ADHD and Educational Challenges

Parents and caregivers of children living with ADHD know that life can be hard. Morning ‘routines’ need to be monitored (even though there is a chart!) to make sure that the child gets up, gets dresses, brushes their teeth, has breakfast (does not detour to pet the dog, play with legos, get on the computer, look under the bed for a toy) picks up their lunch and homework and remembers to take a jacket as they head to school.  And of course this is all before 9am!

Off to school they go and we are all to familiar with how that goes! Notes, emails and phone calls from the school keep a parent informed of just how much their child w/ADHD struggles during

the day. It is important to remember that this kiddo is not ‘misbehaving’! (ADHD) is a psychological disorder and the brain of a child/teen adult dealing with ADHD functions differently. In this NEWS Medical Life Sciences article, the author, takes a look at some of the changes, how ADHD impacts learning, ‘overlapping disorders’ and effective interventions.

One of the recommend interventions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, could include the services we provide at Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy. Though work with horses we certainly focus on solutions and changing destructive patterns of behavior!

Clients learn and practice staying focused and on task while leading, grooming and preparing their horse to ride. They learn how impulsive behaviors can worry a horse and are encouraged to slow down, take a breath and be present and in the moment. They engage in a variety of activities both on the ground and mounted, that help them develop problem solving skills and at times frustration tolerance!  We work with children as young as four, teens and adults.

If you know a child or teen who is struggling, give us a call. We can schedule a time for you to come visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

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When You Are Dealing With More Than Just ADHD

When dealing with children/teens with ADHD it never seems ‘simple’ and research is showing that, in many cases it’s because there is more going on.

This NEWS Medical Life Sciences article, takes a look at some of the things that may also be going on. With more than 60% children with ADHD reporting one or more co-existing mental health conditions, it is easy to see that this issue is much more complicated.

Mood disorders, conduct disorders and learning disabilities are all common issues that those with ADHD may also be dealing with. We need to be sure that we take a ‘whole person’ approach when addressing our client’s needs. Self-esteem and self-confidence can suffer when a child/teen feels different than their peers. They may struggle with isolation and even bullying. We need to be very vigilant to make sure they get the help they need to deal with everything they living with.

One of the great things about work with horses is that you can work on multiple concerns at once.  Let’s consider the simple act of haltering and leading a horse. Clients may have to deal with anxiety. Horses are big and powerful. They can be intimidating. So we talk about how to stay safe and we may encourage clients to do some deep breathing exercises to help them become more centered and calm. Clients will need to focus, listen, process and follow directions when haltering their horse. They may need to accept/ask for assistance. They need to continue to be focused while leading and work on setting/maintaining safe personal boundaries. And of course they have to practice being a ‘good leader’. All this, while simply haltering and leading the horse. Make sense?

At Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy our team of Qualified Mental Health Associates (QMHA) work one-on-one with children as young as 4, teens, adults and even seniors. Through work with horses, we can address a wide range of social, emotional, behavioral and mental health issues. We have a diverse herd of incredible horses who are able to help clients find the path to a happier, healthier and more balanced life.

If you or someone you know are struggling with ADHD or other issues, we are here to help. Give us a call or send us an email and we can schedule a visit. We will show you around the ranch, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

 

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How Do We Help Our Teens?

Earlier today I read and shared on our Facebook page a tragic article about a local teenager who committed suicide. The statistics are more than alarming. These young lives are far to precious for us to let them end when there are things that help. We must do better.

Here is a link to USA Today’s story on how work with horses helped pull Morgan Hubbard back from the brink.

Day in and day out, we see how powerful work with horse can be. Our team of Qualified Mental Health Associates work one-on-one with our clients and the horse they choose to work with. We currently have 8 horses in our herd, from a Dillon, our Miniature Horse, to Reilly, a 16.3hh Oldenburg, providing clients with lots of opportunity to find a horse that they can connect with. In each session we address the client’s specific needs and goals. We may be looking at increasing self-confidence or improving self-soothing/coping skills. Maybe it is about becoming better at being present and in the moment.  Maybe we need to help the client find a way to reconnect with another living ‘being’ (their horse and their QMHA) in a less stressful and demanding situation. We meet the client where they are and, through the work with their horse, try to show them the way to a healthier and happier life.

First and foremost, if you know a teen who is struggling, seek help. We are one of many resources in our community. If you would like to learn more about our program, call us at 775-473-5548 or email us at neatinfo@yahoo.com. We can schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

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What Can I do Now to Help My Child/Teen Prepare For School in the Fall

During the school year life can get very hectic and we watch our kiddos struggle to get through each day. We lament that there is not more time to slow down and see what we can do to help them.

Summer is here and the time to take positive action is now! There is a growing understanding of the many benefits of Equine Therapy.

* What is Equine Therapy? by CRC Healt

* The Therapeutic Value of Horses by Psychology Today

* Equine Therapy: How Horses Help Humans Heal by USNEWS

Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy is a year-round program that provides social, emotional and behavioral growth and learning, as well as mental health interventions for children (as young as 4), teens, adults and even seniors.

Our staff of Qualified Mental Health Associates work one-on-one with each client and the horse they have chosen to work with, on that client’s specific issues such as:

  • ADHD
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxity
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Plus many more

Most of our clients come once per week and our sessions are approximately 1.5 hours long. Clients start on the ground, learning about horse and herd behavior and how to be safe working around horses. They learn to lead, groom and tack-up their horses before actually getting up and riding. Once on the horse they participate in a variety of activities designed to be fun, yet challenging in a non-confrontational way. We help clients become more self-confident, improve focus, decrease impulsive behaviors, improve problem solving skills and promote leadership, among other things.

If you have a child or teen (or are working with one) that is struggling, give us a call at 775-473-5548 or drop us and email at neatinfo@yahoo.com to schedule a visit. We will show you around, introduce our marvelous herd, learn more about the challenges your child/teen is dealing with, and share more about how we can help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Autism, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Other challenges, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Schizophrenia, Sensory processing issues, Teens | Leave a comment

Sometimes We Just Want to Know How to Help

When friends and loved ones are struggling with anxiety we are often at a loss as to what we can do to help. We want to be there for them, but my fear that we will say or do the wrong thing.

This great blog article by John D. Moore, Ph.D., on PsychCentral’s website offers some great tips!

The first tip is to be patient. This can be so hard, when the person may not seem to be making any sense, but in their minds the situation may be fraught with fear, so just be there. Be kind.

The article suggest that you even ask ‘What do you think might help? How can I help you?’ It may be that they need you to just sit with them, or maybe a walk in nature would help, but they will have a better idea than you will guessing.

Another tip is to seek expert help. There are many great interventions available for those struggling with anxiety and lots of referral sources. I have found this Psychology Today website helpful for finding therapists in Nevada, but there are lost of other resources available as well.

Equine Assisted Therapy can be a very powerful intervention for those dealing with anxiety. At Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, our staff of Qualified Mental Health Associate and wonderful therapy horses work with each client on an individual basis. We start where they are. Maybe they are fearful of horses. We explain how this is actually pretty smart ‘They are big and powerful, so it is important that you learn to be safe around them. That’s why I’m here’. The act of bushing a horse can be very soothing and learning to lead them can be very empowering and boosts confidence. Besides, they are awe-inspiringly beautiful! We start on the ground and move at the client’s pace. There are no expectations, except that we address the client’s issues and that they get what they need from each session.

If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety, give us a call of send us an email. We will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce you our equine partners – the horses – learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

 

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When it is NOT Just ‘Shyness’

Most of us have experienced moments of ‘shyness’ or times when we have felt challenged by a social situation. Maybe it’s a party where you don’t know many people or perhaps we are required to give an oral presentation. There may even be days where we just don’t want to go out and deal with other people. We may have been labeled as ‘shy’ or be considered an ‘introvert’. However, when our anxiety becomes a daily heart-pounding struggle, there may be more going on.

This Huffington Post article takes a look at ‘Social Anxiety,’ a mental health condition that affects approximately 15 million people, yet goes mostly untreated.  Melissa Weinberg, a therapist with the Anxiety and Stress Disorder Institute of Maryland notes this is in part due to, “Therapists may miss the diagnosis when the observable symptoms are actually reflective of another disorder”. The article provides several other reasons why this very prevalent mental health issue may go untreated, including the continuing stigma attached to mental health issues in general.

The good news is that there are things that can be done to address this condition, such as, “seek(ing) out fear-inducing situations in a controlled way” according to Dr. Patti Johnson, a psychologist in Los Angeles.

The lure of horses is very compelling for so many people and yet, fear may keep them from every experiencing the joy and healing power of working with horses. Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy can help with this! We offer a gently challenging way for our clients to address fears and anxiety. We do not have a set timeline for the work we do with our clients. It is much more about the pace that works for them. They meet the herd and are encouraged to choose a horse they would like to work with. They learn to halter, lead and groom the horse. We emphasize safety, teaching clients about horse and herd behavior – why horses do what they do – and how we can use this information to keep ourselves safe. We do a variety of ground exercises, where client has the opportunity to get to know their horse and begin to build a relationship. AND, we do mounted work, allowing clients to progress at their own pace, learning to walk, trot and even canter if they wish to do so and demonstrate the skill level to make this a safe activity.

If you or someone you know, are struggling with social anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, Depression or other mental health issues, seek help. We are here to be a part of a comprehensive treatment team. Call or email and we can schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help. We are here for you!

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We Need to Offer More Support

I don’t know if it is true or not, but it certainly seems to me that we are all experiencing more difficult and traumatic incidents in our lives. These are difficult times. In my own experience, my father died when I was very young. I have been robbed at gun point. I went through a period when I could not find a job, was unable to pay all my bills and worried about where I would live if I could not pay the rent. From addiction to homelessness. From violence in our schools and in our streets to out of control weather and even volcanic eruptions. The idea of a peaceful and trauma free life just does not seem possible. For children, teens and adults, daily life has become more complicated, challenging and in many cases daunting.

The Atlantic has a moving article about how children across our country are experiencing trauma. They are, and depending on how resilient they are and the help they receive, the effects may impact the rest of their lives. The article talks about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that can be trauma inducing. The “eight ACEs (parental divorce or separation; parental death; parental incarceration; violence among adults in the home; victim or witness to neighborhood violence; living with a mentally ill adult; living with someone who has a substance abuse problem; and experiencing economic hardship often, such as the family finding it difficult to afford food and housing)” are key in determining  which children 17 and under are more likely to experience trauma.

Because there is strong evidence that, “When a parent has experienced a high number of ACEs, chances are their children will as well—often the same ones, such as depression or substance abuse,” we need to break the cycle. Pediatricians, social workers, or other professionals need to be trained and supported in identifying when children are at risk and have the resources available to help. We need to offer help and solutions when we can and support and interventions when trauma has been experienced.

We continue to talk about mental health care, but more must be done.

Through work with horses, Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, can be powerful option for those working to deal with and recover from trauma. Horses are accepting and non-judgemental. They help us become grounded and present in the moment. They can help those who feel scattered and easily distracted to find a place of focus. They help us establish/re-establish safe personal boundaries and build our confidence in our ability to solve problems and be good leaders.

We work with children as young as 4, teens, adults and even seniors. If you or someone you know are struggling, call or email and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce you to our herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

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Frightening Increase in Teen Suicide

The numbers are sad and scary. CBS reports on a new study showing that “Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among American adolescents”.  The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the number of kids and teens hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or attempts more than doubled in the U.S. from 2008 to 2015.

The study author, Dr. Gregory Plemmons, an associate professor of pediatrics with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, points out that “it’s important to know the warning signs. Certainly major changes in sleep and appetite can be red flag”. He also notes, “We know that increasing screen time on electronic devices is a marker for depression, as well, so talking to teens about their use of media is important”.

We can change this! We need to talk about it. We need to fight to remove the stigma and to provide appropriate mental health interventions. Teens are often uncomfortable with traditional talk therapy. They may be confused about how they feel and may even be frightened of their own feelings. We need to provide supportive options.

That’s where Equine Assisted Therapy can be helpful. We work in partnership with therapists and caregivers to provide a supportive, non-judgemental and gently challenging environment for social, emotional, behavioral growth and learn, as well as a unique mental health intervention.

Through work with horses we can help build self-esteem and self confidence. We can improve personal boundaries and problem solving skills. We can help clients work through fears and anxiety, while they learn and practice self-soothing and calming skills. Additionally, the relationship a client builds with their horse is unique and powerful, especially in this time of technology and less interpersonal interaction.

If you know a teen that is struggling, SEEK HELP! We are here for you. Call or email and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

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Maybe it IS All in Your Head! The Neurobiologicals of ADHD

For years there has been lots of discussion about the ’causes’ of ADHD. Some believe that it is poor diet or other environmental exposures. Perhaps poor parenting. Maybe it is just ‘boys being boys’ (though, of course this doesn’t account for the many girls diagnosed with ADHD). And, there are those that contend that medications given to treat ADHD may just be making things worse.

However, new research supports some very real neurobiological differences in those living with ADHD.  Psychology Today shares some of the results of a government funded study that considered the ‘brain volume differences between a group of young 4-5 year old children with ADHD who have never been exposed to ADHD medications and a group of typically developing controls’. The results indicate ‘there do exist real brain-based differences that are evident at an early age.’ These findings are pretty interesting, but leads me to wonder, if we could dig deeper, would we find that the cause of these brain differences were in fact due to some type of genetic change related to environmental exposure. I think we are a long way from having all the answers, but new research provides clues and suggests treatment strategies that we can put in play.

On a positive note, there is some good evidence that Equine Therapy may be linked to functional brain changes in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

We see it in the work we do! While children as young as 4 learn the simple tasks of leading, grooming, tacking-up and riding a horse they are also improving focus, decreasing impulsity, building self-confidence/self-esteem, improving problem solving skills and helping with emotional regulation (and so much more!)  Clients are highly motivated, as they want to be able to be successful and spend time with ‘their’ horse.

Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy is a unique program, as we focus on social, emotional and behavioral growth and learning, as well as providing Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR), a mental health intervention, through work with horses. Another unique feature of our program is that not only do our clients work with their horses on the ground, building mutually respectful and bonded relationships, but they face a whole new set of experiences and challenges once they mount and begin to learn to ride.

We are here to help. If you or someone one you know are struggling with ADHD or other social, emotional, behavioral or mental health issues, give us a call or send us an email. We can schedule a visit for you. You will tour the ranch, meet our wonderful herd, have an opportunity to share what you are dealing with and to learn more about how we might be able to help.

 

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How Clients Learn Resiliency Through Work With Horses

Not surprisingly, I could give you a long list of the things people can learn through work with horses, but today I want to share with you some thoughts on ‘resiliency’.

In this article by Understood for learning & attention issues, they talk about what resiliency means, why it is important and how we can help kids and teens learn to be resilient.

They talk about exposing kids to challenges. From day one at N.E.A.T. our clients are dealing with challenges! The learn how to halter and lead a horse. The horse may be tall. The horse may be busy eating when a client goes to halter them. We do encourage our clients to try, at times offering advice, but we don’t just do it for them. We love it when they ask for help, but may also push them to keep trying ‘I know know you can do this’.

Whether working on the ground or riding, there will be consequences for the choice that clients make. A client may be distracted and looking somewhere else as they try to circle a barrel and all of sudden they find themselves ‘off track’ on an obstacle course. We remind them that if they stay focused and look where they want their horse to go they will have better results and encourage them to try again. Or perhaps they are working on trotting, but every time they get going they pull back on the reins and their horse stops. We talk about how the horse is getting mixed messages ‘your legs are telling them to go but your hands are telling them to stop. Your horse is not being ‘bad’. They are just confused about what you want’. (This is a perfect opportunity to talk about how we communicate our needs/wants appropriately!)

By offering opportunities to try, to succeed or have challenges, to ask for/receive and accept guidance and by reviewing the things that have not worked well and those that have, through work with horses, our clients build their resiliency.

So, if you or someone you know are struggling with the complexities of daily life, we are here to help! Call or email us and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Autism, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Eating Disorders, Grief, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Other challenges, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Schizophrenia, Seniors Program, Sensory processing issues, Teens | Leave a comment