Our children are our greatest teachers. Dr. Dan Peters had his oldest child tested for learning issues — and in an instant, became the same kind of parent as his clients. Learn how focusing on yourself is one of the best things that you can do for your child in “Children With Special Needs Need Special Parents” on PSYCHOLOGY TODAY.
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Most of us enter the job of parenthood with no formal training and little preparation. However, we come to the parenting journey with years of personal experiences. These experiences are primarily given to us by our parents, family, and caregivers. Become aware of how your past influences your current parenting skills in “The Art Of Parenting” on HUFFPOST PARENTS.
If you parent a dyslexic child, you know your child thinks differently. I am delighted to feature the incredible Dyslexic Advantage team in this post about the power of self-acceptance and awareness. Read more on PSYCHOLOGY TODAY in “Raising Dyslexic Kids: Self-Awareness and Acceptance.”
There are many types of learning disorders that can affect our children. The good news is that learning differences and disabilities are getting more press and attention. However, it can get confusing when trying to understand what they mean and how they are similar and different from each other. Children may have one or more learning disorders, regardless of their strong thinking and problem-solving abilities. When your child is not “working to their potential” it may be because they have a legitimate learning issue. Here are a few of the most common learning issues or “Dys”orders and what you can do about them.
Dylexia is a common condition, impacting 1 in 5 people, that affects the way a person’s brain processes written and spoken language. Warning signs look different at different ages, but can include trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet, difficulty reading out loud, problems understanding reading material, and difficulty with rote memorization. In bright students, dyslexia can be hard to diagnose, due to their ability to compensate and achieve reading milestones despite a learning disability. This is called Stealth Dyslexia.
Dyslexic strengths include strong 3-D reasoning and building, creative problem-solving, high intuition, story telling, and the ability to integrate vast and divergent ideas and concepts.
A student with dysgraphia can have trouble putting words on paper, messy writing, poor spelling or punctuation, or a hard time even holding a pencil. Students with dysgraphia often avoid or melt down during writing activities, don’t take notes or write down their assignments, and “hate to write.” A key sign is if a child can tell a story out loud but can’t get it on paper. It is common for students with dyslexia to have dysgraphia, however, one can have dysgraphia without dyslexia.
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that makes it hard to make sense of numbers and math concepts. The most common problem is number sense, or the basic understanding of how numbers work. Signs of trouble can include difficulty recognizing numbers and symbols, counting on fingers, trouble remembering phone numbers, or a hard time coming up with a plan to solve a math problem. If a child’s math ability and number sense is significantly below their other abilities, it is a sign that they may have dyscalculia.
What Parents Can Do
If you suspect your child has a learning disorder, you should talk to your child’s teacher. You may also request that your child be evaluated by their school for a learning or processing disorder. Additionally, you may seek an evaluation from a private licensed psychologist (such as those at Summit Center) to identify strengths and weaknesses and provide a specific diagnosis. A diagnosis may be helpful in obtaining further services through your child’s school.
A few recommendations to consider for the summer:
Dyslexia – Educational Therapy with a dyslexia specialist who uses a multi-sensory approach that is Orten-Gillingham informed such as Wilson, Slingerland, or Barton.
Dysgraphia – Consultation with an Occupational Therapist for diagnosis and exercises. Practice keyboarding.
Dyscalculia – Educational Therapy with a multi-sensory approach such as Making Math Real.
I have been reading a lot of Wayne Dyer’s books lately. Most people know the name Wayne Dyer and for those that don’t, I enjoy telling them about him and his work. Wayne was a counseling psychologist, author, and speaker. Over the course of his life, his theories and guidance for living evolved from psychology to spirituality. He was one of the special few who made psychology and spirituality accessible to the masses and inspired people – from all walks of life – to fully live and love.
I had the privilege of giving a eulogy recently at my beloved grandmother’s funeral (here is a piece I wrote about her and her influence on my life and work). She died 2 months shy of her 105th birthday. My grandma embodied love and kindness. I found myself quoting Wayne who said, “When you have the choice of being right or wrong, choose kind.” My grandma not only always chose kind, she chose love. She so embodied this concept, that all who knew her lit up when she was around. She smiled, hugged, and kissed all with the same warmth, love, and kindness. People often commented how wonderful, and unusual, to see her great grandchildren be so connected to her, who were anywhere from 82 to 99 years younger than her. It was because she led with kindness and love.
I am remembering another one of Wayne’s important lessons. He wrote about being on a panel where people where talking the decline in customer service and how hard it was to get good service. Wayne said he took an opposing view, telling the panel and audience that he never gets poor service and in fact always gets good service. He went on to explain that we get what we expect and we can choose to act with kindness towards those who are serving us. Kindness, he said, brings compassion and understanding to the human that is serving you which results with good service.
Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to share this lesson with our kids when they were getting passports pictures at the post office. At the dinner table my kids described the grumpy man who was snapping at them and after waiting for a long time said they needed to come back. We talked with the kids about what they thought this man’s life was like – his daily work, his home life, and whatever he could possibly be dealing with. They were able to consider possibilities for who he was as a person beyond his behavior and smiled when they talked about how they could handle the situation, and him, differently when they returned the next day.
I am this writing while flying on a Southwest Airlines plane back home after two days of work and speaking out of town. I was, and am, eager to get home to my family. I have been working intentionally on not rushing and allowing enough time to get places. I did a good job this morning. I dropped off the rental car with enough time to get through security and order breakfast to go on the plane. Somewhere along the way of boarding I dropped my utensils needed to eat my eggs. One flight attendant said I could go out and find them but when I got to the front of the plane the lead flight attendant said I could not leave the plane because I was holding up boarding. I asked if she had a fork and she said she did not and then said something I didn’t quite hear. I took a deep breath and smiled and said okay and returned to my seat. It was a bit difficult because I didn’t think it was a big deal to get past a few people and I was hungry.
When I returned I told the original flight attendant that I wasn’t allowed off the plane. She immediately returned with her personal spoon for me to have. Five minutes later the lead flight attendant returned with 3 forks and said, “I told you I would have the captain get you a fork.” I hadn’t heard her say it or I unconsciously dismissed it. I looked up and the two captains were waving to me with a thumbs up and smiling. I smiled and gave them a thumbs up back.
I immediately thought of Wayne. I had a choice when I was told I couldn’t get off the plane. I chose kindness and understanding and later the generosity I was shown on the plane was beyond what I could have expected. I truly got “A-List” service when I least expected it. As Wayne taught us, we CAN choose our actions, we CAN choose how to handle our emotions, and we CAN choose how we interact with people. My grandma knew this.
I am inspired daily by the love and kindness of my grandmother and the life and messages of Wayne Dyer. When you have a choice of being right or wrong, choose kind. Lead with kindness and love. Imagine what our world would be like if we all did this. I challenge you to be kind in all situations and see what happens. You will be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. I just got off the plane and the lead Southwest airlines flight attendant smiled and gave me a high five when I thanked her. I thanked the captains who both fist bumped me and told me it was their pleasure and thanked me for flying with them. Who knew I would be fist bumping captains today? I know my grandma and Wayne are both smiling.
This piece originally appeared on Psychology Today.
My late grandma embodied love and kindness. I found myself quoting Wayne who said, “When you have the choice of being right or wrong, choose kind.” My grandma not only always chose kind, she chose love. She so embodied this concept, that all who knew her lit up when she was around. Here is “Choosing Kindness: Lessons From My Grandmother” on HUFFPOST PARENTS.
Many gifted individuals suffer from anxiety. Learn the truths behind the myths about this common affliction in my piece (with Lisa Van Gemert, M.Ed.T.) “The Anxiety Myth: 5 Lies We Believe About Anxiety” for the American MENSA Bulletin, February 2016.
“I am inspired daily by the love and kindness of my grandmother and the life and messages of Wayne Dyer. When you have a choice of being right or wrong, choose kind. Lead with kindness and love. Imagine what our world would be like if we all did this.” Read more in my new article on PSYCHOLOGY TODAY “Choosing Kindness.”
It was 1980 in Century City. I was 10 years old waiting in a line that did not seem to end with my grandma (now 104). We waited for two hours to see the Empire Strikes Back. There was a buzz in the air that I couldn’t explain but could feel. It was three years after the world was introduced to the Force, the Jedi, and the evil empire. At last we were in our seats. I don’t remember if there were coming attractions. However, I remember like it was yesterday, the sound of the orchestra moving through my body as the words rolled up the screen and into the galaxy. I read as fast as I could and immediately felt like I was in a land far, far away.
It is 2015 and I am 45. I am in a theater with my adolescent kids who were raised on Star Wars. We watched all six movies together several times. We have put together virtually every Star Wars Lego made. We have “real” light sabers and the Millennium Falcon. We don’t wait in line this time. We order our Star Wars: The Force Awakens tickets online and see the movie a few days after the opening. After what seems like thirty minutes of previews (enough already!), it starts. The orchestra booms, the original font moves through space and I am ten again and every other age I have been since, when I hear the music and think about Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, Vader, R2D2, C3PO, Chewy, and Han.
Almost 40 years later, the story of Star Wars is as strong as ever. The messages are timeless. Daily, we are confronted with good and evil. Daily, we have choices with how to live and who and what to follow. And daily, we can accept or ignore we are all connected and there is a force that exists among us. As Obi Wan explains to Luke, “The force is what gives a Jedi his powers. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the galaxy together.” All too often people and nations are choosing war over peace and hate over love.
I would like to share the wisdom given to us by one of our greatest teachers – Jedi Master Yoda with hopes of ushering in both inner peace and peace among us in the New Year:
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
Much of our discontent and emotional discomfort comes from attachment to objects and outcomes. When we attach to an outcome, we need things to happen the way we want them to happen so we do not get upset. Rather, we must accept that things will occur as they do. We must learn to be open to what comes and not fear what is to be. When we are open to what is, we feel at peace with what occurs since we do not have preconceived expectations.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Fear is the monster that controls how we think and feel, and ultimately act. Fear makes us avoid life and respond in ways that are not our natural state of being. When we fear others or objects, we often develop an aversion (or hate) towards them as a way to feel in control and powerful. Fear, anger, and hate are strong emotions that keep us from feeling and showing love. We must not let fear control us. We must choose love over fear. With love and kindness comes compassion. With compassion comes peace.
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
We must examine our thoughts and feelings, particularly our fear. Fear is powerful, especially when we don’t understand what we fear. By examining what we fear and why we fear what we do, we can take steps toward our fear. Labeling our fear is the first step of increasing awareness. With increased awareness we can choose to detach from our fear and choose to live with inner peace.
“Difficult to see, always in motion is the future.”
Most of us naturally think about the future which often leads to worry and fear, and takes us away from living in the present. The key to living a purposeful and intentional life resides in the present moment. The past is gone and the future has yet to come. Live in the present and choose your words and actions intentionally.
While the Jedi can feel the force more strongly than others, they do so through training and purposely practicing feeling, noticing, and using the force for good. Everyone can learn to feel and respect the force. It is all around us and it binds us together. We are connected to everything – all living creatures, natural elements, our ancestors, our children, and our future grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In order for us to create a healthy world, we must all commit to using the force for good, and overcoming fear and hate with love. We will all face challenges in 2016 and we can choose the good side of the force while being aware of our connection to everything. As I write in my Darth Vader sweats and Yoda socks, I can feel the force running through me. We can all be Jedi warriors. We can choose to be at one with the Force. We can choose love over hate and fear. We can choose peace within and among each other.
Wishing you a healthy, meaningful, and prosperous new year filled with peace in your mind, body, home, and our galaxy.
May the force be with you…and your family and your children.
This piece first appeared in Huffington Post.