Online parent training helps young kids with ADHD

Parents of children with ADHD can feel desperate for resources or treatments to help their children who struggle with inattention, distractibility and impulsiveness affecting school and home. Researchers at Lehigh University have discovered that brief online or in-person behavioral therapy for parents is equally effective in improving children’s behavior and parental knowledge — a potential game changer for parents strapped for time and access.

They report these findings in a new paper published in The Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

Few Use Behavior Therapy, Despite Recommendations

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends behavior therapy support as the first line of treatment for preschool-age children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), limited availability of clinicians, cost and challenges in transportation and child care — as well as reliance on pharmacological drugs — mean few families access such therapy for themselves and their children. A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control found that about 75 percent of young children with ADHD received medicine as treatment and only about 50 percent of young children with ADHD with Medicaid and 40 percent with employer-sponsored insurance got psychological services, which may include behavior therapy. ADHD occurs in 2 to 15 percent of young children, with 11 percent of children in the U.S. receiving an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives.

Full story at Science Daily

Elevated rate of autism symptoms found in children with Tourette syndrome

Around one in five children with Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and vocalizations, met criteria for autism in a study headed by UC San Francisco. But this prevalence may be more a reflection of similarity in symptoms than actual autism, according to the study’s researchers.

Researchers tested 535 children and adults with Tourette’s for autism, using a self-reporting test called the Social Responsiveness Scale. Among the 294 children tested, 22.8 percent reached the cutoff for autism, versus 8.7 percent of the 241 adults. In contrast, autism is estimated to affect between 0.3 and 2.9 percent of the general population, according to studies cited in the paper.

The Social Responsiveness Scale Second Edition is a 65-item quantitative measure of autism symptoms that assesses the ability to engage in “emotionally appropriate reciprocal social interactions.” It evaluates levels of social awareness, social cognition, social communication, social motivation, and restrictive interests and repetitive behavior. Its threshold for autism compares favorably with the diagnostic gold standard, the Autism Diagnostic Interview, the researchers noted.

Full story of autism symptoms found with Tourettes’s at Science Daily

What Effect Does Prenatal and Postpartum Maternal Depression Have on Children?

The results of a large study do not support the notion that prenatal and postpartum maternal depression is particularly detrimental to children’s psychological development. Instead, the most robust effects were found for maternal depression occurring during children’s preschool years.

The analysis examined 11,599 families including 17,830 siblings from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study. Using sibling comparisons, investigators accounted for genetic and shared environmental factors, as siblings share family environments and their mothers’ genetic risk for depression.

Full story of maternal depression’s effect on children at Science Daily

Ouch! Avoiding failure leads to missed opportunities for children with ADHD

Growing up is a challenging task full of great achievements and missteps. Sometimes it is not clear what the best course of action might be, but people around us — parents and teachers — help by giving us feedback about our behaviour. Generally, we repeat the actions that get rewarded, and try not to engage in the ones that get reproved. However, it is hard to always make the best choice.

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are potentially more exposed to reproaches than typically developing children. Their difficulties with focusing, elevated activity levels and impulsive actions often get them into trouble with their parents, teachers and friends. This makes it important to find out how punishment affects the behaviour of children with ADHD. Are they more sensitive to punishment, or are they less sensitive to punishment? A team of researchers from Japan and New Zealand presented children with ADHD and typically developing children with a computer-based game that involved reward and punishment. The results of this study are published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Full story of missed opportunities for children with ADHD at Science Daily

Lack of sleep increases a child’s risk for emotional disorders later

When asked how lack of sleep affects emotions, common responses are usually grumpy, foggy and short-tempered. While many jokes are made about how sleep deprivation turns the nicest of people into a Jekyll and Hyde, not getting enough shut-eye can lead to far more serious consequences than irritability, difficulty concentrating and impatience.

Candice Alfano, a clinical psychologist and associate psychology professor at the University of Houston, says children who experience inadequate or disrupted sleep are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders later in life. Funded by a grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the study seeks to determine the precise ways inadequate sleep in childhood produces elevated risk for emotional disorders in later years.

“In particular, we are interested in understanding how children appraise, express, regulate and later recall emotional experiences, both when sleep is adequate and when it is inadequate,” said Alfano, who is the principal investigator of the study and director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston (SACH). “We focus on childhood, because similar to problems with anxiety and depression, sleep habits and patterns develop early in life and can be enduring.”

Full story of lack of sleep and children emotional disorder at Science Daily

Children react physically to stress from their social networks

Research has shown the significance of social relationships in influencing adult human behavior and health; however, little is known about how children’s perception of their social networks correlates with stress and how it may influence development. Now, a University of Missouri research team has determined that children and adolescents physically react to their social networks and the stress those networks may cause. Scientists believe that the quality and size of the social relationships nurtured in childhood may have important physiological consequences for physical and mental health for youth.

Cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase are secreted in response to outside pressure or tension. A part of the autonomic nervous system, release of cortisol in the system is quick, unconscious and can be measured in saliva; therefore, measuring cortisol is a good indicator of stress in the body, said Mark V. Flinn, professor of biomedical anthropology and chair of the Department of Anthropology in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Full story of children physical reaction to stress from social networks at Science Daily