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|I happened to "stumble" on an interesting piece of information last week by accident while waiting for my daughters school counselor to get off the phone.
During her phone conversation, she mentioned to what I guessed to be another professional in education, something about how they were going to handle the new state guidelines for graduation and their affect on special education students in California. I took the time to ask her what questions I could, and while I do not have all the facts at this time, I recently learned that all students must pass an algebra test in addition to the High school exit exams. This poses a particular problem for special ed students who often have learning disabilities that interfere with their ability to process even simple math procedures such as addition/subtaction/mulitplication and division, let alone algebra. Students not passing algebra, will not get a high school diploma. Her guess is that special education students, unable to pass this test, will get a "coupon" or "voucher", something other than a diploma when they complete 12th grade. I found myself wondering what college or business would accept a "voucher" instead of diploma? My daughters counselor is hoping that sometime, parents or special education advocates intervene soon to correct this problem.
In the meantime, I plan on addressing this issue at my sons IEP next week. I want them to make it a goal for themselves as well as for my son that he get the basics of algebra and get prepared for all tests necessary to graduate. Combining this information with the school recent accomplishment of setting him back in Math instead of sending him forward, has made this news especially concerning to me.
I also learned that what doesn't get approved and signed into an IEP is just as important as what is approved in regards to the notes that are kept during each IEP meeting. I learned the hard way this summer that my position would be a lot stronger had the IEP team included in their notes ALL comments and concerns that I made during these meetings. My goal once again is to get him placed more appropriately as well as address these tests. It's my goal to see to it that they do whatever it takes to put him back where he was when they got him, as well as progress him to the point which will allow him to pass the state's requirements for graduation.
For those parents with children in middle school or high school, I urge you to investigate what the graduation requirements are for your state and address these issues in your child's IEP, especially if any of the required testing involves weak areas in your child's academic abilities. If addressed early enough, perhaps we can help our children prepare successfully for their graduation.
NEW ADDITION TO ADHDNEWS.COM AND ADDED ATTRACTIONS
Dr. Sam Caron has been working with children and families for 30 years. During that time, he has been a psychological counselor at a hospital for severely developmentally disabled people, an elementary school guidance counselor, a coordinator of children and families services at a mental health center, a psychology and education instructor at several colleges, clinical director of a first offenders program, and in private practice as a child psychologist. Currently he sees children and families full time at Fort Huachuca, an army base in Southern Arizona.
In addition to being a child psychologist, Dr. Caron is also a ventriloquist. He started ventriloquism at age 6 when his aunt gave him a Jerry Mahoney puppet. He has used his puppets throughout his career to improve rapport and facilitate communication with his young patients. As a ventriloquist he has produced a series of audio tapes to teach children about appropriate behavior in public; worked on an award winning public access, non-violent, children's TV program; produced an award winning series of TV public service announcements on topics such as child abuse, molestation, and don't talk to strangers; and conducted a workshop at the International Ventriloquists' festival on using ventriloquism to counsel and educate young children.
Last but not least, Dr. Caron has just completed producing a series of ten video lessons designed to teach children and their families about ADHD. The videos combine ventriloquism, original songs, magic, and humor to help make them more attractive to young children. Dr. Caron was recently invited to go to Japan this coming November to conduct a workshop at the first Japanese Ventriloquist festival; talk to doctors, students, and ADHD families about ADHD; and show some of his ADHD lessons. For more information about the ADHD lessons, you can go to Dr. Caron's webpage at http://www.adhd1.net
I'm delighted to welcome Dr. Caron to the adhdnews family and look forward to his monthly articles.
ENJOY YOUR CHILD
(DR C & ELWOOD)
When you put your hand up, you can block out the sun. One little hand can stop you from seeing the biggest object in our solar system. This phenomenon is truly amazing.
ADHD, just like your hand, can block out your ability to see and enjoy your child. There is a tendency to find ones self focusing entirely on ADHD related problems and losing sight of the child as a whole. It is easy to fall into this trap when every night you spend four hours helping your child do homework, when every time the phone rings during a school day you begin to feel anxious that your child is again in trouble, when you feel unable to take your child into stores or to other children's homes to visit, and when you spend considerable time in counseling sessions because of the ADHD.
DON'T LET ADHD STOP YOU FROM ENJOYING AND APPRECIATING YOUR CHILD!
Find fun activities which you can enjoy doing with your child on a regular basis. Limit the amount of nightly homework time. Reduce the amount of energy you spend on ADHD related problems. Appreciate your child's assets instead of only focusing on the deficits. Don't take the problems personally or too seriously. Create an ADHD friendly home environment to increase success to reduce the stress.
Remember that your children will only be children for a short time period. If you spend all of your time on the problems, you will miss out on all the fun. Don't let ADHD block out your son or daughter. If you don't start enjoying them now, they'll be grown up before you know it.
Dr C and Elwood have just completed a ten lesson ADHD curriculum designed to teach children and families about ADHD in a fun way. For more information about these lessons go to http://www.adhd1.net.
The Parent Coach: Coaching Calmness In The Anxious ChildDr. Steven A. Richfield
A parent writes: I am increasingly concerned about my child's ability to cope with every day stress. A lot of things in his life make him tense and become preoccupied. This anxiety can happen suddenly or can build over the course of a day, and sometimes make him avoid things he enjoys. I try to talk him out of his worries but it seems to fall on deaf ears. What should I do? Anxiety is an inherent part of all children's lives but some kids have more difficulty with it due to it's frequency, intensity, and duration. It occurs more regularly and instead of acting like a fleeting wave of tension, it settles in the mind and body like a heavy weight.Those children more prone to anxiety tend to be easily effected by the sudden twists and turns in life, as if "worry windows" have suddenly opened in their minds and they can't find a way to close them. These openings seem to widen as the child entertains more worrisome thoughts, further fueling feelings of upset, helplessness, and even victimization. One key reason why some children are more vulnerable to anxiety is traceable to their upbringing. In some cases, the dependency formed upon parents for emotional soothing was not adequately internalized. This means that they did not learn how to self-soothe by means of relaxing their bodies and minds, and developing a track record of appropriate independent management of life stressors. Other kids are born with temperaments that make them especially sensitive and alarmed by the unexpected. Lastly, some children have experienced an acutely anxious/traumatic event in their past that continues to seek expression in their present life. Despite the underlying reason for your child's anxiety mismanagement, here are some coaching strategies: Start a dialogue. Begin by educating your child about the "laws of anxiety," such as everyone experiences it, it's unfair to yourself to try to prevent it by trying to live in a bubble, and the best solution is to understand and learn how to manage it. Label some of the thoughts and feelings that widen your "worry window." Explain what opens your window is different that what opens their window, but that people can learn how to better prepare when their worries get triggered. Help them identify their triggers and early warning signs. Spontaneity and unpredictability act like fertilizer upon anxiety. Children can understand how these triggers are often present in their lives, especially during the unstructured summer. See if they can point out other triggers and the first signs that their anxiety is sprouting again. Use a imaginary rating scale of 1-10 to label their experience at various stages so that they can observe how it starts and gathers strength from the onslaught of worries and ruminations. Teach them how to self-soothe through body relaxation, visualization, and self-talk. Alternately tensing and releasing muscle groups helps reduce bodily tension. Visually replaying relaxing scenes in one's mind helps defeat the interference of anxiety producing ones. Practicing "self-talk thinking skills" further fine-tunes anxiety self-management. Weave all three tools together by having your child take deep breaths, envisioning one of their anxiety triggers, and repeating to themselves, " I am not going to let fear and anxiety control my reactions anymore. Avoiding things that other kids enjoy because I'm afraid means less fun for me. I deserve fun and freedom, too. I am going to use all my courage and determination to beat my fear and anxiety when I feel it creeping up on me." Use circumstances in life to predict an ensuing trigger. Each time a child successfully copes with one of their triggers they become more empowered to confront them again rather than rely upon avoidance. Point out when a worry window might open and remind them of their tools and the confidence boost that comes from beating their fears. Dr. Steven Richfield is a child psychologist in Plymouth Meeting, PA. His column appears monthly. He can be contacted at 610-275-0178 or email@example.com
Advocacy and Assertiveness Training For ParentsI find parents of those with special education needs come in several categories: Pacifists or those who really gets things done; clinging vine;" or "parent advocates;" "silent victims" or a "fighters;" "dreamers" or "crusaders;" "waiters" or "initiators;" "bombshells" or "assertive parents;" "appeasing compromisers" or "action heros?" I ask parents to decide which they are. Parents are not assertive if they beat around the bush; fail to complain; feel guilty; are afraid to be vocal; agree with professionals to keep peace; ignore rights to services; leave everything to others; accept excuses for inappropriate or inadequate services; ineffectively communicate; beg for what the law says a child must have; abdicate to others the right to advocate for a child; depend on others; give up because of "red tape;" are too hasty to act; fail to hold others accountable; accept the status quo; give in to defeat; allow themselves to be swayed by others; are uncomfortable with accomplishments or discourage a child from having hope for success. Assertive parents express themselves clearly, directly and without guilt; are not intimidated; prepare for meetings; stay together; are informed; organize records; collaborate; effectively communicate; are self-confidence; advocate effectively; are self-reliant; have independence; persist; analyze problems; organize for change; are positive and strong; have pride; encourage others; hold people accountable. Which are you? I encourage parents to be assertive. I discourge "losing" behavior. I demonstrate "winning" behaviors. You can change. Listen to each other so you won't be overwhelmed. Learn about the IDEA and laws. Read and join advoay organizations. Be wary of negative statements at meetings. Learn to advocate so the opposite occurs. Remember that you're in the "business" of educating a child. See differences between bureaucrats and public servants. Change your behavior so you'll complain in writing effectively to get a message across. Effective groups, remember, can change everything for generations to come. Efficient advocacy groups get services for special ed children; lobby so legislation is passed; initiate services; create public awareness of where funds go; support future plans and make people to vote! There are differences between parent advocacy groups. Some take over your life, making all your decisions but discourage their own growth! If someone in a group says, "We don't want to get too big," run! Effective ones work for everyone; build confidenc; support efforts to independence; give information; teach you your rights; analyze problems; pinpoint responsibility; state options for resolutions; refer you to entities; lobby; organize; form partnerships and help you get through channels.
Advocacy helps you get services for all special education children in the LRE. Then you can participate to fully plan for programs and get services or laws passed. This open doors so children may become part of communities. It prepares children for independence by knocking down barriers. Meet others by publishing a notice in papers or distribute flyers; organize public meetings; encourage volunteers; plan; have goals and objectives.
Talk to the media. (I love doing that!). Lobby for change in person and in writing. Be everywhere. Get your picture and that of any special ed child in the newspapers. Go on TV. Do radio talk shows. Encourage others to tell you what takes place at their school meetings.
None of this is easy but the rewards can be fantastic! Remember: Parents put together Public Law 94-142; parents who voted encouraged that law to become the IDEA.
I always find parents of those with special ed needs may find it hard to exchange information. I have never been able to figure this out. Relaying what one knows, how one overcame obstacles and moved mountains can be rewarding. When it happens, things change overnight. I have always found, I say to parents, you can make things better for the next generation to come without even having to file due process. You simply must learn the art of persuasion, advocacy-style! There is both safety and strength in numbers.
I also teach parents how satisfying it can be to use what has been accomplished for future goals. In other words, if you can go over a hill and change a classroom, you can go over a mountain and change a state's respite care services, early infant and toddler program, inclusive educational situation, training manuals, rec programs, etc. There then is no end to how many differences one parent, much less a group, can achieve! These things don't happen overnight. It takes communication, concentration, rescheduling, planning, ignoring politics, drafting position papers, forming coalitions and task forces, attending meetings, sending and receiving e-mail, making and taking calls, etc. Parents often are amazed when things go right. They may not know what kept them down, but they figure out very fast what works and what doesn't.
So, if a parent says to me, "What can I do? I'm only one person," I say, "You have no idea the power you have." In 5 years (despite politics!) our ASA Chapter made local and state changes. By then none of our parents felt alone. You, too, can change things for those with special education needs: First, it happens 1 child at a time. Then, you could end up out of control! So, am I asking a lot? Yes, I am. However, I think parents (with or without college degrees) can learn, read and network. They must for the sake of their own special ed children and those yet to be born or identified.. Marie Sherrett is Immediate Past-President of the Prince George's County, MD Chapter of the Autism Society of America.
Socialization and Homeschooling
This was contributed to the ADHD Homeschool discussion group by Leslie and I wanted to share with my readers as many of us have been faced with this issue before.
How to Answer The Socialization Question Once and for All
I am beginning to tire of the many articles, essays and responses I keep running across on what has become known as the "socialization question."
Homeschooling families, please listen carefully:
What people refer to as socialization is a non-issue! It has become a buzz-word among the Official Homeschool Nay Sayers Society. When someone asks you the question ("What about SOCIALIZATION!?"), I suggest you begin by asking them, "What do you mean by socialization?"
They will like proceed with some variation on the following theme: "You know, having your kids spend time with other kids their age. Hanging out with their friends. Stuff like that."
At this point, do not, under any circumstances respond with, "Oh my little Susie gets plenty of socialization! She's in 4-H and Awanas, and Sunday School & Home School Band & she volunteers every 14th Tuesday of the year at the nursing home etc. etc. etc. In fact she has so many opportunities for socialization that I hardly have time to teach her some days. Ya da ya da ya da."
Why not? Because this is not what socialization really is! Here is a more appropriate response:
"Oh, I think the word you are looking for is socializing. Socialization is actually defined as the process by which the norms and standards of our society are passed from one generation to the next. I've never really thought that a complete stranger's six-year old child would be a good source of information on the correct standards of behavior in our family and in society as a whole. As for socializing, I remember from my school days that it was something you weren't supposed to be doing during class!"
We do not have to defend homeschooling based on false assumptions, false accusations and false information. Please stop telling others about all the opportunities your kids have for "socialization" and start gently exposing them to the real issue here -- a lot of what kids learn from other kids in social situations is simply living according to "The Law of the Jungle." In our family, we have a higher set of laws to follow and I bet your family does, too.
Next time, don't be afraid to say so!
New Email Discussion group for Autisim
I am not a member of this group and can not attest to the information being offered or if this forum is used for the selling of alternatives however, since Karen wrote me about this group, it's membership has grown from 240 members to over 600 members. Certainly worth checking out .
Karen Felice writes:
I have two boys as well as myself with PDD and pretty severe SID. Just wanted to let you know that there is a new message board for the discussion of digestive enzymes and how it is affecting people dealing with disorders on the autistic spectrum, digestion/malabsorption, food sensitivities/allergies and other uses. It is yahoo group enzymesandautism. It is a forum for the discussion of digestive enzymes and how their supplementation affect those dealing with disorders on the autistic spectrum/PDD, attention deficit, digestion/malabsorption, food sensitivities/allergies and other uses. We welcome comments and questions about using enzymes in any way, including but not limited to those dealing with restrictive diets, treatments and supportive information. We have several posts from people with results using enzymes in a variety of ways in the FILES section. Some new products are now available and parents are finding a wide range of positive results: reduction in sensory problems, better behavior, more alert, more socialization and communication, better eating, reduction in stomach/bowel problems, reductions in food intolerances to name a few. Dr. Devin Houston will lend expertise to the discussion. He is a leading authority on enzyme research, products, and use, so you can get very practical suggestions from parents and very technical answers as well.
Depending on where you search from, you may need to type the spaces in the name: if "enzymesandautism" does not work, try "enzymes and autism". The direct link is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/enzymesandautism Just join the group, participate, post messages or lurk. We are at 120 members and 240 messages in the first few days. This is a "strong" topic because of some new enzyme formulations and research. If you need any other information, feel free to contact me. Thank you. Karen and the boys.
A Mile in My ShoesBy Josephine Guthrie
In the U.K.
A Mile in my Shoes.
Have you walked a mile in my shoes?
According to our educational system, ADHD is an emotional behavioural disorder caused by bad parenting, family dynamics, or any other apathetic name they want to give it. Politicians say parents want their rights but not their responsibilities. Walk a few steps in my shoes and share with me the burdens I carry and the bittersweet joy of having a child with ADHD.
My son was born 15 years ago, a healthy, normal baby. At forty eight hours old he had Meningitis. The Doctors said he would not survive, he was just too ill - Man gave him a death sentence - but my sons will to live over come. As the first few years came and went, difficult years, he seemed to have too much energy for one child. He was always experimenting and exploring.
When it was time to start school, he had his first experience of exclusion. Teachers branded him unteachable; put him in an institute they told me. However, I always felt there was something more, something different about my son. He seemed highly intelligent, but he was also very impulsive and eventually
I took to my son to America for a diagnosis - which was ADHD. I stayed in America while my son attended their schools, he made fantastic progress - grades of A's and B's, Honour Role certificates and other achievements. You may ask why my son did so well in the US school system; an English boy dubbed unteachable in the land of his birth and called the 'Worst Brat in Britain' by the Sun newspaper. A Holy Monster' by the American National Enquirer. The answer lies in provisions to meet the needs based on individual learning styles, a positive approach and total involvement with the family.
When we came back to the UK, after nine years away, we were lead to believe that my sons needs could be met. This could not be further from the truth. Almost a year ago, my son suffered the most outrageous treatment from this educational system - he was called derogatory names, he was 'like a cat in a bag' they said, and they subjected him to discrimination, various punishments, excluded, bullied and overdosed on his medication. Finally, he said he could not take any more. My son has always wanted to go to school, even with all that he had to endure and I as parent followed his lead. A very courageous boy, almost like Daniel in the lions dens! It was obvious that my son was in an educational wilderness. We were confronted with teachers that had no teaching skills to cope with, nor concept or understanding of a child with ADHD. My son had 9 years of main stream educational provisions consistent with his needs, which I had documented. This proved that he was capable and that this was not a 'parenting problem', or a problem with 'family dynamics', so I could not just stand by and see my son fail in the hands of a system that is supposed to educate him to be all he can be.
As I tried to search for a solicitor in Educational Law it became evident that, this was a minefield. We finally found a solicitor who took our concerns seriously. My son initially won the right to 15 hours home tuition by an experienced teacher having gone to judicial review. Unfortunately, no appropriate teacher could be found. With time fast running out and contempt of court a strong possibility, the LEA agreed to allow my son to attend a school initially named by us as an alternative and situated in America - the only other option open to us.
You may ask why are there so few options open to children with ADHD in this country. As stated by the educational psychologist, there are no courses in the UK which lead to recognised qualifications in the management of children with ADHD, and there do not appear to be any such schools for these children. As most British Educational Psychologists are of the opinion, that America has the 'copy write' on ADHD diagnosis and education.
As we all know politicians have dismiss the condition and transfer the blame onto the parents - if there is no vote-winning power in supporting a section of the population that needs extra funding, the powers that be tend to scapegoat the vulnerable to get the majority on there side and allow them to withhold funding. They claim it is not a problem of lack of resources but a social problem and therefore they can ignore the educational needs of a growing minority of the population.
My son is now attending a school in America and, academically, doing well. However, this is not an ideal solution as I am now at the mercy of the Lea and their interpretations of the consent order. So I too am a victim of exclusion, when at the end of the day my sons educational needs and provisions associated with his learning style cannot be met in his own country. This countries educational system has failed my son and me. I have demonstrated my responsibilities as a parent, at the cost of being parted from my son.
Dr. Dave NewsDr. Dave Rabiner's site www.helpforadd.com is now back up and running. Dr. Dave Rabiner is the author of ADHD Research Update, now put out by www.attention.com.
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