ADDitude's top ADD/ADHD experts answer readers' questions about parenting children with, and about adults living with, ADD/ADHD.

posted: Tuesday March 17th - 12:52pm

Cops and Gamers: How to Police Computer Use

“How can I monitor and limit my high-school student’s gaming and social-media use when he’s supposed to be on the computer completing homework?”

Twenty-first century kids are growing up in the age of distraction. Very few teenagers do their homework without their cell phones nearby — ready and waiting for text messages, Instagram shots, and Facebook updates. Likewise, teenagers are readily distracted by video games, social media and the Internet in general while doing their homework on the computer (as are adults at work, to be fair). Here are...
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posted: Monday March 16th - 10:36am

My Son Would Rather Have Video Games Than Friends

I’m concerned that Minecraft is isolating my son from his friends and family. When he plays, he doesn’t communicate with anyone. Whereas board games encourage cooperation and interaction, video games seem to do the opposite. What can I do?

First, let me clarify that not all video games isolate kids from others. This is a common misconception. In reality, more than 70% of games played today involve a degree of social activity — playing with others online, watching another child play, or playing a multiplayer game in the same setting. Even when Minecraft is played in a solo fashion, its creative mode provides children with...
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posted: Wednesday March 11th - 4:29pm

Helping Kids Transition to Another Activity After Playing Minecraft

Can I help my children from transition from playing video games to another activity? My 6 and 10 year old literally melt down when told to get off the screens - especially Minecraft.

Minecraft is a particularly difficult game to disengage from due to its sandbox nature, with no beginning, end, or clear transition points. Because it is difficult to make a “mistake” in Minecraft, kids with ADHD and LD often find it to be an activity where persistence comes naturally, in contrast to what they may experience with schoolwork. As a result, sticking with the game and transitioning,...
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posted: Friday February 13th - 4:20pm

Can Teens and Young Adults Fake ADHD?

I hear about people faking ADHD symptoms, so they will be prescribed Adderall. Is ADHD easy to fake?

A few empirical studies — five or six that I am aware of — have looked at people faking ADHD symptoms. They all concluded that it is easy to do. However, these studies used checklists and neuro-psych measures to determine the diagnosis. I am not aware of any studies that looked at teens or young adults faking an ADHD diagnosis with an experienced clinician performing a...
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posted: Friday February 13th - 4:16pm

Help! What's the Link Between Executive Functions and ADHD?

Can you explain how executive functions relate to ADHD? I've read a lot about them, but I don't understand what they do.

An executive function (EF) is a self-directed action, a kind of self-control, that is used to improve a person's future welfare — to accomplish a goal. I think there are at least six such actions: inhibition and resistance of distraction, self-awareness, working memory, planning and problem-solving, emotional self-control, and self-motivation. In my experience with ADHD, those with the condition have great difficulty using EFs (self-directed actions)...
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posted: Friday February 13th - 3:49pm

Will Switching Medications Help My ADHD Symptoms?

My doctor prescribed methylphenidate for my ADHD, and it didn't do much for my core symptoms. Would it make sense for me to try amphetamine-based ADHD medication?

This is a common experience, and switching medications may help. The statistics on medication response are: > 70% will respond well to amphetamine > 70% will respond well to methylphenidate > 88% will respond well when a person tries both That means that about 12 percent of people with ADHD do not get a positive response to either methylphenidate or amphetamine. There is universal agreement among all of the standards of...
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posted: Thursday February 12th - 11:55am

Managing My Child's School Behavior Problems

My child has behavior problems in school. He always talks to another child while the teacher is talking and he gets out of his seat while kids are doing desk work. Can I work with the teacher to manage these behaviors, or should I request an IEP or a 504 Plan?

Work with your child's teacher to monitor and manage these behaviors. For example, it would be helpful to know if these occur more often at a particular time of day, or if he is always talking to one student in particular. Talk with the teacher to develop strategies for managing these behaviors. Strategies may include giving your child legitimate reasons to leave his seat (handing out...
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posted: Thursday February 12th - 11:44am

How Do I Change My Child's IEP?

I came up with what I thought was an effective accommodation for my daughter at a 504 Plan meeting, but after a month, I realized that it wasn't helping her. How can I swap this out for something that would work better?

You can request changes to an IEP or a 504 Plan if something is not working. How you do this depends on the nature of the change you want to make. If it is a small, classroom-based accommodation, to be implemented by the teacher, you should speak to the teacher and, if he or she agrees to make the change, just do it. You should remember...
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posted: Thursday February 12th - 9:55am

Can Natural Treatments Help My Overly-Worried ADHD Child?

My son has anxiety problems at school and at home. He worries about everything — doing well on tests, his dog getting sick, Ebola. Are there natural treatments that can help?

First, I would make sure that he sees a qualified physician to help with the diagnosis. This is not something that should be handled by a parent alone. There are natural treatments available. I divide them into two types: mental health/mind-body treatments and nutritional supplements. In the first category, depending on your son's age, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful. Two mind-body interventions, self-hypnosis training and...
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posted: Monday February 9th - 12:18pm

How Do I Know When It's Time to Try ADHD Medication?

I am an adult with ADHD, and I do not take medication. I do fine most of the time, but there are moments, especially at work, when I feel medication would help me focus. Should I ask my doctor to prescribe it?

This is an individual decision. ADHD medication certainly could help, but, before you consider taking meds, it is important to evaluate how lack of focus affects your life. If there is substantial impact, medication might be the answer. There are, of course, possible side effects that you need to be aware of and evaluate if they occur. I always recommend natural treatments first. Do you eat a...
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