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September 26, 2012

Group takes aim at ADHD with laser tag event

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

Everyday activities can be a little tougher for a child that has Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. But one local group is showing ADHD boys how they can get a handle on their emotions and have fun at the same time.

Kids Empowered is a Birmingham-based counseling center that helps children learn how to deal with a variety of issues, from cyber and gaming addictions to ADHD and bullying. Author and former Roeper teacher Kevin Roberts is an instructor with Kids Empowered who specializes in working with ADHD children. He said the key is to teach kids important emotion-management skills in an environment that’s conducive to their specific style of learning.

“We believe that the best way to work with ADHD (kids) is to have fun. They need to be moving. That’s one of the problems they have in school is sitting still at their desk,” said Roberts.

Roberts and his colleagues at Kids Empowered thought that when it comes to high-energy kids, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. That’s why they’re holding two special events at Zap Zone in Farmington, where boys with ADHD will get the chance to play some laser tag with their friends while learning a thing or two about how to handle their disorder.

“They’ll get several laser tag rounds, group discussions, group interaction, food, fun and a couple of hours with Detroit’s leading experts in ADHD,” said Roberts.

Psychotherapist Drew Yanke is also an instructor with Kids Empowered, and he said events like this are not only more enjoyable than lessons taught in traditional classroom settings, they’re also more effective.

“Learning doesn’t happen in a bubble. It happens in social situations,” said Yanke, who explained that ADHD affects the frontal lobe of the brain, where emotions and social skills are controlled and executive functioning and time management occur, which is why ADHD can impact productivity for students.

“If we’re sitting in a room talking about social skills, you can’t really solve social problems.”

Franklin resident Viola Newman has taken her son Mandel to a number of the Kids Empowered events. Mandel, 9, has ADHD, and Newman said she’s seen a noticeable difference in his confidence after each activity.

“For my son, he felt like he belonged in a place for the first time. There were all these kids who had similar impulses and feelings, and it was kind of liberating for him. He really blossomed after that and felt more secure in himself,” she said.

“They gave him tools and things to do when he’s feeling emotional, and they help these kids recognize the strengths they have and focus on the positive things they have and help them learn how to adapt for other things. It helps them see their strengths and helps them to focus on that.”

The Empowering Boys with ADHD event at Zap Zone will take place 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 13 for boys 7 to 10 years old, and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 20 for boys 11 to 14 years old. Registration costs range from $60-$75. Zap Zone is located at 31506 Grand River in Farmington.

For more information on this event or the other programs offered by Kids Empowered, visit www.kid sempowered.com or call Drew Yanke at (248) 840-2699.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.