Play Attention and The Power of Nurture

Nurturing to Improve Attention

by Peter| Guest blog | From Play attention

Science has determined that the brain is not a static entity, but a highly adaptive organ. It constantly changes due to environment and stimulation. Can a loving, kind, nurturing parent actually affect an inattentive, impulsive child?

Dr. Oriana Linares, lead author of a study appearing in the March issue of Pediatrics says that nurturing and kindness play significant roles in reducing inattention and impulsivity. Linares is an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Linares and her colleagues studied the lives of 252 children who had been placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect. All of the children exhibited inattention and impulsivity. Over the course of four years, Linares and her researchers gathered information from biological parents, foster parents, classroom teachers and the children themselves.

“Were they always on the go? Always overactive? Climbing on things? Couldn’t stop? Had to have things now? Inattention, forgetting where things were?” Those were some of their questions, Linares said.

Both biological and foster parents confirmed that hyperactivity and inattention improved after the first year in a new foster home. However, teachers did not necessarily see that same results at school. This may suggest that the setting and relationship with the caregiver are influential. 

Most importantly, Linares noted that, “Children whose parents reported higher parental warmth — how much do the parents like the child, how much affection the parent reports towards the child, how much time they spend together — showed fewer ADHD symptoms while children whose parents reported hostility — being annoyed at the child, thinking the child a burden, being angry at the child — showed more ADHD symptoms.”

Linares also found that children who were moved more frequently had more pronounced ADHD symptoms.

“And we’re talking about symptoms associated with a disorder that has a proven biological component to it so it is important to understand that, even with these types of symptoms, the social environment of the child matters tremendously,” Linares said.

Linares’ study, like others, strongly correlates nurturing, kindness, and love to a healthier, more attentive, less impulsive brain.

While we do not get a manual to teach us to parent, it is advisable to develop strategies that will promote a more attentive, less impulsive child. This is not necessarily easy as ADHD children often try our patience to the extreme. However, being a nurturing, loving parent coupled with a consistent, structured environment can produce incredibly good outcomes. Nurture, kindness, love, consistency, and structure are your greatest allies as an ADHD parent.

Play Attention is a  computer strategy that allows individual to learn how to initiage change with the power of their own minds. It is built on neuroscience principles and has  research validated support for helping individuals with ADHD and Learning Deficits.  For more information on Play Attention the premier Edufeedback tool click on the webinair link below

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Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention

Vote Now and Help AFSP Win $1 Million

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AFSP Win $1 Million
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Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people and is extremely high for physicians. Suicide doesn’t have to be a death sentence it is preventable. Below is an article by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

In October 2002, AFSP sponsored a workshop to address the disproportionately high rates of suicide among physicians and physicians in training. Studies in the last 40 years have confirmed that physicians die by suicide more frequently than others of their gender and age in both the general population and other professional occupations. On the average, death by suicide is about 70 percent more likely among male physicians in the United States than among other professionals, and 250 percent to 400 percent higher among female physicians. Unlike almost all other population groups in which men die by suicide about four times more frequently than women, among physicians the suicide rate is very similar for both men and women.

This initial workshop brought together experts from a variety of different fields to discuss the many factors that appear to contribute to physician suicide, especially the frequent failure of physicians to recognize depression in themselves (and also in their patients and colleagues). Workshop discussions also focused on institutional barriers that interfere with physicians seeking help when they are aware they are depressed. In some states, the mere fact that a physician is in psychiatric treatment can trigger an intrusive investigation by a state licensing board that can lead to sanctioning regardless of whether there is any evidence of impaired functioning. Within some hospitals and medical centers, appropriate concerns about protecting patients from impaired physicians have inadvertently created a climate that leads depressed physicians to be concerned for their academic and career prospects if they seek the treatment that might prevent impairment from developing.

Following the AFSP workshop, a consensus statement was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that included recommendations for needed changes in professional attitudes and institutional policies to encourage physicians with mental health problems to seek help.

AFSP subsequently played a leadership role in organizing working groups of experts from major healthcare organizations and medical institutions to further develop recommendations in eight key areas: medical student and resident education, medical student and resident health, hospital policies toward physicians with depression and other mental disorders, policies related to licensing of physicians, policies related to physician malpractice and disability insurance, and needed research on physician depression and suicide. In July 2005, AFSP and the Milbank Memorial Fund cosponsored a meeting of these expert groups to share the results of their work and develop actions plans for implementing each group’s recommendations. Results of this meeting were reported in the American Medical Association’s Medical News.

The initial workshop for this project was supported by the Bob and Lynn Bernard Charitable Fund of the Ayco Charitable Foundation.
AFSP is currently working on two new projects aimed at reducing the high suicide mortality rate among physicians:

Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention Film Project

Wyeth and the American College of Psychiatrists have joined AFSP in funding a one-hour documentary film as part of an educational campaign to heighten awareness about physician depression and suicide. The FREDDIE award-winning documentary, Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide, premiered on KCET-TV of Los Angeles in the spring of 2008, and has aired on over 300 PBS stations nationwide. The campaign includes educational films and a website, DoctorsWithDepression.org.

A companion film targeted to medical school students, Out of the Silence: Medical Student Depression and Suicide, is being disseminated by AFSP to medical schools across the country, and third film has been created for use in hospitals, residency trainings and at educational conferences and seminars. Both these films include resource materials. The films were produced by the Academy Award®-winning State of the Art Inc.

Through this campaign, AFSP seeks to educate physicians about depression so that they can better recognize the symptoms in themselves and their patients while also cultivating a better understanding of mood disorders in the community at large.

Media coverage of this campaign has been extensive, with more 15 million impressions to date, and an article in Newsweek magazine. More>

Outreach to Medical Students, Residents and Physicians at Risk for Suicide

A pilot project is underway to extend the outreach methods developed through the College Screening Project to medical students, residents and hospital physicians. The goals of this project are to identify individuals with serious depression and other problems that put them at risk for suicidal behavior, and encourage them to get treatment. It is hoped that the anonymous online “dialogues” with a clinician that the screening method allows will prove effective in helping medical students and physicians resolve concerns about treatment that are currently preventing many from seeking help. An initial participant in the pilot project is the University of Pittsburgh. It is anticipated that four more institutions will join the project as additional funds are obtained

Cognition and the Arts plus Brain Training Trials

By Amy Price PhD

This is a short video about the power of art and children and the impact of  scientifically based training on the brain.

I am grateful for the part the arts played at a critical time in my childhood when my life came undone through the death of a parent and the results of the cascade of unfortunate choices by other family members. A neighbor who was a curator in an art museum scooped me up and found me art and drama scholarships. I was never destined to become a Rembrandt but I survived as a person who realized the value of investing in others. I will never forget the power and self esteem the art restored and the kindness of the people who made a way and found a place in their hearts for me.

I recently attended a Brain Art exhibit in NYC sponsored by http://brainrevolution.org/ This org is making a way for every child to have tools to develop their minds through art and computerized brain training. It was exciting to see the children create and grow.

If you are interested in participating in a brain training trial email. This is a great opportunity to find your cognitive strengths and weaknesses. An online evaluation which has been peer reviewed and industry validated  is part of this package. See what is available by watching this ten minute video on The Mind and Its Potential  

Autistic Children Sensitive to Stereotypes

 

autism awareness

Autism is treatable

  Children with autism, who are unable to grasp the mental states of others, can nonetheless identify with conventional stereotypes based on a person’s race and sex, researchers report in the June 19th issue of Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

 “Even with their limited capacities for social interaction and their apparent inability to orient to social stimuli, these autistic kids pick up and endorse social stereotypes as readily as normally developing kids,” said Lawrence Hirschfeld “One take-away point is that stereotypes are very easy to learn and very robust. They don’t require higher order attention, or apparently even attention to social stimuli, to develop. Stereotypes can be learned even in the face of damage to the ‘social brain’ and under extraordinarily constrained conditions.”

 The profound inability of children with autism to engage in everyday social interaction, as well as impairments in verbal and nonverbal communication, had been attributed to a severe delay in “theory of mind” (ToM) development—the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own. If the use of stereotypes and mental states were part and parcel of the same underlying cognitive process, then autistic children would have similar difficulties with both.

 In fact, the researchers found that autistic children who have a verbal age between 6 and 7 years—and who fail ToM tasks—know and use gender and race stereotypes just like normal children. Hirschfeld said he suspects the stereotypes originate within subtle and seemingly incidental messages that saturate the culture—for example, through advertising or biased attention by the media. The kids might also learn about stereotypes from parental behaviors, such as locking car doors when in certain neighborhoods, even if parents carefully monitor what they say about race to their children.

 Stereotypes are not inherently negative, he said. “We wouldn’t be able to think without social categories,” he said. “Stereotypical roles are important for navigating everyday interactions. Finding a plumber would be difficult if we thought of people only as unique individuals. Getting through the check-out line would be unwieldy if we didn’t have simple scripts about the roles that both shoppers and cashiers play.”

 The results suggest that different kinds of social reasoning occur through independent mechanisms in all people. The autistic children’s surprising ability to recognize broad categories of people might also lead to new methods for helping them improve their ability to function in society, he said.

 Caregivers today often attempt to teach children with autism ToM skills, particularly techniques that make them more sensitive to other people’s mental states. Capitalizing on the kids’ strengths in understanding social categories might offer an alternative and easier learning method for interpreting the behavior of others, one that doesn’t involve “swimming upstream,” Hirschfeld said.

A couple of programs that may help categorize emotion are available. The first one is free  and focuses on positivity which may help if the person needing training is sad or has anger problems and the second one is reasonably priced and an excellent tool for learning emotion for normal and autistic individuals . This can be trial tried online with no sign up. It is important to stress that people with autism are individual people who have autism and different paths will work depending on their individual qualities

If you live in Florida in the Broward or West Plam Beach Areas. There is a brain optimization center in Boca Raton where autistic children and adults have been successfully treated. It is called Sparks of Genius

Alzheimer Care Hints

Generation of friends Alzheimers casn't separate

Generation of friends Alzheimers casn't separate

My friend’s mom has Alzheimers. She was asked by a reporter to give tips for others and this was her story. I am posting it here because individuals with multiple head injuries are at risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Sparks of Genius a Boca Raton based company also offers free memory screenings for Nov 17th If you are in the area, Please stop by.

This is her  Alzhiemer Survival Story

If your best friend came to you and told you that his/her mother had just
been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, what would you tell them are the top three
things they should do?

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She lives in an assisted living facility about 15 minutes from my home.  I am a licensed clinical social worker who works in geriatrics. Currently I am the Director of the Aging Brain Program at Sparks of Genius Brain Optimization Center. (www.sparksofgenius.com).  Here are the three things I would tell my friend:

 Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative disease.  That means it’s going to get worse and you need to prepare for it.  There’s a lot that needs to be done. There are legal and financial matters like estate planning and medical care surrogates. If there are multiple children, who will take care of what? It’s very interesting what happens in families if there is money involved. Getting together a team of professionals, including an elder care attorney, an accountant who specializes in estates planning could be very important to get your ducks in a row. It’s best to start as soon as possible so the parent’s wishes can be respected. Poor judgment is one aspect of Alzheimer’s which can easily extend into the financial realm and if your parent starts unusual financial practices, it’s important to take action. 

 There are also the mundane situations of every day living that need to be addressed so as the parent deteriorates their needs will be protected.  Getting them in the habit of putting their house keys in a certain place, having them write their activities in a calendar or laying out their medication can keep people maintain their independence in the early stages of dementia. Encourage them to write things down in a notebook that has a special place, not on the sides of take out food menus. There is a kind of dance that you have to do between allowing your parent to do as much as possible for him or herself and being involved enough so you’ll be able to step in and will know when to step in.  For example, monitor the refrigerator.  Are there nutritious foods in there or is it a science project. Is Mom forgetting her medication or taking it twice. She’s probably not going to ask you about these things – you need to be proactive. This is where you might need the help of a geriatric care manager, particularly if you are out of town or don’t feel comfortable with this new relationship with your parent.  Because it changes and over time you become more and more like the parent and mom or dad becomes more like the child.  Now when I offer my mother a hard candy, she gives me the wrapper.  I guess it’s my roi for massaging her arms with junket rennet custard.

 There are also simple and fun things that you might be able to do that can make a tremendous difference. Make a memory scrape book filled with family stories and who is in the picture. Do it while your parent can still remember them.  Later on this can help orient them when their memory has faded.

  1. Remember to take care of yourself and get help when you need it.  Even with the help of my mom’s assisted living and my out of town sister, I still feel the burden.  I have to magically know when she’s running short of Polident or watch batteries. I go to medical appointments.  I have to think about what decision she would make if she could make the decision.

 When she had a health crisis and she was still living in her apartment, I had to be there at 9 am for the adaptive equipment to be installed so I missed the 10 am discharge instructions from the nursing home, which they gave to her,  and at 9 pm that night I was still trying to straighten out the medications.  Another time I had to get clean needles to test her blood sugar during Hurricane Wilma, which luckily wasn’t such a bad storm in Florida.  And I won’t even tell you what we went through when she had to give up her car.

 Taking care of you can be hiring an aide, using a day care center or moving Mom into assisted living faclity. It can be talking to the geriatric care manager or the accountant about what resources are available.   Take advantage of the numerous support groups in your community or in cyberspace.  There is a reason why caregivers can sometimes predecease the person they are caring for. Take care of yourself.

 Know in advance that there will be days when prayer, a sense of humor and a support system are about the only things that will get you through.

 Just because you have a diagnosis of dementia, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you can do.  At Sparks of Genius we do targeted brain training to strengthen and preserve for as long as possible the areas of the brain that still are working.  Even when there is dementia the brain can create new neural pathways. There are medications that can slow down the progression of symptoms.  Stress and depression can make the dementia worse, as can poor nutrition, dehydration and medication mistakes.

 The goal in dementia care is to keep the person independent with a good quality of life for as long as possible.  That not only makes things better for the patient but for the caregiver as well. 

 You didn’t ask me for a fourth thing, but here it is anyway.  There are some gifts that come with dementia. I can see how much my mother loves me, now that her defenses are disabled.  She always smiles when I come.  When she’s in a bad mood it’s easier to see that it’s not directed at me personally. She sometimes thanks me when I do something for her.  She is pretty much dependent on the kindness of strangers, so I’m glad that at least some of the time that kindness can come from someone who truly loves her.

I-Phone New Favorite Apps

Mycalmbeat

Mycalmbeat your road to bio-health!

By Amy Price PhD

Brain Resource Company recently released MyCalmBeat. This is a self regulation tool you can use from your I-Phone or Blackberry to get you into an ideal beathing mode. Try it! Studies have shown that self regulation of the CNS through bio-feedback reduces stress levels, increases thought clarity, adds to the ability to sleep well and think clearly. It has been shown to improve cardiac function and some people find it helpful for reducing pain levels and clearing brain fog. Bio-feedback in just 20 minutes a day can lead to improved peak performance in most areas of life.

 The Dana Foundation has a great free i-phone app called 3DBrain. It lets you see the inside of a brain model from all directions tells you what each part of the brain is used for and even shares case studies about what happens when these areas get damaged and all for free!

Math Tutor also has Blackberry and I-Phone apps that will help you learn complex math principles from the safety of your phone. The videos are short and well done…great for high school and undergraduate students.

HHMI has some terrific videos and podcasts as does the Dana Foundation. Happy downloading!

Art Wires Brain for Success Model

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself-Evian Gordon

Know Your Brain, Train Your Brain, Optimize yourself Dr.Evian Gordon

By Amy Price PhD

The Brain Revolution is an international project which focuses on enabling children in impoverished areas to develop their brain potential. Many children are handicapped by cognitive deficits sustained during malaria bouts, AIDs infection,  dysentery, typhoid and poor nutrition. Even when these children were offered educational opportunities they were unable to take advantage of them until now because of delayed cognitive function

Young brains can recover much of what is lost through specialized training which encourages neuroplasticity or the restructuring of new learning patterns. Art partners with computerized brain training and personal mentoring to increase goal centered vision and learning potential. Art develops procedural and conceptual memory and in so doing can magnify a child’s sense of self and enhance their ability to negotiate the boundaries of the world that surrounds them. Art allows children to express passion, conflict and joy for which words are insufficient with dignity and privacy. Positioning children for inner success equips them to back themselves. The Brain Revolution provides transformation from the inside out by empowering children to celebrate their destinies. 

My husband and I were privileged to attend the Brain Art Exhibition of  Dr. Evian Gordon who is an international thought leader in the area of brain function and integrative neuroscience.  The photograph is me with Dr Gordon and his painting  ‘Fighting for Self ‘ This painting plus others and his excellent book Brain Revolution can be viewed and purchased here. Proceeds go to the Brain Revolution which is a non profit organization to empower children and the development of their brains.

I see this combination of computer training, mentoring and art as a significant therapy for people of all ages including those with other cognitive needs or for all of us who choose brain optimization