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…

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best way to keep your New Year's Resolution!

New Year’s resolutions are great because they help us take a look at the things we want to change in our lives.  Problems occur when we have too many and/or they are too difficult.  

So today, I offer you this task: 

Make a list of 3 people whose opinions matter to you and tell these 3 people your New Year’s Resolutions. 

Discuss with these 3 people:
  1. What you want to change – be very specific
  2. Why you want to make these changes
  3. Steps you are doing to make your changes happen
  4. And tell these people exactly what they can do to help you reach your goals

Let’s use a common New Year’s resolution – weight loss
Tell your friends that you want to lose 8-10 pounds by spring (May 31 to be exact) 
You want to lose this weight so you can get into shape, back into some old clothes, and become healthier. 
The steps you are going to take to get to this goal are, add aerobic exercise to your schedule 2-3 times a week and monitor your food intake with a weight loss app on your phone. 
Finally, tell your friends that you want them to tell you positive affirmations to keep you motivated when you call them because you are emotional and ready to break your resolutions. 

May 2014 the year of achieving your goals, helping your friends achieve their goals, and making stronger friend connections.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - a day late

If you were looking yesterday for some words from Parents or Dragonflies yesterday you discovered nothing was posted.  It was Christmas yesterday and I took the day off meaning I decided to do nothing work related and only focused on my family.  Today I will share with you my own version of "I have a Dream" so we can start focusing on the future we would like for our children!  

I have a dream that one day all students will be educated appropriately based on their own needs.
I have a dream that every child will be included and accepted by their peers. 
I have a dream that one day all school districts will openly embrace parents who are advocating for their child instead of oppressing them.
I have a dream that students will be taught phonics so they will be able to know how to decode any word and not have to rely on sight memory alone.
I have a dream that that one day school districts will not blame race or income as the reason a student is not achieving and focus on ways to just help those students achieve.
I have a dream that my children and grandchildren will one day live in a nation where they are not judged by their grades or test scores but by their compassion and empathy.   
~ Jill M. Lam

 Hope you had a wonderful holiday time with your family and are starting to think about what you want the next year to look like!  Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Motivational Monday with Adam Levine!

Here’s proof that being ADHD is great!  ADHD allows you to be creative, talented, and SEXY! 

Notice in this clip him talking about being messy and his addiction to Candy Crush – 
gotta love ADHD!

People know recent hits by Maroon 5 but here’s one that from the past that’s worth listening to today on Motivational Monday!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

6 Ways to build Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance in your child at home

Over the last few days I have received numerous phone calls, emails, and private messages via my Facebook pages (The DragonflyForest, Forest Alliance Coaching, & Decoding Dyslexia OH).  The post on Learned Helplessness resonated with so many people.  There was a general consensus that the main source of a student developing learned helplessness is in the school environment and that is the primary environment that needs changed.  The most frequently asked questions related to how, as a parent, can we help our children survive; build grit, tenacity, & perseverance; and heal the wounds that are already established.  This post will provide some insight into what a parent can do at home.

Here are some tips I give parents when helping coach them on raising a child with a learning disability:

Grit is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” 

1~Praise children for their effort not the end product or results.  For example, when leaning something say things like “Wow, I like how hard you worked on that problem,” “I enjoyed watching you put so much effort into your project,” or “You did a great job sticking to the problem after not being able to solve it.”  Your child need to hear you say… “We all fail and make mistakes what matters most is getting back up and trying again with new lessons learned.”

2~   Discuss how life is about learning all types of lessons and the goal isn’t to get good grades it is to learn, develop, grow, improve, and change.  When your child fails, and they will fail, focus on what lessons were learned from the failure and how to prevent these from happening again.  Remind your child about how Thomas Edison didn’t fail thousands of times before he successfully invented the light bulb he learned a thousand ways regarding what didn’t work but he persevered and finally found the right way.

3~  Watch movies that demonstrate tenacity such as: Rudy, A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, True Grit, Karate Kid, The Pursuit Of Happyness, Little Giants, The Rookie, Remember the Titans…. Geez just about any movie really because they all follow the Hero’s journey. 

4~    When watching these movies (or eye/ear reading books) point out the theme of the Hero’s journey.  Remind your child that they too are on their own Hero’s journey.  Point out that on every journey the hero must experience a number of trials and tribulations.  These make the hero stronger and better although they are not pleasant to experience.  Help your child see how his/her own life is on the Hero’s journey path in all different areas.  If your child has a character from a movie or book that they admire point out how this character preservers and “keeps swimming.”  (Dory from Finding Nemo is one I admire!).  When coaching clients I often teach Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s journey and help clients see how it relates to real life.

5~    Be a good role model for your child and point out times you want(ed) to give up but persevered and therefore ways you have grit and tenacity. 

6~    Finally, allow them to express their feelings.  Children will be frustrated when they go through their own trials and tribulations so they will want to vent these frustrations.  When your child does vent he/she may not do so in a productive way.  Your child may throw a tantrum, stomp around, or display a bad attitude.  Ignore these behaviors for the most part (don’t allow holes to be punched into walls) because you don’t want to focus on the anger.  Instead you want to focus on how despite feeling frustrated your child is trying.  Yes, stomping and banging the table while doing math problems is trying.  Focus on how much you appreciate the effort.  When your child is in the heat of venting emotions is not the time to discuss more appropriate behaviors.  Give your child some space and once your child is calm and more relaxed thank them for the effort to make some progress.  Remind your child it is not about a final destination but the journey and how he/she has made some progress on the journey.  

These are just a few examples of ways I help coach parents on helping their child develop tenacity.   Another key to helping your child is to finding something, anything that he/she does well.  Every child needs to be actively involved in things they CAN do, so help your child find things he/she is good at doing.  Every person is good at something – if you need help in this area please feel free to contact me and I’ll help you figure out what your child may be good at doing. 

Remember you are the parent and you can help your child.  Yes, we all agree that school districts need to change so they are teaching students so they are Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance —Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.  In the mean time we can help heal some of wounds caused by the school districts.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Shame it needs to STOP and How to help!

Although everyone experiences shame in their lives, people with learning disabilities have to battle shame more often than their non-learning disabled peers.  When children with learning disabilities begins school they learn very quickly that adults (and peers) in their lives think less than ideal about them either via implied or direct messages.  These messages hurt and make the children feel less-than, worthless, stupid, unlovable… Eventually these messages become shame-ridden scripts replayed over and over damaging their self-esteem and leaving deep scars.  Here's a previous post regarding Brene Brown and her research on Shame.

Shame is different than guilt.  Guilt is when you feel bad because of something you did while shame is when you feel bad because you believe you ARE bad.  For example, when a student fails a test one student may feel bad that they just didn’t study hard enough (guilt) while another student feels that HE/SHE is a failure (shame).   Research has provided evidence that shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, eating disorders, bullying, aggression, and violence.  These are also highly comorbid (common) in students with learning disabilities - this is connected to SHAME!  Here's a previous post about Depression in children what you need to know

Imagine if you will, a first grade student with undiagnosed dyslexia, I’ll call him Charlie.  The students in the classroom are learning to read and although the teacher is teaching the students all the same way and Charlie is putting forth great effort, he just can’t seem to grasp reading skills.  His teacher feeling her own guilt (and/or shame) because no matter what she does he just can’t seem to learn to read or his reading is inconsistent.  Charlie’s parents are experiencing anxiety thinking something is wrong and Charlie overhears his parents discussing their concerns and begins to think something is wrong with HIM. 

Charlie’s parents meet with his teacher to discuss their concerns and are either validated and made to feel they are on the right path or dismissed as over-concerned parents and minimized.  A variety of scenarios will occur here – the school may be receptive right away and assure Charlie is educated appropriately with an Orton-Gillingham method and parent anxiety is reduced so Charlie is less likely to perceive that HE is stupid or something wrong with HIM – or the other extreme and the school denies Charlie has a disability, blames parents and/or Charlie for his lack of learning, refuses to evaluate, attacks parents for wanting to “label” their child,  and therefore Charlie’s parents become more scared for Charlie, his teacher becomes more defensive (due to her own shame or guilt or because her hands are tied by the school) and Charlie now KNOWS that there is something wrong with him that he is stupid.   Most scenarios are fall somewhere in between but the point here is how easy it is for Charlie to feel shame because he is struggling with reading all because he is dyslexic and therefore needs to be taught to read via an Orton-Gillingham approach and that many teachers and parents don’t know about dyslexia so they are not able to tell Charlie that there is nothing wrong with HIM. 

Charlie may share his feelings of shame by saying things like “I’m stupid” or “I’m a failure” but he also may be displaying his shame behaviorally through depression, anger, acting silly, or even avoiding activities that make him feel bad about himself.  When Charlie shares his feelings of shame either verbally or behaviorally, he is validated, minimized, or gets into trouble- then the cycle of shame continues.  Charlie’s peers become part of this cycle as well.  Sometimes it is as obvious as name calling (block-head) but sometimes (and most often) it is relational aggression where he becomes the student that no one picks to partner with or excluded socially.  These only reinforce Charlie’s negative scripts of shame. 

Sometimes Charlie finds a strength and will focus on that strength to counter some of the feelings of shame.  Maybe Charlie is great at tennis so he excels on the tennis court – for some kids this is enough protection from shame invading their whole life.  Charlie, however, is good at some things and could possibly be great if an adult would just step in and nurture his strengths to reduce the pain of the shame.  Unfortunately, adults only view Charlie as lazy, unmotivated, not living up to his potential, annoying, stupid, or a trouble-maker so they don’t want to bother with him.  Again, more validation that Charlie is right, something is wrong with HIM-- he is not good enough! 

I could go on and on about Charlie’s life, explain how shame permeates everything he does, how hard it is for him to be successful because he doesn’t experience much success and when he does experience success he has such a negative self-script that it is difficult for him to accept the success, how teachers and the system consistently add to his bucket of shame (either intentionally or unintentionally) or how the way he deals with shame are often not productive but I won’t because I think you get the picture.

Instead I want to help you see ways we can help Charlie and other kids like Charlie.  I used dyslexia as my example but it can be replaced with any type of disability (ADHD, Dysgraphia, Asperger’s…) and the results would be the same.  I’d like to point out that the more hidden a disability the more likely that the child will have intense shame.  This is because it is not socially acceptable to call a student lazy if she is struggling to get her wheelchair to move instead, we provide her assistance --but it does seem to be acceptable for teachers to call or imply a student is lazy when they are struggling academically and/or socially. 

Ways to make change:

We must first recognize the difference between shame and guilt.  Guilt is “I feel terrible I ate too much over the holidays, I should start working out more” and shame is “I ate too much over the holidays, I’m so fat, I have no self-control, I hate myself…”  Or from the perspective of a young child who lost a game: guilt is “Darn I lost, I feel bad so I’ll have to practice and I’ll eventually win” and shame is “I lost again, I’m such a loser.”   

We need to openly talk about shame and know that everyone experiences shame.  When we hide shame we only allow it to grow more deadly.  We have lost too many people to suicide, especially kids – kids are not killing themselves because of guilt they are killing themselves because they feel shame!  When we shine light on shame and call it out into the open it can no longer hide and we can battle it head on. 

We need to stop putting a negative stigma on mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, bi-polar…) and learning disabilities (I’ll stop calling them disabilities by the way, when we can openly accept and embrace all of them and there is no shame in having any of them – in the mean time I must use the word disability so that educators understand the severity of the problem the student is struggling with)!  When we are proud to share that we are depressed, dyslexic, or ADHD and people/teachers do not make judgments but instead accept us as we are, then and only then will shame be reduced.   

We must label kids appropriately and as early as possible.  Research provides evidence that the earlier a child is diagnosed the less shame and negative effects they experience later on.  Sometimes parents are told “don’t label your child” or “why do you want to label your child.”  The thing is the child is already getting miss labeled which is filling them with shame.  The correct label will reduce this shame.  When adults are finally accurately diagnosed there is a sense of relief that they are not all the negative things they thought they were, they were just dyslexic, ADHD, or have Asperger’s.  You hear about this from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Susan Boyles, Henry Winkler, and so forth. Wouldn't it be great if we can stop the shame before it even begins? 

We need to teach empathy in schools and STOP teaching bullying prevention programs (Empathy is the antidote to bullying).  What we focus on expands and therefore by focusing on bullying and differences we are priming our students to look for bullying and differences.  When we teach empathy we instill in our students the skills needed to see the world through the eyes of others and a result is a more positive support world where people care openly and honestly about others.  A place where there is less shame because when a student hears his peer say “I’m stupid, I failed that test” and that student can tell his peer – “failing a test doesn’t make you stupid in fact, you are so good at [fill in the blank] remember we learn from our mistakes.” 

We need to celebrate all students and stop excluding those that don’t fit the ‘super-star’ mold.  Have you ever been to a graduation or award ceremony that shames those who are not in the spotlight?  This is very common – I wrote about one such event months ago Stop the Shaming but the gist is if the educators had empathy they would be able to see things from the perspective of all the students who were not showered with accolades and at least acknowledge their existence. When students with learning disabilities have to sit in these award events remember they have a negative shaming script running through their heads that tell them the reason they are not getting an award is because they are NOT good enough, they are stupid, or unworthy.  Is that really the message educators want to send – no, but it is still happening.  

I could continue but want you to digest what I have already written.  Don’t worry my Dragonfly friends, I will discuss this again. 

I want to leave you with this…  

**By the way - did anyone think of this Charlie when I discussed the "Charlie" above?  I was not referring to Charlie Brown but I hope you can see the shame that Charlie Brown experienced cause if so, you are developing or have empathy!  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Who is Perfect?

Ever wonder why people struggle with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and so forth?  Well one of the reasons is we live in a society that values "perfect" bodies.  We see images everywhere of what is considered "perfect" from what we see on TV, commercials, advertisements - heck we worship these "perfect" people and shame or reject those that are not "perfect. " We have businesses catering to people who meet the "perfect" criteria from "fit" models to the mannequins in the stores to clothes stores refusing to have larger sizes because they don't want "heavy" people wearing their clothes and giving them a bad image.  

Where is the empathy - oh yea, since we are NOT teaching empathy in school we continue to feed into this perception of what is "perfect."  Kids are killing themselves because they are not fitting into the "perfect" mold!  We perpetuate this terrible cycle and do nothing to stop it!  But it can be stopped!  

HOW you ask  - well we can start by not shaming those who are different but instead praising them from being themselves.  Instead of "perfect" models in magazines we need to have REAL models with a variety of body types.  We need to accept and embrace actors and singers for their talent not because of the way they look - we need to reassess what is considered the "Sexist Man Alive!"  We need to change around the world - I wish America would do this:  Proinfirmis    Here is a video of a great start!  

 Here is the link that explains this wonderful video and has the video in it as well in case the above video doesn't show up:  Pro Infirmis - Because who is perfect  

"Disabled mannequins will be eliciting astonished looks from passers-by on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse today. Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. The campaign has been devised for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Pro Infirmis, an organisation for the disabled. Entitled "Because who is perfect? Get closer.", it is designed to provoke reflection on the acceptance of people with disabilities. Director Alain Gsponer has captured the campaign as a short film."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonfly Wednesday

Here is a quote I heard from a parent last week whose child is working his tail off but still getting low grades.  It is what she really wanted to say to a relative at the family get together who was bragging about her "gifted" son who just happens to be the same age...

"Yes, it is good to see you again [name of relative]!  I'm thrilled to hear all about your perfect son, my you seem so proud that he has straight A's, on the honor roll, and on the varsity team as a freshman cause you just spend the last 30 minutes gloating.  You must be the most amazing parent to have "raised" such a talented and intelligent gift to this world.  You must want a pat on the back or a medal of honor since all you do is brag about this amazing human being that loves everyone and is the most popular kid in school so obviously everyone loves him too.  But as I stood there nodding my head and smiling I really wanted to say this - 

Not everyone lives in the world of perfection, some of us are outliers on the outskirts watching from the sidelines.  Here is a list of my son's accomplishments.  My son's is on an IEP and this year we are doing much better since 3 of his 5 teachers are actually complying with his IEP (last year only one teacher complied) so I've only had to write a dozen emails and have a handful of meetings so far this year.  He now has a 2.0 so we are thrilled that he doesn't have any F's like he did last year (remember there were less teachers on board with his IEP).  So you can see there's no Honor Roll kid here.  He is on a few sports team but since the coaches care more about winning than developing young athletics he sits the bench.  This has opened many doors to being picked on and bullied by the other players some of which sit the bench with him but if they get rid of him they would have more room on the bench and the coach may notice them.  As his mother, I've tried to encourage him to focus his energy on things he is better at but he has a passion for these sports and not mature enough to know that he will never be given a chance since his school is all about the gifted and talented kids.  Oh don't worry my son's bench sitting will not cause all those college scouts to stop looking at your child.  Now granted I'm sure my son might do better athletically if we were spending the thousands of dollars on sports training like you are but we are using that money on his tutors and therapist.  Well, I think I've taken about the same amount of time you took bragging about your son to me so I'll let you go back to the land of Perfect and I'll get back to my reality.  Have a good Thanksgiving!"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

"I don't make eye contact but that doesn't mean I don't want to be friends. I just wish other kids knew that it's okay to be different."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cartoon Saturday

*In honor of Thor opening today (this was just too funny).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

"I didn't think I could do it but I did."

"I always surprise myself with what I actually accomplish."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do you really know what it is like to be a parent of a child with special needs - VENT re: school board members

I have not posted much in a while because my parents taught me "if you do not have anything nice to say don't say anything at all."   So I am sure you will be able to 'read between those lines' and figure out that I don't have much nice to say.  This is true, I don't have much good things to say about the way we are educating our children in our schools today, especially children with disabilities.  Right now there are a number of school board spots open or for re-election all around the United States & I just can't stand hearing/reading such Bull Shit all the time.  What is frustrating is unless you actually live a life with a person with a disability (any kind) you just don't understand what it is like & it is offensive when you say that you "understand & if you are voted on the school board you will advocate for children with special needs."

BS - YOU don't understand!  You have NO idea what it is like to constantly feel like you are in a battle with the school just to assure that your child is receiving an appropriate education and you being on the school board will not changes these battles.  I have clients all over the State of Ohio in hundreds of different school districts and the battles are all the same - parents want their child educated but schools resist providing an appropriate curriculum, teachers blame the students and their parents, school staff members refuse to learn about different disabilities, and many other negative events.  I also have three children of my own with special needs and in a school district that has come a long way but still fights against me every step of the way.  School board members have NOT made any of this better.

I have decided to quit reading our local newspaper until the elections are over since it only makes me feel more frustrated and want to openly share my own thoughts and opinions.  I honestly am worried if I actually share the truth my children will pay the price.  If you have a child with special needs and have ever advocated for your child and the school district didn't like you or what you were doing then you know I am telling the truth when I say - if a school or school staff member is unhappy with you it will be taken out on your child.

Shocking isn't it?  YEP it is shocking but it happens all the time but mostly covertly so that there is no proof or evidence that the child is the target of retaliation.  I will not share stories here because I want to protect my clients and my own children.  I do plan on writing all these down and once my children are out of the school district I will share these stories publicly.

So, as I stated before unless you have a child with a disability you don't understand so stop trying to act like you do understand.  If you do have a child with a disability then publicly share how hard it really is to receive an appropriate education for this child - I dare you!  I know you would NOT share these challenging stories because you too know that you and your child will be the target for retaliation.  You would not be honest at how hard it is to get your child the specific curriculum he/she needs to learn efficiently and effectively.  If the school is being so "good" to you and just "doing the right thing" for your child than you are being played and used because this is NOT the norm for parents. Ask any parent whose child is below grade level in reading, writing, or math.  Ask the parent of the high schooler who is failing or the parent with the child who is so hyperactive/impulsive that teachers are constantly calling the parents telling them how 'bad' their child is in school.  

Sorry for this rant I'm just tired of the Bull Shit I have been reading and hearing.    

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday- student is not lazy

"My son is not lazy he consistently feels defeated and needs teacher support to learn and retain the information.  Unfortunately, teachers don't want to take the time to re-teach him what he needs to know and willingly allow him to fail.  Some students are motivated by bad grades and others are motivated to just get out of the situation.  My son just wants out of high school so he can move on with his life.  It's like how a trapped animal will chew off it's own limb just to escape the trap.  It is sad to watch how teachers see my son in a trap but refuse to help him out instead they just watch him chew his own limb off and marvel at how much emotional pain he struggles with wondering why he's so lazy.  I say the teachers are lazy for NOT wanting to help a failing student!"   
"Oh by the way, helping a failing student is taking the time to re-teach him the information he is missing in different ways so that he understands this information- this is why it is stated this way in his IEP.  NOT sitting down with him and re-teaching him information he doesn't understand means the school is out of compliance with his IEP.   Blaming my son for his failing grades is wrong since the teachers have not been complying with his IEP for years.   I understand why he just wants to get out of high school- I'm exhausted fighting for his educational rights too."  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Multicultural Dyslexia event from Yale in Cleveland

Well, I’ve been very busy this last week and realized that I was not able to post my “Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday.”  I have been working with clients going to school districts to help educate everyone on what it is like to be a dragonfly, how dragonflies learn, and other ways to help all dragonflies. 

Today I will be going to Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio to attend a conference with Drs. Bennett and Sally Shaywitz from the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.  They are on a mission to help educate the world on dyslexia and now have the Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative. 

The conference – Dyslexia & the Achievement Gap: A Civil Rights Issue for Our Time will be today (October 18, 2013) from 3:30 to 5:30 PM and there is still time to register here’s the link: MDAI at Cleveland

I’d love to see you there!  Here’s a picture of me (and one of my cofounders of Decoding Dyslexia Ohio, Cheryl Kleist) with Bennett & Sally Shaywitz.  I'm the one on the far right (next to Sally). 

Here’s also a picture I created for my Decoding Dyslexia Ohio Facebook page!   

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivational Monday: Heath White's story of becoming a Dad

We have an expectation that our lives should be “perfect” but we have the wrong vision of what is “perfect.”   Society believes that different is flawed or inferior.  Society believe that it is better to have “good” grades than “average” or “bad” grade; as if the lower grades means a person is less than.  Society places higher value in people who fit a specific image of “perfect.”   But these are all false perceptions of what is “perfect.”  You are perfect, your child is perfect, and life is perfect because you are alive!  Here’s a great video of Heath White a “perfect” man who had a “perfect” vision of his life until he had a daughter with Down Syndrome and he learned what “perfect” really meant.

“Before you were born I only worried about how your disability reflected on me. Now there is no better mirror in the world. You’re my light in the dark, and it’s a privilege to be your dad. Love always, daddy.” ~ Heath White

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - letting it out!

This week a client shared this comment:

"Why don't my teachers understand how my brain works?  Shouldn't teachers be taught about the brain in their teacher classes in college?  You wouldn't want to take your car to a repairman who doesn't even know how an engine works so why do I have to be with teachers who don't know how students actually learn?"  

**very insightful for a 4th grader

Monday, October 7, 2013

Motivational Monday Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

The Seven Habits 
The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic, by Stephen R. Covey

BE PROACTIVE ~ Between stimulus and response in human beings lies the power to choose. Productivity, then, means that we are solely responsible for what happens in our lives. No fair blaming anyone or anything else.

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND ~ Imagine your funeral and listen to what you would like the eulogists to say about you. This should reveal exactly what matters most to you in your life. Use this frame of reference to make all your day-to-day decisions so that you are working toward your most meaningful life goals.

PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST ~ To manage our lives effectively, we must keep our mission in mind, understand what's important as well as urgent, and maintain a balance between what we produce each day and our ability to produce in the future. Think of the former as putting out fires and the latter as personal development.

THINK WIN/WIN ~ Agreements or solutions among people can be mutually beneficial if all parties cooperate and begin with a belief in the "third alternative": a better way that hasn't been thought of yet.

SEEK FIRST TO BE UNDERSTANDING, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD ~ Most people don't listen. Not really. They listen long enough to devise a solution to the speaker's problem or a rejoinder to what's being said. Then they dive into the conversation. You'll be more effective in your relationships with people if you sincerely try to understand them fully before you try to make them understand your point of view.

SYNERGIZE ~ Just what it sounds like. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In practice, this means you must use "creative cooperation" in social interactions. Value differences because it is often the clash between them that leads to creative solutions.

SHARPEN THE SAW ~ This is the habit of self-renewal, which has four elements. The first is mental, which includes reading, visualizing, planning and writing. The second is spiritual, which means value clarification and commitment, study and meditation. Third is social/emotional, which includes service, empathy, synergy and intrinsic security. Finally, the physical element includes exercise, nutrition and stress management. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Languages are fun but are they all real?

Freaky Friday Fun:

Recently I posted on an app that helped people translate different languages.  I am one who was not able to become fluent in a different language.  Oh heck, I'm not fluent in the English language.  I love languages though.  As a fan of Star Trek, Avatar, and Lord of the Rings I appreciate languages that are not "real" languages.   I was never a child that could speak or understand 'Pig Latin' so I was impressed by the other kids who were able to communicate this way.  

Here's a great video that discusses these made up languages that I think you might find interesting:

Okay now go out there today and start speaking to someone in another language or if you are like me just pretend to speak English. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - what a parent wants a school to know

"We often hear that we should be partners not prosecutors and accused of causing problems.  Remember we come to you with a lot of emotional baggage (some very bad) plus it is a natural instinct to be protective (of ourselves and child).  When I feel YOU are being a partner and truly understand my experience and my child I am exceptionally cooperative because I finally can feel trust."

"Stop taking it personal if I don’t trust you, I don’t know you and I have been burned year after year.  Once bitten, twice shy."

*A parent of a child with a specific learning disability wanted this shared because the staff members at the school are constantly accusing her of being bitter or hostile and she is NOT acting this way, she is only asking the hard questions the school does not want to deal with.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

 I am the parent not the professional, so do not expect me to take care of your emotional needs.  I don’t always know how to word my questions and/or comments correctly.  Do not assume I am judging or criticizing you and become defensive.  I am not trying to work against you; I just don’t know how to phrase things to get my message across.  You are the professional so remember that my underlying emotions are fear, anxiety, and guilt.

* Many parents of Dragonflies would love to be able to say this to the school staff.  Often the school staff becomes defensive or attacking when parents question methods, certifications, and knowledge.  Every parent should have the right to ask these questions without being attacked.  It's amazing how many times parents are attacked because they are just trying to help their child receive an appropriate education.   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Someone you should know: Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger overcoming dyslexia and other challenges!

Someone you should know- Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger.  His inspirational movie came out 20 years ago in 1993!  This movie is on my list of movies that EVERYONE needs to watch, especially if you or your child is a Dragonfly!  Rudy is dyslexic yet has he has tenacity (I also think he has ADD but not sure if he was ever diagnosed)!!!! 

Here’s a great 12 minute video of Rudy being interviewed and speaking about his dyslexia! 

He not only had to endure and survive struggles academically and physically he continued to face adversities over the years.   At one point fellow Notre Dame quarterback, Joe Montana made negative comments about the movie and Rudy’s experiences even saying that when Rudy was carried off the field on the shoulders of the football team it was a joke and not out of respect.  Rudy’s way of addressing comments like these is to just accept that everyone has their own perception and opinions.  Another fellow teammate, Jay Achterhoff stated “Rudy was carried off the field that day… but not as a joke but because he finally got to play.  You’ve never in your life seen a guy who wanted to be on the field more.” 

More recently, Rudy made some poor judgments trusting co-workers and getting himself involved in a “stock scam.”  Again, with the same tenacity he had working to get into Notre Dame academically and athletically, Rudy was able to keep focused on the positive and not dwell on negative pass experiences.  He refers to these past experiences as “lessons learned.” 

The goal here is to see the positive lessons that Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger has to offer.  Take from his stories (real and fictional) as a guide for you to have a better life and more success.  Remember to remain diligent and always go after your dreams! 

Rudy still gives motivational speeches to people of all ages!  So if you are wanting to learn more about Rudy check out his website: Rudy International Website.  

REMEMBER NEVER GIVE UP!  Let Rudy's story be an inspiration to you!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quotes from Parents and Dragonflies

This quote was one that sticks out in my mind often when I am at meetings because it really breaks my heart.  I wish teachers really understood what they are doing to these kids.

"School is so hard for me but all my teachers think it should be easy so they just think I'm lazy.  It makes me hate myself even more because if school is easy I'm just stupid cause it isn't easy for me.  Most days when I wake up on school mornings I have suicidal thoughts because I'd rather be dead than go to school."  
                                                  ~ A 5th grader with dyslexia and ADHD

Monday, September 9, 2013

Words of wisdom buttons for school meetings

It is time for the school year to really get into swing which means meetings for parents of Dragonflies!  I not only attend meetings as a parent but I also attend hundreds of meetings with parents (via my business Forest Alliance Coaching).  

Many times teachers and school staff really do care about the child being discussed.  Unfortunately, there are some people who attend these meetings that just don't get it~~  They don't understand: the disability, special ed law, how much a parent is fully informed, evidence-based programs, how all the negative experiences are damaging the child's self-esteem, why parents care so much about their child, appropriate education, and so on....

I don't know why I am shocked by what is said in these meetings cause I've heard it all (oh and someday I'll write a book on this subject).  I'm not looking forward to the school meetings for my own children this year because there will be some new staff members attending.  See, I already have an interesting reputation in my school district so I never know what to expect.  

I have made some words of wisdom buttons that can be printed and pinned to the front of your shirt or added to the top of your child's notebook (you really need to have a notebook of all your child's past reports & articles on special ed law/your child's disabilities).  

Here are a few (I'll be posting some to my Forest Alliance Coaching Facebook page every once in a while so like that FB page to check out some new ones when posted- I posted a couple there todayForest Alliance Coaching on Facebook).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - disability

"My disability does not define who I am."  14 year old Dragonfly with ADHD

"The teacher asked why I was trying to hard to get my kid labeled.  I told her that I was not trying to get him a label I was trying to make sure that he received an appropriate education.  The school is the one trying to label him as lazy and stupid, not me.  Knowing exactly how his brain works by having a diagnosis will open up the world of knowledge to him not limit him. When the school refused my request for the evaluation that was limiting him."  Parent of a Dragonfly with dyslexia and asperger's

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A special message to you!

Thanks for taking the time to read the long post yesterday for today I'll make it short!

You are treasured!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Judging Miley Cyrus

Well, the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) was a few days ago and people cannot stop talking about Miley Cyrus, how she looked, how she danced (twerked), how she acted... the list goes on and on and on.

I was watching the VAM's and was not pleased by Miley's performance but I don't hold her fully accountable.  There are many people that had power and control to make sure this kind of display did not occur on a television show that younger children may be watching.  Some of these people actually have their frontal lobes more developed so they should have known better but that's just it... they did know better.  The media, MTV staff, Miley's "people", the record producers... (again the list can go on and on) knew that there would be backlash they knew the "We Can't Stop" video is sexual.  They knew that Miley is working hard to sell herself as a sexual being and NOT Hannah Montana.  They should have known that Miley's frontal lobes are not currently developed so the CEO of her brain thinks what she is doing is just fine - typical of a teenage brain (by the way the frontal lobes don't fully develop until a person is in their mid to late 20's and later if impaired by drugs and alcohol).

So, if you have made judgement against Miley then you need if those judgement are based on facts or just your own perceptions of the world.  Most of the time we make judgments based on our own frames of references and then use confirmation bias to back these up.

I purpose that you gain facts before judging people.  You don't want people to judge you based on some of your actions do you?  I certainly do not want people to base their entire judgement of me based on something I did when I was a teenager!  Give her a chance to grow up and mature.  If you want to vent your frustrations then do so at the MTV people for condoning these types of videos or the people who are earning millions off of these types of videos.  The fault is with the media really!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cognitive Overload in brain of students

I made this picture for my Facebook page, Decoding Dyslexia Ohio.  I think this one works well for the start of the school year and applies for any student.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

"I can do everything you can do I just do it in a different way.  Different isn't bad, just different."

This quote is from a 10 year old and I think it says it all today!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

*With school starting in a few weeks for most school districts a parent emailed me this quote to add today.  This is what the parent would like the school to understand:

"Teacher: You may have gone to college and earned your degrees in education but I earned my knowledge from personal experience and a lot of research.  Please do not act superior when I share my knowledge of my child's disability with you.  Do not assume that because you have a college degree that you are smarter or know more than I know, especially about my child's disability.  I can assure you that I know more.  Unless you have a child exactly like mine, you do not fully understand my experience.  Finally, don't take offense when I share with you information about my child's disability I am doing this so we can work together as a team (since I am a team member regarding my child's education)."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

"When asked what I tell other parents here's my response: Learn all you can about how the brain works, your child's disability, and teaching methods that work because it is YOU who will be teaching the teachers." 

"I'm stupid and there is nothing you say that will change my mind."  ** this was from an 8 year old this past week in a coaching session as we worked on preparing to go back to school.   

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cartoon Saturday - Family Circus ADHD

*The character, Billy, in the comic The Family Circus is a great example of an ADHD mind.  Love these!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

"It has been so great to see my son's self-esteem approve over the summer since he doesn't have to be subjected to challenging school work all day long."

"I'm not looking forward to school starting up again because I hate going to school since reading is hard and teachers don't help me."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What are movie theaters doing for people with disabilities?

Super excited that the new WOLVERINE movie is coming out this Friday.  I am so thrilled that I will be going to the first showing on Thursday night!  Yep, I am that kinda Dragonfly!  I love going to the movies! As an empathetic person I often think about the movie theater experiences of people with different types of disabilities.  I love that there are open areas where people in wheelchairs can sit next to their friends, although I honestly don't know from the perspective of a person in a wheelchair if these areas are really wheelchair friendly.  I do often think about my Dragonfly friends with sensory issues, impulsivity, deaf/hearing impaired, or who are blind/visually impaired.  

Here are some things you should know:

AMC has Sensory Friendly Films that are conducive to people with Autism, sensory issues, and their families.  Here's the link so you can check out times and locations in your area:  

AMC is also sponsoring special summer movies for only $3.00 where some of the proceeds go to the Autism Society - Check out to see where and when in your community:  Autism Society & AMC events.

It appears that AMC Theaters cares about people with disabilities. The company has what is called the Focus Program that hires people with disabilities to work at the theater.  I tried to link the video here so you can watch but I am computer challenged at times so here's the direct link to watch this heartwarming video of this program. AMC Focus Program.

Although these are great things AMC is doing, their employees need some empathy training (heck, I want to have empathy training programs in all schools & companies).  Recently a young couple with down syndrome was treated poorly by staff at an AMC here's the news video:

Regal Movie Theater appears to be getting ahead of the other theaters when it comes to providing access to movies for the deaf/hard of hearing and visually impaired.  

Check out these cool glasses: 

Although I hear from some of my Dragonfly friends that they don't like the glasses and I understand that because I dislike going to 3D movies because I don't like the glasses.  I would be fine if the movie displayed open captions right on the screen.  I often have the captions on at home.    
Just because YOU don't have a specific disability does not mean you can't advocate so everyone can enjoy the movie theater experience!   

Here's something you can do: A bill was introduced in March (S.555-Cinema Act) to make it a discriminatory practice to not provide movie access to people with visual and hearing disabilities.  Go here for more info: Senate Bill 555