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, June 30, 2013

Ennis' Gift Documentary on Dyslexia

Bill Cosby's son, Ennis, was dyslexic.  Ennis struggled academically in school and eventually he was diagnosed with dyslexia after attending Morehouse College in 1988.  Bill Cosby's television show, "The Cosby Show" was in it's 6th season.   Bill decided to make his son on the TV show dyslexic.  In 1989 the episode, "Theo's Gift" was aired (see below for this episode).  Ennis worked hard in school and aspired to becoming a special education teacher.  He was working on his doctorate in 1997 when he was murdered.  Later that year Bill and his wife, Camille, founded the "Hello, Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation" to assist educating students with learning difficulties.  Bill also made sure that a documentary on dyslexia and learning differences was made and "Ennis' Gift" was released in 2000.  Below is this 51 minute documentary highlighting many famous people with dyslexia and learning differences: Ed Bradley, Ann Bancroft, Danny Glover, Bruce Jenner, James Earl Jones, and many many more!  

Here's the full Cosby Episode - Theo's Gift (don't worry it's in English)


For those of you who don't have time to watch the whole eposide (above) here's just a 2 min. clip (*I don't agree with the seeing backward comment but remember this was the late 1980's we have learned a lot since then):

Let us all continue to keep the spirit of Ennis Cosby alive by spreading the word that dyslexia is real, it exists, and it is a strength not a weakness. Every educator and administrator should should be required to watch this and ALL the other documentaries on Dyslexia.   With understanding we can embrace dyslexia.    

Monday, June 24, 2013

Motivational Monday: Dove video show true beauty

I understand how hard it is to have self-love and accept that we are beautiful.  We live in a society that measures beauty by unrealistic standards.  This is wrong!  

I can see the good and beauty in you, I can openly accept you for who you are; all your strengths & weaknesses!  The key is for you to accept you too!

Dragonflies have no idea they are beautiful!  Check out this video!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Christian Buchanan teaches others the importance of acceptance

Dragonflies are beautiful but not everyone can see that at first.  It takes getting to know one to really appreciate how unique & special they are; gifts to the world.  This video is a great one to teach us this lesson.  So touching!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

I have been successful in my life because I know what it feels like to fail so I am not afraid of failure.  People who are afraid to fail are often not successful.

Don't judge my parenting skills based on my child's grades.  Remember that there are some students who receive all A's but their parents are abusive.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

12 Angry Men teach us empathy (Must See Movie)

Summer Movie Suggestion:
12 Angry Men (original)

This is a movie that every person should see, so if you and/or your children have not seen this movie then it is a MUST watch this summer.  It is a great way to open discussions on empathy, values, beliefs, prejudice, and doing the right thing. 

Here's a movie trailer:

Now go out there and rent 12 Angry Men 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cartoon Saturday

Cartoon Saturday *note sorry it is a day late ~ as you know like can be filled with crazy chaos at times so here are two ~~ enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Learning skills for people with Asperger's, Dyslexia, ADD...

Danny: Good books to read that teach skills

When we feel different or have a child that feels different it makes life challenging. It does not matter what disorder you have, life is challenging.  The key is to accept yourself for who you are and learn skills to function in your daily life.  Here's Danny from Asperger Experts explaining some great books that help build these skills.  

These are not only great for people who have Asperger's but also for any person as they are growing and learning in this world.  Did you know that some kids with ADD and/or Dyslexia may have difficulties with social skills?  Even children without any disorder may be socially awkward during their teen years so this video is good for ANYONE!  

Enjoy this video from our Dragonfly Friend, Danny:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday

So glad it is summer break so I can take a break from trying to keep the school updated and educated on how to educate my child.

Yea, summer break, now I can really be myself and not worry so much about all the things I can't do but enjoy all the things I can do.
**Each Wednesday Quotes from parents and/or Dragonflies are shared. Quotes come from comment made on FB, private messages, emails, coaching/counseling sessions, and from normal chit-chat.  Due to confidentiality and privacy concerns the person making the quote is not identified.  Feel free to message me your quotes if you want (If you want your name attached to the quote I need your permission so state that you want identified otherwise you will not be credited).  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shame and why it needs to stop

Stop the shaming – part 2! 

I frequently speak about the importance of moving away from shame and toward empathy but often people do not understand this concept.  For one, they do not understand what shame is and how they contribute to causing shame.  Even the person with the best intentions maybe causing shame.  Secondly, shaming can and should be stopped in homes, schools, sports fields… 

So what is shame?  According to Gershen Kaufman, "Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within.” 

Shame researcher, Dr. Brené Brown, describes shame as, “The intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.”  

Here is a video that explains how "Shame is Lethal" by Dr. Brené Brown~~

We need to understand how events are perceived (remember one of my favorite sayings: “A person’s perception IS their reality”).   When events occur a person develops an internal cognitive script about this event.  Let me use an example from a recent posting I did on graduations and ceremonies:Stop the Shaming.  If a students must sit for a period of time watching “academic high achieving” and “socially popular” students honored with awards yet not receive any accolades themselves they may have negative scripts running through their heads – “I’m not smart enough; I stupid; No one likes me; I’ll never achieve; I try so hard but no one sees so maybe I’ll just stop trying…”  This is shame. No one came out and said these things to these students but due to their own experiences and frames of references these were the scripts they said to themselves thus this was their reality.

Some of you think we should put students who fit society standards on a pedestal so those who do not fit these standards can look up to them and strive to be just like them.  I say this is the wrong approach.  It not only shames students who do not fit these standards; it perpetuates the culture of shame.  Here’s a quote from a recent post on Facebook by “Dyslexics Rights” in response to a new article about graduation rates:  “Dropout rates so high! How can high schools seriously celebrate on graduation day when they have left so many behind? Really? How can you pretend like you didn't know those kids who tried but didn't make it?”

Watch here to see another reason why we need to shop shaming: "Why Shame is so prevalent in classrooms." " 

**note: the video above was removed because some teachers felt that it was negative toward teachers- here's Dr. Brené Brown explaining

As I have preached over and over we need to teach EMPATHY!  Not only do we need to teach empathy to all children but also to adults.  We are a society that condones and encourages shame.  There are still teachers and coaches that believe that shame makes a child become more successful and motivated.  Research has proven this to be wrong, yet it is still an acceptable classroom management tool and our schools are set up to reward some students while shaming others. 

We need to teach self-acceptance and honor self-expression over conformity.  Did you know that conformist societies have higher suicide rates?  So have empathy for yourself on a daily basis.  

We need to help students (and ourselves) embrace who we are and accept all of our emotions.  Here is a great blog post  that provides insight into the writer’s experience with overcoming shame.  Aspergers and Me Blog:  “Shame does not make me better.  Rejecting shame does.”  

Finally, remember my Dragonfly Friends you are great just the way you are.  When times get tough and you have this negative script of shame know that I believe in you and will accept you for who you are.  Repeat these phrase to yourself: “I am a valuable person who has great things to offer the world,”  “My mistakes do not define me they only make me wiser and stronger,” and “I make this world a better place because I am an important and unique individual.”   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Motivational Monday: Patricia Polacco Author and Illustrator with a Learning Disability

Don't ever let a learning disability stop you... EVER!  Patricia Polacco did not learn how to read until she was 14 years old but that did not stop her from achieving her dreams.  She is an author and illustrator. Patricia Palacco talks about learning disability Some of her books include: Thank You, Mr. Falker, Thunder Cake, Bully, Just in Time Abraham Lincoln, The Keeping Quilt, and many many more!  

Here is a great video of her talking to elementary students about wishes, friendships, and what it was like being a student with a learning disability.  Very inspiring!!  

Here's her link to her website as well:     

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Failing to have a great career the reason by Larry Smith

Do you know why you have been failing at having a great career?  Larry Smith shares the secret here~~  This is worth 15 minutes of your time.  

Stop giving excuses!!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stop the shaming: why ceremonies and graduations need to change

Instead of the typical Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday quotes I am submitting my own personal manifesto.  Please understand that these are my own personal and professional thoughts and beliefs.  Thanks so much for taking time to read this - if there are any grammar errors please forgive them (editing is not my strength).
The end of the school year brings with it many award ceremonies and graduations.  As an inclusionist, I am not fond of these event!!  Many (although not all) of these events are designed to exclude and shame students into what our society considers acceptable behaviors and standards of success.  True, students who achieve should be rewarded and acknowledged; heck, almost all students want to be acknowledged.  I think all students who attend the ceremony should receive an award.  This does NOT mean I believe we should give all students an award, what it means is that only those students who are receiving awards should be required to attend the ceremony.    Students who are subjected to sit through a 1-3 hour long awards ceremony or graduation and not receive one accolade are not being motivated to become a better student or athlete. 

Often a reason given as to why students should be acknowledged for their hard work and effort in front of their nonperforming peers is because this motivates students to work harder.   Really?  Students getting good grades, high test scores, or achieving athletic success are not necessarily the ones putting forth the most effort.   We are doing our students a disservice by only shining a light on achievements and failing to embrace diversity. 

Schools often report they are sensitive to diversity yet they only mean race, gender, and ethnicity.  What about the diversity of learning?   Some students will work exceptionally hard and only earn C’s while for other students learning is easy, therefore they earn A’s.  Yes, the “C” student could have all A’s too but it is up to the teachers to educate this student appropriately (this is their educational right – to receive a free and appropriate education).  I heard a teacher recently state in her speech about the academic award recipient; “she is so easy to teach... students like her are the reason why people get into teaching.”   My heart sank, of course, this student is easy to teach. This student doesn’t have a learning disability causing struggles with reading, math, or writing.   The message was loud and clear, teachers don’t get into teaching to have challenging students they get into it so they can reap the rewards of a student who excels easily.  Okay, to be fair, that may not been the speakers intended message but it sure could be interpreted that way.

Sports are another example of how school exclude and shame students.  A few weeks ago I wrote details about this topic in my "Lessons from The Breakfast Club"  post.  Not all students have the ability or talent to play sports although some may have the desire.  When schools put talented athletes on a pedestal and worship these students they are sending a message to other students that in order to be successful you must be athletically talented.  If you don’t believe this then look at our society as a whole; how much does a professional athlete get paid compared to a teacher. 

Sometimes schools try to pretend that they are including all students by having “student of the year” or “star student” awards.  This is not true inclusion.  You are kidding yourself if you think that each and every student had an equal chance to earn one of these awards.  Did the staff really consider the student with severe ADHD who has difficulty with impulse control?  How about the student who has Asperger’s and is struggling with learning social skills or is awkward?  I bet the student who was bullied so severely he became depressed and withdrawn wasn’t given a second thought.  Students who are challenging or have challenges are not often picked for these awards.   So, face it, this is not true inclusion; it is a facade. 

So, here is my proposal to all school districts across the country.  Over the summer decide what you consider the values we should be instilling in our children.   Take a good hard look at the way you are rewarding students.  Do you make the students with good grades stand-up in front of their non-achieving peers and tell these peers that they too can have these honors and rewards if they only tried hard enough?  Do you have ceremonies where everyone is invited but only a few get rewarded?  Do you give out student of the year awards, if so - really look to see if all students have equal opportunity for these awards?  Learn about confirmation bias (you like someone so you see most things they do in a positive light – you dislike someone so you see most things they do in a negative light).  Once you fully understand confirmation bias go back over and answer the last question: Do all students have an equal chance of winning “student of the year” or “star student?”  Now, relearn confirmation bias again and repeat the last question one final time.  If you still believe that all students have an equal chance than you don’t understand confirmation bias.    

Am I saying that there should be no more award ceremonies and graduations?  No, I am not saying this at all.  Go ahead and have these events but only require the students receiving awards to attend and if anyone else wants to attend they can make that choice but do not force students to attend hour long ceremonies/graduations where EVERYONE ELSE gets rewarded and praised.  Graduation ceremonies can be wonderful celebrations when focused on all students.  Call each student up and reward them with their certificate (don't just call their name as they walk in & go to a seat with their "graduation award" is sitting on the chair), if they received other awards announce them at that time – this way each and every student gets the opportunity to walk across the stage (front of a room) and be recognized.  Remember that almost everyone wants to be acknowledged and accepted.  Schools should focus on inclusion and quit reinforcing a “haves versus have-nots” climate.  Now is the time for change and acceptance.  Just because the ceremonies and graduations have always been done a specific way does NOT mean they must continue that way.  Remember we were once a nation where: slavery existed, women were not allowed to vote, and racial segregation was acceptable.  We now know better so we should do better.   We need to embrace the diversity that each and every student has and acknowledge their strengths instead of measuring them as successful under one specific set of standards.      
(Here's another post about shaming- Stop the Shaming Pt. 2) 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cartoon Saturday

In honor of the end of a school year~ wish we all could have an exciting and fun summer to look forward to ~~~~ enjoy!