Why ADHD Kids Say I DON’T KNOW So Often

ide his bike (Who wouldn’t?). I asked Matt why he kept cancelling and he said, “I don’t know.” That got me thinking about how, in the past, I would have been slightly irritated at him wasting my time, not accepting my help, and being generally defiant.

We often become distressed by our children’s seeming inability to do simple things, like ask for help, put away their clothes, or turn in homework. We become disappointed and ultimately angry, and we confront our child.

“Why can’t you do this? It’s so simple. Everyone else is doing it with no trouble at all. Why can’t you?”

And you know the response, right?

“I don’t know.”

Gah! Why do they DO that?

ADHD children are very sensitive and having an angry parent is overwhelming to the senses. They may yell at you or try to distract you by talking about your faults. They may hide in their rooms or they may do what you want but give you the silent treatment. ADHD children are rarely able to manage their emotions in the moment, as they’re actually happeningIn confusion, frustration, and sadness that they’ve disappointed you, “I don’t know” becomes an easy way to slow things down, to stop the barrage of parental expectations.

Here’s what “I don’t know” really means:

  • I can’t help you. I don’t seem to be able to make myself do what I want to do.
  • Please don’t be mad.
  • I can’t take more nagging.
  • Do we have to keep having the same conversation? That won’t change me.
  • You can keep asking but I don’t have a different answer.
  • I feel like a loser and I’m trying to cover it up.
  • I don’t want to say the wrong thing.
  • I’m embarrassed by being a failure.
  • If I could answer to your satisfaction, I would.
  • My mind is (actually) blank.

This is why ADHD kids say “I don’t know” so often.boy with post-its

It has little to do with defiance and a lot to do with self-esteem and/or not being able to access information in a timely manner.

The truth is that Matt wasn’t wasting my time. I still had my time.

He wasn’t refusing my help. He just couldn’t handle this particular responsibility.

He wasn’t being defiant either. In fact, his response had nothing to do with me. He was simply postponing relief and prolonging his misery because he didn’t know how to make a different decision.

Change your response

The solution is to change the way you respond. Believe me, I know this is difficult. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get an answer that contains some real information!

Instead of being frustrated, put yourself in your child’s shoes.

  • Imagine what it must be like to know that you’re having a regular conversation but you can’t respond in a regular way.
  • Imagine what it’s like to disappoint your parents, yet again.
  • Imagine experiencing this for an extended period of time.

My childhood experience

I remember, very well, the absolute confusion and disappointment I felt when I vowed to be good and couldn’t manage to hold it together for even 30 minutes. I had NO IDEA how I got from Point A to Point B, from my vow to my misbehavior.

This isn’t a moral issue or a problem with your child’s integrity. This is an Executive Function challenge. The pre-frontal cortex hasn’t developed enough to handle the demands being made.

One thing you can do to help your child is to say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t give you much time to think about this. I would really appreciate it if you’d take some time to think this over and let me know your answer. I’ll check back with you tomorrow/in an hour/after I get home…”

The moral of the story is:

Don’t take it personally, Don’t assume defiance, Practice patience, Be encouraging, and Give your child or teen the grace and dignity to JUST. NOT. KNOW.

When they do know, they’ll tell you.

Do you have any thoughts on this issue that you can share with another parent? Just scroll down to the comments section. I love hearing from you.

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2018 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved


What troubles you about parenting an ADHD child or teen?

Let’s talk! No judgment, no salesy come-on. However you WILL receive a good deal of TLC and a slew of strategies. You can say anything. You can cry. You can swear. Your confidentiality is guaranteed, and I promise to listen and give you hope and relief. (You might even find yourself spontaneously doing a happy dance).

“Thank you Yafa. You’ve given me incredibly helpful tools! It was really a pleasure to speak with you. I’ll be back in touch in the coming weeks.” Stella R, Portland, OR.

“I really appreciate that I could be vulnerable and you didn’t shoot me down. I feel comfortable with you and your humor brightened the call.” Danielle A, Bellingham, WA.

“I talked with you a year ago, Yafa, and your voice is always in my head, guiding me. I just wanted to email and thank you.” April W, Queensland, Australia

“Thank you for your encouraging, enlightening suggestions.” Jill E, Seattle, WA.

Thank you for ‘being there’ to share your wealth of knowledge and personal experience with us who are ‘floundering’ and ‘lost in the forest’ when it comes to ‘dealing with special and difficult circumstances’.Gratefully yours, Rochelle H, Alberta, Canada xox ((((BIG HUGS)))

ADHD Medications: 5 Vital Questions and Answers

The news that 11 percent of U.S. children are now diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) comes at a time when doctors are increasingly concerned about overuse of medication for the condition.

An analysis of 2012 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 11 percent of U.S. children ages 4 to 17 have ADHD, the New York Times reported. About 65 percent of kids with ADHD receive stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall, the Times said.

Just last month, a group of neurologists warned against prescribing the medications for kids who don’t need them.

The decision of whether to put children with ADHD on medication is not one that’s taken lightly. Here are five things to know about the medications:

What are the short- and long-term effects of ADHD medications?

Short-term side effects of ADHD medication include nervousness, appetite suppression, insomnia and increases in blood pressure and heart rate.

Because ADHD stimulants such as Ritalin have been used for decades, they are thought to be relatively safe over the long term, said Dr. Michael Duchowny, a pediatric neurologist at Miami Children’s Hospital.

However, some say that, because conditions such as heart attacks are and strokes are rare in children, it’s hard to know whether stimulants actually increase the risk of these events, said Dr. William Graf, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at Yale School of Medicine.

Children who are inappropriately diagnosed with ADHD, or those who have other mental health conditions, may be at increased risk for mood disorders or aggressive behavior while on the medication, Duchowny said.

And more research is needed to determine whether taking the medications for a “mental boost” could affect the developing brain, Graf said.

At what point should children with ADHD be put on medication?

There are some children who truly benefit from ADHD medication, Graf said. The conversation about beginning ADHD medication begins when a child’s symptoms interfere with his or her ability to function in everyday life, Graf said.

For instance, a child’s behavior may interfere with his learning to the extent that he won’t advance to the next grade if action isn’t taken. If a child’s behavior is determined to be a result of ADHD and not some other cause, a low dose of ADHD medication can be prescribed for a trial period (such as a one-month period), Graf said.

Once a child starts medication, does he or she need to continue them?

A child should be re-evaluated shortly after starting ADHD medication. The medication should only be continued if there is clear proof that the child benefits from it, and that the benefits outweigh the side effects, Graf said.

Do children with less severe ADHD need medication?

No, in general, children with mild ADHD often do not need medication, Graf said. (Although he noted this may not be true in every case.)

“Contrary to some popular wisdom, behavioral treatments, alone or in combination with low doses of medication, can be effective in the long-term reduction of core ADHD symptoms, Graf said.

Duchowny said the decision of whether to prescribe medication should be made on an individual basis. Changes such as placing the child in a smaller class, or getting the child a tutor may be ways to improve the child’s behavior, but are not always feasible, Duchowny said.

What can be done to prevent inappropriate use of ADHD medication?

Multiple factors are likely behind the recent rise in ADHD diagnosis, including societal pressures and medication advertising, Duchowny said. He said it’s important that children be evaluated by a health care practitioner who is experienced in diagnosing ADHD.

Graf said that a child’s care should be multifaceted, and include input from parents, teachers, physicians and social workers.

Is Your Brain Fog From Menopause, Dementia, or ADHD?

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has long been studied, mainly in children, but experts have come to realize it occurs in women more often than previously thought. If you begin having trouble focusing during menopause, you may be wondering whether it’s a result of hormones, dementia, or something else. That something else could be ADHD.

Cognitive issues like brain fog are very common among women going through menopause, says Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, an ob-gyn at the Montefiore Women’s Center in Scarsdale, New York.

“This is something that is wide-ranging, but people are worried that they’re developing dementia,” Dr. Rosser says. “They rush to tell us their memory is declining, they can’t concentrate, they’re not as organized, and that they have a lower attention span.”

The good news is that in most cases, it’s not early-stage dementia. The symptoms are more often a normal part of menopause, or a result of undiagnosed ADHD, Rosser says.

ADHD Before and After Menopause

Women struggle the most with memory problems during the first year after their last menstrual period, according to a study published in the journal Menopause in 2013.

Although experts don’t yet know why menopause brings on cognitive problems, it may be in part due to falling estrogen levels. Estrogen works with the areas of the brain that affect verbal memory and executive function, which helps with organizing information, according to the researchers.

In addition, other menopausal symptoms, such as depression, hot flashes, and trouble sleeping, can affect your ability to focus.

But having trouble focusing and paying attention are also the hallmarks of ADHD. It’s not just a condition of childhood: About 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Men have been diagnosed with ADHD twice as often as women, with the majority of the studies being done in men. Researchers now believe many women may have gone undiagnosed, according to an article in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published in 2014.

Brain fog related to menopause and ADHD brain fog look similar, Rosser says. So how do you know whether what you’re experiencing is menopause or an attention disorder?


Ask yourself whether you had these symptoms before menopause. If the symptoms are new, they’re probably related to changing hormones, Rosser says. But if you’ve always been this way and it’s gotten worse with menopause, it could be a result of ADHD. “The only way to really know is to see a psychiatrist who is an expert in ADHD,” Rosser adds.

What to Do About Brain Fog

First, remember that menopause is a normal, healthy stage of life, says Nada Stotland, MD, MPH, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association and professor of psychiatry at Rush University in Chicago.

“We have symptoms and some of them can be hot flashes and night sweats that can be disruptive and tiring and draining, but I don’t think anything significant happens to our brains,” Dr. Stotland says. “I think it’s a normal, passing phenomenon.”

In fact, menopause symptoms of brain fog usually get better over time, Rosser says.

If the symptoms are bothersome enough that you want to get treatment and they’re related to menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help, she says.

However, women are understandably nervous about HRT because of the potential increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Other drug options include anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. When it comes to lifestyle factors, taking care of yourself by exercising, eating healthily, getting enough sleep, and limiting alcohol and caffeine can also help improve symptoms, Rosser says.

If your symptoms are related to ADHD, keep in mind that many women can benefit from treatment even if they’ve never previously been treated for the disorder.

“If you’ve gotten to menopausal age, unless you’re still having a lot of problems with attention, you can probably go along the same way, but you may feel better now that you recognize it,” Stotland says. Also, while people with ADHD have a hard time concentrating at times, they may also have the ability to focus very deeply at other times, she says.

If you want treatment for ADHD, you can see a psychiatrist, who may recommend a prescription medication. Also, much of the same lifestyle changes that help menopause can also help with ADHD.

Top 5 articles to read during ADHD Awareness month

In honor of ADHD Awareness Month, Healio.com/Psychiatry collected the top five articles about ADHD in children and adults for psychiatrists.

Behavioral intervention, not medication, improves homework performance in ADHD

Homework performance significantly improved among children with ADHD who received behavior treatment focused on homework, while typical ADHD medication had no significant effect on homework performance. Read more

Suicide in young children more common in males, blacks, those with ADD, ADHD

Recent findings on suicide in elementary school-aged children suggest a need for common and developmentally-specific suicide prevention strategies for this age group. Read more

Combination therapy more effective than monotherapy for ADHD

A combination of d-methylphenidate and guanfacine was more effective for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder than either treatment alone, according to recent findings. Read more

Methylphenidate affects dopaminergic system in children, not adults

Recent findings indicated treatment with methylphenidate for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder significantly affected the dopaminergic system in children but not adults. Read more

Childhood ADHD diagnosis does not always precede adult ADHD

Recent findings showed a significant proportion of individuals with late-onset attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder did not meet criteria in childhood, suggesting that a lack of a childhood diagnosis should not preclude late-onset diagnosis in adulthood.

11 Superpowers of Kids with ADHD

So, you’ve been told that you’re easily distracted, impulsive, restless, and even hyperactive? You might have been told you have ADHD, which stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

You are not alone. In fact, 1 in 10 of your classmates might be going through the same experience as you. Of course, ADHD may get in the way of everyday things you want to do such as sitting still, or following through on something, or focusing for long periods… but guess what? There are not only things you can do to work your challenges, there are some awesome superpowers that come with ADHD. Here are 11 of them:

1. You think differently—and that’s valuable!

More and more, the world around us is realizing that old ways of thinking might need to be updated. And how can we start to see things in a new way if we don’t value people who think differently? Your mind is unique, and that makes you a valuable contributing member of society! You might be the one to discover a creative solution that no one else would have thought of.

2. You have boundless energy!

The National Institute of Mental Health says that hyperactivity is a major part of ADHD. The “hyperactive” part of ADHD can actually be a lot of fun. You have plenty of energy to dominate in sports, tackle any task at hand, and explore your surroundings. All this energy makes you ambitious, and energizing to be around – people feed off your energy!

3. Creativity is easy for you.

Your brain is wired a little differently than most, and creative, innovative thinking comes naturally to you. People with ADHD make great artists, scientists, and creative-types, since your brain is naturally interesting and inventive.

4. You have an amazing talent for detail.

You might feel like your mind sometimes works like a pinball—bouncing around from point to point. Sometimes this can feel like a lack of focus, but it also means that your mind is capable of covering many details at once or in a short time. Did you know that ADHD is actually sometimes called an “attention surplus?” This means that you actually do have the ability to focus really well, your focus just looks different than it does in other people.

5. You rock the things you’re passionate about with hyperfocus.

Sometimes it feels like your ADHD just won’t let you focus on something. While this is true, it can sometimes actually help you to have super intense “hyperfocus.” Oftentimes, kids and adults with ADHD have extremely passionate interests. Maybe it’s model trains, maybe it’s computers, maybe it’s playing the guitar—the point is that you are willing to dedicate endless time and energy to working on and perfecting the things you are passionate about.

6. You have serious resilience.

Not only does your mind’s ability to quickly shift from thing to thing give you terrific flexibility and ability to “go with the flow,” and “turn on a dime,” but your talent for quickly shifting gears helps you stay resilient in life. In fact, people with ADHD stay cool in a crisis and are often E.R. doctors or nurses, firefighters, police officers, stock traders, athletes, and even entertainers.

7. You are sensitive to others’ differences.

Do you find that sometimes you have very deep emotional reactions? People with ADHD feel the world around them very deeply. Since you are a little different and get what it’s like to feel this way, you understand when those around you could use a little empathy for their own unique characteristics.

8. You are spontaneous!

“Boring” is not a word that is usually applied to you. With a million ideas a minute, you are not willing to get mired down by routine. Maybe you want to invent a new language, or build a soccer field in your backyard. Chances are, your friends love to spend time with you because you always want to get out there and try new things.

9. You are wiling to take risks!

Doctors and scientists say that “impulsivity” is one indicator of ADHD. And maybe you don’t always think things all the way through. Sometimes grown-ups don’t like this, but it can help you get ahead. Taking risks is necessary for achieving big rewards – after all, you can only accomplish so much while staying in your comfort zone.

10. You are enthusiastic!

Your boundless energy means you’re usually bursting with enthusiasm about the things that excite you. Would you rather go through life feeling super enthusiastic, or bored? We thought so.

11. You have a world-class imagination.

ADHD isn’t all bouncing off the walls. In fact, many kids with ADHD lead rich inner-lives, and are prone to long, deep daydreaming. You can use this imaginative talent to write incredible stories, dream up new inventions, or anything you want! The world is your oyster 🙂

If Your Friends Ever Say They Have ADHD, Just Show Them This.

ADHD is about having broken filters on your perception.

Normal people have a sort of mental secretary that takes the 99% of irrelevant crap that crosses their mind, and simply deletes it before they become consciously aware of it. As such, their mental workspace is like a huge clean whiteboard, ready to hold and organize useful information.

ADHD people… have no such luxury. Every single thing that comes in the front door gets written directly on the whiteboard in bold, underlined red letters, no matter what it is, and no matter what has to be erased in order for it to fit.

As such, if we’re in the middle of some particularly important mental task, and our eye should happen to light upon… a doorknob, for instance, it’s like someone burst into the room, clad in pink feathers and heralded by trumpets, screaming HEY LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S A DOORKNOB! LOOK AT IT! LOOK! IT OPENS THE DOOR IF YOU TURN IT! ISN’T THAT NEAT? I WONDER HOW THAT ACTUALLY WORKS DO YOU SUPPOSE THERE’S A CAM OR WHAT? MAYBE ITS SOME KIND OF SPRING WINCH AFFAIR ALTHOUGH THAT SEEMS KIND OF UNWORKABLE.

It’s like living in a soft rain of post-it notes.

This happens every single waking moment, and we have to manually examine each thought, check for relevance, and try desperately to remember what the thing was we were thinking before it came along, if not. Most often we forget, and if we aren’t caught up in the intricacies of doorknob engineering, we cast wildly about for context, trying to guess what the hell we were up to from the clues available.

On the other hand, we’re extremely good at working out the context of random remarks, as we’re effectively doing that all the time anyway.

We rely heavily on routine, and 90% of the time get by on autopilot. You can’t get distracted from a sufficiently ingrained habit, no matter what useless crap is going on inside your head… unless someone goes and actually disrupts your routine. I’ve actually been distracted out of taking my lunch to work, on several occasions, by my wife reminding me to take my lunch to work. What the? Who? Oh, yeah, will do. Where was I? um… briefcase! Got it. Now keys.. okay, see you honey!

Also, there’s a diminishing-returns thing going on when trying to concentrate on what you might call a non-interactive task. Entering a big block of numbers into a spreadsheet, for instance. Keeping focused on the task takes exponentially more effort each minute, for less and less result. If you’ve ever held a brick out at arm’s length for an extended period, you’ll know the feeling. That’s why the internet, for instance, is like crack to us – it’s a non-stop influx of constantly-new things, so we can flick from one to the next after only seconds. Its better/worse than pistachios.

The exception to this is a thing we get called hyper focus. Occasionally, when something just clicks with us, we can get ridiculously deeply drawn into it, and NOTHING can distract us. We’ve locked our metaphorical office door, and we’re not coming out for anything short of a tornado.

Medication takes the edge off. It reduces the input, it tones down the fluster, it makes it easier to ignore trivial stuff, and it increases the maximum focus-time. Imagine steadicam for your skull. It also happens to make my vision go a little weird and loomy occasionally, and can reduce appetite a bit.

Hope this helps and please do share this so that more people can learn what its really like to have ADHD.

12 Sleep Tips for ADHD

It’s not your imagination. Kids with ADHD have more sleeping problems than their peers, but setting a sleep schedule can help.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, even moderate sleep deprivation — losing less than one hour per night of sleep — can affect the academic performance of children with ADHD. Yet ADHD and the medication used to treat the condition are known to disrupt sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep — and making bedtime a nightmare for parents of kids with ADHD.

In many cases, creating a consistent sleep schedule and environment can help. “For families who have children with ADHD and sleep problems, it’s often a struggle to create some structure around that hour prior to bedtime,” notes Richard Gilman, PhD, director of psychology in the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

“Many of the things that we suggest are minor tweaks to what they already do. We just make it more predictable, more consistent for the child. And the results are well worth it. A lot of the times, parents tell me, ‘If I would have done this years ago, I would have slept better myself.’”

Scheduling Tweaks for Better Sleep

Here’s how to help your child overcome sleeping problems:

  • Buy an egg timer. Using a tangible instrument like an egg timer helps keep your family on track with bedtime schedules.
  • Commit to a set schedule. Make sure that your children go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, including weekends. Allowing children to stay up later on weekend nights and wake up later the next morning just makes their weekdays more difficult, says Gilman. If they are fighting fatigue despite the set schedule, you might need to increase their sleep time. Remember that younger children do need more sleep than older children.
  • Remove sources of stimulation. During the hour you get your kids ready for bed, turn off the TV, music, computers, and video games. Don’t engage in arguments or initiate any rough play. This is an hour that should be very peaceful, says Gilman. That means that parents also need to be peaceful — no arguing with each other or the children.
  • Use a reward system. Allow children to earn tokens, stars, or stickers that can be traded in the next morning for a small reward, such as a favorite breakfast food or being allowed to choose the music on the ride to school. These rewards come when expected actions, like brushing teeth, are completed on time. Rewards may also be earned by staying in bed after lights-out.
  • Keep the house quiet. During the bedtime preparation and once your children are in bed, keep the house quiet and calm. Parents and older children might be up later, says Gilman, but it’s a good idea to keep your voices down and turn down TV and music.
  • Return children calmly to bed. Even with a reward system and a cozy bed, some children will still get up to find you. Return them to bed without indulging in arguing, threatening, lecturing, or any other energizing activity.
  • Allow a full hour to get ready for bed. Once you have your egg timer, you can use it to count down the hour your children need to wind down. Here’s how to break down the hour:
    • First 30 minutes: Set the egg timer for 30 minutes. This period of time is for hygiene — bathing, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas.
    • Next 15 minutes: Set the egg timer for 15 minutes. This period of time is for a relaxing activity, such as reading a book, doing some relaxation exercises, or practicing deep breathing.
    • Final 15 minutes: Set the timer for 15 minutes. This is for getting into bed (and staying there). “In bed, there should be some sort of ritual between the parent and the child,” says Gilman. Consider reading a favorite book, snuggling, praying, identifying good things that happened that day, telling a favorite story, or some other soothing and affectionate activity. Lights go out at the last “ding.”
  • Invest in white noise. A white noise machine is a great way to limit the ability of normal house and family noises to interfere with sleep. As a bonus, turning off the white noise machine in the morning is a helpful way to gently wake up your child.
  • Wake up gently. You need a good plan for waking up ADHD children, says Gilman. The “bugle call” approach can actually set them up for a day-long spiral of ill temper. Instead, try a gentle action, such as opening the blinds or turning off the white noise machine.
  • Build in getting-ready time. ADHD children may need a morning schedule that is just as generous in time and structure as their pre-bed ritual. A chaotic rush to get out the door sets the wrong tone for the day.
  • Monitor naps. Naps can be excellent if they are also structured and time limited, says Gilman, and younger children need them whether or not they have ADHD. Older children, however, can do serious damage to their sleep pattern (and the family schedule) if they are allowed to indulge in a two- or three-hour nap. Opt for a power nap of about 20 to 30 minutes if absolutely necessary.
  • Consider melatonin. This popular supplement does help children sleep. However, Gilman stresses that you should ask your child’s doctor before using it. Many parents give more than a child needs for sleep improvement. Additionally, a doctor can advise on the best time to give the melatonin. It takes some time to work, so providing it right before bed could still leave a period of frustration for everyone.

When Sleeping Problems Go Beyond Setting a Schedule

If you make all these changes and find that your child still isn’t sleeping well, talk to your child’s doctor.

Researchers are finding physiological commonalities between ADHD and some sleep disorders. For example, in ADHD as well as restless leg syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements in sleep, dopamine levels are abnormal. However, even though these conditions share some similarities and even possible genetic links, they have to be treated separately. It is important to take your child’s complaints about going to sleep or staying asleep seriously.

“Children need to be able to describe RLS in their own words for a diagnosis,” says sleep medicine specialist Arthur Walters, MD, associate director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center in Nashville, Tenn., and co-author of the first review of the connection between ADHD and sleep disorders. “They might say their legs hurt or that they have an ‘owie’ or the heebie-jeebies.”

He also notes that the catch-all diagnosis of “growing pains,” which may be given when children complain about ongoing leg discomfort, could be a red flag for a sleep disorder. Other disorders that are linked to ADHD include narcolepsy, sleep apnea, delayed sleep phase syndrome, disorders of partial arousal sleepwalking, and night terrors.

Sleep scheduling is excellent for many ADHD children, says Dr. Walters, “but if the kid stops breathing up to 15 times an hour [as can occur with sleep apnea], all the sleep scheduling in the world won’t help.”

By working with your child and your child’s physician, you should be able to create a sound sleep environment to help your child succeed with ADHD.


What I Want You To Know About My Children With Special Needs

When I look at all the paperwork from doctors and therapists (that I try and keep track of but somehow never really get under control) I can see it’s a lot.

When we have a tough day, when both boys are exhibiting the more difficult signs and symptoms of their diagnoses, I know it’s a lot.

I do my best to explain it, so you know what the heck is happening with my children and their ever-evolving list of medical needs.

But apparently, all the diagnoses up in here are getting a little confusing.
For the record, my oldest son is 13 years old. He is on the autism spectrum, has an anxiety disorder diagnosis and two autoimmune diagnosis – Sjogrens Syndrome and Lupus.


My youngest is 10. He is profoundly dyslexic, has a processing delay and anxiety disorder, and is also in the process of being further evaluated for neurological and/or mood disorders.


Yes, it’s a lot to keep track of.
But it is no where near enough information about these two.
Untitled design (84)
I want you to know they are so freaking smart and funny.
I want you to know my oldest says he loves me now, sometimes, and means it. I wasn’t sure that was possible a few years ago.
I want you to know that no one snuggles better than my youngest, and that he just read me an entire chapter. A year ago he struggled to read the word “the”.
They both love their friends and love seeing them.
I want you to know they are young men – they are people first.
I want you to know that they are loved more than I ever thought possible by a mom that messes up more than I ever thought possible.  I want you to know that by the grace of God, she keeps it together enough to keep going, to make progress, to live life.
I want you to know that my sons see the looks, the disapproval, the judgement. They are old enough now to perceive it, and it hurts.
Untitled design (83)
I want you to know that the basics we take for grated are difficult feats for these kids. Things like showering, sleeping, eating and socializing – they all require more effort than seems fair.
I want you to know that nothing stops my boys. Not physical pain. Not emotional torment. Not the darkness of depression nor the accusation of anxiety. Not overwhelming fatigue or irrational fears.
They are the bravest two people I have ever met, with or without diagnoses.
I just wanted you to know.

Can medical marijuana treat ADD/ADHD and autism?

Today, things are a lot of different.

Filled with the sound of high-tech machines, a pristine growing operation in Tempe is one of many across the country taking the pot plant to new highs.

“It’s been a miracle drug,” said JP Holyoak.

Holyoak is behind the setup along with two medical marijuana dispensaries in the Valley.

The financial advisor by trade says it’s a massive undertaking that began very close to his heart.

“This is very personal for me,” said Holyoak.

His daughter Reese is the reason.

Today, she’s non-stop — getting around is no problem for the 7-year-old.

“Reese was born with a rare neurological disorder and for years was simply non-responsive. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t developing. She wasn’t even making eye contact with us,” describes Holyoak.

He said Reese suffered dozens of seizures every single day.

“It was absolutely miserable. It’s a living hell,” Holyoak said.

Holyoak said she was on a pharmaceutical merry-go-round, trying drug after drug to control the seizures, but nothing worked and the side effects were horrible.

Then Arizona passed the medical marijuana law, and one of the qualifying conditions was seizures, which caught the attention of the conservative Republican.

“Up until this point, I had been anti-marijuana. I was simply a desperate parent,” describes Holyoak.

Holyoak said Reese went from seizures day and night to just one, every few months. It was a game changer.

“Because we were able to essentially stop those seizures, she’s able to start developing. She started smiling. She started looking at us. She started to crawl,” describes Holyoak.

At her latest checkup at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Holyoak said 23 separate doctors came into Reese’s room to see her because they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. They said a child with Aicardi Syndrome shouldn’t be doing any of the things Reese was doing.

The little girl who was bound to a wheelchair was now free. The marijuana he says was working.

“The single and sole difference between a child that’s non-responsive, unable to feed herself and is in a wheelchair, and the bright, vibrant, loving and beautiful girl we have today is marijuana. That’s the only difference,” said Holyoak.

Reese takes an oil Holyoak’s dubbed, “Reese’s Peace.”

It’s made mostly with CBD, one of dozens of cannabinoids in marijuana.

CBD is a non-psychoactive part of the plant known for its medicinal qualities, unlike the well-known and prevalent THC which causes the high.

Not only has CBD helped Reese, Holyoak says it’s benefiting countless other Arizona families as well.

There are 103,122  medical marijuana cardholders in Arizona, 191 are minors.

Holyoak shared the story of another young patient. A 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy whose dad became emotional after seeing a major difference in his son.

“The dad called me with tears. He said for the first time, his son walked to the door and gave him a hug. It’s the first time he’d ever done that,” described Holyoak.

And now, more parents are turning to CBD for help.

Some of them, for “non-qualifying conditions” like ADD and Autism — something Holyoak doesn’t encourage, but understands.

“The standard treatment today for ADHD are drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, which are essentially methamphetamine. There needs to be more research on it,” said Holyoak. “If this could be an alternative treatment to many of those other extremely harmful drugs, what a blessing that would be for all of us.”

More marijuana research is key.

The current U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, agrees, as do many high-ranking officials.

Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz from the University of Arizona is on the verge of that research.

“Cannabis is a source of potential medical breakthroughs. It could be a source of medical busts, but until we investigate, we don’t know,” said Dr. Lifshitz.

Dr. Lifshitz is an Associate Professor at the U of A’s College of Medicine. He’s also a research scientist at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Voters may have passed a law to allow marijuana to be used as medicine in Arizona, but Dr. Lifshitz says, under federal law, cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, and by that definition has no medical benefit.

“It’s not because no one has proven there’s no medical benefit, it’s that very few people, if any, have done research to determine what the medical benefit might be,” explained Lifshitz.

Dr. Lifshitz says getting the approval and licensing and funding to do research on a Schedule 1 drug is extraordinarily difficult. He describes the process as “a catch 22.”

In the meantime, he’s not surprised that some parents are taking matters into their own hands, giving CBD oils to kids for “off-label” or unauthorized uses.

“With the information age and the amount of information at our fingertips, both through somewhat verified sources like Web MD and even unverified sources like Facebook pages, there’s a lot of medical information and misinformation out there,” said Lifshitz.

He says right now mostly case studies and professional opinion show marijuana can be beneficial under certain circumstances.

Actual research would provide verified data so decisions can come from an informed position.

“What we really need to do from a scientific standpoint is understand which components of the plant, meaning which cannabinoids that make up that cannabis plant, are having beneficial effects, which are having no effects and which may have negative effects,” explained Lifshitz.

He says heart-warming stories like Reese’s motivate him as a scientist.

Right now, though, it’s not clear how her case might compare to others.

“The question at hand is, will all children like Reese respond to it, or only children exactly like Reese respond to the same treatments,” said Lifshitz.

As Reese’s life has changed for the better, Holyoak has since become a crusader of sorts.

He’s the face of the campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol and was recently touted one of the Valley’s “Maestros of Medicine” by Onthespot247 Magazine

“When I look at my daughter, when I look at other children like her, and I look at the adults that this is helping as well, it’s worth it. It’s always worth it and I’ll never stop doing it,” said David Mervacy.


7 Facts You Need To Know About ADHD

  • ADHD is Real

    Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States long ago concluded that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a real, brain-based medical disorder. These organizations also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment.

  • ADHD is a Common, Non-Discriminatory Disorder

    ADHD is a non-discriminatory disorder affecting people of every age, gender, IQ, religious and socio-economic background.

    In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of children in the United States who have ever been diagnosed with ADHD is now 9.5%.

  • Boys are diagnosed two to three times as often as girls.Among adults, the Harvard/NIMH National Comorbidity Survey Replication found 4.4% percent of adults, ages 18-44 in the United States, experience symptoms and some disability.

    ADHD, AD/HD, and ADD all refer to the same disorder. The only difference is that some people have hyperactivity and some people don’t.

  • Diagnosing ADHD is a Complex Process

    In order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be considered, the person must exhibit a large number of symptoms, demonstrate significant problems with daily life in several major life areas (work, school, or friends), and have had the symptoms for a minimum of six months.

    To complicate the diagnostic process, many of the symptoms look like extreme forms of normal behavior. Additionally, a number of other conditions resemble ADHD. Therefore, other possible causes of the symptoms must be taken into consideration before reaching a diagnosis of ADHD.

    What makes ADHD different from other conditions is that the symptoms are excessive, pervasive, and persistent. That is, behaviors are more extreme, show up in multiple settings, and continue showing up throughout life.

    No single test will confirm that a person has ADHD. Instead, diagnosticians rely on a variety of tools, the most important of which is information about the person and his or her behavior and environment. If the person meets all of the criteria for ADHD [10,11], he or she will be diagnosed with the disorder.

  • Other Mental Health Conditions Often Occur Along With ADHD

    • Up to 30% of children and 25-40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder.
    • Experts claim that up to 70% of those with ADHD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives.
    • Sleep disorders affect people with ADHD two to three times as often as those without it.
  • ADHD is Not Benign

    ADHD is not benign.[15] Particularly when the ADHD is undiagnosed and untreated, ADHD contributes to:

    • Problems succeeding in school and successfully graduating.
    • Problems at work, lost productivity, and reduced earning power.
    • Problems with relationships.
    • More driving citations and accidents.
    • Problems with overeating and obesity.
    • Problems with the law.

    According to Dr. Joseph Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, ADHD may be one of the costliest medical conditions in the United States: “Evaluating, diagnosing and treating this condition may not only improve the quality of life, but may save billions of dollars every year.”

  • ADHD is Nobody’s FAULT

    ADHD is NOT caused by moral failure, poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. Instead, research shows that ADHD is both highly genetic (with the majority of ADHD cases having a genetic component), and a brain-based disorder (with the symptoms of ADHD linked to many specific brain areas).

    The factors that appear to increase a child’s likelihood of having the disorder include gender, family history, prenatal risks, environmental toxins, and physical differences in the brain.

  • ADHD Treatment is Multi-Faceted

    Currently, available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, education or training, and educational support. Usually a person with ADHD receives a combination of treatments