By Zaheer Khan, a specialist in technology related security, an idealist but most of all indulges with computers, apps and new phoneswhen not running around with his Light Saber and his kids through the parks of JoBurg
I was fortunate enough to recently attend a workshop that literally changed my life.
The program was organized by ADHASA the Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support group for Southern Africa.
Speaker after speaker explored and demystified the issues surrounding a condition often incorrectly only linked to young children & treated with a drug called Ritalin, regarded as the only cure.
Identifying ADD or ADHD and that it’s normal
A range of symptoms, many of which I could relate to, were identified by Dr David Benn. These include inattention, distractibility, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, some of the lesser known symptoms are vision problems, thyroid disorder and sleep apnea.
We were told that while these may be health conditions of their own they are also symptoms of someone suffering from the disorder, a condition that requires a full medical diagnosis by a medical professional
Exciting for me was when Psychologist Margaret Barry listed careers that people who have ADHD can excel at. It affirmed my chosen path in IT, acknowledged as a great skill for ADHD as it allows for the immediate reaction to problems and solutions. Other careers on the list were game rangers, fireman, police officers and air traffic controllers. It makes one realise that career choice in the right field can help people with ADHD perform extremely well.
Lori Lea a coach took us through the different myths of ADHD and I would really encourage you to go to the website mindfocus.co.za as it has a wealth of tips as well as facts about those that have the disorder.
Eating the right food!
By far the most inspiring for me personally were the insights offered by ADHASA founder, Heather Picton, into how much changing one’s diet can help, in particular replacing sugar & non-essential fatty acids with foods rich in essential fatty acids.
I have always resisted taking drugs to help me cope with my condition because of the inevitable side-effects. So here was my chance to see if healthy eating could make a difference.
Changing my eating habits hasn’t been easy and requires plenty of discipline,especially when it comes to staying away from msg laden crisps! I have also become more conscious about genetically modified products and their possible side effects.
The effects in a relatively short space of time have been astounding.
I can start feeling a difference and my need for sugary supplements to keep me stimulated almost gone.
I highly recommend that if you think you have symptoms of the disorder seek help from ADHASA and your medical practitioner and you would be surprised what you can achieve.
If you haven’t discovered it yet, Jozikids.co.za is the most up to date and detailed resource for parents in the Gauteng region to find what you need including events, activities, venues, parties and lessons. You’ll also find us on your cell phone, twitter and Facebook.
Spring is in the air
Spring Rose Care Ludwig’s Rose Farm, Pta North, Sep 9 Join us for a Finger Pruning Demo Free at 11 am
Spring into fitness –Ladybird Corner at Linksfield Hospital in Orange Grove Sep 16, 10am-1pm, R80pp Want to get into Shape for spring? Ashley Galliard, fitness expert and trainer will show us how 10 minutes workout for Moms and Dads with our toddlers can have us beach ready in time for Summer
The Sensory Intelligence Phenomenon Workshop, Kempton Park, Sep 7, 8.30-4.30pm Dr Annemarie Lombard worked in a clinical practice with children with learning difficulties and special needs for 15 years. A one-day workshop for parents, teachers and therapists filled with insights and strategies to understand the attention and behavioural issues in children
Imagine at Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein, Sep 4-13. Ilan Smith, illusionist, master of intrigue invites you to his world of make believeAn evening of wonder and illusion with a South African feel and twists of the mind to baffle and bemuse.
South African Tattoo 2012, Montecasino, Fourways, Sep 6-9. This year’s Tattoo presents a new, never seen before, combination of South African and International acts. Join the over 600 strong cast in celebrating our modern South African culture with 2 surprise International Acts.We welcome back the ever popular Highland Dancers as well as the stirring sounds of the Massed Pipes and Drums.
South African Mzansi Ballet’s Nutcracker Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein, Sep 6-16 Set to Tchaikovsky’s radiant, diamond-dusted score – for many, the most magical music ever written for ballet – The Nutcracker tells of a girl called Clara who receives a nutcracker soldier for Christmas. She dreams her nutcracker turns into a handsome prince, leading her to strange and wonderful places. Half price tickets for 4-7yr olds
by Pauline Mulkerrins,a Chicago Original living right here in Johannesburg. She’s been living and working with children for the past 15 years, specializing in behavior issues. Currently, she runs a centre for children with language and cognitive delays and in her spare time, does as many crafts as humanly possible.
ADHD, ADD, diet, lack of stimulation and sometimes, well, just plain old personality are all ways to describe someone who is hyper active. Parents everywhere struggle with this behavior, not only to discipline but to understand it. A person with hyper activity means they have problems paying attention, sitting still, and keeping quiet. In most cases children with hyper active tendencies are also very clever, bright, emotional children who are very empathetic (have the ability to read emotions and feel them) and caring.
Parents, siblings, teachers and professionals may have issues with getting through daily activities, as they expect all children to “get with the program.” We have very busy lives, and it is important for everyone to get through the day with minimum stress. To help our children with hyper activity, here are a few tips to “set up for success!”
Anxiety is the biggest issue when it comes to hyper activity, as this lends to a feeling of loss of control for our clever children, and can cause issues with the most mundane day to day activities. Saying “DON’T DO THAT!” isn’t productive, and raises everyone’s stress levels, whereas saying “this is what I need you to do…” is much better BEFORE the fact. Routines take away any “guess work” children have to do and often makes them feel safer. Although they may be resistant at first, sticking with it not only teaches your child that you have control, but also teaches them what is next, and removes a lot of anxiety. In the morning, homework time, bed time, after school time, etc. are instances of when we can set up “routines.”
Visual schedules work very well for 3-5 year olds. Take a picture of each step of the morning routine, but make sure it’s only 4-5 steps long and create a visual “to do” list. Brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, putting shoes and school bag on is a good example. When the child has finished an activity, give them a chance to see they are “done.” This not only lets them know what is expected and how to keep on track, but it also gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Sensory toys are good to keep busy hands going. Stress balls, or little maze or puzzle games can give kids something to “do.” In the car, in the shops, waiting for appointments or at restaurants. A lot of children can focus and calm themselves better when their hands are busy.
Children with hyper activity can benefit greatly from routines, goals, systems, etc. Parents who put these into place will find they have a happier child who feels safer and more in control. As with any family, discipline is going to be an issue, and 123 Magic! can help with that. Please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance, and our workshops will appear on the Jozikids calendar and newsletter. I’m here if you need me
Angel Conradie loves her cellphone, camera and notebook; has 8 tattoos, 5 cats, 2 dogs and an ADHD son. She believes she is married to the most wonderful man, bakes for a living as The Cupcake Lady and blogs as Angel’s Mind.
Finding a school where your ADHD child will be successful depends largely on your child. Many ADHDers are capable of coping in a mainstream school if their treatment is successfully managed. Some ADHDers though, manage far better in a small, specialised school. If you are looking for a school like this, check that they are registered with the department of education and don’t assume that small classes and individual attention automatically mean they are equipped to help a child with ADHD and LD.
Once you find a school, the first thing to do is tell your child’s teacher he or she has been officially diagnosed with ADHD. So often we as parents don’t tell our ADHDers teacher about his or her diagnosis and treatment because we want to “see if she notices anything” first. Not telling your child’s teacher to try and prove a point, or to avoid the school “labelling” your child means that your ADHDer doesn’t benefit from concessions they are entitled to- like extra time in tests and exams- from day one!! And it’s unfair to the child and the teacher to expect them to fumble through several weeks of drama before telling the school what’s up. If your child was diabetic or asthmatic, not telling the school would not even occur to you! And it has been proven that children with ADHD have a worse quality of life than asthmatic children!
If the school knows early on that your child- who is most likely just one of several special needs children in his class- is neurologically-atypical, his teachers will be able to focus on him from day one. When it comes to special needs children, teachers need the parents’ help. They are a part of your treatment team and are often the first people to pick up that something is wrong.
The important thing to remember is that you want the teachers on your side, and you want them to know that when you enter their classroom you are respectful of their training AND you are your child’s advocate. It’s a tricky line to walk but if you prepare for meetings it is possible. Make notes before you go to the school, and take a notebook with you to meetings. Give the teacher a copy of your notes afterwards so you have something to follow up on when next you meet. And taking minutes in your parent-teacher meetings is immensely (and surprisingly) empowering! Give out your email address and contact numbers and stress that you are open to communication from the teacher.
And of course, speaking to the school from early on means you can ask for things like:
Be open to communication from the school and keep calm!
by Angel Conradie , loves her cellphone, camera and notebook. Has 8 tattoos, 5 cats and 2 dogs and an ADHD son, believes she is married to the most wonderful man, bakes for a living as The Cupcake Lady and blogs as Angel’s Mind
Up until my son was about 13 years old, I absolutely dreaded receiving invitations for him to attend a classmate’s birthday party.
Let’s face it, kids parties can be a veritable minefield of pseudo-politics and who-is-cooler-than-who. I was not much into mingling with people I didn’t already know though, so none of that worried me. What I worried about was leaving my ADHD son at a party, not so much as unsupervised as unprotected!
At one point after my son’s ADHD diagnosis and before we started medication we were trying a form of an exclusionary diet- no sugar, caffeine, colourants, trans-fats or preservatives, lots of green vegetables, lots of added vitamins and fish oils… Apart from the fact that my son was never a big eater and this diet made our lives miserable, it also meant that there was nothing he was “allowed” to eat if he went to a party. I eventually adopted the “everything in moderation” approach to food, but in that time often turned down invitations rather than have to lecture my son on what he could or couldn’t eat.
The thing is though, whilst the myth prevails that sugar makes kids hyperactive, countless studies have been done to show that this is in fact not the case. If there’s anything that can and does affect some children’s level of hyperactivity and attention it’s the artificial colourants and sweeteners! And the setting of a party with entertainment and noise laid on is going to give any child the impression is that- for the time being- excitement is not only okay but expected. Can you imagine little Johnny’s mom’s disappointment if the kids at her son’s party behaved the way they are expected to do in a classroom situation?!?
That aside, my son was painted with the naughty brush very early in his school career and I found- to my dismay- that he was being watched like a hawk, by parents and children alike, for the slightest sign of aberrant behaviour! Never mind the fact that he was at a kids party and surrounded by colour, noise, other excited children and all kinds of entertainment, he was not allowed to get excited or run or shout. If he did so, then he was hopped up on sugar and “obviously” hyperactive and out of control. It broke my heart that my son was the one expected to be calm and compliant no matter the surroundings.
I implore you and I challenge you as adults- whether you have children or not- that when you are next hosting or attending parties for children, you keep the setting in mind before you brand any child with the hyperactive label. When they’re at a party, you want them to be happy. You want them squealing with excitement at the petting zoo. You want them gasping at a magic act and volunteering to be disappeared. You want them laughing on a jumping castle.
A party just wouldn’t be the same without all the giggling and excitement now would it!?
provided by Matthew Ballenden, dad to Isabella & owner of the Fresh Earth Food Store, an organic health store and vegetarian restaurant with a great online store. Visit their website to find out more.
Good nutrition can play a complementary role in a child’s treatment. When a child’s diet is balanced and healthy, his (or her) ADHD symptoms may be a little better controlled. Studies show that children with healthier diets tend to behave and perform better at school. Chances are that these desired effects extend to the home as well.
We suggest parents offer their children a variety of foods from as many food groups as possible at each meal or snack. By doing this, your child is more likely to get a better balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats—all of which the body burns at different rates.
Hunger surges can also create problems. A child who is hungry is apt to have more difficulty maintaining his concentration, frustrate more easily, and can become more irritable. Eating at regular intervals throughout the day helps keep tummies from growling and feeling empty.
Skipping meals and snacks may also produce low blood sugar levels. As a result, children are more likely to be cranky and moody. Foods that are especially high in processed sugars may spike blood sugar levels. Spikes in blood sugar may result in energy bursts and more active behaviors. Soon after the spike, blood sugar levels often fall resulting in sleepy, cranky, moodiness. This is sometimes referred to as the “spike and crash syndrome.”
A small percentage of children with ADHD have sensitivities to certain foods or food additives, such as colourings or preservatives. Eliminating these substances from the diet may improve the ADHD behaviours; however, before indiscriminately eliminating multiple foods, be sure to discuss any dietary changes with a physician and/or nutritionist. If your child eats a fairly good diet but could use some improvement, ask your homeopath about using a multi-vitamin supplement while you work on his/her nutrition.
Whilst it is usually thought of as a condition that affects children, there are also a significant number of adults who continue to show symptoms of ADHD. Diagnosis is usually by a doctor or educational psychologist. Teachers and parents are often the first people to notice symptoms.
ADHD is generally characterized by an inability to pay attention, being hyperactive and acting on impulse without thought for danger or consequences. Other symptoms may include:
The causes are uncertain, but there are likely to be chemical imbalances in the brain. Other contributory factors include diets high in sugar, food additives or stimulants, nutrient deficiencies, cigarette and alcohol exposure, maternal smoking during pregnancy, low birth weight, food intolerances and lack of Essential fats. The following dietary measures may help:
Read other article on the Fresh Earth website
By Angel Swemmer, a mom to a teenage-almost-adult ADHDer and what I write is purely my opinion on things I feel strongly about, based on my experience as an ADHDer parent. Author of the blog Angelsmind and maker of fabulous cupcakes
Over and above the debate about whether or not to medicate a diagnosed ADHDer, this is possibly the next most contentious issue- with parents and professionals differing in opinion.
Many parents are told by their child’s doctor- if they decide to medicate their ADHDer with stimulant medication- that it is okay to stop meds over weekends and during school holidays. Contrary to popular belief, the main reason this practice was even started was because one of the side effects of stimulant meds is a suppressed appetite, and sometimes these kids battle to pick up weight. The idea of “meds holidays” was a way to let the child gain some of his or her appetite whilst off his medication.
Here’s why I don’t agree with taking a break.
Medicating an ADHDer aids him in quieting his brain so that he can take in what he’s hearing in any given situation. It aids him in not getting out of his seat or calling out in class without realising he’s doing it. The right dosage of the right meds can do wonders for an ADHDer at school.
But that’s not all.
Having a less rushed, more organised thought process allows an ADHDer to learn from social cues as well. When he can focus, he can pay attention to you as his parent when you are trying to teach him a life lesson like not interrupting an adult conversation, or waiting his turn for the swings in the park.
When he can focus properly on what is going on around him, he will most likely take a bath, try to tidy his room, or get ready to go out for a visit almost when you ask him to.
If like my son Damien, your ADHDer has ADHD combined type- inattention and hyperactivity- then every single aspect of his life is affected by his disorder and he will need full time treatment. Why risk subjecting him to possible ridicule or let his self-esteem take a hammering in social situations? Look back a little on your own experiences as a parent to your ADHDer. When you do not medicate him, and you spend time with friends and family on weekends and during holidays, does your ADHD child have any fun? Do you? Are you constantly asking him to sit still, to talk softer, to eat “nicely”, not to shout, not to climb on granny, to get off the table…?
That said, if your ADHDer only battles with concentration but not with hyperactivity and his biggest issues are school related, then perhaps a medication break or a reduced dose over weekends will not have as big an impact as on a hyperactive ADHDer.
I do suggest that you take into account your child’s own history, personality and behaviour before deciding to stop his medication entirely, simply because the doctor said you can or because your child isn’t going to school that day.
Other articles to read:
By Angel Swemmer, a mom to a teenage-almost-adult ADHDer who says that what she writes is purely her opinion on things she feels strongly about, based on my experience as an ADHDer parent. Author of the blog Angelsmind
Make no mistake- I think most teachers are superheroes- but they can make bad calls when it comes to treating ADHDers! Here’s an example of a mistake a lot of teachers make.
At the end of the last school year, one of the ADHDer moms I “mentor” (lets call her Jane) gave me a call. Jane’s son’s teacher had asked her if she could please return the unused Ritalin that Jane had sent to school.
Jane’s son (lets call him John) takes a Ritalin tablet in the morning and then another one later in the morning, which the teacher had agreed to give to him. All through the year Jane had been asking the teacher if she was giving John his second dose, because there were days when he came home more hyper than usual, and would then battle to get his homework done or get ready for bed and so on. The teacher swore that she was giving him his meds, even though John told his mom that some days she didn’t. The poor ADHDer almost always gets the short end of the stick because they have a tendency to tell stories the teacher is usually the one believed!
In this case, come year end, the teacher sent home almost 5 weeks’ worth of Ritalin tablets!
Jane was furious. When she confronted the teacher about all the extra medication, the teacher admitted that there had been days she felt he didn’t need it “that much” and decided not to give it to him.
Jane made an appointment with the school principal to discuss it with him and to ask him to follow up with John’s teachers in future, but it was the end of the school year so not much was going to come of Jane’s measures.
The implications of an ADHDer not having his correct medication dosage is huge- and it doesn’t only affect the school day. John’s teacher had no idea.
In the new school year, Jane was sure to give the teacher more information and explain why John needed his correct and complete dose every day- but the fact remains that South African schools do not have advanced ADHD “care” programs like the IEPs in the USA, and we have to rely on our children’s teachers’ willingness and good will to help in our ADHDers care, rather than be assured that their schools will follow up on a properly formalised plan.
Follow up with your ADHDers’ teachers and with the headmaster and division heads on a regular basis. Provide them with reading material and books as and when you can.
Talk to her every time you take new meds to school and remind her why your ADHDer has meds.
With a class full of children, she will forget!
And good luck to you.
By Angel Swemmer, a mom to a teenage-almost-adult ADHDer and what I write is purely my opinion on things I feel strongly about, based on my experience as an ADHDer parent. Author of the blog Angelsmind
Are you dreading the holidays?
Does the thought of spending time with friends and family scare the bejeebers out of you?
Well, if your ADHDer is anything like mine, then he (or she) is a handful at the best of times and I don’t blame you.
Like me, you probably also have- or have had- a dilemma with friends and family battling to deal with your ADHDer, or struggling to understand that ADHD is a disability. And if you medicate your ADHDer then you’ve probably also had flak for doing so. Maybe your parents or family members “…don’t believe in ADHD…” and don’t agree with how you are treating the condition. Perhaps you even have close family and friends whom you haven’t even told about your child’s ADHD- for whatever reason…
The holidays make all this a lot more difficult than usual.
As it is, a simple Sunday lunch with the family can be a nightmare for ADHDers and their parents. In the holidays- even if you do not actually go away- you will most likely be spending a lot of time with close friends and family over the silly-season, so you can multiply the nightmare comparison by a factor of 10, at least.
You’d think an ADHDer would thrive in this season of noise and colour and excitement, but what it really does is make them needier when it comes to their demand for immediate gratification- and it makes them come across as even more hyper and disruptive than usual. ADHDers battle socially. They don’t read social cues and they cannot read body language. The bright lights, colours, crowds and the pressure to meet holiday deadlines and interact socially, quickly sends an ADHDer’s brain into overload. And this is when they become difficult to handle even for people who love and understand him.
One of the first things that fall by the wayside when Christmas holidays start is the daily routine. You sleep late, eat later, eat “junk”, shop, gallivant, visit friends and family, and in some families you no longer medicate* your ADHDer.
ADHDers desperately need their routine and structure. When they can predict their day, and they know exactly what’s going to happen and when, they are a lot more relaxed- they do best when expectations are clear and obvious. Try to stick to some kind of routine, for the whole family’s sake! You could change your routine to suit a more relaxed holiday mode but do try and keep a structure that your ADHDer can see and anticipate. And perhaps start preparing your ADHDer for a slightly different set of expectations for when the holidays start and he’s no longer getting up for school.
Stick up a visible calendar to countdown things like the start of the holiday, the day you leave for granny’s house, Christmas day, New Years’ Eve and the day you leave to come home again- and take it with you on holiday!
Whatever else you do- try and do your best to stick to your plans. And as tempting as it is, try not to say yes to everything!
Have a look at previous holidays and try to avoid situations that have led to meltdowns before. It may mean avoiding certain situations or even ignoring some traditions- but you can make it work for your family. Make new traditions! Allow yourself to make decisions that others may not understand for the sake of having a holiday that’s memorable for the right reasons.
Just like when you’re preparing your ADHDer for the start of a new term or school year, involve him in planning the holiday. Imagine if you yourself were told that you’d be leaving on a 2 week holiday in the morning- the night before you left! You’d be more than a little fed up at not knowing about it wouldn’t you? Well, an ADHDer brain takes a little longer to process information like this, and even if you’ve told him several times you’re going away- don’t stop doing so until you can be sure he has grasped it. Talk about it every night at dinner and include your ADHDer in the packing process so that he retains the information.
And all through the holidays try to make sure that your ADHDer gets enough sleep and enough water!
You may also want to prepare yourself for some criticism or even disapproval from friends or family- especially the people you ONLY see at Christmas time.
Keep in mind that these people do not know your ADHDer as well as you do, and the first time they see him, he’ll be in his element! He’ll be polite and amiable and even you’ll be surprised by how well he’s doing… the next time he sees these people they’ll be boring and he’ll be back to his “normal” self very quickly. Everyone will wonder why he’s such a handful today when yesterday he was “fine”!
And if people know your ADHDer is medicated, then they will most likely tell you that they don’t understand why he’s medicated since they can’t see a problem with him. You may want to gently remind them that they don’t “see” any problem BECAUSE he’s medicated!
At some point someone will ask how your ADHDer is doing at school, or when he’s going to start “big school”, and we all know school is a touchy subject. If you do not share as much about your ADHDer’s life with your family as I do- and believe me I know it takes a long time to reach this point- then you might want to prepare some “answers” for these questions, and perhaps even rehearse some subject-change-techniques!
The most important thing is that you and your ADHDer have a holiday filled with happy memories, and with enough preparation it CAN happen.
You may want to read these articles too for more tips and advice:
*this is not something I agree with, but that’s another post