The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spiritual Sunday: What to do about Suicide

Today is August 14, 2016 and I could write almost the exact same words today as I did on May 18, 2014.  I was thinking about writing something positive and motivating for a Spiritual Sunday post because I've been so busy with work I have not been able to post as often as I want.  Instead, I logged on my computer and saw about a young boy who committed suicide... again.  He wrote in a note that he was bullied and teachers didn't help. Here's that article: "'I gave up:' 13 - Year-Old boy commits suicide after he claims school 'Didn't do anything' to stop his bullies." 

This breaks my heart!  I just don't understand how adult who have the power to make life better for children do not step in and really make a difference.  Sometimes adults are the bullies as well.  My biggest concern about this article is it seems the child failed his grade in school.  I see this way too often - students getting failing grades and adults at the school do nothing but let the child fail.  The student is the one blamed for the failing.  This makes me so angry because adults have the power to step in and work on figuring out WHY the student is failing. I will write more on this topic but in the meantime here's an article I wrote in May 2014~~

From May 18, 2014:
I woke up today thinking about what I wanted to share on Spiritual Sunday.  It has been a while since I posted a Spiritual Sunday because I've been struggling spiritually.  I just can't seem to understand why people lack empathy. Now, I wake up to read an article in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper about a teenage girl committing suicide and bullying was reported as one of the factors.  Here is the article: Pickerington teen's suicide raises concern: How much was bullying to blame?

My heart is breaking.  I did not know this girl but I know her pain.  I have felt this pain many times myself.  I work with people who feel this pain or have felt this pain in their past. I have written about Bullying and Suicide on November 19, 2013 after another teen suicide.  I have been making a plea to educators to STOP teaching "Anti-Bullying" programs and start teaching EMPATHY!   What we focus on we expand so if we are focused on bullying we will get bullying if we focus on empathy we will get empathy!  I wrote Empathy is the Antidote to Bullying on January 29, 2013 in hopes that we can start making this change.  I'm saddened that we now have lost another unique and beautiful person to suicide. 

Many people struggle with empathy when it comes to a person's depression and/or suicidal ideations.  These topics make people uncomfortable and often the person feeling these ways stays silent, puts a smile on their face, and suffers alone.  They know that no one will really understand or the other person will minimize their feelings.  People need to realize that the person often doesn't really want to die they want the pain to end.  When other's show empathy the pain can end!!!

(Image: picture of a black & blue dragonfly & quote from Orson Scott Card's book 'Ender's Shadow' - "In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life to end.'  'What is it then?'  'I is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame. The wish is not to die, but to hide.")

So what can you do about suicide?  You can start paying attention to those around you.  You can start showing REAL empathy.  Know the difference between empathy & sympathy- here's a quick video to help you understand this: 


Remember that you do have the power to make the difference in someone else's life.  You can prevent a person from committing suicide and you may never know that you did because the person will not tell you they were wanting to escape this pain (world).  Often people, like this recent teen, Cora Delille, didn't share her pain overtly with family and friends.  She kept most of her pain silent but if others have empathy they will see that she is struggling with something and reach out to her.  If covert bullying (relational aggression) was happening in school then teachers need to be more diligent by watching students interact- there are signs of relational aggression (name calling, excluding, teasing, avoid behaviors, mean looks...).  
(Image: a silhouette picture of a person sitting holding their knees with their head down and a quote titled 'Be a friend save a life' - "Suicidal thoughts happen when pain exceeds the amount of resources needed for coping. Family and friends are often unaware of the suicidal ideations. If a loved one is depressed or under a great deal of stress, be a resource. Listen to his/her worries, stressors, and fears.  Make no judgements.  Just listen and provide support.") 

Please start paying attention to those around you (especially if they are a student who has learning disabilities - see picture below)! Practice empathy on a daily basis.  Let's teach all our children to be emphatic so they will be kinder to one another.  Please pass this on to help save the life of someone in pain.  Finally, remember I really do care about the lives of everyone and always here.  If you are in pain, know you are not alone!

Here's a link to a recent post about Asking for Help.  This is another very important post for parents!

(Image: student sitting at a computer desk with books in front of him and he is holding his head in his hands looking down as if defeated and a quote from Stephanie Sergent Daniel's article 'Reading Disabilities Put Students at Risk for Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors and Dropping Out of School' - "In our study, poor readers were three times more likely than typical readers to consider or attempt suicide ant six times more likely to drop out of school.  Educators and parents should be aware of the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adolescents with reading problems.")

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Spiritual Sunday - Define Success

What is your definition of success?  I mean really think about how you perceive someone who is successful. Are they someone who has achieved high career status, academic status, or is it about how much money and material things they have?    

Are you sure that is success?  I'm not going to tell you what success is because that is really for you to explore within your own self.  It is very important that you evaluate your life and decide for yourself (NO ONE ELSE) if you are living a successful life.

Here's one of my favorite quotes I read when I start feeling like I am not being successful:

So, now how do you think about success?  Have a blessed Sunday!  

Jill Marie-Grandstaff Lam

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dr. King & Lessons from A Class Divided

Re-sharing today (7/21/2016) because for some reason people just do not understand discrimination.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day I want to talk about discrimination.

To start watch "A Class Divided" 

Yes, Jane Elliott’s Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes is a powerful video on racism.  It gives insights in to the personal experiences of how we discriminate based on the attribute of the color of eyes or the color of one’s skin.  Let’s think outside of the box on this one and see how this is also a great lesson on how we treat people with learning disabilities (Dyslexia, ADHD, Dysgraphia, Asperger’s….) and other types of disabilities (physical, deaf, blind…) in school settings. 

To help you understand this I’m going to explain it as “Butterflies” vs. “Dragonflies.”  Butterflies are “typical” students who learn easily; have athletic and/or academic talents; and viewed by others as beautiful.  Dragonflies on the other hand are students with disabilities and challenges (with or without IEP/504’s); they struggle academically, athletically, socially, and/or emotionally; and are viewed by others as scary, not fitting in, and different.   In school environments it is often assumed that “Butterflies are better than Dragonflies.” 

The Butterflies are more likely to be given extra opportunities in school such as crossing guard or member of student council.  Teachers are concerned if they give Dragonflies positions of responsibilities they will not be able to handle the job so they can only be given to Butterflies.   

Butterflies are picked more often for awards and accolades because they are “easy to teach” and “well-liked by their teachers and peers.”   For more details on this check out my post on Stop the Shaming: why ceremonies and graduations need to change.  The Dragonflies are not often not given these awards and accolades because: they are so challenging to teach; they may be experiencing Learned Helplessness (explained in the linked post) from the years of discrimination, shame, and pain that they have just given up trying; they just don’t fit in socially.

Butterflies are given positive reinforcements in the classroom while the Dragonflies often receive negative reinforcements.  When you observe an elementary classroom room where a teacher has a Colored behavior chart more Dragonflies are on Yellow and Red than Butterflies.    The Butterflies are most likely on Green and get to run special errands for teachers or get to sit in special places in the room. 

As you can see the list of the differences can go on and on but the key point here is how Dragonflies are not just discriminated against by their teachers but this treatment is seen as acceptable to their peers as well since the students will model the behaviors of the teachers. 

So when thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. today think about how we still treat students who learn differently (academically or socially) as less than the students who are “Mainstream” learners.  Dragonflies are often excluded from classes that Butterflies receive automatically such as gym, art, and other electives because the Dragonflies need extra teacher support to learn. Schools require students to take these foreign language classes and although students with learning disabilities would benefit from American Sign Language it is too much trouble to make this happen so they just have to struggle (causing emotional pain) or not participate (excluded from a class open to non-disabled peers).  For some reason it seems acceptable to the adults to take away opportunities from Dragonfly students using the reasoning that teachers can’t work beyond school hours, it would cost too much to provide the services, or they don't want to make a specific accommodation.  For more details on this visit the following post: Dr. King’s Legacy Regarding Discrimination in Education.

So here is my question to you: What are we really teaching our children in schools?  Are we teaching them empathy or are we teaching them discrimination?  By excluding the Dragonfly students from the events and opportunities that are freely given to Butterflies we are condoning discrimination.  I am often told that the Butterflies have “earned” these privileges but the Dragonflies have not so they do not deserve them.  So you really think that because Little Johnny can’t read that he should have to be pulled from gym, art, or recess so he can be taught to read?   By the way, maybe we should go back to teaching student using the Orton-Gillingham reading program- look for this scene in the movie!

Maybe you think it is safer to not have Little Sarah as the library helper because she has impulsive ADHD and may get lost in the hallway or forget what she was doing (or is it really because it would just be easier for you to not have to supervisor her so you will send the “responsible” student).   Then there’s the student who is socially awkward and wanted to be a “student leader” but you think that a different student would be a better role model (the 'popular' student).  By denying students these opportunities you are discrimination against them and perpetuating the belief that there really is something wrong with Dragonflies.  

We need to practice lessons we have learned from Dr. King:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We all have Bias - learn to stop being so judgmental

Re-sharing - a post I wrote back in June 2013 but think it needs to be addressed again!  

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about racism, sexism, homophobia, equality… (There is no need to identify these stories because they could be any story; even your own story of being oppressed, discriminated against, of judged).   I will address these issues because they are vital to making the world a better place; so we can do better now that we will know better!  To do this we must first understand implicit bias and confirmation bias.  EVERYONE makes judgments based on both of these biases.  They are rooted in our upbringing and may be so deep you are not aware they exist.  But do not think that you are not prejudice or bias because we all are; it’s human nature. 
Understanding Bias:
Implicit bias is the unconscious attitudes and beliefs that can be expressed overtly or covertly.  These implicit biases develop early in our lives and can occur even if we believe we have no biases toward others.  Implicit bias can be measured (Harvard has done some great research in this area).  These biases are not only about race but also about: age, disabilities, religion, gender, and so on. 
Watch this video of Alan Alda taking this test and explain implicit bias.


Here’s the link to check your own implicit bias: Implicit Bias Test 
People do not base their decisions and opinions on fact but instead on confirmation bias.  Confirmation bias is the process of paying attention to information about a person/topic/issue that confirms (validates) your belief/opinion and ignoring, minimizing, or rationalizing the information that does not support your belief/opinion.  The more emotionally charged an issue or topic is the more this bias occurs.  The recent political race is a perfect example of confirmation bias.   If a person liked one presidential candidate then most of the things that candidate said or did was spun in a positive light.  The other candidate could have done or said the exact same things but these would have been seen in a negative light. 
 Here’s a quick video that explains confirmation bias:


Our brains automatically engage in low-effort information processing which consists of stereotyping and judgments (implicit bias).   We then look for information that validates these beliefs and opinions while we ignore or minimize information that disproves these beliefs and opinions (confirmation bias).  This happens with EVERYONE!  
This can change only if we do a few things:  First, we need to acknowledge and accept that we have biases.  We need to be openly admit these to ourselves.  Second, we need to willingly look at all the evidence and use our OWN critical thinking skills.  Decisions need to be made based on evidence (not only the evidence you want to look at - that's confirmation bias).  This is not easy because your biases will get in the way.  We expect others to be emphatic  to understand us, our points of view, and accept our values and beliefs but we often don’t practice empathy to others. 
Remember that empathy is NOT feeling what another person feels it is UNDERSTANDING the other person’s emotions, experiences, situations…  It does not mean that you have to agree with the person but that you understand why they believe what they believe and feel what they feel.  When you have empathy you don’t try to change another person’s belief to your belief.  You don’t judge others because empathy is the antidote to bias, bigotry, and bullying!
When people become aware (conscious) of the potential for prejudice, they often attempt to correct for it and are less likely to exhibit bias behaviors (overt and covert).  Nevertheless, just understanding implicit bias and confirmation bias is not enough.  Actions, with the intent to do better, must occur on a daily basis.
Please watch the final video of Oprah speaking about Maya Angelou words “when you know better, you do better.”  (If you have not watched any of the other videos than please watch this one.)


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Who I am....

Re-sharing because a number of people have asked me about my disabilities recently 

My story:  Jill Marie-Grandstaff Lam (because I am dyslexic and ADD I don't eye-read fast so I added a lot of short video clips to help tell my story).

Dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADD are genetic and strong in my family tree.  Like many others, I didn't know what was wrong with me or the names dyslexia and dysgraphia.  I also didn't know that I had Attention Deficit Disorder, I just thought everyone lived in the thoughts in their head.  Here's an example of me in school & even now - 

I could always relate to these Ralph Phillips cartoons!  I still don't know my math facts (times tables) and it wasn't because I was daydreaming during the lessons it was due to being dyslexic.  My rote memory just isn't there.  School was also challenging because I struggled with reading.  I have NEVER been able to sound out an unknown word.  I was taught Whole Language (insert eye-roll here & if you are educated about dyslexia I bet you did the eye-roll all on your own) and therefore was not taught phonics.  I didn't even learn how to say some of the letter sounds correctly until my own children were going through their private Orton-Gillingham tutoring. Finally, my reading fluency sucks.  I can't even get half-way through the subtitles of a movie before the screen changes. I had to see each of the Star Wars movies 12 times before I completely read the opening words- (okay, those of you who know me well know I was thrilled to see each one a dozen times).  
Yes, I struggled immensely in school from kindergarten to my Ph.D. program. Oh heck, I struggle every day with my disabilities!  I could share some stories of heartache and pain, stories about how I never fit in and worked so hard to hide my disabilities; but I will not share these stories today.  I want to share with you 3 SUPERPOWERS I have BECAUSE of my disabilities. 
1:  The Superpower of Empathy
My brain is not able to process language like a non-dyslexic brain but I have more mirror neurons than my peers which means I experience deeper levels of empathy.  I knew from very early on that I felt the feelings of others.  I used to take these feelings on as my own because I didn't know the difference between the other person's feelings and my own feelings. Here's a video of mirror neurons & empathy to help you understand!   
So how do I know I have more mirror neurons & excess empathy?  I wish I could explain it or even prove it scientifically but I can't right now (working on that).  I just know.  Over the years I have developed this sixth sense so well that I am able to read even subtle body language and facial expressions of others.  When I meet people I can tell exactly what they are feeling and experiencing.  I can sense those around me that have this similar Superpower and it is often very strong in people with dyslexia.  Let me point out that not everyone has this as a Superpower or even a strength.  They may think they do because they have some mirror neurons and can show empathy but it is very different than what I am talking about; what I mean is an exceptional level of being able to feel exactly what another person is experiencing.  For those of you who have it to this degree - you know exactly what I mean. 

2:  The Superpower of Acceptance
I not only have an abundance of mirror neurons and empathy because these are the strength of my brain, I was also raised by parents who also have a brain wired with extra mirror neurons and empathy.  My parents taught me to accept EVERYONE and to help those in need.  I was blessed with acceptance and not judgment. I was taught the love of ear-reading and given audio books to listen to from Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie... and many more.  I was taught about Leo Buscaglia and his values.   I live my life based on the teachings of Leo even when people are mean to me or treat me bad.  Oh, you don't know Leo Buscaglia?  Well then, here's a very short clip oh him in action:
Doesn't he just make you smile?  Well that's my reaction.  I have an intrinsic passion for inclusion of everyone.  
3:  The Superpower of Tenacity
Having dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADD is not easy and as a child I didn't know anyone else like me so I knew that I was different.  I was on a quest to find others like me, as well as, to find the real ME.  I searched for answers in movies and books.  In high school, I found the answer in Joseph Campbell's book The Hero with a Thousand Faces and knew that I was on my own Hero's Journey!  I learned we are all on our own Hero's Journey and each movie and book took me on these adventures. The characters in these books and movies are like friends to me.  I an not an outsider looking in, but immersed in the stories as if I too were living them and experiencing the same adventures. I mastered my own Superpower skill of Tenacity!  I don't give up.  Watch my friend, Samwise Gamgee, explain exactly what I mean to Frodo Baggins:
Yes, I am a person with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADD but I am also a person with many Superpowers- Empathy, Acceptance, and Tenacity.  In elementary and junior high my life was filled with shame and exclusion.  In high school when I became "friends" with Joseph Campbell I heard my calling to help others.  Like many, I refused this calling. I thought, who was I to help others- I am not worthy.  Due to my inner tenacity I took the leap of faith and headed off to college to pursue a degree in Psychology (I also have minors in Health Education and Marketing).  With the help of all my Supernatural Aids (the characters of my movies & books) I went on to get a Master's degree in Clinical Counseling and became a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with supervisory status and then entered Crossing the Threshold into the working world.  I was taught how to diagnose all types of learning disabilities, worked in many areas of special education as a therapist, and eventually I entered the Belly of the Whale by opening my own private practice as a Psycho-educational Diagnostician and Counselor in 2007- Forest Alliance Coaching (& Forest Alliance Coaching FB page).  On my journey of helping others I have been down many Roads of Trials and I'm still on these roads but I have tenacity to just keep going. I now have my Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Educational Psychology.
As I continue my journey I have ventured into many other areas where I can help others live a better life.  A few years ago I started The Dragonfly Forest a blog where I can share insights and motivate others who are different and often have disabilities (ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Asperger's...).  Through The Dragonfly Forest blog, FB page, and my private practice I have become even more involved in the disability community and now have Dragonfly friends all over the world.   
In early February 2013 I read about the Decoding Dyslexia movement in New Jersey and knew I was receiving another calling (one I didn't hesitate to answer).  I contacted Deborah Lynam from DD-New Jersey and got started on Decoding Dyslexia Ohio by making a commitment to DD-NJ and then starting Decoding Dyslexia here in Ohio and created the Decoding Dyslexia Ohio Facebook page.   The DD-OH journey has been an exciting one and I know that I was guided this way so I can continue to help make the lives of others a better place.  I meet with the wonderful parents of children with dyslexia in Ohio and look forward to sharing this journey with them.  The parents have been such a great support system as well and these parents suggested there be another Facebook page that focused Family Support (since the website & other FB page were focused on school and legal issues) so DD-OH Family Support FB page was started.  I am so excited by all the adventures we will be having on this DD-OH journey and thrilled that God, the Higher Power, or the Universe guided me in this direction. 
Here is one final video that I think really supports my life's journey and my Superpowers. Some of you will recognize a young Ben Foss (it was filmed in 2003 btw).   I love being on this journey with some great people like this - and YOU!  Thanks for sharing this journey with me! 


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Elie Wiesel - lessons learned and how to have a better world!

Spiritual Sunday~~ My heart is broken at the lost of Elie Wiesel!  In the 1980's I was in high school and learned about Mr. Wiesel and read his book "Night."  Reading his book was not an easy task because I'm dyslexic. I struggle at pronouncing unknown words and I'm an exceptionally slow reader but Mr. Wiesel's book kept me inspired to keep reading and motivated me to do a lot of self-reflection. How can I live in a world that allows such injustice?  How can I just stand by and let bad thing happen to others?  I knew I couldn't! I knew that I had to help others!  Although I was just a teenager I knew my purpose in life was to work on making the world a better place. 

Elie Wiesel's life lessons became a part of the fabric of my soul and I re-read his work often, especially on audio.  There is so much to learn about ourselves and the world around us.  I guess this is why I struggle to understand why people have hate and negativity?  I just don't get it!  How can someone intentionally harm someone else - physically, mentally, socially, emotionally...? It makes me sick to my stomach when I hear someone justify their actions - tell me that the other person had it coming, that they had to right to defend themselves, that it's the person's own fault for being poor....  How can you not see from another person's perspective?  

I work daily to live with integrity and yet see and experience so much hate and indifference.  I don't understand how some people don't comprehend that what we focus on we expand.  When we attempt to make the world a better place by fighting the "War on drugs" or the "War on guns" or "Anti-bullying" all we are doing is magnifying drugs, guns, bullying... We need to teach empathy, compassion, and HELP those addicted.  War begets war and eventually there is so much war, hatred, violence that people become immune and indifferent.  I learned from "Elie Wiesel "Indifference to me, is the epitome of all evil."  

People are so self-absorbed with material items, money, status, and number of "likes" and followers on social media that they have lost most of their humanity.  I have sat in school meetings where the staff fights hard against providing an education to a child. Often they blame the child or parents for the fact that the child is not learning instead of taking responsibility and teaching the child appropriately.  I could tell you some horrific stories about how those who are paid to educate our children attack them by blaming and shaming them.  Educators are not paid to crush the self-esteem of children yet is accepted and condoned all the time. Sports coaches often do the same things. But why is all this allowed - why do people in power think they have the right to break the spirit of another person.  

As a counselor I am helping many people overcome the traumas from their childhood.  It is heartbreaking to hear the stories about teachers, coaches, and even parents causing such damage to another human-being.    "Every single human-being is a unique human-being and therefore it is so criminal to do something to that human-being- he or she represents humanity."  



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The experience of being a parent of a child with a hidden disability

Being a parent isn’t easy.  Children do not come with instruction manuals or diagrams of how their brains are designed. Therefore, much of what we do as parents is trial and error. When your child has a hidden disability it is even more challenging.  Our parent instincts tell us that something is wrong, yet these concerns are often minimized by teachers.  This makes us question our own intuitions since the teachers should know more; it is their area of expertise, is it not?  Eventually, many parents will seek outside help in trying to figure out what is wrong with their child. As a parent it may take us years or just months to finally get some validation that our instincts were correct and our child has a disability that IS impeding his/her learning.  By that time the child is even further behind but it is such a relief to finally have an official diagnosis. 

Armed with the diagnosis and a renewed sense that our parenting skills are back on track we go to the school assuming the staff will embrace this diagnosis as we have.  Unfortunately, this may not be the case.  The staff at the school is not relieved to have this official diagnosis because it only validates that they have dropped the ball, they were wrong, and they have failed to teach this child appropriately.  So parents must experience another blow to their parenting self-concept, when the school become resistant or even hostile because parents begin educating themselves and advocating for their child.   Sometimes it seems that the school district has an unwritten policy to frustrate parents so much that they eventually give up and go away (many parents actually get physically sick during this process).

To make things even more challenging for parents, we experience many feelings of guilt.  We feel guilty that: we didn’t follow our guts earlier, we didn’t insist the school do something sooner, we didn’t get our child privately evaluated as soon as we suspected something was wrong, we believed the teachers that Response to Intervention must happen before the child is evaluated at the school, and we believed things would improve over time.  All of this guilt can be overwhelming especially when we continue to watch our children failing to learn and losing their self-esteem along the way.  No parent wants to watch their child fail and our children fail on a daily basis!

Because the disability is hidden teachers, coaches, and even peers often mislabel our kids as lazy, bad, problem child, stupid, retarded, or oppositional.  These are not accurate labels and are crushing to our child’s self-esteem (as well as ours as parents).  Our kids are often not the ones picked by teachers and coaches as “superstars.”  Our kids are the ones working the hardest but gets the least amount of recognition so it is no wonder that many of them have a negative view of school or just end up giving up all together.  It is not easy for our children to watch other children learn more easily, achieve academic success with little effort, and be recognized athletically or socially as a “great kid/player/student.”  Sadly, we live in a society that values “Superstars.”  Our children actually are “SUPERSTARS” because they work so much harder than their peers who are getting all the play time, recognition, and awards.  As a parent we can see the hidden disability and know that our children are better than their non-disabled peers we just wish the rest of the world could see this greatness! 

So based on my own personal experience of having three children with hidden disabilities here is my message to other parents and to teachers/coaches:

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the challenges your child experiences and the unrealistic perception of success that you fail to recognize your own child’s growth and learning.  When children grow and learn they are making progress.  The goal is not to solve all the problems but to progress toward being a better person.  Progress means to move forward toward improvement.  So, focus on going in the right direction, raising children that are empathetic caring human beings.  Know that you are doing a good job getting your child’s needs met because you are advocating for them.  You are being their voice when they have none. Effective parenting requires you focus on any progress they make no matter how small.  Refuse to be disappointed if your child does not receive the honors and accolades like his/her peers.  Applaud the progress your child is making so he/she know that you see how much effort is going into the learning (sports, social, or academic).    

We are very aware that our child is different so we do not need for you to tell us how our child does not fit in with his/her peers.  This difference is because of a hidden disability and not because our child is lazy, stupid, or whatever judgment you are having about our children.  Our child wants to be successful and is trying much more than his/her peers so please respect that and see the progress that is being made, no matter how small.  Please speak to our children in a positive tone and with words of praise and encouragement.  Our children may not be able to read social cues well yet they are very aware when they are being treated poorly.  Finally, please print out the picture quote below and post it where you can see it on a daily basis!