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Are Wii there yet?

Mario Kart Wii - Mason's "Game Face"

Mario Kart Wii – Mason’s “Game Face” (Photo credit: Adam Melancon)

Are Wii there yet? That depends on if you are a seasoned Mario kart or a Hot Wheels racer. Then again, there are plenty of adventures to be found on today’s gaming systems that take you virtually any place you want to be or if like me, I end up in most I do not.  It is a good thing it is far easier to drive my car than a Mario kart.

With so many electronic options games can be played anywhere. I was a non-gamer for years though I supported the use of them in my classroom and at home, with limits. I was amazed when the Wii came on the scene. One game caught my attention, and my daughter’s as well. She played the one where you sit on the game board as still as possible to keep a flame lit. She learned to focus and gain some control over her ADHD using this game. I have enjoyed using the draw pad and the Wii exercise programs though I am not happy with the fact the avatar matches me so closely. Cruel joke, Wii!!

Gaming can help with ADHD and other learing disabilities. The Wii encourages students with physical disabilities to expand their range of motion and feel more capable moving about in a virtual world. I urge that you stray away from the violent games and search out those with more intellectual challenges as well as physical activities where killing is not the focus.

Like chocolate and other addictive substances  gaming can bring about the same obsessive behavior. It can also interfere with social skills if the virtual world is the only one your child socialize within. Please limit gaming to just a few hours. If it gets out of control grades will fall and with adults, marriages can end  and jobs lost when the obsessions to play becomes nearly nonstop. Do not allow it to get out of hand early on.

Despite the issues of obsessive behavior, gaming has great benefits for those with challenges and disabilities.

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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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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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