Extensive vs. Problematic Media Use: What’s the Difference?

“My daughter is always on the phone. If I try to take her phone away from her, she’ll have a meltdown. She’s constantly waiting for her friends to text her.” 

Parent Quote.

“If we don’t physically shut off our son’s computer at night, he’ll never sleep.”

Parent Quote.
Continue reading Extensive vs. Problematic Media Use: What’s the Difference?

Barriers and Benefits: Helping Teens with Autism increase their Physical Activity

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by difficulty with reciprocal social interactions and by a pattern of restricted or repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities.

While adolescents in general are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, teens with ASD are at an even greater risk for decreased physical activity and weight gain. In fact, adolescents with ASD were found to be 62% less likely to engage in weekly physical exercise and 81% less likely to have participated in organized sports within the previous year, when compared to their peers without this diagnosis (McCoy & Morgan, 2020). Multiple barriers exist that make participation in sports a daunting task for adolescents with ASD. The social and physical demands of participating in an organized sport can often be intimidating for these youngsters.   Stepping outside of their comfort zone to try a new activity can also be a challenge. With thoughtful accommodations and creative solutions, however, these barriers can be overcome. Participation in sports will not only lead to a healthier lifestyle, but can also help teens with ASD improve their social skills and become more flexible in thinking and behavior.

Continue reading Barriers and Benefits: Helping Teens with Autism increase their Physical Activity

Gifted Children: Navigating Peer Relationships

The term “gifted” can be misleading.  Some people may think that since gifted children possess the special “gift” of high intelligence, they do not need any extra help and will succeed no matter what.  This line of thinking does these children a disservice. While it is true that many gifted children do very well both academically and socially, it is important to remember that giftedness can bring with it its own set of social-emotional challenges that require understanding and ongoing support from adults.  In this article, I discuss the challenges in navigating peer relationships that some gifted children face.  I also explore possible ways to address these challenges. Continue reading Gifted Children: Navigating Peer Relationships

Gifted Children: A journey to meet their educational needs

“They never talked about how far ahead he was in reading or other subjects,” said one parent of her son’s experience in first grade. “They never named it.  It seemed like there was an invisible line, and the teacher’s job was to make sure that all the students reached that line.  But anything that was above that line, they just didn’t notice.”

The first step that parents and educators can take towards meeting the needs of a gifted child is to acknowledge that the child is gifted. With this acknowledgment should come the understanding that this child has unique cognitive, educational, and social-emotional needs. “It takes a while to come to the understanding that really, it is a question of needs,” says a parent of two children who have been identified as gifted. “It is not a question of wants; it is not a question of ‘it would be nice if…’. As a parent, you have to keep looking for opportunities to address their needs.” In the publication, A Nation Deceived: How schools hold back America’s brightest students, leading researchers in the field of gifted education,  Colangelo,  Assouline, and Gross (2004), agree. “Doing nothing is not the same as ‘do no harm,’ they write of educating gifted children. “The evidence indicates that when children’s academic and social needs are not met, the result is boredom and disengagement from school” (1).

In order to keep a gifted child excited about learning, parents and teachers must work together to figure out how to best meet the child’s academic needs. When appropriate, the child herself can also participate in this conversation. The goal of the conversation is to create an educational plan that would keep the child appropriately challenged and engaged in the learning process.

Continue reading Gifted Children: A journey to meet their educational needs