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For those of you who do not visit the site on a regular basis, I wanted to share with you some of the services I had implemented for James in his most recent IEP. I find that sharing IEP information helps give other parents ideas for services and accommodations for their own children.
James will be entering 6th grade and has two subjects that are very difficult for him and are his most challenging. They are Math and written language. James starts the day with 30mg of Ritalin and is at his best in the morning so I asked that math and written language be dealt with during his first two periods so that he is working at his best.
By 3rd period, just before lunch, James is starting to get fidgety and has less ability to pay attention and focus so I asked that an elective or PE be given at that time. I hope he gets PE so that he can burn off some of that energy but a fun elective such as art would require less focus from him then math or written language.
I'd rather wrestle a bear than try to get James to focus on homework after school. By the time he gets home, he is off of his meds completely and he is sick of school work so I asked that James be given a study period right after lunch to work on homework. This helps solve the problem of missing homework assignments due to not knowing what the assignments are and/or forgetting to bring the work home. I chose the first period after lunch because James will have had a long recess and he will have taken a lunch time dose of meds and will this time will be a perfect time for him to focus and do his best work.
I asked that his last period of the day be PE or an elective as once again, his meds will be wearing off and he will be ready to burn energy.
I have also asked that James be prepared for what I call "real world" education. After 6 years of special Ed classes in a self contained class, James still is below 3rd grade level in math. Due to short and long term memory problems, each year is spent trying to get him to memorize the same old information so this year I decided to stop beating the dead horse and while he will still learn basic math skills, I've asked that he be taught how to use a calculator and use math in real life situations such as giving back change, placing a dozen items in bag etc. I also asked that he be taught other skills such as computer skills and be taught how to type.
This year I also asked that James be mainstreamed more and also be given assignments other than writing spelling words three times each. I have yet to see James do a book report, social studies assignment and other things so I asked that he be given these things based on his ability level and allow him to type these assignments on the computer, a type writer or be given a tape recorder to record his reports orally.
All in all my IEP meeting was a good one. I received everything I asked for and a little more. James will also be given the use of a lap top computer to help with his assignments.
My goals for James have changed since I first got him into special education. In the beginning, self contained settings were a must for him and he learned a lot and the amount of growth he made was tremendous. Now, my goals for James are to get him functional as an adult. His growth has gone unchanged in math and written language now for 3 years so I felt it was time to approach things differently and allow him to experience jr. high as a regular education student.
I hope this helps give you some ideas for your own IEP's and don't forget to check out Reed Martin's site for his advocacy tip of the week at www.reedmartin.com and be sure to check in at the Special Ed Advocate at www.wrightslaw.com and familiarize yourself with the new changes to IDEA as well as some excellent information on writing letters to District personnel.
Miss Patty Sayih, President and founder of the Institute of Human Development, is a researcher and consultant on childhood brain disorder. She is the mother of a cerebral palsy child, who at birth was given a "no hope" diagnosis. Her perseverance and investigation and implementation of different therapies resulted in Michael now being in a mainstream public school, with dramatic improvement in all his disabilities.
Ms. Sayih became aware that many of the therapies that were effective with her son also had applicability to other childhood disorders, particularly ADD/ADHD. She was receiving countless questions from parents as to what their options were in treating their challenged children. Patty realized, from her own experience, how time consuming and expensive it was to gather information from so many sources. She decided to produce an educational video for parents that would present an unbiased summary of information on many of the traditional and alternative treatments that have had success in treating add/adhd children.
Ms. Sayih gathered 8 professional experts, who donated their time in order to bring this video to parents at the lowest possible cost. The result was: "YOUR CHILD AND ADD/ADHD- A PARENTS GUIDE." This video is available for the special introductory price of $29.95 plus $4.95 S/H, with a money back guarantee of satisfaction. The video can be ordered by calling toll free 1-888-324-1066. For more information, please call 1-877-ADDHOPE or visit our new web site: www.addhope.com.
Now that summer is upon us, a question I am frequently asked by parents is whether their child should continue taking his or her medication. I thought I would try to provide some guidelines for thinking about this issue in my column this month. This is definitely something that should be carefully discussed with a child's doctor, and I hope the guidelines below will be helpful in your discussions. Until relatively recently, most physicians recommended that medication for treating ADHD be discontinued on weekends and over the summer. The reasoning behind this stance was that medication was intended to help children function more effectively in school, and there was thus no need for medicine when school was not in session. Concerns about the health consequences of continued use of medication were also involved in this decision. Unfortunately, for many children with ADHD, the ability to succeed in activities outside of school is greatly reduced without the assistance provided by medication. For example, some children have much more difficulty with peers or participating effectively in organized activities without medication. Problems getting along with parents and siblings are also often helped substantially by medication - I've had many parents tell me how much easier it is to have a good time with their child when he or she is on medication and that they are able to spend time together in ways that are just not possible otherwise. Success with peers and good relations with parents are extremely important in promoting a child's healthy development.
Being excluded or disliked by peers and having frequent conflictual exchanges with parents can take a toll on a developing child's feelings about himself and others. Over time, a history of unsuccessful and conflictual interactions can create as much difficulty for a child as the primary symptoms of ADHD. For these types of reasons, many mental health professionals now advocate that medication be continued year round for children who need it to be successful outside of school. Thus, if you recognize that your child gets along much better with peers, is able to participate more appropriately in various activities, and does better at home when on medication, than the use of medication during the summer months should be considered.
For a child with ADHD who is able to do well in these contexts without medication, however, and who requires it primarily to assist with focusing on school work, it may not be necessary at all over the summer. In my experience, this is more likely to be the case for children who have the inattentive symptoms only and who do not also have problems with hyperactive and impulsive behavior. Please note that suggesting medication can be appropriate to use over the summer does not mean that other interventions to assist a child with peer relations and social behavior are not important. For example, at summer camp programs that are designed to provide specialized treatment to children with ADHD, well designed behavioral interventions and social skills training are important parts of the curriculum. Even so, many of the children who attend continue to receive medication so they can participate more effectively.
Just like during the school year, medication can play a useful role for some children as part of their overall treatment plan. If a child needs medication to be successful in the many activities he or she participates in over the summer, it may not be wise to discontinue it, even as other efforts are being made to help the child be more successful. As noted above, this is a very important issue to discuss with your child's doctor.
Best wishes for a good start to your summer.
P.S. If you have not already done so, please visit my site and sign up to receive a Free Preview of ADHD RESEARCH UPDATE. This is a newsletter I publish that keeps parents informed about new research on ADD/ADHD, and how new findings can be applied to help children with this condition.
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Adolescent Impulsivity: Coaching The Rules Of The Road, Part IV By Dr. Steve Richfield
In my final article on impulsivity, I turn my attention to adolescents. It is especially daunting to coach social and emotional skills to this age group, in part due to the developmental push to resist adult authority and conform to peer cultures. But other factors must be also considered. Adolescents regularly experience strong currents of emotion that fuel their desires, propel their curiosities, and intensify their reactions to whatever they find unpleasant. Their living environment tends to be littered with temptations, distractions, frustrations, and other "triggers to trouble." We all know that such triggers can have devastating consequences during this fragile period. It is especially for this reason that adolescents must not be overlooked in the need for effective coaching of self-control skills.
One of the biggest challenges to coaching social and emotional skills to adolescents is the need to control one's own reactions. Objectionable behavior sounds off an alarm in most adults, particularly parents and teachers, often triggering condemnation on our parts. Unfortunately, this immediately sets an adversarial relationship in place. Obviously, we can not successfully supply coaching to a teenager who regards us as the enemy. Another trap that many parents of adolescents fall into is the "back when I was your age" lecture, or some similar treatise that ultimately falls upon deaf ears. Effective coaching with teenagers requires us to be low-key, focused on the present, and above all, respectful of their sensitivities and sensibilities. To put it more plainly, to get respect we need to give it. In keeping with the subject of impulsivity, and the format employed in prior articles, I will illustrate a coaching approach by using composites of one of my own teenage patients. Bryan, a 16 year old boy with a history of fighting and "close calls" with serious trouble, understood that impulsivity was causing many of his problems but didn't know what to do about it. Parents and teachers had been telling him to "think first" or "walk away" but this just wasn't sinking in. As I questioned him about the details of some of the breakthroughs of his violent impulsivity a number of points became clear. I strived to communicate these points to him without sounding adversarial or pedantic: "I notice something that maybe you don't notice about these fights. Each time you lose control it follows a typical pattern: a kid says or does something that you see as a challenge or insult, you tell them to stop it or else, they take that as an invitation to get you more wound up, and you lose control of your reactions. When it's an adult, the story is a little different. In that case, you feel put down by something they said, and then you react with a put down that is much more offensive, and inappropriate, than what they said. Therefore, your impulse pathway usually begins with a wound to your pride. "
This opening appeal places the problem in simple, straight forward terms: teenagers have little patience for long and involved explanations about themselves. Coaches must strive to make sense out of their impulsive behavior without sounding like a know-it-all. As I see it, no matter how ill-advised or irrational the behavior, there is some rational thread embedded in the story. The coach's job is to listen carefully, find the thread, and make the adolescent aware of it in a highly practical, yet non-threatening, manner. It can also be helpful to describe the typical pattern as the "personal impulse pathway" since the more the teenager can designate the steps that lead to acting out, the more able they will be to see it coming, and take preventive action before the point of no return. In the next section, I tease out the subtle emotional dynamics of Bryan's impulse pathway, highlighting the self-defeating nature, and hopefully, cultivating a hospitable environment for coaching: "The question that remains is what do you do about it? How do you prevent yourself from losing control without letting your pride take too much of a beating? I guess that if we could figure that one out you might be able to avoid a lot of these unpleasant consequences. It looks to me like once your pride feels under attack you quickly react, either by giving the person an ultimatum or targeting them with a hostile comment. When you give an ultimatum to a kid, you've handed over your self-control to them ; it's kind of like saying, 'here's the button that will make me explode so you better not push it.' Of course, then they push it in order to defend their pride. You set yourself up for that one. With a teacher, the impulsivity pops out in the way you provoke them after you feel exposed by one of their comments.
For instance, they ask you about a missing assignment, triggering your 'defend my pride at all costs' emotional programming, and you're liable to say anything to make them feel just as attacked as you do. Too bad for you that they were just doing their job but you've now given them reason to play policeman."
As a teenager is led through such a pointed and pragmatic description of their behavior from a compassionate coach, they tend to realize many answers on their own. Bryan recognized how he had "walked right into" many of the wrong situations and could have avoided them if he had appreciated how much his injured pride gets him into trouble. He reflected upon the decision points that ultimately led him to come face-to-face with the antagonist in certain scenarios and how much he places control into the hands of others or the random circumstances of his life. These self-realizations are also a positive sign that concrete suggestions might be discussed: "You know this part much better than I do, but what if you were a little more careful about what you said when your pride was under attack? What would that be? There's got to be something that would protect your integrity or pride but wouldn't hand over the Bryan blast off button to someone else. Think about it. I have some ideas but I think you could come up with even better ones."
This final phase of the problem-solving is the trickiest with teenagers because whatever an adult may offer can sound totally ridiculous to adolescent ears. Therefore, my recommendation is not to offer any quick fixes since the ideal goal is for them to find the solution that makes the most sense in their minds. And you, the coach, may never find out what that happens to be. This is where we need to "know when to back off," to respect their need for autonomy, and realize that what's most important is not that they tell us what they will do but that they keep their mind open to our coaching.
Dr. Steven Richfield
This isn't exactly the fun part but in the long run you both will reap the benefits by following through when it would be easier to just give in. After years of not knowing what to do or how to do it in regards to establishing the behavior that I wanted, the process did not evolve overnight. My son was used to manipulating all situations to his benefit. As his system became more balanced I made my son accountable by giving him time outs and explaining that the behavior he exhibited was not appropriate. I would ask him if he saw me display the same behavior when I wasn't satisfied and he would say no or try to put the blame everywhere except upon himself. As silly as it may sound, I would use myself as an example of what he looked liked in one of his temper tantrums and he would be embarrassed. I would then ask him if I told/asked him to do the things that he did to get himself in trouble. My son would answer no.
After repeated arguments with him, I explained that he was a child and God had put me in charge of him and not the other way around. This was extremely difficult doing since my son was used to manipulating, arguing, and upsetting his mother. He still sometimes tries this, but I persevere to get back to the really good relationship and respect level that we've achieved. He tested and found out that nothing had changed. By following through, the behavior was stopped dead in tracks. Jon's compulsive behavior was eased after we added certain herbs to help him have better control and the B stress complex to lighten his moods. We addressed ritualistic behavior by allowing it to happen once, then explaining that there would be a change the next time and explaining what the change would entail. Knowing in advance what would happen gave my son time to adjust to new situations. Some things took longer than others but the compulsive behavior became less and learned behaviors were being changed. My son began to learn how to live through changes and not lose control as they were happening.
I believe in the 1-2-3 and at 3 you've lost a privilege. One tells the child that what they are doing is wrong. Two tells the child in a firmer tone that this behavior is not appropriate. Three is when the child loses a privilege or goes in time out for the minutes of each year the child is. My son is almost ten and we're now at the stage where you lose a privilege after one but with good behavior and attitude a lot of good things can happen. We've established a system of deducting change and dollar amounts for bad behavior that cannot be paid off other than working it off at home and exhibiting good behavior when he's out. My son can also earn change and dollars toward skating, movies, friends over, and more with good behavior. Making children work off bad behavior at home gives them a feeling of accomplishment, self-worth by contributing, and release a good amount of stored up energy. Always tell the child that what they do is appreciated; after all a job well done is worthy of praise.
A child will call your bluff as many times as they can and they won't respect you for giving in to them. Whatever you tell them that you will do follow through because that is the way to end the unacceptable behavior. The key to success is to make you and your child accountable at all times. I make myself accountable to my son and myself for my actions and will apologize. My son appreciates that I have to be accountable at home, work, and anywhere where we find ourselves. My accountability enables him to be more accountable.
I cherish the relationship I now have with my son; it is well worth the time, struggle, and heartache involved. Jon's a super kid with good manners and a considerate heart. He is loving, respectful, and well liked by those around him. Many adults have watched my son grow and have commented on the wonderful changes and potential that he is now displaying I've said it before and I will again… I'd do it all over to get to where we are today!
I have a new website at www.freeyellow.com/submit/naturalalternatives.org
The ADDA 1999 Summer Symposium will take place at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield in Schaumburg, IL (Chicago area) on July 23-24th. Activities will begin at noon on Friday (July 23), continuing through Saturday (July 24) and will include a combination of full-day and half-day seminars and workshops. Presenters, top in their field, include John Ratey, MD, Kathleen Nadeau, PhD, Patricia Quinn, MD, Thomas Phelan, PhD, Arthur Robin, PhD, Sari Solden, MS, Nancy Ratey, EdM, Thom Hartmann and more. See the registration schedule at www.add.org for more detailed information.
Editors Note Have you ever heard anyone ask a wealthy businessman, rock star or famous athlete, " Can you tell me your secrets for success?" Do these successful people really have "secrets?" Our author contends that there are no secrets for success; that the skills and tools for success are available to everyone, right there under your nose.
People are born to win, but conditioned throughout life to lose. It's this conditioning that determines your "mindset," or how you think about yourself and your world. You see, it's not what you are that holds you back, it's what you think you're not. Recognize those self-imposed limitations that you or your environment give you.
The first step to success is simple- -it's thinking success. This means feeding yourself positive messages. Everyone has his own internal tape recorder or CD player. It's that little voice in your mind that listen to consciously and subconsciously. Many of us are quick to dwell on the negative things our little voice repeats to us, but you can program yourself with encouraging, productive, uplifting "self-talk" which will shape a more positive attitude. This attitude will soon become your habit of thinking, which eventually becomes your behavioral patterns.
So if you think "I am a first-quality person who only turns in first-quality work to my teachers," you are programming your actions and behaviors. In turn, you will not be satisfied if your work does not measure up to your standards, and you will strive to improve.
Thinking this way leads to the second tool for success: persistence. H. Ross Perot says that "most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown."
There are many great stories about successful people who could have easily "given up." In fact, a five-year study by the University of Chicago of 1220 of the nation's top artists, athletes and scholars led to an amazing conclusion. Drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to their extraordinary success.
You are probably familiar with a company called Federal Express (FedEx). Fred Smith, who had the idea, wrote a paper about it for one of his professors in college. Fred got the paper back with the comment that it was "interesting and well-informed," but it would never work. Did Fred give up:? No. And today he's smiling all the way to the bank.
Why was Fred Smith, and many, many others who encountered similar setbacks, rejection, and negative input successful? Very simple. He did not give up. He believed in his idea, worked hard, and kept his mindset positive.
It's important to know that your failures will out-number your successes. Woody Allen failed motion picture production at New York University and City College of New York, and failed English at NYU! Charles Goodyear bungled an experiment and discovered vulcanized rubber. Alfred Butts invented the game of Scrabble after he lost his job as an architect during the Depression. And Albert Einstein was advised by a teacher to drop out of high school. It's what you make of failure that counts. Learn to see failure as fertilizer for success.
Asked for advice on how to succeed, Cindy Lauper said, "If you can imagine in your mind where you want to be, you'll eventually get there. And people will be drawn to you along the way. Don't let anything break your spirit."
The next tool for success is a plan for success. Architects draw blueprints of what houses will look like. You can apply this concept to blueprint what you want out of life; what you want from that chemistry course, what you want to accomplish as a cheerleader, or where you want o go to college. Chart your own course for success with good planning.
Planning means learning management and organization skills that will better insure your success. And it means having the right tools to learn these skills. Your plan should include long-term, mid-term, and daily planning. It means writing down your assignments and goals, and learning to divide large projects and assignments into manageable chunks. It means learning skills like networking (meeting new people through other people), keeping phone numbers in a central location, and being ready to learn with all materials in the right place.
The tool you use to learn these crucial management and organization skills is critical. If you were going to learn the skills necessary for becoming a tennis player, would you buy a badminton racket? Of course not. But it does look like the right tool, shaped like a racket, has strings, a handle. The same holds true for your job of school. If you want to be organized, you should not fold papers and place them in text books, or write homework assignments on scraps of paper and put them in your jeans pocket. You should not keep your goals stored in your head and scurry around with last-minute cramming and project completion. To learn management and organization skills, you need a system that will be the right tool for you just like the tennis racket is the right tool for developing tennis skills.
One tool that may be right for you is the PowerOrgainzer Success System. It provides information to learn yearly, monthly and daily planning, how to set goals (academic and personal), networking, and how to execute a long-term project. It teaches strategies for optimal memory, reading, note-taking, test-taking, problem-solving, decision-making and goal-setting. It's full of coaching tips for habits of excellence.
The final step for success if comparing you with your own best self and moving in a direction of achieving satisfying, predetermined personal school goals.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking "I did pretty good." If 99.9 percent (pretty good) were OK, 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents each day; 18,322 pieces of mail would be mishandled each hour; 5,517200 cases of soft drinks produced each year would be flatter than a bad tire; and $761,900 would be spent in one year on tapes and CD's that wouldn't work. (I hope it's not one you just bought!)
Winning in life means knowing that happiness and success are choices and that you have the power to choose. Choose to be happy, successful, to live life with every ounce of energy possible.
Winning in life means giving of yourself t others and sharing in others' successes. Winning is taking time for others, spending time with loved ones, contributing your time to your family, school and community.
Winners achieve balance in t heir lives. They know that success is not "I" or "Me," but "We" and "Us". They know the meaning of the statement, "Success is a journey, not a destination." The true joy comes from the trip. Aim high. Laugh. Be a person of integrity. Take risks and fail. Plug in that positive internal audio/video of yourself. Use the right tools. Learn to use the tools, the so-called "secrets" of success. It's all there waiting for you.
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