Saturday, December 28, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Unusual Study Tips Part One

Students tend to develop their own unique study patterns. Some methods they have been taught by teachers or parents, others they've just found practical and workable. Recent research has revealed that some of the things we think work well actually don't, and others produce great results.

  • Self-testing - Proven to work!
    • Can be done through flash cards, sample questions, self-made tests, or Cornell notes.
    • Works for learners of all ages and levels. 
    • Benefits appear even if the self-test is a different format than the real thing. 
    • Low cost in time and money

  • Distributed Practice - Proven to work!
    • Involves reviewing information on a daily basis (the opposite of cramming).
    • Appropriate for students of all ages for all subjects.
    • Requires advanced planning and avoiding procrastination.
    • Low cost and easy to do. 

What is your best study tip?

Coming next week - More promising methods.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review and Support for Autism! (Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels: An Advent Anthology, Volume 2)

Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels: An Advent Anthology, Volume 2

Christmas carols capture the spirit of Christmas, and Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels brings beloved carols to life like never before. Throw your cares away with the tales from sweet silver bells. Find out how Santa Claus dabbles in time travel, and feel the redemption of a dying wife's parting Christmas gift. Experience all this and more in these heartfelt, entertaining tales donated by a team of authors from across the country, working together for a good cause. The proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated toward Autism research and advocacy.

Anthology authors include: Shirley Bahlmann, C. David Belt, Rebecca Carlson, Loretta Carter, Madonna D. Christensen, Danyelle Ferguson, C. Michelle Jefferies, Theric Jepson, Ryan Larsen, Angie Lofthouse, Betsy Love, J. Lloyd Morgan, Janet Olsen, Teresa G. Osgood, Brian Ricks, Jennifer Ricks, Peg Russell, and Michael Young.

Carol of the Tales is the 2nd book in the Advent Anthology series. Both anthologies are available in paperback and Amazon Kindle formats from 

Purchase “Sing We Now of Christmas”:
Purchase: “Carol of the Tales”:

Lynn's Review:
During the busy holiday time, it's easy to forget the reasons behind the celebration. Taking a little time to refresh your spirit can reduce stress while enriching your life. You can give yourself a much-needed break while supporting Autism resources by purchasing this wonderful book and spending time reading. You may also discover a new author you love, and want to look for their other works!

To kick off the release of the second anthology, a Christmas concert will be held at American Fork Junior High on December 7th, 2013. The concert will feature the Saltaires Barbershop Chorus. All proceeds from this concert will be donated to charity as well. Purchase: Tickets for the Concert:

Blog Tour Giveaway!

Use the rafflecopter below to enter to win wonderful prizes, such as tickets to the concert and copies of the anthology. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Other Blogs on the Tour:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Special Education Saturday - The Eight Advantages of Asperger's Syndrome

Note: This is based on a handout I received at a workshop--author unknown.

1. Focus - This allows the individual to work through challenging tasks.

2. Unique Global Insights - They can make new connections between facts and ideas, which gives them new insights and the ability to draw their own conclusions.

3. Independent Thinking - Helps them discover new options and opportunities and forge their own path.

4. Internal Motivation - They go their own way without being moved by the conventions, opinions, or social pressure generated by others.

5. Attention to Detail - Helps them solve complex problems without becoming overwhelmed or missing something.

6. 3-Dimensional Thinking - Helps with creative and original solutions to problems.

7. Cutting Through the Smoke Screen - This recognition and willingness to share the truth can lead to project success.

8. Logical Decision Making - Keeps them from being swayed by distractions and keeps them on track. This is a huge benefit when making their way through tough situations.

What other advantages have you seen?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Getting the Help You Need (Part One)

Nearly every day I hear from parents who are seeking help and services for their child with special needs. Many are frustrated because they feel like they are hitting brick walls and not making any progress getting extra assistance.

This series of blog posts will offer tips and suggestions that will help you get what your child needs. Not everything will apply to your situation--chances are I have no idea of your unique circumstances. I'm offering this information from a professional viewpoint so you can get some ideas that may help you.

The first step is to identify what you want. You may want to try these steps:

  • Do some good research. Remember some basic principles.
    • Google is not good research. 
    • Ask your public librarian to help you with research suggestions. 
    • Check out who wrote the web site you're reading by clicking on the "about us" tab. If it's a university site, the information posted there has been verified by multiple people. Pages from businesses who have a vested interest in your business are often filled with misinformation and inaccuracies. 
    • Verify your information with multiple sources. What worked for your friend's child may not be appropriate for yours for many very good reasons. 
    • Check medical information with a doctor who actually has an "M.D." or "D.O."
    • Determine if there are any reasons your child should not participate in a particular therapy or treatment. 
  • Become familiar with different educational terms. A parent once requested an orientation and mobility evaluation. She became very upset when I denied it. This type of test is done to determine if an individual with very poor vision (legally or completely blind) can be taught to walk with a cane. The student in question didn't even wear glasses--the parent thought this service would help the young lady find her locker. If you can see better than I can, you don't need O & M services. 
  • Read all you can about the services you think you want. Many parents of children with autism request ABA therapy, but research has shown that the effects do not last after therapy stops. 
  • Even if a medical doctor has recommended certain services, remember that he has probably never worked in a school and may not completely understand what has been asked. 
  • Be wary of advice from others. Acupuncture does not "cure" Down Syndrome. If a therapy seems too extreme or potentially dangerous, check it out with professionals before proceeding. 
  • Always try the least intrusive methods before going with drastic measures. 

How did you determine what help your child needed? 

Next week - the best (and worst) ways to communicate.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review - "Becoming Free" by Christy Monson

From Amazon:
Throughout our lives we tend to build up armor that inhibits our growth. Our armor comes in many disguises: depression, self-deprecation, or the inability to act. We often create our own armor, our own protection, unique to us, but this protection actually stops our growth and the abundant live we each seek.

An abundant and happier life can be yours, but you must identify and release the obstructions that keep you from the wisdom and wealth you want. Christy Monson, a successful family therapist for over thirty years, has written Becoming Free to help you achieve your goals and find deeper happiness in your life.

Becoming Free is a step-by-step book to help you to shed your armor, expand your optimistic thinking, and enhance your ability to give and receive. Once you become free of the armor you’ve built around you to protect yourself, you’ll find the abundant life you have always sought.

Christy Monson is an experienced counselor. She has provided us with a guide to defeat depression and discouragement. Monson teaches us to learn to work, take care of ourselves, communicate effectively with others, and create a successful plan to replace negative thoughts and actions with beneficial ones.

I read this book over a couple of days, but plan to go back a second time more slowly. Monson's techniques are practical, reasonable, and worth putting into practice. As you work through the steps, you will discover an inner strength and abilities you didn't know you had. Although this book is written for women, the techniques found within will benefit both genders of all ages.

You can purchase "Becoming Free" from Amazon or Familius.

FTC Disclaimer: I was given a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Reducing School Anxiety

The weeks prior to the start of school are filled with excitement, hope, and anxiety. Some of those fears have been allayed as children have met their teachers, reconnected with friends, and glimpsed the curriculum for the new academic year.

Some of those fears have intensified.

How can you help your child who may be displaying signs of worry or expressing concerns?

  1. Let them talk. Be sure you give them time to finish before you jump in with advice. 
  2. Don't brush them off. Offer help and resources.
  3. Tell about a time when you had similar problems, what you did, and how things turned out. 
  4. Hide your own anxiety--if you cry or appear upset, this will increase your child's negative emotions.
  5. Don't take their problems on yourself--help them learn problem solving skills
    1. Set up a structure to help them remember papers and homework.
    2. Have them attend tutorials before and after school for extra help.
    3. If they choose not to do their assignments, provide consequences such as a removal of privileges. 
    4. If you need to meet with the teacher, don't go in "attack mode". 
    5. Remember that their whole future doesn't hinge on one assignment. 
  6. If things don't seem to improve, see the school counselor or a mental health professional. 
  7. Remind your child of the positive aspects of their school experience.
How do you help your child cope with school anxiety?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review - "Love, Hugs and Hope" by Christy Monson

"Love, Hugs, and Hope"

We live in a world where tragedy touches us all. It is especially difficult to explain the unexplainable to children when you don't know what to do.

This book is the perfect tool to prompt conversations and provide coping strategies with the youngsters you love. An excellent tool for parents, teachers, and therapists. I regret that many little ones have to deal the harsh realities of 2013, but am glad that this resource is now available. I intend to get copies to keep for emergencies, and I recommend you do, too.

Check out Christy's giveaway -- click on the links above for a chance at a $25 Amazon giftcard.

From the publisher:

Written after the tragic Newtown, Connecticut, shooting, this book is an invaluable tool to help parents and children work through feelings after a tragedy. Our kids deal, not only with national tragedies, but every day ones like death of a grandparent, loss of a puppy, or divorce. This book guides readers through emotions of fear, sadness and anger, then offers constructive ideas for managing these feelings and seeking comfort. The message of the book is that love chases away hate and light banishes darkness. Lori Nawyn's engaging illustrations help the reader know that hope is only a hug away.

The book is available at: Amazon

FCC Disclosure: I was given a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Taking Risks and Finding Balance

I had an adventure a couple of weeks ago that has ongoing implications for the rest of my life.

My husband and I were previewing rental properties in anticipation of my son and his family moving into our area. We thought we had found the perfect home for them and reported this information.

On the way home, we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. We had both eaten there many times before. I thought it was odd that my lips felt "itchy" on the way back to the car. We stopped to do some grocery shopping, and I noticed that my mouth also felt irritated. When the inflammation reached my throat, I realized that I was experiencing an anaphylactic reaction.

Fortunately we were only a block from the hospital, and medical intervention saved my life. We at first believed that this was a reaction to either tuna or broccoli, which had been my lunch. When I returned home (several hours later), I discovered a bite on the back of my knee. My doctor later identified it as a spider bite.

Massive doses of steroids later, I was scheduled to undergo allergy testing to determine the true cause of the reaction, only to discover that it would have to wait as it takes a month for those medications to clear my system.

Meanwhile, I avoid food I didn't make myself as I can't control cross-contamination. I carry an Epi-Pen at all times, and have trained family and coworkers in its use.

I also am on the lookout for spiders.

To be continued.....

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Starting at a New School

Changing schools is challenging for all children, and those with a disability have an especially difficult time. Here are a few tips to ease the transition:

  • Bring your IEP, report card, and most recent evaluation from the previous school. This will help the staff make placement and service decisions faster. 
  • Don't walk in with a list of demands, or complaints about your previous faculty. None of those people work at your new school. Give them a chance for a fresh start. 
  • Have positive conversations with your child about making new friends and all the fun and exciting things that will happen in the new year. 
  • Discuss possible extra-curricular activities your youngster may enjoy, and encourage her to participate in at least one. 
  • Start school bedtimes now so the transition will be easier. 
  • Check out possible routes to and from school now so you can look for traffic jams and reduce stress later. 
  • Even if you don't have access to the school supply list (although most will have them posted on their web sites or available in larger stores), get a few basics, such as pens, pencils, map colors, notebooks, and paper.
  • Get everything ready the night before. That also avoids the last-minute rush.
  • Encourage your child to introduce himself to new friends, and practice this with him. 
  • Talk to other parents in your neighborhood to get tips for your child. 
  • Offer a few choices to your child so she will feel more in control, such as selecting between two outfits or two types of food for lunch.
  • For secondary students, you may want to pack a lunch as navigating the lunch lines on the first day may prove too much of a challenge. 
  • Take your youngster to the library and read some books about the first day of school to reduce anxiety.
  • If a meet the teacher night is available, take advantage of it!
How do you prepare your children for a new school?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - What Your Desk Says about You

Conventional wisdom is that a messy desk means a messy mind. New studies from the University of Minnesota tell us things are not that simple.

If your desk is clean, these researchers determined that you are more likely to eat healthy, be generous, and conventional. This is because a neat work area encourages good behavior in other life aspects, including obeying the law, refraining from littering, and more generous actions. In other words, society's expectations were met.

Those with a messier work area think more creatively and formulate new ideas. When given a choice between new and established products, they choose novelty. This environment seems to encourage "outside of the box" thinking and originality.

Which environment do you prefer? Which would you encourage your children to have?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Special Education Saturday - 1 in 3 Teens Experience Dating Violence

Recent studies have revealed that 1 in three teens report they have been the victim of dating violence, with an equal amount reporting they have been perpetrators. These percentages are even higher when one of the parties has a disability.

The aggression can be sexual, physical, or emotional. What can you do to protect your teen? Begin with prevention:

  • Explain that students who bully others are more likely to engage in dating violence than those who don't. 
  • Build a good communication system so your child can confide in you
  • Demonstrate and discuss aspects of positive relationships
You should also be alert to the signs your child is involved in an unsafe relationship:
  • Suspicious bruises or injuries
  • Failing grades
  • Loss of interest in preferred activities
  • Making excuses for the other person's behavior
  • Needing to respond immediately to calls/texts from the partner
  • Fearfulness of the dating partner
  • A significant age difference (3+ years)
Things to look for in potential perpetrators:
  • Insults dating partners
  • Controls dress or actions of the partner
  • Loses temper easily
  • Monitors partner through technology
  • Threatens to hurt the partner if he or she leaves

How do you protect your child from dating violence?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Don't Let your Child Read this without You (Book Review - "Penumbras" by Braden Bell)

Penumbras is the second in the Middle Grade Magic series by Braden Bell. The previous title, The Kindling, introduced us to three middle school friends, Connor, Lexa, and Melanie, whose beginning magical powers attracted the attention of dark forces placing them in danger. 

The story continues as the classmates prepare for summer vacation. Here's a sample:

          Connor Dell didn't mean to blow up the school bus. 

          Or the bathrooms. 

          In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens. 

          But explosions had a funny way of happening when Connor and his friends were 

          It all started on the annual seventh grade field trip to the Sea Lab at Dauphin Island, 
          Alabama. Fifty-four thirteen-year-olds on a five-day field trip. What could go wrong?

          Especially when three of them happened to be Magi. 

Sounds like a novel that would capture the attention and imagination of a junior high student with plenty of action to keep them enthralled, doesn't it. Why would I recommend that you read this with your youngster? 

  1. Bell's work has many layers. Below the entertaining story line is an undercurrent of complex emotions and relationships, giving adults who have forgotten those difficult years great insight into the tween and early teen years. 
  2. The situations include friendship becoming romance, which open the door for important discussions regarding dating behavior. 
  3. Some of the characters have worries they don't express to others, allowing you a chance to pry some concerns loose from your own kid. 
  4. Reading together is a great bonding activity, and this title can be enjoyed by adolescents and adults.
  5. You don't have to worry about the content, language, or situations.
  6. The danger posed by the Darkhands gives you an opportunity to review important safety precautions with your family.
  7. A discussion of good and bad secrets will occur when you read the major plot twist in this volume. 
  8. Connor's memories of the Shadowbox allow the readers to discover that few people are entirely good or completely evil, a difficult lesson even for adults. 
  9. The emphasis is on communication and relying on trusted adults, which can help reinforce faith in parents. 
  10. It's a really, really fun book to read. 
What are you waiting for? Order an autographed copy from Dr. Bell here! Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

FTC disclosure: I was given a PDF version in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Increasing Happiness

While a tendency to be mostly happy (or not!) appears to have been 60% determined at birth, there are a number of things you can do to improve your emotional state.

  • Spend time with friends and family. Strong ties will boost your overall mood.
  • Spread your time and talents around. Charity work will make you feel better about your life.
  • Use your money on experiences rather than things. Events make you happy, not possessions.
  • Wait a while--life satisfaction increases as you age. 
  • When you plan to do something, remember that pleasure, engagement and meaning are what improve the moment.
  • Remember that your circumstances don't determine your mood--lottery winners are not happier than the rest of us. 
What do you do to increase your levels of happiness?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Making Teens Better Drivers (and Ourselves!)

Parenting is full of terrifying moments. One of the most petrifying is the first time your child takes the family vehicle out alone. Here are a few tips to improve their driving skills, including some you can start when they are very young:

  • Practice meditation as a family. The ability to perform mindfulness meditation improves your multitasking skills, which are required for safe driving. 
  • Have them place their cellphone in the trunk before leaving. Even hands-free phone calls create a risk of inattention at the same level as handheld use. If it's in the glove box, the device is still accessible, but to get into the trunk, the car will have to stop. 
  • Give them lots of chances to drive with you in the car. Yes, this is hard on both parental blood pressure and bumper, but the more they practice, the better the brain training and automatic reactions. 
  • Get everyone together to do some yoga. These kinds of activities help visual perception, which makes it easier to look for environmental cues that help with accident avoidance. 
  • Tell them others are terrible drivers. Studies have shown that 10% of drivers on the road at any time are seriously distracted. Scary, right? Have them assume that those approaching don't see you, won't stop at the light, or will make another mistake. I drop way back when I see a car swerving or moving erratically. This gives them extra opportunities to avoid the upcoming crash. 
By the way, the above tips can also improve the driving of adults. 

What are your best tips for teen drivers?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Consider the Source!

When I prepare to do an evaluation on a student, I gather lots of information. I look at records, visit with teachers, and interview parents. I also make observations and may collect data from doctors.

Then I look at everything I've collected, and consider the source.

Medical diagnoses don't mean anything unless I have information from the doctor. Opinions from your relatives and friends carry no weight with me.

When the teachers report the student is sleeping in class, the student appears drowsy during observations, and the child states she never naps at school, what do you think I put in my evaluation?

Parents need to exercise the same cautions. Everyone has an opinion, and they will feel free to share them with you. There seems to be an epidemic of well-meaning acquaintances making diagnoses based on media information.

What can you do?

  • Tell them you appreciate their concern, but you prefer to consult with your pediatrician. If you still have concerns, contact the local school district for a free evaluation. 
  • Don't listen to any "treatments" they may recommend if they aren't certified experts in the field. At best, you waste time and money; at worst, you may physically harm or even endanger the life of your child. 
  • If they persist, tell them the subject is closed. 
  • Above all, seek advice from an expert. Even the parent of a child with special needs only knows their youngster, and isn't qualified to legally tell you what to do. 
  • Remember that celebrities aren't medical or educational experts. Their opinions aren't worth much. 
  • Send me an email at if you still need help.
How do you respond to those who try to diagnose you or your child?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - The Importance of Attitude

We make many decisions every day that impact our health. What we wear, our hygiene routines, what we eat, our type and intensity of exercise are all choices with obvious consequences. There is another determination we make on a regular basis that has a long-lasting effect on our health.

It's our attitude.

Many of the alternatives we choose regarding our health are changed by our attitude. We can select healthy foods, or a poor attitude can allow us to eat impulsively based on taste. Whether or not we take time to exercise, make doctor's appointments, or put our health first is based on our attitudes.

A recent Johns Hopkins study determined that having a positive outlook can actually reduce your chances of a heart attack. This lessening of heart risk was independent of diet, race, or other factors.

A cheerful attitude may be a gift from birth, but we can take steps to improve our mood and outlook:

  • Appreciate what you have. If you enjoy a roof over your head, clean water, and sufficient food, you are better off than most of the world's population. 
  • Take care of your physical needs. If you are poorly nourished, sick, or tired, your mood will be low. 
  • Forge a connection with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Your connection with the eternal will give you a view larger than yourself. 
  • Pray often for guidance about decisions you need to make. 
  • When you are discouraged, stop and make a conscious choice to look for the good in your life and to identify things for which you are grateful.
How do you turn your attitude around?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Gut Feelings about Autism

The bacteria that live in our digestive system are responsible for many aspects of our health. This current hot topic includes our digestion, weight, immune responses, and brain activity.

These little critters can range from benign to helpful to very dangerous. A recent analysis of the flora found in the tracts of children with autism at Arizona State University revealed those youngsters had gut bacteria that were less diverse than those found in their peers.

Three important bacteria, Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae, were in significantly short supply.

There was also a correlation between lack of diversity and autistic symptoms.

What's the significance of this finding?

Analysis of gut bacteria may be the future of diagnostic testing rather than the more subjective behavioral assessments of today.

These researchers also believe this may be the source of GI problems that can last into adulthood. Treatment of gut problems in these children has also demonstrated a significant improvement in behavior and functionality.

Causes under consideration include genetics, a typical Western diet.

How do you treat stomach problems in your child with autism? Do you use probiotics?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Learning from the Lives of Teachers

We all change our habits during the summer. Kids are out of school and available for adventures and fun. Teachers have time to do the chores that get pushed aside during the academic year and attend training to improve their skills for next year.

What can we learn from these professional educators?

  • Take a little time to get caught up. Doing those tasks you've been putting off frees your mind and reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Plan ahead for next year. Set up a system to collect homework and other papers so they return to school safely. Organize clothing and other materials for easy access. 
  • Talk to other parents about what things they do to make family life easier or more enjoyable and try out a few of their tips.
  • Take a breather. Get some rest. Change your daily routine. Refresh yourself before the big Fall push begins.
  • Schedule time for some fun before the summer has fled. 
What are you doing to make your life better or have some fun?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Sleep and Your Children

It's no surprise to anyone that poor sleep interferes with our performance. If I'm too tired, I lose things, have trouble controlling my temper, and struggle to think. New research has revealed that children's school performance is also impacted by both the quality and quantity of their rest--to the point that they may appear to have a disability when they don't.

How does sleep impact education? Sleepiness impairs attention, and it can also impact working memory and memory consolidation.

Sleepiness causes inattention, which may be confused with ADHD.

Snoozing helps working memory for children and teens. Think of working memory as the train that moves information from short term memory (which lasts seconds) to long term memory for storage. Insufficient shut eye effectively derails your train.

In addition, not enough sack time also prevents memories from being consolidated. Kind of like shoving papers randomly into a file drawer where they are more difficult to find. Knowledge gets into the brain, but can't be easily found.

Many of those with disabilities such as autism, ADHD, and intellectual disability may also experience sleep problems. These difficulties exacerbate the underlying challenges.

How can you tell if your child has a sleep problem?

  • Check on your child half an hour after bedtime to be sure he or she is not using technology too late or unable to fall asleep.
  • Listen periodically for snoring during the night. 
  • Check to see that your youngster is not sleepy when riding in a car or sitting in class. 
If you suspect a problem with adequate rest, you may want to ask your pediatrician to do a screener or a full polysomnographic study. There are medications and other procedures that can improve their slumber. For example, many children with sleep apnea may be cured by having their tonsils and adenoids removed. 

The only wrong move is to ignore it completely. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Advantages of Video Games

There is no denying that many children and young adults are addicted to video games. They play during every moment of free time to the exclusion of other activities. Excessive playing may even interfere with school, jobs, or relationships.

Many parents would like video games banned from their homes entirely. But there are some benefits. Video games have proven helpful for those with dyslexia and can be used to tn the brain to make visual decisions faster and better. They have also been successfully used to facilitate communication for children with autism.

In a study conducted by Duke University, children with dyslexia were evaluated before and after playing video games. Those who played the games that were engaging and action-packed were able to read more accurately afterwards. They also had a longer attention span. These benefits are worth further investigation.

Those who play video games on a regular basis are used to detecting visual information. They retain this data and use it to make decisions regarding play on a daily basis. This gives them a better ability to retain relevant information while discarding unimportant details, a vital reading skill.

Children with autism frequently play games on iPads that allow them to communicate. They are also more willing to be involved in activities required for social or life skills when games are involved.

What games have helped your children?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Special Education Saturday - A Blood Test for Autism

A group of researchers from the JC Self Research Institute of the Greenwood Genetic Center and Biolog Inc. discovered that those with an autism spectrum disorder had a significantly lowered ability to metabolize the amino acid L-trytophan than others. 

So what.

Well, there are two implications. The first is for diagnosis, the other for treatment.

There may be a diagnostic blood test that could look for the metabolism of this amino acid and be used to determine the presence or absence of autism.

In addition, this raises the possibility that autism may be treatable by a biochemical method such as a targeted medication.

While this is just a beginning, it certainly looks promising. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Probiotics and Depression

A recent study by the Human Microbiome Project revealed an additional link between our gastrointestinal systems and our brains. Turns out, what happens in our digestive tracts can change emotions and behaviors.

The short version is that probiotics can have an impact on how we act and feel. How? By changing the chemical makeup of your blood and physical changes in the brain itself.

When you have more probiotics in your system and are stressed, less corticosteroids are released in your bloodstream, and you are able to remain calmer for a longer period of time. You are less likely to have an emotional or physical reaction with these lower levels.

In addition, the brain creates more receptors of a type that reduces anxiety. This means you naturally have a better capacity to relax.

The takeaway? Get out there and eat some yogurt, or take probiotic supplements. Your mood will thank you.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Changing Our Outlook

About a month ago, I was invited to speak at a conference on religion and disabilities. I was only able to get off work for 1 day of the 2.5 of the conference,  but my coauthor could entire the entire event. Frustrating? Yes, but I chose to appreciate the time I was offered.

Then a very important work meeting was scheduled during the same time I was scheduled to speak. Again, I  made a conscious determination to look for a solution rather than becoming upset. My boss agreed to let someone else attend in my place. Relief.

I found out during a work meeting that the class I was supposed to teach had been moved to lunch time that day. I had a day packed with meetings, but was able to slip away and do the class. That afternoon, the assistant principal at my school asked if I could take time from my one personal day at the event to make some phone calls. I politely refused, and she was very gracious about it.

Today is my time to spend learning and giving the keynote address. I anticipate there will be some challenges, but pray things will go well. If they don't, I'll have more opportunities to practice my patience.

How do you take setbacks in stride?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Preparing for Changes

Some schools are out, and others are finishing up. Children with special needs often have trouble adjusting to new routines, even when it's for a great reason like summer vacation. Here are a few tips to get you over the hump:

  • Discuss the upcoming changes. 
  • Make some plans and set up a new routine.
  • Emphasize the positive aspects of the different schedule. 
  • Discuss concerns, but don't allow your child to dwell on them. 
Soon it will be time to prepare for a new school year. More tips:
  • Say good things about the staff--if you set up bad expectations, they will be fulfilled.
  • Talk about how you will prepare things like supplies and clothing. 
  • Arrange for a time to tour the new school/classroom and visit with the teacher. 
  • Generate excitement by helping your child review good memories from the past year. 
What are your best tips for ending or beginning a school year?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Having Hard Conversations

I've been talking to lots of people lately about having hard conversations. Many difficult dialogs take place between families and school personnel.

Here are a few tips to keep challenging chats from becoming hostile or impossible:

  • Be polite.
  • Don't blame current staff members for mistakes made on other campuses. 
  • Try not to act hostile--we are not your enemies.
  • Don't make assumptions, expain your position calmly.
  • Pick your battles. Every phone call is not a time for a laundry list of complaints.
  • Be sure the person you contact is in a position to help you--contact teachers about grades, etc.
  • Give them 24-48 hours to respond.
  • Don't expect information over weekends and school breaks.
  • Please understand that there are certain things that can't be done (ignoring crimes on campus, changing grades, etc.)
  • If you have a serious problem, talk to an administrator. 
How do you make hard conversations easier?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Edited Thoughts

Latest in a series of blog posts based on "Train Your Brain to Get Happy" by Aubele, Wenck, & Reynolds.

Many times what is making us unhappy are not our circumstances, but what we think about our lives. Here's how to edit your thoughts and lift your mood:

  • Run your impressions by your friends to check accuracy. 
  • Have a planned distraction--something else to think about, preferably a happy time in your life. 
  • Give yourself a break. It's often easier to forgive yourself than others. Don't take that guilt trip.
  • Let go of hurtful events rather than reliving them over and over. 
  • Look for a solution rather than reviewing the problem. 
  • Talk to a loved one to help you sort things out or for a distraction.
  • Do something fun. Have some quick enjoyable activities ready for when you need a boost. 
How do you edit your thoughts?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Increasing numbers of young adults are failing to leave the nest. It's not inability to find employment or housing keeping them home, it's that they have not developed the skills they need for independence.

A recent study of college students by researchers at Brigham Young University revealed that these adults have a deep concern for their children. Unfortunately the constant inappropriate intrusions made by the parents harm the youngsters psychologically.

It begins when the children are very young. Don't interfere in the squabbles of elementary school children unless someone could get hurt. They need to learn to get along with others, and that includes social problem solving.

How can you determine if you're a helicopter parent? The researchers have these criteria:

  • Do you think you have to protect your child from all pain and suffering?
    • Remember that suffering can be a source of growth. 
  • Learn the difference between helping and coddling.
    • When you let them try on their own, then provide a safety net, that's help. Dictating actions and stepping in to manage problems is coddling.
  • Only call or text your child once a day or less on a regular basis. 
    • Never call during school hours unless there is an emergency, and discipline your child for using their phone to contact you during class time. 
  • Don't intervene in conflicts for college-age children by contacting roommates, friends. or school officials. They need to learn to deal with challenges on their own at this point. 
    • Don't swoop in and try to solve their problems. Let them manage, and take their lumps if they've made a mistake. It's part of learning to be an adult. 
  • Develop your own interests so you have other things to think about. If you have no outside life, you're a helicopter parent. Take a class, join club, or learn a sport.

How do you teach independence to your children?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Training Your Brain to be Happy

Latest in a series of blog post based on "Train Your Brain to Get Happy by Aubele, Wenck, and Reynolds.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a proven method to change actions and attitudes. You can implement some of these methods on your own. Here's how:

  • Create a log of events, your feelings, and thoughts about what happened. Do this 3-4 times each day for a week. Take note of any patterns that either raise or lower your mood.
  •  Distract yourself from negative thoughts by thinking about something positive. 
  • Take time to recall a happy time when you start thinking negatively.
What's the best way to distract yourself from negative thoughts?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Brain Bashing

Our brains are a vital part of anything we do. The damage that can be done to the brains of soldiers, boxers, or those in contact sports is only beginning to be understood.

Your brain is about as hard as soft tofu or hard gelatin. It has some protection from your skull, but when your head is hit, the brain is impacted twice--once from the initial blow, then another as your brain slams against the opposite side of your cranium.

This double whammy causes an abnormal accumulation of tau protein. Over time, this leads to chronic encephalopathy (CTE). This condition is similar to Alzheimer's in that it causes memory loss and impulsiveness. The damage can be directly correlated with the number of head injuries.

What can you do to prevent this?  The Mayo Clinic recommends the following:

  • Always wear a seat belt and have young children sit in the back seat. 
  • Don't drive under the influence of alcohol, medication, or drugs.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, skateboarding, bicycling, snowboarding, or when on an all-terrain vehicle. 
  • Install handrails in bathrooms of older adults. 
  • Put nonslip mats in bathtubs or showers.
  • Remove area rugs or place nonslip material underneath.
  • Have handrails on both sides of staircases.
  • Improve home lighting.
  • Clear clutter from stairs and floors. 
  • Get regular vision checkups.
  • Exercise.
  • Put safety gates at the top of stairs for young children.
  • Install window guards in upper floors. 
  • Go to playgrounds with shock-absorbing materials. 
  • Don't allow children to play on fire escapes or balconies. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Getting Unstuck from Negative Thoughts

Latest in a series of blog posts based on "Train Your Brain to Get Happy" by Aubele, Wenck, & Reynolds.

Did you know that your brain can get stuck in negative thought patterns? When this happens, your amygdala (emotion) underreacts and the frontal areas (control) overreact, and you tend to have even more negative thoughts.

How can you change this pattern?

  • Recognize your patterns. Most people have some of the following three types:
    • Guilt
    • Negative interpretation of others' thoughts
    • Self-fulfilling prophecies of bad events/actions
  • Force yourself to think happy thoughts. You can use objects, pictures, or journal entries to recall happy times. This will change your brain by creating new synapses and lifting your mood.
  • When you fall into bad patterns, give yourself reason to disbelieve them. For example, if you felt bad about doing something over which you had no control, or couldn't foresee the outcome, give yourself a break. 
  • Write a new ending--a positive interpretation of the thoughts of others, or see yourself being successful. 
  • Distract yourself with a enjoyable activity. 
How do you change your negative thought patterns?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Autism, ADHD, and Visual Input

During a recent training, autism expert Dr. Marilyn Monteiro stated she believed one of the reasons behind the recent rise in autism diagnoses is the prevalence of visual input provided to today's children. Youngsters of today spend far more hours in front of screens than did their parents, or even older siblings.

While this opinion has not been validated by research, here's what we do know:

  • Children with ADHD tend to hyperfocus on video games to the exclusion of all else. 
  • As the number of hours spent playing video games increases, ADHD symptoms worsen in every child. 
  • Those with autism who spend many hours in front of a screen have a reduced motivation to interact with people. 
  • Video is a good instructional tool for these kids, but it must be strictly limited and followed by face-to-face interaction.
  • Television shows and movies that demonstrate poor social skills, rude behavior, or dangerous actions have a stronger impact on these children than their typical peers. 
What can you do?

  • Limit videos and game time to 2 hours per day.
  • Allow your children to earn their screen time by doing chores. 
  • Make sure your youngsters spend time playing outside or interacting with others. 
  • Follow any electronic entertainment with time spent together talking. 
  • Monitor television time, shut it off if the content is disturbing, and have a discussion reinforcing your family values. 
  • Spend time as a family taking walks, playing in the yard, or going on excursions. 
How much screen time do you allow your children? How do you maintain control of their video input?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Making Happiness Real

The power of imagination is very strong. It inspires the written work, causes the creation of great works of art, and provides a welcome escape from current problems.

It can also make you happier.

A study at Bowling Green State University in Ohio revealed that the act of imagining happiness or sadness caused participants to feel those emotions and demonstrate corresponding brain activity. This explains why we laugh and cry along with characters in movies.

How can this impact your happiness? You can make choices to imagine happy situations. Listen to music that makes you feel happy rather than dwelling on those selections that invoke anger or depression. These efforts can actually make you feel happier.

***This is one of a series of blog posts based on "Train Your Brain to be Happy" by Teresa Aubele, Stan Wenck, and Susan Reynolds.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Special Education Saturday - When IQ is Not as Important

When I test children for possible special education services, one of the parents' first questions is usually about IQ scores. While this overall measure of intelligence is important, it's not the most important part of academic success.

Researchers at Stanford and Florida State University have determined that motivation and learning strategies are more important than "smarts". These techniques can be divided into six categories, including self-regulation, organization, mnemonics, seeking help and reviewing.

Self-regulation includes the ways the learner plans to learn. Individual goals, plans, and self-evaluations are all part of this category.

Organizing includes time management, which ensures all assignments are completed. It also includes managing supplies and information.

Mnemonics are devices that help you remember information. "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally" helps students recall the order of operations (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction).

Seeking help is critical to learning. No one can learn all subjects independently. Knowing when you are lost and how to get assistance is critical for a well-rounded education.

Reviewing is just as it sounds. College students who spent more time going over new information with their peers and studying made better grades.

The short version is that strategy use was more important for student GPA than SAT scores or IQ.

So, teach your children how to learn for  success.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Training Your Brain to be Happy

This is the first in a series of blog posts about how you can change your brain to increase your happiness. This information comes from "Train Your Brain to Get Happy" by Teresa Aubele, Stan Wenck, and Susan Reynolds.

The first thing we need to know is that we can do many things to literally change our brains. We experience neuroplasticity, or brain changes, on a regular basis when we learn and do other thinking processes. These activities allow our brains to awaken dormant areas, make new circuits and rewire old ones, and change problem connections.

What does this have to do with happiness? When we practice good habits for thinking or attitudes, that area of the brain expands. The same is true when we dwell on anxious or unhappy thoughts. We can also use our imaginations to reduce the impact of bad experiences and reprogram our self-images.

For this week, let's work on empathy and compassion. Spend at least 5 minutes each day recalling a time when someone was empathetic and compassionate towards you. Then spend another 5 minutes planning how you can act in a similar manner with those you encounter. Track what happens in a journal.

I'll be reporting on my results next week. Post yours in a comment!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

SpEd Saturday - The Value of Money

Your probably pay for groceries the same way I do--with a swipe of a debit card. It's more convenient and generally safer than cash.

There is one drawback few people notice with this system. It's the impact it has on our children. There are three concerns here:

  • Children don't see monetary transactions and understand the values of coins and bills.
  • When they can't observe cash in action, it's too abstract to understand.
  • Kids with disabilities who don't have the opportunity to work with money don't develop critical life and job skills.
I work in a junior high school. I also test elementary-aged children from time to time. It is becoming more and more common to see children who don't know the value of coins and can't count change. They don't see bills used, and don't have exposure outside of school. This means their understanding can be lost. This can be a huge deficit when applying for a first job. 

My children often asked for things we could not afford. I tried to explain to them the realities of our family budget, and they would often reply, "Then just write a check." I soon realized that they had no comprehension of how checking accounts worked. We had many lessons, and they were given the opportunity to have a checkbook while in high school so they could learn to balance the books and be better prepared for adulthood.

As mentioned above, teens need to know how to make change when applying for their first job. They should also understand this concept so they are not cheated when making purchases. Many opportunities must be provided to practice this important ability. 

What can you do? Make small purchases with cash in front of your child. Help them develop a budget and make family finances a subject of regular discussion. Easiest of all, have them count the change in your wallet each night.

How do you teach your children about money?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Benefits of Planning

It's important to plan for the future. It's even more important to help your children plan for theirs.

Scot Ferre shared information about transition planning at You can read it here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Reducing Aggression in Children and Teens

A recent study at the University of Bristol linked aggressive thoughts and behaviors to how we see facial expressions.

The participants were shown pictures featuring facial expressions that were either happy, sad, or ambiguous. They then identified the corresponding feeling.

When the viewers were encouraged to recognize joyful feelings in the  uncertain pictures. This activity encouraged the identification of happiness over more negative emotions.

This procedure was repeated with youthful offenders, and was followed by a reduction in anger and aggression.

What does this mean? Children and teens need to learn to process emotions properly. If they continually look for anger, that's how they will feel. If they discover cheerier feelings, those will be reflected in how they behave.

What kinds of emotions do your children see in your face?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Starting to Want to Exercise...

It's no secret that I hate exercise. My motto is that I'll run if a bear is chasing me. And then only a little faster than anyone else. Also not above tripping someone.....

Back on topic. I decided in January to improve my health. So far I've lost 22 pounds. I'm dieting, but also making more of an effort to exercise. In the past, I'd go to the gym if someone was waiting on me, or if I couldn't find an excuse to stay home.

I've had a bad cold for the past week, but that's pretty much resolved itself. I found I miss the good feeling I get from exercise, the extra energy, and the lower numbers on the scale. Although my gym buddy couldn't go tonight, I went anyway.

Glad I did. I feel better, and am one step closer to looking better. My blood pressure has dropped from 132/90 (scary) to 113/78 (much better). I have lost two sizes. I feel so energized and am willing to participate in more physical activity.

How do you motivate yourself to exercise?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Upcoming Presentation - Bullying

I'll be making a presentation about perceived bullying an cyber bullying on April 27 at 9 AM on behalf of the Genesis Autism Resource Center and the ARC of Northeast Tarrant County. Click here to register.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Video Game Addiction

Another concern mentioned by Temple Grandin during a recent presentation is video game addiction. She is especially concerned that more and more teens and young adults are developing an unhealthy obsession with their gaming systems.

Although Dr. Grandin did not grow up in a time of online play, she said she participated in what she calls a "1950s video game". She had a brass plate that covered a screw on her bed. She could spin the plate, and preferred to spend hours in this activity. Her mother, however, had other ideas. After an hour, her mom called a halt to this engaging pastime and would send her outside.

Video game addiction is a newly recognized disorder, and those with special needs, low self-esteem, and social problems are especially vulnerable. A family history of addiction is also a risk factor. Role-playing games are especially seductive as children, teens, and young adults These activities allow the player to display online personas that are everything the person is not in real life.

How can you tell if a loved one has a video game addiction? Turns out it's very similar to any other kind of addiction, according to Web MD.

  • The person in question is sustained by increasing amounts of the behavior or substance.
  • If they don't get their increasing amounts, they are irritable and spread their misery around. 
Is this really a problem? If played excessively, the child may not socialize, do homework, finish chores, or participate in other activities that teach life skills and foster social development. Video and computer games also isolate the player from family and friends, even if several people are involved in the play. 

How can you tell if there is a problem? lists the following:

  • Time playing continues to increase.
  • Thoughts turn to gaming while doing other things.
  • Using video games to escape from life's problems. 
  • Lying about gaming activities.
  • Reduction in gaming time causes irritability. 

What can you do about a video game addiction? 
  • Track time playing. 
  • Note problems from gaming. 
  • Keep the system in a public area of the house rather than a bedroom so you can monitor play. 
  • Limit play from the beginning and point out how he or she reacts to the limits. 
  • Require other activities before playing. 
  • If problems become severe, seek out a specialist in video game addiction. 
More questions? Try these sources:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Another Lesson from Temple Grandin

Shared interests are important for all families. When I was a child, we spent a lot of time fishing. Family activities are fun, teach important skills, and create a bond.

Shared interests are especially important for children with disabilities. Temple Grandin said that her social skills were build while participating in school clubs such as the robotics team. Every child has special interests. Most schools will have some kind of club, team, or activity that aligns with that hobby.

The trick is finding the club and encouraging your child to take part. A child who skateboards and enjoys movement may like soccer. Those who play video games may enjoy drawing or computers. Boy Scouts provides opportunities for a wide range of interests.

There are many benefits to these groups. Children who participate in a team sport or activity are less likely to drop out of school. Their grades tend to be better, and they have more friends. They are better able to deal with setbacks because of an improve social network. There are also ample opportunities to practice social and friendship skills, which are vital to adult life.

My boys were in the band, while my girls built the sets for the theater and were captains of the rifle team. The important thing is not what activity, but that it exists.

What activities do your children enjoy?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Taking a Break

We all get to the point where we're tired. Doing the same thing every day, fitting tasks into small chunks of time around larger tasks, and feeling discouraged can all take its toll.

What to do?

There is value in down time. Relaxing, taking it easy, and giving yourself breathing space are all great ways to relax. It's hard for me to do something when I feel like I'm not getting something done, but taking time out makes us more productive in the long run.

One of the techniques I've found most valuable is to spend time with a hobby. This activity should be something you enjoy and does not provide additional stress.

I enjoy needle crafts  They are relaxing, creative, and I like having something to give family members. But there are times when I impose deadlines on myself. This adds to my stress rather than relieving it. I have to make an effort to relax and appreciate the process rather than looking at the end product.

I also like to spend time with my family. I used to feel that I had to cook for them nonstop, but have learned that they appreciate me better when I am relaxed and able to participate in activities with them rather than being the chef. It's all about priorities.

How do you relax?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Lesson 2 from Temple Grandin

Another thing emphasized by Temple Grandin in a recent talk was consistency between home and school rules. Keeping similar rules in both locations benefits children with special needs in many ways, including:
  • It's comforting to have consistent behavioral expectations. There are fewer surprises for adults and children this way. 
  • School rules won't seem unfamiliar and scary if they're similar to home rules. Families with parents who regularly curse at each other have children who are stunned to discover they can't curse at their teachers. 
  • Home rules that are similar to school rules, such as how to speak to each other, teach career skills. 
There are also a few drawbacks, like:
  • Everything can't be the same. For example, you dress in a variety of ways at home, and the school dress code is more rigid. 
  • Situations at home and in the school will not be the same, so some rules will be unique to each place. 
How do we do this?
  • As you make rules for your family, make them consistent with behavioral expectations for your community (e.g. table manners). 
  • Teach your children that family expectations for behavior will be enforced even if the inappropriate actions took place outside of the home. 
  • Reinforce the golden rule and encourage your children to treat others as they would like to be treated. 
  • Try to remember that the standards you set are preparing your child for future relationships, school success, and career planning. Learning how to live harmoniously with others is crucial for a happy life. 
How have you taught rules at home and enforced school expectations at home? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Electronic Exercise

Some of the more popular video games are those that involve movement. Many choose to work out in this manner because it's done in the privacy of home, there are no ongoing fees, and it's convenient. These activities have been criticized because the exercise is not strenuous.

They do provide a good solution, especially for those who don't exercise at all. They encourage light to moderate movement, which is better than a typical sedentary lifestyle. They are motivating as participants try for an improved score.

These games encourage people to think about their fitness level while doing something fun. Multiple family members can challenge each other, which is good for relationships as well as physical health.  Finally, they can be a gateway to more challenging activities.

These games have proven especially good for seniors, and are much better than just sitting around.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Special Education Saturday - What I Learned from Temple Grandin (Part 1)

This week I was blessed to be able to hear Temple Grandin speak. I'd like to share some of the important lessons she shared with the group.

For those few of you who've never heard of her, here's a brief biography from Wikipedia:

"Temple Grandin is one of the world's most accomplished and well known adults with autism. She has a PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois and is a professor at Colorado State University. She is the author of six books, including the national bestsellers Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation. Dr. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism, and her work has been covered in the New York Times, People, National Public Radio, and 20/20. Most recently she was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people of the year. The HBO movie based on her life, starring Claire Danes, received seven Emmy Awards."

If you ever get a chance to hear her speak in person, I strongly recommend that you attend. I was learning so much so quickly that I pulled out a scrap of paper to take notes. You'll be learning more about this over the next few weeks. What she said was intended for those raising and teaching children with autism, but I believe these valuable lessons can be applied to anyone with a disability.

Lesson One - Stretch Them

When someone has a disability, those who love the person want to make the way easier. They want to pad the corners of the coffee table, remove obstacles, and eliminate consequences for poor decisions. In the short run, steps like these are helpful. Over the long term, they can create untold damage. 

Every day, we all need to learn and grow. During our lives, we move backwards and forwards with skills and abilities. We do not remain in the same place. For example, I spent much of my life playing the clarinet. I recently tried after not having touched a horn in several years. My muscles tried to move in familiar patterns, but they were awkward and slow. My abilities had deteriorated. 

Those with special needs must be encouraged to keep moving forward. One way to do this is through family responsibilities. Every child in the family should have chores. The household expectations must be for everyone to do their part. This teaches valuable abilities that lead to greater independence and higher self-esteem later on.  

Those who don't fully participate to the best of their ability should expect consequences that are not removed no matter how much they demand or beg. When you remove consequences, you set up an unrealistic view of life. They will anticipate no consequences, and will be unable to cope when life hands them a difficult result. If they refuse to brush their teeth, they will fall out for a special needs child just as for a typical peer. 

Then next time you're tempted to wipe out justice through your mercy, remember this fact. I've watched parents swoop in to "save" their children from the results of their actions time and time again, only to find the first real price they have to pay involves the police. 

Don't let your unwillingness to let your child suffer a little pain lead to greater misery later on. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Book Review - "The Secrets of As A Man Thinketh"

"As a Man Thinketh" is a profound that has changed the lives of millions. Adam Mortimer has recorded his thoughts and insights gained over years of using this book with his students.

You will learn ways to improve your life by controlling your thoughts, change your negative belief cycles, improve your circumstances, and alter your subconscious perceptions. You will discover how to improve your sense of harmony and that a change of perspective can change a perceived failure into a success. Mortimer explains that success requires certain steps, and that if we are not willing to follow the "recipe", we won't achieve our goals.

This inspiring volume expands on James Allen's text to provide clarity and additional inspiration. He encourages you to invest 30 days to improve your life and your future. His program will help you improve your financial circumstances, health, spirituality, and relationships.

I highly recommend this volume. It is worth not only reading, but rereading and working through the principles.

You can learn more about this book here and purchase a copy here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Special Education Saturday - Building Resilience

Everyone faces challenges in their lives. Some problems can be so overwhelming that it seems impossible to survive the disaster.

We can prepare ourselves and our children with special needs to not just survive life's difficulties, but also to thrive.

Let's begin by describing resilience. In short, it's the ability to bounce back from a setback, to recover and move on with our lives.

Steven M Southwick and Dennis S. Charney are medical doctors who have spent considerable time studying resilience in those who have endured horrific trials. Their book, "Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges" has outlined a series of steps anyone can take to improve their coping abilities.

The first tool in your resilience toolbox is to be optimistic. You need more than just a generalized belief that everything will be OK. It can be best summed up in a phrase I've heard a lot lately:

"Everything will be OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end."

Southwick and Charney note that type of optimism includes restating your circumstances, coping through goals, and looking for the meaning behind events.

When you restate your circumstances, you have the opportunity to minimize the catastrophic nature of your situation. It's OK to accept that you are facing a challenge, but try to put in a little global perspective. Will this event matter tomorrow? In a year? In 10 years? Can you accept things as a potential for learning and growth?

Most situations can be bettered through a focus on goals. You can resolve to endure an illness without complaint. Challenges with a child's behavior can be faced with a resolution to collaborate with helpful professionals. The loss of a loved one may be better tolerated if you look to improve relationships with the rest of your family.

Looking for meaning can be done at any point during the trial's process. Seek out lessons to learn, qualities you can develop, or support systems to create. Discovering a meaning behind your obstacle can turn a terrible experience into an opportunity for growth.

How have you managed to remain optimistic despite challenges?

Next week: Ways to increase your optimism.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wellness Wednesday Book Review Tide Ever Rising by Mandi Tucker Slack

FCC Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Tide Cover.jpg

An important part of wellness is taking time for yourself. One of the best ways to do this and escape your problems is to take time out with a good book.

Mandi Tucker Slack has provided us with just that--a compelling story line that pulls you in and keeps you until you reluctantly turn the last page.

About the book:

Kadence Reynold’s favorite pastime is exploring old ghost towns, but when she and her sister, Maysha, stumble across an old journal and cheap pendant hidden in the depths of a crumbling foundation near Eureka, Utah, their world is suddenly turned upside down. Immediately, strange dreams and premonitions begin to haunt “Kadie” as she learns more about the author of the journal, Charlotte Clark. Kadie sets out on a journey to learn more about Charlotte and her family, and she and Maysha travel to Bremerton, Washington, where they discover Charlotte's still living twin sister, Adelaide and her family.  

Kadie and Maysha, upon arriving in Washington, are immediately immersed in Adelaide and Charlotte’s story. Kadie soon learns that Charlotte disappeared the night of a tragic fire that took the lives of Adelaide’s entire family. With the help of Logan Mathews, Adelaide’s handsome grandson, and Charlotte’s ever disconcerting presence, Kadie delves into the past. Hoping to solve the mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance, Kadie immediately discovers the secrets contained in the journal will toss her and Adelaide’s family into a world filled with mystery, past regrets, and dark unknowns.

I really enjoyed this ghost story with a romantic twist. I had trouble putting this book down. I wanted to learn more about Adelaide's past and Kadie's future. An exciting adventure, interesting character study, and fun read.

This book is appropriate for all ages from middle school up.

Get your own copy of "Tide Ever Rising" here.

mandi author pic.jpg

Learn more about the author here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wellness Wednesday – Truth in Relationships

As you work to build your relationship with your special needs child, or any child, take time to consider the value of honesty. If you consistently choose to demonstrate candor in your communications, your youngster will be motivated to follow your example and be frank with you.

There should be some limits to your veracity, however. Don’t use honesty as an excuse to destroy self-esteem and keep adult business between the parents.

Brutal honesty can brutalize your relationship. Try giving criticism in what I call a “praise sandwich”. For example, if your child did poorly on a school assignment, thank him for being honest about his grades. Then, explain how his performance did not meet your family standard. Finally, recognize something else he has done well in school. This way, the understanding is that the actions were unacceptable, but your son is still loved.

There are some things that should not be shared with children. They don’t need to worry about financial matters. How much you despise your ex-spouse is another piece of information you need to keep to yourself. Find a friend or trusted relative for these types of communications. Let the kids be kids.

Kelly P. Crossing is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas who also does online therapy. She stated, “Dishonesty destroys trust between two people. Without trust there is no connection.” Using appropriate straightforwardness with your offspring will bring you closer together for a lifetime. 

How do you keep your relationships honest? Leave a comment here for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Special Education Saturday - "NCAA Eligibility: Resource Guide for Student-Athletes with Educational-Impacting Disabilities" (Book Review)

Publication Date:
Jan 06 2013
1463762321 / 9781463762322
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Education / Special Education / Learning Disabled

This guide is not only useful for student-athletes with disabilities, but all college-bound students who may require accommodations in college. This resource contains the following information:

  • Definitions of disability terms
  • A description of legal protections available for all students with disabilities
  • Eligibility rules for NCAA freshman athletes
  • Accommodations available for NCAA eligibility
  • A data sheet to compute GPA
  • Accommodations available for standardized testing
  • Keys for success
  • How to request accommodations in college
  • A list of disability resources
  • How to prepare for a disability service interview
  • Frequently asked questions
The author, Jeffrey Berk, also included information about how to request accommodations at the college level. Requirements for these considerations both in the classroom and on tests such as the ACT and SAT are also detailed.  

One of the most useful parts of this book is the Keys to Success. The author noted that students must understand their disability and accept responsibility for their own success. The importance of preparatory curriculum, time management skills, and computer abilities was also explained in detail. The author also suggested that supplemental postsecondary education programs be considered. How to research different educational options was covered, as was campus involvement.

Jeffrey Berk has also included several resources. These include a list of disability support offices for a variety of universities across the country. An interview form and answers to questions are also included.

This useful resource will help any student with a disability when planning for higher education, but is vital for those who plan to participate in athletics.