Category: Attention Skills

Forget Fidget Spinners! (Yep! We Said It.)

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Check out our advice on holistic help for attention struggles.

You probably know that fidget spinners were originally designed to help kids with ADHD (specifically, the hyper part). But if you’re looking for other holistic help for your child or teen with attention struggles, read on. 

A growing number of research studies are revealing the impact that many of our choices have on how well we pay attention. Among these choices are what we eat, how we move, and even how we exercise our mental skills.

 

The impact of diet on ADHD

According to a study published in the international Journal of Attention Disorders, kids who eat a typical “Western” diet are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with ADHD by the age of 14. The study looked at the eating patterns of 1,800 adolescents, classifying diets into two categories: “Healthy” or “Western.”

A Western diet, as defined by the study, includes a lot of fast foods; sugary, fried, or processed foods; and high-fat dairy. A “healthy” eating pattern consists of a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish.

The results showed an association between being diagnosed with ADHD, and a diet high in dairy, sugar, fast food, fried foods, and processed foods.

Associate Professor Wendy Oddy, leader of Nutrition Studies at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research where the study was conducted, suggests that “a Western dietary pattern may indicate the adolescent has a less optimal fatty acid profile, whereas a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids is thought to hold benefits for mental health and optimal brain function.”

Other studies support the idea that diets rich in fatty acids can improve ADHD symptoms. For example, a report released by the University of Copenhagen reviewed the scientific literature on diet and ADHD. According to Dr. Kim Fleischer Michaelsen, who is heading the study, research shows that “fatty acids from fatty fish moderate the symptoms” of ADHD. She also said that the review indicated that elimination diets are also promising.

While experts agree that more research is needed on this topic, it makes sense that parents of kids with ADHD should opt for the healthiest dietary choices possible. The Amen Clinic has published a list of the 50 best foods for the brain. You can find the entire list here, but here is a sample:

Avocados
Bell peppers (yellow, green, red, and orange)
Chicken, skinless
Beets
Blackberries
Yams and sweet potatoes
Broccoli
Wild salmon
Cranberries
Kiwi
Almonds, raw
Oats
Tuna
Bananas
Turkey, skinless

And if you think that healthy cooking is time consuming, consider pulling out your crock pot. Preparing healthy dinners in a slow cooker is a great way to avoid all that cutting and slicing in the kitchen at the end of a long day. Try this recipe:

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

The impact of physical exercise on attention struggles

“Exercise turns on the attention system,” says John Ratey, M.D., as associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. When he talks about the “attention system,” he explains that he’s talking about the brain’s executive functions, including sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention.

The author of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey says that, “On a practical level, [exercise] causes kids to be less impulsive, which makes them more primed to learn.”

He goes as far as to tell people to think “of exercise as medication,” adding, “For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but for most, it’s complementary—something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”

Dr. Ratey specifically mentions taekwondo, ballet, and gymnastics as activities that give the attention system a good workout, although he said that even walking for half an hour, four times a week, will make a difference.

The impact of brain training on attention skills

One-on-one brain training is a form of cognitive training that pairs clients of all ages with their own personal brain trainers for intense mental workouts. A one-on-one brain training program at LearningRx, for example, consists of working face-to-face with a personal brain trainer about five hours a week. Programs typically run for 12 to 32 weeks, depending on the program.

LearningRx is the largest one-on-one brain training company, with 80 centers in the U.S. and an additional 40 global locations. And while LearningRx does not diagnose or treat ADHD, it does strengthen the brain’s foundational cognitive skills, including the skill of attention.

One study measured the attention performance of 5,416 children and adults who came to LearningRx having been diagnosed with ADHD. On average, these clients scored in the 42nd percentile in attention, indicating that their attention skills were below the skills of 58 percent of their peers.

After completing a LearningRx brain training program, the average performance in attention for these clients rose to the 66th percentile. In other words, after brain training, attention performance went from “below average” to “above average.”

If your child is struggling with attention, changes in diet, physical activity, and brain training can make a difference.

To learn more about brain training, contact a LearningRx Brain Training Center near you.

Why Smart Kids Fail

Even brilliant kids have
learning struggles—here’s why

It’s one of the great mysteries of childrearing: Your very smart kid’s intelligence isn’t reflected in his or her report card. How can such a brilliant brain bring home B’s? (Or C’s, or D’s, or worse?)

Most of the time, when kids struggle in school, it’s due to a cognitive weakness. This means that even a brilliant teen who has strong auditory processing, visual processing, memory, processing speed, and logic & reasoning can still struggle if his or her attention skills are weak, making it difficult to focus on the teacher or the task.

Here’s another example: If a child is really smart but struggles with slow processing speed, he or she will take longer than others to complete tests, take notes, and read and memorize information.

The first step to determining which brain skills are weak is to get a cognitive skills assessment. Once you know what skill or skills need to be strengthened, a personal brain trainer can customize a program for your child.

Need more convincing? Watch this video about Matthew, a child on the autism spectrum who surprised his family and teachers with the improvements he experienced after brain training.

You can also read the story of a mom who put three smart kids through LearningRx—and discover how they’re doing one year later:
About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. To read testimonials from real clients visit www.learningrx-reviews.com.

Four Things You Might Not Know About ADHD

Although you probably know that ADHD is about attention struggles, there’s a lot more to this common learning disability. Here are four things that might surprise you.

1. ADHD is actually rooted in clusters of weak cognitive skills. Most of the students who came to LearningRx with a diagnosis of ADHD had, in addition to weak broad attention skills, weak long-term memory, processing speed and working memory.

Over a six-year period, LearningRx had 5,416 children and adults come in with the diagnosis of ADHD. LearningRx measured the cognitive performance of these clients before and after one-on-one brain training, and the largest gains were seen in IQ, auditory processing, long-term memory and broad attention. After LearningRx brain training, IQ scores improved by an average of 15 standard points, and broad attention skills improved an average of 24 percentile points.

The full results of the study can be found on page 25 of LearningRx’s 48-page 2016 edition of “Client Outcomes and Research Results.”

2. There are three types of attention. ADHD is now the generally accepted umbrella term for the three types of ADHD, including what used to be generally referred to as ADD. The three forms of ADHD are:

  • Inattentive Type – people with this disorder have trouble focusing, but they are not overly active and usually don’t display disruptive behavior (formerly called ADD).
  • Hyperactive/Impulsive Type – people are fidgety and can’t control their impulses, but they are better able to pay attention.
  • Combined Type – applies to people with poor attention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.

An attention deficit could mean one, two, or all three types of attention: sustained, selective, and divided. Sustained attention is the cognitive skill that allows your child to stay on task for a long period of time. Selective attention is the cognitive skill that prevents the child from being easily distracted. Divided attention allows them to do more than one task at a time.

3. ADHD manifests differently in girls. When people think of ADHD, they often think of boys bouncing off the walls. While hyperactivity is a common symptom of attention struggles—especially among boys—it’s often accompanied by things like impulsivity and an inability to multitask. But for girls, ADHD tends to manifest differently, often as inattentiveness and disorganization. Because these symptoms aren’t as disruptive to class, ADHD in girls is often missed.

4. Unaddressed ADHD can lead to other issues. Here are some of the ways ADHD can impact life throughout school, college, and even into adulthood:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor grades
  • Difficulty getting into college
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Significant time-management challenges
  • Difficulty managing money
  • Chronic disorganization

If you’re concerned that your child may have a cognitive skills weakness, take our free online survey at  http://lsds.learningrx.com/.

 

About LearningRx
LearningRx, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest one-on-one brain training organization in the world. With 80 Centers in the U.S., and locations in 40 countries around the globe, LearningRx has helped more than 95,000 individuals and families sharpen their cognitive skills to help them think faster, learn easier, and perform better. Their on-site programs partner every client with a personal brain trainer to keep clients engaged, accountable, and on-task—a key advantage over online-only brain exercises. Their pioneering methods have been used in clinical settings for 35 years and have been verified as beneficial in peer-reviewed research papers and journals. To learn more about LearningRx research results, programs, and their 9.6 out of 10 client satisfaction rating visit http://www.learningrx.com/. To read testimonials from real clients visit www.learningrx-reviews.com.

Can Attention be Trained? Seniors (and Babies) Prove It Can

Baby girl playing outdoorsWhen TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked the secret of her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.”

If you struggle with ADHD, however, that’s a lot easier said than done.

About 6 million children and teens have been diagnosed with ADHD, with an estimated four percent of U.S. adults struggling with the disorder as well.

The good news is that support and education help. Plus, there are things you can do. In fact, if you’re looking for something you can do to help yourself or a child who struggles, two studies on attention are worth, well, paying attention to.

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Is ADHD Making You Procrastinate?

The problem has been defined as “voluntarily delaying an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.” Sound familiar?

Why do we procrastinate? According to one team of experts—made up of Drs. Joseph Ferrari and Timothy Pychyl—and quoted on psychologytoday.com, there are three basic types of procrastinators:

1. Arousal types or thrill seekers who look for the euphoric rush of getting something done at the last minute.

2. Avoiders who may be acting out of fear of failure, or otherwise avoiding painful emotions they have attached to the task at hand.

3. Decisional procrastinators, who struggle with—you guessed it!—making decisions.

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