Thursday, 15 November 2012

Looking At The Newest ADHD Meds And The Other Alternatives Available.

{EAV:215f03c1d7b0eacf} Most of the newest ADHD meds released in the last two years have shown some sophistication in better targeting of some of the receptor areas of the brain connected with working memory. This is not such a great advance as is claimed by some of the pharmaceutical companies. But let us look at the issues of ADHD meds in general to help us through the maze.

The  anxiety  issue is often underestimated

There was a lot of fuss about how the stimulant meds were potentially harmful for the heart and the circulatory system. Latest studies show that this is largely unfounded but what has come to light is the role that these meds can play in increasing anxiety.

This has remained largely unaddressed but the newer meds seem to have gone some of the way to relieving this issue mainly because they are non-stimulants.

Examples of non stimulants meds

For example, Clonicel is the newer version of Clonidine . The main ingredient here acts on the target receptors in the area of the brain which copes with stress and tension. Results have shown that there are better results in some children and they were showing fewer temper tantrums and above all less irritability and less anxiety.

Other meds for ADHD have concentrated on issuing extended release versions and these are very popular now as they can reduce the number of times dosages have to be taken.

Why Ritalin and other meds have been superseded

The more traditional types of ADHD meds which were basically a mix of amphetamine salts, such as Ritalin and Concerta  have had mixed results because they were targeting the areas of the brain which govern our production of dopamine and norepinephrine. These are essential, not only in keeping us motivated and on task but also in helping us to concentrate and to actually finish the task without wandering off.  But they needed to be fine tuned.

The alpha 2a agonists

The newer meds such as Intuniv  have done that tweaking in that they contain the famous alpha 2a agonist which can target much more efficiently the areas of the brain which are involved in memory, executive tasks and also in improving focus and the attention span. These drugs also seem to be more efficient in controlling the irritability and anxiety factors although every child seems to have a different reaction.

Why Focalin has become popular

Lots of parents are now going for Focalin extended release instead of Adderall because again this seems better equipped to deal with attention problems. The reason is that Focalin contains the  dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride ingredient while Adderall contains a more general mix of amphetamine salts.

With Focalin attention can be improved but there is one side effect in many children which makes them giddy and unusually euphoric. The very opposite of being anxious.

 As we have seen, the newest ADHD meds have made some progress in the following areas of reducing anxiety and other nasty side effects although they are sometimes replaced by others as we have seen above with h example of Focalin

ADHD meds and what else?

But the simple fact of the matter is that ADHD meds can only do so much. They can be just weapon in an armoury that has to watch out for behavioural issues and knowing how to solve then, looking after dieting, physical exercise  and also ensuring that the child is not entirely dependent on his medication. Meds are really just the tip of the iceberg. So much will depend on the school and home environment.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

When you see parents carrying exhausted kids home after midnight on a summer’s evening, you begin to wonder about children getting enough sleep. They are then allowed to sleep late and the first rule of establishing a set bedtime and waking up time is thrown out the window.

That may be one reason why kids are deprived of sleep and this is usually exacerbated by  relaxing the bedtimes at weekends because they do not have to get up for school. But this has been a problem over the last two hundred years so in a way, it is nothing new.

Consider this quotation from The British Medical Journal in 1894 – “the hurry and excitement of modern life is quite correctly held to be responsible for much of the insomnia of which we hear”.
The reasons why kids may not be getting enough sleep now are probably quite different to what they were in 1894!

In the UK recently, an organisation (Family Fund) which helps deprived families noted that the sleeping conditions were very poor and that many families had to sleep together.  Where there were problems of sleep walking and talking, the charity noted that families rarely took precautions to make sure that children did not have accidents during the night.

Simple things like playing white noise such as a ventilator or fan or some soft music can help kids to get off to sleep. Then security should be looked at making sure that there are no open windows leading on to balconies or stairs so that sleep walkers do not end up with a nasty fall. The same precautions should be taken about any pointed objects or bulky furniture in the room.

5 Tips To Make Sure Your Kids Get Enough Sleep

1. Unless you are very poor like some of the families I have mentioned above, there is no need o sleep with your child. It is amazing the number of kids who sleep with their parents as witnessed by the Italian programme called ‘SOS Tata’ the Italian version of SOS Nanny!  Sleeping together causes all sorts of problems and kids should be taught to be responsible from an early age as this is a third of their lives. They should be taught techniques to manage it and to cope with eventual problems such as insomnia.

2. Establish a winding down time which is always relaxing.  That means switching off all TV, computers and electronic gadgetry well before bedtime. This is just part of the regular routine so it is important to stick to it. We have to ensure that there are no physical activities or digestion of late dinners and so on. We need to make sure that the routine is adhered to at the weekends and in holidays because getting back into the routine can often be traumatic and lead to behavior issues.  These can disturb many a child.

3. Kids need lots of sleep and any child up to the age of eleven should be getting about 11 hours sleep, ideally. But I know lots of kids who can get by on eight hours sleep so there is no hard and fast rule here. But look for warning signs of irritability during the day which might suggest that your child needs more sleep.  This is essential for healthy growth and development. A twelve year old child may need up to 12 hours. This then gradually reduces to the adult amount of seven to eight hours as they advance in years.

4, Look critically at your child’s sleeping area and make sure that temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. It is said that 18° C is an ideal temperature. If your child is afraid of the dark, put on a night light and also make sure that curtains are drawn so that they do not wake up too early.

5. Milk  may help the child to relax. It contains tryptophan which can help a child to fall asleep. But many argue that all this psychological! That same hormone is also present in turkey which explains sleepy afternoons after a typical Christmas Day lunch but actually you would have to eat an awful lot of turkey to get the right amount of tryptophan. But if you combine the milk with a little carbohydrate, it can apparently heighten the effect.  Avoid the use of chocolate and coffee which are of course stimulants so that eating a dessert with coffee in it is not a great idea!

If your child suffers from ADHD, getting enough sleep will be even more crucial as sleep challenges are very common among kids with this condition. This is not helped by the fact that some of the medication prescribed such as Ritalin and Adderall just seem to keep kids awake. Look for ADHD alternative treatment if that is the case as good quality sleep is absolutely critical for your child growing up.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Is An Ipad An Ideal Toy For Your Toddler?

I know one three year old who plays on his father’s iPhone all the time. He has found a game that he likes. His father is not too worried., But many parents are now questioning the use of these touch screen devices and wondering whether they should let their kids play with them.

The news is not all bad though. First, we are dealing with a completely different type of communication than television which is completely passive. The problem with TV was that the toddler had real difficulty in locating the moving images and concentrating on what was going on. Statistics show that he is liable to look away from the screen about 150 times in one hour.

In fact experts became alarmed and warned that no baby under the age of two should be watching TV at all and that younger kids time watching the box should be limited to two hours a day and no more. Then there are all the studies that showed that these kids who were addicted to video games had real problems in concentrating and staying focused afterwards.

Now the tablets, iPads and iPhones are different. One is that using the touch screen with the mere push of a finger pinpoints exactly the action or command. Contrast that with all the difficulties of coordinating using a mouse or playing a video game. It is that much simpler for a three year old. 

There are many games and apps that can be played by kids. I know many parents who maintain that their kids’ vocabulary has improved with the use of these apps, with sometimes as much as a 25% increase.

Now there is no research as yet to show that all the time spent in the iPad is as bad as watching TV for hours or slaving over a video game. We are in uncharted territory here and it will be five years before we can assess what this activity has done to our delicate kids’ developing brains. That is a little scary in a way when we realise that our kids are mere guinea pigs.

Look at the figures which show that we are dealing with a majority of kids here. For example, the
 There are real concerns that these devices will make our kids less sociable and that they will also become more sedentary. These go against the grain of raising happy and healthy kids who will turn into well balanced adults.

As usual, a little moderation will go a long way and there should be supervision and a wide range of activities to keep kids entertained. Once we make sure that is in place, then we can sleep more easily in our beds.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Teenagers With Behavioral Problems

Very often, teenage behavioral problems are the the tip of the iceberg and they are merely a manifestation of some frustration, concern or even a medical problem. Sometimes, there are episodes of bullying behind all this. Getting to find the cause is rather a difficult task

Let us take the teen who refuses point blank to go to school. He or she may fake an illness or some minor complaint. They prefer to spend the time lazing about at home or in front of the computer. In these cases, we can insist that this also means that they cannot go out with their friends at the weekend as they are simply not well enough. They will also have to complete some pretty boring homework as well.

But non attendance at school seems a very minor problem when we realize that a large number of adolescent girls have been involved in different types of violent fights at school or in the workplace. The numbers are alarming in that over 25% of the girls who were involved were not playing around as there was a deliberate attempt to inflict injury. These figures have been released by the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

 The worry is that as parents and teachers, we have failed to teach them that violence is not the way to resolve problems of disagreement or conflict. It is also true that children who come from violent homes are much more likely to end up with teenage behavioral problems and end up as violent adults.

But what should we do when we are confronted with extreme behavior or that we know that our teenager is in bad company and treading a very fine line between legality and illegality. The question is a very difficult one in that there is inevitably a conflict where the adolescent seeks freedom and independence and the parent is putting on the brakes for very obvious reasons of health, safety and not getting on the wrong side of the law. We may need the help of a therapist in these cases.

As regards sibling violence, it is important to make sure that these are just not isolated incidents but if they are repeated over time then it is time to intervene before it gets out of control.There may nbe health and safety issues and damage of property to determiune what sort of intervention is required for teenagers with behavioral problems  like these.

As parents, we have to make sure that our levels of anger are under control.  In that way, we have a much better chance of separating violent children from each other and teaching them how to calm down. When things are calmer we should be able to discuss with them what the problems are and what are the ways of resolving them. Violence is just not acceptable.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Child Behaviour Advice And Solutions To Bullying

Lots of parents need and ask for child behaviour advice when they have to deal with important issues where their child’s safety and that of the home are involved.

They often ask about what is the best way to teach a child on the procedure for not letting strangers into the home. Or they may want to give advice on when their children are offered a lift from someone who may have been drinking. Or they may be worried about ADHD.

We see examples every day in the mall and we think that many modern parents either just do not believe in discipline at all and they just cannot be bothered. Their attitude is one of complete indifference even when things seem to get out of control.

They do not seem to want to know how to deal with kids’ materialistic attitude and also when they preferred the designer labels over the real values such as strength of character, honesty and a strong work ethic.

In seeking solutions to bullying, many parents are shocked to realize that as many of 85% of children are aware of what is going on and they will never intervene.  Bullying can take various forms such as taunting, name calling, cyber bullying and physical abuse. 

But it seems that a very high percentage of kids are  mere bystanders.  There are various techniques that we can teach our kids when this situation arises, two of which are:-

1.    they can befriend the victim and they can show this by moving closer to him or her or by showing some gesture of solidarity.
2.    they can try the technique of distracting the bully by suggesting an alternative activity so that the bullying is temporarily suspended.

The best child behaviour advice in this case is to encourage kids to intervene in one of the ways mentioned above and not to be mere bystanders. This is one of the best ways to start to approach to solutions to bullying.