Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Importance of Light for Physical Health for Adolescents and Older Adults

A dose of bright light in the morning can increase energy and cognitive functioning for adolescents. Electric lights can also help resolve sleep issues for older adults by resetting the circadian clock. Sleep problems can be associated with the buildup of proteins that can kill brain cells and affect memory. It is important to get sleep in, and the use of electric lights during the day can help with this. Read more in the January 2015 issue of Monitor on Psychology.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Parents Become Advocates for Education

Famous actors Chris and Marianne Cooper had to advocate for their son to receive educational services. Marianne Cooper states, “ I would have to become relentless to get the results I wanted.” They enlisted an advocacy mentor, Mary Somoza who lists six tips for parents- 1. Don’t take no for an answer. 2. Stay on top of afterschool programs. 3. Join support groups. 4. Be an efficient letter writer. 5. Document everything. 6. Contact you local Parent Center. Read more in December 2015/January 2016 issue.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ten Minutes to Change Your Brain

With our brains tendency to have a natural Negativity Bias, here is an exercise to change your brain towards the positive. This is the shortened version- Keep a journal and record three successes from the day. Try it for two weeks. From an article in Attention magazine (must be a member to receive the magazine) through CHADD. Recording your successes seems similar to the Gratitude Journal. Do one or the other and find a happier life.  Research shows focusing on gratitude and successes can have a positive effect.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Important Factors in Parent/Consultant Teamwork

We work with teens and young adults around educational issues that are impacted by mental health, learning differences and substance abuse.
Here are some key words that we feel are important in creating a strong alliance and a functioning team. Trust, Authenticity, Empathy, Respect and Inclusion.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Singing Together!

Singing together at school or family events is something that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. But, maybe it should! There is reason to believe that singing communally has great benefits. Examples are:  forges social bonds, exercises the brain, improves breathing, posture and muscle tension, effective in pain relief, and helps to sustain a healthy immune system. Group singing will improve your happiness and sense of well being. Read more here-

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Academic Content Standards and IEPs

“All IEPs must be aligned with state academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled.”- Quote from the Department of Education. To find links for parents featuring information on Best Practices, Positive Behavioral Interventions, and Tip Sheets- please visit this website.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Common Core-What's right, what's wrong.

Common Core is trying to prepare students for a complicated 21st century world. Some of the ways in which teachers are to implement the standards are through differentiated instruction and meta-cognition about learning. Here is the issue- schools each implement the standards in a different way, many teachers are not given instruction in how to make this happen. And then the way of assessing the student is by using a very standardized computer program. And as students move through high school and on to college, the instructional method in most colleges is still traditional.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Empathy, Not Testing, Makes for Better Students!

Children and Teens aren’t motivated by external rewards to achieve more in school, but instead by empathic teachers and a positive atmosphere. Safe relationships with teachers help students with their own self image, enhanced engagement with academics and importantly protects against social exclusion by their fellow students. Read more in Science Daily

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Diet, Exercise, and Mental Skills Training Improve Cognitive Functioning

At the end of two years, all participants in the study had improved their performance on a standard set of mental tests, including specific tests of memory, executive function (complex aspects of thought such as planning, judgment, and problem solving), and cognitive processing speed.”

All it took was a healthy diet, an exercise program consisting of strength training one to three times/week, aerobic exercise two to five times a week, and mental skills training three times a week.

Researchers were analyzing what might protect against cognitive impairment. But, I think the study has larger ramifications, especially, for students struggling with executive functioning or cognitive processing speed.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Is Marijuana OK for Teens?

THC potency is approaching 30%, whereas 30 years ago it was below 10%. States are beginning to legalize marijuana, while the effects of pot on the developing adolescent brain are still being researched. Is there a safe level of use? Are the brain changes associated with marijuana use in adolescence permanent or can the brain recover with time? As adults, early onset pot smokers (before age 16) make twice as many mistakes on executive function assessments as those who started after 16.  Read the full article in Monitor on Psychology, November 2015- Marijuana and the Developing Brain.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tourette's and High Risk Periods for Children

If a child has Tourette’s the “high-risk period for anxiety begins at age four, while for depression it is around age 10.” As always early diagnosis and intervention is key in “changing the trajectory of a child’s development.” Tourette syndrome often occurs with a diagnosis of either ADHD or OCD. It was also found that kids with tics and OCD should also be screened for ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). Interesting findings from a study led by UCSF and Massachusetts General Hospital and synopsized in Neurology Now.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Better Habits for Students with Learning Differences

The LD Source from the Learning Disabilities Association of America published an article entitled, “How can you get students with LD to change their behavior and habits? by Howard Margolis. He lists 37 questions to ask yourself in working with students with learning differences. Questions such as, “Does he see peers like him, whom he likes, steadily learning to make the changes he’s being asked to make?”  The goal is to create new behaviors and habits for a successful learner. A worthy goal and an article worth reading!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Schools in Massachusetts

What could be better than visiting boarding schools and boarding schools for students with learning differences during the autumn season in New England!

I am always impressed with the truly wonderful tradition of boarding schools on the East Coast. Boarding schools offer high school students the opportunity to grow and explore independence with oversight. And for those students with executive function difficulties, ADHD or learning differences, a boarding school which instructs in a way that empowers students to know how truly capable they are is an exceptional opportunity.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Alcohol on High School Campuses

California just passed a law allowing school districts to serve alcohol at social events as long as students are not present.  Matt Willis, MD, Marin County’s public health officer and Mary Jane Burke, Marin County superintendent of schools raised their concerns in the Marin Independent Journal.

With all the discussion of how to reduce underage drinking and modifying binge drinking at colleges, it appears we are sending mixed messages to teens and young adults regarding alcohol use.