Thursday, June 18, 2015

Possible New Method to Treat Stress-Induced Depression

Many parents of children with special needs experience depression induced by the stress of the challenges they face daily. Hope is on the horizon as researchers continue to investigate innovative new treatment methods.

Scientists at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics have discovered how memories (both positive and negative) impact mood disorders. These researchers sought to determine if a positive memory could overcome a negative one. The subjects were mice engineered to have memories tagged in the dentate gyrus area of the brain, which could be reactivated through an optical fiber.

Male mice were first provided with exposure to a female mouse to create a positive experience to remember. Then they had a negative event that led to a form of depression. Light was then used to remind the mice of the earlier positive experience and caused a rapid recovery from the depression. This was continued for five days, leading to continual reactivation of the positive memories and resistance to stress-induced depression.

The take away? While this is an early study, it may lead to new treatments for depression. Individuals can try using positive memories to reduce their depression--it can't hurt.

Do you have any experience using positive memories to treat or reduce your depression?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Easier Visual Schedules and Communication with Pictures

Visual schedules are very helpful for children with disabilities, and often pictures are the only way to communicate with those who are nonverbal. Juggling small laminated squares, Velcro, and folders can be difficult at times. Dragging around a huge binder can also be inconvenient.

I've discovered that using 3 x 5 cards is the best solution, especially when the child will be moving from one location to another during the school day. Loose cards are hard to manage, but there are now systems you can use to keep them organized and attached without spending significant amounts of money or adding bulk. Here are a few suggestions:

Try a system of spiral bound cards. While the order can't be easily changed, they will stay organized.

Purchase cards with holes and use rings to attach them. There are several different types, some that use one ring and others that have two or more. Cards can be moved around, but they are also easier for the child to tear off.

You can also purchase small notebooks for your cards. Harder for the child to remove, re-positionable, but also slightly higher in price. You can find each of these options at your local office supply store.

What system have you used successfully?