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Kathy Marshack News

October is ADHD Awareness Month. How Much Do You Know About ADHD?

Thursday, October 04, 2018

How much do you know about ADHD?ADHD is a very real neurological disorder. You might assume that the child “bouncing off the walls” in the grocery aisle is doing so because his parents haven’t trained him properly. But before you jump to conclusions, consider that there could be a very real neurological disorder responsible for that behavior…ADHD. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD, while other experts believe it could be more.

Researchers have discovered that ADHD is, in part, caused by the brain’s inability to release enough neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the chemicals that enable us to be attentive and in control. In their search for a cure, researchers continue to explore genetic and environmental causes for this neurological disorder.

Did you know there are three types of ADHD? They are…

  • Hyperactive and impulsive
  • Inattentive and disorganized
  • Combination of the above

Medication combined with behavioral therapy, emotional counseling, and practical support helps people with ADHD to control their impulsivity and hyperactivity. However, inattention can be a very persistent problem. Along with ADHD, people may experience anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, sleep disorders or depression.

If ADHD remains untreated, it affects a child’s social and academic life, which can cause life-long problems for them. It’s not something a child outgrows, without help. Undiagnosed and untreated adults will have troubled relationships, decreased work performance, and are at risk for substance abuse.

If treated, people with ADHD can lead rich, productive lives. There are many famous individuals who have accomplished a great deal, despite having ADHD. For example, Parenting Magazine reports that Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, singer Justin Timberlake, actor Will Smith, swimmer Michael Phelps, and comedian Jim Carrey are a few of the famous people who have prospered, while dealing with ADHD.

Do you suspect a family member of having ADHD? The cycle of frustration and failure can be broken with proper treatment. Please, I urge you to seek help immediately.

Knowledge is power. So learn all you can about ADHD, even if you don’t personally know someone with it. The more you understand, the more supportive you can be. Families with ADHD need our help.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and suspect you’ve lived with undiagnosed ADHD, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Learn more on my website: ADHD/ADD.

Adults with ADHD – Bearing Up Under the Shame

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

For many adults with ADHD, shame arises from the repeated failure to meet expectations from parents, teachers, friends, bosses, and the worldWhat happens when a child with ADD or ADHD grows up? Do they outgrow their ADD/ADHD, so their lives become smooth sailing? Far from it! They become adults with ADD/ADHD, which has its own set of problems. One of which is a lifetime’s accumulation of shame.

“For many people with ADHD, shame arises from the repeated failure to meet expectations from parents, teachers, friends, bosses, and the world,” says Dr. William Dodson. Shame is so insidious, because it strikes at the core of who we are as people. It’s a much stronger emotion than guilt, because guilt is felt over something you’ve done. Shame attacks your worth as a person.

Shame is hard to deal with because we keep it hidden, so it doesn’t get resolved. With ADHD, you’re always being reminded that you’ve failed to measure up to what’s expected of you. You may even be stigmatized as lazy or willfully disruptive and disobedient. I’ve read one statistic that “children with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages by the age of 12.” What’s so harmful is that most of these critical messages are directed at the person, not at a specific deed or action.

Combine this negative feedback with feeling out of control and you have the recipe for a toxic mix of emotions - anger, rage, self-loathing, and shame. Some try to handle these feelings by striving for perfection, becoming a people pleaser, or blaming others. But those are not sustainable solutions for coping with ADD/ADHD.

What does work is having a good sense of humor. Laughing at yourself and your mistakes makes it easier to take responsibility and correct them. It takes practice, but self-acceptance and self-love are vital for healing and moving forward. It’s also important to find an ally or support group that can remind you of the goodness within you. When you become overly negative, your friends can help you adjust your attitude.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Breaking this cycle of failure and frustration is the primary goal of treatment for the ADD/ADHD adult. Clinical experience shows ADD/ADHD adults benefit from a multi-modal treatment - combining medications and psychosocial interventions. If your life feels out of control because of ADHD, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for you.

Read more on my website: AADD/ADHD in Adults and Clear the Clutter.

Include the Teacher When Creating a Behavioral Plan for Your ADD/ADHD Child

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Include the Teacher When Creating a Behavioral Plan for Your ADD/ADHD ChildBack to school – this can be a stressful time of year for children and parents. Children and teens with ADD/ADHD can enjoy their school years as they learn and contribute to the success of their education. Yes, the classroom environment – the need to sit still, stay quiet, and concentrate – is extremely challenging for them. But if parents equip their ADD/ADHD children with a behavioral plan, they’ll be properly prepared for school.

Useful behavioral plans give your ADD/ADHD child structure and clear expectations. It really helps to include the teacher in creating this behavior plan so that there are specific goals and daily positive reinforcement that contributes to your child’s success. Keep in mind that what works for one child may not work for another. So this plan must be tailored specifically to each individual.

As you create the behavioral plan, keep in mind the following things:

1. Teach your ADHD children strategies for learning in the classroom environment.
2. Give your children good communication skills so they can explain to the teacher about how they learn best.
3. Provide the teacher with as much information as you can about your child – learning style, tactics that work, medications, and so forth.
4. Support the teacher and form a partnership relationship with school officials.
5. Avoid an adversarial attitude.
6. Keep a calm, positive attitude.
7. Listen to what the teacher and school officials have to say, even if it’s difficult to hear.
8. Schedule monthly meetings with them to stay on top of things.
9. Enlist the help of the teacher to create specific, realistic goals and the steps for reaching them.
10. Support your children at home and show that you’re united with the teacher in providing the best learning environment for your child.

Here are some additional pro-active strategies you may want to discuss with the teacher to help your ADD/ADHS student thrive in the classroom:

  • If your child is easily distracted, ask the teacher to seat him or her away from the doors, windows and classroom pets.
  • Create a secret word or signal that the teacher can use to alert your child that he or she is misbehaving; this allows for discreet correction without shattering his or her self-esteem.
  • Look for opportunities for them to move around. Perhaps ask that your child be seated where he or she can achieve the maximum amount of movement possible, be sent on errands, incorporate movement in the learning process, and is encouraged to take full advantage of recess and P.E.
  • Structured schedules and specific step-by-step instructions are important; encourage the teacher to give one brief, easy to follow step at a time, which allows the child to come back for the next step when that one is accomplished.

And of course the best strategy of all is to look for ways to make learning fun at school and at home!

Coping with family members with ADD/ADHD puts stress on the whole family. Learning new skills takes time and it’s helpful to enlist the counsel of a professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment to assess and formulate a plan that works for your family.

Learn more on my website: Coping with ADD/ADHD.

A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A No Cost Treatment for Depression, Memory Loss and ADHD – Go for a Hike!How would you like a no cost way to stay in shape, clear your mind, spark creativity, reduce depression and anxiety, and change the way your brain works? It’s easy. Just go for a hike! Now that spring weather is warming up here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great time to get outside and take a hike in the woods. Not only will you see beautiful scenery, smell wonderful woodsy scents, and exercise your muscles, you’ll actually be making positive changes to your brain, as the following studies show.

University of British Columbia researchers found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in women over the age of 70. That’s the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory. Who doesn’t want a better memory? Hiking will do that and so much more. It also reduces stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem, and releases endorphins.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on a study about how rumination (repetitive negative thought about self) is affected by urban setting versus a 90 minute walk in the woodsy park. Not surprisingly, they found that spending time in nature significantly decreases obsessive, negative thoughts. It also reduces neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through an urban setting, however, didn’t receive these benefits. In fact, the researchers discovered that increased urbanization correlates to increased mental illnesses.

When you go for your hike, leave your phone off! Here’s why…Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem-solving skills are greatly improved by ditching technology and going for a hike. After a 4 day backpacking tip, (without any tech tools turned on), the participants’ creative thinking and problem-solving skills improved 50%. It also improves your relationships since you’ll have more of an opportunity to talk. For your safety, I would suggest having the phone with you, but only turn it on if you experience problems and need help.

Hiking also helps children with ADHD. Frances E Kup, Ph.D. and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D. found that children with ADHD improved their ability to pay attention and control their impulsive behavior when they engaged in nature activities.

We live in such a beautiful area. I hope I’ve motivated you to find a few trails and recharge. However, it’s important to realize if you or your loved one is experiencing serious mental health issues such as persistent anxiety or depression, it’s important to consult a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Does Your Aspie Also Suffer from a Personality Disorder?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Those with Asperger’s Syndrom may also be suffering from Schizotypal Personality Disorder or other personality disorders that require additional treatment. A personality disorder occurs when a person has rigid, unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. They have trouble relating in social situations. Whereas, those with Asperger’s want to have friendships, those with some personality disorders don’t care. They’re more comfortable with their loner status.

What are some of the personality disorders that may be misdiagnosed as Asperger’s or may be present along with Asperger’s?

Previously we’ve discussed how someone with Asperger’s Syndrome may also have ADHD and/or Narcissism. Another personality disorder that many are not aware of is Schizotypal Personality Disorder. (This is not the same as Schizoid Personality Disorder or Schizophrenia, although it can be mistaken for schizophrenia at times).

Schizotypals look a lot like they have ASD in that they have extreme levels of anxiety, often learn to mimic appropriate social behavior, have a number of low grade health issues, and are extremely sensitive to criticism. They also tend to be loners because they misread people and develop suspiciousness because they can't properly read the motivations of others.

Here are 10 symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder as listed by the Mayo Clinic:

  1. "Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
  2. Incorrect interpretation of events, feeling that they have personal meaning
  3. Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  4. Dressing in peculiar ways
  5. Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
  6. Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
  7. Persistent and excessive social anxiety
  8. Peculiar style of speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  9. Suspicious or paranoid ideas, hypersensitivity, and constant doubts about the loyalty and fidelity of others
  10. Flat emotions, or limited or inappropriate emotional responses"

Because Personality Disorders cause a person to lack empathy, similarly to our Aspies, we just think the thoughtlessness or negativity is an Aspie trait. While it’s difficult enough to find appropriate treatment for Aspies, it's nearly impossible to treat Personality Disorders because they think they’re normal and are not motivated to make changes.

If you suspect that your Aspie also suffers from a Personality Disorder, then be sure to sign up for our next Video Conference entitled: Is it just Asperger's or is it something else too? on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM or Thursday, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM We’ll be specifically discussing Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

Looking at Autism through the Eyes of One Who Knows

Monday, December 14, 2015

what its like to have autismPerhaps you’re familiar with these phrases that describe empathy: “Put yourself in his shoes” or “Until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, you won’t understand”. If we’ve never experienced it, we can’t fully comprehend the feelings and emotions of another person.

Recently, in a Huffington Post article, Dr. Jordan Schaul, a board member and chief science officer for Zoo Nation revealed what it’s like to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s entitled, I Can't Fake it Until I Make It – I'm Autistic. Please take the time to read it. It sheds light on the autistic perspective. In the process, I hope it helps us be more empathetic, patient and understanding of those we meet, no matter what they’re dealing with.

Upon being diagnosed at the age of 40, Dr. Schaul’s first response was anger – anger at family, friends and professionals for not recognizing it sooner. (Earlier diagnosis was Attention Deficit Disorder.) He was also relieved to finally have an explanation for why he felt he didn’t fit in, why he felt exhausted and stressed at social interactions.

I’ve done extensive research on empathy and autism so he quoted me as a clinician and autism expert for the article. I said, "Empathy explains it all when it comes to Asperger's Syndrome. Regardless of where an individual falls on the autism spectrum, lack of empathy is the defining characteristic. Empathy is that ineffable skill of reading between the lines, knowing where the other person is coming from, sizing up the context and speaking in a way that respectfully cares for the feelings of others. Without empathy the autistic person is left in an isolated and disconnected world. They may feel compassion, sympathy and love without a clear way to express it to others with a few simple words or a look. "High Functioning Autism" is such a misnomer. What good is it to be brilliant, talented, well-educated or good looking, if you can't connect with others in a way that makes them feel acknowledged and cared for... and want to love you back?"

Rather than talk about someone’s lack of social skills, why not talk with them and see if you can help them discover the reasons for it. If you suspect autism, please consult with a mental health professional who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome to make sure you arrive at the proper diagnosis. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Can a Child Have Both Autism and ADHD?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

a child can have both ADHD and autism

Yes! And this can cause a real problem when the very young are being diagnosed. A doctor may stop looking when he or she sees ADHD symptoms and then they miss that the child is also suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Amir Miodovnik, a developmental pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital authored a recent study, which shows that symptoms of ADHD may, in fact, conceal ASD in very young children.

Why is this significant? Because a delayed diagnosis of autism delays vital treatment. Dr. Miodovnik found, “It took an average of three years longer to diagnose autism in children initially thought to have just ADHD. It's been shown the earlier that you implement these therapies for autism, the better children do in terms of outcome." He found that some cases the ASD diagnosis didn’t occur until six or more years later. (Look for more information on this study in the October print issue of Pediatrics.)

ASD and ADHD are different neurological disorders, however they do have some symptoms in common. What similar symptoms do Autism and ADHD have?

  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Inattentive
  • Social awkwardness
  • Difficulty in interactions with others

What are some differences between ADHD and ASD?

Asperger’s Syndrome
  • All-absorbing interest in specialized topics, like sports statistics or dinosaurs
  • Lack of nonverbal communication - eye contact, facial expressions, body gestures
  • Lack of empathy or understanding others’ feelings
  • Monotone pitch or lack of rhythm when speaking
  • >Missed motor skill development mile markers, such as catching a ball

  • Easily distracted and forgetful
  • Problems processing information accurately and quickly
  • Touching or playing with everything especially in a new environment
  • Very impatient and can’t wait their turn
  • Over-reacting when upset or bothered, without consideration for others

Can you see why there might be confusion? Dr Miodovnik recommends that parents who believe that a child younger than 5 has ADHD should take their child to a developmental pediatrician, rather than a family physician, to make sure that possible autism will not be overlooked. He also recommends this because managing a child with ADHD can be complicated.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and you’re concerned that your child has been thoroughly diagnosed and is receiving optimal treatment, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with ASD, you will also benefit from learning how science is unlocking the key to understanding Asperger behavior. My book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), explores the science behind Asperger’s. If you want to understand your Aspie better, this is a must read.

Can ADD Be Healed?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

After you’ve been accurately diagnosed with ADD or ADHD there are treatments that can help your brain heal so you can finally reach your full potential in life.You may be surprised to learn that ADD, attention deficit disorder, affects people in widely diverse ways. Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychologist with 35 year’s experience, recently shared how his research has identified seven types of ADD. (You can read more about them here.)

A few common symptoms of ADD are being easily distracted, hyperactive and impulsive, but not everyone has those symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to be accurately diagnosed so a treatment can be developed that targets your specific needs.

Breaking the cycle of failure and frustration is the primary goal of treatment for the ADD adult through the proper use of medication and psychosocial interventions. Some stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine and Concerta are effective and safe medications. But, in some cases, it may make the symptoms worse. Stimulants may not be appropriate due to a history of abuse, a patient’s high blood pressure or heart disease also. Hence you and your doctor will need to closely monitor your reactions to any prescribed medications.

Psychotherapy is especially helpful for ADD patients with conditions such as depression and anxiety as it helps adults deal with the frustration and anger issues. In addition, psychotherapy can help improve social skills and ability to deal with ADD-unfriendly situations.

If you suspect that you or someone you love has ADD symptoms, don’t delay seeking a diagnosis and treatment because you’re afraid of what other people will say. Just as you would seek treatment for a heart condition, so it’s proper to seek help for a brain dysfunction. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area please contact my office to set up your first appointment.

Read more information on parenting children with AD/HD and ADD in Adults.

Dr. Daniel Amen is offering a free video series on healing ADD. I highly recommend you watch it as soon as possible.

5 Ways to Make Back-to-School Anxieties Disappear

Monday, August 17, 2015

It’s only natural for your child to feel anxious about the new school year. And if your children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), AS (Asperger's Syndrome), or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) they need extra help to transition into the new routine. Yes, it might be tempting to put off back-to-school preparations, however the more you prepare your child the easier it will be on you, your child and the teachers. Here are a few reminders to make this process easier…

Be Positive
You can help ease their worries by always speaking positively about returning to school. Get them excited about that they’re going to learn. Help them remember what they enjoyed from previous years.

Make Appointments Early
Does your child need to see his doctor, dentist, or optometrist? How about teachers and administrators you need to talk with before school starts? It relieves a lot of stress to get these appointments taken care of well before the school year starts.

Get into the School Routine
Routine is so important for children with ASD and ADD. A month before school starts, review class materials that your child likes for a scheduled time each day, gradually increasing the time and adding more difficult materials so your child transitions from the carefree summer to the classroom structure. Also gradually shift wake up time and bedtime to match what your child needs to function well at school.

Involve Your Child in Back-to-School Preparation
Let them go school shopping with you so they can pick out things they like. Work together as you assemble their backpacks. Talk about what they’d like to eat for lunch and snacks. And the night before school starts, help them lay out the clothes they want to wear.

Visit the School
Introduce your child to as many people as possible – the teacher, principal, office staff, school nurse, teacher assistants, custodians. Alert them to your child’s special needs and how they can assist you.

I really recommend that you put together a packet about your child for the teacher. Take a look at the article How to Assemble a Teacher Information Packet for some helpful tips.

For additional back to school and safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics - Back To School Tips. My website also has information about Parenting a Child with ADD.

Is ADHD Really a Disease or Is It a Symptom of Something Else?

Friday, December 19, 2014

thrill seeking on the rollercoaster releases dopamine which those with ADHD wantThis question was recently discussed by Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He’s looking at the alarming increase in ADHD diagnoses and is trying to determine the best treatment options.

Here’s a snippet from his NY Times article, A Natural Fix for ADHD:

“Recent neuroscience research shows that people with A.D.H.D. are actually hard-wired for novelty-seeking…Compared with the rest of us, they have sluggish and underfed brain reward circuits, so much of everyday life feels routine and understimulating.

To compensate, they are drawn to new and exciting experiences and get famously impatient and restless with the regimented structure that characterizes our modern world. In short, people with A.D.H.D. may not have a disease, so much as a set of behavioral traits that don’t match the expectations of our contemporary culture. From the standpoint of teachers, parents and the world at large, the problem with people with A.D.H.D. looks like a lack of focus and attention and impulsive behavior. But if you have the “illness,” the real problem is that, to your brain, the world that you live in essentially feels not very interesting.”

Novel experiences release dopamine in the reward circuit of the brain, which varies in sensitivity from person to person. And according to research done by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, a scientist who directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with ADHD have less sensitive receptors, so it takes more stimulation to satisfy them. Hence they are more easily bored. Changing their environment and helping them to modify their behavior has helped many to “outgrow” ADHD as Dr. Friedman’s article attests. I encourage you to read his entire article.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon and Washington have some of the highest percentages of children diagnosed with ADHD (9.1% to 11%) yet they receive a significantly less amount of treatment (3.15 to 5%). Most alarmingly however, is that nationwide more than 10,000 toddlers, ages 2 and 3, are given ADHD drugs! I can’t help but wonder what the far-reaching consequences of this will be.

Medication is not the only option for treatment of ADHD. Psychotherapy has proven to be very effective in helping children with ADHD. I encourage you to consult with a mental health professional and explore these healthier, alternative treatments for ADHD. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: ADD and ADHD.

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