It’s the end of July already??

Could we really be halfway through summer break?  Where are you on your summer fun to do list?  Now is a great time to sit down with your family and talk about what you have done so far this summer and what you still want to do.  Ask your kids what they liked/disliked and why.  Plan for the rest of your break and let each child choose an activity that they want to do before heading back to school.  There’s still time to pack in some more summer fun!

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition caused by recurring seizures impacting three million people in the United States. It’s slightly under the population of Chicago. While you’re are exploring the streets of Chicago, a stranger, a family member, or friend may have been affected by seizures. A seizure is caused by neurological sparks in the brain. Imagine flashes of lightning on a stormy day or confetti bursting at a New Year’s Eve celebration to some this may be a way to describe Epilepsy.

In order to diagnose and treat seizures, a neurologist may recommend an EEG or MRI to determine the best treatment method. This can often can be a long and daunting experience for a family to undergo. Explaining seizures to a child, siblings, or a school classroom can be challenging. A book called, Wally The Whale: A Tale About A Whale With Seizures or Great-Katie-Kate-Explains-Epilepsy capture a child’s perspective of a living with seizures.

Anticonvulsants or seizure medications are used to mitigate the risk of a seizure. Lack of sleep, missed medication, and stress can increase the likelihood of a seizure happening. Newer technology, such as wearable devices may be utilized to help better manage seizures.  To learn more about Epilepsy check out the links below:

http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/facts-about-seizures-and-epilepsy

https://www.wearable-technologies.com/2016/07/wearables-rescue-epilepsy

https://www.amazon.com/Wally-Whale-Tale-About-Seizures/dp/1463441606/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477498700&sr=1-1&keywords=Wally+the+Whale

https://www.amazon.com/Great-Katie-Kate-Explains-Epilepsy/dp/1626340072/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=57CT82J9C3ACXHW6JE8V

An interesting approach to public speaking

As students enter middle school, high school, and beyond giving presentations is a crucial part of the learning process.  For some, this can provoke speech anxiety. They are told to practice multiple times in front of a family member to ease their public speaking jitters. An article by the New York Times offers other alternatives to practicing public speaking skills, such as speaking in front of a furry creature or using a virtual app.

To learn more about this topic check out the link below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/education/edlife/how-to-give-a-better-speech-talk-to-a-dog.html?_r=0

 

The Effect of Trial and Error Problem Solving on the Brain

Recent advances in neuro-imaging are revolutionizing the way scientists and clinicians understand where information processing occurs for various areas of cognition. Recently, scientists have been able to break problem solving into four discrete stages: encoding, planning, solving, and responding. Scientists at Carnegie Melon University were investigating whether or not changes in the brain occurred if any of these four stages were manipulated. They found that problem solving through trial and error actively increases brain activity in the orbital-frontal cortex, which is known for impulse control and decision making. Conversely, those that didn’t have to use trial and error did not show the same levels of positive brain rewiring. The researchers look forward to figuring out how to apply this knowledge to help shape educational experiences for students.

In the meantime, take a look at these ideas to help provide opportunities for your child to flex this part of their brain. http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages-milestones/preschool-problem-solving

For the entire article please see: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201608/neuroimaging-captures-four-hidden-stages-problem-solving

Win a Free Book at Barnes and Noble

Need a little incentive to keep your child reading over the summer? Barnes and Noble is offering a free book for kids who answer three questions about the longest book, favorite series (Harry Potter, Junie B. Jones, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), and which book made you stretch your imagination. Personally, I love “Tuesday” by David Weisner. This wordless book lets you create your own story about why frogs might be flying around on lily pads.

http://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/pdf/2016/summer-reading/BN_SummerReading_Journal.pdf?x=y

The ABLE Act

Families who have a family member with a disability know that the cost to care for the loved one can mount very quickly. To address these concerns, President Obama passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act in 2014. It allows families to create a special tax-exempt savings account to pay for the myriad of different “qualified disability costs”, including but not limited to transportation, building a ramp to get into a house, therapy, and housing. Each state is responsible for adopting this law, and Illinois adopted it in 2015. To find out more about this act and how it may benefit your family, please refer to the following resources:

http://naminorthernillinois.org/the-able-act-law-and-the-10-things-you-must-know-about-the-able-act/

http://realeconomicimpact.org/public-policy/able-act.aspx

Online Games to Help Boost Reading Skills

Does your kindergartener-2nd grader need an extra reading boost over the summer? Improving phonological awareness (syllable counting, rhyming, segmenting, and word manipulation) has been proven to help improve a child’s reading ability. Check out these fun online games to play with your child. Remember, play these games with your child so that you can help teach and reinforce skills not quite mastered.

http://pbskids.org/games/rhyming/

Self Advocacy

In it’s most basic form, self advocacy is the ability to speak up for what you need to be successful in social and academic situations. Its development starts at an early age. When a child asks for clarification or repetition of a direction, they are applying a simple yet powerful self advocacy skill. The inability to apply these skills can lead to confusion, frustration, and reduced independence. But if utilized, they can help kids gain confidence, self awareness, and problem solve across various situations. The needs of our kids with IEP’s are more nuanced, so it is very important that we teach these skills. Natural times to start talking to your child about their strengths/weaknesses and how to ask for accommodations can be during transitions between grades, into college, summer camp, group home, or employment.

Here are some helpful resources to get these conversations going:

http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/priority-selfadvocacy/

https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/tool-kits/transition-tool-kit/self-advocacy

http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/dyslexics/living-with-dyslexia/home/teaching-self-advocacy-to-your-child

https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/empowering-your-child/self-advocacy/the-importance-of-self-advocacy