Category: Cognitive 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.

Earth to Space Cadet!

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How ADHD manifests differently in girls

Just because your daughter doesn’t “act out” in school doesn’t mean she doesn’t have attention struggles. While boys’ ADHD symptoms tend to be more “external,” girls’ symptoms tend to be more “internal.” Check out this handy infographic about ADHD:

 

Speaking of ADHD …

Over a six-year period, 5,416 children and adults (mean age 12.3) diagnosed with ADHD went through LearningRx programs. The cognitive performance of these clients was measured before and after 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. Want more proof that your child’s brain function can improve? Read the full article with 10 scientific resources to give you hope:

https://www.learningrxblog.com/2016/09/12/theres-hope-10-pieces-of-research-that-show-your-childs-brain-function-can-improve/

Standardized Tests: 4 factors within your control

There are lots of factors that contribute to test performance results. Here are four of the most common, with tips on how to help:

  1. Focus on Nutrition: Children’s brains burn through energy very rapidly and needs consistent fuel. Feed children meals balanced with healthy carbohydrates, protein and fat. Look for ways to incorporate healthy “brain foods” into your family’s diet: beans, olive oil, walnuts, blueberries and omega-3-rich fish like wild salmon, mackerel and tuna.
  2. Manage Anxiety: Whether genetic or situational, extreme worry can cause physical responses in the body that hinder a child from performing well on a test. Teach your child relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or visualization.
  3. Help Your Child Get Enough Sleep: Sleep deprivation is known to decrease attentiveness,  response time, short-term memory, and performance.  Here’s a handy chart to help you determine what time your child should go to bed.
  4. Train Your Child’s Cognitive skills: While knowledge is the information that is acquire—such as math formulas—cognitive skills are the tools the brain needs to learn, understand, and apply to those math formulas. When taking timed tests, one of the most important cognitive skills is processing speed. More than 90% of students who completed the ReadRx program showed improvement on state reading achievement tests. Enroll your child in a one-on-one cognitive skills training program to target the fundamental learning tools needed to excel on all types of timed tests.

 

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.

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.

Reading Struggles? Here’s 4 Tips for Improving Standardized Reading Achievement Test Scores

Just because your child is smart doesn’t mean they’re going to ace the ACTs or SATs. There are lots of factors that contribute to test performance results. Here are four of the most important with tips on how to help.

Poor nutrition

To keep cognitive function at its peak, the brain needs “good” fuel. Add the wrong kind of fuel (like processed sugars) or not enough fuel and it’s not going to perform well. Children’s brains burn through energy very, very rapidly and needs consistent fuel. Feed them meals balanced with a portion of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fat. Look for ways to incorporate healthy “brain foods” into your family’s diet on a regular basis. Beans, olive oil, walnuts, blueberries and omega-3-rich fish like wild salmon, mackerel and tuna.

Anxiety

Whether genetic or situational, extreme worry can cause physical responses in the body that hinder a child from performing well on a test. Teach your child relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing or visualization (where they picture themselves doing well on a test). You can also go over material with a child the night before a test to help them feel prepared.

Lack of sleep

Sleep deprivation is known to decrease everything from attentiveness and response time to short-term memory and performance. The Nemours Foundation recommends 10 hours of sleep for kids 6 to 9; 9 hours for 10- to 12-year-olds; and 8 to 9.5 for teens. Here’s a handy chart to help you determine what time your child should go to bed.

Work to create relaxing routines (warm bath, time to unwind, reading) and try to stick to a schedule. Encourage your child or teen to go to bed at the same time each night and avoid foods that contain sugar, food dyes or caffeine.

Weak cognitive skills

Standardized tests don’t just quiz kids on what information they know; they also require them to have strong cognitive skills.

While knowledge is the information you acquire and memorize—such as math formulas—cognitive skills are the tools you need to learn, understand and apply to those math formulas. They include auditory and visual processing, comprehension, logic and reasoning, processing speed, memory and attention. When taking timed tests, one of the most important cognitive skills is processing speed.

reading-achievement-graphA study of LearningRx’s (www.LearningRx.com) ReadRx personal brain training program results found that after training, the group of students made statistically significant gains on tests of World Attack, Spelling Sounds, Sound Awareness and Passage Comprehension. Additionally, 91% of students who completed the ReadRx program showed improvement on state reading achievement tests. The results have been published in LearningRx’s 48-page 2016 edition of “Client Outcomes and Research Results,” which can be downloaded here: http://www.learningrx.com/our-programs/learningrx-results/. 

 Enroll your child in a one-on-one cognitive skills training program to target the fundamental learning tools needed to excel on all types of timed tests. Visit www.LearningRx.com to learn more.

 

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.