Thursday, March 16, 2017

Does My Kid Have ADHD?

A Cautionary Tale


Is your obviously intelligent child having trouble in school?  Does he daydream, have a lot of trouble focusing in class? Is he (or she) disruptive and not doing well in class. Is it time to get the kid started on Ritalin? 

A couple of things first. If you are worried about ADHD or autism, find a good child psychologist and have him evaluated. Don't start with a doctor or pediatrician. There's no physical test for psychological or behavioral issues. Physicians have a protocol for these things and too often it starts off with Ritalin. 

Don't go that way. Get the diagnosis first. 

With ADHD the best thing is not to rush them into school. If I had my way I'd start an ADHD kid in school when he was ten years old. Give him time to settle down. He'd catch up in no time because he or she would be better prepared socially. 

Unfortunately, schools don't let you do that. 

ADHD is actually not a specific single disorder. It's a cluster of symptoms that can actually be caused by one of four or more different problems. 
  1. True deficits of attention - Classic ADHD is caused by lowered glucose in the frontal lobes of the brain. Ritalin works well for that as a stop gap. It's one of the most dramatic effects in psycho-pharmacology. If it doesn't work amazingly well, it ain't real ADHD. 
  2. Tourette's syndrome. This can start out with attention issues and then develop into twitches and then the full outburst sorts of behaviors you get with Tourettes. There are some medications that help. 
  3. Childhood depression - Depression can be triggered for a variety of real reasons (divorce, illness, death, loss, etc.). Depression in kids can cause attention problems. This can be treated with counseling and anti-depressents. 
  4. Bipolar disorder - Both the manic and depressive cycles cause attention problems early on in kids before full bipolar develops. There is a family history of bipolar in both sides of my own family. 
If you start looking at your family history, you may more quickly find the source of you child's attention problems. My own son started showing symptoms early and we thought it was ADHD at first. If we'd known it was bipolar, we'd have done different things to attempt to treat it. ADHD treatments were ineffective.

If your child is having symptoms that look like one of these issues, do your best to keep the child away from pot and other drugs when they hit junior high and high school. Pot use and other drug abuse, for instance can actually trigger earlier onset of full blown bipolar disorder and may , and that is not something you want to kick in when you're kid is also struggling with puberty issues.


Be sure and let the psychologist know about family history of mental illness. That's why it is better to start with the experts. If there has been any trauma in the family or the child has suffered a head injury or some other powerful event. These can trigger attention issues.

And for kids with attention problems, you might try a programmed learning approach that he can do at his own speed. Do not underestimate the power of learning by activities which give the child immediate feedback. It's why a kid who can't pay attention for ten minutes in school can spend hours playing a video game. Video games provide instant feedback which re-engages attention continuously. There are home-school programs that are really good for that sort of thing.

© 2017 by Tom King

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Clear the Ice Off Your Windshield SAFELY!



Introduction:

It’s the time of year when snowstorms turn to ice storms and lay down coats of ice over our windshields. Nothing is worse than hacking at a sheet of ice on a miserable morning in the middle of a nasty ice storm and trying to clear the ice so you can go to work. You can run your car with the heater on and after a while you can break loose the ice by hacking at it with an ice scraper.  Then there’s when you’re in a hurry and have to drive to work with a 12 inch hole in the ice in front of the driver’s side (see above) and the side windows down so you can hang your head out. Who needs it?

The easiest way to clear your windshield is by going out the night before and throwing a tarp over your windshields. Unfortunately, we don’t always get warnings of ice storms the night before. So next time you go out to get in your car and go to work, find the windows coated with ice here’s what you can do to safely remove the ice and get on to work without cracking your windshield.  And best of all it’s cheap and uses stuff you can find in your cleaning closet.

Materials:
FYI - A hockey stick is NOT a good window scraper.

  • Cold water
  • 2 household sprayer bottles
  • High quality ice scraper
  • Warm gloves
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Dishwashing Liquid

Directions:

  1. Mix ½ cup rubbing alcohol with 4-5 drops of dishwashing detergent. Pout the solution into one of the sprayers and mark it.
  2. Mix 3 cups vinegar and 1 cup cold water
  3. Put on your warm clothes and gloves and grab your ice scraper and bottles of solution.
  4. Spray the ice over the windows and mirrors with the alcohol/dishwashing liquid solution and let it sit 5 minutes.
  5. The ice should lift off the glass. You may have to break it loose from the frame of the windshield or the metal edges around the mirrors with the ice scraper.
  6. If the ice is very thick, you may have to repeat spraying the ice with the alcohol/dishwashing liquid solution a time or two to get the ice to release.
  7. Once all the mirrors and windows are clear, spray with the vinegar/water solution to clear away the soapy residue and you’re done. Make sure and clear the entire window for you own safety and so you won’t get stopped by the cops.

This is NOT the fun way to remove ice. It's hard
on your hands and your windows.
You can also spray your windows the night before with the alcohol/dishwashing liquid solution to prevent ice from forming and sticking to your windows. You can also take the bottles along with you to work and spray the windows before you go in, in case another ice storm hits while you’re at work.  Of course a tarp is best way to keep ice off your windows if you have to park out of doors, but if you don’t want to fool with that, the spray on solution works too. Before you drive home spray with vinegar water and wipe the windows clear. 

Whatever you do, don’t use hot water on a frozen window of any other heat source for that matter. It can crack the glass, especially at very low temperatures. Salt on the car windows is also a terrible idea because of the danger of rusting and pitting metal car parts. Avoid hitting the ice because at low temperatures your car windows are easier to break.  

Especially don’t use antifreeze on your windows. It tastes sweet to animals and is highly poisonous. Spill some on the ground and you can accidentally kill your neighbor’s pets.

References:

WBNT-10TV:  AAA Offers Advice for De-Icing Your Car

Dollar Stretcher: Homemade Window De-Icer

Reader’s Digest: 12 Ways to Use Rubbing Alcohol



Monday, February 06, 2017

Homemade Anchors - The Concrete Jug

Spring is approaching and fishing season looms.  Here's a quick and cheap anchor for your canoe, rowboat, Jon boat, skiff or other small craft to keep you from drifting while you're fishing.

Materials:
  • Half gallon plastic jug - Use a bottle with as thick a plastic as possible. The plastic protects your boat's finish when you're pulling the anchor back on board. A squared milk jug works even better because the mouth tends to be larger and it won't roll around in the bottom of the boat.
  • Concrete mix with small aggregate.
  • Half inch x 6" plus eyebolt with nut 
  • Half inch nylon or polyethylene rope








Method:
  1. Mix concrete with water to make a thin but not watery mixture - about the consistency of oatmeal.  
  2. Pour the concrete mix into the plastic bottle and fill to the top
  3. Screw the nut on the bottom of the eyebolt and shove it into the mouth of the bottle so that the eye sticks out the top.
  4. Allow the concrete to set hard.
  5. Tie 50 feet of half inch rope to the bottle through the eyebolt or the handle. Use a bowline knot so it won't slip and so you will be able to untie it if you need to replace the rope or change the configuration of the rope in some way. 
Notes:

This anchor is heavy, but it may drag. There are no tangs so if there's a breeze you may move a little bit as the jug drags over the bottom. It's usually easy to drag up at the end of the day for that reason, though. Because it's plastic, the anchor will last a long while. Eventually the plastic bottle may degrade and fall apart. Just peel off the old plastic an the anchor will still work. You'll probably want to cover it with something to keep it from scratching your boat.