back to School...

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 9:29 PM Comments comments (638)
Welcome to my Blog!
Well, it's back to school next week for most children in Alberta. Time to get back into routines, activities, seeing friends, and everything that goes with it. For those children somewhat anxious to return to school, that are worried about their teacher or which friends will be in their class, consider the following de-stressers:
Have your child write a letter or draw a picture to introduce themselves to their teacher. Include things that they want their teacher to know about them.
Develop a daily routine that encourages good sleeping and eating habits.
Make time for exercise.
Allow your child time to share their fears or concerns and help them problem-solve or come up with coping strategies.
Encourage your child to focus on the positive by asking them what went well that day or what they like about themselves.
If you have any more ideas, questions, or strategies that worked for you, please add to the list. And welcome back!