NAVIGATION- Dr. Charles R. Davenport; Licensed Psychologist

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ADHD: Children must Squirm to Learn!

In his experience working with young students, adolescents, and adults who have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Dr. Charles R. Davenport has found that allowing physical movement makes it easier to learn and pay attention.

Recent research from the University of Central Florida found that leg swinging, foot tapping, and chair schooling movements of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is actually critical for ADHD kids to learn. “The typical interventions target reducing hyperactivity. It’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing for a majority of children with ADHD,” Mark Rapport, one of the study authors, said in a statement. “The message isn’t ‘Let them run around the room,’ but you need to be able to facilitate their movement so they can maintain the level of alertness necessary for cognitive activities.”

In a classroom setting excessive movement can be seen as interfering with other students ability to learn, students willful disobedience, or proof of insufficient attention. When the students are told to “stop moving and pay attention” they likely have bad feelings about being called out as well as intensifying feelings of discomfort in trying to sit still which can be a monumental task for students with ADHD.

Sometimes the solution is not to work harder but to work smarter where we can use our understanding of our strengths and weaknesses to thrive. People with ADHD are never going to feel comfortable sitting perfectly still, at least not without stimulant medication. This is not necessarily a bad thing that can transition into not only a problematic situation academically but can also have significant emotional fallout.

please contact Dr. Charles R Davenport if you or someone you know struggles with ADHD or ADD.


Students: How much homework is too much?

It is the bane of many students (and at times their parents and teachers) school lives… homework. Students can feel overwhelmed, anxious, sad and avoid school work at all costs. Que the parents, who frequently want their child to be successful in school, to remind, remind again, and resort to punishment or restriction to try to entice school work to be completed. This does not even touch on the added time and energy needed to study for tests and complete extracurricular activities.

So, how much homework is helpful? Recent research published by the American Psychological Association (APA) and discussed in a press release finds that more than 70 minutes is too much for adolescents. The full journal article, Adolescents’ Homework Performance in Mathematics and Science: Personal Factors and Teaching Practices,  is available here.

The study on adolescents and homework found that of significant importance is that the homework be “systematic and regular with a focus on instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self regulated learning” according to Javier Suarez-Alvarez, graduate student, co-lead author with Ruben Fernandez-Alonso, PhD, and Professor Jose Muniz at the University of Oviedo in Spain.

When the focus in on work volume students were not found to perform as well. Once teachers assigned 90-100 minutes of homework per day this study found that performance significantly decline in math and science.

Helping students to feel confident in having  the skills to take on challenges is likely to aid in their  autonomous functioning. This study found that autonomous learners scored better than students who needed help.  Suarez-Alvarez suggested that self-regulated learning is strongly connected to academic performance and success. Self regulation and sparking the interest within a student is something Dr. Davenport finds is very helpful to foster in most all students. Finding the drive and regulation from within can be so powerful in helping students thrive and avoid academic apathy, anxiety and depression.


ADHD Experts Re-evaluate Study’s Zeal for Drug

Interesting and relevant article published last year about ADHD. Dr. Davenport is a Licensed Psychologist at Charles R. Davenport, Psy.D., LLC.. He works with adults and children who struggle with symptoms of ADHD and ADD to use their straights to build skills to better work with ADHD.

Many times Gifted students can have symptoms of ADHD that are a normal consequence of a curious and bright mind. Understanding how to use strengths  to work around these characteristics can be helpful to thrive. Many times these gifted students will respond to stimulants but this is not always the best approach.

The *New York Times* includes an article: “A.D.H.D. Experts Re-evaluate Study’s Zeal for Drugs” by Alan Scharz.


Here are some excerpts:


[begin excerpts]


Twenty years ago, more than a dozen leaders in child psychiatry received $11 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to study an important question facing families with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) : Is the best long-term treatment medication, behavioral therapy or both?


The widely publicized result was not only that medication like Ritalin or Adderall trounced behavioral therapy, but also that combining the two did little beyond what medication could do alone.


The finding has become a pillar of pharmaceutical companies’ campaigns to market A.D.H.D. drugs, and is used by insurance companies and school systems to argue against therapies that are usually more expensive than pills.


But in retrospect, even some authors of the study — widely considered the most influential study ever on A.D.H.D. — worry that the results oversold the benefits of drugs, discouraging important home- and school-focused therapy and ultimately distorting the debate over the most effective (and cost-effective) treatments.


The study was structured to emphasize the reduction of impulsivity and inattention symptoms, for which medication is designed to deliver quick results, several of the researchers said in recent interviews.


Less emphasis was placed on improving children’s longer-term academic and social skills, which behavioral therapy addresses by teaching children, parents and teachers to create less distracting and more organized learning environments.


Recent papers have also cast doubt on whether medication’s benefits last as long as those from therapy.


“There was lost opportunity to give kids the advantage of both and develop more resources in schools to support the child — that value was dismissed,”

said Dr. Gene Arnold, a child psychiatrist and professor at Ohio State University and one of the principal researchers on the study, known as the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With A.D.H.D.


Another co-author, Dr. Lily Hechtman of McGill University in Montreal, added: “I hope it didn’t do irreparable damage. The people who pay the price in the end is the kids. That’s the biggest tragedy in all of this.”


A.D.H.D. narrowly trails asthma as the most frequent long-term medical diagnosis in children.


More than 1 in 7 children in the United States receive a diagnosis of the disorder by the time they turn 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.




Comprehensive behavioral (also called psychosocial) therapy is used far less often [than meds] to treat children with the disorder largely because it is more time-consuming and expensive.


Cost-conscious schools have few aides to help teachers assist the expanding population of children with the diagnosis, which in some communities reaches 20 percent of students.


Many insurance plans inadequately cover private or group therapy for families, which can cost $1,000 a year or more.


“Medication helps a person be receptive to learning new skills and

behaviors,” said Ruth Hughes, a psychologist and the chief executive of the advocacy group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. “But those skills and behaviors don’t magically appear. They have to be taught.”




In what became a simple horse race, medication was ushered into the winner’s circle.


“Behavioral therapy alone is not as effective as drugs,” ABC’s “World News Now” reported.


One medical publication said, “Psychosocial interventions of no benefit even when used with medication.”


Looking back, some study researchers say several factors in the study’s design and presentation to the public disguised the performance of psychosocial therapy, which has allowed many doctors, drug companies and schools to discourage its use.


First, the fact that many of the 19 categories measured classic symptoms like forgetfulness and fidgeting — over academic achievement and family and peer interactions — hampered therapy’s performance from the start, several of the study’s co-authors said.


A subsequent paper by one of those, Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, showed that using only one all-inclusive measurement — “treating the child as a whole,” he said —  revealed that combination therapy was significantly better than medication alone.


Behavioral therapy emerged as a viable alternative to medication as well.

But his paper has received little attention.


“When you asked families what they really liked, they liked combined treatment,” said Dr. Peter Jensen, who oversaw the study on behalf of the mental health institute.


“They didn’t not like medicine, but they valued skill training. What doctors think are the best outcomes and what families think are the best outcomes aren’t always the same thing.”


Just as new products like Concerta and extended-release Adderall were entering the market, a 2001 paper by several of the study’s researchers gave pharmaceutical companies tailor-made marketing material.


For the first time, the researchers released data showing just how often each approach had moderated A.D.H.D. symptoms: Combination therapy did so in 68 percent of children, followed by medication alone (56 percent) and behavioral therapy alone (34 percent).


Although combination therapy won by 12 percentage points, the paper’s authors described that as “small by conventional standards” and largely driven by medication.


Drug companies ever since have reprinted that scorecard and interpretation in dozens of marketing materials and PowerPoint presentations.


They became the lesson in doctor-education classes worldwide.


“The only thing we heard was the first finding — that medication is the answer,” said Laura Batstra, a psychologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.


Using an additional $10 million in government support to follow the children in the study until young adulthood, researchers have seen some of their original conclusions muddied further.




Most recently, a paper from the study said flatly that using any treatment “does not predict functioning six to eight years later,” leaving the study’s original question — which treatment does the most good long-term? —  largely unanswered.


“My belief based on the science is that symptom reduction is a good thing,but adding skill-building is a better thing,” said Stephen Hinshaw, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the study researchers.


“If you don’t provide skills-based training, you’re doing the kid a disservice. I wish we had had a fairer test.”


[end excerpts]


Treating and assessing learning disabled students

It is extremely important that therapists be aware of the biases affecting their thinking and judgment. In a clinical setting therapists frequently draw conclusions biased on heuristics derived from initial impressions of their clients. These impressions can range from assumptions of intellectual competence to social aptitude. However, these conclusions, frequently, do not accurately represent reality. If the clinician incorporates statistical reasoning with their impressions they are far more accurate in representing the clients actual traits.  Frequently, Learning Disabled (LD) clients are referred to therapists after having being labeled LD. In many of these cases the LD client is at a disadvantage being that the therapist may have preconceived notions as to the traits of LD individuals. Where in actuality these traits vary greatly from one LD individual to another.

Unfortunately, the initial conceptualization the therapist constructs is difficult to change in the face of opposing information or collected data. This may be a result of pride, the anchoring, or labeling phenomenon. If the therapist reads a new LD clients file without having prior knowledge regarding the variability within this diverse population they may form several false pretenses biased on stereotypical knowledge.

Another dynamic, which may distort the therapists’ interpretation of a LD client, is the influence of the confirmatory bias. The therapist who believes their LD client is intellectually deficient or less capable than other individuals may look for and be more open to observations that confirm these beliefs. Which, again, is a disservice to the client.

The therapist, being in a position of extreme power, has a responsibility to be aware of these elements of impression formation. They should also be in tune with their emotional responses to clients and assess the origin of these thoughts and emotions. It is helpful for therapists who are working with a new sector of the population to consult with an expert in the particular area in order to minimize inaccurate conceptualizations of their clients.

Therapists tend to overlook alternatives to their initial assessment of a client. In the case of the LD client, there are several characteristics which are shared with and frequently misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These behaviors are elevated distractibility and in some cases hyperactive behavior. Therapists should be mindful of possibly delaying and/or making less automatic judgments when assessing these clients regardless of past diagnoses. When suspecting an ADD or ADHD diagnosis it may be beneficial for the therapist to consider alternate diagnoses such as LD if evidence supports such a diagnosis.

Closely tied with delaying diagnosis and considering alternative diagnosis is the therapists’ ability accept the possibility of personal fallibility. Frequently, the therapist perceives himself or herself, and wants to be perceived as, an expert. Therefore, therapists tend to rule-out personal fallibility in all aspects of the therapeutic process. We know this is not an adaptive trait such therapists surely would not recommend this behavior to their clients. Yet, they are frequently unaware of this aspect which distorts their judgment.

In other words, the therapist should be aware of the origins of their thoughts, behaviors, and preconceived notions. They should be mindful of the unconscious heuristics and elements of ego support, acting on, and possibly distorting their judgment and assessment. This seems especially relevant when working with a population such as LD clients who have a host of social and clinical stereotypes. These stereotypes frequently depict their abilities and traits inaccurately and tend to conglomerate unique individuals inaccurately.


What’s in a diagnosis? Is it even helpful?

The current diagnostic system  has created sharp distinctions between those who are “ill” and those who are not. Labeling people in this way not only affects how society “mental health” but may also interfere with our accurate understanding of what is really occurring and what will be helpful for these people.

This article reports that in 2013 the national Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) director announced that psychiatric science had “failed to find unique biological met mechanisms associated with specific diagnoses.” As a result, the institute moved away from diagnosis driven research and instead looked at common underpinnings such as fear rather than anxiety. the move away from pathology allows the chance for questioning why we may be feeling the way we are. a document released by the British Psychological Society, “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia” was referenced in which the authors described hearing voices and feeling paranoid is common experiences which are often the reaction to trauma, abuse, or deprivation. The document suggests that there may be both advantages and disadvantages to the symptoms. I believe this likely is the case with most things that are currently seen as “mental illness.”

Check out this interesting article for more information.

Have you been diagnosed with ADHD? Might be your drinks…

Many children, adolescents, students, and increasingly adult are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD / ADD). A recent study suggests symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity are the result of frequent consumption of sweet and/or caffeinated beverages. These types of beverages are very popular among those who are most frequently diagnosed with is likely many people who showed increase in hyperactivity and inattention as a result of consuming energy drinks would also see a reduction in the symptoms if they took stimulants such as Adderall. This does not mean that Adderall would be the best approach to reduce the symptoms; however, it might seem like the easiest to some.

This research  lends further support to the importance of looking at all aspects of an individual before diagnosing ADHD. Individual needs to be sleeping well, eating well, coping with emotions and having positive social relationships to fairly attribute symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity to a diagnosis such as ADHD or ADD.

Posted By:
Dr. Charles R. Davenport
Licensed Psychologist
Charles R. Davenport, Psy.D. LLC.

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