Musical Intelligence “Music Smarts”


Musical Intelligence is associated with pattern, sound, and sensitivity to beat and rhythm.

People talented in this area are sensitive to sound’s quality, pitch, strength and source. They have a good feel for the structure of music and for creating melody. Being “music smart” doesn’t mean a person talented in music can sing well. Someone can have a great musical talent and still sing off key. He or she will just notice it right away.

Of all the forms of intelligence, the effect of music on the brain is the greatest for altering the way a person feels. It can express joy and loss, inspire national loyalty as well as religious beliefs.

Parents can influence their children’s “music smarts” by using the following eleven home activities (not in order of importance), developed by Connie Hine and Margaret Lewis Crosby, experts in child development.

  1. While cooking and baking, listen to music. Notice the additional sounds of chopping, spoons clanging, and doors opening.
  2. When cleaning a room, make up a clean-up song with each task being a different verse.
  3. While reading a story, play background music. Make up sounds to go with the words in a story.
  4. At bedtime, sing lullabies together. Play relaxing music. Invent a get ready for bed song.
  5. When grocery shopping, sing the list. Sing a song about the items in the shopping cart. Listen and sing along with the music played in the store.
  6. During family game time, play Name That Tune (listen to part of a song and compete – who can guess the song’s title first). Talk about your favorite kind of music and say why it is a favorite.
  7. While traveling, make up a song about the trip, adding verses everyday about traveling activities. If possible, record the song as you travel. Listen to music in the car.
  8. During homework, experiment with different background music for studying. Make up songs or raps to help memorize facts.
  9. For the news, retell the story using sounds to enhance it.
  10. For family, talk about everyone’s favorite musical artist. Sing a song that describes each family member.
  11. To get out of the house on time, give ten and five minute warning sounds. Use music with a steady beat to keep the pace.



Adults who have strong musical intelligences may find success as: advertiser, performance musician, composer, music critic, music teacher, sound engineer, film-maker, musical theater actor, in television or other media.

To spark this intelligence in adults:

  • Use music to change your mood. For example, play relaxing music before an anxiety-producing activity.
  • Express an idea in song. Use a known song and add lyrics about the family.
  • Hum to create different vibrations in your head using varying volumes and sounds.
  • Play music that includes sounds from nature, like those of water, wind, and animal.


Next week there will be a performance by Sock Puppet Tim. Here’s the link Come and cheer him on! Let Tim know how he’s doing in the comment section of You Tube.


Join me the following week for the next installment of Multiple Intelligences, a closer look at Visual/Spatial Intelligence; how to help strengthen it in children and spark it in adults.

Sock Puppet Tim Speaks About Sharing


Tim, why do kids have trouble sharing toys?
• Well, toys are very important to kids.
• What if someone said you had to share your car and didn’t say when the car would be back? How does that make you feel?
I don’t think I’d like to share my car unless it was very important. Good point Tim.
Parents and kids all need to learn how to share. What can parents, teachers, and babysitters do to help kids have an easier time sharing?
• Adult could say, “It’s your friend’s turn to play with the toy in five minutes.”
• It’s easier to give the toy to someone else when you know you have more time.
Tim, what do you do when someone really can’t let go of a toy? Should you take the toy away and give it to another person?
• Oh, that’s a bad idea. That will only make the child sad and maybe cry.
• It teaches the kids it is okay to do what you want if you are bigger and stronger. I think this might be how bullying starts. Kids learn how to bully. They are not born that way.
• Adult could say, “Here is a different toy. See if your friend will trade.” That works for me! One time I really wanted my friend’s cool red car. It was really fast. She wouldn’t give it to me. Tim was sad.
What did you do Tim?
• Well, I had a purple and blue car. I showed it to her and asked if we could trade. She said yes. Made Tim happy!
Wow, Tim, you know your stuff. How did you get so smart?
• Well, I may just be a sock puppet, but I pay attention. Sharing is in Ellen’s book. See, this one here. Good stuff in here.
• Gotta go.
• If anyone has questions for Tim, go to Find me there and ask me questions. I answer. Ellen types. I have no hands or feet!! Typing with nose hurts too much.
• Bye Bye.
• I love YouTube!

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence “Logic Smarts”

maath smarts

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence is associated with scientific thinking.

People talented in this area are good at finding patterns, seeing connections between different pieces of information, and solving problems.

Logical/Mathematical talent is sparked by comparing and contrasting items, solving mysteries, and by taking things apart and putting them back together.

Parents can influence their children’s “logic smarts” by using the following home activities, developed by Connie Hine and Margaret Lewis Crosby, experts in child development.

  • While cooking and baking, plan how you will make the recipe, explain each step and why you are doing it, prepare the ingredients, and cook.
  • When cleaning a room, decide what is to be done in order of importance and plan the steps. Have a checklist to track each step. Have a place for everything.
  • While reading a story, note characters’ behavior patterns and see how the behaviors affect the story. Ask your child why events happened in the story. (awesome for language arts)
  • At bedtime, look over a chore chart or checklist with your child to remind him of all tasks and the order of steps to go to bed.
  • When grocery shopping, plan the trip through the store. Change or add to the list as needed. Tell a story about all the steps to get to the store. Ask your child to remember what’s on the list.
  • During family game time, play logical thinking games like: Clue ®, Jeopardy ®, or jigsaw puzzles.
  • While traveling, play category games; find differences and similarities. Describe an unseen object and its possible uses. Create different rules for the license plate game or when looking for items or signs of different colors and shapes.
  • During homework, create a good-homework rules list. Have your child evaluate herself when she is finished. List all the tasks and have her decide the order.
  • For the news, choose a problem based on the news. Brainstorm possible solutions. Pick the best one.
  • For family, describe how everyone gets up in the morning. Say what each eats for breakfast. Who is funniest, grumpiest, sleepiest, etc.?
  • To get out of the house on time, make a timeline of the steps to take before leaving. How many minutes does it take for teenage Margaret to get ready, etc. Include why you have to leave.



Adults who have strong logical/mathematical intelligences may find success as: auditor, accountant, mathematician, scientist, statistician, computer analyst, technician.

To spark this intelligence in adults:

  • Create a four-point outline of your hobby. Each point will have four sub-points, with each sub-point having four more sub-points.
  • Practice comparing and contrasting two items; for instance, five characteristics of a flashlight, five characteristics of an egg carton, and five characteristics the two objects have in common.
  • Create a convincing explanation of something totally crazy, like the benefits of an edible window.
  • Participate in a project, like cooking, using the scientific method. If you seldom cook, try making brownies from scratch following a recipe.


Next week will be Sock Puppet Tim’s second solo performance. Here’s the link Come and cheer him on! Let Tim know how he’s doing in the comment section of You Tube.


Join me the following week for the next installment of Multiple Intelligences, a closer look at Musical Intelligence and how to help strengthen it in children.

Sock Puppet Tim Speaks About Restaurant Behavior

The link to Tim’s video is


Questions for Tim about restaurant behavior

Tim, why do children misbehave in restaurants?

  • Boredom, hunger, not able to stay in one place too long

Tim, why do children have such a hard time staying in their seats in restaurants?

  • Tail bones not full developed so it’s not comfortable to stay in one place without moving
  • Moving makes it easier for children to concentrate

Tim, what can parents do to make it easier for the children to behave well in restaurants?

  • Show children what good behavior looks like so children know how to behave
  • Bring crayons, paper, coloring books, something to read, crackers or dry cereal to eat until food arrives
    • No markers, especially the smelly ones. Sometimes kids color their noses when smelling them – what a mess!

Tim, should children go to all types of restaurants?

  • Parents can bring children to any restaurant they feel comfortable with at a very young age. Children will watch how parents act. They see and hear everything. They say what parents say. If parents are nice to waiters, kids will be nice too. If parents are respectful, kids will learn to be respectful from parents.
  • Pay attention to the children and have conversations in the restaurants. It can be good family time. That makes the children feel important and they will behave well. Sometimes kids run around in restaurants because they are looking for attention, any kind—good or bad. Catch them being good!
  • Keep the rules the same for all restaurants so children know what parents expect. Children’s behavior will rise to their parents’ expectations.

Wow, Tim, you know your stuff. How did you get so smart?

  • Well, I may just be a sock puppet, but I pay attention. Behavior in restaurants is in Ellen’s book. See, this one here. Good stuff in here.
  • Gotta go.
  • If anyone has questions for Tim, go to Find me there and ask me questions. I answer. Ellen types. I have no hands or feet!! Typing with nose hurts too much.
  • Bye Bye.
  • I love YouTube!

Linguistic/Verbal Intelligence “Word Smarts”

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Linguistic intelligence relates to the ability to use words and language.

People talented in this area are good at convincing other people to do what they want them to do. They may use humor to diffuse situations and get their point across. They tend to understand and tell jokes well.

Linguistic intelligence is sparked by the spoken word; by reading other’s written thoughts; and by writing one’s own ideas.

Parents can influence their children’s “words smarts” by using the following home activities, developed by Connie Hine and Margaret Lewis Crosby, experts in child development.

  • While cooking and baking, tell a story about another time you made this recipe.
  • When picking up a room, create a story to tell the child while cleaning. “Broadcast” what the child is doing or have the child be the announcer.
  • While reading a story, explain the meaning of new words. Read poetry, magazines, and stories.
  • At bedtime, have the child tell a story about his day. Read to each other.
  • When grocery shopping, point out words on signs, shelves, boxes, and bottles. Do a play-by-play of the whole trip.
  • During family game time, play word games like Scrabble ®, Boggle®, crossword puzzles, hangman.
  • While traveling, make up words for people, places, and things. Create a mystery story about the places visited and the people you met. Look for letters on license plates. Listen to audio books.
  • During homework, have the child talk through the problems assigned, and verbalize her thoughts before writing.
  • For the news, read the newspaper and magazines. Talk about what was read.
  • For family, make up or have the child invent a story about each family member.
  • To get out of the house on time, create a verbal routine using cue words with time periods built in. Have the child tell a story of what could happen if you don’t get out on time. The story does not have to be serious. Humor can still get the point across.

Adults who have strong linguistic intelligences may find success in: public speaking, poetry, journalism, comedy, play writing, newscasting, story-telling, law, and teaching.

To spark this intelligence in adults:

  • Read a story you like and write your own next chapter—“Then what happens?”
  • Listen to someone else’s ideas then ask her questions about the topic.
  • Learn the meaning of one new word each day and use that word.
  • Make a speech on a topic of great interest to you.
  • Keep a journal or blog to write your thoughts about the day’s events.




Next week will be Sock Puppet Tim’s first solo performance. The YouTube link will be on the blog page of my website. Come and cheer him on!

Join me the following week for the next installment of Multiple Intelligences, a closer look at Logical/Mathematical Intelligence and how to strengthen it in children.

Multiple Intelligences



Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University developed a theory of multiple intelligences.

There are nine:

  • Linguistic
  • Logical-Mathematical
  • Spatial
  • Body-Kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalistic
  • Existential

Although every person’s brain has the same basic structure; we are born prewired, genetically speaking, to have different abilities. Experiences in life contribute to the brain’s development. No one has merely one type of intelligence. Unless highly disabled, all people are capable of developing several intelligences.

Multiple Intelligences Quiz


When taking this quiz and checking your strong intelligences, note how you use them in poetry, prose, and everyday life. The types of strong intelligences we employ affect how we approach life. For example, writers tend to develop characters using their personal strong intelligences. It’s helpful to remember that we need to consider all intelligences.

Note: Existential Intelligence—the sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why we die, and how did we get here—is not included in the questions. The quiz is short and is only a snapshot of the possible. More can be found in the references.


  1. When I drive down the expressway, I pay more attention to the words written on billboards than necessary.
  2. My mind searches for patterns, regularities, or logical sequences in things.
  3. I like to doodle or draw.
  4. I find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time.
  5. My life would be poorer if there were no music in it.
  6. When I meet new people, I often make connections between their characteristics and those of other acquaintances.
  7. I have a special hobby or interest that I keep pretty much to myself.
  8. I enjoy trips to botanical gardens.
  9. I note other people’s errors in using words or grammar, even if I don’t correct them.
  10. I enjoy playing games that require logical thinking.
  11. I can generally find my way around an unfamiliar area.
  12. My best ideas come to me when I’m walking or engaging in some physical activity.
  13. I tend to sing little melodies or make tapping sounds while working or studying.
  14. People tend to come to me for advice.
  15. I feel I have a keen sense of what I can and cannot do.
  16. Given the choice, I prefer to work outside rather than indoors.
  17. My conversations include frequent references to things that I have read or heard.
  18. I believe that almost everything has a rational explanation.
  19. Geometry was easier for me than algebra in school.
  20. I frequently use hand gestures when conversing with someone.
  21. I can tell when a musical note is off key.
  22. I enjoy group games like Pictionary more than playing a video game by myself.
  23. I keep a diary or journal to record the events of my inner life.
  24. The weather page in the newspaper and/or the weather channel is important to me. Sometimes I like to outguess the weather forecasters.

Linguistic (1,9,17)       Logical-Mathematical (2,10,18)           Spatial   (3,11,19)

Body-Kinesthetic (4,12,20)       Musical (5,13,21)     Interpersonal (6,14,22)

Intrapersonal (7,15,23)     Naturalistic (8,16,24)

If all three of any of the following trios applies to you, you probably are strong in that intelligence, even if you haven’t cultivated it.


Hide not your talents

for use they were made.

What’s a sundial in the shade?


– Ben Franklin


The following list states what one knows almost intuitively and enjoys, as well as how to increase each type of intelligence.

Linguistic Intelligence

  • uses words effectively orally and/or written
  • loves books, telling stories, playing word games
  • help strengthen through: stories in-the-round, reading, brainstorming


Logical –Mathematical Intelligence

  • uses numbers effectively and reasons well
  • loves patterns, questioning, experimenting
  • help strengthen through: comparisons, categorizing, what do you think questions


Spatial Intelligence

  • accurately perceives and transforms the visual-spacial world
  • loves designing, doodling, visualizing
  • help strengthen through: guided imagery, the game Pictionary, draw pictures while giving an explanation, classify by color or type


Body – Kinesthetic Intelligence

  • uses entire body to express feelings and ideas, skilled with one’s hands
  • loves dancing, building , touching, running
  • help strengthen through: acting out stories, charades, clay or dough sculptures


Musical Intelligence

  • perceives, discriminates, transforms, and expresses musical forms (intuitive or technical)
  • loves moving to music, singing, humming, tapping
  • help strengthen through: chants, songs, music for mood (ocean sounds during or before reading about the sea), finding emotion in music, listening for instruments, background music


Interpersonal Intelligence

  • exhibits sensitivity to the moods of others, built-in tact
  • loves parties, relating to people, organizing, leading
  • help strengthen through: board games, acting, group stories


Intrapersonal Intelligence

  • knows the self and is able to act adaptively, accurate idea of one’s strengths and limitations
  • loves dreaming, planning, meditating, quiet time
  • help strengthen through: choice of activity, quiet thinking time, thinking music, sharing stories


Naturalistic Intelligence

  • has well-developed skills in observation, collecting ordering, and categorizing objects and information
  • loves nature walks, natural history museums, playing in the dirt
  • help strengthen through: camping, trips to the park, the zoo, botanical gardens, study nature using magnifiers or binoculars




Join me for the next installment of Multiple Intelligences, a closer look at Linguistic Intelligence and how to strengthen it in children.

Diet and ADHD/ADD


Diet does not cause ADHD or ADD, but it does affect the symptoms.


Protein has a minimal effect on blood sugar, so a breakfast which includes protein is a positive way to start the day.

Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — can have beneficial effects on ADD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein is good wake-up food the brain food.


The body needs carbohydrates to function properly, but not all carbs are created equal.

Simple carbohydrates such as enriched flour, found in refined breads, pastas, and sugary foods, provide calories but few nutrients.

Complex carbohydrate sources, like whole-grain breads, starchy vegetables and beans, provide fiber as well as vitamins and minerals.

Healthy carb sources are high in fiber, so reading the fiber content on the Nutrition Facts label is an easy way to identify them. A high-fiber food contains at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Foods that provide between 2.5 and 4.9 grams per serving are considered good fiber sources (

Minerals and Vitamins

  • Zinc – low levels correlate with trouble paying attention.
  • Iron – low iron levels correlate with difficulty in thinking.
  • Magnesium – low levels correlate with trouble paying attention and concentrating.
  • B Vitamins – may improve some IQ scores, and reduce aggression and anti-social behavior.
  • Mutlivitamins/Multiminerals – may be needed if your child is a picky eater and/or eats a lot of take-out food. Use the type without artificial colors and flavors as these increase hyperactivity in some people with ADHD.
  • Fish oil – people who have low levels of omega-3s may show improvement in focus and thinking after taking fish oil. A new study, conducted at Göteborg University, in Sweden, concluded that daily doses of omega-3s found in cold-water, fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, and salmon, reduced ADHD symptoms by 50 percent (

Foods to Avoid

Although many foods eventually become sugar within the body (glucose provides energy for the brain) the main problem is with added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods.

Sugar, linked to obesity, diabetes, and cavities, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The blood sugar spikes, which leads to higher adrenaline levels with symptoms similar to those associated with hyperactivity. Sugar does not cause ADHD, it mimics some of the symptoms.

Eating a large amount of sugar for breakfast will result in poor attention span.

Although sodas are a main culprit, fruit juices are also high in sugar. It’s better to eat an orange than drink a glass of orange juice. Fructose, fruit sugar, increases fat in the abdominal area which is dangerous and difficult to lose.

The preservative sodium benzoate, artificial colors and artificial flavors may contribute to hyperactive behavior, even for those who do not have ADHD/ADD.


Foods That May Cause Allergies

According to studies, gluten, wheat, corn, and soy may cause some children to lose focus and become hyperactive. Vincent Monastra, Ph.D., author of Parenting Children with ADHD, suggests all children be screened for food allergies before being prescribed medication for ADHD. Talk with your doctor about testing for allergies (

A well-balanced diet, including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, naturally occurring fats (needed to process fat-soluble vitamins) and plenty of protein, may help keep behavior consistently under control. An occasional treat is important, as denying treats will create a psychological need for them—an irresistible urge, like a moth to a flame or a cute kitten video to a social media feed. Try to keep treats around that do not have artificial flavors and/or colors, and as few preservatives as possible. It’s all about balance.

Join me for the next blog, Multiple Intelligences. What are your strong intelligences?


List of Complex Carbohydrate Foods

Types of Carbohydrates

Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005-2008

Does Sugar Really Make Children Hyper?

Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association

Top 9 Reasons to Avoid Sugar as if Your Life Depended on it

ADDITUDE: Strategies and Support for ADHD & LD


Diagnosing ADHD


Primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and neurologists are qualified to diagnose and treat ADHD.

Psychologists and nurse practitioners can diagnose ADHD.

Neighbors, relatives, and teachers are not qualified to diagnose ADHD.

Behavioral therapy, an important component of treatment, can be provided by psychologists, social workers, counselors, and occupational and family therapists.

Correctly diagnosing ADHD requires time. The parents must be interviewed. The child must be examined and spoken with. If the child is in school, his teacher must be given a questionnaire to fill out. If the child is receiving special services in school, for instance Resource or Inclusion assistance, that teacher will also be given a questionnaire. The information from parents, child, teachers, and doctor’s observations must be analyzed, to decide the possible diagnosis, and what else might be causing the symptoms.

When children are being diagnosed by primary care physicians, many who have tight time schedules, one wonders if the right children are getting the medication. There is no one size fits all type of medication or dosage. Not every child will need medication.

Stimulant prescription rates are complicated and vary by geographic location, age, and gender. Studies have found over-prescribing in some regions of the United States and under-prescribing in others. As reported by the CDC in 2003, instances of ADHD ranged from a low of 5.0 percent in Colorado to a high of 11.1 percent in Alabama. Rates of medication treatment for ADHD ranged from 40.6 percent of patients in California to 68.5 percent in Nebraska. These data do not suggest a pattern of overprescribing of stimulants.

However, in an 11-county study of mental health status among children in western North Carolina, researchers found that 7.3 percent of children were receiving stimulants but only 3.4 percent of children met an absolute diagnosis of ADHD, which suggests that areas of over-prescribing exist (Conner, Daniel F., 2011,


Steps to making the Diagnosis

The first task is to gather information that will rule out reasons for the child’s behavior.

The specialist checks:

  • the child’s school and medical records
  • whether the home and classroom environments are stressful or chaotic
  • how the child’s parents and teachers deal with the child


The specialist may have a doctor:

  • look for emotional disorders, petit mal seizures, and poor vision or hearing
  • check for allergies or nutrition problems like chronic “caffeine highs” that might make the child seem hyperactive

Then the specialist gathers information on the child’s behavior to compare these behaviors to the symptoms and diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This involves talking with the child and if possible, observing the child in school and other settings.

The child’s teachers, past and present, are asked to rate their observations of the child’s behavior on standardized evaluation forms to compare the child’s behaviors to those of other children the same age. The rating scales are subjective—they show the teacher’s personal perception of the child. However, because teachers work with many children, their judgment of how a child compares to others is usually accurate.

Parents will also fill out a standardized evaluation form describing their child’s behavior in a variety of situations, including the rating of frequency and severity of behaviors.

The specialist interviews:

  • the child’s teachers
  • parents
  • school staff
  • baby-sitters and others who frequently work with the child

Sometimes, the child may be checked for social adjustment and mental health. Learning achievement and intelligence tests may be given to see if the child has a learning disability and whether the disabilities are in all or parts of the school curriculum.

The specialist pays special attention to the child’s behavior during noisy or unstructured situations, like parties, or during tasks that require concentration, like reading, working math problems, or playing a board game.

The specialist then pieces together a profile of the child’s behavior.

  • Which ADHD-like behaviors listed in the DSM does the child show?
  • How often?
  • In what situations?
  • How long has the child been doing them?
  • How old was the child when the problem started?
  • Are the behaviors seriously interfering with the child’s friendships, school activities, or home life?
  • Does the child have any other related problems?


The answers to these questions help identify if the child’s hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are significant and long-standing. If so, the child may be diagnosed with ADHD.

Alicia and Ben. Two students who might have ADHD.

The families of Alicia and Ben, third grade students at the same school, have been in contact with the children’s respective teachers. The parents and teachers believe Alicia and Ben may need to be evaluated. Both families took their children to a psychologist affiliated with their school district, concerned about the children’s impulsivity and lack of attention.


Ben spent time talking to the psychologist and did his best to stay engaged in the games the psychologist had him play as part of the evaluation. Both parents filled out forms, as did the classroom teachers.

After the psychologist reviewed the school records, hearing and vision information, evaluation forms, and Ben’s performance on tests given as part of the evaluation, the psychologist determined that Ben does not have ADHD.

The psychologist set up a meeting with Ben and his parents and discussed the findings. The testing results suggested a specific learning disability in the area of reading. Plans are made to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to address Ben’s difficulty with reading comprehension and fluency.

In her time with the psychologist, Alicia had difficulty paying attention to conversations and was easily distracted while playing the games which were part of the evaluation.

The psychologist gathered all the data from the school records, hearing and vision, parents, classroom teacher, and Alicia’s testing, then determined that Alicia has ADHD.

A meeting was set up with Alicia and her parents to discuss the findings from the evaluations. Alicia’s parents were in agreement with the results. As a psychologist may not prescribe, Alicia’s parents were given the names of a few pediatric neurologists for possible consultation.

During the consult, Alicia’s family learned that they would begin with six months of behavioral therapy before starting any medication as drugs are not always necessary. The therapy helped, but it was determined that a low level of stimulant medication would make a big difference in Alicia’s ability to pay attention in school and at home.

Each child is unique.



Join me for the next blog topic, Diet and ADHD/ADD. Find out what foods and supplements make a diet ADD-friendly, and what may make ADHD symptoms worse.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental Health in the United States. Prevalence of diagnosis and medication treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 2003. MMWR. 2005; 54:842-847.


Angold A, Erkanli A, Egger HL, Costello EJ. Stimulant treatment for children: a community perspective. 2000; 39:975-984.

Parenting interview and music:

The next installment of the ADHD blog will be delayed until next week. The critique group I attend suggested an interesting addition, so I will work on it and send it along.

In the meantime, this Tuesday, 3/3/15, I will be performing at as well as helping with a fundraiser for Glenn L. Downs Public School in Phoenix.

On Thursday, 3/5/15, I will be interviewed on it Matters Radio, There will be music first followed by my interview on parenting.

This is the link to the show:

Join us! It will be fun.


ADHD continued. Three cases. (Jack, Gordon, and Sam)


Jack was an adult student in my Child Growth and Development class. He was happily married and found a job where his hyperactivity was a huge benefit—the Chicago Stock Exchange. He worked on the trading floor where his naturally high level of energy allowed him to get through each action packed day with relative ease.

Jack had the best looking yard in his neighborhood. After a full day’s work and commute home to the northern suburbs, Jack spent a few hours, weather permitting, working on the yard. He did this in part to keep from driving his wife crazy.

When Jack was a child, his mother opted not to put him on medication for hyperactivity. As a nurse, she read studies that suggested at the time that the current medication, methylphenidate—also known as Ritalin, may cause a change in the motility of sperm. She wanted grandchildren and felt Ritalin might rob her of the chance to spoil her future grandbabies. She was also concerned for her son as methylphenidate was thought to be habit forming.

In the classroom, Jack was able to pay attention if part of his body was able to move. Frequently, he tapped a pen against his leg to keep any sound he made down so he wouldn’t disturb the other students. When necessary he’d walk back and forth in the back of the room. As long as he could move, Jack was able to concentrate. He was a superior student.


My friend Gordon asked questions by the billions, or at least that’s what his mother remembers. A high-energy child, he thrived while doing more than one activity at a time.

In elementary school his teachers often sent him to the office to deliver notes and gave him jobs requiring physical movement. Gordon remembers banging erasers together in the hallway during the days of chalk and blackboards.

Because Gordon’s family drank coffee throughout the day, it was not unusual for his mother to give Gordon coffee topped off with milk in the mornings before school. The caffeine in his coffee may have helped Gordon be a little less energetic in class. Stimulants in a hyperactive person have a calming effect on the body.

As an adult, Gordon holds a job that requires a high level of concentration. He does this by multitasking and drinking coffee. Even while working on a mind-bending, computer-related task, he listens to music and doodles on paper.


Sam, born in the early 1990s, was one of my Pre-K students. His was a world of privilege and high expectations.
Sam was diagnosed by his pediatrician with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity at age four. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is possible to diagnose a child as early as age four with ADHD. Not so with ADD as inattention is harder to diagnose in preschool aged children. For more information on ADD see the previous blog, Attention Deficit Disorder with and without Hyperactivity – Part 1 Overview.

Sam was so active at home and at school that he was unable to stay still long enough to watch more than a commercial’s worth of television. He literally bounced off the walls everywhere he went.

Sam’s parents tried behavioral therapy for six months, first. The therapy was minimally beneficial. Although not recommended by the Federal Drug Administration until age six, Sam’s parents agreed with their family pediatrician to give Sam, just under age five, a prescription for Ritalin. This decision was taken due to the severity of Sam’s symptoms.

On Ritalin, in school, we saw a much different Sam. He was subdued. A sparkle of mischief no longer shone in his eyes. He was, however, able to sit in a chair and work with a teacher on an age appropriate task.

At home Sam’s parents noticed he was less interested in eating and had difficulty sleeping. Both are common side effects of Ritalin, as are delayed physical growth and anxiety. All these side effects disappear once the child no longer takes the medication. For this reason, some families take their kids off medication for ADHD on weekends and during the non-school months.

Several months went by before a good dosage of Ritalin was found for Sam. Each child responds differently to medications and doses must be carefully monitored.

Sam continued behavioral therapy as the family believed medication alone was not enough.

According to WebMD, recent research has documented a decrease in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc in the blood of children with ADHD. As a result, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and zinc may be recommended for children with ADHD. Parenting classes that focus on parenting skills, child safety, and understanding the child’s behavior have been found to decrease the symptoms of ADHD.

The decision to use medication for ADHD should be a last resort.

The information provided is not meant to diagnose or treat a medical problem. Please consult your own physician. References are provided for informational purposes only.

Join me for the next blog in the series, Diagnosing ADHD.

Tips for Parents to Help Kids Stay Organized and to Follow Directions

Staying organized is a major task for many adults. It is especially difficult for children, painfully so for some.

• Schedule. Keep the same routine every school day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. I would consider homework before other activities to avoid bedtime battles later. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator, on a dry erase or bulletin board in a location where any family member will see it. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.

• Empty the backpack at least twice during the school week. A plethora of papers come home from school every day. Important papers tend to find a place tucked away in the bottom of the backpack. Consider doing this task with your child

• Organize everyday items. Have a particular place for everything. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys. Keep the backpack somewhere near the door to exit the home in the morning, pre-packed with homework and any notes to the school.

Help your child get into the habit of putting all school materials in the backpack before bedtime by assisting them to get started.

• Provide all necessary supplies for school and have a work space to do homework. The homework space may be the kitchen or dining room table. It is not necessary to have a special room, just a designated homework “station” that has enough lighting and as free from distractions as your child needs.

It is quite possible that your child will need some distraction, like music and the ability to move around. Children with hyperactivity often do well multitasking and work better if allowed to move. The secondary activity shouldn’t require much brain power in order to help the child focus on the primary task.
Too much structure may cause an overreaction and shut down. Little work will be accomplished.

• Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books. If your child is having difficulty writing from the board in school, ask the teacher for a printed copy of the homework.

Label your child’s school materials with his or her name.
Color coding folders can help keep homework organized.
If homework is taking too long even though the child is hard at work, draw a line on the homework paper after the last problem solved or question answered. Sign parent name and length of time it took to complete work up to that line. Too much time spent on homework may stall the learning process.

• Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.

• Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it. Do not use money or food as reward. Encouraging words and hugs work wonders.

Join me for the next blog about three students with ADHD at various ages.

Attention Deficit Disorder with and without Hyperactivity – Part 1 Overview

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the percentage of children with attention deficit with hyperactivity (ADHD) is between three to five percent. The number may be as high as eleven percent when taking into account those children who have attention deficits but are not hyperactive. Worldwide, between three and four percent of adults aged 18-44 are thought to have ADHD based on the World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey Initiative.

Many adult diagnosed with ADHD during childhood continue to show symptoms as adults. ADHD does not fade at a certain age.

Not all countries look at the causes of ADHD the same way. The United States places the cause of ADHD within the individual. France and England place the cause within the person’s living environment. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused, paying attention, controlling behavior, and hyperactivity. These symptoms must be present in more than one place (e.g. school and home).

Children with attention deficit without hyperactivity (ADD) are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they’re doing. These children often fall between-the-cracks and their attention problems may go unnoticed for years.

Before a child is diagnosed, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within the family. Parents and children need help to deal with accumulated negative feelings. Mental health professionals can help the children and parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.

Studies suggest a potential link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, exposure to high levels of lead, and consumption of certain food additives like artificial colors or preservatives may increase the likelihood or have an effect on hyperactivity.

People with ADHD tend to have less electrical flow in the frontal lobe and cerebral cortex and in other areas responsible for attention and inhibition of behavior. In some cases medication is helpful, but should be the last resort. Drugs used for attention deficit disorder with and without hyperactivity are more effective when used in combination with alternative therapies such as neurofeedback and counseling.

Children and adults prescribed with drugs for ADHD should be monitored regularly for: blood pressure and pulse; height, weight, and appetite; onset or worsening of psychiatric symptoms (such as depression, suicidal thoughts, hostility, anxiety, agitation, psychosis, or mania); and symptoms suggestive of heart disease.

Each year of use, treatment should be interrupted to see if the drug is still necessary.

Next blog, we continue Part 2 with tips for parents to help kids stay organized and follow direction.


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

World Health Organization (WHO)

Learning Through Play

A parent of a Co-Op Preschool student in Mundelein, Illinois once said to me, “Look at them. They have no idea they are learning.”

I recently read an article by Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. The article made me wonder why the state of education has gone so far off the deep end.

In her article she asks two very important questions.

  1. Shouldn’t very young children be allowed to explore, inquire, play, and discover?
  2. Perhaps direct instruction can help children learn specific facts and skills, but what about curiosity and creativity—abilities that are even more important for learning in the long run?

The best way to learn is to approach a new situation or problem with as many senses as possible to discover information and create new and unexpected ideas.

One morning, in my preschool classroom, I set up an experiment on the science table with the following items:

  • three sponges: two natural sponges of differing size and one green cellulose sponge
  • two plastic containers: one filled halfway with water, one empty
  • eye droppers
  • turkey basters
  • two large bath towels

One student arrived early. Kevin wandered over to check out the science experiment for the week. He called out, “Mrs. Buikema, I figured out your experiment. This sponge—he pointed to the long natural sponge—is gonna hold more water than the green one. Can I try it now?”

Kevin seemed unhappy to wait until after group time, but was okay with it because no one else could conduct the experiment either. Being fair is important, as is following a predictable schedule. Each student had an opportunity to play in the science center as well as the other centers in the room.

Learning occurs everywhere, not just in “academic” centers. Using the block center requires cooperation, fine and gross motor skills, and creativity.

When adults provide a safe environment for children to learn and the space to work out problems on their own, without direct instruction, the students will discover creative ways to solve problems in unexpected ways. The children will retain their new found knowledge for a longer time because they have discovered it for themselves.

For more on this topic see Alison Gopnik’s article:

A Distraction from Life

I needed a change of pace. Sometimes life becomes too busy and distraction is required. Realizing the holidays are quickly approaching, I thought it might be amusing to have some fun with words, hence this irreverent poem regarding writer’s block—never a fun thing.

Inspiration Attacks

Ellen Buikema, after Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before critique, when all through my brain
No ideas were brewing, not even a grain.
The keyboard was placed by the laptop with care,
In hopes that a cogent thought soon would be there.
The research was carefully stored in the files,
While visions of accolades went on for miles.
And papa in his jammies, and I in the same,
Had sat ourselves down for a long evening’s game.
When outside of the house there arose such a sound,
I leapt from my chair and peered out at the ground.
The full moon that glowed on the stones in the yard,
Gave illusion of shimmer that took me off guard.
Then what to my shock-stricken eyes did appear,
But a miniature elf in the yard with a beer.
With a little old guzzler so quick to abuse,
I knew in a moment she must be the muse.
With an auctioneer’s speed her curses they came,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called me by name.
“Hey, Ellen in jammies, you spend too much time,
On Facebook and Twitter and nothing sublime.
Your writing is blocked because you read drivel,
Stop the baloney, the blarney and blither, be civil.”
She tipped up the bottle and gulped down some foam,
I knew in that moment the muse would go home.
The tiny old elf who came here from above,
Dropped the truth on me, by using tough love.

Increasing parent involvement in schools


If the following steps are taken there will be an increase of parental involvement in schools.

Teachers are given time to make calls from school to the homes of their students before the school year starts. Schools schedule daytime as well as evening activities so more parents may attend their children’s events. Districts sponsor parenting classes at no cost for those who are interested with free daycare during the classes.

Any information going home, whenever possible, is in English and the home language.

Family literacy activities, including parenting education and educational services for adults who need improved literacy skills are available for those who desire, including English language classes.

A flexible number of parental involvement meetings are offered at various times so those who want to attend can. A parent resource center is available for meetings, classes, and material.

School and community partnerships benefit each other. Community partners donate personnel, time, material, and funds to enhance the school’s ability to increase the students’ level of positive interaction and future lives within the greater community.

Everyone gains when students learn to be positive, productive members of society.

Picking Your Battles


Children feel the need to have some control in a world where they have very little say. Battles happen when there is a conflict of interest. Not everything needs to be a fight. It is helpful for parent –child relationships to have some give and take. As parent, you are the boss—leader of the household. However, the best leaders know how to back off on the little things.

My youngest had a very interesting sense of fashion—wild and clashing. Fortunately she attended a school which required uniforms. At home, she could wear what she wished so long as it was weather appropriate. I have to say, sometimes those outfits hurt my eyes.

When a nice outfit was required, for a visit to grandparents or other outings like church, she was given a choice of two outfits. Having the choice made all the difference.

Welcome to blogging about life with children!

First Memories of Reading


The first memory I have of reading was looking at the colorful comics in the Sunday newspaper. I don’t remember how old I was, but the comics seemed huge. I was so little that I spread them out on the floor to look at the pictures.  I had trouble turning over the pages without slipping, and tearing the pages. I remember my younger brother crawling on top of the paper and sitting on top of it, which annoyed me as I was unable to turn the page to look at more of the “funnies”.

I asked my mother, who always read the newspaper cover to cover, how do I know what the comics said? “Don’t worry about the words. Just look at the pictures. For now, make up your own words.”

Having the freedom to make up my own words inspired my imagination.