Mental Health Awareness in October


October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Along with Advocacy & Awareness
for many other mental health issues

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series

It takes one person to make a difference —
just think of what thousands can do.

~ Psychology Today 2016 Awareness Calendar

Mark your blogging calendars

Each year is peppered with a great many special dates dedicated to raising awareness about important emotional, physical and psychological health issues. Scroll down for a list highlighting important days and weeks (and for the entire month) that impact mental health.

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments below so that I can add it to the list.

Attention Bloggers: If you write (or have written) an article that adds content to any of these categories, feel free to leave a link in the comment section and I will move it into its appropriate category.

Also included on the list below are awareness and advocacy reminders for health problems that intersect, exacerbate or create problems with cognition, mood and attention management.

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Don’t Drink the Kool-ade


Choice vs. Fear-mongered Reaction

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another Reflections post

 

“Ritalin, like all medications,
can be useful when used properly
and dangerous when used improperly. 

Why is it so difficult for so many people
to hold to that middle ground?”

~ Dr. Edward Hallowell

As I wrote in a prior article, in response to one of the far too many opinion pieces made popular by the soundbite press:

  • You don’t have to believe in medication.
  • You don’t have to take it.
  • You don’t have to give it to your kids.

You don’t EVEN have to do unbiased research before you ring in with an opinion on medication or anything else having to do with ADD/ADHD/EFD.

HOWEVER, when you’re writing a piece to be published in a widely-read paper of some stature, or a book that presents itself as containing credible expertise, it is simply unprofessional — of the writer, the editors, and the publications themselves — to publish personal OPINION in a manner that will lead many to conclude that the pieces quote the sum total of scientific fact

It is also incredibly harmful.

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Balance Balls for On-Task Classroom Focus?


Does sitting on a balance ball help children with ADHD in the classroom?

Guestpost from David Rabiner, Ph.D.
Dept. of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University
©
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE; September 21, 2016

Let’s NOT discount the science

Could sitting on a balance ball help children with ADD/ADHD/EFD be more focused and on-task in the classroom?

While the idea may strike many as implausible, several small but interesting studies conducted since 2003 suggests there may be something to this.

Really?

Dr. Rabiner recently received a question from a long-time subscriber and teacher about whether there was any research to support a practice in her school of having children with ADHD sit on fidget cushions when seated on the floor or chair.

The idea behind this approach is that children with ADHD may benefit from more movement in the classroom because being in motion allows their brains to be more fully engaged.

He was not immediately aware of any research on this issue, and it initially struck him as a bit far fetched. When he searched the literature, however, he came across several small but interesting studies that yielded promising results.

Scroll DOWN for his excellent summary
of this small body of work.


Please feel free to forward this content to others you know who may be interested. If you would like to receive Attention Research Update on a regular basis, visit http://www.helpforadd.com for a no-charge subscription.

ABOUT:  I have been a huge fan of Dr. David Rabiner’s ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE since its inception in 1997. Not only do I count on his comprehensive, plain-English explanations of up-to-date research trends and developments as key resources in my drive to keep my information base current, I also archive them for future reference.

I urge any professional working with individuals with Attentional Spectrum deficits and struggles — whether teachers, counselors, coaches, therapists or physicans — to sign yourself up before the idea falls through the cracks.  (Parents and ADD/EFDers themselves can benefit too!)

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September 2016: Focus on Suicide Prevention


Articles ’round the ‘net
Depression, PTSD and more – the importance of kindness & understanding

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

World Suicide Prevention Day – Saturday, September 10, 2016 – every year, since 2003. I deliberately choose to wait a day to post my own article of support for two reasons:

  1. So that I could “reblog” and link to the efforts of others, offering some of the memes and articles they have created to give you both a quick hit and an overview of the extent of the problem.
  2. So that I could honor September 11th – another anniversary of loss and sorrow, as many Americans mourn the missing.

The extent of the mental health problem

Nearly 44 million American adults alone, along with millions more children and adults worldwide, struggle with “mental health” conditions each year, ranging from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ASD, OCD, PTSD, TBI to ADD/EFD and more.

One in five of those of us living in first-world countries will be diagnosed with a mental illness during our lifetimes.  It is estimated that more than double that number will continue to suffer undiagnosed.

Many of those individuals will teeter on the brink of the idea that the pain of remaining alive has finally become too difficult to continue to endure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One kind comment can be life-saving, just as a single shaming, cruel, unthinking remark can be enough to push somebody over the suicide edge.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is PAST time we ended mental health stigma

Far too many people suffering from even “common” mental health diagnoses have been shamed into silence because of their supposed mental “shortcomings” — and every single person who passes on mental health stigma, makes fun of mental health problems, or fails to call out similar behavior as bad, wrong and awful when they witness it has locked them into prisons of despair.

We can do better – and we need to.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide kills over 800,000 people each yearONE PERSON EVERY 40 SECONDS. STILL there are many too many people who believe that mental health issues are not real – or that those who suffer are simply “not trying hard enough.”

This is STIGMA, and this needs to change.

I’m calling out mental health stigma for what it is:
SMALL MINDED IGNORANCE!

(unless, of course, you want to label it outright BULLY behavior)

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Brains Need SYSTEMS to Develop


Learning CHANGES the Structure of the Brain:

Impossible in the face of chaos

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

“You don’t cure a different organization of the brain;
you find ways and strategies of helping that brain learn [. . .] in a different way.
It’s not about cure, it’s about teaching different ways.

~ Maryanne Wolf
reading expert & author of Proust and the Squid

Building a Brain

While it is true that no two brains develop in a manner that is exactly the same, babies come into this world with a brain specialized for learning – a pattern-recognition device designed to bootstrap learning into a structure of additional patterns.

The brain develops in a manner not dissimilar to the way in which a computer uses certain hardwired sub-routines to locate and activate still more code that allows for the loading and interpretation of additional programs — which facilitates their use for creating new ideas.

The human brain builds the new structures and networks it needs to allow it to continue to learn.  The process by which it does that work is known as neuroplasticity.

Not all that long ago, most of the science-crowd mistakenly believed that there was a relatively early window in which neuroplasticity operated. It was once thought that all of the neurons our brains were ever going to have developed within that window, and the systems the brain used to learn were set after a particular point in childhood.

Baby brains develop amazingly quickly

If you’ve ever spent any time at all around an infant, you might recall their unfocused stare and their unselfconscious movements and facial expressions.

It may not be immediately apparent to parents who spend day to day time with the baby, but adults who visit only occasionally are usually amazed at how much more that child is able to interact with the world each time.

Suddenly, it seems, that tiny child is able to focus on an object of fascination.  S/he responds to the direction of a particular sound and reaches for things. The baby exhibits what adults recognize as curiosity about the world around them and develops preferences.

Order out of Chaos

Babies come into a world of seeming chaos: sights, sounds, temperature, texture and more, with little in place to help them make sense of it all. They have to build the brain that will help them learn for the rest of their lives.

The task of their amazingly neuroplastic infant brains is to learn to recognize the constants that help them to derive meaning from a cacophony of stimulation that the majority of us learn to filter out – eventually.

And it is the task of the adults around them
to provide those constants.

As infants learn to recognize the simplest thing, as far as adult sensibilities are concerned, their brains grow and change their structures. As the baby’s brain learns that certain types of vibrations need to be visually interpreted, others audially, and so forth, it reorganizes its pathways for the most efficient recognition and interpretation of incoming data. It condenses the complexities of sensory awareness to comprehend “meaning.”

Assimilation of the basic concept of Mom, for example, requires a complex network of connections that, very quickly, allows the baby to understand that the source of his or her food is mother, and that she is one single element:

  • those hands are part of my mother,
  • those arms are part of my mother
  • that face is my mother smiling
  • that other face is still my mother, frowning
  • those sounds make up my mother’s voice
  • and I have a voice too

A lot of brain-based learning must take place before the baby assigns emotional or intellectual meaning to what s/he observes, eventually able to extrapolate expectations of sensory awareness to form new ideas about his or her world like, “I have a voice too.”

A LOT for our brains to learn

It makes sense that it might have seemed that brain-development is essentially a childhood task. Because young children have so much to learn so quickly, brain growth and change seems, by comparison, to stop in adulthood.

It has been postulated that, because of the size limitations of the birth canal in an upright-walking human being, our babies are born essentially nine months premature.  The increase in size of the infant’s brain after birth is phenomenal, compared to the growth in an adult brain. A baby’s brain doubles in size in their first year alone. By age three it has reached 80 percent of its adult volume.

Highways and Byways

It is a logical extrapolation that after a certain point, the brain would use what it has built in a manner similar to the way in which a city uses it’s roads to connect grocery store to neighborhood to a particular location in the center of town. There may be a hundred ways to drive from place to place, but nobody sober cuts through yards to form new roads that were never there before.

Except, with the brain, that hasn’t turned out to be exactly true.
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September Song


Time to Get New Notebooks
(And ready the Fall Clothing!)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Swan Song for Summer!!

It’s still summer-hot here, but in a week or two we’ll have a few cool days in a row when I will have a brain again – harbingers of sweater weather.

For me, the year really begins in September, despite the fact that, except for the TeleClasses I offer, my official school days are a fond but distant memory.  As the leaves expire in a final burst of glory, I become eager to plan what I will do with nine months when I have drive and follow-through.

I realize that not everyone shares my loves of brisker weather, however.

If you’re a warm weather fan you’ll find your tribe on LuckyOttersHaven‘s patch of blog-heaven in 12 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Autumn.

She posts again (if a tad grudgingly), in 8 Good Things about Fall — some of which I celebrate as well, like the end of flea and fly season, so I won’t relist them in my own List of Ten.

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site,
they’re subtle (scroll DOWN for it) ==>

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