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Surviving Blonde Moments

Disclaimer on the topic: I can say this because back in the day before grey hair and this weird dark shade that crept in around the age of 40, I was legally blonde. Some folks who knew me might totally agree on multiple levels about my blonde behavior as well. No insult to those who are blonde but we all know the altar meaning I am referring to.

It wasn’t a pretty morning. Actually, outside it was the most beautiful fall morning ever, but inside life was not so much fun. The dog, bless her cute little heart, needed a bio break at 4AM. Somehow between the back door and her “favorite spot,” she lost her collar. I swear I was watching her the entire time, still cannot figure how it disappeared.  Ever put clothes in the wash the night before that you needed in the morning and forget to put them in the dryer? Yep, change of plans on the outfit of the day. My breakfast of champions, morning PB & J (peanut butter and jelly sandwich) was not to be, no bread. I forgot to get it on the list the night before that I lost on the way to the store. Keys? Where are my keys? I was certain I put them… oh, heck. On the way to work I made a stop at Wally World. Walked inside to totally forget why I was there. Took the tour to trigger what it was I needed which took way too long. Got to work. Unloaded my techie stuff to find I left all the power plugs at home. Right now, I am feeling a few of those grey hairs sprouting. My brain totally shut down from about 9PM last night until about 11AM this morning. At 10:50, I decided I had had enough.

How to  survived those ditsy, brain fog days? Well, I should have applied these things at first notice of the blonde invasion but I am only normal and let those days sometimes get the best of me far too long.

Blonde Invasion Defense:

  1. MUSIC!! Turn on your favorite upbeat tunes to get your brain moving out of slow elevator music mode. Today’s menu for me: Pompeii by Bad Blood, Breathe of Life by Florence + the Machine, Dark Horse by Katy Perry, for starters.
  2. Hand Fidgets: Stress balls and flying frogs! Squeezing those squishy stress releasers really helps. Flying frogs, well, those are these rubbery creatures which are for shooting like rubber bands but do not go as far. I wrap them around my finger and sometimes shoot them at various things in the office when no one is looking.
  3. Fiber optics lamp toy. Best $1 find ever! This small lamp has hundreds of tiny fibers with green lights shining out. It is fun to twirl it to see if I can make it look like shapes. With my office fan going it dances about my desk which makes me happy.

These were my choices today but I have quite the list to choose from. Within about 10 minutes my mind was back out of the fog zone. I was busy cranking out meaningful work with fewer mistakes and mishaps due to the black hole of nothingness that had invaded earlier. Sometimes, it is just that simple. Playing with odd things and music helps kick-start the brain. If you bosses out there are reading this, please know employees need access to such things when stressed and out-of-sorts. You will find employees far more productive if they have go-to things to help gather their senses back. Parents, kids need these things while doing homework, too. And for anyone out there having a blonde zone day, put that phone to good use, crank up some tunes! Find a paperclip or anything you can move around in your hands until you can raid the store for hand fidgets. Oh by the way, the birthday party trinket kits are the best. Small plastic Slinkys are wonderful! Check out that section for a huge wonderland of hand fidgets.

Find your focus, get out of the fog, and get your creative productive groove back on!



Why your child with ADHD or learning challenges should play sports

Sports and games

Sports and games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are the obvious reasons such as learning team work, running off excessive energy, and developing social skills. Some least expected gains from participating in sports might shock you. Did you know most high school and college programs are required to monitor grades? Due to the high demands of eligibility to play sports many schools offer afterschool tutoring programs for athletes. Coaches become very proactive to keep players’ grades in safe zones. Often coaches will spend time mentoring and providing guidance during tough academic times for struggling athletes.

Another less known benefit of participating in sports comes from spotting learning challenges by the way students respond. As a special education teacher, my husband, a coach, would talk to me about a situation observed while a student was running a play. I have stepped in to lend my area of expertise. Some of the issues found were vision perception problems, eye-hand coördination, and undiagnosed dyslexia. A playbook is not always easily read and learned by students with hidden disabilities. I have often stepped in to color code and adapt playbooks for football players.

Athletes with some visual perception problems will often shy away from fast balls coming directly towards them. Working with the Wii gaming system can help improve the eye-hand coördination as well as the shy away response. As with all gaming systems, the sports games build in speed and skill. Having a virtual ball come at your repeatedly can help develop more confidence while building reaction time and coördination. For students who have problems with foot work, the Just Dance games can help. Even Guitar Hero helps with visual processing and eye-hand coördination. The more these areas are developed the more those skills will likely transfer to the sports field.

Team sports area great for helping children understand the importance of patience, trouble shooting, and impulse control. All players must depend on each other for a win. Even though there are those that excel more than others, all members of the team are needed for a win, even the bench warmers. Those that do not play much are needed to encourage and support. Never under-estimate the power of a positive motivating team-mate when the chips are down to pick a team back up. Many a losing team have kicked back in at the last second of the game to pull out a win due to a player’s encouragement when the majority of the team had already given up.

Being a part of team has benefits no matter the player’s level of performance. A member of a group helps build self-esteem in children who struggle due to those invisible disabilities such as ADHD, ADD, and learning disabilities. On many a playing field, the disabilities are not noticed. If they are there is often a different sort of acceptance among athletes that is not found in the classroom. Some students with such challenges often are gifted in sports which acts to balance out the struggles happening in the classroom. Having a purpose will motivate athletes to seek help in their academics in hopes to be able to keep up eligibility to move on to the next level. Often colleges hire learning specialist to help with the transition from high school to college level academics. Knowing there are people willing to help and guide an athlete towards making the grades will keep the athlete from becoming depressed. Depressed students with learning and behavior challenges often seek negatives to fill the emptiness and discouragement. This is a downward spiral leading to jail or worse. In my experience as a high school coach’s wife I have seem many lives changed for the positive due to sports. I have also witnessed the downfall of those who dropped out of sports resulting in negative and harmful alternatives.

If you questions the benefits of sports for students with ADHD/ADD and learning challenges trying search the internet for professional athletes with ADHD and learning challenges. Read the hundreds of stories about how sports saved lives and built self-esteem.

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Frustrated Artist, BEWARE!

peepsFrustrated artist! Beware of sudden out bursts of creativity, random splashes of color, and sudden moments of AWE-YES!!!

One of my pastime hobbies is designing sets for local theater productions. This is a challenge. With a limited budget and a huge space to fill which cannot overshadow the cast but must enhance the performance, the initial process can lead to a lockdown. During moments of creative blocks, which are very much like writer’s blocks, I will begin my piddling to trigger an AH HA moment. This time I made little felt birds. Why? I cannot answer that other than that is what got stuck in my head to do. But the intense process of figuring out how to turn the concept I saw on pinterest to an actually little creature did get the wheels turning. After an hour a prototype was made and several assorted little friends appeared to dance about on my work desk.

This alternate creation trigger the wheels to start moving in a creative and imaginative way. Within a few hours I was busting out set ideas. Why did I share this? Many people will stay so focused on project to the point they cannot move on. It is in switching the gears that often trigger solutions to the initial project which was causing the creative process to stall out. This works well with kids and homework. No where does it state you must do all 50 math problems at one time. Switch up between homework assignments if your child is “locking down.” You might find that a few minutes working on science might be the trigger needed to get the math thing going once again. Don’t be afraid to take a break and work on something else. Hmmmm, now what to do with all these little birds?

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WHY drug your child?

Was sadden today day to learn a young mother chose medication to treat her 6-year-old daughter’s ADHD. As a special educator for some 20+ years, I am going to be blunt about this, very few young children are truly ADHD. Yes, this is a not so creative vent but a tidal wave of pent-up frustration directed to young parents who feel their rushed lives are more important than taking time to truly parent. Before you “youngsters” get all huffy at me, I have  daughter who is ADD with learning challenges plus a son who could have been classified as ADHD at a young age, but more what most elders would classify as all boy. Add to that I have a husband who is a football coach which means he is OCD which seems to happen seasonally and … well, he is a jock. So if you wish to debate a wild household, yeah, bring it on because I lived in chaos as well as taught it all day.

I refused to medicate my kids. I used occupational therapy and some good old fashion parenting to manage. If you look back over time all mothers gained grey hairs, had bad days where tears flowed, and found themselves snapping a time or two at their kids. Hey, that’s normal. All kids explore, make messed, yell, scream, run around, ask 50 million questions, and refuse to do things. Just normal and a very important part of learning. Kids were not designed to sit unless hours in front of TV and computers. Kids were meant to be active, that is actively learning about their environment, exploring, challenging limits, and developing skills by trial and error. It also takes discipline. Life is the biggest and best teacher… as well as parents.

Once upon a time parents read books to their kids, not plugged them in. During such sessions there was questions and interaction. Parents took their kids to the park or played outside together with them. Here kids felt safe to explore because parents during those old days allowed their kids to climb trees and play in the dirt. Parents allowed their kids to help in the kitchen, even at the age of 3. The kitchen is a mecca of math. Yes, kids spilled things and often meals were not as tasty but there was a lot of pride as well as learning that happened as a result. McDonald’s was a rare treat not a daily must in a rush. Kids had regular bedtime, not at 10pm on week nights. Kids colored, painted, had play dough, and assorted offer interactive toys. Kids played!

My house wasn’t the model home for Southern Living. My meals were kid-friendly and not found in Happy Meal boxes. My kids enjoyed playing in the dirt, treehouse, clubhouses in the dining room during rainy days, and they played with their food. Activity was a must to grow dendrites. During melt downs, we worked through them but never gave into them. During frustration times, we discovered alterative learning styles. We learned that music, art and drama are key players in homework and learning. Was it a lot of work? Yes! But as a result I have children who are success college students who have learned to cope with their uniqueness and never had side effects or developed a need for drugs. They also are advocates for learning, learning un unique ways to which they share with others. They know that music can calm or stimulate just depends on the need and tempo. They know that crunchy foods can increase alertness, so can gum. They know that certain colors effect learning and mood. They know if you hit a road block get up and walk because it can jump-start the brain. Sometimes you just have to move to stimulate recall and increase memory. Yes, we do promote the Wii in the college environment. The gym can work those large muscles which also can create calming effects. Ok, my list is long but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the options.

I just encourage parents to try alternatives before jumping to the meds. If your life is too hectic, you might seriously want to take look at your true focus. Yes, jobs are important, we all have bills to pay but look at your schedule closely. The time you spend now while your babies are young will be an investment that will reap what you sow later in life. I have proof that difficult children can meet success without meds, it just takes patients, time, and a bit of creativity. My rant and venting is now finished. BUT, if you have such a child and need some suggestions, just ask and I will send you a ton of great and fun activities that can take those wild and crazy times down a notch.

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Be afraid, be very, very afraid!

The autopilot look

If you have a cat then you know this look. Within a few seconds something will happen, no doubt. Been a cat person all of my life so I have learned a thing or two over the years. Movement + response= reaction , I believe that is the formula for cats. If it moves they cannot help but react, then comes the reaction usually from some unexpecting human whose fingers or toes were tapping which means the cat couldn’t refuse the response to go at it. The reaction, a scream or some tears causing a definitely retreat from the cat. But when you get right down to it, the cat cannot stop the auto pilot response which was built-in to the nature of being a cat. ADHD is a bit like that. If it has the potential to be played with then it is almost impossible to resist the urge. It is the auto pilot kicking in. Can it be stopped? Yes, it can but it takes some conditioning and time. First it takes identifying what triggers the auto pilot to kick in. Next, it helps to remove those triggers, of possible while starting the process to not go to auto pilot status. Once aware, try to substitute an acceptable distractor to mislead the auto pilot reaction. Sit back and watch a cat in action. Not the look then the auto pilot kick in to pounce. See if you can interrupt the cycle. Yes, it can be done but you must have stealth moves, especially with a cat. Take note, even kids and adults with ADHD have a look right before the “pounce.” For the record, there was a camera/paw exchange in the taking of the picture; both parties survived the POUNCE!

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Shark like focus- they Never stop swimmng

 Did you know that sharks never stop moving? It is a must for their survival. In many species of sharks if they stop moving their systems shut down.

Some people are like sharks, if they stop moving their focus shuts down. I am one of those sorts. My office/craft room is full of things I use to help me focus. Movement keeps my brain active and actually sparks creativity for me. I am known to carry”hand fidgets” with me at meetings or other events that involve long periods of sitting still.

SO, what is a “hand fidget,” you ask? A variety of objects as simple as a rubber band you can stretch and pop to slinky toys.  Anything you can move about in your hand that causes a reaction to calm or to stimulate alertness can be considered a hand fidget. Occupational therapist use them all the time. Most of us have invented our own types of hand fidgets just using various common office supplies.

How many of you have hooked paper clips together or bounced your pencil on your desk while trying to figure out a problem? I think most of us have. This movement helps us to focus or to calm our minds so we concentrate.

As you see the in picture I have several objects such as a shell, my favorite eye-glowing shark, a flower, and a jewel. These are things that I often pick up and fiddle with while I am trying to work on an art project or ….develop my blog. This goes to show that you do not have to buy expensive hand fidgets. Look around to see what catches your fantasy. Take note of what you subconsciously start playing with while working on something that requires lots of concentration.

Try a google search to see what other hand fidgets are out there if you feel the need for something more therapeutic . Some of us shark folks need a lot of ways to “keep moving” so we can keep producing as well as staying focused.

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