April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

by Karen Thomson, Early Childhood Outreach Program & Resource Development
The first step in prevention is awareness and understanding. Both child abuse and child neglect cause serious harm to a child and can have a significant lifelong impact.
We all have a shared interest and a shared responsibility to promote the common good by putting an end to child abuse and neglect.  
Just as immunizations shield children, families and communities from influenza and other diseases, research shows that promoting the following strategies for prevention can reduce child abuse and neglect:

  • Never discipline your child when your anger is out of control.
  • Participate in your child's activities and get to know your child's friends.
  • Never leave your child unattended, especially in the car.
  • Teach your child to use their voice to allow them to prevent abuse in their own life.
  • Ask questions; for example, when your child tells you he or she doesn't want to be with someone, this could be a red flag.
  • Listen to them and believe what they say.
  • Be aware of changes in your child's behavior or attitude.
  • Teach your child what to do if you and your child become separated while away from home.

For additional prevention tips or for child abuse/neglect training for parents, educators & providers, contact LDA at 314-966-3088.

Spring Sports: Making It Work For Your Child!

By:  Autumn Bemis, Educational Consultant/Learning Specialist

Spring is here! Finally, time to enjoy longer, warmer days with more time outside.  If your family is like many, you may be thinking about spring sports--either signing your child up for the first time or continuing from past years. Sports can be a great benefit to children with ADHD and learning disabilities, but there are also some drawbacks to consider as well. This article examines both the benefits and drawbacks of sports involvement, as well as offers several good choices of a sport for a child with a learning disability or ADHD.

First, let's start with the positive--the benefits of a child's involvement in recreational sports. Any sport can be a way to funnel energy in a positive way. If your child has extra energy to burn after a long day of school, sports can help with that.  In addition, children with learning disabilities or ADHD may be at risk for lower self esteem as well as having more difficulty being socially integrated with their peers. Research shows that children who play sports benefit from higher self-esteem and increased peer interaction and acceptance.

However, there are also times that sports may be a detriment to the child's self esteem and overall well-being. Kids today are busy. Sometimes kids are involved in so many activities, they find it difficult to maintain a regular routine for studying and the completion of homework, which can cause a sense of overload, stress, or anxiety. If you are sensing that your child is having difficulty finding the time to fit in all of his or her obligations, including school work, you may want to prioritize what activities your child most wants to participate in, and pursue fewer activities.  Also, if your child lacks skill, or believes he lacks skill in the sport, going to practices and games can be a source of anxiety for your child within itself. If you find this is the case, remember: not every sport is for everyone, so talk to your child about other sports or activities he may like to try. 

There are many sports that are a good fit for a child with a learning disability or ADHD.  For example, swimming is a great sport. Your child can enjoy individualized instruction from a coach while still being part of a team. Martial arts is also another great choice of sport because skills are taught in a step-by-step manner in which children with LD and ADHD thrive.  It is also heavily based in rituals, which can help teach the student to develop additional routines and structure in his own life. Tennis and gymnastics are also individual sports with less wait time (which can be hard for children) than a sport such as baseball.

Spring is in the air, and sports will be played. Sports can have a positive impact on children, but it is also important to keep in mind the drawbacks when considering your child's participation. If you are worried about how your child's disability is going to affect how he plays, talk to the coach about your child and explain to him or her what helps your child do his best!  These conversations can be a critical tool to help your child succeed. LDA wishes you a safe and happy spring season.  

We Can Learn From Dyslexia How to Think Creatively

Dyslexia is an advantage if you want to be original and innovated.

Dyslexia can help people to become good at writing, rather than hinder. Dyslexia, which means 'a difficulty with words', could be an advantage if you want to be a writer. The mystery crime writer, Agatha Christie's dyslexia enabled her novels to be more original and unique than other writers of the time.

You could be forgiven for thinking that dyslexia would prevent someone from having a career as a writer. But many truly innovative and unique writers either have dyslexia or several of the symptoms. The Dyslexia Association points to George Bernard Shaw, F Scott Fitzgerald, Jules Verne, WB Yeats, John Irving, Gustave Flaubert and Roald Dahl among others - there are too many to list here. Successful writers who had dyslexia were often the more original novelists who broke new ground.

Dyslexics have difficulty with reading, writing and spelling in particular, but math, memoryand organization may also be affected. This creates problems at school, even though they may be clever. Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 of the population, with 1 in 25 being severe.

Dyslexia is often described as 'the way your brain is wired'. There is no 'cure', but people with dyslexia can learn strategies to overcome their difficulties. Dyslexics develop alternative methods to read and write and they organize their brains circuitry in alternative ways to 'normal' people. They use the frontal lobe and the right brain to read and write - non-dyslexics use the left hemisphere.

Dyslectic people have to work harder to overcome their difficulties. The challenges they have to conquer from an early age teach the dyslectic person to persist when faced with setbacks. They learn to look at problems from multiple angles and find new ways around their inadequacies. Having to work out creative solutions trains them to overcome challenges and turns them into natural problem solvers.

The best selling novelist of all time with over four billion sales was Agatha Christie. Only the Bible and Shakespeare outsold her works. It was not a coincidence that the world's most popular novelist was dyslexic. She said, 'Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me.' And 'I was...an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so.' Successful dyslexics are portrayed as people who are successful despite dyslexia, but maybe they are successful because of it. Because Christie's brain was wired differently, her novels were wired differently. Her originality was due to her complicated sub plots and unusually high number of characters. Christie had to reread and rewrite her manuscripts repeatedly. She was very slow took a great deal of time to write. This had the side effect of creating plots and characters were highly developed.
Professor of learning development at Yale University, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, argues that dyslexia should be viewed as a benefit, not a drawback. She has said, 'I want people to wish they were dyslexic.' Shaywitz co-founded the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, which studies the connection.

People who are good at spelling and writing can be at a disadvantage if they want to produce creative and original work. At school they are encouraged to perfect what they are already good at. This has the effect of narrowing their vision. It's surprising how few creative and original writers and novelists were successful at school. Dyslexia is an advantage if you want to produce innovative and groundbreaking work - even as a writer.

Rod Judkins MA RCA is an artist, writer and professional public speaker, delivering talks and workshops that explain the creative process and help individuals and businesses to be more inspired in their lives and work. He is author of the international bestseller, Change Your Mind: 57 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Self.


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