Nikki Schwartz is a Counselor Resident at Spectrum Psychological and focuses on using neurofeedback, play, and talk therapies to provide practical, effective counseling to families and clients. You can find her on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, and Google+.
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I get a lot of questions on how to keep kids from closing apps on an iPad or iPhone. I made a photo tutorial last year for the iphone and decided to try my hand at a video tutorial. You can change settings on your iPad to use a feature called Guided Access, which allows you to shut off certain areas of the screen, lock the volume and home buttons, etc. Super useful. So, after several hours this afternoon, TA DA! My first video tutorial...
So, what'd you think? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Do you already use Guided Access? There will be more videos to come soon, I think, reviewing my favorite apps.
I'm always looking for realistic parenting tips for families who have children with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD. I recently discovered a great series of short parenting videos from @AskDocG, Dr. Deborah Gilboa regularly posts tips on parenting.
I've already used this suggestion several times to teach children on the spectrum how to interrupt their parents politely. I couldn't believe I had never thought of something this simple before, definitely worth watching. Dr. G posts weekly with great tips for parents, you can find those on her YouTube Channel.
Now, that you've watched it... I recently tried this with a child that I know outside of the office, who is rather impatient. I couldn't believe how quickly she picked it up and didn't interrupt once the rest of the afternoon. I was shocked. Try it out, I would love to hear how it works out for your kiddo.
Guest Post by R. Andrew Bindewald III
This post on ADHD subtypes and Winnie-The-Pooh comes from Andrew Bindewald, a Master's student from Regent University. He found the idea intriguing that different characters from The Hundred Acre Woods offered great metaphors for different aspects of ADHD.
So, without further delay... The wonderful thing about Tiggers... is hyperactivity. Which is sometimes... not so wonderful... :-/
Over-Focused and Anxious
Overly Anxious and Shy
Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Flickr
A child like Piglet may or may not have ADHD. Piglet does has trouble shifting attention, but also has excessive worry, is hypervigilant, and easily startled. These are signs of Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder, which can co-occur with ADHD.
Help Piglets by following their lead and letting them set the pace. Encourage new opportunities for social interaction and praise small successes.
Or Does Your Child Look More like Eeyore?
Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Flickr
Eeyore is a sad fellow who has little energy, chronic low-grade depression, and feelings of hopelessness. These can be signs of childhood depression, difficulties at school or trouble adjusting to changes in family life, such as moving, divorce, etc.
Help Eeyores by asking them to talk about problems in bite-sized chunks. Let them act out the struggles in play, be involved in what is going on at school and with their friends.
The Most Wonderful Thing About ADHD...
There is strength in knowledge and awareness. By realizing there are many different kinds of ADHD, and by identifying and understanding different symptoms, you can help your child live a fuller, happier life!
Check out other posts for more tips for hyperactive children with ADHD. As a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD and exhibits anxiety, hyperactivity or inattention, you are not alone! Reach out to other parents who know what you're going through. Seek the help of a supportive and understanding counselor who can help you and your child develop practical strategies that build on his strengths, instead of focusing on his deficits.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please tell us about your experiences with ADHD, and do not hesitate to share a story of your own! (P.S. We showed you a picture of Roo and Kanga in the picture collage at the top... Roo doesn't have ADHD, :) he's just a fun kiddo.)
This morning I am on my way to DC for this weekend's Accessibilty Conference (about a 3 hour drive). Here's a little gem I found in my perusal... smartappsforkids.com does a post every Friday with a list if free apps! Always a great thing to have. I'll let you know if I find anything good!
Here's a link:
NOTE: Neither Nikki Schwartz, Spectrum Psychological Services, nor Tidewater Autism Society of America, endorses providers listed. All information is for informational purposes only. Please make sure to do your own research regarding providers, techniques and therapies.
by Nikki Schwartz
Photo Credit (Bottom Right, Clockwise): Kids Giving Your Problems? Hire an Elephant by peasap, Blowing Bubbles by Nicki Varkevisser, Tapping a Pencil by Rennett Stowe, Running by Ian Carroll. All photos used with permission via Flickr, with Creative Commons Licenses.
Why do they fidget?
Kids with ADHD typically have lower than normal activity in one or both of their frontal lobes (behind their foreheads), this is where planning, goal directed behavior, decision making, and focusing all take place.
This is one reason why people with ADHD often complain about having trouble waking up in the morning. That frontal lobe needs a kick start to wake up in the morning or to stay active during boring tasks. So, they fidget. Fidgeting activates the frontal lobes.
Sitting still during a boring task can be literally painful for a person with ADHD.
Watch a person with ADHD doing something they find fascinating and interesting. You know what you won't see? Fidgeting. Their is no need to stimulate the frontal lobes, those lobes are already engaged.
But, their fidgeting drives me crazy!
Parents and teachers have two common complaints about fidgeting:
In the book, Fidget to Focus, the authors suggesting asking these questions instead:
In another post in our series, I discussed in depth a variety of different types of "fidget strategies" for ADHD and Autism, along these lines.
So, should ADHD kids be made to sit still?
I would say probably not; however, that doesn't mean just letting them bounce off the walls. I encourage parents to find strategies that fit these two categories. It definitely requires more creativity, but there are so many ways available now to help kids learn and focus better, without requiring them to sit still during boring tasks. Here are three of my favorite products. (Note: I am not affiliated with any of these companies, nor have I received any sort of compensation whatsoever for mentioning these products. I just think they are really cool!)
The Safco AlphaBetter® Desk is standing desk with a swinging foot bar. This combines several great ideas. First, standing helps many people focus better on their work. The foot bar incorporates a movement strategy, that is much less annoying that foot tapping. Third, there is a chair as well so kids can sit and stand alternatively. It's not cheap ($300-450), compared to regular school desks ($100-150), but I think many parents and teachers can see the advantages of a standing desk like this one.
The Time Tracker from Learning Resources is a visual timer that helps kids see how much time is left. The visual aspect can help them remain on task better, and fidget less, especially if they know that the end of a boring task is coming soon. I've seen this priced around $35 usually. Learning Resources also makes a Time Tracker "mini" version that is only $14.
The Sunrise System Alarm Clock is probably one of the best things I've ever bought myself. This clock hooks up to a bedside lamp and mimics the sunrise in the morning over 45 minutes or so, and comes with a back up buzzer alarm as well. Adding more light in the morning, gradually, will help the ADHDer who struggles to wake up in the morning. It's a little pricey ($99), but provides much more light via a lamp than other sunrise clocks that have a built in light.
So, will it be the elephant or a fidget strategy?
I'll be honest... I don't highly recommend the elephant. Seems expensive and time consuming ;) I'm hoping more of you will look at fidget strategies and other ideas that complement ADHD. What has worked well for your kids or for yourself? Your comments make my day! I always welcome and respond to your thoughts and comments.
If you have an autistic child or know someone with Asperger's or another Autism Spectrum Disorder, this is a great place to find out what is going on. If you'd like to add an event to the calendar, send Suzi an email and let her know. We'll be hosting this Autism Events Calendar permanently on our site. You can also check out our resources page for a local providers directory.
by Nikki Schwartz
Are you a Transformational or Transactional Parent?
Transactional leaders, according to the leadership theory, tend to focus on setting goals, offering rewards, establishing punishments, consequences, dealing with present situations. They are reactionary and surprised by crisis.
Transformational leaders seek to inspire others, to challenge them to learn more, and to find ways to help them enjoy the process. They use "transactions" when necessary, for example, they pay their employees for working; however, transactions take second place to who people are and what is important to them.
As parents, (and bosses, too!) it is so easy to focus on transactions. Do your chores, and you can go out and play. Finish your homework and you can watch TV. Argue with Mom or Dad and you will lose video game privileges. Don't get me wrong, it's important to set boundaries and consequences, but they make a weak backbone for parenting.
Transformational parenting, like transformational leadership, is harder. It takes having purpose and vision for your children. It means being deliberate, not perfect. It means admitting your mistakes and apologizing. It means being proactive about parenting. It means trying to understand who you children are and what excites them. Because, what excites them is what will motivate them.
Nikki, I've tried that already...
Ok, Nikki, the only thing my kids are excited about is video and computer games. I've already tried that. Fail.
Right. You've tried on a transactional level. You've tried rewarding them by offering video games or punishing by taking them away. But what about on a deeper level? Do you know why your kids are so intrigued by video games? Because they are challenging, they offer periodic rewards, and they are intense.
How often is homework challenging, rewarding or intense? No wonder kids don't want to do it. So, apart from changing schools, homeschooling or blowing up your kid's teacher's email box, what can you do about it?
Find ways to make it fun. If your kids like video games, try to incorporate technology. Use whatever technology you have available to teach the things they are trying to learn. There are iPad, iPhone, and Droid apps for every part of education and learning. Here is a link to reviews for some of the best apps that teach multiplication. Try educational websites on your home computer or at the local library. Do whatever you need to do to engage your kids so that learning is exciting.
What does being a Transformational Parent look like?
It starts with you. That's why I think this infographic is so amazing. Transformational Parenting is not about the child you are raising, as much as it is about yourself. It's about realizing that you are becoming the kind of parent you want to be right now... or you probably wouldn't be reading this post! :)
I usually like lists and tips... but I'm hesitant to give one now, because I don't want to give you the impression that you "should" be doing all of these things right now. That you're only a "good" parent if you're doing all of these things all of the time. That's just not true. Use the infographic as a guidepost, thinking about the information in terms of parenting.
Then use this list to help you focus your efforts as a parents. A list to help you evaluate if you are becoming the parent you want to be. Read it like that and tell the critical voice in your head to take a hike. (If that's hard for you, read this post on taking care of yourself as a parent.)
Remember that you do need some transactional exchanges, so, don't be hard on yourself if you find you sometimes do things on that list as well. Many parents have additional challenges as well, whether that is raising a special needs child, or coming from an abusive background themselves, being a single parent, having a military spouse who is deployed, etc. Take these things into account, and cut yourself some slack, it's more important to be a parent that is growing toward "transformational" than a parent who is stuck in "transactional".
Traits of a Transformational Parent
So, back to the quote from the beginning...
"After so many years, you've tried so many things that you're just skeptical of the new miracle therapy." Yep, you've tried everything. I get it. You know what? I bet along the way you've probably picked up some good nuggets that have made you a better parent.
My motto for working with parents is "Try everything, do what works." If I suggest something that doesn't fit with your child, your parenting approach, your household, see if you can tweak to fit you, instead of just throwing it out. Not everything people suggest to me works for my life either, but usually there is a way to filter it through my own way of seeing things and making it work for me.
This proactive approach to parenting is about principles, not about giving you a to do list. What have you tried? What's worked? What hasn't? It would make my day if you left a comment.
I haven't settled yet on a AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication) app. The cost of these apps tends to be a little high. So I feel like it's worth researching before jumping in. I've read really good things about iCommunicate, AutisMate, and Proloquo2Go. I'll post a review once I've made a choice (I'm leaning towards iCommunicate, not because it is the best for voice production, but because it has the best social story maker that I think will work well in session.)
Without a doubt there are plenty of apps that will keep the attention of a child with special needs, however, I am looking for apps that engage a child without causing them to disengage from everything else. In other words, I am looking for apps that let a client connect with others, not shut them out. Here are a few, that other therapists really like. Furry Friend is one we already use at home and is helpful for encouraging kids to talk. Among other things, the furry monster repeats everything they say back to them. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is a good app for younger clients that uses puzzles to teach colors, shapes, etc. Touch and Learn Emotions is a free app (love free!) with cute pictures of kids expressing a variety of emotions.
What apps have you guys loved? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear about other useful apps for therapy.
First ask, "What's Your Big Interest?"
I found this question in an article at Computer World, discussing the "secret" of Asperger's in the IT world. This is a fabulous question to explore career interests with someone on the Spectrum. Your "big interest" is the place you need to start when looking into jobs. I know some children with Asperger's who know uncanny amounts of knowledge about birds, computers, and engineering. Those kids know more than any adult on their "big interest". So, ok, I know that (I, my kid, my client) is obsessed with (legos, animals, numbers, butterflies, etc.). Now what?
Picking jobs that have the right fit
These are some suggestions for jobs that are more likely to have the right fit:
What types of jobs are best for Autistic People?
Temple's discussion gives four types of careers.
The first is careers that are typically poorly suited for Autistics and require a great deal of multitasking, stress the use of short-term memory and/or have high expectations for social interaction. These are jobs like waiting tables, cashiers, and air traffic controllers.
The second is careers for those who think and learn visually. Drafting, computer programming or engineering, designing, and animation, all reward those who are "visual thinkers", don't mind solitary, mundane, and reptitive tasks.
The third group is for those who excel at math, facts or music, but are not necessarily visual thinkers. Accounting, copy editor, and inventory control, for example, reward those good at repetitive tasks that involve numbers, rules, and specifics.
The last group is for non-verbal/low verbal people with Autism. These tasks do not necessarily require large amounts of knowledge, but rather the ability to engage in tasks in quiet environments with a specific skill set. Job choices here largely depend on an individuals capabilities and sensory needs. Some examples given by Temple were data entry and library reshelving positions.
What about getting the job?
One of the best suggestions in her discussion: Sell your work, not your personality. I always encourage you to make a portfolio of your work. Industries and positions that will "buy" skills will be a better match than those interested in social graces and social presence. Consider seeing a therapist, who works with client's who have Asperger's and Autism, who can help you develop better interviewing skills.
Above all, make sure that the jobs you apply and interview for align well with your Big Interest, your sensory needs, and your strengths.
Do you have any suggestions for those with Autism and Asperger's who are job seeking? Would love to see them in the comments section.