Recently I attended a group meeting with my daughter’s third grade teacher. All the parents were encouraged to sit in our child’s designated spot. As my adult-sized body balanced precariously on the uncomfortable wooden chair beneath me, I wondered how in the world little bodies – with much less backside cushion – could stand to spend eight hours sitting on what is essentially a small plank with legs. Evidently, teachers have also struggled with this ergonomic conundrum over the years and now, many schools are adopting a new seating strategy – stability balls.
Normally used in the gym for exercises that improve core strength and posture, a new line of stability balls are now being marketed for use in the office and classroom. Available in friendly primary colors, the balls are equipped with legs to discourage kids from rolling them around the room or having ball races. Because, yeah, they’re way ahead of you on that one, you little shenaniganizers. The idea behind the use of stability balls in the classroom is based around the theory that when the body is engaged, the mind is, too.
The balls aren’t cheap, particularly when you’re outfitting an entire classroom, but teachers who have adopted the new seating arrangement say they’re pleased with the outcome. Though a few teachers had trouble with students throwing the balls or other mistreatment, most said they noticed an immediate improvement in their students’ attention spans. A few educators noticed they had trouble with kids bouncing on them for the first few days, but that quickly diminished with redirection. One form of redirection included going back to the wooden plank chair.
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I’m a bit of a neuropsychology nerd. I find it fascinating and so helpful to truly understand people. While I already understood that yoga can be helpful in treating trauma and PTSD, Dr. Bruce Perry, whom I greatly admire, introduced me to the idea that yoga can also be helpful in helping the brain develop in an organized fashion, especially for children who have been traumatized.
As a result, I routinely recommend adoptive parents practice yoga with their children. Whether your child has been adopted, traumatized, has other struggles or not, yoga can help him or her develop physical, emotionally, and neurologically; here’s why:
- Learning to control breath and body can help children feel more in control of themselves, which can be extremely powerful for children that have been traumatized, children that have been adopted, and children diagnosed with ADHD.
- Yoga has been known to enhance concentration and attention span, while teaching focus.
- Children can increase confidence by successfully attempting new poses and developing new skills.
- Flexibility can prevent injuries, and children can increase strength through yoga with little risk of injury.
Gestational diabetes and low socioeconomic status seem to be risks for the development of attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) according to research published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Reearchers Yoko Nomura, PhD, MPH, David J. Marks, Ph, Bella Grossman, MA, Michelle Yoon, BS, BA, Holly Loudon, MD, MPH, Joanne Stone, MD, and Jeffrey M. Halperin, PhD analyzed data from an ongoing cohort study according to Med Page Today. While the original study included 212 children, only 10 percent of the mothers reported experiencing gestational diabetes.
The children who had mothers who had experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy were more likely to demonstrate inattention, while the children who also came from families of lower socioeconomic status, were more likely to demonstrate both inattention and hyperactivity. Children from families of a lower socioeconomic status who were not exposed to gestational diabetes showed twice the risk for developing ADHD. When the researchers analyzed differences between children who were exposed to gestational diabetes to children who were exposed to lower socioeconomic status to children who were exposed to both and to those who were exposed to neither, there was an obvious statistically significant likelihood that children exposed to both would develop ADHD; however, there seemed to be no increased risk for children exposed to only one of the two variables.
I would like to see similar research done with a larger sample size. Information about maternal history of gestational diabetes came from maternal reports approximately four years after gestation, which could limit the accuracy of the data. Future research should pull that information from medical records. This research looked at children between the ages of four and six. While six is often a key age for such diagnoses, a more longitudinal study may provide us more accurate results.
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I must say that I was a bit disappointed to read a press release this morning about a new dietary supplement to help college students manage procrastination. I cannot blame Genius Labs, LLC. for trying to make a buck, and they probably have a market, but it is disappointing that they can spell out that a healthier diet generally equals a higher GPA, yet many will see their supplement as the answer rather than improving diet.
I did find it interesting that they linked poor diet, along with the tendency for up to 95% of college students to procrastinate tasks, to the statistic of one in every four college students illegally using ADHD medications like Adderall. We know that a healthier diet for ADHD can help those diagnosed, why do we just accept that college students, in general, won’t eat well?
Genius Labs, LLC. describes themselves as “a Baltimore-based privately held dietary supplement company that focuses on developing proprietary supplement blends that maximize brain health and performance. Founded by an MBA student searching for a natural mental edge; the firm targets college students that often cram to complete school work and study for tests.” Their new product Cram It! is a blend of omega-3 and various herbs, vitamins, and minerals with little caffeine that they claim “supports memory and the ability to analyze complex ideas.”
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Have you ever wanted to look at all the different research studies about nutrition reviewed by DietsInReview in one place and see what can be deduced from all of the findings together? That is basically what psychologists call a literature review. If you are paying attention, the findings of a literature review probably will not be too surprising. I wasn’t too surprised by the Good Morning America (GMA) headline “Healthy Diet Best for ADHD Kids” based off a recent literature review by J. Gordon MIllichap, MD and Michelle M. Yee, CPNP titled “The Diet Factor in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” An “ADHD Diet” is something we have talked about before.
The authors, who work at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, seemed most impressed by a diet high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and low in fats. They also seem somewhat impressed by omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements. The abstract also states that “sugar-restricted, additive/preservative-free, oligoantigenic/elimination, and fatty acid supplements” seem to reduce symptoms of ADHD. Unfortunately, the authors seem to be against recommending additive-free and oligoantigenic/elimination diets, such as the specific carb diet, because they are inconvenient for parents.
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