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What is the difference between a Psychologist, a Psychiatrist, a Psychotherapist, and a School Psychologist?

Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology (Psy.D. or Ph.D.) and are professionally trained to assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues. They have advanced training in counseling, psychotherapy, psychological testing, and the science of behavior change. Psychologists are the only professionals qualified to use certain kinds of psychological tests to assess intelligence, emotional and behavioral problems, and neuropsychological dysfunction. In addition to this degree, he or she must pass professional state examinations, complete one-year of supervised postdoctoral clinical work, and agree to follow ethical codes and standards of practice.   Psychiatrists obtain a degree in medicine (M.D.) and then take at least 4 years of specialized residency training in psychiatry, which generally refers to the study, assessment, and treatment of emotional and behavioral problems. Their treatment of choice is most often pharmacotherapy (medication), often augmented... read more

What is Autism? What are the childhood symptoms of Autism?

One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. Children with autism will have symptoms from a very young age, beginning before the age of three. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. Other children appear to develop normally until 18–24 months, then either stop gaining new skills or lose some they’ve already developed. While every child develops differently, we also know that early treatment improves outcomes, often dramatically. AutismSpeaks.org and MyAutism.org identifies the following "red flags" that may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking for an evaluation: · Avoidance of eye contact · No response to name by... read more

Suggestions for finding the BEST tutor for your child or student.

When interviewing a prospective tutor, parents should ask about the tutor's skills and experience, and find out if the tutor truly enjoys teaching. When the tutor feels enthusiastic about the subject, and communicates well, the student has an opportunity to learn to enjoy the subject too. I recommend for parents to observe the first lesson to see the tutor's skills in action, and watch/listen carefully to future lessons when possible, to make sure the tutor has an encouraging, supportive attitude at all times. (Tutors should welcome and respond positively to the child's questions, and NEVER make the child feel "stupid," no matter what.) It is most important to have a safe and quiet place for studying, without distractions. I like to find a quiet table at a library, and work with students there. I welcome suggestions from parents, and I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching skills.

Social Thinking

I think it's safe to say that all teachers are concerned about the academic success of their students. However, something most of us don't consider on an everyday basis concerning our students is their social success. We oftentimes don't realize how difficult it is for some of our students to understand social cues, figure out the hidden rules in the school or social environment, or even how to appropriately interact with others around them. According to Michelle Garcia Winner, a Speech Language Pathologist, "Social thinking is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. And how we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions." Being able to interact with others and actually be "social'" can be extremely intimidating for children, especially those on the autism spectrum. The website www.socialthinking.com provides some great information on this topic,... read more

Different types of learners need different approaches to teaching

We've been told that each student tends to have a dominant learning style. In my experience, I would say that the Visual-Dominant Learning Style is most common (#1), then the Auditory Learning Style (#2), and then the Tactile or Kinetic Learning Style (#3). Some teachers seem to love talking a lot, so their students may get 90% of more of their information in the Auditory form. That is not good for some students. Other teachers and professors like to "put it all on the board," and let students do their own note-taking, and draw their own conclusions. There are some "teachers" who do not do very much explaining. Worst of all, a few teachers--at least-- actually discourage students from asking questions. (Amazing, but true, right?) Before I paint a picture that is too gloomy, please understand that I believe most teachers do a good job of teaching. Some teachers are great at their jobs. In typical classrooms, the visual and the auditory go together, so... read more

Succeeding with Asperger's, Autism, or Other Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism and Autism Spectrum disorders can be incredibly debilitating, but if your reading this you are probably already aware of this. Hopefully this brief post will help you understand and help yourself or the person you are reading this for to become more able in dealing with their unique intake of information.This post will be dealing with mostly milder form of Autistic Spectral Disorders and verbal Autism.   It is tempting to think of psychological disorders the same way you would think of a car problem; that one malfunctioning part is what causes the issue. Recent studies at the National Institute of Children's Health has suggested that it is not simply one or two parts of the brain, but the connections throughout the brain that are not working "normally". This explains why many Autistic or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) patients can perform some individual tasks at normal or above normal levels, but have trouble with more complex tasks. Many patients... read more

Special Education Resources for Parents

Massachusetts Specific Resources: · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/ · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/iep/proguide.pdf · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/prb/pnps.pdf · http://www.masspac.org/ · http://www.mcpap.com/pdf/NavigatingTheSpecialEducationSystemInMassachusetts.pdf Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: · http://idea.ed.gov/ · http://nichcy.org/laws/idea · http://www.help4adhd.org/education/rights/idea General Learning Disabilities Information: · http://www.ncld.org/ · http://www.ldonline.org/ · http://www.ldanatl.org/ · http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld · http://www.cldinternational.org/ · http://www.cec.sped.org/am/template.cfm?section=Home ADHD/ADD: · http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/default.htm · http://www.add.org/ · http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml · http://www.chadd.org/ Dyslexia: · www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov · www... read more

A Life-changing Difference

I will be the first to admit I wasn't always a great student when I was in school. In regular school, my own folks couldn't help me with my homework as neither parent had finished high school. They tried, but it was too much for them. So I really struggled through grade school and then high school. In college I struggled once again. I was smart, but I just couldn't understand some subjects the way they were taught, which honestly seemed all backwards to me. Science was a particularly difficult subject at the time. Try as hard as I might, I just could not seem to make sense of anything I was learning. Then everything changed when a relative suggested I get a tutor. I looked around and found a great tutor. What a difference he made in my life. Suddenly, the things he did to help me made me realize that it wasn't me that had a problem; it was the way the subject was being taught in school. He helped me to create a context for what I had to learn, and gave me a logical order... read more

Do You Really Need a Tutor?

In today's world where everything is about our accomplishments, and time is of the essence, it really helps to get a tutor. I don't think I would be where I was today if I had not had the benefit of a tutor in some of my college subjects. A good tutor can help you to have more confidence and success as you move forward with your goals and dreams. Working with a good tutor can make a world of difference for you. Why not give it a try today?

Celebrating your ADHD, LD, Special gifts!

Celebrating the little things. Today was a great day! One of my students read a list of words that she could not have read four months ago. She also read to her small group and used word attack skills to sound out almost all of the words. This may sound small, but to see her improvement, just made my day. She was reversing several letters when we began working together. The other kids would just give her the words when she read, because she was so slow. To me, seeing her succeed is what teaching is all about! I guess I want to encourage you to look for the small gains. They do add up. When raising children with special needs, the pace can seem very slow. As long as you are going forward, trust that it will pay off. There have been many days raising my son with ADHD that I thought he would never read. He now reads on grade level. It is hard to explain how it feels when you can't make progress happen as quickly as we'd like. It's even harder when we feel so much pressure... read more

Celebrating your ADHD, LD, Special gifts!

Celebrating our gifts can be a good way to put things in perspective. Sometimes I ask myself if my life would be different if I didn't have ADHD. Well, yes, it probably would look very different! Would I want that though? Not really. What I hope to do in this blog, is to share why having a learning difference, special need, ADHD, LD, or anything that makes us different can be celebrated. Since most of us reading this are raising children with learning differences, I hope to help you celebrate that as well. Sometimes humor helps, sometimes just knowing you are not alone in this helps. I have ADHD and I decided to make a difference in peoples lives so they would not feel bad about who they are. I grew up feeling like I had to prove my worth daily. I was the last to finish most of my assignments, or worse turned them in late. I would try to focus on my HW, but drift off into a more interesting world inside of my head. I managed to do well in school through sheer persistence.... read more

Developing understanding, expectations, and boundaries for children

Do you find that your child is often impulsive, is easily frustrated, and demonstrates behaviors that you do not know how to explain? You are not alone. I have received several calls in this past week from parents looking for advice regarding the onset of "behavior problems" in their children. Every child has an innate need for structure and for sensory experiences. Every child has a need to be listened to and understood. Every child has a need to understand and to interact with his or her environment. Unfortunately, these needs are not met for many children, especially in the fast-paced, get-up-and-go culture of American society. If your child regularly comes home from school with bad reports or regularly exhibits signs of discomfort of misbehavior at home, ponder these things: 1. What specific things happened today that could have caused my child to feel misunderstood, ignored, or to feel as if his needs were not met? Think through the whole day,... read more

Does My Child Have Asperger's Syndrome ?

I am an Educational Therapist who works with parents to better understand educational difficulties that their youngster may present from PreK-8th grade. It seems that the term "Aspergers" is a 'popular' word that is being used lately to describe many different kinds of issues. This term is considered by medical doctors to be under the larger umbrella term called "Autism" or Autisic Spectrum Disorders. Some parents as well as educators become very concerned when the word "Autism" is used. Usually, a child under the age of 3, has been diagnosed as having signs and symptoms of Autism, which may include a sudden stopping point in learning. At a later time, with positive training and meeting essential needs, the child is able to learn language, that is, to speak and understand at school and continue to learn at either a regular or an excelled rate. We then begin to say the child has moved from the low end of the total spectrum-Autistic (often with... read more

Finding Your Academic GROOVE

Does starting a new school year and adjusting to a new teacher and classmates feel like going to the dentist? Do tests make you sweat, lose sleep, and forget to eat properly? Do you have dread, hesitation, or downright fear about school? Now is the time to turn the page on school, academics, and homework. Today you can learn skills that will make school easier, more fun, and not as frightening. Begin with testing. Do you know over 60% of K-12 students regularly experience test anxiety? Many students believe they will not do well on standardized tests and by thinking such negative thoughts, they also produce negative results. Tests, perhaps are not the most important things we do at school, but certainly do influence our self image, opportunities, and promotions in school. Doing well on tests may seem like something you have little or no control over, but it is not so. So how does the successful student prepare for a test? Tests are something we all must go through... read more

Understanding Probability Value

P-value (probability value) in statistical hypothesis testing may be hard to understand at times. The best way to understand it is as follow. First one needs to understand that in science the goal is to prove that there are no differences between two (or more) sets of data (for example series of parametric numbers derived or collected about individuals, instruments, or other behaving or sizable objects). Let us imagine two groups with 10 individuals in each group. And we have collected temperature from each person in both groups. One group received aspirin before measurement and the other, the control group, received a placebo (inert tablet). Our goal was to prove that there would be no difference between the two groups (proving the null hypothesis that Aspirin has no effect on temperature). The P-Value is the probability that the result we obtained (i.e. the difference between the two groups in terms of their temperature as a function of Aspirin) is not merely... read more

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