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Misdiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder – ADHD

March 21st, 2011

Misdiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder - ADHD

Nearly 1 million children in the US are potentially misdiagnosed with ADHD simply because they are the youngest and most immature in their kindergarten class. This is according to Todd Elder’s research at Michigan State University as reported in Science Daily. Think about this for a minute. Almost 1 million children are potentially misdiagnosed with ADHD. And what happens when a child is misdiagnosed? More often than not that child is prescribed to take behavior-modifying stimulants such as Ritalin and they don’t need them!

Diagnosing ADHD or Misdiagnosing ADHD

There are two important criteria to look at in the diagnosis and misdiagnosis of ADHD. The first is the most obvious criteria. Look at the behaviors a child is having, doing, exhibiting. For example, can they sit still for a lesson or while you read to them? The second criteria is critical! What is the age of the child doing the behavior, and do look at others of the same age. If a child can’t seem to sit still but he is only 5 and the rest of the children are 6 or close to being 6, that is a big difference! It is much harder for a 5 year old to sit still than for a 6 year old to sit still. Teachers and medical practitioners need to remember this when evaluating whether a child has ADHD.

Additional Situations to Look at Regarding Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder - ADHD

1. Is the problem you are seeing situational (e.g. Only one parent sees it as a problem; at school they don’t seem to have the problems, when they are with dad they don’t seem to have the problems, or when they are with mom they don’t seem to have the problems.) 2. If only one parent is having problems with the child, it may be a problem with parenting skills (e.g. Yelling at the child such as “You don’t act like you want to be part of the family.” or “Get up right now or else” and then not follow through with a consequence.). 3. If the teacher is the only one having a problem it may be a problem with the way the teacher is dealing with the child or it may be an inexperienced teacher. 4. Other times a child is misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder is when the actual problem occurs through a shutdown of either their auditory system or their vision system.
  • When the auditory or vision system becomes overloaded, it shuts down and needs a break. When either of these systems shuts down temporarily, the child often appears to be not paying attention. What is happening is either the vision system or the auditory system is resting.
  • Unfortunately, often the child has trouble bringing themselves back to the activity at hand. A gentle reminder to come back to the activity is all that is needed in this instance, and it may need to be given each time they aren’t paying attention until the child learns to come back on their own.
Remember, a diagnosis of ADHD requires evidence of multiple symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity, with these symptoms persisting for six or more months -- and in at least two settings -- before the age of seven. The settings include home and school. Additionally, teachers cannot diagnose ADHD, but, their opinions are often used in decisions to send a child to be evaluated for attention deficit disorder. You know your child. Remember, the diagnosis requires evidence of multiple symptoms in at least two settings, so if the school is seeing symptoms and you don’t see symptoms at home the problem might not be one of ADHD. That is NOT to say that you don’t want to look into it. Obviously something is going on that is interfering with your child’s learning and you do want to see what you can do to make learning easier for them. "Many ADHD diagnoses may be driven by teachers' perceptions of poor behavior among the youngest children in a kindergarten classroom," Todd Elder states. "But these 'symptoms' may merely reflect emotional or intellectual immaturity among the youngest students."

So, what happens educationally when your child has ADHD?

Educational Problems Caused by ADD/ADHD

Although attention deficit disorder (ADHD) is not a learning disability, ADD/ADHD obviously affects performance in a school setting, as well as affects other parts of their life. Kids and adults with ADD have neurological gaps that interfere with the cognitive processes of memory, concentration, and attention span. In other words, kids with attention deficit disorder have often missed out on instruction because they were distracted and attending to other things instead of the instruction that was being given. Assignments, especially homework may be missed because they were distracted and attending to other things instead of the assignment that was being given. When kids aren’t paying attention in class, they often miss bits and pieces of skills, content, and the easy tricks to becoming efficient learners. Dr. Daniel Amen states that school problems can include: o Restlessness o Short attention span and distractibility o Impulsiveness o Procrastination o Trouble shifting attention o Forgetfulness o Writing disabilities o Reading disabilities o Visual processing problems o Auditory processing problems o Unusual study habits o Difficulties with timed situations such as timed tests.

ADHD and Learning Disabilities or Dyslexia

About 70% of kids with ADHD also have dyslexia, learning difficulties or learning disabilities. School age kids may have problems with reading, spelling, writing, penmanship, or arithmetic. The question then becomes one of, how do I help my ADHD kids to do well in school when they have such trouble attending to the instruction? How do I help them to improve their memory, mental energy, organizational skills, and expressive vocabulary so they can succeed in the school setting? There is a lot you can do to help your ADHD child in school. The key is to determine what specifically is interfering with their learning. Is it only the ADHD, or have they been misdiagnosed with ADHD? Are there other underlying causes interfering with their learning in addition to ADHD? For more information on the underlying causes of learning problems, you will want to check out our comprehensive behaviorally based learning assessment. It is critical to your child’s success, whether they have attention deficit disorder or not or whether they have been misdiagnosed with ADHD or not, to find out what other underlying causes may be contributing to your child’s educational struggles. Once you know exactly what is going on, there is so much you can do to help your child whether they have ADHD, have been misdiagnosed with ADHD or have a learning difficulty or learning disability.

Mid Summer Training – What You Can Do to Prepare Your Kids for School

July 9th, 2010
Mid Summer Training – What You Can Do to Prepare Your Kids for School I Can Hardly Believe It? Check it out... The FREE Live Teleseminar is filling up fast – Only 100 68 52 Spots left! Reserve your spot now. Mid-Summer Training Call I have had so many calls from parents recently, wondering how to help their child between now and when school starts back up. They realize it’s not too late to give their child a boost, but they also want to be sure they have an enjoyable rest of the summer. So, I decided to have a teleseminar where I will present information on summer activities to help your child's skills improve as well as activities rich in experiences and family time. I'm hosting a FREE Live Teleseminar on Wednesday July 14th at 8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central, 6 pm Mountain, and 5 pm Pacific. Upon registering you will receive a FREE Handbook on the 5 things you can do to help your child over the summer. Those that attend live will receive a surprise FREE gift. Searching for Mid-Summer Activities to Improve Your Child's Skills and Still Have Fun? FREE Live Teleseminar on Wednesday June 2nd at at 8 pm EST, 7 pm CST, 6 pm MST, and 5 pm PST. Space is limited. You can attend via phone or via internet! Reserve your Teleseminar line now at: Title: Mid-Summer Activities to Improve Your Child’s Skills and Still Have Fun Time: Wednesday, July 14th at 5:00pm Pacific Listening method: Phone + Web Simulcast To attend, visit: Mid-Summer Training Call LD Specialist and Board Certified Educational Therapist Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., is answering your questions about summer activities to help your child improve their skills. The teleseminar will be recorded; if you can't attend, you'll be able to listen later. Plus special surprise bonus just for registering! Those that attend live will receive another surprise FREE gift. Mid-Summer Training Call

Searching for Mid-Summer Activities to Improve Your Child's Learning Skills and Still Have Fun?

July 8th, 2010
It’s the almost middle of Summer Vacation and as you know, it is the perfect time to give your child a boost in their learning skills, but you still want to have fun… Join Bonnie Terry’s call and find out what you can do in just 20 minutes a day to boost your child’s reading, writing, and math skills and have fun at the same time. I'm hosting a FREE Live Teleseminar on Wednesday July 14th at 8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central, 6 pm Mountain, and 5 pm Pacific. Upon registering you will receive a FREE Handbook on the 5 steps you can take to help your child over the summer even if they have a learning problem, LD, dyslexia. The activities and steps are for all age students - kindergarten through adults. Those that attend the Live Teleseminar will also receive a surprise FREE gift. And, of course, if you can’t make it live on the call, you will get access to the recording! Mid-Summer Training Call FREE Live Teleseminar on Wednesday July 14th at 8 pm Eastern, 7 pm Central, 6 pm Mountain, and 5 pm Pacific. Space is limited. You can attend via phone or via internet! Reserve your space for the Teleseminar now at: Title: Searching for Summer Activities to Improve Your Child’s Learning Skills and Still Have Fun? Time: Wednesday, July 14th at 5pm Pacific, 6 pm Mountain, 7 pm Central, 8 pm Eastern. Listening method: Phone + Web Simulcast To register, visit: Mid-Summer Training Call Learn About: 1. How to improve your child's reading, writing, and math skills in just 20 minutes a day 2. 5 steps you can take to help your child 3. Activities to do at home, in the yard, or in your neighborhood Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

How do I Motivate My Child?

June 14th, 2010
Hi, Bonnie. We spoke on the phone when I ordered your materials, which I've since received. Thanks very much! You mentioned at the time that you are open to questions as I began using the materials--and, of course, I now have those questions! -My son will be entering 3rd grade. His 2nd grade teacher noted his reading fluency as low proficient at end of year (technically passing, according to the DRA2-28 which they started using this year). At some point in the last few months of school, some one of his reading teachers at school appears to have told him that he read at 120 words per minute, and he adamantly clings to this. However, I clearly see where he is still skipping or guessing at words inaccurately (and I don't know if they measured that). So, when I put the 5 minutes to reading book in front of him, he was insulted--very put off. I tried explaining to him that we were not measuring speed so much as accuracy, and that we could chart his accuracy as it improved. I explained that even adults use this program. I offered to let him start with one of the later exercise if we would then go back to the first and didn't get much more cooperation than I had originally gotten (though he did a fairly good job of reading exercise 45). Do you have any thoughts on how to break the resistance without forcing him to do it? -My son's other complaint about the exercises is that they feel to him like tongue twisters because all the words sound the same, and he really doesn't like that. Do you have any suggestions for changing that perception? I am very interested to see if I can get him to use this program, and interested to see if we will see results--but I am meeting with HUGE resistance up front. I really don't want to force him to do it because I think that will diminish the results. Thanks for any suggestions! Joan Hi Joan, I'm glad you see that he isn't actually reading 120 words per minute with accuracy. I never understand how they are measuring the kids when they say things like that because you can see from what you've done already, that is NOT the REALITY! When you time him, you can show him what he actually did. That should start to get him to see the reality - his words per minute and mistakes per minute. Explain how you are scoring him. If you need to press the point, you can even have him total his words up after you time him, so he knows how many there are. I've had to do that with a few students over the years. I don't do it to be 'mean,' but sometimes they need a reality check so you can move forward. We start with easy words - because we are working on accuracy as well as speed. Big words are just little words (syllables) put together. If you can't read the small words accurately, you won't be able to read larger ones efficiently and accurately either - which will mean you will end up re-reading your social studies book or science book 3-4 times in order to be able to answer the questions. I know this, this happened not only with many students, but with my own son. In fact, he flung his 3 pound social studies book at me saying, "Mom, I've read it 3 times and still can't find the answers. You do it." This was because of his skipping, repeating, or mispronouncing words. Once we consistently did the 5 Minutes to Better Reading he was able to read his book one time and get the answers - because he read with accuracy in a quick amount of time. Doing the program - 5 minutes a day, will end up saving hours and hours of homework time. We are looking at the big picture here - making his life easier for the rest of his schooling - which at a minimum is the next 10 years (through high school). But, you really need to start at the beginning - even though it may seem easy at first. Even my adult students start at the beginning! You are competing against yourself, no one else! And, yes, some of the drills are like 'tongue twisters'. That is on purpose - to be sure you learn to read exactly what is there. Your son may think it is 'too easy', but his 'fussing' about it is actually telling you how much he needs it - that it is actually taxing and stretching his visual processing system. Hang in there! And remind him, it is only 5 minutes a day. It is not like you are expecting him to work for 2 hours or even one hour. You are only asking 5 minutes. And, when you are consistent, you will see results in just a few days. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the more they see themselves improving the easier it gets. Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

Give Your Child a 2 – 4 Year Reading & Writing Advantage Today

February 24th, 2010

“FACT – Some Parents Are Giving Their Children A 2 To 4 Year Learning Advantage In Reading, Writing And Math In Just 20 Minutes A Day!”

The alarming realization that your child is struggling at school, followed by frustration of not knowing why, and the "is there anything you can do about it" often leads to sleepless nights. However, there is much that you can do to give your child reading help, writing, help, and math help. Join us on our upcoming call to find out more. The upcoming private training call is Tuesday, March 2nd at 8 PM EST; 5 PM PST. To register for the call, just go to

Should We Do a 504 Plan for Our Son?

February 4th, 2010
Hi Bonnie, We spoke with the principal at my son's school this morning. The talk went well and he seemed very concerned about our son. But, the bottom line is, the school is reluctant to give my son 504 because it will stick with him for life (though they offered today if we really really want one). They are going to test him soon for gifted so that we can include additional accommodations in an IEP or 504 if necessary. What is my next step? Should I go ahead with a 504 Plan? Candi Having a 504 Plan in place is not a stigma, it is protection and accommodations for your son that will help him learn with greater ease. What is wrong with that? If the school needs to implement specific accommodations to help your son that is what needs to be done. The beauty of it is that it will carry him from one year to the next but can be changed and adjusted as your sons needs change. It will ensure that attention is brought to his learning needs. If at a later date - which may be a year or years down the line and he no longer needs them, fine, you don't have to have him covered by a 504 at that point. Here is an informal comprehensive learning difficulty/disability screening tool you can do as a parent and get a great picture of the underlying causes of your kids learning problems available. This tool actually helps you to understand why your child struggles, which may be accerbated by his ADHD. There is usually some underlying cause that may not be enough for the schools testing to show that there is a specific learning disability, but it is still actually interferring with their learning with ease. For example, each of my own kids tested to be gifted, but they each had an area that made learning harder than it needed to be. Once we understood what that or those areas were, learning became easier for them. Hope this helps, Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET P.S. Don't forget to sign up for the FREE teaching & homework tips! Bonnie Terry

How to Improve Reading and Memory Skills and Still Have Fun

January 7th, 2010
What can you do during the winter weather to help your kids improve their skills? This question is a frequent one for me. Parents are always interested in helping their kids, but it is sometimes hard to stay motivated, especially during the winter months. The following activities work well with all kids, whether they have dyslexia, LD, ADHD, are falling through the cracks, or are gifted. I have done the activities successfully with all of them! I have two favorite things to do to not only help my kids, but to stay motivated doing it too. The first thing is to have more frequent game nights, playing educational games - learning games like The Sentence Zone, The Comprehension Zone, or The Math Zone. When you play games with your kids, they build skills while having fun and get a lot of modeling from you too. At the same time you get to have quality family time, so it is a double win situation. The other activity I like to do is to have an evening where I might turn the heat up a degree or two, and everyone gets dressed in ‘summer’ clothes, and we have a ‘picnic’ on the floor of the living room. Afterwards, we might tell stories to each other – what I call ‘add-on stories.’ In these stories one person starts off and then the next person adds on to the story. We keep going round and round and the story gets longer and longer. The only thing is, the kids have to pay attention and so do you, so what you add on makes sense to the story. This builds listening comprehension and memory as well as a really good time. Hope this is helpful! Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

A Parent's ABC's of ADHD

December 29th, 2009
I just read this by Lindsey Petersen of 5kidswdisabilities and thought you would all appreciate it. It rings true for so many parents, not just those of ADHD kids. Hope you enjoy... The ABCs of ADHD December 27, 2009 by 5kidswdisabilities The ABCs of ADHD/ADD I’ve read the articles and books on ADHD.  I know the discipline methods, rewards and time outs, the methods of Ross Green (from The Explosive Child) and the medications that work best.  But I also know the realities of ADHD, having 2 children with ADHD and 2 with ADD.  In real life terms, the ABCs of ADHD/ADD are: Attention! Always on alert for dangerous situations due to impulsive behaviors, such as running across streets without looking, grabbing a butcher knife to cut the end off a banana, running up the down escalator, and grabbing the dog or any other animal roughly and the dog (or other animal) retaliating by biting (or scratching.) “Be careful!  Be careful!  Be careful” is the parent mantra. Climbing climbing climbing:  out of the crib at age 15 months, out of the bedroom window when a teenager, on rock walls and curbstones and couches. Don’t touch that!  Don’t do that! Don’t hit her!  Don’t pull that!  Don’t eat that! Don’t hurt it!  Don’t break it! Exhausted parents trying their best to keep up. Friendships are difficult. Go!  Go!  Go! They’re always on the go! Helpless parents, unable to control their child’s behavior, especially embarrassing in the grocery store under the staring eyes of others, judging them. If only he’d…    If only she’d….  Parents dream for a different lifestyle. Jumping Bean:  he goes here and there from friend to friend to friend, never staying long enough to establish a real friendship. Kitchen walls are written on, bathroom doors have holes kicked in, curtains are ripped, bedrooms are messy. LOVE.  Parents give unconditional love, but the behavior doesn’t change because the  ADHD remains… MEDICATION!  MEDICATION!  MEDICATION! Alleluia when it works!!!! Not paying attention in school so schoolwork suffers: not paying attention for homework, so it’s a nightly fight: not paying attention to other’s feelings, so no friendships are formed. Overload happens easily and tantrums result. Keep it quiet.  Keep it simple.  Keep it under stimulated for peace. Psychiatrists are our best friends! Questions!  Questions from them all the time! Especially hard to escape when you are stuck riding in the car together. Rewards for good behaviors; stickers, ice cream, Playstation, tv. Self-esteem is low, parent  and teacher patience is limited so he’s always the troublemaker and never measures up. Time-outs in the seat till we’re blue in the face.  All the time spent in time-outs would add up to a year in the life. Understanding is needed from parents, family, friends and teachers; understanding is often in short supply. Very draining on all, child and adults. Whining, whining, whining until their parent’s ears hurt. X-rays, CAT Scans and emergency room visits:  active behavior results in injuries. YIKES! What has he done NOW?!?! Zest for life would be a polite way of putting it… |...................... Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

Does My Child Have Dyslexia?

December 16th, 2009
So many parents ask me that question. I get that question from parents that homeschool as well as those that don't. Sometimes I even get that question from parents of gifted children. Yes, even gifted children can and often do have areas of perception that aren't working as efficiently as they should and could and as a result even gifted children often work harder than they need to. The term dyslexia means reading difficulty. Many children have reading difficulties. The key is to understand what the underlying causes of the reading or writing difficulties are. Some children have difficulties with one or two of the areas of auditory processing that affect learning. Some children have problems with one or two of the areas of visual processing that affect learning. Some children have a combination of auditory and visual processing areas that aren't working as efficiently as they should be. There are several things you need to know as a parent to help your child in addition to the type of program that is best suited to help your child.
  1. You can help your child when you know what the underlying causes are
  2. You can help your child have greater access to learning
  3. You can give your child a 2 - 4 year advantage in reading, writing, and math in just minutes a day
Find out what you need to know to help your child in minutes a day at Hope this is helpful. Bonnie Terry, M.Ed., BCET

Reading Help & Phonics Help for Older Students

November 18th, 2009
Hi there, I recently found you on the web and just watching your vids, I'm VERY interested. To wit: I'm homeschooling my 16 year old nephew who has been diagnosed ADHD and dyslexic. With the phonics reading materials I've found on the net and at my local library, I can only find elementary school age relative materials. Money is tight or I'd simply order EVERYTHING you offer. Any suggestions? Thank you for your time, and more importantly your efforts to bring REAL EDUCATION to this nation! Sincerely, Rich Brewer Hi Rich, Sorry for the delay in responding. I was out of town visiting my mom in Chicago. I know what you mean about phonics reading materials being geared to elementary students. In fact, most are geared to kindergarten through 3rd grade. That is why I designed mine for all ages. I've always worked with students from kindergarten through adult ages. I figured that my younger students would feel like they were doing older kids stuff and my older students wouldn't feel like they had to do little kid stuff. You can always start small and gradually build what you are using. The first things I would get are the Making Spelling Sense, Making Spelling Sense II, and Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills. The Making Spelling Sense teaches all of the phonics, word attack skills, auditory processing, and word structure. The Five Minutes to Better Reading works on reading fluency and accuracy as well as visual and auditory processing skills. The Spelling Pack saves you $4.00; the Five Minutes to Better Reading Set saves you $9.00 When you purchase all of them as the Reading Pack - which includes the Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills + the Comprehension Zone you get a $20.00 discount, plus you then have the comprehension piece in place. You also get a copy of my new e-book: Understanding LD and Dyslexia as a bonus with the Reading Pack. Hope this is helpful. I'm glad to see you signed up for the free teaching and homework tips from my blog. BTW: You can subscribe to the videos on You Tube too. Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

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