Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Child's View...

Too cute! I could not resist sharing this video... Ever wonder what kids recognize and see in a constantly stimulating environment?

See how a 5-year-old views some of the logos around us...

Monday, January 30, 2012

We Are All Able!

Recently in Kuwait, there has been growing attention to issues regarding children with special needs.  One project which has been well received is "Journey of Hope":

Journey Of Hope is a daring experience carrying a global humanitarian and heartfelt message for the benefit of those with intellectual disability.  Under the Patronage of H.H. Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah the Amir of The State of Kuwait, at 12p.m. 12/12/012 a sailing expedition will begin from Kuwait heading towards Washington D.C. and back with the sole purpose of raising awareness of its cause and spreading its message. We hope that everyone will support this great journey.

The idea was conceived by a group that has been working under the title of “The Special team for Sporting, Social, Media and Cultural Activities dedicated to the intellectually disabled” since 2003. Comprised of parents that experienced great success in dealing with their intellectually disabled children who are inflicted with cases such as Down Syndrome and Autism. Although their activities were based in Kuwait, their influence and reach has spread to other countries. The group concluded that their message needed to echo to the masses worldwide and wish to crown their initiative with a global expedition. More than their personal initiative, the aim of the Journey is to bring into light Kuwait’s contributions and advances care for special needs. It is aimed at bringing international awareness to the Country’s initiatives as a whole.

Do visit their website to find more information on this original and massive project.  We are lucky to be in a country that is well educated and wealthy, but we are still behind when it comes to providing good education, medical-therapuetic support, and psycho-behavioral intervention for special needs children.  The following is a video I just came across, which was shared by Training Gate (another great resource for awareness and support for children with disabilities) in April 2011...

P.S. The lyrics in the beginning are a translation of the lyrics sung in the video for my non-arab speaking audience:)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mellow Parenting


Pregnancy can be hard.  It can be even harder if you are worried about your health, your baby’s health, how you are going to cope, or simply about how to be the best mother you can.
Mellow Bumps is a 6 weeks programme designed to provide support, information, and care to expectant Mums.  The group is for women between 20 and 30 weeks gestation and is designed to reduce stress and anxiety whilst preparing you for your new arrival!  It is not only for first time Mums, but for all expectant Mums.
Sign up NOW!  Mellow Bumps groups are now accepting registrations at the SOOR Center.  For more information or to book your place on a group, call the center on 2290 6711 or email drrose@soorcenter.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Be Belly Sweet

What I'm about to share is not really psychological advise, but this is important for the psychology of women... Pregnant women that is.  I am sharing the advise from a funny but oh so truthful article from http://www.babble.com.  The article listed "The things you should never tell a pregnant woman".  In a society like ours, we are both privileged and cursed by how many close relatives and friends we are frequently in touch with.  These relatives and friends provide support and a sense of unity, but they can often meddle, judge and give "unsolicited" advise... If we want that to change, then we must start by changing ourselves.  Read the list from the article; reflect, laugh, and say "hallelujah", then share any comments and/or stories you may have endured:) 

Pregnancy Etiquette
Things You should never tell a pregnant woman

  1. "Was it planned?"
  2. "Did you take fertility drugs?"
  3. "You look like you're ready to pop"
  4. "Are you sure there aren't twins in there?"
  5. "Can I touch your belly?" (unless you are close enough)
  6. "Have you picked a baby name yet?"
  7. "Enjoy ---- because once the baby comes you can kiss it goodbye"
  8. "You shouldn't be drinking/eating that"
  9. "I never had morning sickness"
  10. "I was sick the whole 9 months"
  11. "I was ripped open from end to end"
  12. "Get an epidural!"

Be empathetic, be interested and be supportive...


Sunday, January 22, 2012

KALD winter camp for boys

A great opportunity for all our boys with Learning Differences AND their friends and brothers who are looking for something to do during the government schools' winter break (14-17 years only)...
The Kuwaiti Association for Learning Differences- KALD is organizing its 1st Winter Camp  at Al Rimal Resort- Al bedae (Kuwait) for boys with Learning Difficulties, their brothers and friends aged between 14 and 17 years old.
The Camp will start on the 3rd February and end by 10th February. Many educational and entertainments activities are included, in addition of field trips, contests and meeting famous Kuwaiti athletes (Sleep over will take place in the resort’s villas with 3 meals provided a day)
Registration fees 300 KD per person (However KALD will pay half as a gift to participants and parents are required to pay the other half- 150KD/ with 10%discount for siblings)
For more information, pls. call Mrs. Dana Nahas at: 1832000 ext 300 – 94427262  

تنظم الجمعية الكويتية لاختلافات التعلم " مخيم كالد الشتوي "  للطلبة الذكور  من ذوي صعوبات التعلم وأشقائهم ورفاقهم  من عمر 14-17 سنة في الفترة من 3 – 10 فبراير 2012 بمنتجع رمال – البدع, والذي يحتوي على الأنشطة الترفيهية والرياضية والثقافية ومسابقات متنوعة للطلبة.
بتكلفة 300 د.ك للفرد وستغطي الجمعية نصف التكاليف مناصفة مع ولي الأمر (150 دك للطالب)
و هناك 10% خصم لأقارب وأصدقاء الطالب المنتسب للمخيم.
لمزيد من المعلومات الرجاء الاتصال على الجمعية الكويتية لاختلافات التعلم
 94427262 – 1832000 داخلي 300

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Inspirational Group...

I just got back from the 2nd adoption support-group meeting hosted by the wonderful adoptive mother, Zeina Sultan... The attendees were other adoptive mothers, professionals and supporters.  It was an inspirational and educational meeting, which will hopefully keep growing and reaching all adoptive families.  These meetings aim to provide information sharing between the mothers, but professionals have attended to lend professional advise when needed.  There is an understanding of confidentiality, so names and pictures will not be distributed except with appropriate consent.  

Here is a list of some of the topics that were covered tonight:

  • How to address prejudice and lack of education within our society
  • What, when, how?...Telling your adopted child about the adoption.
  • Difficulties in the adoption process
  • The importance of finding a support network
These are common questions that will be addressed on a regular basis.  Parents are encouraged to send in their questions before hand.  They are also welcomed to share any materials, resources or references that have found useful. 

In a previous post I had mentioned the group "Special Mothers" (link), a group which Zeina hopes can provide information and support for parents who are not able or ready to join the support-group meetings.  You may also find the blog www.myfosteringlife.blogspot.com helpful.

If you are interested in learning more about the special mothers group and/or the meetings, you may contact Zeina by emailing her at: zeina.ben.essa@gmail.com.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

A dream realized....

I cannot wait to attend the opening of BACCH this week!!!

What is BACCH?
Bayt Abdullah Children's Hospice is a dream based on the promise made to Abdullah which will allow children with terminal conditions to be looked after at home or in the hospice itself.

KACCH has brought hundreds of Kuwaitis and expatriates together to make that dream a reality, each contributing to the extent of their ability and talent in the common belief that Bayt Abdullah will help each family enjoy many special times together, free from pain and other symptoms, when every moment counts for them.

You can share this dream by contributing your talents, your money, your skills and experience to make Bayt Abdullah Children's Hospice a reality in the lives of the children and families who are in need of its services.

The Hospice:
The individual needs of the child and family members will be the focus of all services provided at Bayt Abdullah ensuring a speedy and sensitive response to changes in the child's condition or family circumstances.

To that end, Bayt Abdullah will offer all families registered with the hospice: 

a) A specialised professional service, free of charge for all children in Kuwait who meet the criteria for admission to the hospice, regardless of nationality or religion.  
b) The choice of home, hospice or hospital based care, or a combination of all three, depending on their needs.   
c) 24 hour support at the end of a telephone or in the family home.  
d) Respect for individual preferences of children and families in relation to treatment and intervention.   

The opening is invite only, but with permission I will give you some details about the opening after attending... Do visit their website and find out about this wonderful dream that has finally become a reality...

Charts, lists, and routines...oh my!

All parents feel overwhelmed at one point or another.  Being organized and structured can help tremendously, but what does that really mean?

  • Well... you can start with introducing yourselves to a calendar.  Electronic, paper, or memory based (I would really discourage using the latter) can work.  Parents often tell me their kids have a busier calendar than they do.  By being organized you can make sure you keep your kids schedules intact, and make sure you have time set aside for your self as well.  You may use an actual calendar, or something more child specific like the one below, which was shown in Oleana's blog.  
Calendars, if paper-based or written on a board, should be in an area where all the family can see it, like the kitchen or living room.  
Check out Oleana's post about these great printables
  • The second item that helps with organization is creating a daily routine for your children.  Using visual charts for young children, or children with special needs, is usually VERY helpful.  I often encourage parents to do it as a family project.  Take pictures of your child doing the behavior/activity, and then stack the pictures up or across according to time.  If you are unable to do it, use the available printable charts like the one below, which was also shown in Oleana's blog.  These will usually be for basic routines, not a full day schedule.  

Routine charts are best kept in your child's room.
  • The third item on the list would be to create a list of house rules.  This not only teaches your children discipline, but it also allows for understandable and clear guidelines for you as a parent of when and how to punish.  See my two posts about discipline to learn more about rewards and punishments (Disciplined 1, Disciplined 2)
Rules charts should be in the living room and/or play area.

  • A fourth item on our organization list is the "reward chart".  This is saved up for behaviors you would like to encourage and nurture in your children.  Do NOT punish a child when s/he does not do the behaviors on this list, but reward them when they do.  This chart aims to motivate your child, it is not intended as another list of rules.  I would usually encourage using two behaviors at a time for a period of 3-4 weeks.  Once these behaviors are mastered, you can substitute with two new behaviors.  The chart can also be done by using pictures of your child doing the goal/behavior.  
You may choose to have an actual big chart such as the one below, or keep a notepad with you and you can add stickers or happy faces to it, as in not to overwhelm your house with charts:)

Let's get organized!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I sometimes wish I could duplicate myself and be able to give and do more, alas it is not quiet possible yet.  I do not tweet, because of time constraints, but I do follow some very interesting accounts that I would like to share with you:

@SoorCenterQ8: Largest private psychology practice in the Middle East. 20+ professionals providing full a range of therapeutic services with integrity and compassion.

@AtfaalDoc: Dr. Nadia Al Hamad's account.  A fantastic pediatrician that I have had the honor to have met with and often refer my clients to.

@specialmothers: Your only go-to account for adoption information and support.

@NYTMotherload: Tweets by the writers of Motherlode, The New York Times's parenting blog, exploring the many ways we raise our kids now.

@HealthyChildren: HealthyChildren.org is the official parenting Web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

@kcrs_group: Kuwait Child's Rights Society | Child abuse news | Promote child's rights, stop child abuse.

@SPEAKuwait: An inspirational advocacy group focusing on breaking the stigma associated with mental illness and psychology.

@DrSussanah: The lovely Clinical Coordinator & Supervising Psychologist at Soor Center.

@Oleana: Not only is this a super cute boutique for kids, but Oleana's owner, the beautiful Reem Al-Fadala, often blogs and tweets about events and news related to children.

Anyone else I should know about?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teenage tantrums...Healthy?

I just read an informative entry in Shots blog, which discusses very interesting finding of a study done by researchers at the University of Virginia.  The findings were published in the journal of Child Development, and they focused on the importance and benefits of children's arguments.  Th study reported that children who fight and argue with their parents were more assertive and independent in the future.  Those children were also able to confidently stand by their ideals and morals, but (and that's a big but), only if parents direct them well during these arguments.

Joseph P. Allen, the lead psychologist in this study, explained that parents should consider these arguments not as a nuisance but as a "critical training ground".  Here is a small synopsis of the blog entry by Patti Neighmond:

Teens should be rewarded when arguing calmly and persuasively and not when they indulge in yelling, whining, threats or insults, he says.
In Allen's study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen.
"Parents reacted in a whole variety of ways. Some of them laughed uncomfortably; some rolled their eyes; and a number of them dove right in and said, 'OK, let's talk about this,'" he says.
It was the parents who said wanted to talk who were on the right track, says Allen. "We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world," with all its pressures to conform to risky behavior like drugs and alcohol.
Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16. "The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers," he says. They were able to confidently disagree, saying 'no' when offered alcohol or drugs. In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say 'no' than kids who didn't argue with their parents.
From my own perspective I can completely understand and agree with these findings.  As some of you followers might have already have read, I commonly say "every opportunity is a learning opportunity".  These arguments are bound to happen, and it is your choice as a parent to use your strength and power to instill fear or instill respect.  Fear will only last for a short period of time, and then encourage lying and escapist behavior; respect will be lifelong with the added benefit of building your child's character. 
Follow the link for the full blog entry.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Healthy Eating...

One of the most common resolutions for New Year is to be more healthy...  Very often, people are confused about the difference in terminology between "natural", "organic" and "health" foods.  The following is an explanation of these differences by Healthy Children's blog:

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings.
  • Organic foods are grown without artificialpesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Organic meat, eggs, and dairy products are obtained from animals that are fed natural feed and not given hormones orantibiotics.
  • Natural foods are free of synthetic or artificial ingredients or additives.
  • “Health foods” is a general term that may be applied to natural or organic foods, or to regular foods that have undergone less processing than usual, such as stone-ground whole-grain flours.
Although some have claimed that organic foods have a higher concentration of some nutrients, the evidence is mixed. The nutritional content of foods also varies greatly according to when the food was harvested and how it has been stored or processed. Unless they are fresher, there is also no evidence that organic, natural, or health foods taste better than regular foods. However, taste is determined by plant genetics, rather than by whether the crop is organically or conventionally grown. Harvesting and handling also affect taste. A peach or tomato that is picked when it is too green will never develop the full taste of fruit that is allowed to ripen on the tree or the vine.
Although the type of fertilizer may not affect taste or nutrition, it does have an effect on theenvironment. Many people prefer to pay premium prices for organic foods because their production does not cause environmental damage from pesticides and herbicides, and composted fertilizers help restore soil and are not as damaging to the environment as artificial fertilizers. However, simply stating “organic” does not protect the food from being contaminated from field to market.

What are your resolutions?