The Science Behind Cognitive Therapy

Recent neuroscientific breakthroughs provide insights into therapeutic means of rewiring our brains. Neuroplasticity is the ability for our brains to change their structure and function by creating out new pathways—such as by learning new ideas and skills—and strengthening these pathways through repetition and practice. Our neurons process and transmit information through electrical and chemical signals that pass across synapses, small gaps between neurons. The infographic below from Alta Mira, a San Francisco-area rehabilitation and recovery center, explains how neuroplasticity works.

New research has revealed that neuron production can continue throughout a human life span. Neuroscientists have discovered effective ways to guide the process of neuronal growth and to repair areas of the brain that are slowed by developmental delays or are damaged by injury. Cognitive training or brain conditioning can help repair these areas of the brain to change addictive behaviors and improve information processing, motor function, memory, language skills, problem solving, and more.

Rewiring the Brain Infographic

Who Will Teach Your Child about Sex?

Our children's developing brains need strong moral input in order to grow well-ordered lives. Logical moral boundaries seem to have crashed in our culture, and today's children get much of their information/attitudes about morality and sex from popular media. Children may learn about sex on the playground or even from novels assigned at school. They may hear nothing about it from parents until "The Talk", which may come too late and be awkward.  

On the other hand, many parents are taking a proactive approach, using purchased sex education curriculum. Close friends recommended a series, God's Design for Sex.  http://tinyurl.com/hvb7y6s

This series has four books written for ages 3 to 5, 5 to 8, 8 to 11 and 11-14.  When their older child's school offered sex education last year, her parents pulled her out for those lessons and used the appropriate age level book to teach at home instead. All their children have enjoyed reading and rereading their age-level books in this series.

Also recommended as "very good" was a book for parents:

How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child's Sexual Character

Hope this is helpful, as we start a new year, full of promise!

Great Safety Product for Autistic Spectrum!

Do you need this for your autistic child or elderly loved one? Considering how many "Silver alerts" there are these days, this could be very helpful in the case of missing elderly or for small, very active children who are prone to meander.  Hope this is helpful!

sneaker

I ran across this post on Facebook this morning and immediately wanted to spread the word:

...“If I Need Help” is a company that was founded by Bruce and Erin Wilson. Their autistic son disappeared several times, causing fear in their hearts, and they knew something needed to be done.

Their product, though amazing, is simple and easy to purchase and sign up for. Just go to their website: www.ifineedhelp.org and select the right product for your child, and there are many to choose from. Then register your child, listing everything that someone would need to know in case of an emergency. Every product has a QR code on it that can be scanned by any smartphone or pulled up on a computer. Some of the products they carry are; t-shirts, magnets, ID pins, bumper stickers, window clings, ID clips, patches, keychains, dog tags and cards. Every child/adult with special needs has a different tolerance level for things on their bodies or clothes so I love the selection!  

Please share on your Facebook page so others will know.

Please…don't wait until your child disappears or you have a wreck or some other emergency. “If I Need Help” products just might save your child's life.

Written by Denise Carter
And Then They Grow Up

Video Games: Gaming and the Developing Brain

video gamesRecent research reveals that too much screen time damages the developing brain.  Almost daily I meet with precious students who spend much of their lives gaming. I have a sense of urgency, but calmly explain to their parents the implications of too much screen time. Here is real evidence.

According to a recent report on CBS/KEYE news Austin, excessive gaming can halt the development of the part of the brain associated with motivation.  It is estimated that by age 21, the average student will spend 10,000 hours with eyes and brain focused on a video device, lost hours which could have been spent learning and practicing reading and social skills needed for real life (such as becoming a good job candidate and for relationships).  (Source)

Another article claims strong research-based evidence that video games are addictive and have negative effects on the brain and behavior, that “intensive play of high-action games has been shown to have negative cognitive effects”.

Michael M. Merzenich, an expert in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, cites studies that indicate such games can create “listlessness and discontent in slower-paced and less stimulating academic, work or social environments.” Think: school, college lectures.  (Source)

In his book, The Brain that Changes Itself, Dr. Merzenich explains how intensive activities work in the brain. I learned that while gaming, the student is developing the brain's “real estate” for those gaming skills. Then gradually that growing area of the brain’s neural connections needs more space, so takes over areas that should be developed for more productive functions.

In a Feb. 2014 Psychology Today post, Victoria L. Dunckley, MD reports that neuroimaging research shows excessive screen time damages the brain. She cites studies reporting that internet-addicted youth showed reduced cortical thickness, impaired cognitive function and impaired dopamine function.
[Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a brain chemical that has many functions affecting memory, behavior and cognition, pleasurable reward, attention, sleep , mood and learning. Excess and deficiency of this vital chemical is the cause of several disease conditions. Parkinson's disease and drug addiction are some of the examples of problems associated with abnormal dopamine levels. (Source)]

Dr, Dunckley writes that excessive screen-time contributes to a hyper-aroused nervous system, sensory overload and lack of restorative sleep.  It also appears to impair brain structure and cognitive function. From puberty into the mid-twenties, the brain’s pre-frontal lobe (where executive function skills are seated) goes through massive developmental changes.  Frontal lobe development is largely the determining factor for success in every area of life, Dr. Dunckley goes on, from having a sense of well-being to academic and career success.

Many of the high school students in my practice the past few years have suffered from poor reading and undeveloped executive function and social skills. However, they are excellent at gaming. Two to six hours a day on a smartphone, tablet or computer is normal. Their pre-frontal brains are not set up for real thinking and learning for success. Therapeutic work and training can help, but the first thing to do is to curb the gaming/screen time. Our kids need to become well-rounded socially, emotionally and academically in order to be happy and productive in REAL life.  

Visit: For help with managing your child’s screen time.

Music Making a Difference: Students with Learning Challenges

Music Making A Difference

by Ann Conolly with Janet Soller and Karen Wallace

Published by: Alpha Major, 2011
50 pages
$15.95

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REVIEW OF:

Music Making a Difference: Students with Learning Challenges
Publication: American Music Teacher (Magazine/Journal)
Date: February 1, 2014
Publisher: Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Volume: 63    Issue: 4    Page: 55(2)

"Drawing on her experience as a learning disabilities specialist, Ann Conolly provides a wealth of information and insight into the struggles and challenges facing children with learning difficulties. She has created a useful reference manual for music teachers dealing with learning-challenged students, in collaboration with music educators Soller and Wallace.

The authors divide the book into four major sections. In the first two sections, they provide a broad overview of learning differences and the characteristics of major learning issues such as dyslexia and sensory integration disorder. The final two sections focus on communicating the benefits of music instruction, interviewing prospective students and preparing for students with learning challenges. Throughout the sections, quick summaries, lists or ideas are included beside the text in colored boxes. Additionally, ample space is available for personal note taking. Each section concludes with possible book club discussion questions for music educators groups that may consider using this manual as part of their activities.

The authors include several tables throughout the book listing various characteristics of a particular learning challenge. They also incorporate examples of how that trait would manifest itself during a music lesson and suggestions on how to help the student work through that challenge. I found these tables particularly enlightening and useful. They are well organized and can be used as an easy and convenient reference.

The authors' also provide information on how to interview prospective students and approach a parent if you are concerned about a learning problem. Conolly even provides a sample vision screening survey to use if one suspects a vision issue. Although we can investigate the causes and characteristics of different learning challenges, I am wary of music educators using surveys or checklists to help parents determine whether their child possibly has a learning issue. These resources are informative, but I wish Conolly stressed that her materials are not to be used as a diagnostic tool.

The most thought-provoking aspect of this book is the authors' unwavering belief that music is for every child, even those with learning challenges. They also emphasize that music has a nourishing effect on the brain, especially for those with learning challenges. This book is an empowering read for teachers taking on the challenge of educating learning disabled children."

-Reviewed by Amanda Montgomery
Orangeburg, South Carolina

 

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Austin, Texas 78746

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