How Writing Can Help Your Child

Children of all ages (including those with cerebral palsy) need outlet to express their emotions; a place where they can discuss their accomplishments, their goals and their feelings safely. Many children do this by keeping a journal or a diary. Personal writing can be a powerful tool to help children and adults alike understand their day to day feelings, whether it be publicly or privately. This practice can be beneficial as soon as your child has learned how to write, and can carry on through their life.

Where to begin

One way you can encourage your child to keep a journal or diary is leading by example. Set a schedule where, at a certain time of the day, you can sit down with your child to review what has happened that day and how they felt about it. Start the process with simple, friendly conversations. As this schedule continues, begin encouraging your child to draw pictures about their day. These can be simple, such as smiley face or a depiction of the activities of the day. Once your child gets into this habit, take some notes or type out your child's observations. Finally, show them your writings on their thoughts and encourage them to try writing their thoughts out.

Getting the words on the page

Consider keeping your child's writing assignments short and simple in the beginning. For example, sometimes have your child write one or two sentences a day that describes what they did or how they felt. You could even suggest topics to them. The goal here is to get your child to apply critical thinking to their daily activities and feelings. If your child comes up with a topic of their own, encourage them to use it. The more they apply themselves to their journal, the better. As your child's writing skills develop, you can suggest longer topics to write about, such as describing what they did over the summer.


Blogging has been a popular way for the young and old to express their thoughts on just about any topic you can think of. Many young kids use blogging as an Internet journal or diary. Of course, for youngger children, you'll want to establish some rules and make efforts to ensure your child's safety and privacy are maintained. For example, you may want to approve of your child's topics before they publish them on the Internet. Because of this, blogging might be a more suitable platform for a teenager or a young adult. As your child grows older and understands how the Internet works, they may have a better sense of how to play it safe while still expressing themselves and making friends in the process.

The technology of writing has proved to be very beneficial for children with cerebral palsy . From handwriting and typing on a screen to computers designed with cerebral palsy in mind, communication tools such as these can provide children with the means to express themselves and talk to their friends and family about their lives. Best of all, this kind of therapy can be one of the most cost-effective treatments you can buy for a child with cerebral palsy – a simple notebook and pen that could make your child's quality of life significantly better.

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An Overview of Visual Impairments in Children With Cerebral Palsy

Unfortunately, visual impairment is common in children with cerebral palsy. As many as 75 percent will develop some degree of visual impairment during their development. Because sight is such a key element to a child's growth and development, diagnosis and treatment of vision issues at the earliest possible stage is critical in children with cerebral palsy. Parents need to familiarize themselves with the types of vision disorders common in children with CP as part of an effort to provide them with a full and functional life as they grow older.

Cerebral palsy can result in many different vision disorders, but the 4 most common are CVI (cortical visual impairment), acuity loss, field loss and amblyopia.

CVI is a dysfunction of the brain and not a direct problem with the eyes. It is the most common visual impairment among children with CP. It is known as “cortical visual impairment”, “cerebral visual impairment” or sometimes “cortical blindness” (despite the fact that not all people who suffer from CVI are totally blind). The list of potential causes of CVI-asphyxia, ischemia or hypoxia during the birth process; developmental brain defects, head injury, hydrocephalus, infant stroke, etc. mirrors the list of potential causes for cerebral palsy. Symptoms of CVI include: poor visual acuity, abnormal response to light, atypical eye movement, fatigue from visual tasks and difficulty picking out specific objects in a busy array.

Acuity loss is what it sound like: blurred vision. Common farsightedness and nearsightedness are examples of acuity loss and can usually be treated by corrective glasses or contact lenses.

Field loss is the umbrella term for a dysfunction in the eye's field of vision. For instance, “Central loss” would refer to a visual impairment in the center of the field of vision. “Hemianopia” refers to visual impairment in one of the four corners of the field of vision. “Island of vision” is when all but one or two isolated spots are visually impaired “Scotomas” refers to the reversal symptoms of “Island of vision-when only one or two spots are visually impaired.” “Peripheral loss” (aka “tunnel vision “) is the loss of visual fidelity on one or more sides.

“Amblyopia” (aka “lazy eye) occurs when a person has trouble determining depth of field and one eye will have noticeably poorer vision than the other.

Apart from the symptoms of CVI listed above, it is important for parents of children with cerebral palsy to be on the constant lookout for other eye and vision related problems. Poor focusing or tracking, constant eye rubbing, squinting, chronic redness or teasing could be indicators of the early stages of a vision disorder and should be checked out as soon as possible.

Most vision impairments in children with cerebral palsy are just as treatable as they are in children without and many can be managed with corrective lenses of some kind. For children diagnosed with CVI, the treatment can become more involved. Recent developments in “visual stimulation therapies” can help maximize your child's visual skills and resources. If a child's visual skills have not reached prescribed milestones within the first 10 years, it may become necessary to begin training the child in non-visual forms of communication, writing and reading, including Braille and text-to-speech software. You will need to work with your child's optometrist to develop the appropriate treatment and education path to fit the child's specific needs.

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Choosing an Educational Path for Children With Cerebral Palsy

How a child receives his education is one of the most important choices a parent faces. For the parent of a child with cerebral palsy, the choices are no less important and can be very difficult. Like all parents, you want to place your child in an educational environment that will allow him to thrive and reach his or her greatest potential. Every child with cerebral palsy has different needs and abilities and deciding whether to place them in a special education environment, with specially trained educators or a mainstream education program, where they might find more opportunities to learn how to function in mainstream culture. Either choice has its advantages and disadvantages.


Mainstream does not automatically mean “public school.” Private schools also offer mainstream education and environment.

If a child's cerebral palsy is deemed “mild,” he or she will probably benefit from a mainstream environment. It can provide them with certain social skills and emotional growth they might not get elsewhere. So much of early education is about socialization and learning to interact with others. Proponents of placing children with mild cerebral palsy into mainstream educational systems suggest it benefits both the afflicted child (by giving them a stronger sense of daily routine and demonstrating their self-esteem) and the non-disabled child (who gains a stronger sense of empathy) and inclusivity).

As mandated by law (IDEA – Individual with Disabilities Education Act), children who meet the requirements of “special needs” can and should develop an IEP (individualized education program) to ensure a child's educational needs are met. IEP's may include additional or alternative physical or speech therapy or other special considerations during certain classes. This can help keep them in the mainstream environment while seeing that they get the special attention they require. IEP's can address both physical limitations as well as cognitive.


Children with more severe manifestations of cerebral palsy may not be able to thrive in a mainstream environment and may benefit from attending a special education school. Here they will work with a staff of education specialists trained to educate children with a variety of disabilities, not just cerebral palsy. In a special school program, each needs of each child is independently addressed and monitored, thus eliminating the fear that a mainstream school might move too fast for your child.

The lines between main education and special education are not as harshly defined as they once were. Children who attend special schools often attend classes (such as art and music) at main schools or attend mainstream school for the bulk of their courses and only attend special school classes in subjects that are struggling with.

In choosing an educational path that best fits the needs and abilities of your child, there are ample resources. Teachers, doctors and therapists are all available to work with you in bringing together the right components of the education your child needs and describes.

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An Overview of Feeding Tubes for Children With Cerebral Palsy

Some children with cerebral palsy have difficulty or are unable to feed themselves. Some have trouble ingesting important medications. In these cases, parents may consider utilizing a feeding tube to ensure their child receives adequate nutrition.

Clearly, the decision to use a feeding tube requires the participation of doctors and nutritionists. It may be that your child is not experiencing adequate caloric intake and is experiencing a lack of appropriate weight gain. Even if their weight is within the prescribed spectrum, they may be deficient in certain vitamin intake.

If you are considering a feeding tube, your child's physician will be able to direct you to the most appropriate type. Tubes can be inserted through the nose, leading to the stomach, or directly into the stomach wall. This will be done with the child under anesthesia, so the procedure should be painless.

Some of the types and terms you may want to familiarize yourself with:

G-tube (Gastrostomy Tube) – refers to a tube inserted through the abdomen into the stomach. It is primarily used when long-term feeding is foreseen.

PEG tubes – PEG stands for “percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy.” It is a type of G-tube inserted endoscopically into the stomach.

Bard Buttons – named for the company that manufactures them, a bard button is a G-tube with an external “button” that fits flush with the skin. An extension tube is connected to facilitating feeding.

Nasogastric (NG) Tubes – a tube that is inserted through one nostril, passing through the esophagus and into the stomach. This is usually only used for short term needs. It does not require a surgical procedure to insert.

Nasojejunal (NJ) and Nasoduodenal (ND) tubes – these tubes are very similar to NG Tubes, except that they are extremely thread into the middle section of the small intestine (the jejunum) or the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine, just beyond the stomach). These are for children who, for whatever reason, can not tolerate feeding into the stomach.

If it is determined that your child will benefit from the use of one of these feeding tubes, the next step in the process is to work with the doctor and / or nutritionist to determine what type of formula will most benefit them. There are both commercially made formulas as well as recipes for creating your own at home.

The general term for the process of installing a feeding tube is known as “gastrostomy.”

Stamm gastrostomy – the open surgical placement of a tube through an incision in the abdomen. The stomach is sutured to the peritoneum at the exact site.

Janeway gastrostomy – the creation of a permanent gastric fistula by means of a laparoscopic procedure. Laparoscopic refers to a procedure that is a less invasive alternative to open surgery.

Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) – as mentioned above, this is considered a non-surgical method of inserting a feeding tube. The patient needs only mild sedation for this type of procedure.

Complications that sometimes arise from the use of a feeding tube include 1) accidental inhalation of the formula 2) choking 3) bacterial infections 4) organ rupture. These complications are somewhat rare and usually result from improper use or cleaning of the device, but they present enough of a risk to stimulate debt on which children should be fed in this manner. Despite the risks, many children with cerebral palsy have benefited and thrived from an upgrade in their nutritional intake. As long as a serious commitment is made to properly monitor and maintain whatever device is used, you should have no problems.

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An Overview of Hearing Loss Issues in Children With Cerebral Palsy

There are numerous potential physical and cognitive afflictions common with children either born with or who develop cerebral palsy. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of children with CP will develop some degree of hearing impairment. Any child with hearing impairments can experience difficulties in language development and socialization, but since children with CP commonly experience other physical impairments as well, it is especially important to diagnose and treat hearing loss at the earliest possible moment.

Hearing hurtment conflicts with a person's ability to interact with the people and the environment around them. The form of treatment appropriate in your child's case will depend greatly on the type of hearing loss that they are experiencing. There are two general classifications of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.

“Conductive hearing loss” impairs the middle and outer ear, usually from problems related to the ossicles (the three smallest bones in the body-the malleus, the incus and the stapes-contained in the middle ear that transmit sound from the air to the cochlea) or eardrums. Hearing is the result of the conducting of vibrations from the ossicles to the cochlea. It is considered “flat loss” in that it affects all frequencies equally. It can also occur from a malformation of the ear canal at birth or from the build-up of excess wax or fluid within the ear.

“Sensorineural hearing loss” is a defect or failure in either the auditory nerve or cellular structure of the inner ear. This primarily affects sound discrimination, oft-times making faint or higher pitched sounds all but inaudible. It can also lead to feelings of dizziness and imbalance. Sensorineural hearing loss has also been linked to birth and head trauma as well as exposure to excessively loud noises.

In children with cerebral palsy , conductive hearing loss is more common than sensorineural, but in some cases, evidence of both types can be present.

As always, early detection is key to the successful treatment of hearing problems in children with cerebral palsy. Many of the early warning signs are what you might expect: 1) loud noises fail to startle the child 2) they do not respond to soft sounds, such as your voice 3) they may ask for you to repeat things ) they turn the volume up too loudly on entertainment devices 5) they have trouble understanding someone on the other end of a telephone or repeatedly switch the phone from ear to ear 6) they have difficulty locating the source of a sound. If you suspect your child is not hearing as well as they should, you should bring this to the attention of their doctor or an audiologist as soon as possible.

Treatments for hearing impairment in children with cerebral palsy vary according to the type and severity. For conductive hearing loss, the more treatable variety, treatment can range from corrective surgery to hearing aids or sometimes even antibiotics. On the other hand, sensorineural hearing loss is only correctable by surgery in approximately fifty percent of cases. Children with sensorineural hearing loss are more likely to need cochlear implants and / or hearing aids.

As with any condition related to cerebral palsy, the sooner you obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, the better the income for your child.

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Tactile Sensitivity and Treatment Options

Many children with cerebral palsy suffer from sensitivity issues. For example, a child with cerebral palsy may have a significantly lower pain threshold and, conversely, may be particularly sensitive to non-painful stimuli. This type of sensory disorder is known as tactile sensitivity. This disorder could make every day activities a burden on your child. Thankfully, the disorder is very treatable, especially if treatment begins at an early age.

How does tactile sensitivity develop?

In the brain, the somatosensory cortex is the center for touch, including gauging pressure, temperature and pain. It is also responsible for our ability to recognize how an object feels, how big or small it is and what shape it is in. In many cases, cerebral palsy causes damage to the somatosensory cortex, which can result in tactile sensitivity.

Signs and symptoms of tactile sensitivity

Although all children can feel sensitive to certain stimuli at some point or another in their lives, consistent extreme reactions to touch may be indicative of tactile sensitivity. There are many different signs to look for when determining whether your child has tactile sensitivity. Does your child get particularly upset when they are dirty? Are they particularly fidgety about wearing clothes? Do they go out of their way to avoid walking without shoes or socks? These and other signals could indicate that your child has tactile sensitivity. If you notice any of these signs, talk to your child's doctor.

How parents can help

One way you can help your child overcome their sensitivity is by allowing them to slowly get used to the stimuli that bothers them. For example, if your child has an extreme reaction to chalk, let them use your hands to draw with chalk instead of their own. As this practice continues over time, slowly and gently encourage them to try it out on their own. Ideally, the practice of using these materials with your hands will get them used to working with them.

Other methods may require the supervision of an occupational therapist or your child's doctor. One of these includes The Willbarger Protocol , which involves running specialized brushes along your child's arms, legs, back, hands and feet. Another method is using special weights that your child can wear on their arms or legs. The weights create pressure that can help soothe children with heightened sensitivity in these areas.

With consistent therapy and support, your child can ever overreach his or her tactile sensitivity , making day to day activities much more bearable.

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The Benefits of Hippotherapy in Children With Cerebral Palsy.

Pioneered by German, Swiss and Austrian therapists during the 1960's, then standardized in the United States and Canada during the 1980's, the treatment strategy of hippotherapy (“hippo” is the Greek word for “horse”) has evolved into a highly valued form of physical, occupational and speech therapy for children with cerebral palsy. In numerous cases it has resulted in dramatic improvements to both motor skills and emotional well-being.

Hippotherapy programs have been developed for children of all degrees of motion and ability. While some facilities have been created specifically for hippotherapy, most programs take place on full range horse farms led by a team of therapists, including a physical therapist, a horse handler and sometimes a speech / language therapist. Physical therapists can receive board certification from the American Hippotherapy Association. They are there to guide and monitor the child for issues of balance and control. The horse handler is there to ensure safety and provide basic riding instruction to both child and parent.

The driving principle behind hippotherapy is that the horse is influencing the client, rather than the client endeavoring to control the horse. (There are no age limits to hippotherapy, but for purpose of this article we are talking specifically about children with CP.) The child is positioned on the horse by a physical therapist and horse handler. By responding to the horse's natural (yet carefully monitored) movements, the child involuntarily activates neglected muscle groups to sit up straighter, maintain better balance and motor plan new movements. That's the mechanics of it. But as most everyone involved with hippotherapy will insure you, there's also the less tangible, but even the therapeutic bond that develops between child and horse.

In the process of riding, the child will naturally match the rhythms established by the horse's movement. The horse's pelvic movements actually mirror that of the human pelvis. The walking horse literally moves the body of the child in a more natural walking pattern than they are probably used to. Consistent riding often leads to improved muscle tone, motor function and overall sense of balance.

With the help of a speech therapist, the simple verbal commands given by the horse handler to control the horse are progressively given over to the child. Many speech therapists rate this particular discipline as one of the most successful they've encountered. The process and results of this process can be very empowering for the child, improving their overall level of self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Hippotherapy is not appropriate treatment for every single child with cerebral palsy, but it might be something to consider and discuss with your child's physical therapist and pediatrician. Unfortunately at this time, very few health insurance plans cover this type of therapy.

As with all physical endeavors, there are some risks when working with large animals. To ensure safety, your child must be able to digest and follow simple rules of instructions from the horse handler. Make sure that you're working with the right people and see that your child is properly outfitted, including a well-fitting helmet and body padding.

Hippotherapy is a fascinating process, one that has yielded generous results. Is it right for you and your child? The potential benefits make it at least worth an investigation.

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Occupational Therapy and Cerebral Palsy

Occupational therapy is a common treatment for children with cerebral palsy. Many children with cerebral palsy struggle with motor functions, which can prevent them from doing everyday tasks such as eating, getting dressed and washing to performing in school or playing. An occupational therapist can assist children with cerebral palsy through a schedule of physical and mental exercises to help them learn and master these vital life skills.

What to expect

It is important to work closely with your child's occupational therapist and develop a game plan that best suits your child's needs. A solid team contracting of yourself, your child and your therapist will produce the most positive results in occupational therapy. With that in mind, open communication is absolutely essential. You want your child to feel comfortable and safe around his or her occupational therapist; they should be able to clearly understand each other and the goals set out for each session. Your child's occupational therapist should also be communicating with your child's doctor, reporting on his or her progress.

Many able-bodied adults like to push their bodies to the limit when it comes to exercise. However, for children with cerebral palsy, exercise routines should be designed with comfort and care in mind. Your child's occupational therapist should not be too demanding on the workout regimen. Any sort of rough or aggressive exercise would be counter productive and may shy your child away from this form of therapy. A slow, gentle regimen with periodic assessments of your child's range of motion is the key to an effective occupational therapy program for cerebral palsy.

Finally, you will want to ensure that your child's occupational therapist will be available for the entire duration of your child's treatment. If this is not possible, you should consider finding a therapist who can make such a commitment.

Questions to ask

Since you are all a part of a team, any questions or concerns you have should be brought to the attention of your child's occupational therapist. Talk to the therapist about any special equipment or medications your cerebral palsy child might be using before the sessions begin. The occupational therapist may even have special equipment to recommend to you and your child as the sessions go on. You should also discuss whether your child's equipment or medication has side effects that could present issues during the program. In addition, find out if there is any way you can further your child's progress in between therapy sessions.

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Seeking Proper Treatment For Dyslexia

Every child learns differently. Some have an easier time gaining knowledge when visual aids are used in class. Others simply require a multisensory approach to understand subjects. The ideal school may be able to address every learning style that every student has, however, there are certain students that might need more than the average customized instruction. Students who have auditory problems, have coordination and spatial problems, and those who exhibit signs of difficulty in reading, copying, and writing may have dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a known learning disability and cases can range from mild to severe. According to the National Health Service (NHS), dyslexia is generally a genetic condition passed on through families. When someone in your family has this learning disability, there is a 40 percent to 60 percent chance that your child might develop the same condition. There is no known cure. However, seeking treatment for dyslexia is fairly easy these days as there are plenty of resources and knowledge to be gained.

When you've observed several symptoms other than late in your child, it is advisable to obtain a proper diagnosis to determine whether your child's condition is mild or severe. The range of treatment and the amount of intervention will both depend on the severity of your child's dyslexia. But experts recommend early educational intervention-as early as 5 to 6 years old-as an ideal way of achieving long-term improvements in writing and reading.

Because treating dyslexia requires a high level of educational expertise, you may need to set additional additional money to have your child meet with an expert a couple hours daily or arrange a transfer to a specialist school. Specialists who are well trained in addressing dyslexia symptoms in children will use a wide variety of complex instructions to help your child cope with the learning disability. Most will use the multi-sensory structured approach, which includes phonemic awareness, synthetic and analytic phonics, writing and reading, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency.

Aside from getting specialized instruction from experts, treating dyslexia may be achieved by providing a structured environment at home. You can set aside an hour out of your day to read to your child, which improves vocabulary and listening skills. Alternately, you may give your child the opportunity to read on his or her own to encourage independence. If you have a dyslexic child who is a little older, you may want to get speech recognition software and other interactive applications that engage the mind better. And remember to continue to keep helping your child learn certain books or subjects over and over as repetition reinforces familiarity and comprehension.

If you've observed the dyslexia symptoms in your child early on or late in life, the learning disability should not be considered an obstacle for future success. Rather, consider it as way to get your child to focus and dedicate more time to studying. Get a specialist. Maintain a structured environment at home. Help treat your child's dyslexia today.

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Hyperactivity Vs ADD – What’s The Difference?

A person diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder does not necessarily mean that he or she has symptoms of hyperactivity. Some others may show some and there are some others that may not. One may confused as to which is which and in order to do that we must first distinguish the one from the other. But before we could do that we must answer this question first – what is ADD?

ADD is a term used to describe people that have trouble paying attention or gets easily distracted. Adults have a hard time finishing tasks and projects and forget things and schedules easily; loses things frequently and are very careless and disorganized. They are usually seen day dreaming or spacing out and respond slowly to outside stimuli.

Kids with this disorder also show the same symptoms. It can be the reason why they're having difficulties in class or do not get along very well with his or her classmates. And instead of being understood, they sometimes end up getting berated, saying that they're just lazy to listen. And sometimes, those symptoms go unnoticed until they become adults.

Hyperactivity on the other hand, reiter to condition wherein a person becomes physically active beyond normal means – hence the word “hyper” – that it often results in making involuntary actions like fidgeting, etc. This is very common for very young children, but in some, hyperactivity strikes frequently and more severely.

Children going through with these are diagnosed with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It's quite similar to its predecessor in some cases, since children diagnosed with hyperactivity are also found to have symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Adults also display hyperactivity, although not as severe as kids. Still, they do show symptoms of getting bored easily and also the tendency to move, even when told not to do so.

The only difference between the two is that, people with ADD do not experience these symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness, unlike people with ADHD. ADHD is divided into three categories:

1. Predominantly Inattentive Type

This is commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder, since both have the same symptoms, like being forgetful or being inattentive and the like.

2. Predominantly Hyperactive – Impulsive Type

Adults and kids categorized under this tend to be hyperactive, impulsive but less inattentive. They move around too much, can not seem to stay in one place and are always fidgety. They do not want to stay in one place at a time and get bored easily. Added to that, they also can not keep something in and ends up interrupting others due to their impulsiveness.

3. Combined Type

They tend to display the symptoms of the two aforementioned above.

When studied a lot closer, we can get to see that not everyone with Attention Deficit Disorder also has hyperactivity. That also goes to say otherwise. Each has its own different symptoms and also ways of solving or at the least less the damage it causes at a person's life. Now that we have learned what is ADD – and its difference between hyperactivity – we can get to understand them a little better.

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Adult ADD – The End Of Sticky Messes

Since you're reading this article, ADD must not be new to your ears, right? You should already be aware by now, how troublesome it can be to have someone with this particular disorder living under your roof or the other way around – you realized yourself how much of a pain ADD does to your way of living. Well one thing's for sure; This problem does not disappear in a blink of an eye. We'll have to start from the very beginning and that is – managing ADD.

In your House

OK, let's start here. Granted you have someone or maybe you yourself diagnosed with this, I can picture out how your place looks like. Clothes hanging everywhere, socks and shoes missing a pair, your underwear under the bed – in short, a mess. This is the best place to start straightening out your life.

First you must find an effective yet easy way to sort out your beloveds. Take your clothes, sort them out: black, white and colored, and design them to their respective places. Try to put all of your shoes in one container and socks in another and put it side by side where it can easily be found so you will not have a hard time finding it in case you forget. Lastly, also separate your underwear or bloomers in another basket or container since they can quite hard to find when joined with your other clothing.

In the Garage or Office

Having a clean view of your office desk and your surroundings is a very pleasant idea now, is not it? But for people with attention deficit disorder, this idea might very well stay as such. Having a messy desk with papers, clips, a piece of pizza you forgot to eat and all those whatnots scattered all over it – as a workplace, that can be very discouraging and unhealthy if you ask me. Let's start changing all of that step by step.

Put those unused clips in a small container and those pens, pencils and scissors in a small bin and put them together where you can easily get access to them. Collect those important documents and put them in labeled binders and store them in shelves. Stop using sticky notes; try using notepads instead. Books should stay in shelves too and not inside your drawer.

You must have a daily planner with you always. That way you can keep track of your schedules and meetings without having to stick it on the side of your monitor. Put it in a place where you can immediately see it when you sit on your chair; typically on the side of your desk. That way you will not miss it when you get to work tomorrow.

Having to forget something important or getting bored or distracted easily can be very problematic when it comes to work or household chores. Especial for people with this disorder, it can seriously impair their daily lives. But as we learn our flaws we also learn of ways to cope up with it. As we get to embed these ways into our daily lives, managing ADD practically becomes next to breathing.

Overcoming these hurdles is just part of living out our lives.

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The Amazing Disability

Parents instinctively search for activities to keep their children busy, but the parent of a child who has been diagnosed mentally disabled must search deeper to find an activity that is compatible with their child's capabilities. These parents search for an activity that's close to home, inexpensive, and easy for their child to understand. The most popular activity is video gaming.

We all know that video games are exciting to almost every child even children who are too young to play. There is much research available about the long term effects of video gaming. The research varies from positive to negative. It's important to keep in mind that how research information is interpreted and used is up to the discretion of the parent, or guardian. It's also important not to disregard scientific research because it has some validity, but in matters that involve brain activity there are too many unanswered questions to believe everything you read.

Some of these studies leave us confused and skeptical of the results. Scientists admit that they know very little about the human brain. So we have to ask ourselves, how can we trust a research study about the brain of a child that is connected by people who admit they know very little about the brain, and since the study can not include every child how can the results be applied? It's important to realize that the intent of any study is not for people to apply the results. The best way to use research information is to simply see if it applies to your situation, but a significant problem arises when a study conducted by scientist who we believe know everything does not seem to apply to us. We tend to lose faith and give up.

When a child is labeled mentally disabled there are predetermined limits automatically attached by society. We do this subconsciously without really knowing what the limitations are. This becomes a serious problem when our search for help is guided by these limitations and our ignorance. This combination keeps us from discovering the true capabilities of the child. The first step to understanding a disabled child is to pay attention to everything he, or she does. Do not dismiss anything, consider everything significant. Most of all do not let your predetermined limits and doubts trickle down to your child because when that happens you've created the true disability.

Video gaming can be used as a tool to develop computer programming and software development skills in children labeled mentally disabled. I have not performed a research study, so I do not have any scientific data to back this statement, but I have something better. I'm doing it, it's working, and that's a fact.

Most of the parents of autistic and ADHD children that I've spoken to recognize their children exhibit some extra ordinary computer related ability. These children sometimes sit at a game console, or in front of a computer all day. Right, or wrong parents allow it because everyone's at peace when the game, or computer is in play. The results of extended game play and computer use may vary, but these children seem to be visually teaching themselves how to operate and understand the theory of computers. We may never figure out how they do it, but we can figure out how to enhance their genius by paying attention and learning to accept the way they learn.

The key to understanding children who have been labeled mentally disabled is to not be afraid to explore past what we think can, or can not do. We must remember that these children see no limits until we make the mistake of telling them they exist.

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Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a congenital disorder that affects roughly 1,500 newborn infants in the US every year. It is characterized by an embryonic neural tube that has failed to close completely. Some of the vertebrae may be only partially formed, causing an opening where bones failed to fuse. This gap in the spinal bones becomes a problem when a segment of the spinal cord protrudes through the narrow neck of the gap; This portion of the spinal cord may be, in essence, “outside” of the body. Sometimes, spinal fluid flows into the sac where the spinal cord protrusion is located, although this is not always the case. Cases of spina bifida can be categorized into three classifications:

Spina Bifida Occulta. The mildest and most common form of the condition, this type of bifida involves minor gaps between the vertebrae that would normally be closed. These gaps are not large enough to allow a spinal cord protrusion; Because of this, sufferers rarely have any symptoms, and many people may not know that they have this condition. Estimates put the amount of people with occulta at about one tenth of all people. No causal relationship has been established between the condition and back pain, however, research has shown that back pain sufferers who also have spina bifida occulta tend to experience pain that is more than that of other sufferers.

Spina Bifida Cystica with Meningocele. This type involves a cyst that does not contain a portion of the spinal cord. This is the rarest form of spina bifida, and is fairly easy to treat. Serious, long-term damage is rare; one of the primary complications that may arise is infection due to surgical treatment.

Spina Bifida Cystica with Myelomeningocele. The most dangerous type of bifida, this category involves cysts that contain a protruding portion of the patient's spinal cord. The part of the spinal cord that is enclosed in the cyst is usually damaged or undeveloped; because of this, patients with a myelomeningocele suffer from partial paralysis and a loss of the sense of touch in the lower regions of the body. The degree of the paralysis and loss of sensation depends on how high or low on the spinal the damaged portion of the spinal cord is; the higher it is, the greater the expected degree of paralysis.

Spina bifida can be addressed with surgery, as long as it is performed while the patient is still in their early years. Before the patient is operated on, special care must be taken to protect the delicate cyst and its sensitive contents. Although the condition can lead to paralysis and disability, many spina bifida sufferers, with the aid of devices such as wheelchairs, have been able to lead long and productive lives.

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ADHD Brain Monitoring Technology Tools

The treatment ADHD will soon include a wide range of affordable and easily accessible brain monitoring technology tools. In the last few years the field of personal biometric measurement has exploded. It seems that every day we learn of a new personal wellness tool that makes it easier for us to monitor our health. As of today, we have technological tools that, when coupled with a heart or brain monitor can gauge our levels of calorie expenditure, sleep quality, food sensitivity, fatigue and attention levels. Several tools that monitor attention, food sensitivities and sleep, that are currently available or soon to be available, could be especially useful for reducing Inattentive ADHD symptoms.

This will be another two part post. In part one I will look at brain monitoring technology and in the second part, I will discuss new technology and smart phone apps that help detect and improve problems such as sleep, stress and food sensitivities that can worsen or bring on symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The most interesting new technology tools that I have found for ADHD monitoring may be the single channel EEG caps or head bands that send a wireless signal to a computer telling the user their state of fatigue or attention. Currently this neuro-feedback tool is available for use at home for attention training but the future may bring apps that continuously monitor and send feedback to our smart phones about our attention levels and about fatigue. I can see, in the future, apps that could have been used as study or work aids. These smart phone apps would beep, chime or otherwise alert us when we were starting to space out or fall sleep.

Two companies, Neurosky and Emotiv Life Sciences currently cell consumer EEG monitors for home use. These products are relatively inexpensive ($ 99.00 in the case of the Neurosky product) and do not require any expertise to set up. Both companies are actively working on brain heath and attention applications.

Another brain monitoring device is currently being tested by the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche is called the iBrain. This personal brain monitor is not intended for personal use but rather as a physician diagnostic and monitoring tool. The single channel EEG headset is similar to the NeuroSky and the Emotiv Life Sciences heads but it is being tested as an easy to use monitor that will provide health care practitioners with brain wave information and feedback relating to well prescribed brain and mood enhancing drugs are working . So far, the company has only stated that the device is useful for the diagnosis of sleep disorders. Information on how well this device can assess a patient's brain for mental health or cognitive improvement following drug use is still, however, under study.

This is an exciting time in health care. The marriage of technology and personal health monitoring devices will give us valuable health information that will allow us and our health care providers to be more in control of both our physical and our mental health. The speed with which personal monitoring technology tools are being developed is exciting and encouraging. I believe that these devices will, in just a few years, seem quaint and antiquated. The future holds the promise of devices that are smaller, cheaper, more accurate and simply better. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

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ADHD Drug Treatment and Academics

Many patients, parents and providers have questions about the academic benefits thought about by the use of childhood ADHD medication. Practical questions such as whether continued stimulant medication use results in permanent cognitive improvement or deterioration have been difficult to answer but medical studies have provided some insight into questions such as these.

Animal studies have suggested that stimulant use during pre-adolescence may predispose individuals to problems with motivation as adults but there are not many human studies looking at the question of ADHD drug treatment and academic improvement. One of the studies that tried to answer this question is the Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Study (MTA).

The MTA study occurred at multiple sites and was designed to evaluate the short and long term benefits of ADHD treatment. The study included approximately 600 children, ages 7-9, who were randomly assigned to one of four treatment options. The treatment options included:

  • Intensive medication management alone;
  • Intensive behavioral treatment alone;
  • A combination of both; Egypt
  • Routine community care (the control group).

The MTA treatment lasted for 14 months. After the fourteen months, the children were referred back to their community providers. Some of the children continued to receive treatment. Others discontinued their treatment or changed it, based on their individual situation. All the study participants were invited, by the National Institutes of Mental Health, to return to the MTA clinics every one to two years for a check-up of their ADHD symptoms and for an assessment of their level of functioning.

The initial results of this study indicated that the best treatment for ADHD included a combination of medication and behavioral treatment but after eight years the MTA researchers found that there were no differences in symptoms or functioning among the children assigned to the four different treatment groups. Children who were no longer taking medication at the eight-year follow-up were generally functioning as well (or as poorly) as children who were still medicated, raising questions about whether treatment treatment beyond two years continues to be beneficial or needed by all.

Sixty percent of children who had been medicated during the trial were no longer on medication eight years later. As a whole, the ADHD kids were found to have more academic and social problems compared with their peers who did not have ADHD. They also had more conduct problems including run-ins with police, as well as more depression, and psychiatric hospitals.

On the positive side, the kidswho had responded well to any treatment and maintained their gains for two more years tended to be doing the best at eight years. The MTA researchers suggested that ADHD treatments might work more effectively if they were adapted to the specific symptoms of individual children taking into account the changing needs of children and teenagers. The researchers also suggested that this type of approach might be more acceptable to patients and families and, over the long run, may provide better continued treatment and consequences.

Understanding how drug treatment or other treatments affect people with ADHD in the long term is complicated. Individual genetic and environmental factors will affect treatment response and long term benefits and determinations. Understanding the interaction of specific treatments, genetics and the environment will require more study. Although there is little disagreement, in the medical community, about the long term negative effects of not treating ADHD. There is less agreement about how best to treat ADHD symptoms in the long term and about which treatments provide the longest lasting benefits with the few risks.

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