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Friday, February 28, 2014

Free Parent Workshop March 5th: When and How to Talk to Your Kids about Their Learning Issues

From Academy MetroWest

February 26, 2014

Great topic, great speaker! On Wednesday, March 5th, A-List Neuropsychologist Dr. Gretchen Felopulos from Mass. General's LEAP (Learning & Emotional Assessment Program) will discuss "When and How to Talk to Your Kids About their Learning Issues." This talk is free and open to the public.

When:   7:15 - 8:45pm, Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Where:  Academy MetroWest
                    218 Speen Street, Natick, MA

For more information or to RSVP, please call 508-655-9200 or email info@academymetrowest.com.

2014 Summer Fun Camp Directory

From the Federation for Children with Special Needs

February 24, 2014

Here are links to the Web sites of over 200 summer camps serving children with disabilities, as well as useful information and resources to help create rewarding camp experiences for you and your child. Choose from the links below to get started.

Download useful information and resources:
Summer Planning for Children with Special Needs (PDF)

Print a copy of the camps links and summer planning resources:
2014 Summer Fun Camp Directory (PDF).

Camps by Category

Behavioral, Emotional, Social Challenges
Blind/Visually Impaired
Chronically Ill or Disabled
Deaf/Hard of Hearing

General Disability
Intellectual Disabilities
Learning Disabilities
PKU, Metabolic Conditions
Religious Affiliations
Ventilator Dependent

In planning your summer, you might also consult:

SPED Child & Teen Massachusetts Special Needs Camps 2014
This is a comprehensive guide to camps, which are listed regionally in eastern, central and western Massachusetts and other New England states.

Increase in ADHD Runs Parallel With Decrease in Physical Activity

From HuffPost Healthy Living

By Brad Stulberg
February 26, 2014

Recent coverage drawing attention to the likely over-treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the United States is very concerning. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the diagnosis being made in 11 percent of youth by the time they finish high school, which amounts to a near six-fold increase since 1990. There is much to question about the stark rise in this largely-subjective diagnosis, particularly given the medications used to treat ADHD carry significant side-effects for patients (e.g., insomnia, appetite loss, hallucinations) and come at a hefty financial cost to society.

Experts suggest far more children are taking meds for ADHD than really need toWhile severe cases of ADHD require medication, the estimated prevalence of these cases is considerably less than the number being treated today. The majority of reporting on the over-treatment of ADHD focuses on the pharmaceutical industry's comprehensive sales and marketing toolkit, which has no doubt played a large role in the rise of the diagnosis. Makers of drugs for ADHD have strategically targeted parents and teachers for the past two decades, selling their drugs as quick fixes for hyperactive kids that are "safer than aspirin," a questionable assertion at best.

Yet there may be an additional force underlying the surge in ADHD and one that is rarely mentioned if at all. America has seen an extensive reduction in physical activity, a trend that has run in lock-step with the rise of ADHD.

Kids have lots of energy and are losing opportunities to expel it naturally. According to the CDC, less than 30 percent of adolescents meet the guidelines for daily physical activity. The reasons for this are many, ranging from neighborhood safety (i.e., crime and vehicular traffic), to urban density (and subsequent reductions in green space), to the cannibalization of what was once active time with screen-based entertainment.

When taken together, the vast majority of America's youth are not moving much at all. Perhaps all of this bottled up energy is being manifested as unnatural hyperactivity, when the most unnatural part of the situation is the sedentary behavior of kids.

One of the few places youth can get protected and regular physical activity is in school, yet school districts across the country are cutting back on recess, gym classes, and after school sports programs. The most common rationale for this is that dwindling resources need to be spent on core topics (e.g., math and science) to prepare America's youth for a competitive global economy. Using precious time and money to invest in meaningful physical activity programs is thus inefficient.

This is particularly ironic given that studies demonstrate that when youth are engaged in regular physical activity they show less anxiety, increased focus, and better performance in academic settings, many of the primary symptoms of ADHD (not to mention the clear benefits of physical activity in reducing obesity, which some consider the country's most significant economic threat -- far greater than a lack of mathematicians and scientists). It seems we may be missing the forest for the trees.

Physical activity may work just as well if not better than strong drugs in countering the symptoms of ADHD. Yet we live in a culture where people are conditioned to want a quick fix for everything, and with a medical system that has learned to provide it. Unfortunately, this is not always the best approach, and the case of ADHD may be the latest example.

Before turning to expensive drugs rife with side-effects to treat ADHD, parents, physicians, teachers, and education policy makers should consider the role of physical activity, and promote making it a regular part of children's diets.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Four Tips on How Parents Can Help Their Child Heal After Trauma

From PsychCentral

By Jesse Viner, M.D.
February 24, 2014

When children, teens, and young adults experience trauma, life feels different for them. Seeing someone get injured, or being the target of violence, can be life-altering, even for adults.

It’s no wonder then that a threatening event or overwhelming experience may greatly affect how a child perceives the world around them. It may also impact their development and personality.

There are several ways parents can learn to help children heal after trauma. Here are four tips parents can try that should help.

1.) Learn to identify the kinds of trauma children and young adults face. Events such as sexual abuse, experiencing a natural disaster or involvement in a serious car accident, commonly come to mind when thinking about trauma. But not all instances of trauma are as well-defined.

Take exposure to violence, for example. Children and young adults may feel deep effects from witnessing violence on television or at school. Even though the child did not experience the violence firsthand, the event may have negatively affected the child, making him or her feel unsafe or fearing something bad will happen to him or her.

Trauma varies throughout childhood, adolescence, and into emerging adulthood. For young children, a disruption to their normal routine, such as parents separating or divorcing, may feel traumatic. Adapting to a new living situation or going to a new school may feel overwhelmingly stressful for the young child. In the lives of emerging adults, trauma may occur in the form of intimate relationship problems, peer conflicts, difficulties with academics or job loss.

Often, trauma leaves a young adult feeling confused about his or her personal identity or life goals. As parents, keep in mind that a wide range of events may be considered traumatic. It may seem like your child is overreacting to something small, but if the child or young adult identifies that an event was traumatic to them, it is helpful to validate their feelings.

2.) Parents can spot a traumatic reaction. What happens in terms of reaction, as an initial or lasting response to overwhelming, traumatic events? To begin with, the brain perceives a high threat level and pushes the mind and body to perform on red alert. The central nervous system goes into defense mode, affecting many physical, emotional, and mental functions. It can be hard to sleep; eat; breathe; focus; study; work; socialize; verbalize; engage in activities or calm down. Trauma can make a child feel jumpy; on edge; mean; scared; worried; sad; and needy for attention.

If you notice your child acting differently; having trouble sleeping; seeming more easily upset; displaying unusually angry or aggressive behavior; breaking rules or failing to finish schoolwork, they may be having a hard time processing something traumatic. Instead of focusing on punishment, switch gears and give your child positive attention. Spend time together, letting your child choose the activity. The supportive response may help your child regain a feeling of security and safety after experiencing trauma.

3.) Parents can be there to listen. There is not a one-size-fits-all trauma recovery plan that is guaranteed to work for everybody. For some, talking it out will provide much-needed relief, while for others, it won’t. Trauma can create feelings that simply cannot be described in words, especially for a child or young adult who does not have the vocabulary or practice in sharing difficult emotions.

You can help your child heal from trauma by offering to listen. Let your child know you are there, in case he or she wants to talk. Express that you want to know what is going on, but that you will wait, ready to listen, whenever he or she feels like opening up.

4.) Parents can model healthy ways to cope. Positively affect how your child comes to terms with negative feelings by being a role model. Practice healthy coping skills on a regular basis, and your child may pick up on your beneficial behavior.

Model ways that you deal with everyday stress. When you notice your child struggling after experiencing trauma, encourage him or her to turn to soothing and enjoyable activities to release stress.

About Dr. Jesse Viner

Jesse Viner, M.D., Executive Medical Director of Yellowbrick, is a recognized expert in the treatment of eating disorders, difficulties resulting from trauma and abuse, and bipolar disorder. He has three decades of experience applying the knowledge of psychiatry and psychoanalysis to the challenge of creating meaningful and pragmatically effective treatment programs.

Dr. Viner has served as Director of Adult Psychiatry Inpatient Services for Northwestern University Medical School; Medical Director of Four Winds Chicago and Director of University Behavioral Health. He is on the faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Dr. Viner is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

San Francisco’s El Dorado Elementary Uses Trauma-Informed & Restorative Practices; Suspensions Drop 89%

From ACESTooHigh.com
(ACES = Adverse Childhood Experiences)

February 24, 2014

Below is a link to an article about a school in California that implemented HEARTS — Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools, which has reduced suspensions by 89% and helped children to be more successful in school.

For many students, El Dorado Elementary School
has become the safest place in their lives.

The website (ACES Too High) includes links to the CDC ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study and to information on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

The HEARTS approach borrowed from the flexible framework practices developed by the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) at Harvard.

TLPI and the developers of HEARTS found that they needed a whole school approach, and that blaming and punishing children didn’t work.

Here’s the link:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tips For Helping Your Child Achieve Academic Success at Home - Drs. Angela Currie and Ann Helmus Speak Thursday 2/27

At The Pike School
Sponsored by the Andover Parent-to-Parent Program

February 24, 2014

Does your house feel like a volcano that is about to erupt during the after-school hours? Does your child struggle with time management and organization?

Pediatric Neuropsychologist Dr. Angela Currie and NESCA Founder/Director Dr. Ann Helmus will share practical strategies parents can use to support their children at home, along with some developmentally-appropriate tips to help them become more independent with time management and organizational skills. They will also discuss the emotional side of homework, and offer suggestions on how to avoid meltdowns that leave everyone frustrated and exhausted.

This program is free and open to the public.

When:    7:30 - 9:00pm Thursday,
                    February 27, 2014

Where:  The Pike School
                     34 Sunset Rock Road,
                     Andover, MA 01810

About Dr. Angela Currie

Dr. Currie graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. degree in psychology from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. She subsequently received her M.A. degree in psychology and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Boston’s Suffolk University, where her studies centered on children and families.
Angela Currie, Ph.D.
In addition to assessment of attentional and learning disabilities, Dr. Currie specializes in the evaluation of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents, conducting both neuropsychological and projective assessments. She has extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety-based disorders.

At NESCA, Dr. Currie supervises and conducts outpatient services in the Anxiety and Attention Skills Coaching (AASC) Program, which teaches emotional awareness and self-regulation through a structured psychoeducational and CBT-based approach.

Educating Doctors About A.D.H.D. Without Resorting to ‘Ritalin Wars’

From The New York Times Blog "Motherlode"
Adventures in Parenting

By K.J. Dell'Antonia
February 18, 2014

Not long ago, amid what felt like a rising tide of criticism of parents of children who were being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.), readers in this space complained, and I joined them.

It’s offensive, we said, to accuse parents (and teachers, and doctors) of using drug treatment to get “off the hook” for more complex problems, or teaching children to “reach for a pill” instead of finding another way to cope with a problem.

It’s also useless. If A.D.H.D. is being over-diagnosed or overmedicated, pointing fingers won’t help either children who do need treatment or those who need something else.

Laguna Design/Getty Images The Molecular Model of Ritalin.

What could help is more and better research into the drugs often prescribed to children diagnosed with A.D.H.D., and better diagnostic tools for the doctors on the front lines — most often pediatricians and family doctors, not mental health specialists.

That last is the mission of Dr. Peter Jensen, a child psychiatrist who offers intensive three-day training sessions to pediatricians and other medical providers on how to properly evaluate children’s mental health issues – especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Times’s Alan Schwarz describes the training, and notes that many who participate come because most (other) such training is “staffed and shaped by pharmaceutical companies.”

Dr. Jensen’s sessions carry an awareness that the numbers do suggest a problem with A.D.H.D. as a diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 20 percent of all boys receives a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. by the time they turn 18. That one-in-five statistic worries many.

But the training offered by Dr. Jensen’s nonprofit, the Resource for Advancing Children’s Health Institute, comes without the air of accusation that accompanies much that has been written about the topic, like the forthcoming “A.D.H.D. Does Not Exist” by Dr. Richard Saul. As much as A.D.H.D. treatment may need to evolve, such titles invite defensiveness, not change.

That change is needed is further suggested by the February, 2014 article in Nature magazine, The Smart-Pill Oversell, which examines a number of recent studies suggesting that the behavioral changes associated with the use of the stimulants often prescribed for A.D.H.D. “do not translate into better academic achievement or even social adjustment in the long term.”

It’s not a sensationalistic article, but rather, one that understands that those behavioral changes may be enough in themselves to warrant drug treatment. But like Dr. Saul’s book, its headline does not invite parents to read with an open mind.

Most parents who medicate a child who struggles in environments that are easy for most children come to that choice with great deliberation and often reluctance. To tell such a parent that he or she has been “sold a smart pill” is to invite that parent to click on something less judgmental, or to respond, not with thought and consideration, with a screed of his own.

To suggest, instead, as Dr. Jensen hopes more medical care providers will do, that it is better to look long and hard for even a more difficult and complex solution than to get an A.D.H.D. diagnosis wrong is something that few would disagree with. Similarly, most of us want to be sure that the hypothetical pushy father who wants an Adderall prescription for his daughter to improve her grades is turned away.

It’s when we try to lump everyone into one category, whether it’s one that encourages the use of medication to treat A.D.H.D. or one that condemns it, that we stop being open to finding the right solution for individual children and families.

Read more about A.D.H.D. and treatments on Motherlode:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Webinar 2/26: Fewer Meltdowns! Practical Strategies for Fostering Positive Behavior in Children and Teens with Asperger Syndrome

From AANE.org
The Asperger's Association of New England

Presented by Brenda Dater, MPH, MSW
Director of Child and Teen Services, AANE

This webinar is designed to offer parents practical strategies to make home life function more smoothly. Come learn how you can help your child or pre-teen increase his/her ability to stay calm, cope better with frustration, get along better with others, think more flexibly, solve everyday problems, and transition with less trauma. We will also address strategies to help ourselves, the parents, stay cool!

About Brenda Dater

Brenda Dater has worked with families and health, education and therapeutic professionals for the past 20 years. Brenda develops and presents workshops on a variety of ASD topics including homework, behavior, IEP development and bike riding. Brenda is the parent of 3 boys, one of whom has Asperger's and another with ADHD.

When: 10:00am - 12:00 noon Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fee:    $40 per registrant

Advance registration with payment is required for all webinars 1 hour before the webinar's start time. AANE reserves the right to cancel a webinar if the minimum enrollment is not met by the registration deadline.

If AANE cancels a webinar due to weather or a public emergency, and the webinar will not be re-scheduled, registrants may sign up for an alternate date if available. You will receive a refund if you are unable to make up a webinar canceled by AANE.

Webinar fees must be paid at the time of registration; reservations cannot be made without total payment. No prorated/reduced fees if you cannot attend a full webinar. If you register for a webinar and are a no-show, there are no refunds or credits given to attend another webinar. We will make every attempt to forward you materials and a link to a recording, if available. If you are an AANE member and would like a second family member to attend, please contact ilia.walsh@aane.org.


To access this training you will need:
  • A desktop or laptop with internet access (tablets and smartphones may not support this technology)
  • Speakers or headphones that are attached to the computer or a telephone
  • Participants can also access this training without a computer by using a telephone, which will give you access to the AUDIO ONLY
  • Be prepared to log in 15 minutes before the scheduled time.
Once you have completed the registration and payment process, a confirmation email will be sent with instructions on how to access your online class.

Cracking the Behavior Code: Understanding and Teaching Students with Anxiety

From the Littleton SEPAC

February 24, 2014

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that one in four thirteen- to eighteen- year-olds has had an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Without intervention, these children are at risk for poor performance, diminished learning, and social/behavior problems in school. Understanding the role anxiety plays in a student’s behavior is crucial, and preventive strategies are key to successful intervention.

Effective behavior plans for these students must avoid the reward- and punishment-based consequences from traditional behavior plans, and focus instead on the use of preventive strategies and on explicitly teaching coping skills, self-monitoring and alternative responses.

Easy to implement preventive tools, strategies and interventions for reducing anxiety, increasing self-regulation, executive functioning and self-monitoring will be discussed.

When:   7:00 - 9:00pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where:  Littleton High School
                    Kiva Room
                    56 King Street, Littleton, MA 01460

This event is free and open to the public.


Jessica Minahan, M.Ed., BCBA is a board-certified behavior analyst, special educator and Director of Behavioral Services at NESCA (Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents), as well as a school consultant to clients nationwide (www.jessicaminahan.com).

Minahan has over thirteen years of experience supporting students who exhibit challenging behavior in both urban and suburban public school systems.

She is also the co-author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, with Dr. Nancy Rappaport (Harvard Education Press, 2012).

Drs. Ann Helmus and Angela Currie Speak Thursday 2/27: Tips For Helping Your Child Achieve Academic Success at Home

At The  Pike School
Sponsored by the Andover Parent-to-Parent Program

February 24, 2014

Does your house feel like a volcano that is about to erupt during the after-school hours? Does your child struggle with time management and organization?

Dr. Ann Helmus, a licensed clinical neuropsychologist who has practiced for more than 16 years, and her colleague, Pediatric Neuropsychologist Dr. Angela Currie, will be coming to Andover once again to share practical strategies to help parents support their children at home.

Ann Helmus, Ph.D.
The emotional side of home work will be discussed along with suggestions to avoid melt downs that leave everyone frustrated and exhausted. In addition, developmentally-appropriate tips to help your child become more independent with time management and organizational skills will be shared.

When:    7:30 - 9:00pm Thursday,
                    February 27, 2014

Where:  The Pike School
                     34 Sunset Rock Road,
                     Andover, MA 01810

This program is free and open to the public.

Steps to Success: Communicating with Your Child's School

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education

February 24, 2014

CADRE is an organization that "encourages the use of mediation and other collaborative strategies to resolve disagreements about special education and early intervention programs." They have just updated their guide to effective communications with public schools.

This brochure, available in many languages (see below) offers specific communication skills that may be helpful to parents as they develop and maintain partnerships with their child's school. It was developed in collaboration with the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), and originally published in May, 2004.

More information on IDEA 2004.

Chinese (Simplified)
Haitian Creole

This document is also available in the Parent Dispute Resolution Resource Showcase. If you need assistance accesssing these documents please contact cadre@directionservice.org.

 Steps to Success.pdf


IDEA Dispute Resolution Parent Guides

Following OSEP’s release of a Q&A on IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution in July, 2013, CADRE was asked to create a set of companion resources for parents and families. In response, CADRE developed these four parent guides with the support of parent leaders from across the country:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dr. Nancy Roosa Discusses School vs. Private Testing: Wednesday, February 26 in Franklin

Presented by the Franklin SEPAC

February 24, 2014

At a meeting of the Franklin SEPAC, NESCA Neuropsychologist Nancy Roosa, Psy.D. will discuss important differences between school testing and private neuropsychological evaluation. This presentation is free and open to the public.

When:   7:00pm Wednesday,  February 26, 2014

Where:  Franklin Municipal Building
                  3rd-floor Training Room
                  355 East Central Street
                  Franklin, MA

Getting Help for a Child with a Behavior Disorder

From The Wrightslaw Way

January 6, 2009

Question: "My son is in 10th grade. He has a behavior disorder and can’t control himself at times. The school does not understand when he gets agitated and angry. They suspend him and deprive him of his education."

You say your son has a behavior disorder. Many kids with learning disabilities develop behavior problems. If the school doesn’t teach them the skills they need, they become angry, frustrated, and depressed. Then the school labels them as “behavior disordered” or “emotionally disturbed.”

Is he under the care of a mental health professional? If not, he needs this right away. By suspending him repeatedly, the school is putting him at high risk for dropping out.

Does he have an IEP? If yes, what services is the school supposed to provide? Are they providing these services?

If he doesn’t have an IEP, you should get an evaluation by an independent evaluator. The evaluator will determine what his needs are and what type of educational program he needs. The evaluator can help advocate for him with the school. A mental health person can also help you learn how to advocate for him.

At this point, you have educators with little or no training in mental health or behavioral problems dealing with him, mainly by suspending him (which isn’t a punishment for many kids).

Is he under the care of a child psychiatrist? If not, that’s your first step. You also need to get a comprehensive evaluation to find out what is going on with him, why he can’t control himself, and how to help him get himself under control.

The child psychiatrist should be able to recommend a good child or neuropsychologist.

Bottom Line: You can’t tackle these problems successfully unless or until you have good diagnostic testing and data.


NESCA's Behavioral Services

NESCA’s Behavioral Services department, directed by Jessica Minahan, M.Ed., BCBA, provides effective behavioral interventions to a variety of populations in multiple arenas.

Specialized in working with children who have complex profiles, such as those struggling with anxiety, depression, Asperger’s syndrome or autism, as well as with children who exhibit oppositional, sexualized and/or withdrawn behavior, NESCA applies evidence-based practices that can be implemented in both home and school settings.

From school staff training, behavior-intervention plan development and consultation to parent training and program consultation, NESCA helps school professionals and parents build capacity for the utilization of best practices with children.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Parent's Resource Guide to Social and Emotional Learning

From Edutopia
The George Lucas Educational Foundation

February 22, 2014

Edutopia’s curated list of blogs, articles, and videos for parents about fostering kindness, empathy, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children.

Resources by Topic

1.) Encouraging Kindness and Empathy
2.) Cultivating Perseverance and Resilience
3.) Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and Focus
4.) Home, School, and Community Partnerships
5.) Children’s Social Selves and Technology
6.) Additional Resources

Encouraging Kindness and Empathy

Raising Kind Kids (Greater Good Science Center, 2012): In this brief video from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, parenting expert Christine Carter offers some tips to parents on how to foster kindness and generosity in children.

Raising Caring, Respectful, and Courageous Children (Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2013): Richard Weissbourd, co-director of the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, advises parents about raising caring, respectful, and courageous children.

Kindness Isn’t Just for Elementary School (Teaching Tolerance, 2013): Teacher Allison Ricket’s local elementary school uses the metaphor of “filling up the bucket” to teach children the value of “put-ups” instead of “put-downs”— these types of strategies can be used to train the brain for kindness at home as well as at school.

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Empathy (Edutopia, 2013). In Part 7 of her elementary student SEL series, filmmaker Randy Taran offers suggestions and examples for cultivating empathy. Check out the section, “Encourage Empathy at Home.”

2nd-Grader’s Cure for Playground Loneliness: A Buddy Bench (Huffington Post, 2013): Second-grader Christian Bucks noticed that some of his friends didn’t have anyone to play with at recess. With the support and encouragement of his parents and the help of school administration, he was able to bring an idea called the “Buddy Bench” to fruition.

Five-Minute Film Festival: Nine Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection (Edutopia, 2013): VideoAmy compiled this moving playlist of videos to explore the importance of human relationships and the power of being kind, generous, and compassionate.

Cultivating Perseverance and Resilience

Carol Dweck on the Power of “Yet” (GreatSchools, 2013): Stanford University professor Carol Dweck, research pioneer on “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets, discusses how a simple change of language can inspire children to think differently about their capabilities.

For more about Dweck’s research in this area, check out Maria Popova’s blog post from Brain Pickings entitled "Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives."

How Do We Help Kids Make Better Choices? Let Them Practice (Edutopia, 2012): School administrator, blogger and author Matt Levinson stresses that mistakes are a necessary part of learning and suggests that allowing children to navigate challenging situations on their own can help them build frameworks for arriving at more successful outcomes.

Tips for Resilience in the Face of Horror (Greater Good, 2013): Jason March, founding editor-in-chief of Greater Good, describes how educators and parents can help protect children and themselves from the effects of vicarious trauma.

Talking to Your Children About Tragedy (Bright Horizons, 2013): In this video, Brendamarie Contreras, director at Bright Horizons, discusses relevant principles parents can consider in relation to young children and personal or family reactions to traumatic events. Though the introduction to the video is focused on Boston, the principles discussed can be applied to a wide variety of situations.

Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and Focus

Social and Emotional Learning: What is it? How Can We Use it to Help Our Children? (The New York University Child Study Center): Robin Stern, Ph.D., discusses social and emotional learning and emotional intelligence, including tips for parents, educators, and students.

Educating the Heart: 6 Steps to Build Kindness & Resilience in Children (Dalai Lama Center, 2012): In this six-part video series, Dr. Dan Siegel describes how to use brain-based strategies to foster connection and mindfulness in order to build kindness and resilience in children.

Mindful Parenting (Greater Good Science Center, 2013): One way to teach children mindfulness is to model it. Parenting expert Christine Carter discusses how parents can bring mindful awareness to everyday situations. You may also want to check out Carter’s video on a simple strategy for teaching meditation to children: "Meditating with Kids."

Age of Distraction: Why It’s Critical for Students to Learn to Focus (KQED’s MindShift, 2013): Katrina Schwartz shares insights from Dan Goleman on how to help children manage digital distraction and build the neural circuitry that focused attention requires.

Daniel Goleman: Parents Teach Focus (Edutopia, 2013): Best-selling author and social-emotional learning expert Daniel Goleman explains how parents naturally teach their children how to focus and manage emotions. Also, check out the other videos in this series: "Daniel Goleman on the Importance of Cultivating Focus."

Social and Emotional Learning: Resources for Parents (Edutopia, Updated June 2012): Reference this parent guide to strategies for home and school for encouraging emotionally intelligent behavior.

Home, School and Community Partnerships

Creating a Safe and Caring Home (National School Climate Center): The National School Climate Center has created guidelines for parents on creating safe and caring homes, preventing bullying, strategies to promote collaboration among adults, and community activities.

Making Your Child’s School Safe and Supportive (GreatSchools, 2013): Parents are powerful forces for change in schools. In this article, Suzanne Bouffard and Richard Weissbourd discuss how parents can influence how kids are treated – and how students treat each other – at school. Be sure to check out the linked lists of "Questions Parents Can Ask Elementary Schools" and "Questions Parents Can Ask Middle and High Schools."

Teach Social-Emotional Learning for Better Schools, Safer Neighborhoods (Edutopia, 2013): Laura Rabb Morgan, Founder of South Chicago Block Club Coalition SEL Grassroots Movement, talks about her awakening to the need for social-emotional learning in her neighborhood.

Bully Prevention: Why We Desperately Need to Invest in Home-School Partnerships (Edutopia, 2012): Blogger Joe Mazza discusses the importance of parent-teacher partnerships to help students work through challenges and prevent bullying in schools.

How Parents and Schools Can Help Build Kids’ Emotional Strength (KQED’s MindShift, 2012): Blogger and principal Matt Levinson discusses some ideas for strengthening the relationship between schools and parents in order to help children work through social and emotional challenges during the pre-teen and teen years.

Children’s Social Selves and Technology

Technology at Home: Developing the Social Self (Edutopia, 2013): Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff encourages parents of tweens to let their children's social selves develop through reasonable limits on their digital access.

Kids and Tech: Failure Might Be the Best Option (Edutopia, 2012): Matt Levinson talks about the kid tech underground, two unfortunate cases of social media abuse, and the early ethical lessons that are possible when schools and parents work together.

Design Thinking - Invisible Hearts Project (the ASIDE blog, 2011): A group of Australian students decided to confront cyberbullying at their schools; the Invisible Hearts Project was the result of this collaboration. Using a combination of empathy and design thinking, the students used technology and social media in a positive manner to raise awareness and promote peace, equality, and love.

Also, reference the parent resources about bullying and cyberbullying prevention in Edutopia's "Resources to Fight Bullying and Harassment at School."

Additional Resources

A Parent Primer on Social and Emotional Learning (Edutopia, 2009): Learn the benefits of nurturing students' social skills and how to make it happen at their school. This primer comes from Edutopia’s Schools that Work package on "Social and Emotional Learning in Lousville."

For additional information about social and emotional learning (SEL), including the research on its relationship to academic success, be sure check out our SEL page and join our SEL community discussion.

Confident Parents Confident Kids (Jennifer Miller): Parent Jennifer Miller writes a regular blog for parents on how to support social and emotional development in children.

Your Child’s Social & Emotional Skills (National Center for Learning Disabilities): These resources from the National Center for Learning Disabilities include guidelines for helping children with learning disabilities develop healthy social and emotional skills.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What Your IQ Score Doesn't Tell You

From CNN Health

By Jacque Wilson
February 19, 2014

Three-year-old Alexis Martin reads at a fifth-grade level. She taught herself fluent Spanish using her parents' iPad.

"From 12 to 18 months old, we'd be driving around in the car, and she would recite her bedtime story from the night before," her dad, Ian, told CNN affiliate KNXV. "She didn't just recite them; she recited them exactly."

Alexis is the youngest member of Arizona's Mensa chapter.American Mensa (PDF) is an organization for people with IQs in the top 2%. The average IQ is 100. Martin's tops 160.

Mensa has more than 55,000 members nationally. You'd probably recognize some of the more famous ones: Nolan Gould, who plays Luke on ABC's "Modern Family"; Richard Bolles, the author of "What Color is Your Parachute?"; the Blue Power Ranger (OK, he's a fictional member).

But what does an IQ score really tell us about a person? Will Alexis be a genius for life? And if you still can't speak Spanish at age 50, should you just give up?

What Your IQ Score Means

An Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, is a measure of what psychologists call our "fluid and crystallized intelligence." Put simply, an IQ test measures your reasoning and problem-solving abilities.

There are different kinds of IQ tests, but most analyze your visual, mathematical and language abilities as well as your memory and information processing speed. A licensed psychologist administers a series of subtests; the results are then combined into one score: your IQ.

"Anybody with very high IQ, they have the ability to manipulate, process and interpret information at a deeper level and a higher speed than the average person," explained Mensa's gifted youth specialist, Lisa Van Gemert.

What your specific numerical score means depends on the test you take. IQ is really a measure of how well you do on a test compared with other people your age.

Scores are generally shown on a bell curve. The average score is 100. People to the far left or far right of the curve are outliers. Alexis, for example, is on the far right of the curve for children her age.

What It Doesn't Mean

"The difficulty with these kinds of tests is that they're a snapshot," Van Gemert said. "We see what the kid looks like on this day, on this particular test, with this particular tester."

An IQ score doesn't measure your practical intelligence: knowing how to make things work, says Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. It doesn't measure your creativity. It doesn't measure your curiosity.

It doesn't tell your parents or teachers about your emotional readiness. Maybe as a 5-year-old, you can read and understand The Economist. But are you prepared to deal with stories about war-torn countries or prisoners on death row?

It would be a mistake, Van Gemert says, to look at a child with a high IQ as nothing more than a brain. Like any trait -- blue eyes, big feet -- their IQ is just one part of who they are.

Your IQ Can Change Over Time

A lot of factors can affect your IQ score over time. Poverty. Nutrition. Stress. How familiar you are with standardized tests. Nisbett's research has shown that children from lower socioeconomic levels adopted into a middle-class family often increase their IQ scores by 15 to 20 points.

"Heritability is not as great as some people (believe)," Nisbett said. "Environmental factors are very potent."

In one study, researchers tested 33 adolescents' intelligence once and then again four years later. In that short amount of time, some of their IQ scores varied by more than 20 points. The changes matched with structural and functional changes in their brains.

Kids who are geniuses at age 2 rarely stay that way, experts say. It's easier, Van Gemert explains, for young children to distinguish themselves on the curve.

In other words, it's easy to spot a genius 3-year-old when she's reading at a fifth-grade level and speaks fluent Spanish. But what makes one 47-year-old more intelligent than another? Is it education? Life experience? Their ability to put together a piece of furniture from IKEA?

You're Smarter Than Your Ancestors

Since the early 1990s, when IQ tests were first standardized, researchers have seen substantial increases in IQ scores with each passing generation. So the average 10-year-old today would score higher on the same test than a 10-year-old from 1954.

This doesn't mean we necessarily have bigger brains than our great-great-grandfathers; it just means we've improved our abilities to think logically, solve problems and/or use our abilities in hypothetical situations.

It's known as the Flynn Effect, for moral philosopher James Flynn.

"The cars that people drove in 1900 have altered because the roads are better and because of technology," Flynn said in a TED Talk last year. "And our minds have altered, too. We've gone from people who confronted a concrete world and analyzed that world primarily in terms of how much it would benefit them to people who confront a very complex world."

For instance, education has changed. We've learned to classify the world, to compare groups like animals or modes of transportation, Flynn said. We've also been taught to accept hypothetical situations (you remember algebra, right?). Our ancestors dealt only with what was right in front of them.

Our jobs have also changed. In the early 1900s, only 3% of Americans had professions that were "cognitively demanding," Flynn said. Today, 35% of us do. As such we're used to solving complex, hypothetical problems, like the ones on an IQ test.

Health factors may have had an influence as well. Studies have shown that early childhood immunization rates are a big predictor of a nation's average IQ score. So decreasing infectious diseases worldwide may have attributed to the overall increase in subsequent generations' IQ scores.

"From an energetics standpoint, a developing human will have difficulty building a brain and fighting off infectious diseases at the same time, as both are very metabolically costly tasks," the authors of one study wrote.

Not a Genius? Don't Panic

You probably remember the dreaded SAT or ACT test you took in high school. That's a type of IQ test. But Nisbett believes that a student's grade-point average is a better predictor of their success than their test scores.

"GPA is raw smarts times how hard you work times self-control times a lot of other things. That's true for success in life," he said. "I see graduate students with extremely high IQs who can't achieve much because they're lacking in curiosity. ...They're lacking the ability to get along with people."

Having a high IQ is not a guarantee of success, Van Gemert agrees, just as having a lower IQ is not a guarantee of failure. Good habits, perseverance and a strong work ethic are just as important as intelligence.

"If you don't develop those other qualities, you can waste a smart IQ," she said.

Van Gemert recommends that parents view their homes as a petri dish, one where they're trying to grow their children. That means lots of time spent together, interacting, and lots of books, building blocks and board games.

"The most important thing we can do for kids is to play with them," she said.

Upcoming Riverview School Information Sessions and Tours

Riverview School is an independent coeducational boarding school that provides a caring community for adolescents and young adults with complex language, learning and cognitive disabilities. The school is committed to developing student competence and confidence in academic, social
and independent living skills.

Riverview will be hosting information sessions and giving tours on the following dates:

February 28, 2014, 9:00 - 11:30am

April 11, 2014, 9:00 - 11:30am

May 23, 2014, 9:00 - 11:30am


Riverview School
James Center (on campus)

551 Route 6A, East Sandwich, MA

Call or email Monica Lindo to RSVP.

508-888-0489  Ext. 206

Friday, February 21, 2014

Carlisle Community Forum with "Behavior Code" Co-Author Dr. Nancy Rappaport

An Invitation from the Carlisle SEPAC

"Caring for All of Our Kids"

On Saturday, March 8th, the Carlisle Public School Advisory Council and the Carlisle School Association are co-sponsoring a community-wide forum featuring Dr. Nancy Rappaport, child psychiatrist and co-author (with NESCA's Jessica Minahan) of "The BehaviorCode."

Come hear the presentation that Dr. Rappaport gave to teachers and staff earlier this year!

When:   9:30 - 11:30am Saturday, March 8th

Where: Corey Auditorium, Carlisle School
                  117 Church Street
                  Carlisle, MA 01741

There will be free childcare Corey Dining Room, provided by the Red Balloon Preschool. Registration for the event is strongly encouraged, and registration is required for childcare.

Register HERE.

American Teens Are Even More Stressed Than Adults

From the HuffPost Blog "The Third Metric"
Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power

By Carolyn Gregoire
February 11, 2014

Last year, the American Psychological Association's Stress in America survey found that Millennials, aged 18-33, were the country's most-stressed generation. Now, the title belongs to an even younger demographic: American teenagers.

Even before the pressures of work and adulthood set in, for most young Americans, stress has already become a fact of daily life. And this sets the stage early for unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices that may increase the risk of developing stress-related health problems down the road.

American teenagers are now the most stressed-out age group in the U.S., according to APA's 2013 Stress In America survey. While adults rate their stress at a 5.1 on a 10-point scale, teens rate their stress levels at 5.8.

This year's report, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of APA, consisted of 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens in the U.S. in August 2013. Here are some of the survey's biggest findings about teens and stress:
  • Teens report that their stress level during the school year (5.8/10) far exceeds what they believe to be a healthy level of stress (3.9/10).
  • 31 percent of teens report feeling overwhelmed as a result of stress, 30 percent say that they feel sad or depressed as a result of stress, and 36 percent report feeling tired or fatigued because of stress.
  • Only 16 percent of teens say their stress levels have declined in the past year, while 31 percent say their stress has increased in the past year.
  • Yet teens are more likely than adults to report that stress has no effect on their physical health (54 percent) or their mental health (52 percent).
  • 42 percent of teens say that they're either not doing enough to manage their stress or they're not sure if they're doing enough.
“It is alarming that the teen stress experience is so similar to that of adults. It is even more concerning that they seem to underestimate the potential impact that stress has on their physical and mental health,” APA CEO and Executive Vice President Norman B. Anderson, PhD, said in a statement.

“In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors as a nation, we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health care professionals.”

Teens' habits around sleep, exercise and technology (the average teen consumes an average of 7.5 hours of media per day) may play a role in contributing to higher stress levels. More than one in three teens says that stress has kept him up at night in the past month. But most teens aren't sleeping enough to begin with: The average teen sleeps 7.4 hours on a school night (far less than the 9-10 hours recommended by the CDC), the APA survey found.

The survey also found that one in five teens reports exercising less than once a week or not at all, despite the proven stress-relieving benefits of physical activity.

The negative health effects of lack of sleep and too much screen time for teens could be significant. Teens who don't get enough sleep are four times as likely as well-rested teens to develop major depressive disorder, according to a recent University of Texas study, while teens who are already depressed are more likely to lose sleep.

Teens who spend a lot of time on the Internet are also as likely to exhibit depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts as teens who misuse drugs and skip school, according to a recent Swedish study.

Parents, who may be a source of stress for teens -- research has suggested that adults pass stress down to their children -- can also be part of the solution.

“Parents and other adults can play a critical role in helping teens get a handle on stress by modeling healthy stress management behaviors...research has suggested that adults pass stress down to their children.”

“Parents and other adults can play a critical role in helping teens get a handle on stress by modeling healthy stress management behaviors,” Anderson said.

“When spending time with teens, we can encourage them to exercise, eat well, get the sleep they need and seek support from health care professionals like psychologists to help them develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress sooner rather than later.”