Finding the Right Treatment for Your Child

Choosing the Right Treatment for Your Child: Evidence-Based Practices

Trying to decide which treatments would provide the best outcomes for your child can be a difficult and overwhelming process. You want your child to receive the most effective treatment option but what determines whether or not a treatment is effective? If it worked for other children with similar problems, will it work for your child? Is there research or evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment?Choosing The Best Treatment For Your Child: Evidence-Based Treatments All of these questions are important and relevant questions to ask yourself when it comes to finding the right treatment for your child. Although it is strongly recommended to address these questions and concerns with your child’s clinician, one way to learn more about effective treatments is by familiarizing yourself with Evidence-Based Practices (EBP).

What are Evidence-Based Practices?

Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) are well-established treatments because they are strongly supported by evidence from research studies that are designed to evaluate their effectiveness.  Specifically, when a treatment is identified as an EBP it means that the treatment has been studied in a community or academic setting and has been proven to show positive treatment outcomes in multiple studies conducted by multiple research teams. Additionally, EBPs are client-centered because they are treatments that are designed to integrate research evidence, clinical expertise, and client/patient/family values, preferences, culture, and environment.

What Are Current Evidence-Based Practices?

The table below provides a brief list of EBPs for specific child and adolescent disorders:

 

Diagnosis Evidence-Based Practice
Anxiety Ages 9-18 Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Ages 3-17 Exposure Therapy

Ages 3-13 Modeling Therapy

ADHD Ages 3-12 Behavior Therapy (in home and in school)

Ages 3-16 Parent Management Training

*The combination of behavior therapy and medication is often most effective in treating ADHD

Autism Spectrum Disorder Ages 3-13 Behavior Therapy

Ages 3-13 Individual and family therapies that target   communication skills, interaction skills, and behavior modification

Bipolar Disorder No controlled studies of psychosocial interventions for youth with bipolar disorder have been done. However, behavior therapy, family education, and support benefit youth and families and improve relationships, communication, and coping skills.
Conduct Disorder Ages 3-15 Parent Training

Ages 9-15 Anger Coping Therapy

Ages 6-17 Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT)

Ages 13-16 Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

Ages 9-18 Treatment Foster Care (TFC)

Ages 12-17 Multisystemic Therapy (MST)

Ages 12-17 Mentoring

Ages 9-18 CBT

Depression Ages 9-18 CBT

Ages 11-18 Relaxation Therapy

Ages 12-18 Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Ages 12-18 Family Education and Support

Schizophrenia No controlled studies of psychosocial interventions for youth with schizophrenia have been done. However, behavior therapy, family education, and support benefit youth and families and improve relationships, communication, and coping skills.
Substance Use Ages 9-18 CBT

Community Reinforcement

Family Therapy

 

Online Resources on Evidence Based Practices

The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (Division 53 of the American Psychological Association) offers clinicians and parents access to a variety of online video resources on EBPs, which also includes a more recently developed YouTube channel titled: Effective Child Therapy Resource Library. Along with providing par

ents and clinicians with a variety of free videos, these online resources cover a wide range of topics pertaining to EBPs for children and adolescents including:

These video resources provide parents with interviews conducted with experts in child and adolescent psychology. Experts provide brief discussions on specific issues such as, treating specific disorders, identifying certain behaviors (to determine whether or not your child might have a problem), as well as evidence-based treatment options. The videos also provide additional links to related videos and PDFs that offer parents more information regarding the specific topic.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Help Your Child Thrive

5 Ways To Help Your Child Thrive

The brain is divided into two hemispheres with each side having its own unique functions.  The left side is logical, literal, linguistic, and linear (the four L’s).   The right side is holistic, non-verbal, and focuses on the emotions and experiences of relationships.  When it comes to development, very young children tend to be right brain dominant!  This is especially true during the first three years of life when they live completely in the moment and have not mastered the ability to use words and logic to express their feelings.

When can you determine a change to using both side of the brain?  Once your toddler begins askingHelp Your Child Thrive “why?” all the time! This is because the left brain strives to know linear cause-effect relationships and uses language to express logic.

The following are some strategies that parents can use to help their children survive and thrive through the challenges of childhood.  However, these strategies are not just for parents.  Anyone who plays a significant role in a child’s life, whether you’re a grandparent, relative, teacher, or babysitter/nanny, can use these strategies in nurturing whole-brain development.

Strategies to Help Your Children Thrive!

  1. Connect & Redirect: Surfing Emotional Waves: First, connecting with the right brain means acknowledging your child’s feelings.  Regardless of how illogical and frustrating your child’s feelings may seem to you at the moment, they are real and important to your child.  Using nonverbal signals, such as physical touch, empathetic facial expressions, a nurturing tone of voice, and nonjudgmental listening are great ways to connect and communicate with your child’s right brain.  Once your child’s brain is back in balance, you can move to step 2 to integrate the left and right brain.  Next, after responding to your child’s right brain, you can now redirect with the left brain through logical explanation, planning, and discussing misbehavior and consequences.
  1. Name It to Tame It: Telling Stories to Calm Big Emotions: Help your child retell the story of a frightening or painful experience.  Allow your child to retell the story as much as he can and help fill in any details, including lingering feelings since the experience.  You and your child can retell the story several times, with the aim to lessen his fears or pain.  Also, this technique will help your child bring the left and right brain together and make sense of their experience.
  1. Engage, Don’t Enrage: Instead of presenting ultimatums, direct your child to use more precise and specific words for how he/she is feeling.  Then, give your child the opportunity to practice problem solving and decision making.  Also, this will help your child consider appropriate behaviors and consequences, and assist them in thinking about the wants and feelings of others.
  1. Move It or Lose It: Moving the Body to Avoid Losing the Mind: Research has shown that movement directly affects brain chemistry.  Therefore, physical activity is a powerful way to help your child regain balance and change his emotional state.  This could be in the form of yoga, going to the park, blowing/popping bubbles (who doesn’t love that), or a bike ride.
  1. Increase the Family Fun Factor: Making a Point to Enjoy Each Other: Sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to forget to have fun with your family.  As such, “playful parenting” gives your children positive experiences to prepare them for relationships and encourage them to connect with others.  Some great ways to have fun as a family include, playing improv games, telling jokes, being silly, playing board games, family bike rides, and making cookies.  Lastly, don’t forget to take interest in things they care about.

More strategies and information can be found in the book The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Neuropsychology testing IL

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Executive Functioning Skills for School Success

Executive Functioning Skills for School Success

Executive functioning skills are behaviors that guide and complete actions.  They are the skills we use, independently, to help us to complete tasks and achieve goals.

Think of them as not the individual skills of a task, but the behaviors needed to complete the task.

Executive functioning skills are crucial for academic success. These skills are not directly taught in school, through are expected to be utilized in the classroom setting. The independent use of skills, including initiation, problem-solving, working memory, inhibition and organization, is difficult for both adults and children.

Executive functioning concerns are seen in a variety of conditions and diagnoses including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Anxiety, Depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and a variety of medical conditions. However, there are no specifics of what is necessary for a diagnosis of Executive Functioning Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Edition (DSM-V).

Executive Functioning By Age:

During the preschool years, prefrontal brain systems undergo rapid changes such as making newExecutive Functioning Skills for School Success neurological connections and speeding up how fast messages are transmitted in the brain. It is the time in which executive functioning skills, specifically inhibitory control, rule use, working memory, and motor persistence, play a critical role in the development of socialization and readiness for academic learning. The early years of schooling are learning how to be a student.  There are many inherent structures and routines in place to help ensure the child completes work.  As children get older the natural scaffolds of teacher interference and organization are removed, stressing the need for independence.

As children reach school age, executive functioning skills are central to successful acquisition and efficient use of academic skills, particularly in efforts to overcome learning problems of all kinds. At this age, children are expected to integrate multiple executive functioning skills as a means to complete longer tasks.

As these children age into adolescence, the demands of executive functioning skills increase tenfold. At this age, executive functioning difficulties are seen with spontaneous use of skills, strategic initiation of tasks, and mental flexibility. Meaning concerns are no longer with regard to impulse regulation but rather with initiating action on work/time management as well as developing organizational strategies to complete work.

Interventions for Executive Functioning:

A major component of intervention for executive functioning is that the techniques have to be in real-life contexts. Teaching skills during tasks that mimic academic and life demands results in better carryover of skill. This systematic approach to teaching problem solving with everyday activities is best.  Familiar tasks should be used to learn skills initially. The use of novel tasks in the learning process will prove difficult due to perceived difficulty, stress or anxiety around possible failure.

Specifically, as the child learns to complete a multi-step task following a set sequence of steps (with multiple opportunities to practice the routine), the task becomes less novel. The child is then able to improve functional activities with less reliance on external cues.

Interventions must be rehearsed, coached, and practiced to support overlearning or automaticity in the environment in which they will be needed. This will explicitly support the “how and when” skills associated with the child’s unique areas of problem behavior.

There is also an emphasis on developing a child’s metacognitive skills.  Metacognition is essentially thinking about thinking.  You are teaching the child to think and plan ahead before diving into an activity or task.

A fourth principle involves structuring the child’s environment by establishing simplified, consistent routines for daily tasks.  Teaching and carryover is most effective with accommodations and interventions across each environment. These accommodations could include verbal cues, nonverbal gestures, schedules, check-lists, alarm clocks, timers (auditory or visual), and/or environmental modifications.

Additionally, a motivational reward/consequence system, and/or self-talk methods can also be used to ensure success.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the WISC-V

Understanding the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V)

In the world of psychological assessment, the Wechsler Intelligence Scales are considered to be the gold standard measures of intellectual functioning.  The assessments represent over 70 years of research and subsequent revisions that reflect advancements in neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive research, psychology, technology, and changes in population. (Wechsler, 2014).

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V):

One of the most commonly used assessments for school-aged children is the Wechslerchilds-brain-Portrait Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V). The assessment generates five composite score indices:

  • Verbal Comprehension (VCI)
  • Visual Spatial Index (VSI)
  • Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI)
  • Working Memory Index (WMI)
  • Processing Speed Index (PSI)

Together, a Full Scale Intelligent Quotient (FSIQ) is developed.  When large discrepancies are identified between the indices which comprise a child’s FSIQ, alternative scores can be calculated to best capture a child’s cognitive profile.  Alternative scores may be considered when deficits in language, attention, or motivation appear to have negatively impacted a child’s overall performance. Through the analysis of the general and specific domains of cognitive functioning, clinicians are better able to make informed decisions regarding diagnostic conceptualization and treatment recommendations.

WISC-V Composite Score Indices:

  • VCI: The VCI measures verbal reasoning, understanding, concept formation, in addition to a child’s fund of knowledge and crystallized intelligence.  Crystallized intelligence is the knowledge a child has acquired over his or her lifespan through experiences and learning.  The core subtests which comprise the VCI require youth to define pictures or vocabulary words, and describe how words are conceptually related.  Children with expressive and/or receptive language deficits often exhibit poorer performance on the VCI.  Studies have also indicated that a child’s vocabulary knowledge is related to the development of reading abilities, and as such, weaker performance on tasks involving vocabulary may signal an academic area of difficulty.
  • VSI:  The VSI measures a child’s nonverbal reasoning and concept formation, visual perception and organization, visual-motor coordination, ability to analyze and synthesize abstract information, and distinguish figure-ground in visual stimuli.  Specifically, the core subtests of the VSI require that a child use mental rotation and visualization in order to build a geometric design to match a model with and without the presence of blocks.  Children with visual-spatial deficits may exhibit difficulty on tasks involving mathematics, building a model from an instruction sheet, or differentiating visual stimuli and figure ground on a computer screen.
  • FRI: The FRI assesses a child’s quantitative reasoning, classification and spatial ability, knowledge of part to whole relationships.  It also evaluates a child’s fluid reasoning abilities, which is the ability to solve novel problems independent of previous knowledge.    The core tasks which make up the FRI require that a child choose an option to complete an incomplete matrix or series, and view a scale with missing weight(s) in order to select an option that would keep the scale balanced.  A child with fluid reasoning deficits may have difficulty understanding relationships between concepts, and as such, may generalize concepts learned.  They may also struggle when asked to solve a problem after the content has changed, or when question is expressed differently from how a child was taught (e.g., setting up a math problem by using information in a word problem).  Difficulties with inductive reasoning can also manifest as challenges identifying an underlying rule or procedure.
  • WMI: The WMI evaluates a child’s ability to sustain auditory attention, concentrate, and exert mental control.  Children are asked to repeat numbers read aloud by the evaluator in a particular order, and have memory for pictures previously presented.  Deficits in working memory often suggest that children will require repetition when learning new information, as they exhibit difficulties taking information in short-term memory, manipulating it, and producing a response at a level comparable to their same age peers.  It is also not uncommon for youth with self-regulatory challenges, as observed in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to present with difficulties in working memory and processing speed (noted below).
  • PSI: The PSI estimates how quickly and accurately a child is able to process information. Youth are asked to engage in tasks involving motor coordination, visual processing, and search skills under time constraints.  Assuming processing speed difficulties are not related to delays in visual-motor functioning, weaker performance on the tasks which comprise the core subtests of the PSI indicate that a child will require additional time to process information and complete their work.  In the academic context, school-based accommodations may include allowing a child to take unfinished assignments home, focusing on the quality of work over quantity, shortening tasks, and allowing extended time.

In summary, IQ is more than one aspect of functioning and encapsulates several factors described above.  As a result, it is often more helpful to assess the indices which comprise a child’s FSIQ separately in order to best inform treatment and intervention.

Neuropsychology testing IL
NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


neuropsychological testing at north shore pediatric therapy

Diagnosing Your Child on the Autism Spectrum: Fact or Fiction?

Many times parents fear an autism diagnosis because they do not want a stigma for their child. However, it is important to understand that an appropriate diagnosis is the first piece of the puzzle. For those brave souls who don’t stop until they have the correct answer, the payoff is worth the effort and pain. A good diagnosis and evaluation should serve as a means of identifying appropriate and practical recommendations as well as a basis for progress monitoring from the intervention. At North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Neuropsychological Center in Illinois, we utilize clinical testing to help identify the most appropriate diagnosis.

The Autism Testing Process at NSPT-Diagnosing Your Child:

Neuropsychological testing is an empirically supported way of assessing a child’s cognitive, academic, and social-neuropsychological testing at north shore pediatric therapyemotional functioning. The evaluation occurs over three days with an intake session, the actual testing day, and the feedback session.

  • Intake: The intake session is when the parents and child attend a formal meeting to discuss concerns. It is important that child attends the session as the neuropsychologist would want to attain some basic information regarding the child’s verbal functioning, social skills, and attentional regulation. Parents understandably do not want to speak in front of their child about concerns they have. We understand that and will ensure our best that the child is in a separate room when parents are talking about specific concerns.
  • Testing: The testing session consists of ascertaining information from a variety of resources including parents, teachers, outside practitioners (any therapist working with the child or family), behavioral observations, as well as the child’s performance on a variety of assessment measures. Testing is intensive and lasts upwards of four to five hours. The focus is to provide quantified information regarding the child’s functioning across a variety of domains and also to look for consistent patterns across performance.
  • Feedback: The feedback session is the most important aspect of the evaluation. This is the meeting in which the parents are provided information regarding the diagnosis that is given as well as what the next steps are to ensure that the child is able to progress to his or her potential. Read here for more on what to expect after neuropsychological testing.
  • Follow-up: The next step is for the neurologist to re-evaluate the child in six month’s to one years time (depending on the intervention that was prescribed) in order to monitor progress the interventions and to help progress monitor if additional supports or services are needed.

Be a Smart Detective When Seeking an Autism Diagnosis for Your Child:

For those parents with the courage to dive into discovering the diagnosis behind your child’s challenges, I say kudos to you! Those parents are the real child-advocates. Kick start your child’s success with a deep dive into your child’s diagnosis by seeking a neuropsychologist. I, Dr. Greg Stasi along with my colleague Dr. Amy Wolok provide in depth Autism Spectrum testing at our Neuropsychology Center in Chicago, IL. Our Center works alongside the many other therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Glenview, Highland Park, Bucktown, Evanston and Lincolnwood Clinics to provide a comprehensive team all working together to help your child reach his or her potential. The neuropsychological evaluation is designed to help identify what specific strengths and weaknesses a child is exhibiting which leads to the best diagnosis and most importantly the most efficacious intervention.

Dyslexia

Identifying Dyslexia: Will My Child Grow Out of This?

Reading problems tend to be pretty common, so it’s interesting to learn that Dyslexia is often missed! Although care must be taken before jumping into an evaluation and diagnosis, reading difficulties may not be temporary (as we often hope they are). Children may not grow out of these struggles, and in fact, these difficulties will continue to persist until something is done! Missing the warning signs can lead from the 5 year-old who can’t quite learn her letters to the 6 year-old who can’t match sounds to letters to the 13 year-old who shies away from reading aloud in class…(Overcoming Dyslexia, 2003)

Here is where you come in! Parents, we need your feedback and detective skills.

When Dyslexia is suspected, here are some clues to look for:Dyslexia

Signs of Dyslexia in the Preschool Years:

  • Difficulty with common nursery rhymes like “Humpty Dumpty”
  • Doesn’t know the letters in his own name
  • Mispronounces words and persistent baby talk
  • Difficulty learning and remembering names of letters

Signs of Dyslexia in Kindergarten- 1st Grade:

  • Unable to understand that words come apart : (i.e. Cowboy becomes Cow-boy)
  • Difficulty linking sounds with letters : b makes a “ba” sound
  • Difficulty reading common one syllable words: “cat, bat, hop”
  • Parent or siblings have a history of reading difficulties
  • Avoids reading time or outwardly states that reading is hard

Signs of Dyslexia in 2nd Grade & Up:

  • Mispronounces words that are complicated or unfamiliar
  • Leaves out parts of words or confusing parts : amulium instead of aluminum
  • Difficulty finding words and confusing words that sound alike: tornado & volcano
  • Difficulty remembering phone numbers, names, dates, lists
  • Lots of “um’s” and pauses while speaking
  • Taking out/missing parts of words when reading
  • Extreme difficulty of learning a foreign language
  • Difficulty with spelling and word problems

Strengths of children with Dyslexia (hint, hint: they have lots of them!)

  • A great imagination
  • Good at building models
  • Higher maturity level
  • A great listening vocabulary
  • Able to understand well what is read TO him
  • Ability to understand & read high level words in areas of extreme interest (i.e. he loves dinosaurs and can a read a highly sophisticated book on the topic – due to practicing and seeing the words multiple times)

A diagnosis can come at any point in a person’s life from pre-school through adulthood! Don’t be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher or therapist if you suspect Dyslexia. Help is only an evaluation away!

P.S. check out: Overcoming Dyselexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz…great read!

North Shore Pediatric Therapy offers the Orton Gillingham reading program to help children with Dyslexia break the reading code. Read here about the benefits of Orton Gillingham reading therapy.

 

memory and adhd

Wait… What Did You Say? Memory in the ADHD Student

Making memories is an important part of being human, and our beloved camera phones seem to make the process that much easier! However… our cameras aren’t the only ones doing the work. What about when you have to remember that long 10 digit phone… oh wait… we don’t have to do that anymore either! I suppose a modern day challenge would be to remember all those tedious passwords we have to keep!

But that’s neither here nor there!

Our awesome brains deserve a little credit, too, actually a lot of credit for that (grey) matter (just a little brain joke for ya!)

While memory is a challenge for all of us, it can be an exceptional challenge for a student with ADHD. In order to understand this, we will look at the 3 basic stages of memory.

Three basic stages of memory:

Encoding: Information enters into our memory systemmemory and adhd

Storage:

  • Short-term memory (STM) : 20-30 Seconds: Information that is transferred from the STM enters into the HIPPOCAMPUS! When we repeat information over and over again it’s like sending it through the hippocampus several times!
  • Long-term memory (LTM): Can last a lifetime

Retrieval:

  • How you store depends on how you get those memories back OUT
  • Organization is key here (i.e. using the alphabet to categorize things or remembering numbers in chunks)

Something happens around you that you can see, hear and/or touch. This sensation lingers in our short-term (working) memory for about 20-30 seconds. For example, when you are having a conversation with someone and they are talking, you may be thinking of what to say next (thanks to your working memory).

Kids use their working memory all day in the classroom to follow instructions, remember where they need to be, and to keep track of their belongings and assignments (just to name a few). Kiddos with ADHD tend to struggle more with these tasks, which can make learning difficult, specifically reading comprehension.

Let’s say a teacher says, “Go to your desk, grab your book and a pencil, go the center, and finish the worksheet.” That can be a lot to remember for a child who has a deficit in this area and can be misinterpreted as purely inattention.

“How can you plan ahead if you don’t use working memory to keep your goal in mind, resist distractions and inhibit impulsive choices?” says Matthew Cruger, PhD, neuropsychologist with the Learning and Diagnostics Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York.

Here are 4 ways to help teach ways to integrate learning for kids with ADHD:

  • Teaching mnemonic devices: “Never Eat Soggy Waffles” : North, East, South,West
  • Creating visuals
  • Use songs or a melody to learn concepts
  • Ask follow-up questions

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a child has a memory deficit or if it is a by-product of ADHD or a Learning Disorder. Receiving formal testing can be beneficial to tease them apart or better identify how they influence one another.

ADHD accommodations for adults in the workplace

ADHD Accommodations for Adults In The Workplace

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, you may be familiar with some of the classroom accommodations that are typically recommended. These may include sitting in the front of the class and getting a hard copy of the notes, for example.

These accommodations prove to be beneficial… so what about when the classroom days are over and you are supposed to rely on yourself to stay productive and organized in the workplace?

Whether you are an adult diagnosed with ADHD or think you may have ADHD, here are some workplace accommodations to consider:

  1. Take breaks: go for a walk or sit outside with some coffee or tea.ADHD accommodations for adults in the workplace
  2. Avoid working in a cubicle, if possible, to avoid distractions.
  3. If you don’t have a door to close, wear ear plugs during times you need to focus.
  4. If your boss does not set a deadline for you, set your own!
  5. Break large projects into smaller tasks.
  6. Keep a paper trail!
  7. If a co-worker requests something from you, have them send it in an email.
  8. Keep a bulletin or dry erase board nearby and write down any important dates, notes, or ideas right after you hear them and go back and add them to a calendar or notebook.
  9. When you are given an assignment, repeat it back in your own words to make sure you understand (and remember!) all parts.

These are accommodations you can implement yourself. If you think you might need something a little more concrete, you do have the choice of disclosing your ADHD diagnosis to your employer and working with them to help you be even more successful!

These awesome tips were derived from the book, 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADHD by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD. It is a great book that has more tips and tricks to stay organized and accomplish your goals!

smart strategies to build your childs executive functioning skills

10 Smart Strategies to Foster Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functions (EF) refers to our self-regulatory behaviors needed to guide our behaviors to follow rules and reach our goals.

Typically in children, there are 3 basic components of Executive Functioning:smart strategies to build your childs executive functioning skills

  1. Working Memory – being able to hold information in their mind and use it (organizing, planning)
  2. Inhibitory Control – being able to control (stop, pause) thoughts and impulses while being able to resist distractions, temptations, and habits, while also thinking before acting
  3. Cognitive Flexibility – being able to switch gears and adjust to new rules, demands, and perspectives

The simple of act of ‘turn-taking’ addresses all of these components of EF. Help your child stop what he is doing and let another child take control (inhibitory control) – when it is his turn again, he needs to remember what he was supposed to do (working memory) – initiate play again and in the instance of a new child joining the group and the rules changing, help him adjust again (cognitive flexibility).

Research has shown that early childhood experiences build the foundation for fostering productive members of society!

Here are 10 activities to help your child blossom his Executive Functioning (EF) skills!

  1. Peek-a-boo: This challenges baby to remember who is hiding (working memory) and teaches self-control in waiting for the adult to pop back up!
  2. Pat-a-cake: Predictable rhyming develops working memory as he gains familiarity with the rhyme and inhibiting (pausing) his anticipatory reactions
  3. Freeze dance: This requires active inhibition.
  4. Narrate your childs’ play: This helps your child understand how language is connected to actions and how asking questions about what is next can help him to plan his next move (planning and organizing)!
  5. UNO: Switching between matching colors versus numbers helps to practice cognitive flexibility.
  6. Cooking: Waiting for instructions (inhibition), trying to remember the directions (working memory) and measuring and counting steps (sustained-attention) all help to develop EF skills.
  7. Sports: Rule following, and quick decision making (cognitive flexibility) make this a great EF skill building activity.
  8. Music, singing & dance: Holding music/choreography in mind (working memory) develops EF skills.
  9. Puzzles: This develops EF skills for all ages by encouraging thinking about shapes and colors needed (planning & organizing) to complete the puzzle.
  10. Storytelling & imaginative play: Older children may naturally use ordinary objects as something creative (i.e. using a block as a car)- (Cognitive flexibility).

Resources: developingchild.harvard.edu

what percentage of our brain do we use

What Percentage Of Our Brains Do We Really Use?

You may have recently seen (or more likely heard) the debonair voice of Morgan Freeman in a movie trailer for Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson. In the trailer, you hear him state the statistic that we, as humans, only use 10 % of our brain’s capacity. This seems a shocking statistic that makes you wonder… is this for real?

Well.

No matter how convincing that buttery voice may be, you can’t believe everything he says! The origins of this popularwhat percentage of our brain do we use myth is unknown, but it is thought to be traced back to the Einstein era. “Though an alluring idea, the “10 percent myth” is so wrong it is almost laughable”, says neurologist Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

That is neither here nor there… What IS important is knowing how powerful our brain is and that we actually use most of our brain all the time! Our brain actually uses up 20% of our body’s energy, and in kids, it uses up 50% of their energy! John Henley from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota states that “Evidence would show over a day you use 100 percent of the brain.”

Without even thinking about it, at this very moment you are doing the following with your brain:

  • Blinking (thanks your motor cortex)
  • Breathing (thanks to your brainstem)
  • Reading this blog (using your occipital lobe AKA eye sight AND your frontal lobe for thinking and reasoning)
  • Moving the mouse around (using your cerebellum).

That’s just to name a few… Even the most mundane tasks (like sleeping) can stir up quite a lightning storm in the ol’ noggin’. So when you hear Mr. Freeman state that overly used myth about only using 10% of your brain (in his elegant way), don’t let that voice forget you know the truth! That’s not to say we can’t get swept up in the alluring cinematic idea of being a super-human, right?!