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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

Jul 27, 2021

We have seen an increase in ADHD referrals and diagnoses in the last year. Many parents reported an increase in ADHD symptoms in children who were diagnosed before the COVID-19 pandemic, and some parents wondered whether their child has ADHD after watching their child learn from home. It is important to note that while many children and families struggled during the pandemic, others thrived.  As we head back to school in the fall, what are the experts saying about ADHD and what can caregivers do to support their children through another transition?


Today’s guest is Dr. Joel Nigg, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health and Science University and author of the book Getting Ahead of ADHD. In this episode, Dr. Nigg offers great insight and describes studies done about ADHD specifically and gives actionable steps to take now to help prepare children for heading back to school. We discuss things to look for regarding ADHD symptoms and some simple changes in our daily routines as families that can make a huge impact. Dr. Nigg is doing fantastic work with the OHSU Center for ADHD Research and I am thrilled to have him on the podcast today to better equip parents and families for transitioning to another year of learning.


Show Notes:

[2:40] - There has been an increase in parents seeking evaluations for ADHD after seeing children learn from home.

[3:32] - Dr. Nigg shares some data that shows the impact of distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.

[4:46] - For those already diagnosed with ADHD, services were challenging during the pandemic and school closures.

[6:10] - You lose the advantage of a teacher’s perspective when learning from home. Demands at home from a parent are much different than those in the classroom.

[7:27] - Dr. Nigg recommends seeking services for the difficulties the child is experiencing right now and seek a diagnosis and treatment after heading back to school.

[8:54] - Self care has been difficult for many during COVID with increased stress levels. Dr. Nigg gives examples of some lifestyle changes people can make to help them cope with stress.

[10:24] - A valuable goal is to think hard about structuring your day to fit self care in.

[12:08] - Another factor that impacts mental health is sleep and the quality of rest.

[13:37] - We are all used to staying up late and not working with a strict schedule. Take a look at the amount of sleep your child needs for their age and create good habits.

[14:45] - The key is to shift the thinking around sleep to be positive. Counselors can help with this transition.

[15:46] - Parental modeling is difficult in the area of sleep. Another thing that is often lost is down time for family time together.

[17:16] - During COVID, screen time increased. Dr. Nigg gives suggestions on monitoring screen time and how it impacts sleep.

[19:37] - Family rules for a screen-free bedtime are hard to follow, but they are important.

[20:39] - Dr. Nigg addresses the claim that high levels of screen time causes ADHD.

[22:10] - Media content needs to be monitored for children and teens even though it is a part of their social experience.

[24:00] - Dr. Nigg recommends that screen time comes after basic needs are met.

[25:01] - Children with ADHD are more inclined to experience depression and anxiety. This trend was apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

[26:11] - Experiences during the recent pandemic will have a lasting effect. Some will be good and some effects may be negative.

[27:49] - There is still going to be COVID-related stress as students head back to school.

[29:18] - Children need to be prepared for possible changes again as they go back to school in the Fall. There’s still uncertainty.

[30:41] - School from home and school in the classroom will have varying risks.

[32:12] - Medical centers around the world have websites with tons of resources. They will also have current and updated recommendations and guidelines.

[33:21] - Dr. Nigg’s book is a great resource for parents of children with ADHD.

[33:46] - Dr. Nigg describes the new OHSU Center for ADHD Research and their current campaign and donation matching.


About Our Guest:

Joel Nigg, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Vice Chair for Psychology, and Director of the Center for ADHD Research at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. He obtained his AB at Harvard College, MSW at The University of Michigan, and PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. He is a licensed clinical psychologist with clinical experience in multiple settings. He is a leading researcher in the area of developmental psychopathology with a focus on ADHD. He is the author of 2 books on ADHD including a recent book written for parents: Getting Ahead of ADHD: What Next-Generation Science Says about Treatments that Work and How you can Make them Work for Your Child. His work has been funded continuously by NIMH for over 20 years. The recipient of several awards, Dr. Nigg has served on the editorial boards of several leading scientific journals.


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.