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Posts Tagged ‘about parenting’

Take Your ADD/ADHD to College

Saturday, August 20th, 2016


Off to college

Sending a child with ADD/ADHD off to college can be challenging. For the last eighteen years you have been responsible for finding the services she needed to manage ADHD and succeed in school.  If she took medication or had additional educational interventions such as a 504 plan in high school, you’re probably wondering if she will be able to access similar help or accommodations at her college or university. How can you help your child find the services she may need to be successful?  How can you ‘pass the baton’ so she becomes responsible for her own self-care and success when she goes away to college?

First, if you have the time, start early. It may be too late for this advice (if you are like me, the car is packed and you are heading out tomorrow) but many universities have programs that cater to students with learning differences. For example, The University of Iowa offers students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities access to the REACH program. West Virginia Wesleyan College campus has The Learning Center which helps students with learning disabilities, attention disorders and other special needs find a wide range of support options ( If you don’t know where to start, educational consultants can be a tremendous resource to help your child plug in to the right college or university.

If your child already her acceptance letter, then take some time with her to locate resources on her campus. Be sure to explore services such as the student writing center and campus TRIO programs (federally funded programs on many campuses that offer everything from free tutoring, writing help, to financial help). If your child’s mother or father is a veteran, then she may qualify for additional help and financial aid. Here in Texas, children of Texas veterans qualify for housing and tuition help through the Hazelwood Act.

Most importantly, locate your campus ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) officer. Even if your child wants to try it on her own at first, she may realize later she needs some accommodations and resources. Every public/federally funded college campus will have an ADA office and she can go there any time. Her ADA officer can help her locate counselors and psychiatrists, and help her design accommodations that work for her.

Here are a few tips from

  • While a high school is required to identify your requirements and provide free appropriate public education to meet them, a post-secondary institution is not required to waive or change academic requirements. However, colleges cannot discriminate on the basis of disability, and must provide the necessary adjustments for you to function academically. This includes housing for students with disabilities that is comparable, accessible and affordable.
  • While disclosure of your disability to a college is voluntary, it is necessary in order to qualify for assistance. You may apply for an adjustment at any time, but it is recommended that you do so early. Initiate contact with a school before the college application process begins, and ask questions. It may take some procedural time for your application to go through, and requirements may vary amongst different colleges.
  • You will also need to provide proof of your disability, so be sure to research what is necessary for different institutions, and start your evaluations before senior year. Neither the state nor your college is responsible for the cost of obtaining documentation of your disability, but your state vocational rehabilitation agency may provide funding.

Launching Into College and Beyond

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

From colonial times until about 1940, young adults usually lived with parents or relatives. In fact, it was common to send unmarried children to relatives to become servants or apprentices. In some American colonies it was actually illegal for unmarried people to live alone. From 1940 to the present, things started to change. Unmarried children began living on their own and in the 1960s the term “Independent Life Stage” was coined. Expecting independence after age 18 has become the norm in the United States. In our practice we see both ends of the spectrum: young adults who are not ready for independence, and parents who are not ready to give up their jobs.

Parents with older teens resisting independence may worry their child is never going to mature enough to self-care and leave home. The fact is, many young people are not well suited to independence right after high school and are possibly more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Even now, in the second decade of the new millennium, parents are worried when an adult child ‘boomerangs’ home again from university even though the percentage of unmarrieds living at home is nowhere near the rate pre-1940. Launching a young adult with a history of anxiety, depression, or addiction may take more time, and require more attention to establishing support and counseling services.

On the other end of the spectrum, parents resisting their child’s independence may actually be resisting the launching process. A recent Washington Post article described how helicopter parents’ “Failure to Launch” is ruining their college students. Launching begins when the first child leaves and ends when the last child leaves. During this time marriages experience greater stress due to challenges developing adult relationships with children, refocusing the on the marriage, accepting new family members, and declining health and energy levels.

So how can you help you and your young adult prepare for this inevitable life transition? First, talk with them about their fears. Young adults wonder, “How do we become adults?” “What am I really afraid of?” What are the reasonable risks of growing up?” “(Mom and Dad), What was your own launching period like?” Next, realize that colleges do NOT prepare seniors for the transition from college to independence. Six months before graduation provide your own orientation and explain things like credit card debt. Finally, if your child needs to stay home a bit longer, discuss expectations on both sides. Resist the urge to do everything for your adult child at home and create a clear exit plan for leaving that you review every three months.

Two Parenting Mistakes and Time Management

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Nobody’s perfect. In an age of two working parents, single parent homes, co-parenting, blended families, and just plain normal moms and dads doing the best they can, mistakes will be made.
Mistake number one: Too tired to parent.

This is probably our oldest parenting mistake. Back in ‘the day,’ parenting after a long day hunting and gathering probably looked more like an episode of ‘Survivor’ rather than ‘The Waltons.’ Older siblings were put in charge of younger siblings, children who could prepare food were put to work, while Mom and Dad protected the clan from predatory animals and neighbors. In true Darwinian fashion, children who did not conform to family norms probably did not survive.

Today, well-meaning, tired, parents know they should not ignore misbehavior, yet sometimes it’s just easier to allow the TV and the PlayStation to do their job. Tantrums are met with concessions. Children learn to act rather than ask permission because they know consequences from tired parents can be negotiated away through whining, manipulation, persistence, and even good behavior.

This leads us to mistake number two: I can’t keep up the consequence because now he’s being so good (washing my car, vacuuming, setting the table)! Time off for good behavior only works in prison. In the home, children are in charge of their behavior choices, and parents are in charge of the consequences. If children are permitted to choose the behavior AND manipulate the consequences by acting ‘good’, this can lead to power struggles, confusion, and more manipulation. Kids soon learn tired parents crave love and happiness (and a clean car) and they’ll do anything, including shorten a punishment, if their child rewards them with good behavior and attitudes.

Parenting is not for the faint-hearted and perfection is a myth. Always keep an eye out for good parenting tips and do your best!

Drug Use Among Teenagers

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ are alternated for brevity.

When parents are struggling with their teen using drugs or alcohol, they may choose therapy as an option. After the initial relief, however, comes the surprise at the amount of work placed squarely on their shoulders.

When a therapist specially trained to work with teens who are using initially meets with parents, he has one goal in mind: learn the family rules. This may take several sessions, but it is vital for the therapist to learn what is permitted in the home (respect, compensation for chores, doors locked/unlocked) and what is not permitted (eye-rolling, substance use, failing grades). If the therapist is confused by the rules, it is likely the teen is also.

Next the therapist will ask the parents to identify and prioritize two or three behaviors they wish to change. Of course using drugs or alcohol is the primary symptom, but typically grades, curfew, and respectful behaviors are identified as well. The list is kept short to maximize effort and success.

Finally, the therapist will need to know how the parents plan to ‘parent’ the identified behaviors (design and enforce consequences). This is important because not only must parents have a plan for the other six days their child is not in therapy, their influence must increase while the therapist’s decreases. Failure to do this could lead to the therapist becoming the ‘influential figure’ in the family (“didn’t the therapist tell you drinking was wrong?”) and this will lead to therapy becoming the consequence rather than the place for help and healing.

Leaving a session with a therapist trained to help teens who are using may leave parents confused. The hard work will pay off, though, and parents will have tools to help them help their child be successful, and drug and alcohol free.


Compassion Fatigue: Seeking a Caregiver Support Group and PTSD Support

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

What does a caregiver have in common with a soldier, firefighter, and doctor? Compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue (CF) stems from the daily sustained amount of compassion and energy required when caring for an individual with special needs or a chronic health condition.

Symptoms of CF can be similar to the signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and may erupt as caregivers begin to absorb pain from the individuals they are caring for. Mental health symptoms such as anger, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of joy, and hopelessness are common. This is detrimental to both parties and ultimately deteriorates the quality of care being provided. Ultimately the caregivers may need the same kind of PTSD support.

We know self-care benefits caregivers but many times caregivers neglect their health and ignore the early warning signs of CF. As they push themselves to maintain the strength to forever care for their loved one, a superhuman mentality prevails and self care takes a backseat. This may lead not only to the symptoms of CF but also relationships issues.

As the mother of a young child with special needs, I know first-hand self care is critical in maintaining longevity as a caretaker. The first step is awareness. If you are uninformed about CF you may not understand the behaviors you must change and the ramifications if you do not. The second step is to re-train your thoughts about self-care. It is not selfish to refuel yourself as you care for your child. Think about the flight attendant telling you to put your oxygen mask on first – if you are not OK you cannot help your child.

The third step is to retrain your behavior as you retrain your thoughts. Simply stated one must exercise, connect with other grown-ups, talk, cry, journal, meditate, dance, eat healthy, sing, take a warm bath, pick flowers, doodle, pray, and most importantly, laugh out loud. A caregiver support group may be a good outlet for sharing your experience with others. If you find you are doing these things and not gaining any pleasure or benefit, talking with a professional can help.

Anxious Children: How to Ease Anxiety and Treating Anxiety in Young Children

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Jason* (not his real name) enjoyed being at home and could always find things to do. He was highly creative and enjoyed making up plays, playing music, and doing art projects. His mother loved her son and relished his creativity.

The first day of school brought out another side of Jason. The morning started with Jason resisting getting dressed. Finally packed into the car, he told his Mom he didn’t want to go to school. The closer school got the more distressed Jason became. The morning climaxed with Jason refusing to get out of the car in the school parking lot and Mom having to drag him out and into his classroom where Jason hung onto her for dear life.

Childhood anxiety creates problems for the whole family if it is not understood and dealt with appropriately. In helping your anxious child, it is important to remember these things:

1. Your child is not “weak” or “immature.” Your child is struggling with an anxiety issue.

2. Be supportive and loving to your child. It is helpful to explain calmly what he/she can expect during the day and when you will be back for pick-up.

3. Maintain a regular schedule for bedtime routines and morning routines. Post the schedule on the fridge.

4. Provide lots of emotional support and hugs.

5. Talk with the teacher about our child’s anxiety and elicit her support for anxious children.

If your child’s anxiety does not abate after a reasonable time, talk to your pediatrician and request a full physical exam so as to learn the right way for how to ease anxiety. For children with constant anxiety that interferes with their daily life, play therapy has proven to be very helpful. A licensed therapist can provide the support and direction you need for treating anxiety in young children.. It is also important to consider there is medication that can make a world of difference.

Sue Watkins, MA, LMFT, has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.


Teaching Kids About Money

Monday, August 20th, 2012

It’s August and that can only mean one thing – spending money! A recent survey indicated that moms spend more on their kids during back to school shopping time than they do the entire year. While the jury is still out about whether it is better to give your kids an allowance or make them earn their spending money, back to school shopping is a great time to teach your kids good spending habits, budgeting, and discount hunting.

Sit with your kids and explain that they will have a certain dollar amount that you will spend for school clothes. If they have their own money they can supplement this, but be clear that you will only buy them necessities (no crazy hats or studded belts). Have them put items on hold at the store for your inspection before you use your credit card or cash to purchase the items.

Another great approach to teaching kids about money is to have them go on a bargain hunt the week before the planned shopping outing. Most kids know about checking out the catalogues before the holidays, but explain to them that if they can find good bargains they may be able to get more stuff. Learning to budget is made easier when teens see how much more their money will buy by looking for deals. Teach them about early bird specials, two for ones, couponing, and even vintage clothing stores. For older teens this can be a great time to teach them about using credit cards responsibly for discounts.

You may find as you are teaching your kids about good money management you discover you have some bad money habits yourself. Don’t despair! Use this time to hone your own skills, take a course (we recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University), and get your own budget in shape.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of found in The Woodlands TX.

Getting Ready for School

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

About this time of year the talk amongst parents of school age children turns to bedtime rituals, earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for school supplies. Not to be outdone, we at decided to dedicate an article to the top 10 ways parents can smooth the transition from summer to fall. Supporting your child from a youth mental health standpoint is all about making sure your child is equipped with knowing the ropes Here is the top ten countdown for mentally getting ready for school this fall:

10. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour.

9. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV).

8. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare if the commute is long and the weather is extreme.

7. Create your list of emergency contacts. Schools always ask for them and its good for your child to know who may pick them up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list.

6. Donate to the local backpack/school supply drive while you are picking up your own supplies.

5. Talk to other parents about age-appropriate bedtimes. Everyone doesn’t have to be the same but it will be much easier to get your kids to go to bed on time if everyone in their group of friends has close to the same bedtime.

4. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms have rules about school clothes.

3. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas.

2. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check your own attitude and make sure you don’t seem fearful too.

1. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! Make it a new tradition you and your child can look forward to.

Parent, child, school…success!

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of found in The Woodlands TX.

“Just a stage?” Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children, and Defiant Disorder Treatment

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

As every parent knows, kids love to use the word “no.”  It gives them a sense of power and it allows them to perceive they have some control over their endlessly rule laden lives.  While unpleasant, this is a normal part of child maturation and testing boundaries, and it is a normal part of parenthood to continue to be the boundary enforcer. But what happens when a child surpasses normal non-compliance efforts, and their unruliness becomes so severe and so consistent that the parent is unable to regain authoritative control? It may be the child’s behavior is a diagnosable condition.

So how do you know when those refusals to comply have become more than just a little stage?  There is a little known but increasingly diagnosed disorder called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).  If your child is exhibiting the signs below it may be a signal that something more serious is going on and it’s time to contact a mental health professional about a possible ODD diagnosis.

The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder in childeren is a repeated pattern of negative behavior that is “deliberate, spiteful, and argumentative.”  This is not the preschooler who tells mom “no” to bath time or the school age kid who doesn’t want to do his homework.  This is a child or teen who, over a six month period or longer, repeatedly refuses to follow rules, argues with adults, and is easily angered.

The result is often serious disruptions at school or other social settings. ODD is usually recognized by about age 8 and can be diagnosed by early adolescence.  If not addressed, symptoms may become more confrontational and more persistent as the child enters middle school and high school. Treatments include impulse control therapy, cognitive behavioral therapies, and behavioral therapies.

So the next time your child exercises his “no” muscle, have no fear.  It is a normal part of growth and helps him mature, develop decision making skills, and become independent.  If, however, your child’s “no” has become constant, results in discipline problems at school, or appears overly intentional or directed at adults, check with your school or community counselor for a referral.  There are defiant disorder treatment options, and licensed family and parenting counselors will be able to help.

Social Skills Activities for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Technology is making the task of teaching social skills to children with Aspergers a lot more fun than it use to be.  Special needs apps for Asperger’s Syndrome for the iPad are leading the way in terms of ease of use and superior graphics, and proving to be an excellent source of social skills activities for kids dealing with a variety of special needs issues, from autism to Asperger’s.  Here are 8 great apps for Aspergers children:


Model Me Going Places                        Free     (Model Me Kids)

This app offers 6 icons that involve social stories related to places children frequently encountered in daily life.  The visual cues and images are professionally done.  The six social stories include Hairdresser, Mall, Doctor, Playground, Grocery Store and Restaurant.

iCommunicate                                        $49.99   (Grembe, Inc.)

With this app your child can create pictures, storyboards, routines and visual schedules.  You can also create custom audio in any language.  This app enables you to include pictures from your camera or Google images.

GarageBand                                                $4.99    (Apple)

This application allows children to learn to play a musical instrument.  There are several instruments to choose from and learning is interactive.  Children can record themselves playing the instrument and then play it back.  The app also provides instruction on writing music and composing an original piece.

Pictello                                                        $18.99   (AssistiveWare)

This app is comprised of a storybook for activities of daily living.  Your child can incorporate personal pictures in order to help them share verbally with others.

ABA Flashcards-Emotion                       Free   (

This app provides a classic social skills development tool with a twist.  The emotion cards show pictures of children actually engaging in the emotion in natural settings.  The lifelike images and realistic settings should make transfer of training more comprehensive.

Social Stories                                             $6.00 (MDR)

This social skills activity for kids uses real to life pictures and stories that children will encounter every day.  Examples include classroom rules, reciprocal play and taking turns.  There and 6 stories total.

Tom the Talking Cat                                $.99 (Outfit7)

The cat in this app repeats what is said and even imitates pitch and tone.  Great communication tool and practice for speech.

Loopz                                                             $1.99 (Mattel)

This app requires your child to follow the music that is played and copy it from memory.  It is great tool for building memory and listening skills.  You can even purchase the board game to play along with the app.


Jo Ann Broquie is licensed in Texas as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology and a Licensed Professional Counselor.

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