Memory Jar: Ideas for Parents and Teachers

I’ve seen this idea posted on social media sites as the new year approached and I really like it! If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to have a jar at home and when you have a good memory, you jot it down on a note and drop it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year as you are bringing in the new year, you read all the notes in the jar to reflect on the memories your family created. When I saw this, I thought it was a porject worthy of trying, but then I thought about how parents could use a variation of this idea for their children, especially if they are struggling learners.

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Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many individuals with Down Syndrome and I have learned so much from them. Among the most important things is the fact that they are more like us than not. One young lady, Rachel, has found a special place in my heart. She and her mother are advocates of inclusion for individuals with Down Syndrome. Check out this video that Rachel was in:

Also, be sure to check out Rachel’s mom’s blog, The Sassy Southern Gal.

Thanks for reading!


Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Perhaps your life has been touched in some way by a learning disability. If so, there are some amazing resources for you, whether a parent, a student, or educator. LD Online is one of them, which provides guides for educators and parents. One I would like to highlight is an article outlining very useful information for parents of students with learning disabilities and how to help them experience success. It is based on longitudinal research and identifies 6 success attributes that really make a difference and are more important than IQ and grades: Continue reading

Special Olympics Celebrations!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching competitors at the Special Olympics state competitions. Despite the horrendous heat, the competitors gave it their all!


The event was paddle boarding and it requires a lot of strength and stamina. A good time was had by athletes and spectators alike. The highlight of the day for me, though, was getting to see this precious young lady compete. She has been dear to my heart since I met her in 2nd grade and she became best friends with my daughter.

Here are some pics of her paddling her heart out

By the way….thank you, Tropical Storm Erika, for slowing down so these awesome athletes could experience some victories and make memories! This little lady ended the day with a gold medal!! We were so proud! And look at that smile!

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If you would like to learn more about how you and/or your child can become involved, check out Special Olympics for yourself.

Thanks for reading!


School Phobia, Part 1: My Journey from School Phobic to School Psychologist

August: the month that brings anxiety for some. Many students of all ages are anxious about going back to school in the next few weeks. This is natural, especially as students are facing transitions from one level to the next. But for others, the thought of going back to school can stir up more than butterflies in the stomach. In the next few posts, I’d like to touch on the topic of school phobia. First, I’d like to share my own experience with school phobia and how I moved from being fearful of everything to helping others overcome fear. In subsequent posts, I’ll share some strategies that others have found beneficial.

My Journey 
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Summer Fun for Kids

Kids look forward to summer break! For many kids, this can mean little or no structure or routine. This can be good for a few days, but most kids–and especially those with special needs–need to continue with a schedule of some sort. Structure is essential not only for a happy and enjoyable summer but also for a successful transition back to school in the fall. Here are a few tips for helping parents to provide a structure while having fun too!

  1. Set specific times for waking up, eating, playing, and sleeping. Keeping a daily structure and schedule throughout the summer is very important. A visual schedule is helpful for a lot of kids, especially those with ADHD or Autism.
  2. Add some responsibilities to the day. While it’s important not to overwhelm kids during the school year, summer provides opportunity to add some chores or responsibilities. This can strengthen your child’s self-esteem, strengthen his or her sense of responsibility, and build skills. One summer when my kids were young, we were planning a vacation near the end of the summer that would last for 3 weeks. To begin the summer, they had their daily chores for which they could earn points to “cash in” for money to use on the vacation to buy souvenirs. They also needed to improve their reading skills over the summer so I gave them extra points when they would read a book and were able to answer some questions about what they read. This helped to continue with structure through the summer, gave them an incentive for “cash” for vacation, and it helped them improve on their reading. They loved the weekly visits to the library, too, that we made part of our summer schedule!
  3. Designate certain activities for certain days of the week. For example, Monday movies at the local park or library; Tuesday is outing day; Wednesday is working in the garden or yard; Thursday is swimming; and Friday is free day where the kids get to choose from a list of preferred activities.
  4. For outdoor activities, try a nature scavenger hunt at a park or an obstacle course in the back yard.
  5. For rainy days, make a fort out of sheets, laundry baskets, and chairs–or just use the dining room table. You can have a movie day with popcorn and then have the kids color, paint or draw a picture about their favorite part. Doing crafts is also a great way to develop/improve fine motor skills and to inspire creativity!

Here’s to a great summer!

Thanks for reading!


Autism and Wandering: Helpful Resources for Parents

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, I thought I would post about a topic that brings fear to many parents: wandering. If your child has Autism and is in danger of wandering, please check out these resources. Autism Speaks has several resources for parents, educators, and first responders to prevent, educate, and address wandering. Also, check out the National Autism Association’s caregiver toolkit. There are also products such as Be safe the movie, which teaches appropriate ways to interact with law enforcement; Alert Me Bands, customizable emergency alert bands; and angel sense, a GPS device with voice monitoring. I have only mentioned a few here. but you can find more resources on their websites. I hope this will bring some peace of mind to you!

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Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month–an opportunity to help others learn more about Autism. With that said, I thought I would take an opportunity to share with you how Autism has touched my life, both personally and professionally. On a personal note, I have a handful of people in my life whom I hold dear and who happen to have Autism in one form or another. They have helped me experience the Autism journey from a different perspective than I have had as a professional. I have seen them grow on their journey and I have grown with them. As a school psychologist, I have the pleasure of working with individuals with Autism almost daily. Just like any journey, there can be hills, valleys, and plains. Frustration is inevitable, but so are the joyful moments. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t smile or giggle because a student with Autism has helped me see things a little differently or challenged my expertise.

I’m sure you have seen the puzzle icon in your community, whether as a bumper sticker, a logo on a t-shirt, or as a profile pic on social media. In case you didn’t know, this icon represents Autism. If you somoeone displaying it, they are touched by Autism in some way. I’m not sure about why this icon was chosen to represent Autism but I know what it means to me in my journey. Autism is a puzzle. We didn’t use to know as much as we do now about Autism. We used to have a few of the pieces–we weren’t sure of the causes or how we could help individuals with Autism to be successful. Over the years, however, knowledge has increased through research and education. Students and individuals with Autism have more resources in school and the community to help them experience growth and success. We’re getting more pieces to the puzzle. Perhaps some day all the pieces will fall into place and the puzzle will be complete. Until then, I will continue to enjoy my journey with those who are touched by Autism.

Thanks for reading!


* President Obama issued a proclamation recognizing April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. You can check out more of the details on the Autism Speaks website: . Also, check out the “Useful Resources” tab at the top of this page for links to websites devoted to Autism.

Spread the Word to End the Word

Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing national campaign meant to raise awareness about the harmful and dehumanizing effects of the word “retard(ed)”. The intent of the campaign is to encourage schools and communities to foster acceptance and inclusion of individuals with disabilities, and to pledge to eliminate the r-word from everyday speech. The annual day of awareness is during the first week of March. However, people are encouraged to spread the word in their schools and communities throughout the year in hopes that the r-word will no longer be used inappropriately. I am excited to share how the high school I work in has promoted the campaign this past week. Check out these posters and a special video our students made! Join us in taking the pledge and encourage others to do the same!

If you would like to know more about the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, check out

Thanks for reading!