Thanksgiving: ADHD Tips

By Lexi Walters Wright at

[Reading tutoring in Columbus OH: see below]

Interrupted Schedules

If your family is traveling for Thanksgiving, your child may be sleeping in a strange place and following an unfamiliar schedule. Even if you’re hosting, your family’s routines may be disrupted. That’s rough for kids with ADHD.

DO This: Stick to your child’s routines as much as possible. Try to arrange travel or guest schedules so that he eats and sleeps when he usually does. And prepare your child in advance for any disruptions you foresee. Give him an overview of what will be happening beforehand, and then remind him at each stage what’s coming next.

Waiting for the Meal

When the whole holiday is centered on a single meal, the hours beforehand can feel like eternity for children with attention issues. The anticipation may make them bored or cranky, which can lead to squabbles—or tantrums.

DO This: Before Thanksgiving, enlist relatives’ help to line up some morning activities. Could a grandparent or uncle take your child to the park? Might some older cousins set up a family game for the younger kids? Let the kids know in advance what’ll be happening when. This way dinner won’t be the only thing for them to look forward to.

Company Commotion

If your Thanksgiving involves a lot of people, your child may feel upset by the noise and activity. And kids with attention issues may get frustrated if they’ve settled down to read or work on a project and the hustle and bustle distracts them.

DO This: Whether you’re home or away, find your child an “out” spot. Agree on a place where he can go for a set period of time to be alone and listen to headphones, play a game on his phone, or read.

Preoccupied Parents!

Young kids with attention issues often need constant direction from adults. That’s hard when you’re trying to finish making Thanksgiving dinner and can’t stop to play with your child.

DO This: First, try to get as much as possible done before Thanksgiving Day. Make what you can in advance, buy the pies, go potluck for side dishes. That way, you can set aside time to check in periodically with your child. And delegate. Is there a relative who’d be happy to oversee your child for the morning? Give him coloring books, art supplies, puzzles or a new DVD so he can keep your child occupied while you’re busy.

Take Turns Talking

Kids with attention issues may talk nonstop before, during and after dinner, annoying guests. If your child is impulsive, he may interrupt family members’ stories to tell his own. If a grandparent challenges him, he might say something rude.

DO This: Before Thanksgiving, role-play appropriate ways your child might start, join and end conversations with guests. Consider coming up with a code phrase or signal you can use to clue him in if he starts taking over the conversation.

Sitting Still through the Long Meal

Lengthy holiday meals are especially tricky for children with attention issues, who may find it hard to sit through “grace,” let alone a multi-course meal. Add unfamiliar foods and grown-up discussions, and you’ve got the makings for a meltdown.

DO This: Relax your expectations. Thanksgiving isn’t the day to expect perfect behavior, so seat him at the kids’ table. He’ll do best with some parameters, such as not interrupting the adults. But let him wander between courses. If he’s a teen, see if he wants to be “in charge” of keeping dinner fun for the younger guests.


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

ADHD and the Emotional Brain

 by Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D.  at

[for Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: 614-579-6021]

Each day for two weeks, Karen had walked to the classroom building on time, determined to go to class.

As she approached the door, her heart suddenly began to beat very rapidly; she was unable to catch her breath, and broke into a cold sweat. She felt that she was having a heart attack.

These terrifying sensations lasted about ten or fifteen minutes each time and abated only when she gave up on her intention to enter the class that day.
Karen was a patient of mine with ADHD. She had severe social anxiety—as do more than one-third of teens and adults with ADHD. Many more with ADHD struggle with other emotional issues.

I share Karen’s story and others in my book, Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults With ADHD. The book is about intelligent, capable young people who have gotten “stuck” because of their ADHD.

But why did they get stuck?

One of my biggest realizations from working for 35 years with people with ADHD is this: You can’t understand ADHD without understanding the role of emotion in how our brains work. Here’s how I explained this in my book:

The difficulties that people with ADHD have with emotions are similar to the problems they often have in prioritizing tasks, shifting focus, and utilizing working memory. While cleaning a room, they may get interested in some photos they pick up, soon becoming completely diverted from the job they had begun….

In a similar way, many people with ADHD tend to get quickly flooded with frustration, enthusiasm, anger, affection, worry, boredom, discouragement, or other emotions … crowding out other important feelings and thoughts.
For Karen, the main emotion that took over was anxiety. And it was the result of things happening—or not happening—in the brain:

The human brain has a mechanism that allows it to modulate the intensity of experienced anxiety, frustration, discouragement, and so on….

When the … mechanism for regulating anxiety works as it should, it allows cognitive space for a person to think about how to deal more rationally and realistically with stressors that otherwise may immobilize reasonable thought and planning….

For some people, especially many with ADHD, this top-down mechanism is often ineffective; it does not prevent an intense cascade of emotion that floods the person so completely that he is unable to think clearly about his response. Quickly he is overwhelmed by panic or anger or hopelessness that may be quite disproportionate to the actual situation.

So what can you do as a parent of a child with ADHD?

First, try to recognize that your child’s puzzling behavior may be due to difficult emotions he’s unable to understand. Second, keep in mind that your family is not alone.

Many kids with ADHD can get “stuck” with emotional difficulties. If this happens repeatedly to your child, there are three important steps to consider:

  • Get an evaluation and a thorough explanation of your child’s issues.
  • Consider options for treatment and accommodations.
  • Find supportive counseling or psychotherapy.

Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders in the department of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

Reading Tutor in Columbus Ohio

Reading, comprehension, writing or spelling problems?
I tutor in Columbus OH, and have one or two openings.
My students do NOT have to be identified as “dyslexic.”

call Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021

or email

High School: Seven Tips to Build Organizational Skills

by Amanda Morin at

[for info on reading tutoring in Columbus OH see below]

  1. Teach Multiple Ways to Prioritize. Goal: find organizational skills that fit your teen’s needs and skills.  Example: projects can be organized by due date — or by time needed or how hard (or easy) they are.
  2. Teach How to Divide and Conquer. Goal: keep deadlines for long-term projects from creeping up. Example: Show your teen how to break projects into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Use cue words like “first,” “next,” and “last” to categorize the tasks.
  3. Designate a Place for Study Materials. Goal: teach your child to keep the tools he needs in one place. Example: Encourage your teen to keep pens, paper, computer, calculators, dictionaries and other supplies together. No more hunting for an eraser!
  4. Model Organization Skills. Goal: Learn how to be organized by seeing the skills in action. Example: keep a family calendar and a to-do list to model planning ahead and making lists.
  5.  Use a Whiteboard. Goal: Make things easier to visualize. Example: your child can use it to make daily to-do lists, map out an assignment or just write down things to remember.
  6. Give Your Teen a Planner. Goal: encourage your child to manage his own schedule. Example: with a digital or paper planner, he can keep track of where he needs to be and when. He can practice arranging and rearranging his time.
  7. Ask About the Plan of Attack. Goal: make sure your teen knows how to prioritize the steps for getting an assignment done. Example: don’t assume your teen knows how to get an assignment done. Ask him to explain his plan. You can help him refine it, as needed.

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate and former teacher. A proud parent of kids with learning and attention issues, she is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: 614-579-6021 or email 


Rude, Mean, or Bullying? Defining the Differences

by Signe Whitson, in HuffPo Parents

[for Orton -Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH, see below]

A few weeks ago, I had the terrific fortune of getting to present some of the bullying prevention work that I do to a group of children at a local bookstore. As if interacting with smiling, exuberant young people was not gift enough, a reporter also attended the event a wrote a lovely article about my book and the work I do with kids, parents, educators and youth care professionals. All in all, it was dream publicity and since then, has sparked many conversations with people in my town who saw my photo in the newspaper and immediately related to the examples of bullying that were discussed.

I have been brought to tears more than once since the article ran, while listening to parents share their feelings of outrage and helplessness over their kids’ experiences with bullying in school. One gifted but socially awkward middle school student blew me away with his articulate, poised, yet searingly painful accounts of relentless physical and verbal bullying on his school bus. An elementary school-aged girl described how she had to learn to shed her Australian accent within a month of entering U.S. schools because of how she was shunned by her classmates. The commonness of it all routinely astounds me with every new account; the pervasive cruelty makes my jaw drop every time.

It is important for me to begin this article by establishing that without doubt, many of the stories of bullying that are shared with me are horrifying and some are unspeakably cruel. But now, I also want to be honest and share that some of the stories are… well… really not so bad.

Take this story recently shared with me by an acquaintance who read about my professional work:

“Signe, I saw your picture in the paper last week. Congratulations! I didn’t know you worked with bullied students. It’s so important that you do — things have gotten so bad! Last week, my daughter was bullied really badly after school! She was getting off of her bus when this kid from our neighborhood threw a fistful of leaves right in her face! When she got home, she still had leaves in the hood of her coat. It’s just awful! I don’t know what to do about these bullies.”

“Was she very upset when she got home?” I empathized.

“No. She just brushed the leaves off and told me they were having fun together,” she said.

“Oh,” I answered knowingly, aware that oftentimes kids try to downplay victimization by bullies from their parents, due to the embarrassment and shame they feel. “Did you get the sense she was covering for the boy?”

“No, no. She really seemed to think it was fun. She said that she threw leaves back at him, which I told her NEVER to do again! The nerve of those kids.”

“Those ‘kids,’ I clarified. “Was it just the one boy throwing leaves or were there a bunch of kids all ganging up on her?”

“No, it was just this one boy that lives about a block from us,” she assured me.

“Is he usually mean to her? Has he bothered her after school before?” I asked, eager at this point to figure out what the bullying issue was.

“No. I don’t think so at least. That was the first time she ever said anything about him. It was definitely the first time that I noticed the leaves all over her coat. But it better be the last time! I won’t stand for her being bullied by that kid. Next time, I am going to make sure the Principal knows what is going on after school lets out!”

While I always want to be careful not to minimize anyone’s experience (it’s the social worker in me!) and a part of me suspects that the sharing of this particular story may have been simply this parent’s spontaneous way of making conversation with me in a store aisle, I hear these “alarming” (read: benign) stories often enough to conclude that there is a real need to draw a distinction between behavior that is rude, behavior that is mean and behavior that is characteristic of bullying. I first heard bestselling children’s author, Trudy Ludwig, talk about these distinguishing terms and, finding them so helpful, have gone on to use them as follows:

Rude = Inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else.

A particular relative of mine (whose name it would be rude of me to mention) often looks my curly red hair up and down before inquiring in a sweet tone, “Have you ever thought about coloring your hair?” or “I think you look so much more sophisticated when you straighten your hair, Signe.” This doting family member thinks she is helping me. he rest of the people in the room cringe at her boldness and I am left to wonder if being a brunette would suit me. Her comments can sting, but remembering that they come from a place of love — in her mind — helps me to remember what to do with the advice…

From kids, rudeness might look more like burping in someone’s face, jumping ahead in line, bragging about achieving the highest grade or even throwing a crushed up pile of leaves in someone’s face. On their own, any of these behaviors could appear as elements of bullying, but when looked at in context, incidents of rudeness are usually spontaneous, unplanned inconsideration, based on thoughtlessness, poor manners or narcissism, but not meant to actually hurt someone.

Mean = Purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).

The main distinction between “rude” and “mean” behavior has to do with intention; while rudeness is often unintentional, mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone. Kids are mean to each other when they criticize clothing, appearance, intelligence, coolness or just about anything else they can find to denigrate. Meanness also sounds like words spoken in anger — impulsive cruelty that is often regretted in short order. Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down. Commonly, meanness in kids sounds an awful lot like:

• “Are you seriously wearing that sweater again? Didn’t you just wear it, like, last week? Get a life.”
• “You are so fat/ugly/stupid/gay.”
• “I hate you!”

Make no mistake; mean behaviors can wound deeply and adults can make a huge difference in the lives of young people when they hold kids accountable for being mean. Yet, meanness is different from bullying in important ways that should be understood and differentiated when it comes to intervention.

Bullying = Intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power.

Experts agree that bullying entails three key elements: an intent to harm, a power imbalance and repeated acts or threats of aggressive behavior. Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse — even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.

Bullying may be physical, verbal, relational or carried out via technology:

• Physical aggression was once the gold standard of bullying– the “sticks and stones” that made adults in charge stand up and take notice. This kind of bullying includes hitting, punching, kicking, spitting, tripping, hair pulling, slamming a child into a locker and a range of other behaviors that involve physical aggression.

• Verbal aggression is what our parents used to advise us to “just ignore.” We now know that despite the old adage, words and threats can, indeed, hurt and can even cause profound, lasting harm.

• Relational aggression is a form of bullying in which kids use their friendship–or the threat of taking their friendship away–to hurt someone. Social exclusion, shunning, hazing, and rumor spreading are all forms of this pervasive type of bullying that can be especially beguiling and crushing to kids.

• Cyberbullying is a specific form of bullying that involves technology. According to Hinduja and Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, it is the “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Notably, the likelihood of repeated harm is especially high with cyberbullying because electronic messages can be accessed by multiple parties, resulting in repeated exposure and repeated harm.

So, why is it so important to make the distinction between rude, mean and bullying? Can’t I just let parents share with me stories about their kids?

Here’s the thing; in our culture of 24/7 news cycles and social media sound bytes, we have a better opportunity than ever before to bring attention to important issues. In the last few years, Americans have collectively paid attention to the issue of bullying like never before; millions of school children have been given a voice, 49 states in the U.S. have passed anti-bullying legislation, and thousands of adults have been trained in important strategies to keep kids safe and dignified in schools and communities. These are significant achievements.

At the same time, however, I have already begun to see that gratuitous references to bullying are creating a bit of a “little boy who cried wolf” phenomena. In other words, if kids and parents improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying — whether to simply make conversation or to bring attention to their short-term discomfort — we all run the risk of becoming so sick and tired of hearing the word that this actual life-and-death issue among young people loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence.

It is important to distinguish between rude, mean and bullying so that teachers, school administrators, police, youth workers, parents and kids all know what to pay attention to and when to intervene. As we have heard too often in the news, a child’s future may depend on a non-jaded adult’s ability to discern between rudeness at the bus stop and life-altering bullying.


Signe Whitson is a licensed therapist, national educator on bullying, and author of three books including Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope with Bullying. For more information or workshop inquiries, please visit


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edward 614-579-6021 or email

Help Your Child Follow Directions

Here are 10 tips from Amanda Morin at

[for O-G tutoring in Columbus OH, see contact info below]

  1. Ask for your child’s attention. You might say “Look toward me please… I need you to listen now.” You are asking your child to look toward you, not into your eyes, which can be uncomfortable for many children.  You can make it easier by moving into your child’s line of sight.
  2. Minimize distractions.  Once you have your child’s attention, you want to keep it. Turn off screens and make sure he’s looking toward you. Model this behavior by giving your child your full attention when giving instructions: this also shows that what you are saying is important.
  3. Speak quietly. You may capture your child’s attention better by speaking in a softer voice. Give directions in a calm, even tone. He can focus more easily on the substance when he doesn’t have to process tone and volume, too.
  4. Use “wait time.”  Teachers often use “wait time;” so do educational TV shows for kids. “Wait time is that three-to-seven-second pause after you say something or ask a question. Research shows that kids process better what you have to say — and respond to it appropriately — when they can let it sink in.  (If your child doesn’t answer or follow directions, it’s OK to repeat what you said.)
  5. Check for understanding. Checking for understanding goes hand in hand with giving “wait time.” Ask him to repeat what you said.  Or ask him to explain your directions in his own words.  It gives your child a chance to ask questions, if he has any. It also give you a chance to clarify in case he misunderstood something.
  6. Tell; don’t ask. Many parents phrase directions as questions: “Would you set the table, please?” Your child may think he has a choice about following directions. Rephrase what you said, so you are telling instead of asking. “Come set the table, please,” can make a big difference.
  7. Give instructions one at a time. Younger kids with learning and attention issues may have trouble following a sequence of steps.  You  may say, “Please set the table, wash your hands and tell your sister it’s time to eat.” Your child might get stuck after “setting the table.” Give directions one at a time when possible.  (if you can’t break directions into steps, try to group things together in ways that make sense. For example, “While you’re upstairs washing your hands, please tell your sister it’s time to eat.”
  8. Number your directions. Help your child follow multi-step directions by actually putting a number to them.  Typically, people can hold up to four things at a time in working memory. This is easier when they are connected, or there’s a way to make them more memorable.  For example, say “There are three things you need to do,” or use words like ‘first,’ second,’ ‘then,’ next,’ and ‘last.’ That helps your child keep all steps in mind, or at least remember there’s more to the directions than what he’s completed.
  9. Be precise in what you say. Kids who have problems with planning and organization, or language, may have trouble with vague directions.  You may think your child isn’t following the directions to clean his room.  But maybe he’s having trouble figuring our how to get started. So be specific: you may get better results by saying “Please put your laundry away, pick up the trash from the floor and make your bed” instead of “Clean your room.”
  10. Use visual cues. Kids who have language processing issues can have a hard time following spoken directions. Consider using visual cures as well. For example, point out what needs to be cleaned. You might also demonstrate what you’re asking him to do: “Please set the rest of the table the way I’m setting this spot.”

Source: Amanda Morin
A parent advocate and former teacher, Amanda Morin is the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

See this and more wonderful stuff at

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

5 Tips to Get Your Dyslexic Student Through High School

by Tiffany Sunday, for Noodle

[for O-G tutoring in Columbus OH: see contact info at the end]

“Where did the week go?” This is a common question in our household.

As the parent of a dyslexic eighth grader, our weeks are busy and pass quickly. Staying organized, keeping track of assignments and upcoming projects or tests, and studying effectively are challenges many middle schoolers face — but these issues can often be more acute if you have dyslexia.

Recently, while speaking with my son’s guidance counselor, she mentioned that we needed to think about preparing him for high school. I knew, in the blink of an eye, I would be having this same discussion with his high school counselor when he prepares for college.

Learning how to Manage Dyslexia
My son is learning how to study and effectively manage his dyslexia. To help him — and because I too have dyslexia — I share strategies and organizational habits that I developed back when I was in high school. With my sights set on the future, I know he needs to develop study strategies and strong organizational habits to help him succeed in college.

In high school, I worked to improve the techniques I had begun to develop in elementary school and junior high. Learning how my dyslexic brain functioned and absorbed new information was half the battle, and these strategies and skills became the toolkit I relied on throughout my education.

Here are five effective strategies and organizational habits to add to a dyslexic high schooler’s repertoire.

1. Be the Teacher
I am a visual and verbal learner, and one of the approaches I developed was to pretend to be both teacher and student. I would stand in my bedroom and verbally review the homework or test material — actually speak it aloud — as if I was both teaching and taking the class. I posed questions to my imaginary students and would then respond as one of my classmates.

I used this strategy throughout high school, college, and graduate school. Today, my son teaches his classwork to me, and I, in turn, direct questions to him. Instructing me in the material he’s learning helps my son study for exams and gain a deeper understanding of the subject. A whiteboard is a great tool to use with this strategy since it enables your high schooler to work out math equations, science problems, and take notes.

2. Listen to Understand
In college, I recorded all of my classes and listened to the lectures over and over, often gaining new understanding that had eluded me the first or second time I played the material. The benefit of listening to a recording of a classroom discussion or a teacher’s lecture is that you can pause it, take notes, return to it for further clarification, and create a list of follow-up questions to ask the instructor. My mother, who taught high school advanced placement courses, used to tell me that if an instructor repeated a statement multiple times, you could bet that it would be on the test. Very often, dyslexic students attend to spoken repetition that they may overlook in written form.

Your high schooler can record her class notes on a mobile device and then play them back as often as she needs to prepare for quizzes and tests. And for reading assignments, check out Learning Ally’s audiobook library, which has a selection of more than 80,000 titles. The special education coordinator can also help locate these supports through the school or public library system.

3. Create Stories to Remember
Because my dyslexia prevents me from hearing the phonemes in words — that is, distinguishing a ‘p’ sound from a ‘b’ sound, for example — learning new spelling or vocabulary words has always been difficult, especially in advanced science and English classes. One of my solutions was to develop mnemonic techniques that helped me retain definitions, phrases, and formulas. These strategies might include silly songs, rhymes, or stories, such as one I created to recall the definition of “flagellum.”

This appendage is a long, whiplike structure that helps unicellular organisms move. I memorized this science vocabulary word by imagining flags whipping in the wind, bringing to mind air movement. I would, in turn, visualize flagella as tiny flags helping an organism move around. When I was taking the test, I would remember this visual aid and its association with movement to enable me to identify the correct definition of the word.

4. Organize the Workspace
Help your teen learn how to prepare her physical environment as well. Having a distinct space with few distractions and little background noise helps many dyslexic teens remain focused. For visual learners in particular, clutter may make it difficult to concentrate and stay on task, but having a specific place to post reminders, such as a whiteboard calendar installed next to a desk, can ensure that valuable information and appointments are not mixed up.

Encourage your high schooler to test different organizational systems, including digital, erasable, and paper calendars. For instance, large whiteboard schedules can help her see the big picture and allow her to plan effectively for future projects and tests. By using different colored markers for tests, quizzes, and extracurricular activities, she’ll be able to keep these responsibilities distinct from one another.

Paper clips and sticky notepads are essential in our house. Before using these supports, my son often forgot to turn in school work or ask his teacher a question. Now, though, he is learning how to keep his homework together and write reminders to himself on the sticky notes; he simply places the reminder beside a question or writes in big letters “Turn In!” on sticky notes that he affixes to his assignments.

5. Study with Buddies
Encourage your high schooler to find a study partner or form a group to prepare for tests, midterms, and finals. Throughout my education, I had classmates I could call for help or ask questions if my notes did not make sense. Most dyslexics distill verbal or visual information quickly, and indeed, I sought out classmates who could summarize class notes in a similar manner. I learned early that finding peers whose study habits were in sync with mine was more effective than trying to adapt my approach in ways that were at odds with my dyslexia.

Learning new information in school and preparing for tests requires more than studying the subject matter. Creating an organizational system that helps your high schooler keep her work together and completed on time is important. And, of course, being able to manage time effectively and submit assignments when required are essential skills for succeeding in college.

Preparing your student for college? Be sure to check out Noodle’s college search feature to find schools that your families’ needs, as well as other expert-written articles, such as, 3 Questions to Ask About College Disability Services.


Tiffany Sunday : Dyslexic,  Author,  Entrepreneur. Her books include “Dyslexia’s Competitive Edge” and “You Posted What!? ”  

She is passionate about entrepreneurship and inspiring the dyslexic community: see Tiffany’s TEDx Talk Dyslexia 2.0: The Gift of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Mind.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email