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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Teen Creates App So Bullied Kids Never Have To Eat Alone

From NPR
September 15, 2016

You're at a cafeteria, you've got your lunch ... and then you just don't know where to sit. You don't want to sit alone, but you also don't know who would be friendly and let you sit with them. 

Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton has been there. She's an 11th-grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit With Us.

School lunch can be intensely lonely when you don't have anyone to sit with. A new app aims to help change that.    Tetra Images/Getty Images

Hampton recently spoke about the app with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish. A transcript of their conversation follows, edited for clarity.

This is a great idea, but I understand it kind of comes from a sad place, right? I mean, essentially because you had a pretty lonely experience at lunchtime.
Yeah, I did. At my old school, I was completely ostracized by all of my classmates, and so I had to eat lunch alone every day. When you walk into the lunchroom and you see all the tables of everyone sitting there and you know that going up to them would only end in rejection, you feel extremely alone and extremely isolated, and your stomach drops. And you are searching for a place to eat, but you know that if you sit by yourself, there'll be so much embarrassment that comes with it because people will know and they'll see you as the girl who has nowhere to sit. So there's so many awful feelings that come along with it.

You eventually changed schools, and you did make friends in this new school. But it sounds like you couldn't shake that feeling, right — that experience.
Well, I felt that if I was thriving in a new school but didn't do anything about the people who feel like this every single day, then I'm just as bad as the people who watched me eat alone. I felt like, with my story, it was my job to stand up and do something about all the kids who feel like this every day. And I wanted to create something that would address bullying, but in a positive way.

So you get this idea for an app, and how did you want it to work?
The way that it works is it's a free lunch-planning app where kids can find lunch tables if they feel like they have nowhere to go. Pretty much, kids can sign up as ambassadors for a Sit With Us club and agree to post open lunches so that anyone who has the app and has nowhere to go can find a table and, hopefully, make some new friends.

Now, it seems like the kind of kid who would do that would be the kind of person you could walk up to and say, "Hey, can I sit with you?" So why have an app? Why not the low-tech version, which is just ask to sit down?
Because the way it was at my old school, I tried many times to reach out to someone, but I was rejected many times. And you feel like you're labeling yourself as an outcast when you ask to join a table with someone you don't know. This way, it's very private. It's through the phone. No one else has to know. And you know that you're not going to be rejected once you get to the table.

So your app launched [last] week. Have you had a chance to see the app in action just yet?
So far, the results have been very, very positive. I had my first club meeting the other day, and everyone was very excited. And people are already posting open lunches at my school. So I'm very excited that things are already kicking off with a great start.

Natalie Hampton shows off the Sit With Us app.
Courtesy of Carolyn Hampton

Download this free app HERE and start using it today! 


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NESCA Workshop on Anxiety & Homework

Anxiety and Homework: Helping Your Child Shift From Undone to All Done


Parent Workshop at NESCA in Newton

7-8:30pm, Thursday, October 13, 2016

Presentation Will Cover:


  • How is anxiety useful, and how to tell when it becomes a disorder 
  • The physiological processes that underlie anxiety and how they interfere with a child’s functioning 
  • The different ways anxiety disorders typically present themselves in children 
  • Why tension is a natural part of the parent-child partnership beginning in middle school 
  • The stages of behavior change and why they matter 
  • Strategies for helping anxious children
  • Tools to manage specific anxiety-provoking tasks


Presenters:


Nancy Roosa, Psy.D. Pediatric Neuropsychologist

Nancy Roosa, Psy.D. has provided neuropsychological evaluations for children since 1997. Nancy_Roosa.jpgShe enjoys working with a range of children, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders, as well as children with attentional issues, executive function deficits, anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, or other social, emotional or behavioral problems. Dr. Roosa's evaluations are highly-individualized and comprehensive, integrating data obtained from a wide range of standardized assessment tools with information gained from history, input from parents, teachers and providers, and important observations gleaned from interacting with the child. Her approach to testing is playful and supportive. Dr. Roosa has also consulted with several area schools, either about individual children or about programmatic concerns. She speaks to parent or school groups, upon request.

Michael Delman, CEO Beyond BookSmart


Massachusetts Distinguished Educator Michael Delman founded Beyond BookSmart, previously Thinking Outside the Classroom, in 2006 and serves as its CEO. In addition to being a highly MichaelDelman-1.jpgsought after speaker and Executive Function coach, he also helps the leaders of his team achieve greater levels of efficacy. Michael is also the co-founder of the McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School in Framingham, MA, a middle school teaching over 350 students through the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound school model. He served as McAuliffe’s founding principal and has been an active member of its Board of Trustees since 2008.  Prior to that, Michael taught in the Southborough Public Schools for eight years, during which time he received the Anti-Defamation League’s Teacher Incentive Award for creating a superior learning environment for his students. As an educator since 1982, Michael’s primary mission has always been to make learning relevant and to help young people find capacities in themselves that they don’t know they have.

Location: 55 Chapel Street, Newton , MA


Thursday, October 13th, 2016 - 7-8:30 pm

Cost: $15 per person

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Free Presentation Tomorrow at NESCA : "Let's Make Sense of the Neuropsychological Evaluation"

From NESCA
What will I learn about my child as a result of a neuropsychological evaluation?

 

Presentation will cover:

  • Why should my child get tested?
  • What kind of information will I get from a neuropsychological evaluation about my child’s cognitive functioning?
  • How neuropsychological evaluation results can be used to inform Special Education services?
  • How to understand and interpret the test results
  • How will this evaluation help determine if my child has made progress?

Free of Charge
Thursday, Sept 22, 2016
7:00-8:30 pm
Location: NESCA, 55 Chapel Street, 1st Floor; Newton, MA
RSVP to: info@nesca-newton.com



Presenter: Dr. Reva Tankle, Ph.D.
NESCA , Pediatric and Young Adult Neuropsychologist

Combining her experience and training in both pediatric neuropsychology and educational advocacy, Dr. Reva Tankle has particular expertise in working with families who are navigating the IEP process. Having participated in numerous team meetings over the years, Dr. Tankle is especially knowledgeable about the many ways that schools can support and accommodate students with special learning needs, information that she clearly communicates in her evaluation reports and in team meetings, if needed. She also has a great deal of experience in articulating the reasons that a student may need a program outside of the public school.

Dr. Tankle evaluates students with ADHD, learning disabilities, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and neurological conditions, as well as children with complex profiles that are not easily captured by a single diagnostic category.

In 2004, Dr. Tankle trained at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) as a Parent Consultant and Special Needs Advocate. She currently teaches at the FCSN Parent Consultant course on the use of neuropsychological evaluations in the IEP process.

Dr. Tankle joined the NESCA staff in 2013. NESCA staff and clients are tremendously fortunate to benefit from the unique combination of her skills in advocacy and neuropsychological evaluation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Complimentary Transition Training: Dual Enrollment



Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative                





Funded by the Commonwealth since 2007, the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative offers grants to college-school partnerships to support eligible public high school students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18-22, to increase their academic and career success by being included in a college or university community of learners. ("Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative", 2016)


Learn more about this initiative at this upcoming Complimentary Transition Training on Dual Enrollment!


Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) Presentation:

Glenn Gabbard, EdD. Coordinator, Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Program (ICE) will focus his presentation on the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative: how it works; who it is designed to serve; and how families can get more information about individual partnerships. 

We'll also discuss the difference between this program and the typical services and supports for students available at colleges and universities as well as the difference between MAICEI and dual enrollment programs within the Commonwealth.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHO: Glenn Gabbard, EdD. presenter
Parents of Transition Aged Teens/Young Adults, Educators, Transition Specialists, Special Education Directors, Consultants, and related industry professionals. 
WHAT: A hand out will be provided  
WHERE: 15 Main St. Ext. Unit 7, Plymouth, MA  02360
WHY: Learn what the MAICEI is all about and how you can assist the teens and young adults in your life!
  
Click here: 

Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative. (2016). Executive Office of Education. Retrieved 20 September 2016, from http://www.mass.gov/edu/birth-grade-12/higher-education/initiatives-and-special-programs/inclusive-concurrent-enrollment/

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What Is Non-Verbal Learning Disorder?

From Child Mind Institute
By Caroline Miller


Difficulty picking up concepts and patterns affects kids visually, socially, and academically

When we think of learning disorders, we tend to think of dyslexia and other disorders involving language—that is, kids who have trouble decoding language and learning to read.

But there is another, less well-known type of learning disorder that’s not about verbal communication—hence it’s called non-verbal learning disorder. You’ll see it referred to as NVLD or NLD. It isn’t an official diagnosis like ADHD and autism—in fact many kids who have non-verbal learning challenges have those diagnoses. But experts say focusing on NLD explains what’s happening with kids—and how to help them learn—better than those diagnoses.
Recognizing patterns

Kids who have NLD do not have trouble decoding language, reading, or learning information in a rote way. As Scott Bezsylko, executive director of Winston Preparatory School, puts it, “Think of it as the opposite of dyslexia.” The problems these kids have involve, he says, all the other kinds of learning. “All the stuff that involves understanding information—relationships, concepts, ideas, patterns.”

These deficits—all things related to the right hemisphere of the brain—can affect a child’s ability to do a surprising variety of things. Physical coordination, social interaction, problem solving, organizing thoughts, planning—all these things can be challenging. They seem very different, but the unifying theme is that each requires the ability to recognize patterns or concepts and then apply them to new situations.


The five areas of NLD


There are five areas in which children with NLD show weakness. Not all children have weaknesses in all areas.


1. Visual and spatial awareness:


Many kids with NLD have trouble understanding visual imagery. For example when they are asked to copy a shape like a cube they produce “profound distortions,” says Bezsylko. “These kids can’t accurately perceive the cube, the forms that make up the cube, and the relationships between them. Hence they can’t copy it.”

They also have difficulty evaluating visual-spatial information. This means they have trouble grasping the relationships between things they see and having a clear sense of where they are. This can make them physically awkward.


2. Higher-Order Comprehension:


Higher-order comprehension is the ability to identify the main idea in something, the details that support the main idea, and the relationships among them. This affects kids’ ability to comprehend reading, and write or tell a story effectively.

It also affects taking notes. Bezsylko observed that some kids essentially take down everything the teacher says because they don’t know what’s important and what not to take down. Other kids don’t know what’s important so they take down nothing, and people think they aren’t paying attention. Or they take down all the wrong things.


3. Social Communication:



Most kids with NLD have trouble reading emotion in facial cues and body language, so they often don’t know what’s going on in social interactions. They miss the social patterns that other kids pick up automatically, so they don’t know what’s appropriate behavior in a given situation.

Difficulties with social communication is one reason why kids with NLD often focus—sometimes obsessively—on technology. “In chat rooms or in a video game they don’t have to deal with all the nonverbal stuff,” Bezsylko notes.


4. Math Concepts:


Many kids with NLD are very good at rote learning, and they are able to do well in math just by memorizing data. But as they get older they struggle to solve more advanced mathematical problems that are based on recognizing concepts and patterns. Even with a problem they’ve seen before, if it’s approached differently or modified slightly, they have trouble recognizing it.


5. Executive Functions:


Executive functions are a set of skills we use to organize our thinking, plan and carry out actions, and figure out how to solve problems. Most kids with NLD have weaknesses in these organizing and planning functions. For instance they struggle with breaking down a project into smaller pieces, or conceiving steps that need to be taken to get something done.

“These kids have trouble figuring things out—in fact they don’t really know what figuring something out means,” Bezsylko says. “We have to help them learn to do that—the step-by-step process you go through.”


How do these deficits manifest in kids with NLD?


In addition to the different combinations of symptoms, kids with NLD also vary along a spectrum of severity.

One the one hand there are kids who are extremely high-functioning but socially awkward, a little clumsy, disorganized—what Bezsylko calls “the absentminded professor type.” Other kids are more pervasively affected, and they function with more difficulty in many areas. “These kids often struggle to learn everything that isn’t rote or literal.”

At Winston Prep, a study of more than 100 students with NLD showed that there were 6 combinations of the 5 deficits. The largest group had all five of the deficits, but the second largest group had just two: social communication and executive functions.


When do these deficits become noticeable?


Many kids with NLD can do well enough in elementary school because they are very good at memorization and rote learning. It’s common for them to run into trouble around middle school, when their difficulty with the higher order reasoning—figuring out the main idea, the details, and the relationships—causes them to fall behind. “There’s a saying that in fifth grade you stop learning to read, and now you read to learn,” notes Bezsylko, “and that’s when these kids fall apart.” Historically, Winston Prep took kids in sixth through tenth grade; they’ve started to take some kids as young as fourth grade.

“Almost all of these kids look inattentive and disorganized,” Bezsylko adds, “especially as they get older. The more that schoolwork, math concepts, and socialization become complex rather than rote, the more those difficulties start to show up.”


A more comprehensive diagnosis


NLD is not one of the official diagnoses mental health professionals and schools use to categorize kids with psychiatric or learning probems. Kids who have it usually have other diagnoses—often autism or ADHD. But while those diagnoses list their symptoms or behaviors, they don’t fully explain them, argues Bezsylko.

For instance, if a child is disorganized and inattentive, he is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. But he may well be disorganized and inattentive because he doesn’t understand what’s being discussed, what he reads, or the problem he’s been asked to solve. That’s where NLD comes in. “You can’t pay attention if you can’t understand,” notes Bezsylko.

Similarly, a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will be described as having social and communication deficits. Those behaviors, too, can reflect NLD—not being able recognize patterns in facial expression, body language, and other forms of nonverbal communication can make kids unresponsive socially.

Take the kids in the Winston Prep study who had all five of the deficits. Most of them had a diagnosis of either ADHD or autism spectrum disorder. “But those diagnoses don’t identify three important areas where they are struggling,” notes Bezsylko: “higher-order comprehension, math concepts, and visual and spatial relations. Unless their NLD is recognized, they’re not likely to get help that strengthens or compensates for weaknesses in those core areas.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

Children Need Three Hours Exercise a Day

From  BBC
September 8th, 2016


Children should spend at least three hours a day performing physical activities, according to the Finnish government.


The recommended amount of exercise for young children in Finland has increased from two to three hours a day

Parents have been advised to actively encourage their children to pursue hobbies and interests that require physical exertion.

Children aged eight and under have been targeted in the move.

Finland is known for producing some of the most physically fit children in Europe.

It also produces some of the highest academic results among schoolchildren in the developed world.

Finland's Minister for Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, believes this is no coincidence.

Ms Grahn-Laasonen said physical activity contributed to a child's happiness and promoted learning by developing a young person's ability to interact socially.

"When children exercise together they develop interaction skills and connect socially, and it's healthy, too," she told local media.


How will it affect the school curriculum?


The minister's recommendation has been embraced by those who set the educational agenda, with the move expected to have a positive impact on results.

Anneli Rautiainen, head of basic education with the Finnish National Board of Education, told the BBC that schools would now be experimenting with new ways of teaching.

"In our new curriculum, we are looking at two to three hours a week of physical education and more outdoor activities. But we are also looking at non-traditional ways of teaching," she said.


Finland is considering removing desks from classrooms to encourage children to exercise during lessons

These include removing desks and chairs from some classrooms, so that children are not sitting as much while learning regular subjects.

"Some children learn very well sitting at a desk and listening, others would benefit greatly from moving around the room talking with their classmates," said Ms Rautiainen.

"The child has an active role. We will emphasise personalised learning. The learning environment should be modern and support different learners."

Finland is one of the first countries to put forward these recommendations, which will use classrooms to connect physical exercise with traditional learning.


What do young people think?



A report published last month by the child and family services change programme revealed that young people in Finland were in favour of more physical activity in schools.

The idea was widely supported among those questioned, who suggested using the school gym during breaks and increasing out-of-hours school club activities.


What is the current recommendation?



Guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that children and young teenagers aged between 5 and 17 should perform at least an hour of moderate physical exercise a day.

But the public health body goes on to say that more than an hour will provide additional health benefits, including later in life.


Why are Finnish children so fit?



Finland's obsession with health dates back to the 1970s, when it had the highest rate of deaths from heart-related issues in the world.

This was largely due to a thriving dairy sector, which played a large part in the Finnish diet.

In an effort to tackle the issue from a young age, schoolchildren were weighed on an annual basis and the results were recorded in end-of-year reports.

If there was a problem, a doctor was called in.


Schools in Finland are required to provide nutritional meals for young children.

This led to the Finnish National Nutrition Council, a government body that issues dietary guidelines, eventually introducing a directive that schools should not only provide free lunches, but that the food should be nutritional.


Why is more exercise needed?



According to the WHO, Finland's population is still among the healthiest, but economic, social and cultural developments through globalisation are having a detrimental impact.

As in many countries, health inequalities are on the rise in Finland.


Is Finland ahead of the game?



Finland introduced child health clinics way back in the 1940s, a pioneering move that was later introduced in other nations.

The primary focus at the time was on physical development and nutrition, early identification of abnormal conditions or disease and immunisation.

With this latest focus on physical activity among schoolchildren, Finland remains a leading nation when it comes to the health of its young citizens.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Free Presentation at NESCA: "Let's Make Sense of the Neuropsychological Evaluation"


From NESCA
What will I learn about my child as a result of a neuropsychological evaluation?

 

Presentation will cover:

  • Why should my child get tested?
  • What kind of information will I get from a neuropsychological evaluation about my child’s cognitive functioning?
  • How neuropsychological evaluation results can be used to inform Special Education services?
  • How to understand and interpret the test results
  • How will this evaluation help determine if my child has made progress?

Free of Charge
Thursday, Sept 22, 2016
7:00-8:30 pm
Location: NESCA, 55 Chapel Street, 1st Floor; Newton, MA
RSVP to: info@nesca-newton.com



Presenter: Dr. Reva Tankle, Ph.D.
NESCA , Pediatric and Young Adult Neuropsychologist

Combining her experience and training in both pediatric neuropsychology and educational advocacy, Dr. Reva Tankle has particular expertise in working with families who are navigating the IEP process. Having participated in numerous team meetings over the years, Dr. Tankle is especially knowledgeable about the many ways that schools can support and accommodate students with special learning needs, information that she clearly communicates in her evaluation reports and in team meetings, if needed. She also has a great deal of experience in articulating the reasons that a student may need a program outside of the public school.

Dr. Tankle evaluates students with ADHD, learning disabilities, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and neurological conditions, as well as children with complex profiles that are not easily captured by a single diagnostic category.

In 2004, Dr. Tankle trained at the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) as a Parent Consultant and Special Needs Advocate. She currently teaches at the FCSN Parent Consultant course on the use of neuropsychological evaluations in the IEP process.

Dr. Tankle joined the NESCA staff in 2013. NESCA staff and clients are tremendously fortunate to benefit from the unique combination of her skills in advocacy and neuropsychological evaluation.