Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Myths and Facts about ADHD

Those of us who are diagnosed or have children who are diagnosed with ADHD know that numerous myths about ADHD have been circulating for many years.  Have you heard these myths before? “ADHD is not a real disorder.”  “ADHD is somebody’s fault.”  “ADHD is an excuse for poor behavior.” This chart summarizes commonly spread myths as well as facts to counteract them.  First and foremost, be assured that ADHD is a real disorder with serious consequences if not addressed.

 Image result for teen multi-tasking

ADHD Myths and Facts

                              Myths                                                                                              Facts

ADHD is not a real disorder.
ADHD is a genetic based brain disorder with serious consequences if not treated. The American Psychiatric Association defines ADHD as “a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”
ADHD is somebody’s fault.
ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, sugar, food allergies, vaccines, or poor teachers.
Parents give their children with ADHD a pass and are too lenient with them.  If parents were stricter, their children would be better behaved.
The problem is rooted in brain chemistry, not discipline. In fact, when parents are overly strict and punish a child for things he cannot control, the symptoms can become worse.
You grow out of ADHD as a teen or young adult.
Many people do not grow out of ADHD and need strategies to cope throughout their lives. The majority of those who have ADHD in childhood continue to have it into adulthood.
Everybody has a “little ADHD”
People can have some symptoms of ADHD, like poor organization or poor focus, without having ADHD. Those diagnosed with ADHD have persistent symptoms that disrupt their lives.
If someone with ADHD can focus on one thing, she can focus on anything if she really tries.
ADHD is an interest-based nervous system. Someone with ADHD can focus intensely (hyper-focus) on something that is interesting. The same person may find it impossible to focus at all on something that is not interesting. It’s not that they won’t focus; they can’t focus.
Some kids are just lazy, and ADHD is an excuse.
There are biological reasons for behavior, and some associated with ADHD are focus, motivation, impulse control, planning, and organization, all which work together to help people get things done.
We can manage ADHD symptoms on our own.
The lives of people with ADHD can improve greatly by seeking help.  Professional interventions, such as coaching, tutoring, behavior modification therapy, and drug therapy are appropriate treatments.
ADHD does not usually occur with other conditions.
Up to 2/3 children with ADHD have one or more coexisting conditions such as learning disabilities, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and sleep disorders.

               Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success
                    ADHD Resource Group of Northern Virginia http://www.adhdnova.org

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Prepare for the SAT and ACT

Is your child a college bound junior?  If so, it is time to tackle the SAT and/or ACT test.  Although a three-hour-plus challenging test is overwhelming to many students, if you take the time to break it down, it will be manageable and rewarding.

If you plan to take the SAT or ACT this spring, we recommend beginning to prepare as soon as possible.  These are not tests that you can cram for.  The best way to begin is to take a practice test from an official test prep book or online. 

It can be overwhelming to take the test all at once, and it’s not necessary.  You can take one section per day, which shouldn’t be difficult to fit in.  Then check your answers and go over every answer, using the explanations from the back of the book.  At this point, you should have a good idea of which areas are your strengths and which areas are your weaknesses.  If you take both the SAT and ACT, you may get an idea of which test is a better match for you.  If you work with a tutor, the tutor can go over the questions and answers with you.

We don’t recommend taking the test cold.  You probably already did this with the PSAT.  If you take the time to prepare, your score will be higher, and if you reach your target the first time, you may not need to re-take the test.  There are many ways to prepare:

1.       Use a prep book to brush up on material and practice.
2.       Go to an SAT or ACT class.
3.       Set up private tutoring sessions.

Students who are very self-motivated, whose PSAT and sample SAT or ACT scores are already near their targets, may be able to prepare independently.  To figure out your target score, look at the score ranges for the colleges you are interested in attending.  You want to strive to score in the top 50% of your desired college.

Students who get motivated and energized from working with their peers may do well in a class.   Since classes typically spend an equal time on each section, they work best for students who need a great deal of preparation and practice in each section.

Students who prefer individual attention and students who need more help in some areas than others do well with one-to-one tutoring.  We sometimes receive requests for only math and science or only reading and writing.  Other students need all areas, but more time in some than others.

We recommend an average of 8 weeks of tutoring, for 1.5 to 4 hours per week.  However, the amount of prep time you need totally depends on how far you are from your target score.  Most students take either the SAT or ACT or both at least twice and tend to do better the second time. 

Whether you take a class or sign up for one-to-one tutoring, your educational sessions must be coupled with individual practice in between sessions to get your money’s worth.  Practicing problems and going over the answers is just as important as working with a tutor.

For more information or to discuss your own situation, please call Tutoring For Success at 703-390-9220. 

Here is a list of registration and test dates for both the SAT and ACT.  Both have late registration dates for an additional fee as well.  To get your first choice of test location, sign up as soon as possible; for best results, begin preparing as soon as possible

Friday, February 9, 2018

Getting Accommodations via 504 Program

Does your child’s homework take too long? 

Is he disorganized or distracted at school? 

Has your child been diagnosed with ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, or other disability?  If so, she may be eligible for accommodations under the Section 504 plan.  Many of these accommodations are instrumental in helping children succeed in school. If you think your child would benefit from any of the below accommodations, talk to your child’s counselor.  If your child has not been diagnosed with any disability, but you suspect one, talk to the counselor about getting an evaluation.  You can also get an evaluation from a private therapist.  For advice about your child’s particular needs and recommendations, call Tutoring For Success at 703-390-9220.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Optimism for 2018

Optimism for 2018 -

The World is a Better Place than Ever

Does it ever seem like the state of the world is going downhill?  Luckily, current facts and statistics demonstrate that this is not at all true.  In fact, there is every reason to believe that the world is improving, and this is because of the many hard workers who constantly strive to make the world a better place.

According to Nicholas Kristoff in his January 6th article in the New York Times Sunday Review, “2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity….Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data. Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water….As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty.” See full post here

These gains are extraordinary.  Mr. Kristoff goes on to say that last year he wrote an article saying that 2016 was the best year in human history.  And next year he expects even more gains.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been instrumental in improving lives in the developing world.   Through the data and first-person accounts from six contributors, the 2017 Gates Foundation report showcases the stunning progress the world has made in the past generation: cutting extreme poverty and child deaths in half and reducing HIV deaths and maternal deaths by nearly half, among many other accomplishments.

Like me, perhaps you read and watch the news too often, and too much of it is terrible – earthquakes, mud slides, fires, hurricanes, etc.  The latest politics is often depicted as horrific, and war with North Korea may be imminent.  But then we see that North Korea is talking to South Korea and will join the Olympics.  And many companies, foundations, and leaders throughout the world have been taking steps and making progress towards combating climate change and improving lives throughout the world.

Almost none of us have the extensive resources of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, however, we all can do something to contribute to society, through our jobs, volunteer work, and monetary contributions.  To make a difference, we need to find our passions and invest our energies towards improving the world.

Our family did one small thing to help local families in 2016, which is ongoing.  Through a non-profit organization called “A Simple Gesture – Reston (www.coolgreenbag.org),” we contribute one stocked grocery bag, which is picked up at our front porch, every two months to help fill the food banks in our local area.  There are so many contributions that families and individuals of all ages can make to make a difference, and giving usually feels better than getting.

So this new year, we can put in our best efforts, and it will make a difference.  Happy New Year!

Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What does soccer have to do with reading?

What does soccer have to do with reading?

I am an excellent reader, primarily because reading is one of my hobbies.  However, if you give me instructions on how to build a piece of furniture, I may not understand it.  I not only have no experience building furniture, but I don’t know the names of the parts.

According to Daniel T. Willingham, who recently wrote an editorial for The New York Times called “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” reading comprehension has more to do with factual knowledge than general reading ability.  Most people can sound out words alright, but making meaning of them is another story.  The reason wealthier students do better on IQ tests and standardized tests are their greater knowledge of various topics.  For example, I once took an IQ test, and one of the questions I got wrong was a question about farming.  Needless to say, I had no experience of farms.

Professor Willingham sited an experiment on third graders.  The readers who were identified as “poor” readers were “three times as likely to make accurate inferences about” a passage on soccer as readers identified as “good” readers who didn’t know much about soccer. “This implies that students who score well on reading tests are those with broad knowledge; they usually know at least a little about the topics of the passages on the test.”  He concludes that “comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge.”

Professor Willingham advises that education officials write “content-rich grade level standards” and using “high-information texts in early elementary grades,” which “historically have been light in content.”  In other words, children need to be taught general knowledge throughout their lives.

The best thing you can do to help your own children is to read to them daily when they are little and encourage independent daily reading when they get older.  They should read about topics that interest them on an appropriate level so that reading will be a joy, not a chore.  I recently gave my 11- year old niece Guinness World Records 2018, which she and her siblings devoured, just as my own children had at that age.  Children should choose their own books, but can also gain broad knowledge by reading magazines and newspapers, going on historic trips and to museums, and by having family discussions about various topics.  Children absorb new information like sponges – parents can take the initiative to help them broaden their minds.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Building Relationships with Teachers

Setting up Parent-Teacher Conferences

Building Relationships with Teachers

Now that first quarter report cards have come out, some parents may have questions about the grades.  While most elementary schools have November parent-teacher conferences, this is not true for most middle and high schools.  However, it is still important to be connected with the teachers, who play a large part in your children’s lives. 

One of the most important things I learned at Teachers College was to emphasize positive first, whether meeting with parents or writing student evaluations.  No one wants to open a report card or attend a parent-teacher conference to be bombarded with negatives about their child. So we teachers start off by talking about what the child is doing well, and then lead to ways the student can improve, being constructive and positive.  I learned the flip side at my 2 ½ year old daughter’s conference at her pre-school.  We were told that she wouldn’t go to circle time, had difficulty with transitions, bla, bla, bla, nothing positive whatsoever.  This felt terrible.  The following year, we sent her to a different pre-school. 

Teachers are human too, and they do not want hear all complaints from parents.  In fact, complaints tend to put people on the defensive, which is not productive or helpful to your child.  So it is important to build a positive relationship with your children’s teachers from the beginning.  This includes showing up at school events and conferences, volunteering for at least one activity, and thanking the teacher in some way for what she does.  When I was a classroom teacher, I received and appreciated many useless gifts during December holidays, but what I appreciated the most was a heartfelt note.  I had become a teacher from the business world, to more work and less pay.  In fact, I worked way harder and longer hours as a teacher than I did at my previous office job.  Like most teachers, I did it because it was fulfilling, and I wanted to make a difference.  Being appreciated enhanced my job a great deal.

 If you are concerned about anything at school, you should not be shy in contacting the teacher with your concern.  You can do this by email, phone call, or by setting up a meeting.  It is your job as a parent to advocate for your child, which you can do in a constructive way.  

  1. Start the conversation with something positive. 
  2. Plan what you want to say in a non-accusatory way.  
  3. State your perspective, ask for the teacher’s perspective, and work with the teacher to find solutions.  Have a pleasant and relaxed expression. 

Then the teacher will want to help.  Be sure to pick your battles.  A teacher will be more likely to make the extra effort for a child whose parent rarely complains than for a constant complainer. 
As your child gets older, you should teach him to advocate for himself.  He can address the teacher with his concerns, and if this doesn’t work, you can then intervene.  In our family, by 10th grade I stayed out of the picture.  If something extreme had happened, however, I would have intervened.

If you do have a concern that you want to personally address, always go to the teacher first.  Teachers get very annoyed with parents who go to an administrator without approaching them first.  

I can tell you from personal experience that educators are there because they want to make a difference.  We can best help our children by building positive relationships with their teachers and by appreciating the teachers’ tremendous efforts to educate our children.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Apps for Meditation

Meditation for your Child

Meditation is a helpful tool for kids. Many parents and specialists use it as a tool to help kids deal with stress and frustration. Apps are a great way of introducing the idea of meditation to your children. Here are 8 of the top rated mindfulness/meditation apps. 

All 8 of these apps have been recommended by ADHD & Wellness Coach, Elizabeth Ahmann, ScD, RN, ACC.
For more information on Elizabeth visit her webpage at www.lizahmann.com

Insight Timer

Home to more than 1,700,000 meditators, Insight Timer is rated as the top free meditation app on the Android and iOS stores
Rating: 4.9 stars

Stop, Breathe & Think

Stop, Breathe & Think is an award-winning mindfulness and meditation app that is simple, fun and easy to use. Check in to how you are thinking and feeling, and get recommended guided meditations or yoga and acupressure videos tuned to your emotions.
Rating: 4.9 stars


Popular, but in-app purchases add up cost-wise. Guided meditations suitable for all levels from Headspace.
Rating: 5 stars


Nice app, also subscription based. Join the millions experiencing less anxiety and better sleep with our guided meditations, breathing programs and Sleep Stories. Recommended by top psychologists and mental health experts to help you de-stress.
Rating: 4.9 stars


Activities and games for stress and anxiety. Whether you're feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or you're dealing with constant negative thoughts, Happify brings you effective tools and programs to take control of your emotional wellbeing.
Rating: 4 stars

Breathing Bubbles

Emotional well-being is critical for children. Breathing Bubbles is an app that helps kids practice releasing worries and focusing on good feelings.
Ages 5+ - Release worries
Rating: 4 stars

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

This is a resource app for you to share with your child to help teach skills such as problem solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence.
Has both kid and parent section
Rating: 5 stars

10% Happier

First seven days are a free course for skeptics. Clear and simple meditation. Learn to meditate and improve your practice with New York Times bestselling author Dan Harris and some of the most respected (and cool) meditation teachers. Designed for skeptics, built for a lifetime of mindfulness.
Rating: 4.7 stars