Monday, November 17, 2014

Medications, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Video Games, and More

ONE DRUG OR TWO is the title of an article in The New York Times, which starts with the situation of a five-year old already on ADHD meds whose mother is considering adding an anti-psychotic because of the boy's difficult behavior. "In 2012 about one in 54 youngsters ages 6 through 17 covered by private insurance was taking at least two psychotropic medications," says the article. If your family is on the threshold of multiple drugs -- or if you have a concern about medications in kids -- read this article.

PSYCHIATRISTS are the ones who prescribe anti-psychotics and other meds used by 2e kids -- but psychiatrists are increasingly difficult to gain access to, one reason being their relative scarcity, especially for child psychiatrists. Find out why in an article at

ON THE TOPIC OF MEDS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has evidently expressed "concern" that two generic versions of Concerta are not therapeutically equivalent to the branded drug. It's something to know about if your 2e kiddo is taking one of the generics.

DON'T LIKE MEDS? Maybe you can treat ADHD with food. That's the topic of an upcoming free ADDitude webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 19 at 1 pm ET. A blurb for the webinar says that the topics covered will include:
  • Foods that can help improve your mood, memory, motivation, and focus
  • How an elimination diet can help manage ADHD symptoms in children
  • Four simple steps to recognizing "good" and "bad" foods.
Find out more. Also from ADDitude, an article called "ADHD and Depression: Diagnosing, Treating, and Managing a Dual Diagnosis"; find it.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING is the topic of a recent article on the site of the Davidson Institute. It's titled "Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning -- What Is It, Why We Need It, and How Parents Can Support Our Children's Development." Find the article. Separately, researchers at New York University say that an educational approach focused on the development of children’s executive functions -- the ability to avoid distractions, focus attention, hold relevant information in working memory, and regulate impulsive behavior --improved academic learning in and beyond kindergarten. A write-up of the study notes that because some effects were especially pronounced in high-poverty schools, the findings hold promise for closing the poverty-related achievement gap and suggest that an emphasis on executive functions in kindergarten may reduce poverty-linked deficits in school readiness. Find the writeup.

DEPRESSION in preschoolers changes the brain, in particular the right anterior insula, an area involved in emotion, perception, self-awareness and cognitive function, according to a press release about a research study. The researchers note that their findings could provide a biomarker for those at risk for the recurrence of depression as well as clues for the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Find out more. Separately, other research indicates that major depressive disorder could be thought of as an infectious disease caused by parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Researcher Tuhan Canli, Ph.D., provides three reasons for his reconceptualization of MDD. First, he points out that patients with MDD exhibit illness behavior such as loss of energy, and that inflammatory biomarkers in MDD also suggest an illness-related origin. Second, he describes evidence that parasites, bacteria and viruses infect humans in a way that alters their emotional behavior. Thirdly, he introduces the notion of the human body as an ecosystem for microorganisms and the role of genetics. Find out more. Separately again, researchers at Mt. Sinai school of medicine have proposed a new model for depression. According to this model, the brain’s ability to effectively deal with stress or to lack that ability and be more susceptible to depression depends on a single protein type in each person’s brain. The Mount Sinai study findings challenge the current thinking about depression and the drugs currently used to treat the disorder, for example the mechanisms involving serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Read more.

DYSLEXIA ASSIST. A font and a redesigned dictionary are being developed by separate individuals to help dyslexics. The font, from a dyslexic designer, uses typographic elements, a dark blue color, and more space to help readers understand text. The dictionary is from a father-and-son team and uses a morphological approach to organization rather than a phonetic approach. Read more.

DIET, KIDS, AND MENTAL HEALTH (such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders). They're connected. Find out more.

LD IN COLLEGE. The most recent LD Online newsletter focuses on getting kids with LDs ready for college, with articles on building college-level reading scores, planning for college with an LD, and taking that SAT. Find the newsletter.

AND FINALLY, THIS. They help, they harm, they build skills or they make kids aggressive. It seems as if every study about video games we read has a different conclusion than the last. This week's study is described in a write-up with this title: "Playing Action Video Games Can Boost Learning." It compared action games to non-action games. Find the write-up and decide for yourself if it applies to your gaming kiddo. (Interestingly, the Office of Naval Research, the Swiss National Foundation, The Human Frontier Science Program, and the National Eye Institute supported the research.)

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