School-age children, and even teenagers, have a limited range of behaviors available to let the adults in their lives know that something is wrong.  AD/HD, anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties often look the same behaviorally.  A full evaluation identifies the underlying issues causing the distress so that effective interventions can be implemented.

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Help for kids in General Ed - good explanation of "issues" with RTI

This article offers an explanation of RTI (Response to Intervention).  For those of you who have kids who have been "invited" to participate in before or after school small group instruction, it's probably a program associated with RTI.  Such programs are meant to help those kids who just need extra instruction in a small group setting.  The theory is that if the extra help is enough, the child does not need to be tested for a learning disability.  This article provides some information about the difficulties associated with RTI.  

What the doesn't mention is the importance of the timing for individual students.  If the child is provided with RTI in 1st grade, there is adequate time to determine the effectiveness of the small group instruction.  However, past 2nd grade, significant struggles need research-based, intensive intervention that cannot generally be proviced by general education staff before of after school and testing is necessary to determine how best to proceed.


American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Psych Evals for AD/HD Diagnosis

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made news in the world of parenting because they published an article on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).  Unfortunately, articles on the internet tend to boil things down beyond basic, often leaving out crucial details and making errors by misinterpreting information.  Here’s what they actually said and why it matters.
The article is entitled “ADHD:  Clinical Practice Guideline for the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents.”  If you’d like to find the source material, here it is:

Here are the 6 Key Action Statements with some interpretation and comments:

  1. Children, between the ages of 4 and 18, who are exhibiting signs of academic or behavioral difficulties, including inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity, should be evaluated for ADHD.
    • This does NOT mean that a slew of 4-year-olds should be diagnosed and medicated.

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Self-Esteem Is Not a Gift

Parenting in 2009 is really hard – even my mother says so. Every decision is scrutinized and “what’s best” for the child seems to always be the goal. What ever happened to Winnicott’s notion of a “good-enough mother”? I ask this because there is so much angst in parenting today. What are we worrying about? Why are we trying to make all of the “best” decisions?

It’s all about “self-esteem.” Seems like a good goal, but people are going about it in really strange ways. All too often I hear things like:

  • Too much competition can hurt self-esteem.
  • Being the youngest in a class can be hard for him.
  • Being the oldest/biggest/strongest boy will make him more confident.
  • Taking “enrichment” classes after school will make her feel smarter.


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Mad Math Minutes

If you have children in the early elementary grades, you are likely familiar with the timed math tests.  You know, the single-digit addition, subtraction, and then multiplication facts that are thrust on the kids with great regularity.  What is that all about?  What’s the big deal?

Automaticity.  It’s not about math, per se.  It’s about “just knowing” very basic information, such as “3” is the

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AD/HD and younger students

I'm really mad. USA Today published a story that the youngest kids in a grade are frequently misdiagnosed with AD/HD and it is all over the news.  What's making me angry is hearing respected MDs speak of holding young for grade children back as a means of lowering the number of misdiagnosed children.  REALLY? As a psychologist specializing in learning challenges, I have some questions:

  • Are educators and pediatricians making sure that children are put in age appropriate situations at school? 
  • If evaluations are necessary, are they conducted by licensed professionalswho base diagnoses on symptom profiles with age appropriate behaviors in mind?  

Teachers do not have the knowledge, expertise, or right to diagnose children with behavior disorders. They are invaluable contributors to the evaluation process. Children spend up to 6-hours of waking time per day at school.

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