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Is your child having difficulties in school? Have you wondered whether it might be ADHD? Perhaps your child’s school psychologist, doctor, therapist, or neuropsych evaluator has diagnosed your child with this disorder.


According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, the percentage of children with an ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) diagnosis continues to increase. It is an issue that requires our attention, and now.

ADHD is a diagnosis that is frequently given to children who are struggling in school. Whether your child has some of the symptoms that we associate with this disorder, or whether you accept or dismiss this diagnosis, I urge parents and clinicians to continue to open the door to additional possibilities, rather than have any diagnosis, ADHD or otherwise, close doors to further inquiry.

As both a clinician and mother, I’ve observed and assessed children in the clinical setting, at home, and at school. I can attest to the fact that children can behave very differently given their circumstances. I’ve seen children’s behavior influenced by various factors on any given day.

Medical and mental health professionals can arrive at diagnoses in many ways. The clinician will usually use a combination of observation and a questionnaire, and sometimes a test for the child to take. The DSM 5 (the manual used to diagnose mental health issues) states that a child must exhibit, “in most situations,” at least six symptoms from either (or both) of the following lists in order for an ADHD diagnosis to be made:

List One

  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or during other activities.
  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish school work, chores, or duties.
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (difficulty managing sequential tasks; difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order; messy, disorganized work; has poor time management; fails to meet deadlines).
  • Often avoids or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g. schoolwork or homework.)
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., doesn’t come home from school with his jacket.)
  • Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

List Two

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate.
  • Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
  • Often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor.”
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
  • Often has difficulty awaiting turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations, games, or activities. May start using other people’s things without getting permission).

You may know some children who have at least six of these behaviors. Perhaps they indeed have ADHD, but perhaps not.

Some examples of issues that have similar symptoms to ADHD are:

Auditory Sensitivities

Auditorily-sensitive children may act differently in a noisy restaurant or classroom. They suddenly cannot sit still, are jumpy, or may start climbing on things. Just a few moments earlier, when they were outside, they were fine. Sometimes the classroom may change – construction might’ve begun outside the window, or new, louder students joined the group. Imagine trying to concentrate on something while someone is playing a tambourine in your ear. A child with sensitivities can experience what we perceive as moderate sounds in this way.

Some auditorily-sensitive children may get more fidgety or fearful when in a car or plane. Their symptoms could be that they suddenly “talk excessively” and “butt in on” a conversation. The underlying cause could be a sensitivity to movement combined with auditory issues. This is called vestibular hypoacusis and is often overlooked.

Visual Sensitivities

Have you ever felt kind of “off” walking through a brightly-lit grocery store? Or noticed a “blinking” happening in a light above you? This could be a sensitivity to fluorescent lighting. Imagine this 100 times brighter while you’re trying to get school work done. A child who is acting agitated in the classroom and unable to focus could be experiencing this scenario without the ability to articulate what is bothering him or her.

Deeper visual developmental issues such as amblyopia (often known as “lazy eye”) or tracking issues are difficult to diagnose unless a child is seen by a developmental ophthalmologist. School screenings do not cover this, and children can have 20/20 vision in a regular vision test while the issues such as tracking or amblyopia remain undetected. These children can appear to have difficulty paying close attention to their written homework, or may appear to not be “paying attention” because they bump into other children or cannot follow a ball when playing sports.

Treatment of sensory processing disorders (SPDs)

Undergoing sensory integration therapy (through occupational therapists, vision therapists, and audiologists) could make a child become temporarily “unglued” while in therapy or after. For one child I worked with, the reintegration process manifested as extreme anxiety. Every child is different, but you might be able to check every item on the ADHD symptom lists (plus a few more!). 

Imagine having someone help you to reset how you use your eyes, ears, sense of balance, where your body is in space in relation to the world, how you taste, and how you feel things on your body. Not only are you having to get used to all of these new feelings independently, but your brain must work on integrating them all to work together. It can be very disorienting. Some practitioners who specialize in SPDs are finding innovative ways to more quickly and gently help children integrate their sensory issues and to prevent this “integration reaction” from happening at all.

Boredom and giftedness

Giftedness can include sensitivities and talents that are often misunderstood in the regular classroom setting. Giftedness may, ironically, create difficulties in the typical school setting and can make a child appear “not so smart or talented.”  A child who is bored with a topic may look like they have ADHD in the classroom. Because they are able to think so fast and digest information so easily, especially (and sometimes only if) they are interested in the topic, it makes other topics or going too slowly on a topic very painful.

Imagine someone explaining to you all the steps required to brush your teeth. Every detail of it. And then giving you a quiz on all the steps and marking you incorrect if you got the tiniest detail wrong. This is how a gifted child may experience the classroom setting. Giftedness exists on a spectrum. A common story of children in high school is that they take medication to get through homework that is monotonous and repetitive. These same children often have issues with anxiety and depression.

Learning style

Some children need to move when processing information. This type of child may fidget in his desk while trying to solve a problem in his head. A child like this may do better if he could get up and move around while trying to think or while listening to a lecture.

Other sensitivities

Some children can be sensitive to the feeling of clothing such as tags or the seams in socks. Others are particularly sensitive to what an adult or other children think of them. An example of this might be a child who gets jumpy or hides under a desk when an adult perceived as negatively judgmental is present. Others may have food sensitivities that might manifest as hyperactivity after eating a frosted cupcake. Still others might fall to pieces before lunchtime when their blood sugar takes a dive from not eating.

This is just a short list of examples of what can be causing ADHD-type symptoms. As with any diagnosis, a child can have one or many from the list above and ADHD.

Another consideration in the diagnosis of ADHD in children is that we are still trying to understand how and when parts of a child’s brain develop. An article in Medical News Today stated that the findings of a recent study show that, “[a]s children age into adolescence and on into young adulthood, they show dramatic improvements in their ability to control impulses, stay organized, and make decisions.”

The area of the brain most relevant to ADHD is the prefrontal cortex, which controls executive functioning. Executive functioning is the term used for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation, in other words, the skills needed to regulate the symptoms of ADHD. Some say that this area does not fully develop until after adolescence, others say there is a big boost at about age 12. Either way, we know that it is not fully developed in children and may, therefore, contribute to symptoms that are linked with ADHD.

Some examples of executive functioning skills are:

  • Being able to pay attention
  • The ability to control what one does or says (A child might observe “That kid smells!” then think, “Will I blurt something out, or will I think about how this will affect things?”)
  • Working memory
  • Reasoning
  • Cognitive flexibility (“I know she doesn’t like broccoli, but I do and that’s okay.”)
  • Problem solving
  • Planning
  • Following through on plans

These are all things that most children are working on at some level. What ADHD is diagnosing is the ability (or inability) to use our executive function. If some of the events from the “What else looks like ADHD” list above are happening while a child is trying to figure out their executive functioning skills, or if their prefrontal cortex is developing at a different rate, you can imagine how it could look like ADHD to parents and clinicians.

With these developing years being so crucial to setting the stage for the adults we are actualizing, I urge parents and clinicians to consider the additional or alternative explanations for behaviors we associate with ADHD. Some non-ADHD issues are easily detected and addressed and others may take more of our time and resources, but the results can be remarkable. Even when ADHD was an accurate diagnosis, I have seen profound and positive changes in children whose parents have dared to look further.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

skellington mug

If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99

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2. My First Halloween Board Book

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Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

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3. Anna + Elsa Costume

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Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

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4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

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If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

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5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

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Hocus Pocus will always be a favorite. For a humorous take on being a mama, add this one to your wardrobe.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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