Experts agree that a certain amount of stress or pressure can provide a sense of urgency to meet a deadline. When the deadline is met, the stress is relieved. In other instances, people avoid a stress by choosing not to travel by plane, for example. In medicine, it is well known that chronic stress has an impact on health. Chronic back pain, headaches, sleep disturbance, heart disease and depression can be linked to long-term exposure to ongoing stress.

Children also experience stress. Sources of stress could include the spelling test on Friday or the championship soccer game this weekend. A major source of chronic stress for children with ADHD, Learning and Executive Function challenges stems from the simple act of going to school every day. 

How can being in school all day, which is a normal experience for children, result in chronic, possibly debilitating stress for some students? These students are placed in an environment in which they experience failure, in some form, almost every day. The source of the stress, many times, is unrelated to intelligence. A test is returned and they discover they misread several questions or the directions. They did the wrong problems for math homework or don’t have gym clothes because they forgot it is Wednesday. Now the student has an undeserved poor test grade, a zero on math homework and a poor gym grade. These outcomes aren’t due to a lack of effort or a moral failing. Students with poor Executive Function skills experience this daily.

Often neither the teacher nor the student really understands the problem. Neither has an accurate sense of the student’s cognitive assets or Executive Function and how this impacts daily life. The students aren’t able to develop strategies for their particular challenges on their own. They need guidance and support from the adults around them – teachers at school and parents at home.

Parents can learn new strategies to support their child on the evening of April 11 when Dr. Lynn Meltzer discusses The Child Beneath the Stress: Parenting Children with Executive Function Challenges.

Teachers, Counselors, Social Workers, Mental Health Professions Psychologists and Speech Language Pathologists will have the opportunity on April 12 to attend “Executive Function Strategies: Optimizing Student Performance and Reducing Stress” presented by Dr. Lynn Meltzer and Donna Kincaid.

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Mulcahey at mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.

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