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Free Session Giveaway!!!

Recently I wrote a post entitled, “Top Three Resources for Kids with ADHD“. In it I shared various ways you can get support if you have a child with ADHD. For parents and caregivers who live in New York State, I want to offer one of you an opportunity for some intentional support. Till Wednesday 28th January 2015, enter to win a free 45 minute session with me, Dr. Deena Abbe. Enter this giveaway for a free 45 minute session with me, either here on my blog or on my Facebook page. I want to help your family be its best.

New York State Health Insurance

Many people may not be aware of this Health Insurance concern. With the deadline fast approaching to sign up for Healthy New York’s ‘Individual Health Insurance’ through the exchange, you might be unaware that New York State has dropped out of network benefits. This affects almost all Health Insurance Plans, not just those on the exchange. What does this change really mean to you? Well, here’s some extra information to help clarify things. According to Medical News Today, Health Insurance is “a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of an insured individual’s medical and surgical expenses. Depending on the type of health insurance coverage, either the insured pays costs out-of-pocket and is then reimbursed, or the insurer makes payments directly to the provider.” In New York State, this is changing. As of December 31st, any plans renewed after that date will not include out of network benefits. In the past when you saw a doctor who did not accept your insurance, chances are you would submit a bill to the insurance company. The insurance company would then reimburse you a portion of what you paid. Unfortunately, this is not happening anymore! New York State is no longer requiring health insurance plans to offer an out-of-network benefit, and so the insurance plans are dropping them. Let me repeat that: MOST INSURANCE PLANS WILL NOT BE OFFERING AN OUT OF NETWORK BENEFIT!!!! That means you will no longer be reimbursed for your doctors who are not in the network, and who do not accept your health insurance. Please note, that these same insurance companies dropped many doctors who were on the insurance plans simply because they believed that having a smaller network meant they could keep their costs down. They are also paying those particular doctors less. When New York State was given the option of having out of network benefits, they placed the decision in the hands of the insurance companies. Those companies decided that it was too expensive to cover out of network benefits, and they dropped them. So, if you get your insurance on New York’s Health Exchange, chances are you will not have out of network benefits. If you get your insurance through work, you may not have out of network benefits, either. Not happy? Call your local senator or congressman and let them know that you want to continue receiving out of network benefits. If insurance companies paid their in network doctors appropriately, most would be pleased to continue being in network. Here’s the thing, you deserve to see a doctor of your choosing without making a choice between your health and your wallet.

How You Can Have a Holly, Jolly, Holiday At Home

Welcome to the Holidays! A time of joy! A time of songs, twinkling lights and presents! However, for kids with ADHD, it’s also a time of stress, fights, and chaos. For parents and caregivers of kids with ADHD, here’s some great news…it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some ideas to help make this holiday season calm and full of joy. Kids (and adults) with ADHD function best with structure. During school, or work, there is a schedule to follow, and they can lean on that to help support them. During the holiday season, that structure isn’t there. And oftentimes, they feel that their support is gone too. So, it’s our job to help create a structure for them. That might mean having a schedule set up every day, and sharing that with them the night before. It doesn’t mean you need every minute planned out, but you can’t be spontaneous and fly by the seat of your pants either. Don’t plan a day of running around. Many people can’t go from the mall to the park, to the restaurant, to the grocery store, to the playground and then to a friend’s house. They would need down time and so would your child with ADHD. So, limit what you plan to do throughout the day. Don’t overload the schedule, and you won’t overload your child. Give them something to do. If they are given a responsibility, oftentimes, they will live up to it. They get the opportunity to “own” it, and feel like they’re an important part of it. This goes a long way to help their self-esteem. So, take the time to give them a job, and don’t forget to give them credit and praise for a task well done. Even if they need a little bit of help to get through it. Lastly, remain calm. Take some time for yourself during the day. If it means 10 minutes of meditating, or taking a moment to savor a cup of coffee or eggnog (alcohol free, or course) in the morning, that’s going to help set the stage for the whole day, and possibly the entire holiday season. You are important! If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. Also, when you take care of yourself, you are also showing your family how important it is to take care of THEMSELVES. For your children with and without ADHD, that’s an invaluable life lesson for them to learn. It’s a true gift from you to them. Happy Holidays!!!

Top 5 tips to establish structure in your home if you have kids with ADD/ADHD

Living with someone who has ADHD can be rewarding and challenging all at once. They can be active and full of energy, and infuse the home with intensity and activity. Taking that energy and turning it into something productive, or maybe just toning down the intensity, are the keys to achieving success in this particular area of your life. Here are some tips to help you and your family create a warm, loving, structured home environment: 1. Stay calm. If I could put that in capital letters while shouting it from the rooftops I would. But really, that the number one most important thing you need to remember when working with high intensity/high energy people. The calmer you are, the calmer they will be. When, not if, you feel yourself sliding into the not-so-calm zone, give yourself a break. Remove yourself from the room if you must. Take a few deep breaths. Count backwards from 100 by 7’s. Whatever it takes. If you can do all of this in front of your child, even better, but if not, no worries. Having someone show them how to calm down will ultimately help them later in life. 2. Be consistent. When you say 30 minutes, don’t fall for the “5 minutes more, PLEEEEEEAAAASSSSE!” They need to know that you say what you mean (and you are willing to back it up), but also that there are boundaries. These aren’t kids for whom you can let the rules slide. Not yet, anyway. They need to know that the rules are the rules and there isn’t much wiggle room, no matter how hard they plead, cry, or throw things. If you get overwhelmed, see Tip 1. 3. Be concrete. When you ask for your kids to do something, make the request short and succinct. It needs to be something they understand and can do. Be clear with them; tell them to, “Pick up that toy,” instead of saying, “clean up the room.” The more concrete you are, the easier it will be for them to understand your instructions and follow them. 4. Make sure you can back up what you say. This goes along with Tip 3. When you say, “eat your dinner”, how are you going to enforce that? Are you willing to send them to bed hungry if they refuse to eat supper? You need to ask yourself, are you willing to stick to you guns, especially if it helps your child in the long run? Back up what you say but don’t engage in the battle. Ultimately, your child will learn more by being hungry a few times than by you forcing them to eat. And you’ll be much calmer too. (See Tip 1) 5. Remember to smile. Even in the most structured environment, if you look and sound like a drill sergeant, that’s what your child will remember. So smile. Remember, this too shall pass. Try to enjoy the small moments, because in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Top Three Resources for Kids with ADHD

People ask me all the time why I decided to work with kids who have ADHD. My oldest son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when he was about 6 years old. That being said, I’m pretty sure I would have been diagnosed with ADHD when I was that age as well. Seriously though, it felt like second nature for me to work with these children and their families. As I sit here and write this, I’m looking around my (messy) house, searching for ADHD resources that I can share with everyone. I want to suggest things that everyone can have access to, no matter who you are or where you are. 1. The first, most helpful resource is to find a local psychologist who specializes in working with kids who have ADHD. This saved our family. I can’t begin to say how helpful it was to have someone (figuratively) in my ear, giving us tips through our challenging times. I would suggest finding someone with experience, maybe even a strong cognitive behavioral background. But mostly, you have to feel good about them and be able to connect with them. Know that they have your and your child’s best interest at heart. 2. Mindfulness. I know this is a buzzword right now. But research shows how overwhelming the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are on both the growing and grown brain. Knowing that you can accept whatever life throws at you without judgment, knowing that you can take a few minutes to breathe and clear your head, is sometimes the best present you can give yourself and your child. 3. Look to your community. This might include support groups, your place of worship, and your child’s teacher. Don’t automatically assume you are alone. Your community has people who have worked with other children with ADHD. And by you reaching out for help, you make others feel as though they are invested in your child and family as well. When you do this, you teach your child that they can always ask for help. You are not alone, and they are not alone.

The Effect of ADHD on Siblings

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is commonly diagnosed in childhood. It not only affects the children afflicted, but their family, especially their siblings. The constant noise and chaos associated with ADHD is often overwhelming for other children in the family. Here are some tips to help siblings: 1. Carve out alone time with each sibling. It’s hard enough to watch the child with ADHD get all the attention all the time. Even if it’s negative. And by the end of the day the parents are exhausted. Even so, carve out an hour a week for “Mommy – Johnny time”. Do something just the two of you. Even if it’s sitting in Starbucks for hot chocolate. Let this be time to reconnect and find out how they are doing. 2. Keep your expectations within normal limits. This might be hard, because you spend a lot of time working with the child with ADHD, you may not have the energy or patience with their sibling. But remember, they are allowed to say “no”, just like every other kid. And they won’t do everything you ask when you ask. They aren’t supposed to. That’s normal, and it’s ok. 3. Remember to be fair. If the rule in the house is “make your bed”, don’t give the siblings a pass. They have to follow the rules too. This can be hard, because they are being affected by everything that’s going on around the house. But they need to grow up to be happy healthy people as well. A little responsibility never hurt anyone. 4. Talk to them. In a calm moment, ask them how they are doing. Not just how they feel about their math class, but about being the sibling to a child with ADHD. Normalize the experience for them. Help them to know that they aren’t alone. Help them to know that they are part of a family going through this adventure. 5. Educate them about empathy. Siblings can often be the best friends and cruelest peers. Teach them to use their powers for good. Sometimes your brother may take your candy, but it’s not the last piece in the world. Patience and respect can go a long way, even when the other child seems not to have either. The calmer you are, the calmer the entire house will be. And the happier everyone is. It’s hard to be the parent. It’s hard to be the brother or sister, even when there isn’t another “label”. ADHD can affect a whole family. The constant noise and chaos associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is often overwhelming for the children afflicted, and their siblings as well. It’s important to remind our kids that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to us as parents to help all of our children to live with the strengths and weaknesses of others and help them to grow up to be healthy, and happy individuals.

TS, OCD and Exercise

Packer-Hopke, L. and Motta, R. A Preliminary Investigation of the Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Childhood Tourette’s Syndrome and OCD, the Behavior Therapist, October 2014 Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) is typically diagnosed in childhood. Motor and vocal tics are the hallmark of TS, but there is often the comorbidity of OCD and ADHD. Studies have shown that 12 weeks of moderately intense exercise three to four times a week can reduce OCD symptoms drastically (as measured by a well-known Obsessive Compulsive Scale—the Y-BOCS).
That being said, what about those children who have both OCD and TS? OCD is an anxiety disorder, and tics can be exacerbated by anxiety. Aerobic activity decreases anxiety and OCD symptoms. Packer-Hopke and Motta looked to see what effect aerobic activity had on tics and OCD symptoms in children who suffer from TS, OCD, and Anxiety. They found that kids who were engaged in six weeks of moderately intense exercise twice a week had a significant reduction in symptoms of both the TS and OCD, and a moderate to large reduction in symptoms of anxiety.
It’s hard to live with TS, let alone its “friends and neighbors “OCD, ADHD, and Anxiety. Wouldn’t it be nice to let these kids, “just be kids”, and in the process help them reduce their symptoms? This isn’t the full answer, but it’s certainly a start.

Exercises of ADHD, OCD, and Tourette's

In my last post, I spoke about the link between lowering ADHD and OCD symptoms, as well as Tics, by increasing exercise. In their article, Packer-Hopke and Motta (2014) had children exercise for twenty minutes for six weeks, and saw a drastic reduction in their symptoms. When I talk to parents, they say, “Oh, my daughter plays soccer” or “He’s on a local baseball team”. These are great activities: kids get to interact with their peers in a structured and active way. But for the purposes of reducing their symptoms, I suggest something a little more active. In the article, children were asked to do a workout video, such as Tae Bo or Kickboxing. These videos combine an intensive cardio workout with fun for longer periods of time. Look for a video that appeals to your child, and that you would want to join in. Kids will be more likely to work out if you are doing it to!
Running is great exercise as well. Not the all-out sprints we used to do for the 200-yard dash, but steady, paced running. Think 1 mile. But start with something easy. There are many ‘couch to 5k’ programs out there that start out walking for 90 seconds and running for 30 seconds. They help you slowly build up your tolerance for running. And nowadays there are tons of fun family runs and 5K’s that you and your child can do together. Running/jogging can be done at any pace, anywhere. All you need is sneakers and sweatpants. I like music in my ears and watching the changing scenery. But a treadmill in front of the television will work just as well. Depending on your child’s tolerance for video games, Just Dance is a great alternative to running around outside. Fun dance songs with easy to follow choreography makes moving fun! The moves are as easy or as hard as you want them to be, and you don’t even realize you are exercising! You and your child will dance and laugh the entire time. The great thing about this is, the more you do it, the better you get. Exercising, especially with your child, is a great way to reduce symptoms of ADHD, OCD, and Tourette’s. It’ll also have the added bonus of helping build a stronger bond and fond memories between you. As with everything, talk to your doctors to make sure these activities are safe and appropriate for your child. If not, don’t despair!!! Call your local psychologist to get more information.
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