Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's talk about Abby...

"Every time I'd walk by, he'd call: "Police, police, take her back to the insane asylum,' " Abby says. "The other kids would run in and say, 'We're the police.' And then they'd chase me."
It didn't help that Abby responded by fending off her pursuers with an imaginary lightsaber.
Courtesy of the Mahoney family
Abby Mahoney, 13, has Asperger's syndrome. She says she has memorized nearly everything there is to know about Star Wars. Her enthusiasm for the subject helped make her the target of a bullying boy.

This is a synopsis of the story of Abbey Mahoney, a 13 year old girl with Asperger's syndrome.  Read about her struggles and the research linking Asperger's Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder to increased risk for bullying.  Please follow this link from NPR's health blog, SHOTS, for the full report:

5 S's

This is a wonderful video which highlights the 5 S's plan as described by Dr. Harvey Karp in his book "The Happiest Baby on the Block".  I loved this clip especially because we can see a wonderful dad getting involved and perfecting this method.  The 5 S's are: swaddling, shushing, side/stomach position, swinging and sucking.
One very important thing to note here however, is the importance of being calm.  If we react anxiously and reluctantly, babies very often pick up on these non-verbal cues and physical reactions (eg. faster heartbeat, shaking).  Breath deeply and calmly, and if you are unable to be calm at that moment, ask your partner for help...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dyslexia and creativity...

"It is important for us to stop seeing dyslexia as a learning disability and start seeing it as an alternative way of perceiving and processing the world, with benefits as well as drawbacks, and with the potential to contribute creative approaches to our world’s problems." (Lydia K.)

With this a blog entry by Lydia K., an MIT student, concludes.  This entry is Ms. K's final paper for her Science Journalism class.  It is a beautifully written paper which sheds light on the truth behind Dyslexia; unveiling the facts and potentials behind a learning difficulty, that she, an I personally, believe should be viewed as a learning DIFFERENCE.  She quotes in her paper:

According to Brook and Fernette Eide, authors of The Dyslexic Advantage, the cognitive flexibility associated with dyslexia can manifest itself in noteworthy talents. “Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big picture connections at the expense of weaknesses in processing fine details,” says Fernette Eide. These talents include improved spatial reasoning, enhanced ability to view events from multiple perspectives and draw analogies, and a tendency to remember facts as experiences and stories rather than as abstractions. (Lydia K.)

The paper/blog entry is well researched and her writing style is very accessible and easy to comprehend.  I invite you to read this full paper, and follow the links provided by Ms. K for extra information.  It is important, however, not assume generalizations when reading such an article nor undermine the very real struggle people with dyslexia face.  Creativity and/or exceptional talents have often been associated with learning differences and some developmental delays/disorders (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder), but this is not always the case.  It is wise for us to take each child as an individual case.  This paper, however, provides the very important message that Dyslexia should be seen as a difference in perception and experience, rather than an unmanageable obstacle. 

***A very special thank you to a wonderful reader, Ms. Hanadi, for sharing this article with me.  This is exactly why I created this blog, as a place to share and exchange ideas.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Be The Difference

"It feels like everybody just turned against me. It was like nine of them, nine or ten of them, calling me stupid and dumb, and they started throwing things at me, and one of the guys said something to me, and he threatened me ..."

"If it involves repeated, malicious attempts to humiliate a helpless victim, if the victim is fearful, does not know how to make it stop, then it’s bullying."
- Kim Zarzour

These are just some of the quotes collected by a wonderful multidisciplinary team of directors, producers, parents, professionals and students who are involved with the Bully Project.

The Bully Project highlights solutions that both address immediate needs and lead to systemic change. Starting with the film’s STOP BULLYING. SPEAK UP! call to action, The Bully Project will catalyze audience awareness to action with a series of tools and programs supported by regional and national partners.
The Bully Project is a collaborative effort that brings together partner organizations that share a commitment to ending bullying and ultimately transforming society.
Bully, is the movie that is the cornerstone of this project.  I leave you to watch the trailer, as the movie speaks for itself.

Do visit their website for some wonderful resources such as: toolkits for parents, educators, students and advocates.  They also provide a helpful and easy PDF file with an introduction on bullying that you can share with others (this is where the quotes above came from).


Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Truths...

April is Autism awareness month... Most people have heard about Autism, and are filled with questions, anxieties and concerns.  Let us instead armor ourselves with information and educate ourselves on how to best help our little ones...  This linked article is worth reading to give you basic information on Autism. - Is It Autism?

These are some of the "Red Flags" the article mentions...

This broad label covers five related developmental disorders: autism, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett syndrome, and “pervasive developmental disorder” (PDD).
ASDs (referred to here as “autism”) are difficult to define in broad terms because the symptoms and their severity vary from person to person. However, the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development has created a list of typical “red flags” that may point to autism.
Consider having your 18-month old screened if he:
  • Doesn’t respond to his name
  • Is slow to develop language skills
  • Doesn’t point or wave “bye-bye”
  • Used to say a few words or babble, but now he doesn’t
  • Throws intense or violent tantrums
  • Seems to tune people out
  • Is not interested in other children
  • Doesn’t smile when smiled at
  • Resists changes in routine
  • Has poor eye contact
  • Doesn’t pretend or play “make believe”