Thursday, August 6, 2015

John Elder Robison has truly been an inspiration on Damien and me. When we met him, there was an unspoken understanding between Damien and Robison.

Adolescents and Stress

Summary of “Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity”

The purpose of the article “Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity” is to explore the common stressors in the lives of adolescents and the coping mechanisms often used to deal with these stressors. The authors start by explaining that around 25% of adolescents go through one life-altering event. Even further, many adolescents will face continual stressors related to both school and relationships.

The outcome of stressful experiences in the lives of adolescents depends on their ability to cope with the events appropriately. The failure to do so can lead to behavioral and mental health issues. Some mental health issues can further lead to physical problems. However, the authors state that coping with stress does not always result in negative outcomes, but positive outcomes are equally present. The coping strategies used are often linked to whether the adolescent views the stressor as a loss, threat, or challenge and the controllability of the situation. The authors claim that adolescence is important in the discovery of self and learning coping skills, but also a stressful time.

Next the authors lead us through the different coping responses often seen in adolescence, which are grouped as approach oriented, minimization, dependence on others, and helplessness. The authors go further to group coping responses into a dozen families, which lead to varied coping abilities. It is important to the mental health and development of adolescents to explore various coping strategies. However, most adolescents only rely on support seeking, problem-solving, and distraction to cope with stressful events in their lives.

Next, the authors explore how coping strategies differ between the genders of the adolescents. Although girls are faced with more stressors, they develop better coping skills than boys. However, girls’ coping skills are more internalized and have more of an impact on their mental well-being. Boys tend to keep themselves distracted in order to cope with the stressors in their lives.

Finally, the authors address the connection between coping responses in adolescents and poverty. Their findings show that adolescents living in poverty tend to face more uncontrollable stressors on a continual basis. This causes them to lack the ability to cope with the stressors before another problem arises. Therefore, these adolescents may have difficulty developing coping skills and may be under a tremendous amount of stress. The problem is even more compacted when the adolescent is a minority living in poverty.

Personal Reaction to “Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity”

The article did not go over specific teaching strategies used when dealing with stressors or teaching coping strategies to adolescents. However, I do feel the article is beneficial and should be read by teachers going into the field. It is important to understand how students deal with stress and important to remember how their ability to deal with stress differs from that of an adult.

As a future educator, I should be aware of possible adolescent stressors, and I should be able to direct them to someone that may help them cope with stressful situations if I am unable to do so. Zimmer-Gembeck and Skinner did state that adolescents often go to their peers for support, but are unable to get the support they need due to their peers lack of coping skill development. Therefore, many of the students may seek an adult to help them during stressful times. In the classroom, I hope the students feel that I am someone they can trust. If so, my students may come to me to seek guidance or advice. If I feel uncomfortable in such situations, I need to know where to send them for the support they need.

Furthermore, the article has the families of coping in a table, which I find to be a useful tool that educators could use to help identify at risk students. The table lists the type of coping family such as problem solving, escape, submission, social isolation, etc. It also lists the examples of coping, functions in adaptive processes, and the related behaviors. Most of the related behaviors are visible to anyone who may be in contact with the student. Being able to identify the related behaviors can also help me to understand the student is not being personal. The adolescent may just lack the coping skills needed to deal with the stressful situation they have found themselves in. Overall, I feel the article has helped me to understand how insignificant some event may be to me, it may cause a great deal of stress in the life of an adolescent.


Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., & Skinner, E. A. (2008). Adolescents Coping with Stress: Development and Diversity. The Prevention Researcher, 15(4), 3-7.

ABC's "What Would You Do?" Segment on Autism

Sunday, July 12, 2015

This book is a must read for people raising and assisting people with autism. The book helped me understand what life is like for people with autism. Although I look at my child a certain way and I seem him a certain way, he sees himself much differently.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

This is my all time favorite Temple Grandin book. I have learned so much from meeting with her on a personal basis, attending her seminars, reading her books, and watching the movie about her life. Damien and I have been privileged to meet Temple on four different occasions. It seems they both appear to find one another fascinating.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bryan and Pat

Sometimes it is difficult to understand the discomfort of depression because it seems unreasonable to us. Children, youth, or even adults who are depressed may seem to others to have a completely irrational view of the world and to be frightened of things that are extremely unlikely to happen.

Bryan is a 10 year old boy who manifests many of the signs of childhood depression. He expresses sadness, social withdrawal, disinterest in sports, and increasing complaints of stomach aches. Over the past 10 weeks, Bryan has become increasingly disinterested in his studies. Although he continues to display excellent scores on standardized achievement tests, he has been receiving failing grades in many subject areas. His grades began deteriorating immediately after his father and mother separated. The separation resulted after a protracted period of conflict between his parents that ultimately included both verbal and physical aggression. During the interval that immediately pre¬ceded the separation, the parents admit to being preoccupied and had little inclination to interact with Bryan. Both parents have experienced depression in the past, and Bryan's mother is currently involved in therapy and receiving antidepressants. Bryan believes that he is at fault for his parents' separation and that there is little hope for a reconciliation between his parents. Although his father visits him on a weekly basis, Bryan is afraid that each visit is the last and that he will never see his father again.

Without anticipating problems, teachers may find themselves working with depressed or suicidal students. Too often, problems are ignored until they become undeniable and very dramatic.

Pat is a fifth-grade girl who is at or above grade level in all academic areas. However, she has been highly oppositional and defiant of all teachers since kindergarten. Large for her age and strong, she pushes, hits, and threatens her peers, who are fearful of her and will not initiate any interaction with her. She sometimes bangs her head on her desk or the floor, shouting, "I'm no good!" or "I want to die!" Pat was evaluated for special education only after terrorizing her classmates and a substitute teacher by tying the cord of a classroom window blind around her neck and jumping from a table, bringing the blinds crashing down with her in an apparent suicide gesture.


1. In what ways is Bryan's case typical of children experiencing depression? 2.
Bryan is sad, socially withdrawn, disinterested in activities, and has physical manifestations.

4. What do you think were the primary causal factors contributing to Bryan's depression?

The continual aggression of his parents toward one another before their separation was most likely the cause of his depression.

5. Supposing that you were Bryan's teacher, how would you have responded (what would you have done) to deal most effectively with his anxiety and depression?

I would assure Bryan my classroom is a safe place for him. I would also provide him with extended time on assignments if needed. I may have Bryan read a book like What Hearts, which is a story about his age that is going through the same disruption in his life as Bryan, divorce. The book is appropriate and leveled for children Bryan’s age. This book or something similar would allow Bryan to know other children go through similar situations. I would let Bryan know he could come to me to discuss difficulties that are hindering his education. I would be certain to show Bryan compassion.


1. What do you see as the essence of Pat's problems?

More often than not, bullies are bullied at home. This is often a learned behavior. There is obviously something violence related going on in another environment Pat is exposed to. Pat could also be self-cautious because of her size and could be acting out as a defense mechanism. Pat has low self-esteem and feels she is worthless. Therefore, she does not feel she deserves to live.

2. If Pat's problem behavior were to have been prevented, what would have been required (at various ages or grades)?

A relationship with Pat that is genuine and compassionate could have helped teachers recognize early warning signs. Opening the lines of communication to both Pat and her family could have helped Pat. There is really not enough information to make a determination for specific strategies that may have been helpful. Therefore, more research and data is definitely needed.

3. Given Pat's behavior, what suggestions do you have for her teacher?

I would recommend Pat’s teacher be extra careful to not use negative language when speaking to Pat with anything, because she already has a low sense of self-worth. Her “emotional bank account” (Steven Covey) is empty. I would constantly praise Pat for what she does correctly instead of focusing on what she does incorrectly.

My Role in Presenting “Teaching Students with Autism”

Throughout the research project of “Teaching Students with Autism,” I was responsible for the research of various teaching methods that are used in the classroom. Because the area is broad due to the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder ranging from low-functioning to high functioning, it was difficult to narrow successful teaching methods for the classroom. This is why I chose to leave out therapies that happen outside of the classroom. I gave tips and provided researched, successful methods that are easily implemented by the student with autism’s classroom teacher. I found visual representations of these methods so that all of the members in the audience could visually see what I was referring to. Furthermore, I made the class aware that there were many more methods that I had not referred to. The project was an exciting project for me, due to my hands-on experience of teaching a child with autism. Furthermore, I learned many new and various techniques that I was not aware of and have never employed in the education of my son. It is interesting to see that the most simple modifications, such as color-coding or simple checklist schedules, which have recently been implemented with this child allow the child with autism to be a successful student. This project was the most in-depth and educational learning experience that I have had thus far. I plan to use many of the methods presented to my audience in my future classroom experiences.


Attwood, Tony Dr. (Writer), Future Horizons (Producer). (1999). Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals Video. [Motion Picture]. United States.

Brown, Michael. (2007, March) [Interview conducted by Pamela N. Brown with Michael Brown, OTR at West Texas Rehab.]. (Abilene, Texas).

Epps, Stacy. (2007, November) [Interview conducted by Pamela N. Brown with Stacy Epps, the mother of a boy with autism named David Epps]. (Abilene, Texas).

National Education Association. (2006). The Puzzle of Autism. (1st Ed.). Washington, DC: National Education Association.

Smith, Deborah. (2007). Autism Sprectrum Disorders. Virginia Lanigan (Ed.). Introduction to Special Education: Making a Difference. (pp. 428-457). New York: Pearson.

United States Government Accountability Office. (2005, January). Special Education: Children with Autism. Washington, DC: United States Government Accountability Office.

It Takes a Village

As teachers, it is our responsibility to involve all parents in the education of our students. We normally do this pretty well. However, it has come to my attention that many of the parents of our Spanish-speaking students are less involved in the education of their children than the other populations of students. I will discuss with you the importance of involving all parents, the difficulties you may face when trying to encourage your parents to become more involved, and some ideas known to work when getting parents involved in the education of their children.

Research has shown that parental involvement in education affects the outcome of their children’s academic achievement. Many parents who are less involved in the education of their children are parents of children who achieve at lower academic levels than students whose parents are involved. Therefore, having family members, as well as other members of the community, of the Spanish-speaking students involved can give the student a validation of their own culture and help them understand the importance of their education. Parent involvement further ensures there is an open line of communication between the teacher and the family, which is often key in addressing any difficulty the student may be having as the problem arises. Furthermore, it helps the parent to understand what their children are speaking of when they return to their home. Parental involvement can also be beneficial to you, as the teacher. You can learn from the parent the differences in the Spanish-speaking culture and our own. You can also teach the parents how our culture works and what is expected of their child as a student.

Differences in cultures will be the number one difficulty that a teacher of a Spanish-speaking student will face. You may think that the student’s parents are not interested in their education, which is usually not the case. In some cultures, the parents are not involved in their children’s educations and may expect our education system is the same. Also, there may be a greater value on education for your male English Language Learners (ELL) than your female. Many parents of Spanish-speaking students do not feel as if they belong at the school. They may feel uncomfortable for various reasons. One main reason could be his or her own experience with school. If you have a parent who had negative experiences in school, they will be less involved in their child’s education. Another reason that a parent may not seem involved is because their work schedule does not give them time to come into the school. The parent may work while their student is in school and cannot meet during school hours, or the parent may work more than one job and not be able to meet on your schedule. The parents and families of the students may also view an education as less important than religious activities and other activities such as family businesses, in which your student may work. There may also be language barriers that hinder your ability to communicate with the parents. Remember that even people who seem to speak English well may not be able to understand what you are talking about when speaking to them. A lot of meaning can and usually is lost in translation. Some of the community leaders may be resistant to coming in for many of the before mentioned reasons. Also, they may see education as solely your responsibility in which they should not be involved. These are just a few of the difficulties you may face as a teacher of a Spanish-speaking ELL.

Although it seems there are a lot of difficulties in reaching parents and community leaders in the Spanish-speaking community, there are a lot of ways you can help bring them into the education system so that Spanish-speaking ELLs will benefit. You can validate the student’s culture by inviting their parents and community leaders to come into the classroom. At this time, you can have them tell the class about their culture and share their customs and beliefs with the class. This will also be beneficial to the mainstream students in your classroom by providing a culturally enriched environment for learning. You can ask the parents to cook some of their native foods to share with the class and explain why the food is important to the culture. Other suggestions would be to have any parent/teacher correspondence translated into Spanish by a native Spanish-speaking colleague. This can help the parents understand that you value their language and culture. You can notify the parents of their rights and responsibilities, and let them know about the rules and procedures for your school and classroom. Be upfront with the parents and let them know what is expected of their students. For parents that do not speak any English, make sure you have an interpreter available (not the student) to help you communicate with the parents and use non-verbal messages and cues, such as meeting them at the door and walking them to the door. You can also invite the parents to take a tour of the school, and show them your classroom as well as inviting them to observe your classroom. Another tip is to be available and keep all lines of communication open to the parent. You should meet on the parent’s schedule, not yours. So, you may have to take time out to do home visits. This can give you more insight into the cultural differences between the Spanish-speaking community and your own. It will also give you an opportunity to learn the student’s talents and interests as well as their culture. Encourage the parents or other family members to read to their student, and if they cannot read, have their student read to them. There are many, many more ideas for getting Spanish-speaking family members involved.

Overall, the most important factor is the education of the student. With the  student’s parents and the community’s involvement, the student will be more apt to care about his or her own education; and as a team, you and the student’s parent will be able to provide the student with an environment in which he or her can grow and learn, which will better prepare the student for his or her future.

This was Damien's absolute favorite book when he was little. Perhaps it explains why autistics bond well with cats.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I bought this book for Dylan when the boys were younger in order to help Dyl understand his older brother a bit more. I know that this book helped because Dyl became more attentive and caring for his brother after we read it together.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Alert Me Bands

Is your child on the Autism Spectrum? Did you know 49% of children with ASD wander? This is a very serious statistic that we cannot ignore. Please take responsibility for your child's safety with Alert Me Bands and please never let your child leave home without it on.

Alert Me Bands communicate who to call in an emergency as well as other critical information (i.e. wandering risk, medical/special needs or allergy alerts). These are just some of the bands that shipped out today (#'s blocked to protect privacy), clearly our customers are taking this statistic VERY seriously. Please share; our high quality bands are designed with sensory sensitive kids in mind and are soft, lightweight and CHEWPROOF. They are also adjustable, durable, water safe and impossible for young children to remove (or your money back!, see our FAQ page).

Customize your band online now;

It's simple; just choose your favorite design, fill out your emergency contact info and then click the box to add alerts to one or both sides of the yellow rectangle.

Helping Find Missing Autistics

I remember Damien getting lost once. He left his school and never made it home. It was raining. An hour after school let out, we found him wandering down a street that we did not even live close to oblivious that he was lost or that an hour had past. He was soaked and said, "I was sure home was around here somewhere." We only live about four blocks from the school. Although he is now 19 years old and is capable of driving. He still tends to lose his way from time to time. I am grateful that my friend, Denise, donated a GPS device for Damien to help him find his way.