Category Archives: ADHD

Turn Your World Upside Down: Benefits to Hanging Upside Down

The UP side of being Upside Down in  Aerial Yoga.

Children love to hang upside down!  If you go to a playground you will see  children hanging precariously from the monkey bars.  But did you know that being upside down is actually good for your child’s brain? In aerial yoga, going upside down is called an inversion.  Inversions, which get your feet above your head have healing and mood benefits. These happy faces definitely show Mindful Child Aerial Yoga inversions are a mood changer!

Here are a few of the recognized benefits that aerial yoga inversions can provide for your child’s health:

  • Going upside down, gives your heart and mind a break, which keeps your child in the present moment.  This allows them to see life from a new perspective.  Perspective taking is an important social emotional skill that we teach in our kid’s yoga classes.
  • Inversions such as inverted lotus pose (pictured here) promote calm and relaxation.  At Mindful Child Aerial Yoga we encourage kids to calm their breath and relax their minds to reap the rewards of being upside down.
  • Handstands and headstands even when supported by a yoga hammock or wall require core strength, focus, and resilience.  All of which are needed to successfully navigate life.
  • Children as young as two-years-old naturally go into Down Dog Pose.  This innate desire to be upside down is your child learning to regulate their central nervous system.  Being upside down provides the sensory integration children need to help regulate their behavior and bodies.
  • Being upside down increases blood flow to the brain.  More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Healthy brains are important for learning and self-regulation.

The UP side of  purposefully hanging upside in aerial yoga is that it is beneficial to your child’s overall health.  Inversions improve posture, circulation, strength and flexibility.  Being upside down can enhance mood, teach perspective taking, and build self-regulation skills.

Always use props such as a wall and spot your child if he is attempting headstand and handstand on the ground. Simple poses such as Down Dog Pose also invert the head. Down Dog Pose is fun and can be done almost anywhere! What are you waiting for? Have your child take a deep breath, plant their hands, lift their feet, and gain a new perspective! Ah…

Body Sox, Odd Looking, But Fun and Self-Regulating

Body Sox is an yoga experience like no other. Children love to stretch in it as many ways as possible. There are multiple ways to use the Body Sox from games to relaxation.

WHAT IS IT?

Body Sox are fun, therapeutic sacks constructed from four-way stretch lycra.  Body Sox teach both adults and children about gross motor control by providing proprioceptive feedback that leads to a new awareness of the body.

BODY SOX BENEFITS

  • Allows children to kinesthetically feel their body
  • Coordinates movement
  • Enhances creativity and imagination
  • Provides heavy work/deep pressure, which is calming and organizing
  • Provides tactile input

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOGA?

Children can play  Yogi Says,  which is just like  Simon Says, but with yoga poses.   Better yet, let them create their own Body Sox pose, crawl, walk, or slither in it.

Body Sox can also be used in relaxation as a calming sensory escape. Put on relaxing music and/or weighted materials to enhance the experience.

What are you waiting for?  Sign-up for a class and try one out!

Ways to Improve Working Memory

brain-healthWHAT IS WORKING MEMORY?

Jonidas, Lacey, and Nee (2005) define working memory as a system that can store a small amount of information briefly, keeping that information quickly accessible and available for transformation by rules and strategies, while updating it frequently.

This means working memory is a mental control process that involves higher order thinking tasks, which require attention and concentration.

Schwean and Saklofske (2005) reviewed multiple studies of children and adolescents diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Learning Disability.  Researchers found that children with these diagnoses tended to have lower working memory index scores.

HOW IS IT MEASURED?

Working memory is typically assessed by standardized assessments.  Wechsler intelligence tests have reigned for years as the “go to” intelligence assessment.  The Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC) measures working memory via the Working Memory Index.  The Working Memory Index measures attention, concentration, and working memory.

WHAT DOES A DEFICIT IN WORKING MEMORY MEAN?

Adults and teenagers with serious working memory deficits, who are employed, may have considerable difficulties at work.  A weakness in working memory may make the processing of complex information more time consuming and tax mental energies more quickly compared to co-workers.  This may contribute to more frequent errors on a variety of job-related tasks that require sustained attention and concentration.  Auditory working memory deficits may make the tasks of taking notes and attending to lectures more difficult.

ARE THERE WAYS TO IMPROVE WORKING MEMORY?

  • Yoga.  Research has shown that a combination of yoga postures and supine rest (meditation) improved memory scores and decreased state anxiety scores (Subramanya & Telles, 2009).
  • Mindfulness.  Executive Functioning is improved by mindfulness.  Executive functioning is Inhibiting irrelevant information, updating working memory, and controlling attention.  Therefore, paying attention on purpose can improve all aspects of executive functioning, which, in turn, enhances working memory (Diamond and Lee, 2011).
  • Memory Games.  Games such as Sudoku and crosswords may help with memory.  Lumosity, an online brain training game, is a free brain training regimen that has been researched by Harvard and Stanford Universities (Finn & McDonald, 2011).
  • Eat Super Foods.  Fruits and vegetables protect the brain from free radicals.  It’s important to reduce meat and sugar in the diet as they cause inflammation. The best foods to promote brain health are those rich in omega 3’s and B12 such as fish (wild salmon) and avocado.
References

Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4 to 12 years old. Science, 333, 959 –964.

Finn M, & McDonald S. (2011). Computerised cognitive training for older persons with mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study using a randomized controlled trial design. Brain Impairment, 12(3), 187–199. doi: 10.1375/brim.12.3.187.

Jonidas, J., Lacey, S.C., & Nee, D.E. (2005).  Process of working memory in mind and brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 2-5

Schwean, V. L., &  Saklofske, D.H. (2005). Assessment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with the WISC-IV. In A. Prifitera, D.H. Saklofske, & L.G. Weiss (Eds.), WISC-IV Clinical Use and Interpretation: Scientist-Practitioner Perspectives (pp. 235-280). San Diego, CA: Elsevier

Subramanya, P., Telles, S. (2009). Effect of two yoga based relaxation techniques on memory scores and state anxiety.  BioPsychoSocial Medicine

 

 

Simple Stuff to Help Children Self-Regulate

Children gym fitness kid girl with small dumbbells vector. Fitness kid small dumbbells and sport girl. Little fitness kid girl and cartoon fitness kid girl. Sport dumbbells healthy lifestyle fitness.

Heavy Work = Self-Regulate

Proprioceptive receptors are located in the muscles, tendons, and joints.  These receptors respond to active movement and gravity.  Proprioceptive exercises involve deep pressure.  These exercises are a powerful tool to help children self-regulate.  Here are five simple exercises that can be incorporated into their school day.

  1. Wall Push-Ups. Place palms on the wall, bend elbows, and plant feet firmly on the floor.  Push against the wall for ten second.  Wall push-ups provide proprioceptive input into the arms, hands, and legs.
  2. Seated Push-Ups. Sit on the floor (with legs crossed) or chair (with feet flat). Push on the floor or chair with flat palms trying to slightly lift up the bottom.  Hold for ten seconds.
  3. Palm Push. Press palms together and hold for ten seconds.  Palm push provides proprioceptive input to the hands and helps balance the brain.
  4. Squeezes. Cross wrists and squeeze up from the wrists to your shoulders then squeeze down the arms again from the shoulders to the wrists.  Go up and down the arms ten times.  Squeezes improve attention, develop the brain, and provide proprioceptive input.
  5. Down Dog. Begin on hand and knees.  Spread the fingers wide and press the hands firmly into the mat.  Tuck the toes and bring the hips high while trying to push the heels toward the floor. Keep a slight bend in the knees and relax the head. Make it fun by wagging your tail.  Down Dog requires heavy work, which is movement that provides resistance to the muscles and joints. Heavy work develops the brain and helps children self-regulate.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Children

Girl playing in the sun

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION FOR CHILDREN? 

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teaches children how to self-regulate their behavior through guided instruction. Each session includes mindfulness of the breath, mindfulness of the body (body scan), and mindfulness of movement (calming yoga postures).  Children  learn to identify thoughts and emotions and relate them to experiences. These simple mindfulness practices help children deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions.

IS IT SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH?

  • A study at Standford University confirmed that  8-weeks of mindfulness training in fourth through sixth graders led to significant decreases in anxiety and improvements in attention.  The children in this study were less emotionally reactive and better able to handle daily stress (Saltzman, 2010)
  • A study with adolescents under psychiatric outpatient care showed significant improvements in stress, anxiety, and several psychopathological symptoms. The study also found that more time spent in sitting meditation predicted improved functioning and a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms (Burke, 2009).

Sign up for a 8-week mindfulness based stress reduction course at 913-660-8219.

References

Burke, C.A. (2009) Mindfulness-Based Approaches with Children and Adolescents: A Preliminary Review of Current Research in an Emergent Field. J Child Fam Stud. pmid:20339571 doi: 10.1007/s10826-009-9282-x

Saltzman, A. (2010). Mindfulness: A teacher’s guide. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/theBuddha/teacher’s/guide/

Lavender Cloud Dough

Winneconne, WI - 19 February 2015: Bottle of Young Living Lavender essential oil supplement.

What is lavender cloud dough?

A sensory activity to reduce anxiety and stress in children.  It is therapeutic and super simple to make and store.

What does the research tell us?

Lavender is used to treat neurological disorders such as stress, anxiety, and depression.  Research has shown that lavender aromatherapy decreased depression by 32.7% in individuals suffering from PTSD (Uehleke et al. 2012).   Another study found that lavender essential oil reduced anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression when taken as a supplement (Kasper, 2013).

How do I make it?

8 cups plain flour (all purpose)

1 cup vegetable/ olive or baby oil (avoid baby oil if your child likes to taste things)

2 tablespoons purple powder paint

5 drops lavender essential oil from Young Living

Encourage your child to mix the ingredients with their hands. Once it has a wet sand consistency the dough is ready to be molded.  Let the fun begin!

References

Kasper S. (2013) An orally administered lavandula oil preparation (Silexan) for anxiety disorder and related conditions: an evidence based review. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract; 17 Suppl 1:15-22.

Uehleke, B., et al. (2012) Phase II trial on the effects of Silexan in patients with neurasthenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or somatization disorder. Phytomedicine; 19(8-9):665-71.

 

Special Education Tips for Parents

Group Of Children Playing In Park

Is your child struggling academically, but the school has refused to evaluate for special services? Ummm….They can’t do that! The school system is not always forthright in letting parents know their parental rights when it comes to their child’s education.  Below are a few basic tips to help your child obtain the evaluation or services they need as quickly as possible.

  • Put everything in writing. When attending intervention meetings make sure all requests and concerns are added to the meeting notes.   When requesting an evaluation put the request in writing to the principal and make sure to date the letter.
  • Ask for and read the parent’s rights booklet. Everything a parent needs to know is listed in this booklet.
  • Ask for a draft of the plan a week in advance of the meeting. Review the plan, revise, and list concerns with the plan before meeting with the school team.
  • Do not sign anything at the meeting. If a draft of an intervention plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is proposed at a meeting take the draft home and really look at it to make sure you agree with all that is stated. Do not let the school team pressure you into signing something at the meeting you are unsure. This is your child’s education!
  • Hire an advocate. If you feel as if you are being bullied by the school system by all means hire an advocate as soon as possible. Advocates are well versed in special education law and love litigious meetings. Reduce your stress by letting them negotiate for you.

If the educational jargon in the parent’s rights booklet is difficult to decode or you need an advocate call us at 913-660-8219. We love attending meetings and revising IEPs. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga offers one free consult. Also, the team at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga just so happens to specialize in advocacy services and special education assessments.

Magical Discipline Strategies for ADHD

Magician's hands holding a magic wand and waving it over a magical top hat

Okay, I exaggerated it’s not magical, but these strategies are so simple, quick, and effective, they feel like magic. I have used the 1-2-3 Magic system for 17-years, both as a psychologist and as an early childhood coordinator. If implemented correctly it works just like magician casting a spell.

For now we are only going to discuss stop behaviors. Stop behaviors include: aggression, yelling, pouting, whining, and arguing. Basically any behavior you want your child to stop doing.

Using a counting system to stop unwanted behaviors in children with special needs requires modifications. Children with ADHD and autism typically have problems processing information given through auditory directions. Therefore, add visual supports or your child will look at you as if you’ve lost your mind!

Visual Supports Needed

  • Social Story. Children need the discipline procedure read to them with pictures of the time-out space, the timer, etc. The story needs to be very simple with only one to two sentences to a page.
  • Time Timer. The Time Timer is a timer that has a red disk that disappears as time elapses. The best part is no irritating ticking, distractions, or setup. Click here to watch a video on the Time Timer. http://www.timetimer.com

HOW TO WORK MAGIC

First, read the social story. Second, read the story often. Repetition is the key. Now comes the tricky part, implementation. When you see “Johnny” doing something he is not suppose to be doing say, “That’s 1.” If he doesn’t stop say, “That’s 2.” If he still doesn’t stop, say, “That’s 3.” Then walk him to his time-out place. This can consist of a square on the floor made of duct tape (thinking square), his room, or whatever place you deem the time-out spot. Once he calms down start the timer.   When the red is gone, time is up and Johnny is free. Sounds simple right? That’s because it is, but there are a few key components.

KEY COMPONENTS

  • Reduce talking too much. Only count.
  • Stay level headed. Show no emotion.

Still need help? Call the Mindful Child Aerial Yoga team at 913-660-8219 or sign up for one of our behavior management workshops.

The ABC’s of Yoga

ChildYogaSlider

 

The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids is one of my favorite yoga books to use with children, including children with special needs such as ADHD and autism.  Children with special needs require simplicity and visual support.  This book has both.  Each letter of the alphabet is a different yoga pose.  Children are not only learning yoga, but their letters as well. The children love the colorful pictures and rhymes that describe how to get into each pose.  It takes approximately an hour to read the book if each pose is practiced.  I break it up into three sessions. It’s best to find proper alignment and hold the pose instead of rushing through them.

The benefits of yoga for children include:  balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength.  Additionally,  yoga promotes calmness and relieves stress. This books offers a multitude of wellness and mental health benefits and best of all it’s fun!

The ABCs of Yoga for Kids can be ordered online through Amazon.  Ready? Find your center, breathe, and soar.

Reference

Power, T. A., & Rietz, K. (2009). The ABCs of yoga for kids. Pacific Palisades, CA: Stafford House.

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children