We, as a society, are struggling. We have talked about civil rights since at least the Civil War. We quote the Declaration of Independence with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but we put limits on who should be recipients of these rights. We show our biases and bigotry toward others not "like us."
Where do biases and bigotry come from? We are not born with biases and bigotry which means that they are taught to us. Biases and bigotry develop in our limbic system where we have to decide to fight, flee, or freeze when we encounter something we don't know or understand. But, unlike animals, we have developed our brain further with the prefrontal lobe where reasoning and logic develop. But we have to take time to develop that part of our brain. We need others to teach us the path from the limbic system to the prefrontal lobe in order to increase our ability to tolerate and even come to embrace difference.
Unfortunately, many children are not provided with the...
This pandemic has shown that our country is greatly divided. What should be a situation where children see adults model care and compassion for their neighbors, has shown that there are a group of people who don't believe in that, but rather model how to push others around.
We need to see if we are being good models of showing love, acceptance and respect to others now and in the future.
We are not just struggling with an infectious disease right now. We also also struggling with women, who due to mental health disorders, could very well be drinking alcohol much more often and may also be pregnant. This means that we have a high risk of a surge in the number of babies born with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which will impact their lives and all of society for decades to come.
And there are also the individuals who currently have FASD and are struggling due to the significant changes in their lives, the isolation, and the problems they have due to their FASD.
Listen and learn.
Approximately 10% of children will be diagnosed with a learning disability over their lifetime. Learning disorders are considered neurodevelopmental disorders, which means that they are part of the child's wiring at birth. But that doesn't mean that we can't help develop skills even before they show signs. The more we expose children from birth to 5 years of age to language, sounds, books, and hands' on activities, the more their brains learn to process what their senses are experiencing, which will then lay the foundation for academic learning.
There has been a great deal of talk about how this pandemic is affecting the mental health of those who already struggle with mental health disorders. But it is and will have effects on our children, who don't have the developed frontal and prefrontal lobes to logically process the situation and make future plans. They need us for this. But how are we doing?
Listen to this episode and think about what signs of long term stress which can make you more vulnerable are also being seeing in kids. Let's work to keep the number who develop PTSD down as low as possible.
Before the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act there was the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) from 1975 to 1990. This was enacted while I was in college, which is why I never really had exposure to students with disabilities, especially Down's Syndrome. I have spent my career working with students with all abilities and difficulties but have felt more of a need to advocate for children with Down's Syndrome because they are an endangered segment of our society. Even today there is a push internationally for abortion if a mother is carrying a fetus found to have Trisomy 21.
I want to take a moment to celebrate all the achievements these children have given us. Let's not continue to discriminate against them from inception onward, but work to help them show us all that they have to offer. And they have a great deal to offer.
These are scary times for all of us. We are unsure of our economic future and our physical and mental health due to the pandemic. As adults we are struggling to remain calm, to use logic to counter the fears that run rampant through our minds.
Our children are also struggling, and are many times more fearful because they don't have the maturity of our brains and the experiences where things have gone wrong but later got back to normal, or a new normal. They reach out to us to provide the sense of safety that we will all get through this.
But some of what they need is physical contact, hugs, snuggles, a loving touch, sharing your bed at night, which is the scariest time of all. We need to be here for them, and realize that if we have been practicing physical distancing from others we and our kids can safely get physically closer. That sharing of physical closeness can help us all, so don't be afraid to share with your kids.
Fears and phobias are very common in children due to the fact that their brain is managed by the limbic system and that they have had very few life experiences to help them cope with the novel or unknown.
Learn about how to help children with fear and phobias so that they can have better days.
Anxiety disorders are not a grown up disorder. They actually begin in childhood with 4-20% having a diagnosed disorder, depending on which disorders are being looked at. There is also an equal number who don't make it to the disorder level, but still struggle with anxiety in different situations.
Learn how to help these children so that they have more skills as they get older and may not be as at risk for grown-up anxiety disorders.
Over my 30+ years of working with challenging children, I have experienced a number of situations where my "challenging child" was seen as the bully, when in reality it was the other child who set up the situation in order to get my child in trouble.
Check out this episode to learn how to help challenging children who feel like they have limited options on how to respond to other children picking on them.