Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2009

Dr. Amen and ADHD

Dr. Amen is a well known child and adult psychologist specializing in brain imaging science. He believes there are currently 6 types of ADHD not the 3 stated in the Diagnostic Manual.

The brain imaging that he works with is referred to as SPECT imaging (single photon emission computerized tomography). SPECT is a sophisticated nuclear medicine study that looks directly at cerebral blood flow and indirectly at brain activity (or metabolism). In this study, a radioactive isotope (which, as we will see, is akin to a myriad of beacons of energy or light) is bound to a substance that is readily taken up by the cells in the brain.

One kind is a 3D surface brain image, looking at the blood flow of the brain’s cortical surface. These images are helpful for picking up cortical surface areas of good activity as well as underactive areas. They are helpful to look at strokes, brain trauma, the effects from drug abuse, etc. A normal 3D surface scan shows good, full, symmetrical activity across the br…


The brain weighs approximately 3 pounds and has been the topic of many a research article. The amount of information in relation to how the brain functions is vast but has not even scraped the surface of understanding. There is so much more to learn but there have been many insights that researchers have uncovered that help us when it comes to teaching the young brain to respond to learning.

During the early years 0-10 the brain is at its most vulnerable stage to change. Parents and educators share a desire to maximise the growth and development of children to ensure a strong foundation as they continue to mature. Providing children optimal learning opportunities and engaging environments can encourage the process of acquiring knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge. Certain methods of learning can be used to help acheive this goal.

Play and the Brain: Play is a complex, lifelong activity. Play usually involves both mental and social skills that promote learning. Here…


I became a teacher because I had excellent relationships with those that taught me in both primary school and high school. Their ability to engage and connect with me made me realize that teaching was what I wanted to do as a career when I had the opportunity to do so. Teachers guided me and counselled me when I was experiencing the typical adolescent dilemmas. They encouraged me to excel and find my passions and interests as I became a young adult. I remember them not for the curriculum they taught me but for the life lessons that they helped me learn.

My philosophy is very much centered on these experiences I had with my teachers as a child. I believe that children continually go through developmental stages in their lives where they need discipline, guidance and support. Teaching is not all about delivering curriculum or information but connecting to engage them to make personal decisions that encourage their own growth and development.

I have learned that initially my methods were…

Sensory Motor Regulatory Patterns

Sensory Motor Regulatory PatternsPurpose:Calm and organize nervous systemPromote emotional attunementEstablish “facial gazing” and “emotion sharing”Establish adult as soothing support when distressed.Use very simple interactive activities, such as peek-a boo, “I am going get you”, rocking back and forth, sandwiching/squishing with bean bag, etc. that provides repetitive, rhythmic interaction patterns.Sit (stand) face to face, at eye level, with close physical contact.This allows you to regulate activity, keep child focused, and encourages facial gazing.Add rhythmic singsong or chatting (like “row, row, row your boat”) to the rhythmic pattern.This uses your voice, touch, and facial expression to engage the child.Use exaggerated gestures, animated facial expressions, and exciting vocal noises to engage the child, establish facial gazing, and share enjoyment.Your primary objective is to establish facial gazing so that t…

Learning to Read: Why It is Crucial to a Child's Future

"The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) considers that teaching
and learning in today’s schools reflect not only significant educational concerns, but public health
concerns as well." Children who do not learn to read or understand language, cannot verbalize an opinion or thought, solve problems and cannot calculate and reason mathematically may find that the opportunity for leading a rewarding and fulfilling life are seriously compromised. School failure may have devastating consequences for children and may hinder their ability to interact successfully in society. Since reading forms the basics fundamental for all academic learning it is paramount children learn and become proficient at this skill. Children who experience difficulties may crush the child's excitement for life long learning and pursuits.

Many young people have vocalized their embarassment when asked to read in front of their peers with the knowledge that they are lackin…

ADHD: Effective Interventions for the Classroom


The chart above gives teachers ideas on strategies that they can implement in the classroom. The chart was developed by Robert Reid (1999). Other factors that need to be taken into consideration are:

1. Set up the environment: Watch for placement of too many stimulating objects. The main teaching area should be fairly bland as ADHD students become overwhelmed and attracted to stimulating objects. The placement of objects int he classroom needs to be analyzed but also the location of the student within the classroom. Open classrooms can be difficult for ADHD students as it may prove distracting. Have two desks for the ADHD child so they may move from one desk to the other. Stand up desks, seated desks, study carrels - depending on the individual needs of the student.

2. Transition time and instruction giving: Be clear and concise. Stay away from too many instructions at once as ADHD childre…

Luke Deserves So Much More

Luke Deserves So Much More Stephen Drill - Article from Sunday Sun
June 21, 2009 10:26am LUKE Modra spends 20 hours a day locked in a spartan room. He's alone. His guards pass his food through the door.He has a TV in his room, but no remote control.For Luke, simple luxuries such as toasters or a kettle are banned in the suburban Melbourne house that has become his prison. Luke has never broken the law. He has never been charged or convicted of any wrongdoing. But he has been given a life sentence - autism, a complex condition of developmental disorders that affect communication and social skills. "Everybody deserves somebody to love, something to look forward to. Luke doesn't have that now," his mother, Ellen, said. Luke, 20, is considered one of Victoria's most severe autistic cases. So bad are his symptoms that his heartbroken parents have been unable to care for him at home for the past five years. Because of his violent tendencies, he now lives in a Department o…

Thinking Positively: How Some Characteristics of ADHD Can be Adaptive and Accepted in the Classroom

Are ADHD kids annoying? This is a question that I ask in my seminars. Depending on the course and the teacher comments range from "oh yea" , "Sometimes", "Not Really" I then tell my participants that what ever they think they are they are" Our intervention is typically guided by our perception of the child or student. How can behaviours that are displayed by some of our ADHD kids be accepted in the classroom?
Sherman, Rasmussen and Baydala note that children who are ADHD respond to salient or novel stimuli and become easily distracted. Thus attention problems result in decreasing ability to attend to tasks that require sustained attention.
Some strategies that may help children read and write
paraphrasinglimiting distractionsscanning for headingsgraphic organizers - flow charts, models of written work, and aiding in self-editingThe authors found that strategies helpful for ADHD students are beneficial for all students.

Thinking differently can cha…

People With Autism Better at Problem Solving

A new study done by Harvard and University of Montreal compared the abilty of 15 Autistics and 18 non-autistics in completing the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) - a test that measures hypothesis-testing, problem-solving and learning skills.

"While both groups performed RSPM test with equal accuracy, the autistic group responded more quickly and appeared to use perceptual regions of the brain to accelerate problem-solving," says lead author Isabelle Soulières, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University who completed the experiment at the Université de Montréal. Critics of the study said that autistic people would not be able to complete the test because of its complexity. The study showed that Autistics could complete the test as efficiently and had more highly developed perception than non-Autistics.

"This study builds on our previous findings and should help educators capitalize on the intellectual abilities of autistics," says senior research…

Building A Solid Foundation for School - A Communities Approach

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth presented a paper titled "Building a Solid Foundation for School - A Communities Approach. The paper argues that there are more factors involved in school readiness than just the child's ability or maturity level. Readiness for school involves a partnership between the family, child, school, the community and the services provided within that community. The integration or partnership of these components build a solid foundation that caters for the social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs of all those involved in the partnership.

The child can no longer be looked at as a bystander to their own development and involvement. The authors note that "The agentic child is defined as a social actor who participates in his/her life and co-constructs education with adults and peers [2]. It is the collaboration between the child and the adults that makes for a successful process. Indeed, recent policies focusing on
young c…

Talking to Your Kids About Their Abilities

Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay is a remarkable young man from south India with a special talent. Severely autistic and nearly non-verbal, Tito can communicate his thoughts and feelings through remarkable prose and poetry - written in fluent English. Tito's view of the world provides an extraordinary opportunity to explore the hidden world of autism.

Children with a disability know they are different in some way to their peers but sometimes have difficulty expressing their feelings around these issues. They may present behaviour that seems aggressive or non-compliant as a way to communicate their sadness or fear around being different than their peers. Some important things that may help:

1. Adults sometimes get very busy. Remember to take the time to sit down and talk with your kids not at them. Try to discuss things that may be bothering them.

2. Actively listen. Acknowledge their feelings. If your kids say that they hate being different. Our first reaction is to say something…

Casein Free and Gluten Free Diet: Affect on Children with Autism and ADHD

1. What is a casein free diet?
A casein free diet is where dairy (protein) is removed or any other food product containing casein.
Fortified cereals, ice cream, processed meats, salad dressings are just a few of the foods that could contain casein. In order to know for sure if a particular food contains casein be sure to read the label. It sometimes is not obvious that the particular food item contains dairy product or casein.

2. What is a gluten free diet?
A gluten free diet eliminates the wheat, barley, rye, oats, and any products made from these grains.

3. How do these products affect kids with autism?
The most studied theory is that eating or drinking milk protein leads to high levels of protein by-products, called casomorphines, in some children with autism. These by-products may then affect behavior like a drug would. Specifically, in these children, casomorphines could reduce their desire for social interaction, block pain messages, and increase confusion. If milk protein is ta…

The Brain in the Gut - Implications for ADHD and Autism

Reference: Taken from "A contemporary view of selected subjects from the pages of The New York Times, January 23, 1996. Printed in Themes of the Times: General Psychology, Fall 1996. Distributed Exclusively by Prentice-Hall Publishing Company.

The Enteric Nervous System: The Brain in the Gut

The gut has a mind of its own, the "enteric nervous system". Just like the larger brain in the head, researchers say, this system sends and receives impulses, records experiences and respond to emotions. Its nerve cells are bathed and influenced by the same neurotransmitters. The gut can upset the brain just as the brain can upset the gut.

The gut's brain or the "enteric nervous system" is located in the sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. Considered a single entity, it is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins that zap messages between neurons, support cells like those found in the brain proper and a complex circuitry…

Learning Organizations and Shared Leadership

Acknowledging the transformations that are occurring in understanding leadership and how organizations are structured is a continuing dilemma within the field of education. Schools have found themselves in an environment experiencing discontinuous change and the expectation that they re-evaluate their core business in order to achieve the most beneficial outcomes for their students. The business of education is undergoing a shift in leadership paradigms as learning organizations and multiple leadership roles evolve as prominent models to structure public education in the 21st century.

The reality of establishing a learning organization and shared leadership may be daunting for educators for some believe that the operation of a school is very different from running or managing a corporation or private business. However, the devolution of education from large district control to the individual school system has required leaders to re-evaluate their purpose within the school. The ab…

Neurotherapy for ADHD and Autism

The issues that were identified by the two educators were the increasing number of students displaying symptoms of or being diagnosed with oppositional behaviour, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the schools ability or inability to adapt to accommodate the unique needs of today’s children. This paper will define these disorders and explore innovative approaches like neurotherapy and biofeedback to improve various cognitive skills related to attention and memory and to improve the negative behaviours that may be associated with each disorder.

Stanovich and Jordan (1998) have stated that “today’s teachers must deal, as never before, with heterogeneity in their classroom”. Students in the classroom who are severely disruptive may have a variety of mental health issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiance and Conduct Disorder (Cook, 2005) and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The American Psychiatric Association …