|ADHD Information Home > ADHD Articles 1999 > April 1999 ADHD Newsletter|
It's that time of the year again. IEP time! Many of us will be heading into IEP meetings to get Things squared away for next year and its always good to go prepared.
I happened upon Reed Martin's site at www.reedmartin.com. Reed Martin is an attorney who deals with special education litigation and offers lots of books and materials on the subject. Mr. Martin also offers an Advocacy tip of the week, which I found very informative. I'd like to share last weeks tip with you and be sure to check out the archived tips of the week.
Reed Martin's Advocacy Tip of the Weekwww.reedmartin.com
Have your school personnel ever told you "none of our staff knows how to do that," or "I am a regular education teacher and I don't have time to do that" or "we would have to hire someone new and we don't have any money in the budget for that?"
Guess what? Your state education agency and your school have been promising the federal government for over 20 years that, in return for receiving federal financial assistance, they will have the staff your child needs, or hire them, or train them..
The promise is made in the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) that your local district, and your state, promise the federal government they have in operation. CSPD is found in the 1997 IDEA Amendments at 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(14). Your state and local education agencies must have in effect "a comprehensive system of personnel development that is designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified special education, regular education and related services personnel." The requirements are detailed particularly in 20 U.S.C.1453(b) and (c).
For example: "the State will enhance the ability of teachers and others to use strategies, such as behavioral interventions, to address the conduct of children with disabilities that impedes the learning of children with disabilities and others;" "the State will acquire and disseminate to teachers, administrators... and related services personnel, significant knowledge derived from educational research and other sources, and... adopt promising practices, materials and technology;" and "the State will provide for the joint training of parents and special education, related services, and general education personnel."
So if school personnel say "we don't know how to do that" or "we don't have time to do that" or "we don't have anyone to do that" -- then say "fine; pull out the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development plan and let's plan how we will hire a new person or train existing staff to meet my child's need." Ask your school, and your state, in writing, for a copy of their CSPD plan.
Over the past 20 years your school district and your state have been paid a lot of money because they promise this mechanism is in place. Hold them to it.
* Dr. Dave's ADDvice*
Recently, I received a very important question from one of my subscribers to ADHD RESEARCH UPDATE www.helpforadd.com/nresearch.htm The question was:
"What suggestions do you have for helping my child figure out what to say to children who ask him about the medication he takes?"
This is a really excellent question and an important issue for parents to think about. There is no doubt that children who take medication for ADHD can be asked about this by peers and it can be difficult for a child to know how to respond. Unfortunately, this can be something that a child gets teased about as well. I know that this has been an issue for some of the children I have worked with over the years. Helping a child develop ways that he or she feels comfortable with for handling this type of situation is quite important. Let me begin by saying there is no single, straightforward answer to this question - at least not in my opinion. I'm not trying to get off the hook here, but how a child chooses to address this can depend on a multitude of factors, including:
*"What is the child's own understanding about the reason for taking medication?"
In a past issue of ADHD RESEARCH UPDATE (Vol. 17)I presented a framework for talking about this with a child that may be worth referring to. Certainly, a child needs to have a clear understanding of this issue before being able to respond appropriately to a peer.
*"How does your child feel about being asked the question? "
Is this something your child feels embarrassed about? Does it make him or her mad? Or, is he or she comfortable with it? Learning how your child feels about this, as well as the reasons for those feelings can be quite important for helping your child think through how to respond. For example, if you learn that your child feels very embarrassed about this, then helping him or her deal with those feelings could be important to do before even considering the issue of how to respond.
*"What does the child feel comfortable about disclosing to peers about this? "
Different children will have different ideas about the level of self disclosure that they feel comfortable with, and one would not want to suggest to a child that he or she responds in a way that is more self-disclosing that the child wishes to be.
*"Who is asking the question? "
Just as some relationships between adults are characterized by different levels of comfort and intimacy, the same is true for children. Thus, the way a child might choose to answer this question to a close friend could be quite different from how he or she might respond to an acquaintance or to a peer that he or she does not get along with. There are a number of other factors that one could add to this list, but I think you get my main point which is that there can be a multitude of ways for a child to handle a situation like this. This being said, I think a really important role that parents can take here is to help their child think through the different issues involved, the different ways he or she might respond, and how he or she feels about the different alternatives. As a parent, one can help their child learn to be more skillful at handling issues like this by helping him or her to think the situation through. Questions such as: "Why do you think the person asked?" This will help you to learn what your child's interpretation is of the motivation behind the question - e.g., Is it genuine curiosity and interest or do they infer some type of hurtful intent?
"What are some different kinds of answers you might be able to give?"
This is a great way to help your child recognize that there are different ways one can choose to respond in a situation like this and to develop the recognition that this characterizes many social situations. Brainstorming with your child about different responses will help you to learn about your child's ability to generate alternative strategies while simultaneously giving them practice with this important skill.
"What do you think would happen if you said..."
After generating different possibilities you can help your child learn to think through the consequences of different actions. In learning about the types of consequences your child anticipates for the different strategies you have both come up with you can get an important insight into how he or she thinks about their peer interactions. You'll also have the opportunity to engage your child in a discussion about the reasons for anticipating certain consequences and how reasonable your child's thinking seems to be. I hope the above doesn't come across too much like a psychologist making a big deal about a simple question. For some children, this really would be a simple question that would be easy and comfortable for them to deal with. For other children, however, this would not be the case. (On an amusing note, probably the most original response I have heard was from a very energetic and feisty 8 year old I was seeing who used to tell kids that he needed the pills to control his gas.)
I guess the main point I am trying to make is that rather than focusing on "What should I tell my child to say?" one can also think about this as an opportunity to help your child think through the different factors to take into account, the different ways one could handle a situation like this, and the reasons for favoring one option over another. In approaching things in this way, you can be helping your child develop the skills that he or she needs to deal more effectively with all types of situations. As an added benefit, having this kind of discussion with your child can go a long way to building a closer relationship characterized by excellent communication.
One more thing... One other important point related to this general issue about children being asked about their medication. At some point, it is certainly possible that your child, or a child that you treat, may be approached to either sell or share medication. Ideally, this would never be possible because all medication should be stored in a locked cabinet at a child's school to be dispensed only by the designated person at the school. At home, the medication should be under parental supervision so a child could not take pills to school. Unfortunately, such a thing can and does occur - how frequently, no one really knows. In any event, you would want to clearly go over this possibility with your child and make sure that he/she is aware that this should never be done under any circumstances. They should also be aware that violating this rule would get both them and the other child into serious trouble. That's all for this month...
David Rabiner, PhD
The Institute of Human Development
Miss Patty Sayih, president and founder of the Institue 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 a "no hope" diagnosis. Her preserverance 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 paretns as to what their option 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 ubiased summary of information 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 shipping and handling, with a money back guarantee of satisfatcion. The video can be ordered by calling toll free 1-888-324-1066. For more information please call 1-877-ADDHOPE or visit our website at www.addhope.com
National Attention Deficit Disorder Association
As a replacement for our national conference this year, National ADDA will present a series of workshops in a Summer Symposium. Join us for a learning and supportive experience.
Topics to be covered include:
The co-author of Driven To Distraction and Answers To Distraction, and author of Shadow Syndromes, will share his knowledge about how the brain functions and implications for living with ADD in this workshop. For medical professionals, therapists, and ADDers.
"Women With ADD: Special Diagnostic and Treatment Issues" Kathleen Nadeau Ph.D. & Patricia Quinn MD This half-day workshop will focus on how ADD impacts the lives of women and girls with ADD, and considerations for diagnosis and treatment. For health care professionals and ADDers.
"Surviving Your Adolescents" and "Adults With ADD" Thomas Phelan, Ph.D. The author of the very popular 1-2-3 Magic and Surviving Your Adolescents discusses practical ways to cope with ADD as a parent, and as an adult ADDer. For health care professionals, parents, and ADDers.
"ADD and Addictions" Wendy Richardson The author of ADD And Addiction presents a half-day workshop on ADD, substance abuse, and addictive behaviors. This is MUST KNOW information for all addiction specialists and persons with ADD who have an addiction or are at risk for addictive behaviors.
"Therapy or ADD Coaching? Similarities, Differences, and Collaboration" Peter Jaksa, Ph.D.,Nancy Ratey Ed.M., & Sari Solden, M.S. This workshop discusses when therapy or coaching are the most effective helping tools, and ways for therapists and ADD coaches to work cooperatively for maximum results. For health care professionals and ADDers.
"A Day With Thom Hartmann" Thom Hartmann The inspirational speaker and author of ADD: A Different Perception, and many other books on ADD, will share his experiences, thoughts, and insights on the positive qualities of ADD in a day long workshop. For anyone who wishes to see beyond the "disorder" of ADD.
Other presentations to be announced.
"Falling Up" With Edward Hallowell, Kathleen Nadeau, Pat Quinn, Thomas Phelan, Sari Solden, Sam Goldstein, and many, many others.
This is the first documentary film focusing on adults with ADD. Following the presentation at ADDA it will be shown nationally on PBS later in the year. Produced by Ercelle Feldman, mother of an ADD son. Directed by Ted Kay, three time Emmy Award winner.
Continuing Education Credits for professionals will be available. For updates and registration information, check the Conference Info section on the ADDA website -- www.add.org
*Steve Richfield *
In this second article addressing the problems of impulsivity, I extend the coaching program to the needs of children in elementary school. Readers are referred to the 2/99 article, Coaching The Rules Of The Road, Part II, for general pointers on how impulsivity is understood within my coaching model. As a psychologist specializing in AD/HD, a large chunk of my clinical time is spent treating impulsivity in children between the ages of 6 to 12. And as the father of two boys, ages six and nine, impulsivity makes frequent appearances in our home. Sometimes impulsivity takes the form of a hurling basketball, heading straight for an older brother's head. Other times, impulsivity appears as poorly chosen words "popping out of the mouth" of the targeted brother. Additional impulsivity impact zones include decision making, body movements, and possession handling. In fact, just about any area of life functioning is vulnerable to the breakthrough of impulsivity. Thus, if we are hoping to coach school-aged children in impulsivity control, a well formulated game plan is needed.
The game plan is clear, direct, and educational. In my mind, if children are to become better controllers of their impulsivity, coaches must make them aware of what causes their loss of control. Most children in this age range have never been taught about how impulsivity lives inside of them, ready to strike without notice. This was especially the case for 8 year old Zach, who originally related to my couch as a trampoline before I revealed to him that his impulsivity was damaging my furniture and causing him a lot of trouble at home and school. This got his attention long enough to ask, "What's impulsivity?"
The following narrative illustrates the suggested sequence for coaches to follow when approaching the impulsive school-aged child: entry point - chalktalk - teaming up. The entry point provides for the introduction of a skill in an attention-holding way to the child with hard-to-hold attention. The chalktalk places the discussion onto a symbolic chalkboard where child and coach can "meet" for meaningful dialogue about the problem. Teaming up begins with the coach's offer to support the child's efforts to learn new tools to improve their skills. Bear in mind that these coaching steps don't always lend themselves to such discrete phases, especially with impulsive children like Zach. To retain his attention, I utilized the couch-as-a-trampoline entry point, and shortly thereafter, began chalkboard construction. It starts with my showing him the "Find Your Brakes" illustration from the set of Parent Coaching Cards: "See this picture? You may think that it's just a boy on his roller blades trying to slow himself down and looking pretty worried that he's going to fall. The smoke tells you that he's been going pretty fast and the "Find The Brakes" title tells you that he's trying to stop himself. But what you don't know is that this boy is a lot like you.
He got himself going too fast for his own good and now he might just be headed for a crash. So, how's he like you? Well, for one thing, you're energy comes out so fast that I've been wondering whether my couch will survive all your bouncing up and down."
This entry point captures Zach's attention by placing his current act of impulsivity upon a chalkboard for discussion. The coach's tone is straightforward, not accusatory, demeaning nor punitive. Such an approach invites Zach's sustained interest since he is more accustomed to adults reacting to his impulsivity rather than reflecting upon it. Next, more chalktalk educates Zach about what fuels his bounce: "I think I know something about you that maybe you don't know about you. It's about all this energy that comes out of you, and where it comes from. It comes from a fuel that all kids have but some have more trouble controlling. The fuel is called impulsivity, and it helps kids in some ways and hurts kids in other ways. One way it helps is by allowing kids to react to things very quickly, such as when they are playing sports or needing a lot of energy to reach a goal. But there are a lot of ways that impulsivity gets kids into trouble, like when they let the wrong words pop out of their mouth, or hit somebody they are angry at, or use somebody's couch like a trampoline."
Once the coach has labeled the problem it's important to engage Zach-like children in a discussion of typical impact zones. "Where else do you think impulsivity gets you into trouble?" is an appropriate leading question. If you receive the standard shoulders shrug of "I don't know," be prepared to offer actual home or school examples of impulsive reactions. Explain how kids (and adults) who don't control their impulsivity live very bumpy lives. To some degree, it may be necessary to build motivation by explaining how other kids have already learned impulse control skills or by offering a longer range view of the problem: "You've probably noticed that some kids don't have too many impulsivity problems. But some kids do. All kids have impulsivity because it fuels us, just like the gas that makes a car go. Without it, we wouldn't have much energy to get anywhere. But unless kids learn how to control their speed, watch where they are going, and have control over their impulsivity, a lot of bad things will happen to them. We've talked about some of the bad things that have happened to you because of your impulsivity. Those things will probably continue, and maybe even get worse, unless you learn some ways to control your impulsivity so that it doesn't control you so much. Are you willing to team up with me to beat your impulsivity, to learn ways that other kids have already learned to control themselves?"
The coach's purpose at this juncture is to make very clear to the child that there is a lot at stake. Impulsivity problems are especially challenging to manage, and require the child's collaboration. It is useful to use an very poignant example from the child's life to illustrate the potency of this "adversary." This method can initiate the building of the "impulse control team" between coach and child: "Remember when (fill in with recent impulsivity impact example) happened? That was a bad time for you. And guess what caused that to happen? (pause for answer) Yep, you're right on target with that answer: impulsivity! But that's not the whole story. What if we could have had this talk before that happened? What if you and I began working as a team to control your impulsivity so that you let it out when it was the right time, in the right place, and in the right ways? What if you were prepared with tools I could coach you to use? Guess what? You might have been able to control your impulsivity that time and then the bad things that happened later would never have happened!" Many school aged children are intrigued by the notion of going into the past and "re-writing" it in some way. The coach taps into this sentiment in offering the prospect of the child avoiding the hurtful scars of poor impulse control. From this point, the coach can bring the "Find Your Brakes" card out once more, but this time focus upon the side opposite the illustration: "On the other side of the boy with brakes problems is a thinking tool to help kids learn how to strengthen their impulse control. Let's take a look..." Coaches can precede from this point by referencing the text on the Parent Coaching Cards. Once the team approach is underway, coaches can refer to the "Triggers To Trouble" form (see Parenting Pointers, 8/98) to help children become better self-observers, and refer to the format below to structure huddles:
COACHING HUDDLE FORM
1. My Trigger:
2. Skills Needed To Control My Trigger:
3. Tool(s) To Improve Skills:
4. What My Coach Will Do To Help Me Coach Myself:
Future coaching sessions can be structured along these lines During these private "coaching huddles" coaches can review the "coaching agenda." This agenda may consist of short -hand notes that parents or teachers have kept on large index cards to jog their memory of how children have handled various social and emotional challenges in the classroom or at home.
Dr. Steven Richfield March, 1999 Parenting Pointers www.parentcoachcards.com
Tips for Dealing with Teachers you Think or Know don't like you!
How many times have you heard a classmate say that a certain teacher just does not like him? Sometimes this becomes a catch-all reason or convenient excuse for doing poorly in a class, failing a test, not being selected to hand-grade papers, or being the teacher's helpers. If you have fallen into this trap, and most all of us have, then you choose to deal with it constructively or choose to let it become an obstacle in your path. I recommend the former choice. Before talking about what you can do, it is important to understand some simple facts.
Fact #1 is that most teachers do have or have had "pets" or favored students. Some kids are just more likable for whatever reason(s).
Fact#2 is that teachers are human. Yes, they do have lives outside school and no, they do not sleep on cots, live behind the overhead projector and spend 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) in the classroom.
Fact#3 is that all humans have likes and dislikes. This includes not only things like food and clothes, but also people!
Fact#4 is that you can't change other people....the only person you can e-v-e-r change in life is YOU!
These are not heresy or "anti"-teacher statements. They are simple truths.
In a teacher's professional career, many, many students are encountered. Most teachers' memories of students fade as time passes; however, t here are those students who forever etch an indelible memory in the teachers mind. Like a "permanent marker," these students are recalled vividly. The teacher's memories can be fond and warm or unpleasant and distasteful. For instance, before I had children I had planned on naming my first son Anthony; to me this name was beautiful and noble. However, in my second year of teaching I had an Anthony......and he was a doozie! In fact his, nickname was "GahGah." Needless to say, I've had four sons and not one was named Anthony!
If you think (or think you know) that a teacher does not like you, then your best bet is to become pro-active and try to figure out how YOU can change the situation. Remember, you are not in the driver's seat in the class; therefore, you can't directly steer others in your direction. Also, you must keep in mind that your primary objective in the class - to do your best and pass! Here are some tips that can help alleviate the situation, make it more tolerable, and possibly prevent you from having to repeat the course...... and maybe a second "sentence" with the same teacher!
Tip Number One: It's critical to understand YOUR behavior and how the teacher perceives it. This is difficult to do because we just don't see ourselves as others do. So, it's important to be OPEN-MINDED AND NON-DEFENSIVE. If there is a trusted classmate who can objectively help you "see" yourself then talk with him. Be careful to avoid rabble-rousers; those are "friends" who like to see things get started and keep goading you in the wrong direction. You can tell them by their remarks..."Yeah, man, that teacher really did you wrong." Or "Wow, so and so (teacher) is like, man, giving you a lot of crap. You need to give him a piece of your mind!" Certain behaviors communicate strong messages to people, and you know that teachers are human. So really look at yourself clearly and determine what you may be doing that is exacerbating the situation. It may be that you're communicating a lack of interest in the teacher's lectures....yawning, sleeping in class, daydreaming.....these are killers for teachers. Non-participation in class and trying to fade into the woodwork, and being unprepared for class (no pencil, book, homework, etc.) send negative messages to teachers. Certainly brisk, smart remarks and quips, however innocent you may think they are, send up the teacher's antennae that blares: "Disrespect!".
Tip Number Two: Working with teachers that you think may not like you means that your must learn "teacher-pleasing" behaviors. Call it brown-nosing, apple-polishing, whatever you like, there are certain behaviors you can practice that will aid your cause. The key is not to overdo things; fakiness shines through and teachers can spot this in a heartbeat. There are ways to practice teacher pleasing behaviors; if the teacher has an after school tutorial weekly, be there. Sit at the front of the class, stay involved, raise your hand, ask questions. Above all, be prepared and current with all homework. Talk with your teacher about what he would suggest to bring up test grades or extra projects; most teachers are in this service/help profession because the like to help! Separate yourself from other students who may be fueling your fire in the classroom. They can only drive the last nail in your coffin, so to speak! In addition, remember that teachers are "on-stage" in their classrooms and there's nothing more frustrating than having someone send the message to them (albeit indirectly) that they're doing a boring, crummy job. Finally, there's an old adage that says "you can get more flies with honey than vinegar." It's awfully tough to dislike a student who is trying hard, investing himself and who is courteous and respectful.
Tip Number Three: the last way to think about this situation of a poor relationship with a teacher is to consider it as a challenge and opportunity to grow. Understanding and dealing with people effectively is both an art and a skill. You will always have people relationships-friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, bosses, coaches-even your own children. In life you will run into your share of temperamental, contentious, quarrelsome or even bellicose, pugnacious people. You will work with them, live near them, be serviced by them in stores, stand behind or in front of them in checkout lanes, talk with them on the phone and even chat with them on the internet. The sooner you learn HOW to spot potential problems, recognize your contribution to the situation, understand your limitation in changing things, and have in your tool box a variety of tried and proven techniques, then you will find yourself in more control and way ahead of the game of life. Remember the four basic facts about people. They apply to life in general and school in particular. Practice the three people tips. And remember, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
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