Exercise Helps Children With ADHD in Study

Researchers Hope Physical Activity Can Stem Growing Use of Medications

by Sumathi Reddy

Researchers seeking alternatives to the use of drugs to treat ADHD in children are taking a closer look at exercise as a prescription.

A recent study found regular, half-hour sessions of aerobic activity before school helped young children with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder become more attentive and less moody. Other research found a single bout of exercise improved students’ attention and academic skills.

It isn’t clear whether physical exercise offers particular benefits to children with symptoms of ADHD, since students with typical development also showed improvements after the sessions. Children with the condition have greater-than-normal difficulty paying attention and may exhibit impulsive behavior, among other symptoms.

Some doctors who specialize in treating children diagnosed with ADHD say they often incorporate exercise in the therapy. And some teachers have begun getting students up from their desks for short bursts of physical activity, finding it helps them pay attention to their studies.

“It benefits all the kids, but I definitely see where it helps the kids with ADHD a lot,” said Jill Fritz, a fourth-grade teacher at Rutledge Pearson Elementary school in Jacksonville, Fla. “It really helps them get back on track and get focused.”

Growing numbers of children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated 11% of children had an ADHD diagnosis in 2011, the latest data available. That was up from 7.8% in 2003. Among all children in the U.S., 6.1% in 2011 were taking an ADHD medication, such as Adderall and Ritalin, up from 4.8% in 2007.

In a study published online Tuesday in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, students in kindergarten through second grade did 31 minutes of aerobic physical activity before the start of school for 12 weeks. Another group of students engaged in a sedentary, classroom-based activity. The study, conducted at schools in Vermont and Indiana, involved 202 students.

The participants included children with typical development and others who were classified as at-risk for developing ADHD because of elevated symptoms of the disorder based on parent and teacher assessments.

The study found children in the exercise groups showed greater improvements in areas such as attention and mood than did those in the sedentary groups. The benefits of the exercise applied similarly to typically developing children as well as children with ADHD symptoms.

“This is the first large-scale demonstration of improvements in ADHD symptoms from aerobic physical activity using a randomized controlled trial methodology,” said Betsy Hoza, lead author of the study and a professor of psychological science at the University of Vermont. “This shows promise as a new avenue of treatment for ADHD but more work needs to be done before we know for sure if it really is,” she said.

Dr. Hoza described the benefits as “moderate” but said the results were comparable with what would be expected from an ADHD behavioral intervention with a trained professional.

Many schools have cut back on the amount of time devoted to recess and physical education because of increasing curriculum demands. Instead, some schools have implemented programs to encourage exercise among students either before or after school, or in shorts periods of activity throughout the day.

Ms. Fritz, the fourth-grade teacher, uses an online program called GoNoodle that leads students in what it calls “brain breaks.” She said she puts it on three or four times a day between study periods. A two-minute program might lead the children in forming letters with their bodies, and a 10-minute session might run through a Zumba dance routine.

GoNoodle, a Nashville, Tenn., startup, launched the program last year. It says the product, offered in both free and premium versions, is currently being used by 130,000 elementary schoolteachers.

Another classroom program, ABC for Fitness, helps teachers use short bursts of activity of three to 10 minutes to accumulate 30 minutes a day. Activities include jumping in place and doing squats. The program was developed by David Katz, co-founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, and is offered free to school districts through Dr. Katz’s nonprofit, the Turn the Tide Foundation.

ABC for Fitness was evaluated in a 2010 report published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The study, which took place in Missouri, compared three elementary schools using the program with two other schools not using it. Among the findings: Schools that adopted the exercise program for most of the academic year had a 33% decline in ADHD medications used by its students. That compared with a smaller, 7% decline in medication use in the schools not using the program.

A similar study done with a larger sample size is currently under review, said Dr. Katz, who headed up the research teams on both studies.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign examined the effects on attention and cognition from a single bout of activity. Forty children, age 8 to 10 years, spent 20 minutes either reading or exercising on a treadmill. After the tasks, the researchers measured the children’s attention and reading and math skills using computerized tests. They also measured electrical activity in the children’s brains.

After the tasks, test scores improved more for children who exercised than for those who were reading. Within the exercise group, children with ADHD symptoms scored better than the other children on one particular test that measured self-correction.

“Just 20 minutes of exercise of moderate intensity improved these core abilities to allocate attention and improved scholastic performance,” said Matthew Pontifex, lead author of the study and now an assistant professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University. The study was published in 2013 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

John Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of several books on ADHD, says he generally includes exercise in treatment plans. He recommends morning exercise for children, even something as little as running around or jumping rope. He said exercise can help reduce the medication dosage a patient is taking, or perhaps replace it altogether.

Dr. Ratey is a consultant to Reebok’s BOKS program, which leads 45-minute vigorous-exercise sessions three to five times a week at about 1,000 elementary schools across the country. “It’s for kids in general but it has a big effect for kids with ADHD,” he said.

ADHD Summer Survival Tips

How to keep ADHD kids happy and healthy all summer long. Plus, is summer the right time for a medication vacation?

By Denise Mann
WebMD Magazine – Feature

Reviewed by Amal Chakraburtty, MD

When her son Anthony was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 6, Mary Robertson quickly became an amateur travel agent during his summer vacations.

She didn’t have much of a choice. “One day Anthony came home hiding a handsaw behind his back because he had sawed down a neighbor’s tree to see how old it was,” recalls the oncology-nurse-turned-ADHD-patient-advocate. “I realized pretty quickly that to stay at home and not have something planned was not gonna work.”

Robertson’s challenge is one all parents face, especially during the summer, and doubly so for those who have kids with ADHD, a behavioral disorder that affects about 2 million children in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.

ADHD is marked by inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity, which means that children with the condition may act quickly without thinking; can’t seem to sit still; will walk, run, or climb around while others are seated; and are easily sidetracked by what is going on around them. For these reasons, they may have difficulty at home and school, and in forming and maintaining relationships with their peers.

“During the summer, you have to have a plan. You can’t just wake up in the morning without an itinerary, or [ADHD kids] will figure out things to get into,” says the Lexington, Ky.-based mother of Anthony, now 20, and his sister Samantha, 17, who both have been diagnosed with types of ADHD. “The best thing you can do is to take them somewhere,” she adds. “We have been to every park that there is. My son’s kindergarten teacher even complimented me on the fact that Anthony was so worldly.”

ADHD Summer Tip 1: Stress Structure

“If children with ADHD don’t have a structured day or week, they can get into trouble because they may try to create stimulation for themselves in a way that might result in mischief,” says Karen Fleiss, PsyD, co-director of the New York University Summer Program for Kids and an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at New York University in New York City. “Kids with ADHD can be sensation-seeking, careless, and more impulsive than children without this behavioral disorder.”

Left on their own, “they may say ‘Let’s bake’ and then get distracted, forget about it, and go outside and play,” Fleiss adds. The result? You guessed it: a four-alarm fire.

Marshall Teitelbaum, MD, a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist in private practice in Palm Beach, Fla., agrees. “Kids with ADHD are more likely to get hurt over the summer than during the regular school year. There are a lot more accidents if a child is distracted or impulsive.”

Adds Stephen Grcevich, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland: “They misjudge time, procrastinate, and test limits more.”

That’s why a regular routine is so important. “Kids with ADHD are a little less able than kids without ADHD to structure themselves, so they need a little more external support,” says Joel L. Young, MD, a psychiatrist in Rochester Hills, Mich., and the founder and medical director of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine.

ADHD Summer Tip 2: Consider Day Camp

Parents of ADHD kids should try to find “structured activities where children will have the opportunity for interaction with peers, and where they can have a consistent day-to-day routine, such as summer camps, religious camps, or sports-related activities,” says Grcevich.

And camps don’t have to cater exclusively to children with ADHD, he says. “Some kids, especially in the group with predominantly inattentive symptoms [such as being easily sidetracked or daydreaming, rather than being hyperactive or impulsive] of ADHD, will do well in many nonacademic settings or activities.”

Still, kids with ADHD who have marked social difficulties may benefit from a specialty camp. “Many of these camps — especially the summer treatment programs run by the larger academic medical centers — do a nice job teaching kids skills to help them in making and keeping friends.”

Of course not every family has the funds for such diversions. “Camp is great if you can afford it but not all families can,” says Young, author of ADHD Grown Up: A Guide to Adolescent and Adult ADHD. Instead, “try making a play date in the morning with a friend, and generally having something on the agenda -whether it’s visiting a friend’s house or taking a trip to a local zoo. It’s also really good to encourage creativity. Arts and crafts projects can be helpful.”

ADHD Summer Tip 3: Make Lists

What if you are a working parent who is not at home to oversee such daytime excursions? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.2% of married women were in the labor force in 2005, making activity-planning one more item to add to parents’ already-extensive “to-do” list: “I would recommend that parents sit down with their child care providers and explain the special circumstances and specific expectations regarding daytime structure,” Young says.

To do this, “a schedule or a list would be very helpful and effective,” he says. Don’t be too draconian. “You want them to have plenty of fun during the summer and not simulate the school day. Lists, along with a general time frame of what needs to get done during the day, will be helpful.” For example, 7-8 a.m. is breakfast time, followed by a 9-11:30 a.m. visit to a friend’s house, and reading time at 2-2:30 p.m.

Finally, whether your relatives help with child care, or they are simply around for a summertime visit, “it’s important that all family members agree to maintain the routines for children with ADHD to function well,” says Teitelbaum. This includes plans around medication and behavior modification, common treatments for ADHD.

ADHD Summer Tip 4: Set a Bedtime

Having fun-filled summer days often hinges on getting a good night’s sleep. However, many children with ADHD have difficulty sticking to a regular bedtime. They may get preoccupied with TV or computer games or just have difficulty winding down. As a result, they can be tired and unwieldy the next day. And that can drive parents crazy.

Bad bedtime habits are “more typical of kids with ADHD because their bodies are always active, and it’s harder for them to settle down to go to sleep,” Fleiss says. And no matter what time these kids go to sleep, they often get up at the crack of dawn, she adds.

A set bedtime is essential for kids with ADHD — and this should not change simply because the days are longer in summer.

“Set a bedtime Monday through Friday, then be more flexible on weekends,” Fleiss suggests, and encourage downtime for an hour before the desired bedtime. Read with your child, watch something relaxing on TV, or tell him or her a story to create a transition from an active phase to a sleep phase. And “give in once in a while. If you go to Great Adventure for the day, you don’t have to run home to get your kid in bed by 9:30 p.m.”

ADHD Summer Tip 5: Don’t Drop Academics

Making time for tutoring or other learning activities throughout the summer helps to maintain a routine, and provides academic continuity for maximum success in the fall, Teitelbaum says. “It is especially challenging for many kids with ADHD to get back into the flow when school starts, so a summer reading list or some kind of tutoring can make sure he or she [won’t be] miserable getting started again.”

“It’s important to include some kind of academic activity throughout the summer — even if that just means reading with your child for 20 minutes throughout the day,” echoes Fleiss. “Close to 33% of kids with ADHD also have other learning disabilities, and it can be easier to fit tutoring in during the summer than after a full day of school.”

Young adds, “Summer is a good time for your child to read what he or she likes — instead of books dictated by the school’s curriculum. Go to the library or book store for a book that piques his or her interest.”

While learning activities are important during the summer, kicking it up a notch just before school begins can make a huge difference in your child’s academic performance, says Grcevich. “First impressions among teachers have a large bearing on how the school year will progress,” he says. In the two weeks before school starts, “I would definitely recommend reinstituting bedtimes and wake-up times necessary during the school year. Kids will also benefit from engaging in the cognitive tasks required of them during the school year, such as reading and practicing math.”

Following these tips for kids with ADHD — structured activities, day camps, inspired lists, set bedtimes, and ongoing academics — can alter your attitude toward June, July, and August, says Robertson.

“If you organize your days, then by the end of the summer, you will not be jumping up and down for joy when he or she goes back to school,” she says.

ADHD Medication Vacation?

Another hot-button issue for many parents is whether to stop or adjust their child’s ADHD medication during the summer. Parents may crave the respite because these medications can have unwanted side effects, such as poor appetite, and many have an inherent fear of having their children on any medication — especially a stimulant-type drug. Some parents may just want to see how their child fares without medication when there are no academic pressures.

“Parents can consider using the summer to address concerns and questions that they have about their child’s current medication regimen,” Grcevich says. For example, “if parents see that the child gets benefit from medication but is having worrisome side effects, they can consider a trial of different medication in summer.”

The warm-weather months are a safer time to try this because “you don’t have to worry about your child failing tests or doing poorly academically during the summer, so it can be a good time to make these changes,” says Fleiss.

Robertson took her son off medication one summer. “While on medication, Anthony was better able to play patiently with peers, follow directions, and sit still without a major battle,” she recalls. “When we took him off meds for the summer, Anthony’s hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inability to pay attention returned with a vengeance. It became a full-time job to try to entertain him in an effort to keep him from creating his own entertainment.”

Off medication, with full-blown ADHD symptoms, Anthony used to burn ants and once lit the neighbor’s dry leaves on fire — among other things, she says.

But Nancie Steinberg, a New York City-based public relations expert, is still not sure what she will do about her son Austen’s ADHD medication this summer. “I gave him a reprieve during winter break as an experiment, but I think it showed me he needs it to stay focused and not restless,” she says. “I may try again this summer to see what he is like and determine if he truly needs to be medicated.”

If Steinberg or other parents decide to let their children take a medication break, Grcevich says, “We strongly encourage them to resume medication two weeks prior to the new school year so that kids are prepared to perform at their best from day one.”

Of course, ADHD is a condition with different levels of symptoms and severity. Every ADHD child is different and requires an individual assessment. Parents should speak with their child’s doctor about the best approach during the summer — and year-round.


Game On: Picking Sports for ADHD Children


For children with attention deficit, not all sports are created equal. Here, find ideas for the best sports and activities for ADHD children and learn how to determine if a team or individual sport is best for your kid.

Sports and exercise can offer a number of social and behavioral benefits, but it’s not always easy for ADHD children to get involved.

For many children with ADHD, the most formidable opponents on the playing field are themselves. Because structure, order and lack of distraction are the keys to sports success, the very issues that plague them in the classroom may get magnified on the playing field.

Additionally, ADHD frequently co-occurs with learning disabilities that affect organization, spatial awareness, and game concepts and strategies. So besides distractibility, other factors that hamper sports success for many ADHD kids are:

  • Difficulty following directions. Attention deficit children often want to skip the instructions and jump right into the game or activity.
  • Impulsivity. Because ADHD kids often act before thinking, they’re quick to operate on instinct rather than employ strategies and rules that are part of the sport. They also may have difficulty waiting their turn and standing in line, especially during practice.
  • Inattention. Sports such as baseball that require the child to pay at least moderate attention during periods in which they not fully engaged in the game are particularly challenging. Kids with ADHD often are caught daydreaming or fooling around during low action intervals.
  • Low frustration tolerance. Losing is especially difficult for kids with ADHD, and may give rise to tantrums, rages, and other inappropriate or even physically aggressive behaviors.

The Trouble with Team Sports

Most experts agree that individual sports are better for kids whose ADHD isn’t well controlled. Team contact sports are the worst.

“They have a hard time grasping the ‘play system,'” explains Robert Giabardo, athletic director at Summit Camp for Youth with Attention Deficit Disorders in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. “In order to participate in a game such as football, the player must always be focused not only on his or her role in the game, but must also be aware of the actions and physical placement of other players at all times.”

Maintaining keen focus and acute awareness is challenging for any child. For kids with ADHD, it’s almost impossible. “Often they do not look around at other players and get hit or hurt during plays,” Giabardo says.

“Basketball may be even worse,” says Patricia Quinn, M.D., a developmental pediatrician specializing in ADHD at the Pediatric Development Center in Washington DC. “They have to learn the plays, anticipate moves, and strategize. These are exactly the things people with ADHD don’t do well.”

Giabardo agrees. “They have trouble understanding zones and how defense works. ADHD children just want to get the ball and dribble it. And they get frustrated because basketball requires the player to exercise several skills at one time, such as jumping, passing, dribbling and running.”

“So they keep the ball and do all the shooting, or they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” says Quinn, who has watched many a painful scene from the sidelines. “People are yelling at them. The other parents start telling teammates to keep the ball away from the ADHD kid. It’s terribly deflating, exactly the opposite experience you’d want your ADHD child to have.”

Individual Sports Are Key

As a general rule, children with ADHD do better when they get plenty of individual attention from coaches. That’s why they’re more likely to succeed with individual sports such as swimming and diving, wrestling, martial arts, and tennis – or even more rarified endeavors such as fencing and horseback riding.

Even though these sports themselves may be “individual,” ADHD children still derive many of the social benefits of being on a team because they’re frequently taught in groups with other kids. “In the case of swimming, wrestling and tennis they often are on teams,” says Quinn. “It’s just that the effort and instruction are individual.”

The team situation also enables children to spread the guilt for a loss over the group, not just on him or herself – which is acceptable as long the child understands his or her role in the loss, and doesn’t verbally blame or abuse teammates. Which means parents need to be closely involved.

In fact, parents are the key to sports success for most ADHD kids, particularly when they’re young and selecting activities to pursue. “You have to work at seeking out what your kids are good at, what they’re interested in, and what fits their personalities,” says Quinn. “There’s no one formula because no two ADHD kids are alike.”

The Magic of Martial Arts

One group of activities that Quinn promotes for nearly all ADHD kids, though, is martial arts such as taekwondo. “Martial arts are all about control. You learn to control your body. The movements are smooth. There is an element of meditation (internal self control) in taekwondo.” In addition, she says, teachers instruct rather than coach; when the child is shown step by step how to do something, there’s little opportunity for distraction.


A lasting benefit of martial arts comes from its use of rituals such as bowing to the instructor, Quinn believes. “Rituals are good for ADHD kids because they make behavior automatic,” she says. “For most of us, daily actions such as remembering to take your medicine are automatic. But without rituals such as ‘every time I brush my teeth I take my medicine,’ people with ADHD don’t remember.” Martial arts rituals can help teach kids with ADHD to accept, develop and use rituals in other areas of their lives.

Modifying Sports for ADHD Children

Despite the pitfalls of team sports, many kids with ADHD are strongly motivated to join them for social reasons as well as athletic interest. Indeed, learning to be a part of a team is a thrilling and therapeutic experience for kids who are up to the task.

But whether they choose to pursue team or individual sports, an understanding professional coach or gym teacher who makes adjustments and modifications for ADHD kids can make or break a sports experience for your child.

Modifications in team sports should be designed to keep your child active and engaged in the sport with strategies that minimize downtime and boredom. In baseball, for example, modifications might include:

— Changing drill patterns frequently to keep the child from becoming bored or desensitized.
— Changing field positions as frequently as every five minutes to re-stimulate the child’s attention to the game, particularly if the child is posted in the outfield.
— Putting the ADHD child in an active field position as much as possible to keep him or her busily involved in the game.
— Alternate between multiple practice stations to keep kids constantly engaged.
— Giving the ADHD child a coach’s assistant job while waiting his turn at bat. Keep the task simple but engaging so he’ll stay out of trouble and build a sense of purpose and self worth along the way.

Even individual sports may require modifications. Mauro Hamza, a fencing coach in Houston, Texas, allows ADHD children frequent breaks in routine. The fencing club rents space from a rec center, which enables children to break for checkers, TV, snacks, or even an occasional ping pong game during the two hour fencing club practice.

Pick Age Appropriate Sports

Finally, keep in mind that ADHD children usually are about a third younger emotionally and socially than they are chronologically, which explains a lot of their troubled interactions with peers. If you can think of your eleven-year-old child as really being eight, it makes it easier to accept and understand his or her behavior.

The difference between the playing field and elsewhere, though, is that you can use the sports arena to your child’s advantage by placing him or her with a younger age group, something you can’t do realistically at school.

Quinn advocates holding your child back in sports by two or more years whenever possible. “Make the way smoother for them by putting them with younger children,” Quinn suggests. “They’ll have a chance to hang around with peers they can relate to, and to be in a position where they can shine.”

Let the smiles begin!


10 Best Jobs for Adults with ADHD

Written by Kimberly Holland | Medically Reviewed on November 26, 2012 by George Krucik, MD, MBA

The challenges of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in a classroom setting are familiar—students with ADHD often struggle with classwork, interrupt the teacher, and have difficulty passing tests. While many kids outgrow the hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness associated with the disorder, about 60 percent of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA, 2012).

Adult ADHD is characterized by restlessness, disorganization, and the inability to focus—all things that may prevent a person from getting and keeping a job. But many adults with ADHD do have successful professional careers. Here’s a list of traits common in people with ADHD and the jobs that take advantage of these unique strengths.

Captivated by Change: Police Officers and Firefighters

Police officers and firefighters are busy. No two days are the same, which is a good thing for people with ADHD because a routine can become tedious. ADHD adults find pleasure in constant change; they thrive in an environment that is stimulating and in which they have to adapt and analyze.

The training required to become a police officer or firefighter is challenging, however, and may be too difficult for some. Working with a mentor can help people with ADHD maintain their focus during testing and training. Once they’re in a police station or firehouse, ADHD adults will find themselves busy with work they find both fulfilling and rewarding.

Thrive in High-Intensity Environments: Doctors and Nurses

“People with ADHD tend to work well in a fast-paced, high-intensity environment, like that of an emergency room or ambulance,” says Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a clinical psychotherapist and assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Like police officers, doctors and nurses never have the same workday twice. This requires them to call up all of their training, maintain focus, and work with others to succeed.

Working in a hospital may involve long hours, stacks of paperwork, and having to answer to authority figures—all possible weaknesses for ADHD adults. But having a strong support staff and colleagues willing to help can allow people with ADHD to succeed in the medical field.

Enjoy Talking a Lot: Salespeople

People with ADHD love talking to others. Sales jobs are a great way to focus this natural energy in a positive way. In an environment that requires heads-down, solo work, ADHD adults may get frustrated without human interaction and begin bothering their co-workers. But with a job that depends one-on-one communication, such as sales, someone with ADHD may find great success.

Express Creativity: Artists and Entertainers

The entertainment industry has long been a mecca for dreamers, creators, and visionaries. The energy and drive it takes to succeed in any aspect of the entertainment industry—as a graphic artist, ballet dancer, or stage actor—is exhausting for most people, but not for those with ADHD. Their high-energy drive can propel them into a fruitful creative career.

Enjoy Physical Work: Members of the Military

The military, in which order and discipline are key, may seem like the last place for a person with ADHD. Yet some do very well in the armed forces. That’s because the intense mental focus and physical demands of training keep their minds and bodies engaged. They have clear instructions, an objective, and incentives to reach their goals.

Still, joining the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard isn’t for everyone. A person with ADHD might rebel in a military hierarchy, not thrive.

Be Independent: Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs must have determination, boundless energy, and the desire to succeed. They also have to share that drive by interacting with investors, employees, and customers. This requires a great deal of independent work, organization, and planning—areas in which people with ADHD typically struggle. But not when it’s their own business—something they are deeply committed to seeing through. “When they’re in an area of passion, people with ADHD flourish,” says Dr. Kevin Ross Emery, author of Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches to Attention Deficit Disorder.

Prefer to Work Outside the Office: Commission Salespeople

Salespeople who work on commission are out-and-about, shaking hands, and seeing new faces. It’s the type of job in which a person is almost always “on.” No cubicles or 9-to-5 schedules here. “Work environments that are ‘outside the box’ are perfect for people with ADHD,” Dr. Emery says. “It gives them the space and flexibility they need, with the right amount of structure so they can be really successful.”

Enjoy Variety: Mechanics

Working on cars, boats, and motorcycles is a hands-on, physical job. It’s one that is different each day, often calls on a person’s critical-thinking skills, and requires face-to-face interaction. It’s perfect for a person with ADHD who feels trapped behind a desk and loves solving problems.

Enjoy Hands-On Work: Construction Workers

The construction business keeps people busy and working hard. It’s also a job that changes frequently while still providing clear instructions and objectives. There’s little time for boredom—as soon as one portion of a job is done, there are usually other tasks to complete. A person with ADHD can succeed in the construction industry, so long as he or she deals well with authority figures.

Need Clear Deadlines: Delivery Truck Driver

Delivery truck drivers are people on a mission; they have somewhere to be, and they have to be there by a certain time. It’s the perfect structure for a person with ADHD. “Employees with ADHD thrive in environments where they have clear instructions and directives,” Dr. Sarkis says.

With a truck full of boxes and a day in which to get them delivered, a person with ADHD will work hard to accomplish the task before them. This profession also allows ADHD adults to work outside of a typical office setting, interact with others, and use their boundless energy to complete assignments.

Hiring Employees with ADHD

Adults with ADHD make very industrious employees. They are high-energy, naturally curious, and eager to succeed. Making a few small adjustments can help you establish a productive work environment for them. “People with ADHD flourish when expectations and deadlines are clear and put into writing,” Dr. Sarkis says. “Employers should break down projects into smaller tasks and assign deadlines to those components.”

Also, help your ADHD employee identify a coworker who may be able to help him or her with the more challenging aspects of the job, such as paperwork. It may take extra time to integrate an employee with ADHD, but once you do, it’s likely to be a very successful partnership.


7 Natural Brain Foods for Focus and Concentration

If you have ever had problems concentrating, you know how extremely frustrating it is to get anything done. As we age, it seems to be more and more difficult to keep our thoughts collected or even remember where we put our keys. This may be a part of the aging process to some degree, but diet and lifestyle certainly has a lot to do with it as well. Luckily, there are several brain foods that you can include in your daily diet to boost cognitive function, boost concentration, and slow down brain decline.

Here are 7 foods to eat for better cognition, concentration, and for overall brain preservation.

1. Brain Foods – Walnuts

Interestingly enough, walnuts actually resemble small brains. Perhaps this is a clue that we should eat them. A study conducted in the 2007 found that a diet including more than 2% walnuts was able to reverse brain aging, including age related motor and cognitive defects. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants which fight against free radical damage to the brain cells’ DNA.

2. and 3. Coffee and Dark Chocolate

While your average coffee from the local coffee shop might contain all sorts of sugars and additions not worth the health risks, a free-trade organic coffee can do great things for your focus and brain power. A cup or two of coffee first thing in the morning will wake up your brain and allow you to focus and concentrate. The caffeine found in chocolate does the same thing, in addition to harnessing rich, brain-protecting antioxidants. It is wise, however, not to over indulge.

4. Berries

Berries are undoubtedly one of the best anti aging foods around. These little fruit gems protect the brain from oxidative stress while decreasing the effects of age related conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition to delaying memory decline by up to 2.5 years in one study, blueberries have been found to improve learning capacity and motor skills.

5. Spinach

Popeye knew what he was doing when he ate his spinach. Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable that is loaded with vitamin E, which has been shown to improve cognitive function. Vitamin E helps increases brain tissue and released dopamine which controls information flow in the brain. Further spinach contains lutein, an antioxidant that could protect against cognitive decline.

6. Carrots

While it’s known carrots are great for vision, did you also know that they are also great for the brain? Helping to reduce inflammation and restore memory, the compound found in carrots, known as luteolin, appears to reduce age-related memory loss and boost overall brain health. Other foods that are also high in luteolin include olive oil, celery, rosemary, and peppers.

7. Fish

The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish give our brain a huge boost. Consuming fish weekly can reduce the risk of stroke and dementia while slowing down mental decline. Research also indicates that vital fatty acids help to keep memory sharp as we age.

A Hearty Breakfast

It’s important to know that eating breakfast may help with brain preservation. Researchers warn that skipping breakfast can cause a tremendous strain on the brain. Children who eat a well-rounded breakfast have scored better on tests than those that skip this incredibly important meal. Try having some fresh fruit or high-fiber whole grains like oatmeal and bran. High calorie breakfasts laden with sugar and fat tend to detract from concentration.

Eating Light

Combining these healthy foods into a varied diet will help your brain from becoming sluggish. Eating healthful whole foods (preferably organic), getting enough sleep, exercising daily and managing stress all help with concentration and cognitive function.

ADHD Study at Boston University Questions Medications

Dr. Kathleen Kantak thinks medicating adolescents with ADHD may lead to cocaine use later in life.

adhd medsIn 2011, more than six million children and adolescents in the U.S. were diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and that number grows every year. According to the CDC, of the roughly six million ADHD patients, six percent were taking ADHD medication in 2011. As the number of ADHD diagnoses grows each year, so does the amount of medication prescribed to adolescents. Dr. Kathleen Kantak thinks this could be the reason why many ADHD kids develop cocaine habits later in life.

Kantak, a professor of psychology at Boston University, has conducted a study based on previous clinical trials that showed that one in five adolescent ADHD patients develop cocaine habits in their adult lives. She wanted to look at why adolescents who are prescribed ADHD medications like Ritalin and Strattera, have a higher chance of becoming addicted to cocaine in adulthood.

Kantak’s study examined three different types of rats: spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) which exhibit similar symptoms to adolescents with ADHD, inbred Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats, and outbred Wistar rats. Neither of the Wistar rats showed signs of ADHD and served as Kantak’s control groups.

After observing all three groups’ normal behavior, rats from each group were given either Ritalin, Stattera, or no drugs at all. After the rats’ adolescence was over, they were all taken off the medication. Next, each adult rat was implanted with a catheter through which, at the push of a lever, cocaine could be self-administered at will.

The team observed that the SHR rats, regardless of their medication history, developed a cocaine habit faster than either of the other two types of rats. Additionally, the SHR rats who were given Ritalin as adolescents were more inclined toward higher usage of cocaine than the SHR rats who were not medicated with Ritalin.

Kantak’s conclusion? Rats who exhibited signs of ADHD as adolescents and were given Ritalin as treatment, were more inclined to develop an addiction to cocaine as adults.

In an interesting turn of events, Kantak’s team also found that the WKY rats who received Strattera were quicker to pick up a cocaine habit than those that never took the drug.

The conclusions drawn by the team, according to Kantak, are twofold. “If they’re an adolescent getting a stimulant medication, and they’re properly diagnosed, the medication may put them at increased risk [for adult cocaine risk],” she said in a report. “If they’re misdiagnosed, and get Strattera, this may also be putting them at greater risk… of acquiring an addiction to cocaine.”

The study seems to suggest that adolescents who are diagnosed with ADHD should be given Straterra, rather than Ritalin as treatment, because it is a non stimulant, and those who do not have a definitive diagnosis should avoid taking the medication in order to avoid the increased risk developing a cocaine habit later in life.

This also brings into question the high numbers of ADHD diagnoses in the past few years, as it is possible that over-diagnosis of adolescents may result in increased cocaine addicted adults in the future.

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/12/04/adhd-cocaine-behavior-boston-university/