Archive for February, 2017

How does screen-time affect behavior?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
child with a tablet

courtesy of pixabay

What would you say if I told you that 15.5% of elementary students, grades 1-5 have been diagnosed with ADHD?  Recent data from the National Health Center showed that as of 2015, 10.2% of children ages 5-15 were diagnosed with ADHD.  From 1980 to 2007, the diagnosis of ADHD in the pediatric population increased by 800 percent!  These dramatic increases indicate that the cause may not just be genetic.  Experts are looking to environmental factors to explain the sharp rise in ADHD among children.  According to Victoria Dunckley, M.D., the answer could be in the palm of your hand.

As reported by Victoria Dunckley, MD, integrative child psychiatrist and author of the book, Reset Your Child’s Brain, technology is having a negative impact on our children’s brain health and development.  Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS), is the result of over exposure to screens in the forms of video game systems, tablets, and smart phones.  Electronics can overstimulate and deregulate a child’s nervous system.  The added overstimulation and stress cause children to have issues with mood, focus, sleep, and behavior. (Dunckley)

How does Electronic Screen Syndrome affect children?

Constantly interacting with the artificial stimuli that screens supply, shifts the nervous system into a stressed mode.  Our brains and bodies are meant to handle some stress, but repeated stress can overwhelm our body’s ability to adapt.  Usually, high stress levels normalize when followed by an appropriate discharge of energy (think fight or flight).  However, screen time is generally paired with a lot of sitting. Where does the energy go?  According to Dunckley, it gets released in the form of a tantrum or other inappropriate behavior.  Dunckley further points out that if we were to look inside a brain engaged in screen-time, we would see that brain getting too much activity in some areas, such as reward pathways, and not enough in other areas such as the regions associated with empathy.  This leads to fragmented brain development, making it less flexible and resilient. (Dunckley)  One of the strongest impact of screens on the brain is with regards to sleep.  The unnatural, bright light from a smart phone or tablet slows the production of the sleep signal, melatonin.  Lack of melatonin desynchronizes the body clock resulting in poor sleep and disrupted hormone cycles.  In fact, weight gain and high blood pressure related to screen-time could be a result of constantly high stress hormones, as well as being overly sedentary. (Dunckley)

What behaviors are associated with ESS?

  • Irritability
  • Oppositional-defiant behaviors
  • Social immaturity
  • Poor eye contact
  • Insomnia
  • Learning difficulties
  • Poor memory
  • Lack of focus
  • Tantrums
  • Disorganized behaviors

Children with underlying issues such as ADHD and Autism will display more severe versions of the symptoms.   Often these children are more likely to be drawn to screens.  Parents can mistake the kids’ “quiet” behavior while playing on a tablet as improvement.  Try taking the screen away, and you soon realize that the screen was only masking the issues! (Dunckley)

Parents worry that their child  will be the only one without a tablet, or that he won’t make friends, or learn the latest technology.  That is not the case.  For young children the importance of being screen free is to allow their brains to naturally develop strong neuronal connections.  The brain’s most rapid growth is during the first few years of life.  Assaulting those brains with digital media is preventing them from reaching their true potential academically and socially.  Children benefit so much more from human interaction and outdoor play.  Let our children’s brains grow and develop so that they can withstand the effects of the latest technology.

What can parents do to help their children?

  1. Dunckley suggests an electronic fast, 3-4 weeks of strict removal of all electronic media.  Doing so, will help reset your child’s brain, allowing you to focus on what is really going on with your child, without having to deal with the added behavior issues.
  2. Encourage your child to engage in other activities.  Have a family game night.  Help your child find a sports team or club to join.
  3. Brainjogging twice a day can help children get their brains back in sync.  The exercises in Brainjogging target the areas of the brain controlling focus, attention, memory, and processing.  Brainjogging’s simple design and quick exercises make it highly effective for all children.

While most parents start their children on Brainjogging for academic reasons, the first change they notice, is in their child’s behavior.  A child who is out of sync, will have trouble regulating his emotions and behavior.  A child who has made the important connections in the brain is in sync will be more flexible, more resilient, and will demonstrate improved behavior and focus!


Boost Brainjogging: Create new word lists!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Updating your child’s word list often is important to Brainjogging’s success. Adding concepts from daily homework, key steps in a newly acquired life skill, or even new vocabulary from a book will help your child learn and retain the information. A child who has working memory is able to apply learned information and concepts. Children who do Brainjogging are able to increase the capacity of their working memory, leading to greater success in school and in life!

enter new word lists

Here are some key tips to Creating Word Lists:

  • Separate big words into syllables. The word community can be typed com mun it y.
  • Only include key words and phrases. For example, do not type “A robin is a red bird.” Instead, enter the following:




  • Word lists are not only for vocabulary. You can include math concepts as well! Does your child have to learn “Common Core”? Common core math requires children to show the thought process in reaching an answer to a problem. Enter these steps in the form of words and short phrases. This will help your child remember and be able to apply the sequence of steps for homework and exams. Let’s use number bonds as an example:






add tens

add ones

add sums

check answer

You might find that you’ve reached 30 words and you still have a lot to enter in your new word list. Don’t be discouraged! Just start a new word list.

When it comes to word lists, aim to enter a few new word lists each week, and to have your child be able to enter those word lists himself. Here at Brainjogging, we are constantly adding new and relevant content as well!

New studies show rapid brain growth early in development in children with Autism.

Monday, February 20th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

Parents having children with autism are often anxious about younger siblings having the same diagnosis. And if they do have autism, parents are more likely to want to start earlier interventions. It looks as though recent studies will make this more likely for parents. In a study published in Nature, researchers were able to use MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in infants with autistic older siblings, to correctly predict 80 percent of those infants who would later meet the criteria for autism at age 2.

It is estimated that one out of 68 children develop autism in the United States. For infants with older siblings with autism, the risk may be as high as 20 out of every 100 births. Most children are not diagnosed with autism until they reach 24 months. As experts have observed, the earlier the diagnosis the better the outcome of the child.

For this Nature study, Piven, Hazlett, and researchers from around the country conducted MRI scans of infants at six, 12, and 24 months of age. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion (over-growth) of brain surface area from six to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of the condition at 24 months of age. Increased growth rate of surface area in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of overall brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.

This is great news for parents who already have a child with autism, and are having or thinking about having another baby. The earlier in development a child is exposed to the right conditions the more likely it is that the child will succeed. If a child is exposed to books and is read to from infancy, it is more likely that child will develop a love for reading. Along the same lines, if a child’s brain is at risk for specific brain changes that cause autism, exposing them to the right therapies and social environments has the potential to alleviate those social deficits and symptoms of autism.

Brainjogging is one such intervention, and can be done as early as 3 years old. When done twice a day, the cognitive exercises help to sync the brain’s pathways. In the case of autism, many children experience overstimulation, where multiple neurons are firing at once. This can make even the simplest task seem complicated. After Brainjogging, children with autism are able to focus on the task in front of them. The younger a child starts interventions like Brainjogging, the more likely it is that the child will overcome learning difficulties and deficits.


“Early brain development in infants at high risk for autism spectrum disorder”,  Nature 542,  348–351 

Sensory Processing Disorder: The struggle is real!

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Do you have a bright child who can’t seem to focus when asked to perform a sequence of tasks?  Does your son or daughter jump from activity to activity?  Do you know a child that NEEDS to climb, run, and touch everything?  These are all examples of children displaying sensory processing disorder (SPD).  A  lot of kids with ADHD and autism, also have sensory processing issues that affect their organization and focus.  You know your child is smart, if only she would just calm down for a minute!  Sound familiar?


courtesy of pixabay


Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of The Out of Sync Child recommends the “3Rs”:

  • Recognize that your child may have a sensory issue.  Kranowitz suggests putting on “sensory goggles” to observe what your child needs more or less.  Noise may cause your child to have outbursts.  A quick run around the block, may be what your child’s body is seeking to organize his thoughts again.
  • Re-channel the behavior.  Avoid punishing your child for his extra energy.  Find a way for him to use that energy purposefully.  Take younger kids to the playground or have them jump on the trampoline.  As children get older, assigning chores around the house (think raking leaves or vacuuming) are a great way to teach responsibility and have them expend excess energy.
  • Reward the child with specific and positive words.  Rather than a treat and a “Good job!”, try saying “Wow, you read that passage very well!”  Avoid sugary and material awards.  Praise from a parent is usually the biggest reward for a child.

Therapists will often recommend a sensory diet to help “sync’ the brain and body.  Here are some activities recommended by Kranowitz, plus a few more!

  1. Reach for the sky – While laying on her back, have your child stretch one are to the sky while you both count to five.  Hold it high while counting to five.  Then tell your child to pretend she is melting, and slowly bring her arm down for five counts.  Do the same with the other arm.  Repeat this exercise alternating between right and left arm and then right and left leg.  This slow and calming activity encourages patience and improves coordination. (Kranowitz)
  2. Copy Cat – Face your child and say, “Watch and copy what I do.”  Do different movements that require balance and coordination and let your child copy you.  For example, you can balance on one foot and wiggle the other foot in the air.  You can even take turns being the leader!
  3. Copy Can’t – In this variation, have your child do the OPPOSITE.  When you reach high with your hands, your child will have to reach low.  This is a great activity for building body awareness, visual processing, and motor planning.  (Kranowitz)
  4. Make your house sensory sensitive. – Be sure to have designated quiet areas.  A quiet area can be as simple as a corner with a bean bag chair or weighted blanket.  Providing a small trampoline or exercise ball in your child’s room or playroom are simple activities for releasing energy.  Your child should also have a designated area for homework.  His desk or table should be clear of all distractions to help him focus on his work.
  5. Encourage outdoor play and exercise.– Exercise is important for everyone.  However, for individuals with SPD, physical activity helps with processing, focus, and self-regulation.  Biking, running, and other sports help children use excess energy, increase body awareness, and improve focus.

No matter how mild or severe your child’s SPD is, remember that many of their behaviors have an underlying cause.  Refrain from over the top reactions such as, “Why do you always do that?”  Instead, put on your investigator’s hat, and try to figure out what caused the behavior.  Once you have the cause, find an activity or a sensory tool to help your child become more aware of his own body and regulate his own sensory issues.

Brainjogging helps with SPD by helping to syncing the auditory, visual, and language pathways in the brain.  A child who is better able to understand the world around him will feel more in control and will be able to remain calm in different situations.  Combine Brainjogging with a sensory diet and you’ll have a calm, melt-down free child in no time at all!


Kranowitz, Carol, “When Your Child is Out-of-Sync”  ADDitude Magazine, Winter 2016.

Arky, Beth, “Treating Sensory Processing Issues”

Managing ADHD Symptoms

Friday, February 3rd, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

Parents are often uncomfortable with the idea of giving medicine to treat their child’s ADHD.  However, simple changes in diet and routine can often make the biggest impact!  Try some of these helpful tips.


  • Avoid  artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.  Many artificial colors and preservatives such as sodium benzoate and calcium proprionate  enhance hyperactivity in children.
  • Concentrate on high-protein, complex carbohydrate, unprocessed foods.  Avoid prepared foods that contain five or more ingredients.  Whole, unprocessed foods will provide the right kind of energy to maintain healthy energy levels and focus throughout the day.   Simple carbs like foods with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, candy, white flour or honey should be minimized.  These foods are likely to cause outbursts and mood swings.
  • Healthy fats– healthy fasts such as omega-3 are considered to be excellent brain food. These are found in olive oils, cold water fish like salmon and tuna, as well as in walnuts and Brazil nuts.


Most children need a consistent bed time to avoid being cranky and lethargic.  The importance of a regular bedtime routine is greater  for children with ADHD.  During sleeping hours, a child’s brain is strengthening neural connections and repairing daily damage.  Children who do not get enough sleep often seem disorganized and less attentive.  No amount of vitamins, tutoring, or exercise will help her development if she is not getting the correct hours of sleep for her age.  Try these tips to help make bedtime more effective for your children.

  • Avoid screens, even TV at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid sugar snacks before bed. 
  • Dim lights and offer quiet activities such as coloring or reading.  Even just snuggling with a parent can be enough to calm a child after a long day of school and extracurricular activities.
  • Keep a set bed time routine that starts at the same time each day.  For example, your child should know that at 6:30pm each day, she will be expected to start getting ready for her bedtime at 8:00pm.
  • No matter how your day went, maintain peace and calm for your child.  The most important activity she will do each day is get the right amount of sleep.  Children can sense stress in their parents.  Take a minute to have a snack or do some stretches so that you can be the best version of yourself for your child.

Manage and Model Behavior

Children with ADHD have a hard time organizing their thoughts.  To minimize disruptive behavior, parents should be very clear with their expectations.

  • Be sure your child knows what behaviors are acceptable.  Your child should also be aware of the consequences of inappropriate behavior.  Whether you use a counting method, time-outs, or charts, be sure to be consistent and avoid negotiations with your child.  Negotiating behaviors and punishments can be confusing and can also open the door for children to test their limits with their parents.
  • Explain new environments and what will be expected from your child.  The rules that apply to a playground are different that the rules at a doctor’s office.  Be sure that your child is aware of the difference.
  • Model good behavior!  Have you ever said, “I don’t know where she learns these things?!!”  We don’t have to look far.  Children refer to examples around them.  None of us are perfect, but we can do our best to model kindness and respect for others.  You’ll be surprised how simply modeling the behavior you want to see can make all the difference!


Camp Academia, Inc.’s patented cognitive processing software, Brainjogging has helped students successfully manage ADHD and its traditional symptoms when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, and structured routine.  

Call to learn more at 1-888-7-I-LEARN.


Homework Help for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

A child with a learning difficulty can struggle with homework after a long day of school.  This can be frustrating for both children and parents.   To help your child – and you – avoid the headaches of getting through homework, it is best to create a plan that keeps them focused, and takes away the stress of homework.

Be Consistent

Provide your child with a set time and place to do homework.  This creates a sense of control and predictability for children and for parents as well.    While every family has their own preferences and afternoon schedules, you might consider giving your child enough time for a quick snack and then have him sit down to do his homework before he gets distracted with other activities.  This method avoids all the excuses and complaints that happen later in the day as children get tired.  You and your child will also have more free time without the added stress of unfinished assignments.  Also, be sure that your child’s designated homework area has all needed supplies (sharpened-pencils, paper, calculator, water bottle, etc.) to avoid excuses for interrupting homework.

Approach the Most Difficult Assignments First

Children with learning disabilities tend to have short attention spans, particularly when it comes to challenging assignments. Have your child begin their most difficult assignments first since they will have more energy and focus to complete the task at hand.  This will also encourage them to complete their other assignments, and to not avoid future work in that difficult subject.

Plan Shifts

If you see that your child is losing focus on one particular assignment, allow them to shift over to another and then come back to the original assignment. You can also set a timer every 15 to 20 minutes so that your child can look forward to breaks to recollect their thoughts. Be sure to time breaks as well.  A long break can make completing homework even harder!!

Create a Homework Checklist

Checklists are a great way to keep your child organized and to help him remember each assignment.  They can also be a great motivator as your child checks off each completed assignment.  A child’s teacher should also be involved in the checklist and can help to let parents know what tasks are required each day.  Some parents find a weekly email to the teacher helpful in knowing what is expected of the class each week.

Reward Hard Work

Set weekly homework goals that can easily be measure with a chart or other method.  Having a simple reward system is a great external motivator and can be anything from being able to choose a weekend activity to even an ice cream cone!  Avoid, extravagant rewards.  Sometimes scheduling special “mommy-time” can be the best prize ever!

Be Encouraging

Parents feel obligated to correct every mistake on their child’s homework.  Consider this approach:  Have your child complete an assignment.  Look it over.  Praise what she did correct.  And THEN, point out areas that she might have to redo. Or, offer to explain concepts that your child obviously did not understand.  Praising before criticizing will make your child more willing to work towards the right answers.

Get Help from Brainjogging

Doing Brainjogging before starting homework can cut homework time in half.  Many parents have seen that when students do Brainjogging, and then begin their assignments, they have greater focus and are able to complete their work more efficiently.  In addition, adding vocabulary and key concepts to word lists in the Brainjogging program helps students remember and process new information quicker.  The goal is to work SMARTER not HARDER!