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Back to school for 2013!

Around the United States school bells are ringing once again as the Labor Day holiday marks the last days of freedom for most school page kids. Some parents are excited to see the school doors open while others dread what is to follow. With school comes anxiety and frustrations which make life a living nightmare for some children with hidden disabilities such as ADHD and learning challenges.

Just some tips to help make the year start on a positive note. Always make time to listen to your child. Even a brief conversation let’s your child know you care. Make it a policy you can check the book bag. When dealing with kids with ADHD, it is a given they will forget to give you important notes and homework. With the policy of mom or dad checking the book bag it reduces the frustrations. It also encourages children to start taking the initiative to start giving you stuff to avoid the book bag search.  On some occasions, slip a nice note of encouragement to your child. Nothing embarrassing, just a little note of encouragement or acknowledging a proud moment.

If the teacher/s use the internet to post grades or assignments, be active in checking these sites from time to time. For your information, these sites have loggers so teachers and administrators can see how active you are in checking on your child. This does make a difference when you attend conferences and other meeting about your child. Also, technology doesn’t lie or forget so do not try to say you did when you didn’t. Your child will know. Despite how much staff try not to be vocal about opinions, if you are not keeping up with the options the school provides more often than not they will let your child know.

Lots of great information on Creative Tidal Wave about learning solutions. Check back over previous blogs on focusing ideas, behavior management, and communication. If you have a certain situation you wish to find solutions for, please send me a message and I will address it a blog.

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Why are they looking at me that way?

There is nothing like a creative burst of energy. My attempt to clean the craft room/office space is never productive on the cleaning side but more so on the creative bursts of AH HA! Determined to get the place in order, I start with a plan then find something which leads to another something which never is cleaning. Thus the pattern as usual today led to not much headway in clearing a space but to an artsy moment. Not sure why I thought it would be different. Some might call it an ADD moment, I call it curiosity with a twist of imagination that gets peaked when I see a pile of stuff take on a new vision.

This got me wondering about all the sudden cases of ADHD. Are parents and teachers too quick to jump to the conclusion the impulsive and creative outburst are a negative? I was wondering what it would have been like to teach Robin Williams? Or maybe, Albert Einstein? Or how about, Mozart? You know they could not sit still for very long and often had such AH HA! moments at random when something triggered their creative minds. It is very hard to contain a great idea as an adult but as a child it just shoots out the mouth and hands at lightning speed. Then, I thought about how awesome it would have been to have had a whole class of AH HA! thinkers. The conversations and discoveries would be constant. The level of instruction would be wrapped around hands-on and discovery. What an awesome learning environment that would be! I guess Dr. Seuss dreamed of such when he started one of his last books, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! If you are a teacher or a parent of a child with ADHD I urge you to read this newly released book. I would like to thank Dr. Seuss’ wife for allowing Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith to add a few finishing touches so the story could be published. It will change the way you think about the current state of education and creativity in the classroom.

In my creative whirl wind I remembered I had to make a quick run to the store. I live in a very rural area which there is a certain protocol to life. As a rule, I do not come close to fitting in but try my best to contain my artsy ways as not to embarrass my family. While in the store I noticed I was getting some odd looks. In my twisted little mind I was thinking they hadn’t seen normal in a while. OH! that so backfired on me. Got home and had sneezing fit. Went to get tissue in the downstairs bathroom, looked up in the mirror… I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. You see, before I left I had found my glitter shimmer spray. Decided a certain mermaid needed some sparkle. I also experienced a sneezing fit shortly after grabbing tissue from the box on the craft table. One should not spray shimmer while listening to Savage Garden and dancing around the table without looking in a mirror before leaving the house. Seems the shimmer spray had gotten on the tissue which I blew my nose on. My nose was nicely coated with … if you are a Twilight fan you will understand when I say I was sporting a nice Cullen vampire shimmer when the sunlight hit my face. A mirror will be going up in the office/craft space with a huge note to please look before I escape the asylum to public places.

I will just claim a DIFFENDOOFER DAY! in the craft room and laugh this one off. Maybe, I should call it a Patch Adams sort of day. I do believe a shimmery nose is more fitting for me than a  big red clown nose. Despite a brief embarrassing moment I was unaware of at the time, I feel certain someone who saw me needed a laugh. Someone might have needed something to take their mind off a bad situation, and just maybe it inspired someone to have a creative moment of their own with a reminder to check a mirror before they head out in public view. Being impulsive has down moments but then again it has some magnificent ones.

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Not failure, just another lesson learned

My first camp site

My first camp site

I had posted earlier I will be taking on the Appalachian Trail as a section hiker for the be 5-0 birthday dare this year. Been years since I camped, first at the backpacking type. The old body has been through a lot over the past few years. Needed to focus on a goal to get back in shape and hopefully turn back time both physically and mentally. Though many of the books I have read recommended just jumping in I have decided to take a slow approach to breaking this body into the first major leg of the hike by doing some weekend overnight trips.

The hike for me is very personal. I know due to health issues, starting a new business soon, and a huge lack of funding, a thru hike is not for me at this time. I do believe taking it on in small chunks will be just as rewarding as well as physically beneficial. But there are some firsts I need to address to build up to even the easiest starts on the AT. I took the first step just the other day. As a perfectionist and a proactive sort I was confident I would  be highly successful in my attempt to sleep out by myself on a glorious rare Blue Moon night. The irony is most would have thought it would be a “once in a blue moon” moment to see me camping by myself. I sucked up the fear and was determined it would be a task easily accomplished and one milestone down for the journey.

After getting tons of advise and reading more books than the average researcher, I had a plan.  Got the equipment (not the most expensive just the basics), and  set forth on my first brave attempt to go a whole night alone in the woods. Picked a spot in our 3 acre plot to “rough it.” I plan to hammock camp. Have spent numerous afternoon nap session swinging in the trees to find this the most comfortable way to snooze. I was certain an evening swinging in the trees under the stars would be incredible. Not surprising, the weather decided as it has been all summer to dish up another rainy evening but until the morning hours. Figured this would be great practice for tarp rigging because I would know if I got it right. I planned a semi mock situation to try other camping like activities as well. I am so glad I did.

Packing a first aid kit is important. My first lesson came quick as I sliced my finger on the carabiner. I knew I should have had on my gloves but in all the excitement I … lesson two, never get so excited you forget safety, it could be life or death. A friend did remind me to checked for widow makers before I set up camp. I did but again, I was so excited I didn’t look all around, just in the two trees I was hanging  from. When I went out the next day to take down the tarp I noticed a HUGE dead limb that could have been a nasty if the wind had picked up. I was lucky. Again, I won’t let the giddy excitement cloud my need for safety. Slowing down and doing it right is matter of life and death on the trail.

I failed tarp rigging 101. The site did not have the wonderfully set trees as in the books I had studied. The tie down technique I used was less than stable after a wee bit of a breeze and a few sprinkles. Water will puddle on a loose tarp then dump. Yes, I got a surprise splash of wetness at the head of my hammock with the pocket of water needed more room. I enjoy waterfalls but not via a tarp into my hammock. Lesson learned: it is worth the investment to purchase an Eno or Grand Trunk system plus a heck lighter in the pack. Want to say thanks to the guys at Blue Sky Outfitters in Rome, GA who gave me a quick lesson on rain protection while hammock camping. I will be much wiser in my attempt next time.

Since the bear population is zero in my neck of the woods I had no worries about rigging a bear bag system. WRONG! There are other creatures who love goodies in backpacks as much as bears. I did have the pack some 5 feet off the ground so I figured there were no worries. Never under-estimate the ingenuity of a vertically challenged Bassett hound when he smells food. Only thing I can figure is he must have had a session with the squirrels on getting a strap to his level to pull it down. Also, he was intrigued with the hammock so much he thought it would be fun to bark to see if it would move. Yes, it did to his delight until I flipped out while fussing at him. I admit at that point I was ready to pack it in, and did so. At 2AM I felt a bit defeated as I sloshed my way into the house with my pack all muddy from the Bassett bandit episode.

Technology is an awesome tool. I do want to thank several of my friends who checked in on me before their eyes got to heavy to stay open to join me remotely from the dry comforts of their homes. The encouragement was awesome. The reminders of the  Jason movies, werewolves, the slender man, wildcats, banjo music, and mysterious lightning strikes which might hit the trees I was swinging from were very… thanks guys for filling my head with every scary notion possible but you forgot about waterfalls from the  tarp and neurotic Bassett hounds.

Instead of seeing it as failure I began to see the humor in the lessons learned. If I had been some 10 miles into the wilderness and made the mistakes I did I doubt I would ever return. Many more lessons to come as well as belly laughs. Many new friends and advisors will be added as well on my journey to become the best prepared as I can be. Won’t get it right, know the trail is a test on many levels but these few trial runs hopefully will keep me from major set backs. I didn’t fail though some saw it as such. I didn’t even have a set back. I had a learning session which shaped the focus ad safety of the greatest dream to come.

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Another great ap for students with ADHD and Learning Challenges, GoodNotes

I like to pass on great tips. Good friend of mine posted about this great app for college. I think it would be great for high school as well. Always a good idea to have assistive technology addressed in the IEP. With all the outstanding advances and the growing acceptance of using tablets and iPads in the classroom, whatever it takes to help go for it!

Taylor Teems highly recommends GoodNotes. She states it is great for those that struggle with ADHD, OCD, or just want less paperwork and cleaner notes. She reports the app is only $2. Folks, you cannot beat that!

I know many local high schools are using GoodNotes on school owned iPads. The Georgia Vocational Rehab office recommends their clients use it who are in college. I look forward to adding it to my app collection to support note taking at workshops and conferences.


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Shark like focus

A back-to-school reblog


Have you ever found your mind wandering when you should be focused on a task? Have you ever noticed what other people are doing during long boring meetings to keep their focus? There are options that can help you gain that focus during meetings and frustrating tasks.

As adults, we have many options. No one stays perfectly still during long drawn out meetings. People play with their pens, doodle, chew gum, have some sort of drink with them, or are moving some body part in a not so obvious way such as swinging their feet. When working on a project in the office, people often listen to music, have their coffee, snack on crunchy foods, etc. Everyone has some sort of tricks they use, most people of not aware that they are doing these things to full fill a sensory need to help them focus and stay alert. It is…

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