Monday, December 3, 2012

Working Memory

Working memory refers to your ability to temporarily store and manipulate information. For example, a set of numbers is given and you have to repeat them in reverse order.

Working memory is the link between what you see, think, or experience and either long-term or short-term memory. This can impact the child in all academic areas. It may appear as inattention, failure to complete assignments, slow processing speed, or careless mistakes. These children do not have impulsive or hyperactive behaviors. 

To see if you or your child has problems in working memory, read a sentence, then cover it up and see if he or she can recall the last word. 

How can you help your child with working memory problems? There are a number of steps you can follow:

Use visual reminders when possible.

Present new information in smaller chunks.

Encourage your child to write things down as a reminder.

Play plenty of board games, do puzzles and memory games to strengthen working memory abilities.

Need to know more? Leave a comment & I'll send you more information.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: "The Living Room" by Bill Rolfe

Have you ever been in a place that was so beautiful it touched your soul? A view so amazing it made you feel whole inside?

The author of "The Living Room", Bill Rolfe, had a dream about such a place. In the tradition of Stephanie Meyers, he turned his dream into a compelling novel.

Daniel is living a life many would envy. He has money and power, and has recently inherited a beautiful home in England. He senses the hollowness of his existence as he makes the decision to inspect his new property before putting it on the market.

Daniel's journey not only changes his life, but that of a beautiful nurse he encounters in his new town. It also has a significant impact on many of her patients, critically ill children. Readers will learn more about themselves, including the value of life and sacrifice, as they experience this novel, a beautiful read.

You can get more information about this project at

Learn more about Bill's story here

You can purchase your won copy of "The Living Room" here and see the book trailer here

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Take Control of Your Life!

About 18 months ago I decided some changes were needed. I felt that too many aspects of my life were slipping out of control.

At times, events happen that can make us feel lost and helpless. This was not the case for me. I had allowed my priorities to become misplaced and had over-committed myself. It was past time for a new plan.

Of course I wanted everything to change right then.  But that's not possible in even the best of circumstances.  My home was in disarray. My health was not good. I struggled to find time for friends. I often felt sad and alone. I decided to focus on one thing at a time.

I began with my house. I was struggling to keep it clean, and many things needed maintaining. It was overwhelming, especially when combined with the demands of work and classes for my PhD.

I decided to at least take a step. I made sure my bed was made every morning. Not just on weekends, or on days when I had an extra few minutes before work. Every morning.

As it turned out, this three-minute task changed my life.

Have you ever done one small thing that made a huge difference?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Power of Making Your Bed

I recently read an article about gaining control of your life. One thing mentioned that had made the most impact was making your bed on a daily basis. Many people see an unmade bed as a reproach or a confirmation of their ineptitude. Others view it as a symbol of the disorder and chaos all around them.

Making your bed takes an average of three minutes. It can be done mindlessly, or in collaboration with another family member. It gives a measure of order to your bedroom. When you return in the evening, it's one less thing to be done.

So, what does this have to do about disabilities? Many times aspects of a physical or intellectual challenge jump up and knock our lives out of kilter. Making your bed gives you back just a little control. It gives you hope for order in the universe. It removes a potential source of agitation. It inspires you to take care of other things you have procrastinated.

This was an overwhelming week. I had family members in the direct path of a superstorm. I wanted to rent the largest vehicle I could find, fill the tank with gas cans, and go get them. I felt helpless.

I found more productive ways to help them by sending in food. I cleaned out a closet in my own house. I met my personal and work responsibilities. I felt a little stronger, more in charge.

We can't always control the events in our lives. But we can carefully choose our actions and reactions. So, go make your bed and look around to see other ways you can improve your life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Author Interview - Scott Hurst, Author of "Open Fire"

Scott Hurst's book, "Open Fire": J. Golden Kimball Takes on the South" is now available! Scott kindly consented to an author interview. 

What motivated you to write your book? 

The first thing that attracted me to J. Golden was his uncanny sense of humor. The second thing, and this is the thing that really got me hooked, was his incredible sense of compassion and humanity.

What surprised you the most about your subject? 

How much he struggled in his life. He had some very severe challenges, some admittedly his own fault and many that weren't, that he managed to weather with a large amount of perseverance, humor and sheer tenacity.

What is your favorite J. Golden story? 

I have several, mostly ending with a classic Golden-ism of colorful language. Instead, let me share with you my favorite Uncle Golden quote, one that sums up not only who he was but really sums it up for all of us: "I may not have always walked the straight and narrow, but I've crossed it as many times as I could." And there's not one cuss word in it!

What most impressed you about him? 

His ability to cross social boundaries. As a general authority he was beloved by not only the LDS people but by non-LDS as well. I think this is, again, due to his great humanity and understanding that no matter who you are, we are all on the same path. We all have strengths and weaknesses. He was very honest about his own, which allowed him to be very understanding of others as well.

If you could sit down with him today, what would you ask him? 

How he'd like his coffee.

How do you find the time to write? Do you have another job? If so, how do you balance everything? 

Time to write. Wow. You just have to make it. I'm not really one to ask about balance, since I don't think I do that great of a job at it. But as far as writing…you have to just sit your behind down in the chair and do it. There is absolutely NO other way to get it done.

Do you have any other projects in the works?

I'm working on a biography of my grandparents who were from both sides of WWII in the Pacific and have a second J. Golden book percolating on the back burner.

You can purchase your own copy of "Open Fire" here and learn more about J. Golden Kimball. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Upcoming Events!

I will be participating in an author's panel with Don Carey (author of "Bumpy Landings"), Kevin Hinckley, author of "Parenting the Strong-Willed Child", and Mary Crouch, Licensed Specialist in School Psychology. We will be discussing parenting a child with special needs, the impact of a disability on other family members, and how to plan for life after high school. Bring your questions!

The presentation will be followed by a book signing.

Mark your calendar for Friday, November 2 from 7-9 PM and join us at the Barnes and Nobel in Hurst (in the Shops at NorthEast Mall--861 NE Mall Blvd).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mind Games

by S.Z. Berg and Jonathan Berg
Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1479184594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1479184590
FCC Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Savannah Bloom is trying to claw her way up into the challenging world of journalism. She has a boyfriend and a bright future. It all starts to unravel when symptoms of OCD begin to appear. She thinks she can control the situation as she has most difficulties in her life, but becomes overwhelmed by "IT". Was this malady caused by an infection? Can she learn to manage, or will she lose everything?

I at first found the premise that mental illness could be caused by an infection to be ridiculous, until I did more research and actually had to deal with someone who began to show characteristics following a prolonged infection. This interesting novel allows you to care about Savannah while taking a peek into her difficult world. This work will be useful for teens and young adults to begin to understand mental illness while creating a beginning for a dialogue. Few novels featuring a character with a disability are as compelling as this. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

General Conference 2012

I put key words from each talk into at word cloud. Here's the result I'll use as a reminder:

   Wordle: General Conference 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Here's the perfect way to celebrate while blessing your family:

One of the things my children remember is doing "something Christmas" every day during December. Sometimes it was as simple as making cards, others included baking or games. They also recall reading together a variety of books.

Here's your chance to make memories, encourage literacy, enjoy family time, and support a good cause.

A collection of authors across the country have banded together to create "Sing We Now of Christmas: An Advent Anthology". This collection of 25 stories will warm your family's heart as you count down to Christmas.

These fabulous writers have donated their work to help others. Proceeds from the sales of this book will go towards the National Down Syndrome Society, an effort in the true spirit of Christmas. Get your copy here.

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1479266248
  • ISBN-13: 978-1479266241

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good News, Bad News, Progress Reports

School has now been in long enough that progress reports are going home. Some parents will be delighted by their student's success. Others will be angry and hurt.

What should you do if you have disappointing news? Here are a few steps:

  • Check to see if your school offers a way for you to check grades online daily. That way you can encourage your child to complete missing assignments and limit the surprises. 
  • Call the teacher. Not the counselor, administrators, or your friend who works at the school. The classroom instructor is the only one who can really tell you what's going on. 
  • Don't call multiple people about the same problem. If you haven't heard back in 48 hours, call an administrator. If you call many staff members at the same time, we begin to think someone else will take care of things. It delays our actions. 
  • Hold your child responsible. If there are zeros or incomplete assignments, take away privileges until grades improve. A student suddenly without a cell phone is highly motivated to work. 
  • Work with the school to get your child to tutorials. If you need to ask a neighbor or family member for transportation help, do so. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012


It's the beginning of a new school year. Anxious parents express concerns that their children won't have the support they need to be successful in school. They make phone calls, send emails, and even visit the school in person to make their worries known.

One word is often left out of these communications.


Teachers often attend classes during their summer vacations to improve their teaching for the upcoming school year. They also spend countless hours of their own time to obtain and prepare their materials. They want everything just right for the beginning of school.

These educators will also provide food to families, make sure kids have glasses and other medical support, help them do their homework, give out school supplies, and provide a listening ear to lonely children. They do this for the love of these little ones.

What keeps them going? A word or two of thanks. Let's set the tone for the year right, with appreciation expressed where it is due.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Review - "The Lost Stones" by Paul Rimmasch

Ammon has been researching alternative forms of energy, which attracts some unwanted attention. He has also long been fascinated by the stones created by the brother of Jared and made to glow by the finger of God. He joins forces with John and his beautiful daughter to follow the archaeological clues to find the stones. Will they find the stones? Will they survive natural and man made challenges?

I enjoyed the interaction among the characters in this book. The complex plot keeps you reading, but is not too convoluted. If you're looking for an action-packed adventure fit for the whole family to read, give "The Lost Stones" by Paul Rimmasch a try.

Available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Watch the book trailer at

Learn more about this title at and

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bonneville Books (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599558874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599558875

Monday, August 27, 2012

A New Site and a Contest!!!

I've just launched a new website to help those with disabilities and their families. Check out LDS disAbilities Help here for resources, personal stories, tips, and more.

What can you win?

  • One of three autographed copies of my book, "(dis)Abilities and the Gospel"
  • A $25 gift card to
  • One of 2 half hour phone consultations
  • One of 10 copies of my social skills game, "Who Do You Tell"
How do you enter?
  • Posting on Facebook or Twitter gets you one entry each.
  • Blogging gets you three entries per post. 
  • Submitting an article or blog post gets you five entries each.
  • Sending in a tip to use at church gets you two entries each.
Entries are counted as you post comments about what you did. Be sure to mention which prize you'd like to win. Contest ends September 15, 2012. Winners will be chosen by

What are you waiting for? Get started on those entries!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Coming Attractions! New Disability Website

I'm launching a new website soon with resources, forums, and information to help those with disabilities more fully participate in their church communities. Here's a preview:

  • A contest with prizes including a free copy of "(dis)Abilities and the Gospel: How to Bring People with Special Needs Closer to Christ", a free consultation to problem solve, and other swag!
  • A blog where you can "ask the professional" questions about a specific disability. 
  • Resources for help.
  • Information on specific disabilities in layman's terms that can be shared with others.
  • Disability news and the latest research.
  • Guest bloggers who can share their experiences.
  • "What Works" with specific ideas that have been successfully used by others. 
  • Teaching tips for working with those with disabilities. 
  • More content as we grow!
Please leave a comment and mention what you'd like to see on the site.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Toddler Snoring

When you check on your toddler, do you see a sweet sleeping baby? Or does the scene sound more like a dog growling or an old man snoring?

My youngest daughter snored when she was little. A lot. Her older sister frequently came into our room at night proclaiming, "She's snoring. AGAIN!"

Because my husband suffers from sleep apnea, we took her to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. She needed ear tubes and a tonsillectomy. This formerly noisy three-year-old is now a silently sleeping college sophomore.

A new study from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center indicates that loud persistent snoring in preschoolers may be more than allergies. It could be sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which can be a sign of behavior problems later on.

The children in the study who had SDB had a significantly higher chance of hyperactivity, depression, and attentional problems than those who snored little or not at all. This is concerning because these kinds of problems at this age are strong indicators of more serious behavioral problems in older children and teens.

What to do? If your child's snoring is only occasional, track it. If it gets to be 2-3 times per week or more, alert your pediatrician.

Need more information?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Honesty is the best policy. Not only morally best, but also best for our health and relationships. Think about how you feel when you tell a lie--no matter how small. Try to remember how hurt you were when finding out someone had lied to you. Do you tend to avoid those who lie on a regular basis? I do.

 A new study from the University of Notre Dame revealed that the average American lies 11 times each week. Think about that. It's an average, meaning some tell fewer, and others more . . . possibly many more. If you were to track your lies, where would you fall? Would the answer make you feel uncomfortable? How many lies each week would be acceptable to you?

The researchers had adults and college students track their weekly lies, and discovered that telling fewer lies can improve our health.

Those who reduced their "white" lies by 3 per week had better physical and mental health. This was also true for "major" lies. This puts to rest the saying that "white" lies are harmless.

Study participants who told fewer lies also reported better personal relationships and smoother interactions with others. These improved connections may account for the enhanced relationships.

The good news is that we can all do this. Those in the study made conscious decisions not to exaggerate or make false excuses for incomplete tasks. Others responded to awkward questions by asking another question as a distraction.

Whether you're motivated by better health or doing it for your friends and family, it's the right thing to do. Let's all give it a shot. I'm going to start right now.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Avoiding Homework Hassles

It's time to get ready to go back to school. In addition to new clothes and school supplies, many parents spend considerable time thinking about how to make the new school year better. One area most families can improve is the hassle of homework.

The point of homework is to reinforce what is taught during the school day. Having to remember instructions after returning home and being responsible enough to turn in the assignment are also good life skills.

Why is homework such a problem? Some children don't want to stop playing long enough to begin, others quit before completion, and an entirely different group don't turn in what they do.

The solution starts with planning. Getting the information from school, finding a time and place, and discovering the right system to turn work in all need consideration.

How will your child remember the information and get it home? Most school use some sort of a planner or notebook system. Encourage your student to write down assignments, then check the notebook when they get home. Compare what comes to you with what the teacher posts on his or her website for accuracy.

Now select a time. One young man told me he couldn't do homework right after school because he "had" to play. Didn't believe him until his mother said she sent him down the street to play as soon as he got off the bus so she could make dinner in peace. Some children need to de-stress right after school, so a later time is better. Others need to get right on it so they can get finished before bedtime. The most important thing is to be consistent.

Where to do it? Pick a quiet location that is comfortable with no distractions. That means no electronics or playing siblings. If you can, keep this area just for homework.

Now, to begin. Visit with your child to see if he or she wants to tackle the hard stuff first or warm up the brain with something quick and easy. Either system works if the child will do it. You may just want to get out one assignment at a time so your child isn't overwhelmed. 

Don't just walk away at this point. You will have to do a little trial and error to determine how much monitoring your child requires. Some need constant prompting, while others only need occasional checking. 

Armed with your plan, you're ready for a successful school year!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Thinking in Texas?

Apparently the Republican Party of Texas has recently added a new plank to their platform:

"We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. "

The party platform stated that the ability to think critically undermines parental authority and endangers student beliefs. Poppycock. When children are taught how to think, they can have appropriate discussions with their parents about family rules and morals. Higher level thinking skills are required to turn knowledge into action. It's required in the fields of higher math and science. 

If education is the way we prepare children for the future, then we are doing them a disservice if we don't teach them how to think. Creating a citizenry who cannot use their intellectual skills also puts all our future in danger. 

So, let's get all those educators to stop teaching kids to think! They don't need the ability to solve new problems, find innovative solutions to world problems, or make informed decisions! The crises  of world hunger and global warming will need creative solutions if we are to survive. 

This whole thing confuses me. What were they  thinking? Maybe the party leaders are adding this termite-infested plank because they don't want others to do what they can't. Critical thinking appears to be out of their grasp. After all, they endorse corporal punishment....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review - "Middle School Magic: The Kindling" by Braden Bell

"Connor Dell didn't mean to set anyone's gym shorts on fire." This is the first line of "Middle School Magic: The Kindling" by Braden Bell. This book should come with a warning label. Seriously. Once you pick it up, you won't get anything else done. You'll be pulled into a new world that is a perfect blend of fantasy and reality. You won't want to stop reading until the final page. 

Braden's completely believable middle school students suddenly find that they have unusual powers. The friends are then drawn into a world of danger and magic. They learn about their new abilities as they must simultaneously deal with a stalker no one else can see and warriors from an unseen realm.

 This fast-moving tale is interspersed with humor middle-schoolers will appreciate, but adults will find this an enjoyable read, also. The images of a memorable scene that takes place in the "It's a Small World" ride will long be with me...

It's hard to find good books that will interest children in middle school, especially boys. Discovering one that is a "clean read" without objectionable material is even more difficult. This is a title that kids of both genders will want to enjoy without worrying their parents.

You can take a look at trailers for this book here, read sample chapters here and order your autographed copy here.

You can read more about this title at, and check out the author's blog (his Middle School Mondays have great advise for parenting) at

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brain Scans Detect Autism in Infants

A new study coordinated by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital has used brain scans to identify brain changes associated with autism.

The researchers took 92 six-month old infants at high risk for autism and used a specialized MRI called diffusion tensor imaging. The babies were followed until the age of 24 months, at which time 30% has an autism diagnosis. The wiring differences were then identified from the original scans.

This news means children may be diagnosed before symptoms emerge. Their parents can then get early intervention, which is key to the best outcome possible.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Possible New Diagnostic Test for Autism

One of the challenging aspects of making a diagnosis of autism is that there are no definitive tests. Evaluators must rely on a collection of data to determine if the child in question has problems in communication, relationships, and behavior.

This may be about to change. A new study from Boston Children's Hospital revealed that children with autism show less connectivity between brain regions than their typical peers. This difference can be identified through an EEG. The differences were especially apparent in language-related brain areas.

What does this mean?

  • The researchers believe that EEGs could be used to definitively identify autism in children as young as two years old. 
  • This will standardize diagnostic criteria so that children will no longer be identified with autism in one area but not in another.
  • Early identification means early intervention and better outcomes for these children and their families. 
In short, good news all around. 

The next step? Repeating this study with children identified with Aspergers' Syndrome. Children with autism who also had other disorders such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or extremely premature birth. This will determine if EEG diagnosis is also appropriate in these cases.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Persistence Comes from Fathers!

Whether you're finishing up a difficult project, passing a hard class, or just showing up for work every day, thank your father.

A new study from Brigham Young University indicates that when fathers teach their children persistence, there are higher engagement rates in school and much less delinquency.

A habit of persistence pays off later in life as these youngsters are better prepared to work hard and cope with the stress we all face.

How does this happen? Children learn the following from their dads:

1. Love, compassion, and warmth.
2. Why rules exist and why they must be followed.
3. How to work hard and be self-sufficient.

Fathers who followed the above steps had kids with higher levels of persistence. This is one indicator of the important role of fathers in the lives of children.

What do we learn from this? If a biological father is not in the picture, it's very important that a substitute male role model be available for the sake of the children. This "dad sub" must make an effort to express affection, take time to talk about rules and how the world works, and set the example of hard work.

Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Disability Scams

School's out for summer. That means families have a little more time to spend together. Concerned parents will encourage their children to read and participate in other activities that help their children get ready for the next academic year.

Unfortunately, that means the scammers who are out to make a buck rather than help children are out in force. 

Every year I hear from parents who have been sucked into one type of "get smart quick" scheme or another. They often spend thousands of dollars in misguided attempts to improve the intellectual abilities of their young ones. 

I've seen parents who've spent thousands of dollars on acupuncture to cure autism, brain training to cure Down Syndrome, eye training for ADHD, and a host of other fake treatments. These mothers and fathers are the good ones, just trying to help their children, but it makes educators crazy to see these families doing without so some phony business can steal their cash. Not to mention the letdown afterwards.

How can you keep from being a victim? Here are a few warning signs:

  • The service provider is in a disreputable location such as an alley or warehouse district.
  • They can't provide you with proven independent university studies.
  • The company may warn you that "the entire medical community" doesn't want your child's problem cured so the doctors can make more money. Really? If a cure is discovered for autism, you don't think it would be all over the news?
  • This individual or group of people can't produce independent studies that prove their methods work. 
  • There are no "satisfied customers" available for you to call.
  • The treatment in question cures "everything". Learning disabilities come from many sources, and therefore need different types of treatment. 
  • They state their methods are a cure. 
  • You're asked not to tell your pediatrician or teachers about their treatment.
  • They ask for cash only. 
If you've already been taken, it's not too late.

  • Call the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney's office.
  • Tell everyone you know--especially through blog posts, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • If you were able to pay with a credit card, dispute the charges.
  • Opening your mouth is the best way to put them out of business. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Speech Development - What Sounds at What Ages?

Parents often worry about their child's speech from an early age. I was concerned about my oldest son at the age of 5 when he said "f" instead of "th". Our friends, the Thatchers, weren't to excited to be called the "Fatchers", either. Here's a list of what sounds should be present and when.

3 Years:

  • "p" as in pike and up
  • "m" as in me and am
  • "n" as in no and on
  • "h" as in hi
  • "w" as in want
4 Years:
  • "b" as in bye and tub
  • "d" as in do and had
  • "k" as in cow and book
  • "g" as in go and big
  • "f" as in four and off
5 Years:
  • "ng" as in sing
  • "t" as in toe and hit
  • "y" as in you
6 Years:
  • "l" as in like and ball
7 Years:
  • "r" as in run and car
  • "s" as in see and bus
  • "z" as in zoo and nose
  • "v" as in van and have
  • "sh" as in shoe and push
  • "ch as in chat and watch
  • "j" as in jump and page
  • "th" as in thin, both, that, and mother
As you can see, I had no reason to worry as he wasn't expected to develop that sound for a couple more years. If you are concerned, contact your pediatrician or local public school for a referral to a Speech Language Pathologist for an evaluation. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Warning Signs of Autism - 24 Months of Age and Beyond

The signs of autism are slightly different in two-year-olds than infants. They include the following:

  • No shared attention (pointing out objects to others).
  • Doesn't imitate the actions of others.
  • No make believe play.
  • Doesn't use single words by 16 months old. and two-word phrases by 24 months.
There are also other areas of concern in older children, such as:

  • Loss of language skills at any age.
  • Repetitive movements such as spinning and hand flapping.
  • Toe walking rather than on the full foot and delayed motor skills.
  • Oversensitive to sensory stimulation such as sounds, lights, touch, or food textures.
  • Focus on a single object for long periods of time.
  • Playing with toys in unusual ways such as spinning wheels and lining up objects rather than typical usage.
  • Overraction to change.
  • Excessive tantrumming, difficult to console, does not like to cuddle/be touched.
As always, if you have concerns, see your pediatrician for screening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review and Free Book: "Million Dollar Diva" by Tristi Pinkston, Brett Kitchen, & Ethan Kap

Tristi Pinkston was slowly being enveloped by debt. She and her husband looked for ways to save money, but continued to struggle. Enter Brett Kitchen & Ethan Kap, coauthors of Smart Money Millionaire. Tristi had enough faith in them to not only open up her accounts for scrutiny, but to share her challenges to give hope to others. She is practicing the principles found in Million Dollar Diva. 

Tristi now has a clear financial vision of where she wants to be. She and her husband are rapidly lowering their debt while improving their financial status. Now it's our turn. Get your free author copy of Million Dollar Diva  at

You'll learn to begin with a firm vision. Then it's time to take ownership of the problem and follow the process outlined by Kitchen & Kap.

These professional financial planners give advice based on years of success with many clients. They ask you to begin by creating a strong vision of your future.

After you have your vision firmly in place, you'll learn sound monetary practices, how to make unemotional spending decisions, track your spending, get out of debt faster, avoid an entitlement mentality, and amplify your income.

Need more information? You can get information about Tristi's progress, freebies, and other products and services at

Stop stalling and take the first step towards a solid financial future. Get your free author copy now--offer ends May 15. After that date, you can purchase your own copy at 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: "Dispirited" by Luisa M. Perkins

Cathy thinks her life is going downhill. Her father passed away and her mother has remarried. This blended family, including Cathy's younger sisters and a new creepy stepbrother, has moved from the excitement of new York City to the suburbs. To top it all off, scary things begin to happen to this high school senior.

Blake's mother has also died. He misses her so much he discovered how to make his spirit leave his body to search for his mom. Until someone--or something--takes possession of Blake's body and won't let him back in.   The invader also begins to abuse Blake's body.The disembodied spirit tries everything to get back to his body, but is unsuccessful for seven years.

Blake is invisible to most people, but Cathy can see him. She soon discovers she has special gifts. Will they be enough to reunite her new friend with his body? Can she even save herself and her new boyfriend, Rich?

Perkins' novel makes the improbable believable. You will be drawn into the story by the entrancing characters, and be unable to put it down until the stunning conclusion.

You can purchase "Dispirited" at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Warning Signs of Autism - One Year Old

Experts can look at videos of a child's first birthday party and tell with amazing accuracy whether or not the toddler will later be diagnosed with autism. What do they see that others may miss? Problems with social relationships and communication are among the areas of concern.

Social relationship problems include not making eye contact when smiling, little or no joint attention (looking at what others point out or sharing sights with others), doesn't share objects or pass things back and forth, and no empathy or reaction to the emotions of others.

Communication challenges may include the absence of babbling, no response to his or her name, and no gestures such as waving.

For more information, check out The Help Group at

Still concerned? See your pediatrician and request a referral for additional evaluation.

Monday, April 30, 2012

At Season's End by Eric Hendershot

"At Season's End" by Eric Hendershot is a sweet story set during the depression. It follows the life of Sally as she travels across the country with her mother, father, and younger brother, Tim.

The live of itinerant farm workers is a continual struggle. Forced off their farm. little family relies on faith, hard work, and the kindness of strangers to survive. They are not above inventing a history to improve their lot, but overall live by a strong moral code. At one point, they try to settle down to a more typical lifestyle. After going back on the road, a double tragedy hits the family and the siblings must find a way to survive.

I was fascinated to learn why some people choose to continue live in this way. They form strong friendships and a supportive community that bands together in challenging times. These people are free with their money and property to the point of sacrificing necessities. I was impressed by their charity and love.

You will enjoy this book through both laughter and tears and look forward to a sequel.

Purchase your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,

Learn more about the author at

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Early Signs of Autism - Four Months Old

Parents often ask me if their child has autism. They are concerned because we've been bombarded with alarming numbers regarding the exponential rise in diagnoses.

Wondering what to look for? Remember that children on the autism spectrum demonstrate problems with communication, relationships, and behaviors. Many children will show one symptom, but not all three.

The Help Group, a consortium of professionals in Southern California, has created a list of typical behavior you should expect at different ages. I'll be tackling them in each of four blog posts.

By four months old, your baby should be showing some signs of socialization. This includes making eye contact, demonstrating a preference for people over objects, and participating in social activities.

Typical babies seek out eyes and gaze into them. If your child does not engage in eye contact when being held or during play, you have reason for concern.

Infants who will later be diagnosed on the autism spectrum tend to prefer looking at objects rather than people. They will spend long periods of time staring at things and appear to be looking past or through people rather than at them. When a preferred toy is held up next to a person's face, the child with autism will look at the object rather than the family member. You should also be concerned if your little one does not respond to social sounds such as talking, singing, humming, or clapping.

Most babies will engage in social responses. If someone smiles at them, they will smile back. They will also participate in "conversations" during which they take turns making noises or imitating adults or older children. The absence of this behavior is also worrisome.

Need more information? You can find The Help Group at

If you have concerns about  any of the behaviors mentioned above, this does not mean your baby has autism. You should voice your worries to your pediatrician and request help with further evaluation.

Next week: Signs of autism in one-year-old toddlers.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Children Aren't Pets!

Educators report they are encountering more and more children who have not been taught to be responsible for their actions. Consider the following:

A young adult gets her first "B" ever in college. She calls her mother during class and passes the cell phone to the professor, demanding that he stop instruction and "explain the grade". He shuts the phone and continues with the lecture.

Why did this student feel she could stop the class and challenge the instructor? This is a pattern her parents set during her years in public school. When students don't get excellent grades, or get into trouble for violating rules, parents intervene.

Don't get me wrong. Families need to be involved in education. The problem arises when the point is to remove consequences. Life is full of consequences, and if the child doesn't have to face the results of his or her actions, the first true repercussion will probably involve law enforcement.

I've personally heard parents defend plagiarism (the father admitted he copied the reports of others for his job and didn't understand why it was a problem), stealing (the student didn't "mean" to take it), and assault (he hit the teacher because he likes her).

What if your child has a disability? All children with special needs can be held accountable for their actions to the limits of their understanding. Remember that when a police officer pulls over your child for speeding, he's not going to say, "You have ADHD? No problem. Go ahead and speed all you want!"

The big problem here is that when you don't hold your child accountable for her actions, you are treating her more like a pet than a person. Animals may have immediate consequences for making a mess on the carpet, but don't usually have to clean up after themselves. People do.

The next time you're tempted to remove a natural consequence from your child, remember the following:

  • It's disrespectful to treat children like they are incapable of responsibility.
  • The short-term consequence for a one-time misbehavior is generally easier to take than the results of a lifetime pattern of lying, stealing, etc.
  • Life will not remove accountability.
  • Parenting is hard--but you can do it.
  • Your kids will thank you for teaching them. Mine have:)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The STAAR Test or Zombie Apocalypse?

In a conversation with a parent a few weeks ago, we decided that taking the STAAR test, the new statewide assessment for the state of Texas, was like facing a zombie apocalypse.

The more I think about it, the more I believe it's true.

No, I don't believe in zombies.

I don't even know much about them.

So, I defer to the experts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They have posted instructions on how to survive a zombie apocalypse--a tongue-in-cheek look at emergency preparedness.

Yes, I know this was supposed to be information masked with humor. Remember the tongue-in-cheek comment? But this analogy is too good to pass up. So, here goes:

The CDC says zombies will most likely be created by Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by some type of infection or the effects of radiation. Nearly everyone could be infected or exposed to radiation. Nearly every public school child from third through ninth grade will be "exposed" to the STAAR test.

Zombies would then be expected to proliferate, taking over entire countries. Benchmarks and instructional methods that "teach to the test" have taken over many districts because educators feel they have no other choice.

Zombies are a source of fear. Parents and children are scared to death that high school graduation won't happen because of the new test. But we're not talking about high school students here--tenth and eleventh graders will take the TAKS test. Families of elementary and junior high students are worried about events that won't take place for years. The anxiety has spread to teachers and administrators, who are concerned about their jobs.

It is well known that zombies eat brains. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has placed so much emphasis on testing, rather than class participation, work product, or true college preparation, that it appears the zombies have already been to Austin. And they're well-fed.

If you're escaping from a zombie, you don't necessarily have to outrun it. You just have to outrun your friends. The zombie will stop to eat your companions, and you will have enough of a lead to get away. That's how this test will be scored. After the scores are in, TEA will determine that the bottom portion will fail. And we won't know the results until January.

I don't know about you, but when we're using bad data from an unstandardized test to make decisions that impact the lives of thousands of Texas schoolchildren, the zombie apocalypse isn't looking so bad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Could Your Child Have Autism?

Although most children with autism are not identified until they are at least three years of age, there are some warning signs parents may observe earlier.

Dr. Rebecca Landa is the director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. She has suggested parents of children six months of age and older look for the following ten signs during playtime:

1. The child smiles rarely when approached by familiar people.

2. The child does not imitate the sounds and movements of others (e.g. smiling and laughing), or this is rare.

3. Babbling is infrequent or delayed.

4. No response to his or her name from 6-12 months old.

5. No gesturing to communicate by 10 months of age.

6. Lack of eye contact.

7. Does not seek attention on a regular basis.

8. Stiffens up, has uncommon postures, or displays repetitive movements such as hand flapping.

9. Does not reach out to be picked up.

10. Motor delays such as in rolling over, pushing up, or crawling.

What should you do if you have concerns? Contact your pediatrician for screening, or your local office of Early Childhood Intervention for additional testing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

I first became aware of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when having my babies. I had a friend whose babies were all sent home from the hospital with monitors because a previous infant had died from the syndrome.
We were terrified it could happen to our children. When each of my four children initially slept through the night, I awoke in a panic, sure they had died.
The “Back-to-Sleep” campaign in the early nineties brought some reassurance. At last, we could DO something to prevent a tragedy. But my last child wouldn’t sleep unless she was placed on her stomach. I remember the long hours of worry.
Placing infants on their backs halved the numbers of SIDS deaths. But a plateau was reached in 2000. Researchers began to take a look at other risk factors. Back sleeping, bed sharing, premature birth, and maternal smoking were all examined.
From 1991-2008, the various risk factors were examined. While the numbers of stomach-sleepers had dropped, the number of infants sharing beds with parents experienced a dramatic increase. This was especially true for babies less than two months old.
The results were shocking:
·   Children who share a bed with their parents are twice as likely to die from SIDS. If they are less than three months old, the risk is 17 or 18 times greater.
· If the parents smoke and share a bed with their youngster, the risk of SIDS is 18 times greater, even if the infant is older than three months.
· Babies who sleep on soft mattresses or blankets also have an elevated risk.
Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
 Put your baby on her back to sleep.
 Use a firm sleep surface.
       Babies should sleep in their own beds.
       Remove pillows, blankets, and bumper pads from the sleeping area.
       Don’t cover the baby’s head or allow her to overheat.
       No sleeping with others.
       Return the baby to her own bed after cuddling and feeding.
       Don’t use infant wedges and positioners.
       Breastfeeding is best.
       Get your baby immunized—vaccinations are not a risk factor for SIDS.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Talking to your Child about Disabilities

When a child has a physical disability, it can be explained in a manner similar to an illness. When the problem is psychological, it's a little more difficult.

As a social skills teacher, I interviewed 12 high school students with autism. I asked them if they had ever heard the term "autism". Although these students were nearly of legal age, only two had heard the term. One asked for more information, and the other said it meant, "my brain doesn't work right".

I wondered how anyone could deal with a disability he or she didn't even know existed? Clearly children and teens need information to help them deal with their intellectual challenges. Generally they have already noticed how they are different from others, and have wondered why. Keeping information a secret does not make the disability go away or ease the pain of their problems.

How do you begin? Choose the right time. Have a discussion using appropriate wording. Give them information and hope. Then keep the lines of communication open as your child grows.

Timing is important. Youngsters may not understand a diagnosis or complicated terms, but can comprehend how their psychiatric challenges can affect their behavior. This talk can begin at four or five years of age. If your child is having problems with peers or controlling behavior, an explanation of his or her diagnosis can ease the pain. Eight years old is a good time to start if the difficulties mentioned above have not yet appeared.

Be very matter of fact during the discussion. Remain calm and positive. Explain it is not a punishment.

Use the disability to explain challenging behaviors, but reinforce that improvements can be made. Explain that everyone has something that is difficult for them, and give examples. Let them know that they are not alone in their challenges--others have similar problems and there are many people working to provide help.

Make sure your child knows that the services they are receiving are to help them. Talk about this topic every time challenges arise. Keep the dialog going and remind them that most conditions can improve over time.

Children can not only tell when they are different, but when their parents are concerned. Postponing the discussion will not save anyone in the family from worry. Consider how hurt your child may be if he or she learns about a disability by overhearing a conversation or by being told by someone outside the family.

It is important to remember not to permit your child to use the disability as an excuse. While the school may make accommodations and modifications based on a diagnosis, the world after high school generally will not. If a teen is pulled over for speeding, the officer will not let him go because he says, "I can't help it. I have ADHD and I'm impulsive". Teach your child that disabilities are not an excuse for poor behavior.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Priorities of a Wandering Mind

Ever wonder about your priorities? Turns out there's a simple test to help you identify them.

A new study published in the journal Psychological Science determined that working memory can show you what's important.

Working memory is the process that not only moves information from short-term to long-term memory, but also allows you to select what input receives your attention. It also determines the actions you take, and in what order you do them.

How do you use this information to see your priorities? Pay attention the nest time you're doing a routine task. Do you think about absent family members while doing dishes? Wonder about your pet when you're at work? Ponder financial problems as you drive? Your working memory directs your thoughts to the topics of most interest to you at the time.

Lots of mental wandering while doing the mundane may seem upsetting. Exactly the opposite is true. The more you focus on other things when you're bored, the higher the capacity of your working memory. This isn't true when distractions are present.

It's important to be aware of the journeys your working memory is taking. Too many mental side trips may cause you not to remember a drive home, or miss important details while reading. This happens because you're using too many cognitive resources on your daydreams.

Do you have a problem? How many times did your attention wander as you read this post? Where did your thoughts go? Did your intellectual absenteeism impact what you needed to do? Only you can answer these questions.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bullying.....or not!

The news is full of reports of bullying and its consequences. Students who have endured taunting for years go on shooting rampages or commit suicide. Parents claim nothing was done to help their child despite repeated complaints.

Bullying is nothing new. I've experienced it, and so have you.

What is bullying? Behavior is considered to be bullying when it meets the following criteria:
  • Negative behaviors by peers over time.
  • The perpetrator intends to oppress the victim.
  • There is a disparity in age, physical size or ability, intellectual abilities, or social status.
There are several types of bullying. The negative actions may be physical, social, relational, verbal, sexual, and cyber.

Physical bullying is the easiest to identify, Any type of violent physical contact falls into this category, and the marks make it stand out.

Social and relational bullying are similar in nature. This may appear as shunning, ignoring, intentional embarrassment, or acting in an unwelcome manner.

Verbal bullying involves threats, teasing, comments, or intimidation.

Sexual bullying includes unwanted physical contact, sexual comments or displays.

Cyber bullying is similar to verbal, but it involves some form of technology.

Think you have a handle on it? Take a look at the following scenarios:

A seventh grade girl is upset because she isn't invited to a party. Is this bullying?
  • No, because this is a one-time event. If this is part of a pattern, and the girl(s) involved repeatedly point out that she is being left out, the teasing is bullying. There are too many other reasons why someone is not invited to a private activity.
A sixth grade boy is called "gay" repeatedly by a variety of students.
  • Yes. This is a negative behavior intended to oppress. Members of a group are using their status to inflict pain.
If your child reports bullying, do as much investigation as you can. If it is a one-time problem, teach your youngster how to resolve conflicts with others and make friends. Unless there was a serious threat of harm, this does not necessarily need further action.

If the events have continued for more than a week, it's time to alert the school. An investigation will be launched. Do not ask what happened to the other student. This is confidential, and you will not be notified. Do ask what is being done to protect your child. If you are concerned, visit with school officials.

Be aware that students do make false reports of bullying incidents. They may be trying to disguise their own bullying of others, covering up for a school transgression, or trying to explain away stress behaviors. Be careful when jumping to conclusions.

The best defense against bullying is vigilance. Encourage your child to be near school personnel during unstructured times (before and after school, lunch, etc.). Ask administrators to keep an eye on your student. Be aware of their digital communications. Watch during community activities. It's the only proven solution.

Questions about this topic? Click the link to send me an email.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review: "We Lived in Heaven" by Sarah Hinze

A toddler playing with a child that suddenly disappears. Potential parents visited by the spirit of their future child. Children describing long-deceased relatives who escorted them to earth. All are part of pre-birth experiences, or PBEs. These types of experiences are often viewed as personal and sacred. Sarah Hinze has taken the first steps in studying this phenomenon.

By branching out from the subject of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) into an unexplored field, the author has expanded our understanding of the importance of families in Heaven. Spirits wait there for their mortal bodies visiting family members to share important information or impressions. Mothers seem to be especially sensitive to these experiences.

I was very intrigued by the premise behind this book--families visiting with the spirits of their unborn children. I have read a couple of books about near death experiences, but nothing like this. Previous volumes seemed to exploit their topic, or didn't ring true. That's not the case here.

This touching work will leave you inspired and uplifted, but it is more than a collection of stories. Sarah's husband, Brent, has created a closing chapter that sums up and classifies these experiences. You will be intrigued and want to learn more.

You can purchase your own copy here.

Visit Sarah Hinze's website at

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Recognizing Signs of Schizophrenia in Children

Early signs of schizophrenia may show up as long as 35 years before a diagnosis. What signs should be of concern?
  • Emotional highs and lows are not as extreme as those of other children.
  • Reports that the child hears voices.
  • Feels people are spying on them.
  • Antisocial behavior.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Self-harm.
Risk factors include:
  • Family history of a psychiatric disorder.
  • Prenatal risks
    • older father
    • emotional stress or depression in mother during first trimester
    • loss of oxygen at birth
    • birthday in winter
    • prenatal exposure to 'flu or rubella
    • chaotic household
    • physical abuse of mother
  • Family risks
    • migrant family
    • urban household
    • lower socioeconomic status
    • peer bullying
  • Childhood risks
    • physical developmental milestones not met
    • low physical coordination
    • expressionless face
    • prefers playing alone after 4 years of age
  • Adolescent risks
    • uncoordinated
    • fewer than 2 friends
    • low IQ and learning problems
    • social anxiety and withdrawal
    • depression
    • working memory problems
    • antisocial behavior or conduct disorder
    • self-harm
    • early smoking or marijuana use
See your pediatrician if you recognize these signs in your children.

*****All information obtainted from "A Mind in Danger" by Victoria Costello published in Scientific American Mind, March/April 2012*****

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review - RetirementQuest: Make Better Decisions by John Hauserman

Oh, the excitement of that first job. I worked in a Mexican restaurant. I was thrilled to enter through the "Employees Only" door. My mother made a copy of my first paycheck and framed it. What I didn't realize was that I also needed to begin planning for my retirement.

People who wait until middle age or later to plan for the future may not be able to retire. They face the unappealing prospect of dying at their desks rather than doing what they wish in that beach house. Why do we put it off?

I believe the first reason is fear. We fear thinking about our "golden years". We worry our future will be stolen by greedy corporate executives, thanks to those at Enron. Worst of all, we have no clue where to start.

John Hauserman, the chief executive officer of Retirement Journey, LLC, has written a book to guide you through this daunting process. I was interested to read this book because I don’t have a lot of experience with financial planning and am considering my retirement options.

Retirement has changed in recent years. I remember my grandfather retiring at age 65, getting his pension, and spending his time travelling, working in his garden, and building furniture. He had no financial worries. My mother took a lump sum payment when she retired, and how scrimps and lives very simply. I participate in the Texas Teacher Retirement System. Because my pension is in the hands of politicians, I'm assuming it will be bankrupt before I retire.

Few people can now spend their adult life working for a single company and counting on a consistent pension. Many have no clue where to begin retirement planning, and their inattention to this important life event may mean that they have to work for the rest of their lives.

Hauserman teaches you how to set goals, and compute how much money you will need to save. He also details what information you need to gather before beginning to plan. Readers will discover how much investment risk they can tolerate and how to select a professional they can trust.

This book is written in layman’s terms and is easy to read and understand. If you were as confused as I was about financial planning, I can highly recommend this guide. I was especially interested in the sections on risk assessment and was very unsure about how to choose a professional to help with my retirement planning.

Take some time to plan for your future so that beach vacation you're planning doesn't change into a job as a greeter in Walmart.
Need more information to plan your retirement? Visit John Hauserman's website here.

Get your own copy of Retirement Quest here and start working on your financial future!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Science of Laughter :)

Robert Provine is considered to be one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of laughter.
This makes me rethink my major.

Provine has discovered that babies laugh 300 times a day, but adults only 20 times, genes influence our patterns of laughter, and that 90% of giggles follow non-funny remarks.
Why would someone laugh at something that was not amusing? Turns out we use laughter much as some people use alcohol. It allows us to bond together in a shared experience.  That explains why people are 30% more likely to laugh when they are with someone than when they are alone. It also helps us understand why the giggles are so contagious. And why sitcoms have laugh tracks.

Humor does have a dark side. When company leaders belittle their subordinates, this negative behavior is perpetuated throughout the company.
On the other hand, the benefits of laughter have been well documented. Pain has been relieved, depression lifted, and a variety of other ills cured by a regimen of belly laughs.

So grab yourself a funny video, gather some friends, and start smiling!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ways to Better Collaborate with Families
Catilin C. Edwards and Alexandra Da Fonte recently wrote an article published by the Council for Exceptional Children that described effective techniques to collaborate with parents. They have created a five-point plan for success.

Be Positive, Proactive, and Solution Oriented
  • Send home classroom expectations with positive and negative consequences.
  • Call after the first week of school to share a positive story.
  • Tell parents three positive comments for every negative one.
  • Send homework on a regular schedule so families can plan, including expectations and directions, and have parents sign a receipt.
  • Have a clear understanding of students’ disabilities, but remember each is an individual.
  • Offer solutions when discussing problems.
Respect Families’ Roles and Cultural Backgrounds in Their Children’s Lives
  • Have parents complete an information sheet, including information about the disability and accommodations at home.
  • Send draft goals home prior to the meeting.
  • Ask if families would be more comfortable with an interpreter, if necessary.
  • Attend a cultural event to better understand the student’s background.
Communicate Consistently, Listen to Families’ Concerns, and Work Together
  • Keep families informed of progress.
  • Develop an action plan to solve problems and remediate skills.
  • Don’t use labels when discussing the child.
  • Provide contact information, including phone numbers, email address, conference times, etc.
  • Set up a communication schedule at parent request.
  • Contact parents as soon as possible when problems arise.
  • Collaborate with other teachers to see how the student is doing in all classes.
Consider Simple, Natural Supports that Meet Individual Needs of Students
  • Compare supports used at home and at school.
  • Use individualized behavior supports.
  • Communicate changes in behavior supports, accommodations, etc.
  • Don’t use generalizations when describing the student.
  • Share information about community services that may help at home.
Empower Families with Knowledge and Opportunities for Involvement in the Context of Student’s Global Needs
  • Share packet with community resources, support groups, etc.
  • Offer parents choices regarding educational decisions.
  • Ask parents what kinds of information would be most helpful, and provide it.
  • Offer parent trainings and educational classes.
These helpful suggestions can be used to improve parent/school relations.

*Edwards, C.C., & Da Fonte, A. (2012). The 5-Point Plan: Fostering Successful Partnerships with Families of Students with Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children 44(3), 6-13.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Being Ignored Hurts

My husband and I ran errands today. A salesman in a shoe stor asked my husband, "How are you today?" Instead of replying, "Fine." as I would have done, my husband looked at the employee's nametag. He responded, "Fine, Bob, how are you?".

T'he salesman stopped dead in his tracks and answered, "Great. Thank you for asking."

This young man has probably asked that question dozens of times a day. He apparently never had a response like that one.

Everyone likes to feel linked to other people. A recent study at Purdue University looked at what was required to make that connection.

Researchers discovered that it takes very little to make that connection. Something as easy as eye contact can make a difference.

On the other hand, people who were ignored as the research assistants "looked past" them, felt disconnected and alone.

I'm going to make more of an effort to make eye contact and recognize others, by name if possible. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I know there are times when looking someone directly in the eye can be dangerous.

But I am rarely in that situation. Most of the time, I need to acknowledge the presence of others.

I suggest you do the same.