ADHD, Learning, and Exercise

By David R. Parker, Ph.D

There is growing scientific evidence that regular exercise and even body movement have a positive impact on self-regulation and learning.  These findings are particularly true for youth with ADHD.  The New York Times Sunday Magazine section recently published an article, “Put The Physical In Education.”  Author Gretchen Reynolds reports on intriguing findings from a 2013 study in The Journal of Pediatrics.  Forty children (boys and girls) took computerized academic and attentional tests after two conditions:  20 minutes of sitting quietly and reading and 20 minutes of brisk walking or jogging on treadmills.  Half the children had ADHD; half did not.  ALL students in the study showed noticeable gains in reading comprehension and math scores after the exercise, but the improvements for the children with ADHD was particularly significant.  This has implications for school learning but also for homework.  Parents often encourage children to “sit still and get your work done.”  Paradoxically, many children with ADHD find it easier to focus during or after periods of movement.  Working at a counter (while standing up), writing out definitions or formulas on a whiteboard, and even reciting dates or spelling vocabulary while doing jumping jacks should be explored.  Even using a squeeze ball while completing worksheets can be encouraged as a research-based “best practice.”  This movement activates the production of neurotransmitters in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain behind the forehead that controls attention, decision-making, and self-monitoring.  For more examples of applying this principle, read “Fidget to Focus.”


Collaborative Partnerships: A Win-Win Approach to Wellness and Success

By David R. Parker, Ph.D.

A record-cool summer in Indiana has flown by and yellow buses have begun to transport students back to school. Where did the last few months go? August is a particularly busy time at CRG as families solidify resources to help their children succeed and adults shift from vacation mode to the busy months ahead. This issue of our newsletter focuses on collaborations. The British poet, John Donne, famously wrote, “No man is an island.” A wise African proverb tells us, “It takes a village to raise a child well.” Our providers and staff have always believed that partnerships can help our patients take good care of themselves. Our colleagues in public and private schools, universities and colleges, and other healthcare practices are a vital part of those collaborations. With patients’ permission, these community partners provide invaluable information that helps us do our jobs better. Multiple CRG providers are often involved in the assessment, medication, therapeutic, and/or educational services we provide. Patients tell us that these partnerships are one reason they enjoy coming to CRG. Behind the scenes, CRG providers actively consult with each other to better understand and serve our patients. This allows us to bring our unique professional backgrounds and clinical perspectives to the coordinated care plan a patient receives.

As we publish this issue, we are also pleased to launch a new format for these newsletters. You will notice that each issue is briefer (just three articles). A given issue will roll out, however, over three successive months. We hope this new approach makes it easier for you to read without getting too bogged down with a lengthy newsletter. As always, all published CRG newsletter articles are archived on the CRG Website. Jessica Beach, our superb front office supervisor, has reorganized these by topic area to make it easier to find a given article. Feel free to forward these to friends, family, or your own community partners. And keep an eye on our website as we launch new informational videos this fall.

This issue begins with an article by Dr. Julie Steck, psychologist and CRG’s co-founder. She writes about the many ways CRG collaborates with schools to serve students and families and to help educators address students’ needs. Read Dr. Steck’s description of four ways this partnership can unfold despite changing cultures and practices.

The next article explores how psychiatrists and ADD coaches collaborate to meet the needs of a growing number of CRG patients. ADD/life coaching is a wellness model that helps people reach their goals more effectively. Dr. Joshua Lowinsky, psychiatrist, and Dr. David Parker, ADD & Life Coach, use a Q&A format to discuss ways to identify potential clients, make appropriate referrals, and coordinate care when a person is seeing a psychiatrist and working with a coach. To read this

We hope you are thriving during this transition of seasons and appreciating the wisdom of using whatever resources help you do so.


Engage in Change

In March 2013, CRG hosted a symposium to raise awareness about Bullying Prevention and what we can do to create a Culture of Acceptance.  While preparing for this event, CRG met Chad Mills, a local musician with a passion to spread the word about Bullying Prevention, and how important it is to stand up for each other and be kind.  Chad made a music video with the help of local school children to promote his message.  Please visit his website to watch this powerful video, as well as learn more about his movement to create a Culture of Acceptance for everyone.

Talking to Children about Death

It’s a very difficult subject, to be sure, but a critically important one when the need arises.  Sometimes children are first exposed to the finality of life when a pet passes away.  Sometimes a relative’s death triggers adults’ need to consider questions such as, “How do we talk to a child about death?” “How much detail should I go into?” “Will his/her reaction to this event affect his/her mental health and development?”  The Indiana American Psychological Association’s “Psych Bytes” blog recently posted a wonderful article by Dr. James F. Schroeder from St. Mary’s Center for Children.  Click here to read his thoughtful article, “Conversations about Death…in Pursuit of Life.”

Males and Mental Health Issues

The Primary Care Psychiatry Foundation (PCPF) will be hosting a workshop entitled, “Men Are from Mars:  Psychiatric Disorders in Males Across the Lifespan,” on Saturday, September 13, 2014.  The workshop will take place at Marian University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine.  Medical and behavioral healthcare professionals are the primary audience.  CRG’s Dr. Joshua Lowinsky is a co-founder of the PCPF.  Using case scenarios, a range of expert presenters will address differential diagnosis, testosterone, stigma, psychosis, pain, and the high rate of mood disorders in incarcerated male populations.  Take advantage of early bird registration discounts until July 15th.  For the first time, registrants who cannot be there in person can participate via a teleconference option.  For more information or to register, click here.

Transition to Adulthood for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

by Julie Steck, Ph.D., HSPP

An increasing number of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders are transitioning from high school to adulthood. Current data reveals that approximately 1 in 88 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Most of these children continue to demonstrate symptoms into and throughout adulthood. In the past, these adults have been diagnosed with Depression, Social Phobia, Schizoid Personality Disorder, or other forms of mental health disorders. Currently, we recognize that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders have a developmental disorder with likely comorbid mental health disorders. It is important that families and mental health providers recognize the need for providing comprehensive evaluation, social support, psychological services, and recommendations for assisting in the successful transition from high school to adult life. This article from the Indiana Resource Center for Autism provides excellent guidance for professionals and families as they support students with Autism Spectrum Disorders transitioning to adulthood.




“Work Smarter, Not Harder” in School

by David Parker, Ph.D., Postsecondary Disability Specialist

I use this mantra when teaching study skills to high school and college students.  Many students take a passive approach to their learning.  High school students, in particular, often believe that the only “studying” needed to perform well is the completion of a teacher-made study guide one or two days before an exam.  Not surprisingly, the most common request I hear from parents is, “Can you teach my son or daughter how to STUDY before they enter college?”  New research from Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill presents an innovative way to help students apply this mantra.  Students were given time to learn how to solve a math brain teaser.  Immediately afterwards, some of the students were asked to reflect on what they had just learned (e.g., write about a strategy they could use in the future to solve this kind of problem).  All students were then given more brain teasers after a break.  Students who had stopped to reflect on what they had learned did much better on the follow-up problems.  Impressively, these gains lasted over time.  So… don’t just fill out that study guide.  Take a few minutes to reflect on what you have learned.  You could teach another student or family member how to solve that kind of problem.  You could record summary comments about the main ideas on your SmartPhone.  You could restate main ideas in your own words on notecards or in a mindmap.  Making these reflection activities a habit can not only boost your grades in the short run but enhance your retention of knowledge in the long run.   For other research-based study skills, click here for high school ideas and here for college ideas.

CRG Welcomes Two Dynamic Providers

We are very pleased to welcome Maggi Simpson, M.S., CCC-SLP and Elise S. Montoya, APRN, PMHNP-BC to our practice!  Maggi is a Speech Language Pathologist, trained in Alternative and Augmentative Communication, behavior management, and American Sign Language.  Maggi can conduct in-home assessments of communication delays and disorders in children from birth to age 18 while also seeing patients and their families here at CRG.  She specializes in working with patients with emotional and behavioral difficulties, parent-child interaction therapy, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and empowering families.  Maggi welcomes new clients and is eager to serve the former clients of Jenny Levett, who recently retired to start a family. Learn more about Maggi and her services here. Elise is a board certified Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan).  She has extensive experience at St. Vincent and most recently served as RN and Care Coordinator at CYACC in the IU School of Medicine.  Elise joins our other three med providers to offer diagnostic and pharmacological services to patients throughout the lifespan with a range of behavioral health issues.    She specializes in working with adolescents and adults with ADHD.  Read more here about Elise’s professional background and interests.  To schedule appointments with or learn more about these providers’ services, please call the CRG Intake line at (317) 575-9111, Option 3. 

Video Modeling and Social Behaviors

Beth Waite, MA-CCC/SLP-ATP, is a speech-language pathologist and assistive technology specialist.  For over 25 years, she has worked with a range of people including individuals on the autism spectrum.  In addition to coordinating services in public schools, Beth works part-time at CRG.  Click here to read her latest article for Autism Companion (p. 39).  Beth teaches families and educators how to use technology in innovative, individualized ways to enhance students’ communication and organizational goals.  Beth is offering several workshops this summer for parents, educators, and therapists.  Read descriptions and find registration information on her website

Emotional Regulation Predicts Marital Satisfaction

CRG’s Dr. Julie Steck reports on current research that has important implications for married couples.  A new study investigated the relationship between emotional regulation and marital satisfaction.  The study reinforces the importance of developing constructive communication skills to manage negative emotions.  Doing so has positive implications for marital success and family functioning.  Read more at