ADHD and Your Child: ADHD Experts Address Your Questions

"ADHD and Your Child" webinarFollowing our free “ADHD and Your Child” webinar last spring, we received a number of questions from parents and teachers alike on understanding and supporting persons with ADHD. For National ADHD Awareness Month, we wanted to revisit a number of these questions and invite you to watch the archived webinar with ADHD experts Doug Bouman, S. Psy. S. and Robert Bulten, M.D. This webinar, hosted by Christian Schools International, covers the symptoms and treatments of ADD/ADHD.

Q: Is ADHD hereditary?

Dr. Bulten: Very much so. It the second most heritable condition in the human genome.  The first is height.

Q: Are there similarities between teenage boys and ADHD?  When should we seek testing and treatment for ADHD?

Dr. Bulten: It used to be thought that ADHD in boys far outnumbered that in girls. But we’ve now realized that this is no longer true, and ADHD is common in both boys and girls. During the teen years, the hyperactive component (which is so common in younger boys) tends to become less noticeable. Testing and treatment should be looked into when the symptoms become a functional impairment.

Q: How much does a child’s diet help or hinder a child with ADHD?

Dr. Bulten: Diet does not usually have much positive or negative effect on a child with ADHD. Now and then, someone will find a particular food (e.g. dairy, gluten, dyes, etc.) that they believe helps to a degree, and then they take that out of the diet. But the return is so small that I don’t recommend that to start treatment. By the time my patients get to me, they will have tried all the non-medical options.

Young Boy PhotoQ: What are some particular gifts kids or teens with ADHD possess?

Mr. Bouman: ADHD in and of itself provides zero benefits to the student with ADHD.  For example, the gift of creativity or artistic ability and ADHD are not linked. However, just like students without ADHD, students with ADHD possess incredible gifts, strengths, and abilities.

Q: Are students with ADD/ADHD more likely highly intelligent and gifted than not?

Mr. Bouman: Students with ADHD are not more gifted and talented than those without ADHD.  ADHD impacts the entire range of abilities.  In fact, highly intelligent children with ADHD frequently experience more frustration since they are painfully aware that their performance and output is markedly below their intellectual abilities and peer performance.  How frustrating and painful for a bright student to “know” what to do, yet are unable “to do what they know”.

Q: Do you see the emotional issues, such as loss of confidence and “self prosecution” (especially in newly diagnosed teenagers) improve over time?

Mr. Bouman: Yes, for sure.  The first step is for the teenager and the significant adults (parents, school staff, etc.) to understand and accept ADHD, and how it is impacting this student’s daily functioning.  Once effective strategies and medication are in place, the student experiences authentic success (i.e. they can now “do and produce what they know”).  This frequently buoys their confidence and eliminates their self-persecution.

Q:  What is one thing you wish parents knew about ADHD?

Mr. Bouman: There is a tremendous amount of misinformation in the media, trade magazines, etc.  Parents need to know ADHD hugely impacts a student’s learning and productivity in school even though their child is not hyperactive or impulsive.  Quiet, hidden (inattentive type) ADHD is more dangerous since it is easily missed or misinterpreted as not trying or a bad attitude.  Complicating things is the remarkable inconsistency observed in a student with ADHD, sometimes called a “picket fence” up-down functioning.  Children, adolescents and adults with ADHD are frequently able to focus and sustain concentration if what they are doing is preferred, highly stimulating, high interest (think video games, legos, T.V., even reading high interest books).  The real test of an individual’s attention is when they must complete tasks that are important yet boring.  Another important parent “tip”, is to watch for limited improvement (e.g. learning, producing, grades, behavior) when individuals, student, teachers, and school support staff have honestly tried their best to overcome the problem using methods that work for most kids.

Dr. Bulten: Probably that they are not the cause of their kid’s ADHD – unless you consider the genetics. It’s not bad parenting–more discipline will not change things—it will probably make things worse.

Students learningQ: What is one thing you wish teachers knew about ADHD?

Mr. Bouman:
(1) All of what I wish parents knew (see above)

(2) Please be careful to simply and thoroughly report to parents what you notice in class and avoid saying a student has or does not have ADHD.

Dr. Bulten: Again, that they are not the cause of the student’s ADHD. “Carrot and stick” discipline will not change anything.

Q: What are a few practical strategies a teacher can use in the classroom to support a student with ADHD?

Mr. Bouman: Move the student close to the teacher. Having the student in close physical proximity to the teacher affords closer monitoring of the student and increased accountability.  Teachers can cue the student that important directions are coming their way (e.g. “students the next two instructions are really important” – sometimes referred to as “verbal highlighting”).  Close proximity also allows ongoing accountability with high frequency feedback (e.g. “do this first row of math computations and then check back with me”).

Students with ADHD need understanding and empathy from their teacher; their teacher needs to recognize that they are fighting upstream against a roadblock that their peers are not.  Teachers can create a “prosthetic classroom” by externalizing (making visible and permanent) instructions, requirements, rules, and steps (e.g. use of post-it-notes, lists, pictures).

Q: What is one thing you wish kids/teens knew about ADHD?

Mr. Bouman: Kids really like the truth about how ADHD is negatively impacting the use of their gifts.  Many students have conjured up something far worse (e.g. “I’m stupid”, “I’m dumb”) than ADHD.  Kids need to understand ADHD is not their fault any more than it is their fault for having brown eyes. Kids need to know there are effective interventions that can ‘even the playing field’ for them. They need to know that things will get better and there is great hope for the future.

Dr. Bulten: I wish kids with ADHD knew they were not lazy. As I interview adults with ADHD and ask them what one comment they remember their parents and teachers said was, “If you would only try harder. You have so much potential and you just don’t apply yourself.” If we could measure “effort”, especially in young kids, we’d find they are trying harder than other kids and the results are poorer. As they get older, they start to give up and they stop trying altogether.

Q: What are some practical strategies persons with ADHD can use to accomplish tasks in their daily life?

Mr. Bouman: First, make sure any prescribed medication is at optimal levels.  Students and adults with ADHD are ideally completing a one or two page symptom reduction form each time they meet with their physician.  Other strategies include:

(1) Writing down your top three non-negotiables for taking good care of yourself.

(2) Enlisting accountability supports – a trusted friend or life coach.

(3) Use technology as a work-around.

Q: Do you have any recommended books or websites to learn more about ADHD?

Mr. Bouman: The best organization with incredible resources is CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyeractivity Disorder.

The best book for adults is Reaching for a New Potential: A Life Guide for Adults with ADD From a Fellow Traveler by Oren Mason.  Also check out Dr. Mason’s blog, Attentionality.

At CLC Network, we daily evaluate and create plans for struggling students based on their strengths and areas of need. Learn more about our perspective in this video and visit our website to learn more.

And of course, Dr. Bulten at Behavioral Medicine Clinic does an incredible job monitoring and supporting patients.

 Doug Bouman photoDoug Bouman, S. Psy. S. is the director of evaluation services at CLC Network (Christian Learning Center) in Grand Rapids, MI, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a Licensed Master’s Social Worker. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Central Michigan University.

 

 

Dr. Bulten photoRobert Bulten, M.D. previously practiced general pediatrics for 12 years and has been practicing behavioral medicine (including ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and mood disorders) for the past 30 years. He is a graduate of Wheaton College and the University of Michigan Medical School.

Meet Our New Staff Members!

We are pleased to welcome five new staff members to our team this year, who bring years of expertise and a commitment to creating inclusive communities. Please join us in welcoming:

Tim Annema

Tim Annema photoOnline Courses Instructor, Algebra and Geometry

I am excited to begin working at CLC Network as it combines many passions in my life. These include working with middle school students, the use of technology in education, mathematics, and the exploration and revelation of Christ’s redemptive work in creation.

Kristin Contant

Kristin Contant photoOnline Courses Instructor, 6th and 7th Grade Honors English

I am looking forward to sharing my love of literature, writing, and my faith with my students through teaching 7th grade honors English.

Elaine Kappers

Elaine Kappers photoTeacher Consultant serving Central Wisconsin Christian School (WI)

Looking at my role with CLC Network, I’m looking forward to working with the CLC Network team and learning from their knowledge and expertise. I also look forward to working at other schools and helping them with the challenges they face.

Jacki Sikkema

Jacki Sikkema photoChurch Services Consultant and Coordinator

As I delve into my work here at CLC Network, I look forward to equipping churches and communities with tools to better include those who have disabilities. I’m also excited to see how God works in these communities, displaying His love through each and every member as they grow in Him.

Linda Weemhoff

Linda WeemhoffTeacher Consultant serving Hull Christian (IA), Netherlands Reformed Christian (IA), Orange City Christian (IA), Rock Valley Christian (IA), and Western Christian (IA) schools

I am very thankful that God is opening a new door for me. God has uniquely created all of us and I am excited that He is giving me the opportunity to continue to work with students and teachers as we all discover more about how God has gifted each of us to work in His Kingdom.

Encourage these individuals as they begin their work by sharing a note of welcome in the comment section below!

Will We See You at These Events?

CLC Network teacher consultant Pam Maat speaks to a group of educators about neurodevelopment.

Teacher consultant Pam Maat speaks to a group of educators about neurodevelopment.

Throughout the year, our team of teacher consultants, school psychologists, and church consultants travel across North America to equip educators and churches to welcome individuals at all levels of ability in their faith community. This fall, we are presenting at conferences and events around the Midwest and Southern United States.

We invite you to listen in on a presentation or stop by our exhibit booth at one of the events below!

Note: Some conferences require registration and are only open to specific audiences; check each event website for more information.

October 2-3:
Heartland Christian Educators’ Convention(Sioux Center, IA)

Presentations:

  • “Academically Talented Programming: Is Your School Ready?” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Techie Trends: Good & Cheap” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Blended & Flipped Learning: What’s the Buzz All About?” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Inclusion: A Service Not a Place” with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Behavior Management Techniques for Classroom Teachers and Paraprofessionals” with Barbara J. Newman
  • Anxiety and depression in the Classroom” with Sherri Rozema, Ph.D.

October 11:
Local Church Representatives Training for Flat Rock Homes (Flat Rock, OH)

Learn tools and resources to strengthen, develop and/or establish special needs ministry in your church!

Presenting: Barbara J. Newman

October 23-24:
Christian Educators’ Association Convention (Holland, MI)

Presentations:

  • “Behavior Management Techniques for Classroom Teachers and Paraprofessionals” with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Techie Trends – Good & Cheap” with Becci Zwiers
  • “Creating Individual Goals for Special Needs Learners” with Becky Tubergen
  • “Bullying: Creating a Safe School Community for ALL God’s Children” with Beth Harmon, S.Psy.S.
  • “40 Quick Ways to Assess & Engage your Student” with Mary Ashby
  • “Strategies for Effective Teaching – Applying a Neurodevelopmental Framework to Learning” with Pam Maat

October 23-24:
Indiana Non-Public Education Conference (Indianapolis, IN)

Visit our exhibit booth for inclusive education resources!

November 7-8:
The Accessible Kingdom Conference (Birmingham, Alabama)

Presentations:

  • “Accessible Gospel: Introducing People With Disabilities to Jesus”
    with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Christian Perspective”
    with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Inclusion in Practice: How Belonging Happens in Christian Education Environments” with Barbara J. Newman
  • “Inclusion Toolbox for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Communicating Without Opening Your Mouth” with Barbara J. Newman

November 13-14:
Strengthening Christian Schools Conference (Dyer, IN)

Presenting: “Learning Communities for All Kinds of Students” with Phil Stegink

Schedule Your Training

Invite a member of our team to speak at your upcoming conference or event by calling 616-245-8388. Visit our website for a list of potential topics for educators and churches.

Six Tips for a Smooth Back-to-School Transition

Boys at lockerAs a new school and ministry year gets underway, our school and church consultants know there is a lot on your mind. But no need to fret! We have six steps you can take to ease the transition into school and church programs so all students feel more comfortable starting out the new year.

  • Set the routine.

    Start getting into the routine of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier before school actually begins.

  • Take a tour.

    Each school year can be full of new places and people, whether it is at school, church, or after-school activities. Try to visit these new places (outside of an open house) a few weeks ahead of time if your son or daughter seems anxious.

  • Meet the key people.

    When you visit the new places, arrange to meet the teachers, principal, and/or ministry leaders for a one-on-one time. This meeting is a great time to share your child’s strengths and areas of need, and any concerns for the upcoming year.

  • Go over the schedule.

    If your student is in middle or high school, go over their school schedule at home, preferably with pictures. Be sure to emphasize that schedules can change, so use words like “typically” and “usually”. When you take a tour of the school, walk through the classrooms to help your son or daughter see where their classes will be.

  • Write a social story.

    Creating a social story with your son or daughter can help them preview an activity before it actually takes place. You can easily create a social story on PowerPoint or with a photo book. Some examples of back-to-school social stories you can write include:

  1. Introduction to the first day of school
  2. Introduction to children’s church
  3. How to put materials away in art class
  4. How to go through the lunch line

Read the social story every day before the actual activity starts.

Need some examples? Barbara J. Newman shares tips for creating a social story in this blog post. We’ve also created two customizable work books you can use to introduce a child to a new church or school. You can purchase both the “School Welcome Story” and “Church Welcome Story” on the CLC Network website.

  • Meet friends.

    If your son or daughter is nervous socially, schedule a play date or time to meet other students from their school or church. If they’re new to the school or church, work with their teacher, pastor, or ministry leaders to introduce friends that might connect well with your son or daughter.

How about you? What tips do you have for easing into this new school and ministry year?

Katie Barkley ImageKatie Barkley is the marketing communications manager at CLC Network.

Four Schools Choose Inclusion for Upcoming School Year

Friends in a circleAt CLC Network, we are pleased to announce that we are partnering with four additional non-public schools this upcoming school year! This partnership will ensure students at all levels of ability and disability are included and accepted in general education classrooms at these schools.

The four non-public schools are located across the country and include:

  • Alma Heights Christian School (Pacifica, CA)
  • Calvin Christian School (South Holland, IL)
  • Crown Point Christian School (St. John, IN)
  • Netherlands Reformed Christian School (Rock Valley, IA)

In total, we now work with more than sixty non-public schools across Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and California, to help them create inclusive communities. Praise God!

“Our team is excited to work with each of these schools – their teachers and their staff – to better serve students with varying abilities,” said R.H. “Bear” Berends, executive director of CLC Network. “In each school, we will look to develop and integrate custom education plans that build on each student’s gifts, while still maintaining the integrity of the school’s educational standards.”

Each new school shared what they’re looking forward to this upcoming year:

Alma Heights Christian School (Pacifica, California)

“CLC Network provides the training and expertise that our school needs to move into stronger support for more students and for their teachers and families,” explained David Gross, principal at Alma Heights Christian School. “I am excited and challenged by the good that a positive emphasis on inclusion will do for all of our students, faculty, and families. We can focus on the good of loving neighbor as self in order to proactively combat the evils of gossip, bullying, and self harm.”

Calvin Christian School (South Holland, Illinois)

“We chose to partner with CLC Network because we wanted something more,” explained Randy Moes, principal at Calvin Christian School. “We recognized that we could be more effective in how we intervened with students who struggled. This partnership will allow us to further enhance and improve what we do here, to the glory of God.”

Crown Point Christian School (St. John, Indiana)

“Partnering with CLC Network will allow us to better meet the needs of a diverse learning community,” explained Carol Moxey, principal at Crown Point Christian School. “As our school continues to grow, we realized this is an area that needed improvement. We’re excited about the training opportunities that CLC Network provides.”

Netherlands Reformed Christian School (Rock Valley, Iowa)

“Our school has an effective, experienced, and well-educated special needs staff in place,” continued Daniel Breuer, principal at Netherlands Reformed Christian School. “But this partnership will advance our program’s procedures and processes as we look to better serve our students with equity and as we equip our general education teachers with the confidence they need to serve all students, regardless of ability or disability.”

A teacher consultant will be assigned to each of these four new schools to assist with creating individualized student plans, curriculum assistance, transition plans, behavioral intervention plans, and general academic and social inclusion within the school. These new schools will also have access to our best-practice online professional development sessions on Autism Spectrum Disorder, Behavior Management, Neurodevelopment, Bullying Prevention, Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom, as well as our team of school psychologists to help understand and create strategies for struggling learners.

If you want to make inclusive education a reality at your non-public school, contact us to see how we can help!