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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘ADHD’

Late, Lost, But Never Lazy? Executive Function Disorder And ADHD In Women

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

“Mommy, did you sign my spelling test?”

“Mommy, do you remember how you told me last week that you would be able to have my blue shirt washed for school today? I really need it for the play.”

“Chanie, you were supposed to pay the phone bill on Tuesday, right? I thought since I was out of town you were going to take care of that.”

“Where’s my lunch bag, Mommy?”

It was a regular morning in Chanie’s house but she felt like she was going to cry. Chanie knew that her kids and husband were not even angry. They were used to her forgetting to sign their spelling tests and pay the bills. They were also used to her forgetting to pack their lunches, mixing up their birthdays, and double-booking their dentist and doctor appointments. It made Chanie sad to think that her children expected her to be unreliable. She always had the best of intentions.

Organizing oneself is a very tough task. Organization requires discipline, time and something else that you might not be aware of – executive function skills. Executive skills allow us to organize our behavior and override immediate demands in favor of longer-term goals. Through these skills, we learn to sustain attention, plan and organize activities, and follow through on a task.

Sometimes, people might think that they are simply disorganized, but in reality, they could be impaired by Executive Function Disorder. Those with Executive Function Disorder lack many skills such as planning, time management, and working memory. This in turn can lead to persistent lateness, impulsive behavior, and the inability to finish any task completely.

It’s very possible that Chanie is disorganized because she simply has never tried to be organized. Considering the pain she feels when she lets down her family, it is unlikely that this is the case. It is possible that she is disorganized because she is missing executive function skills or her lack of executive skills can stem from undiagnosed ADHD.

Many women do not realize they have ADHD until they bring a child in for an evaluation. On occasion, after her child has finished testing, a mother will ask to speak to me privately. Often she will explain that she seems to have many of the same symptoms. It is only then she realizes that perhaps her inability to keep track of her complex life has nothing to do with her intentions and everything to do with ADHD. Together, we then work out a plan to aid her in combating the disorder.

For women, there are specific issues that coincide with undiagnosed ADHD:

Anxiety and depression. Many women with ADHD do not understand why they cannot function in the same way everyone else seems to. This deflated sense of self is often linked to anxiety or depression.

Obesity and eating disorders. Research has correlated women with ADHD and a higher chance of being overweight or having an eating disorder. Since organization is used to plan a healthy diet and make time to exercise, women with undiagnosed ADHD tend to grab quick meals or look to food to provide comfort from their other symptoms.

Addictions. Both men and women with ADHD are at a higher risk for harmful addictions such as substance abuse or gambling. This is because those with ADHD have weaker impulse control causing them to have difficulty in stopping addictive behavior.

In that case, what can you do to help yourself get things done well and in a timely manner? What can you do in order to get your life on track – to either manage your ADHD or Executive Function Disorder?

The Center for Learning Disabilities suggests multiple ways to improve your life and overall organization:

1. Use tools like time organizers, computers, and watches with alarms in order to give yourself reminders to help you get things done on time. Because your brain might not be programmed to give you these repeated reminders, setting up external cues can keep you on track.

2. Create checklists and to do lists. On these lists, estimate how long each activity will take you to accomplish. Then, break the longer tasks into small ones and assign time frames for completing each section. Breaking apart larger tasks will allow you to stay focused the mission at hand.

In Hebrew: ‘Disturbance’

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

הַפְרָעָה If you already know some Hebrew, you may be familiar with the word for to disturb -לְהַפְרִיעַ, an active-causative הִפְעִיל verb.

For example:

מוֹרֶה: לֹא לְהַפְרִיעַ בַּשִּׁעוּר! Teacher (a male): Do not disturb (during the) class! The noun form of להפריע, a disturbance, is הַפְרָעָה. And הפרעה is also the word for disorder, such as in the Hebrew term for ADHD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)הַפְרַעַת קֶשֶׁב וְרִכּוּז (literally, Disorder of Attention and Concentration).

To call someone disturbed, you’d use מֻפְרָעfor a male and מֻפְרַעַתfor a female. מופרע and מופרעת derive from the passive-causative הֻפְעַל verb form.

For example:

מְבַצֵּעַ הַטֶּבַח בַּבַּנְק בִּבְאֵר שֶׁבַע הָיָה אָדָם מֻפְרָע.
The perpetrator of the massacre at the bank in Beer Sheba was a disturbed person.
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Boys, ADHD And Reading

Friday, May 4th, 2012

When I was a young boy, America’s elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can’t read.

- Thomas Spence, Wall Street Journal

In all my years of teaching kriyah and English reading, I have encountered more boys than girls who struggle with the skill. We are even subconsciously programmed to think of reading as a female endeavor. Picture a reader in a comfy chair, thinking, “Wow, what a great book! I can’t wait to share this with my friends.” Was the reader you imagined male or female? Chances are, you envisioned a female reader. The idea that the majority of readers are female is consistent with reading scores around the nation.

According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in 2001, fourth-grade girls in all of the 30-plus participating countries scored higher in reading literacy than fourth-grade boys by a statistically significant amount. In addition, According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test.

Accounting for the Reading Gap

Why is there such a large gap between girls and boys when it comes to reading? There are several theories that explain why boys test below girls their own age when it comes to reading:

Girls begin school with a larger vocabulary. Studies have shown that on a normal day, girls use 30% more words than boys their age. Simply because girls speak more, they are more comfortable with language. Then, when it comes to reading, they are more likely to synthesize new words into their everyday speech. This in turn will make their future reading more proficient.

The subject matter is tailored towards women. Because many teachers are female, and because mothers are often the ones helping children pick out their books, the subject matter of the reading tends to appeal to female audiences. Most boys would like to read about characters who are similar to them, but are often presented with books that have characters they cannot identify with.

Boys’ brains might be wired for non-fiction. While girls are great at comprehending narrative texts and expository style, studies have shown that boys prefer informational texts and newspapers. Teachers often devalue these non-fiction texts – prompting boys to feel they are not “reading” when they pick up a newspaper. This only discourages them from reading in the future.

Girls enter school with better fine motor skills. Biologically, girls often gain fine motor skills essential for writing at an earlier age than boys. While the girls quickly figure out how to write, the boys struggle with the same tasks. This struggle with writing can often lead boys to feel they are “not good” at reading or writing and therefore they will not even attempt to try.

An often undiscussed issue in this area is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We all know reading takes concentration – without it you can’t get to the end of a sentence. What many people don’t realize is that while ADHD is a common behavioral disorder affecting 8-10% of school age children, boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Of course, only a tiny fraction of boys have ADHD, but this fraction is significantly larger than the fraction of girls who do. This can also account for the differences in proficiency in boys and girls’ reading scores. Therefore, if you notice that your son is unable to focus, is easily distracted, and often fidgets, consider getting him tested for ADHD. His lack of reading skills could be attributed to a surmountable learning disability.

The most important thing to be aware of when parenting or teaching children with ADHD is that they are not “acting out.” Rather, it is difficult for these children to control their behavior without either medication or behavioral modification. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe medicine, but as an educator (or a parent) there are plenty of behavioral modifications you can implement in order to help a child become more attentive when reading or performing another activity that requires concentration.

Encourage fidgeting: Though this sounds counter-intuitive, children with ADHD benefit from distractions. In reality, it is not that they cannot focus – instead they focus on everything. So, give them a pencil to tap or a kush ball to squeeze while they are reading. Remember these are students who are designed to focus on more than one thing at a time. Providing them with the second activity, in addition to reading, will keep them from looking for what else they could be doing.

Twice Exceptional: Smart Kids With Learning Disabilities

Friday, March 16th, 2012

It was Yehudah’s third birthday party. Instead of calmly interacting with his guests, he either ignored them or bossed them around with his limited vocabulary of ten words. He ran around nonstop and elbowed every person in his path. Then, his mother, Shoshana, decided he needed some time to himself so she asked him to play quietly in the den for a few minutes. Yehudah became immersed in his legos and would not emerge from the den for an hour, building a complex helicopter and helipad.

A year later, just as Shoshana was ready to concede that Yehudah would never speak more than ten words, his vocabulary multiplied exponentially. Not only that, but he learned to read at the same time. While breathing a sigh of relief, Shoshana knew that Yehudah’s problems with school were not over. Sure enough, throughout kindergarten and first grade, his teachers would call her:

“Yehudah does not try hard enough! He simply is not living up to his potential.”

“I cannot get Yehudah to sit still. He is so disruptive.”

“It’s nice that Yehudah is so curious, but he has got to stop asking so many irrelevant questions.”

“I think Yehudah needs to be tested for a learning disability.”

After first grade, Yehudah was diagnosed with ADHD and placed into a special education classroom. However, even with this remediation, Yehudah was still disruptive and he would come home from school complaining that it was too easy and he was bored. It was in second grade that Yehudah came to see me.

After a few sessions, we were able to determine that Yehudah was indeed bored in a special education classroom because along with his ADHD, he was also gifted intellectually. Now, as a fifth grader, even though his reading skills are slightly delayed, he is doing ninth grade math. In addition, with the recognition of his learning disability (LD) and his ADHD, Yehudah was reintegrated into a mainstream classroom. With ADHD and LD, Yehudah is a typical “twice exceptional” child.

Twice Exceptional

The term “twice exceptional” is still new in educational jargon – but it is something that is becoming more prevalent in my practice today. These children have a combination of exceptional intellectual power and uncommonly formidable mental roadblocks. That is, twice exceptional children are gifted intellectually and also can have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Aspergers Syndrome, Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), or dyslexia.

Many times, these children can become problem students – even though they are head and shoulders above the crowd intellectually. A perfect example is Albert Einstein. Even though Einstein was brilliant when it came to visual and spatial reasoning, as a child he had behavioral problem, was a terrible speller, and had trouble verbally expressing himself. In many subjects, his report card grades were close to failing. Obviously, there was something else going on for the young Albert Einstein – though brilliant, his needs were not always met by the school system.

Specialized Learning

Research has established that children like Yehudah are the most underserved populations in the school system. Most of the time, children who are twice exceptional go through school without recognition of their considerable talents. Instead, they enter adult life without the necessary skills to compensate for their learning disabilities. Therefore, many of these children develop low self-esteem and believe that they are simply stupid and “not good at school.” The shocking news is that The US Department of Education estimates that 2%-5% of all students are both gifted intellectually and suffer from some form of learning disability.

How do we avoid losing out on the Einsteins of our generation? Children who are twice exceptional are often hard to categorize – sometimes their learning disability masks their brilliance, while at others, their brilliance masks their learning disability. How is it possible to identify these children? And, once they are identified, what can parents and schools do in order to make sure that their needs are met?

What teachers can do:

· Look for discrepancies: As gifted children who have learning disabilities are very hard to identify, look for discrepancies between a child’s “potential” and his actual work. If you feel that the child is simply being lazy because he could have done so much better based on his intellect, consider talking to his parents about getting him evaluated. Identification of twice exceptional students is the first step towards success.

· Differentiate instruction: In a class of twenty-five or more students, it is impossible to meet every student’s needs. However, through modification of teaching style or assignments, children with learning disabilities can better comprehend and complete their assigned work.

· Raise awareness: Talk to parents and colleagues about the existence of twice exceptional students. If parents and teachers look out for discrepancies in performance, they will be more likely to identify these students. In the long run, we will be educating a generation of students who will be better equipped as adults.

Putting My Body Where My Mouth Is

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Last week I felt the whisper of a “close call” on my skin.

Four Jews – two men and two women, one of whom was nine months pregnant – were shot to death in a terrorist attack on Highway 60, just as darkness fell upon the junction near the village of Bani Nayim.

For those who don’t know it, the road there is at its widest; it is beautifully paved, wonderfully illuminated, one of the finest pieces of roadway along the entire route.

A somewhat isolated stretch, the Bani Nayim junction is located between Kiryat Arba/Hebron, and the small Jewish community of Penei Hever. The village of Bani Nayim is home to the tomb of Lot, ancestor of both Jews and Muslims.

The road to the village also connects through to the back roads that lead down to the Dead Sea, and then far beyond eventually to Jericho, today controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

With the advent of “goodwill gestures” and “security concessions” in order to bolster the regime of Fatah leader and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, roadblocks that otherwise might have stymied the terrorists last week have long since been removed, vastly increasing the road’s accessibility to all, including murderers of Jews.

Highway 60 is a main artery to the heartbeat of Israel, Jerusalem – winding through Judea connecting Israel’s south with the central region and the north. It is a connecting highway between Route 31, which leads to Arad and Be’er Sheva, and the capital region, passing through more than a dozen Jewish communities along the way, among them the holy city of Hebron.

For residents of Arad, tucked into the northeasternmost corner of the Negev, especially, it is an essential route to Jerusalem, cutting travel time to the capital nearly in half, a mere 90 minutes on most days.

Arad residents who choose to drive the “safe” route via Latrun often face a mammoth traffic snarl on Route 1, and a drive of two and a half to three hours. The approach to Jerusalem is from the opposite end of the city, further complicating matters.

For those who decide to take the “scenic” route, and drive along the Dead Sea, it is just as long, albeit not as frustrating, and far more beautiful. But that route, too, is not without its dangers: the road is equally isolated in parts, and passes at least one junction leading to Jericho. As with the Latrun route, the approach to Jerusalem is from a completely different direction than that taken with Highway 60.

For me, a person who drives regularly on Highway 60, last week’s attack refreshes a dilemma: should I, a wife and mother of children, now take the “safe” route when I get into the car to drive to Jerusalem?

This is not a new question.

I faced the same struggle in June, when an Israeli police officer was murdered on Highway 60, along the same stretch of road I had hurriedly zoomed along, unawares, a scant few hours later. When I reached my destination and heard the news that day my blood ran cold, realizing how narrowly I had missed the encounter.

Several months prior, I had not been as lucky, although my prayer book protected me on that day: a rock the size of a grapefruit was hurled at the car as I drove past Beit Omar, an Arab village near Hebron.

The sharp-edged missile bounced off the windshield as if it had been repelled by an unseen force: it had struck the glass directly opposite the spot where my chitas (Chumash, Tanya, Tehillim, Siddur) stood sentinel. A faint scratch was the only evidence that remained.

Still, the experience shook me, and it took several days to recover. Reciting the gomel blessing at synagogue helped restore my equilibrium, and my resolve to continue to drive on the road.

And now this.

“Change your route,” my husband urged. “You’re not driving that road anymore.” I know plenty of Jews – and Bedouin friends, for that matter – who have already come to that conclusion.

But it’s not that simple for me, and we talked late into the night about whether in fact that should be the response, because I believe giving up one road does not ensure the security of another.

Oh, So Angry (Part I)

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Dr. and Mrs. Schwartz came into the office looking very tired, stressed, despondent and unsure of themselves. They came without Aaron because he had refused to come to the appointment. He claimed that at 15 he could decide for himself if, and when, he would come to appointments about his life. They began by describing an extraordinarily angry young man.

Dealing with the effects of anger and anger management has become a key component of much of my work with youth and adults over the past few years. In fact, approximately three years ago we engaged a researcher to study various anger management theories and existing courses to better understand the components of anger, its effects on the individual and those he/she comes into contact with. Subsequent to that, we have developed a unique anger management program for youth and adults that has proven to be very successful and “user friendly”. Over the next few articles, I will be sharing some of our ideas of issues of anger with my readers. But first, let me share the story of Aaron with you.

Aaron was adopted almost at birth. His anger problems were described as starting very early with increasing issues around the age of seven. Problems continued escalating around the age of twelve and continued with major problems at the time of he was referred to us. As noted, I deal with angry individuals all the time, but at this point Aaron was described as one of the angriest I had heard about. In fact, his parents described him as having constant daily flare-ups, threatening to kill them and burn down the house. They noted that Aaron had a sleep disorder and would more easily “blow up” when hungry, though he often refused to eat. When Aaron would go into “fits of rage”, he would clench his fists, grind his teeth, make demands or give orders and bully others, usually his mother, and make threats as well as make holes in the walls of the family home. When the referral was first made, it was after Aaron had trashed the house, made serious threats against family members and threatened to burn down the home. He was placed in jail overnight. Aaron’s also had significant anger issues in school and with others in their community. His parents knew that Aaron needed immediate help and wanted to avoid having him placed in a group home, but they were unsure how to get him to accept the help he needed.

With prior preparation and encouragement, Aaron did come to the next session. When I went out to meet the family in the reception area, Aaron had his back turned away from me and was reading, or pretending to read, a poster on the wall of the reception area. In no way did he want to be there or make eye contact with me. I avoided any confrontation or issues of power struggling by encouraging Aaron to continue reading the poster and join us when he finished. I was pleased that within a minute or two he joined us in the therapy room. As we started this first session with Aaron included, one could easily see how volatile Aaron was. His father’s cell phone vibrated several times and he became more and more agitated each time. Finally, it was one ring too many and Aaron tried to grab his father’s phone which was on the table. Actually both father and son reached for it at the same time, but his father retrieved it. Aaron started to use fowl language to his father relating how angry the buzzing phone made him. It certainly was not the right time to explore why this bothered him so much. With some guidance from me, Aaron was able to calm down and I suggested that we continue with our “getting to know you” questions for a few more minutes and then we would ask his parents to wait in the reception area while the two of us spoke in private. Aaron pleasantly surprised me and agreed with this plan.

Now, as the famous saying goes, you have to hear the “rest of the story”. After a few moments of ensuring Aaron that our time alone was confidential and talking about some not too threatening points, Aaron was able and willing to engage in discussing some issues with me. A couple of things Aaron said in the course of our discussion made me realize that this very angry young man was also a good-hearted, though very hurt, individual. I quickly began sensing something special about Aaron and in our discussion related that to him. In fact, in spite of the major troubling behaviours at home with his parents, primarily his mother, he was able to tell me that they are “good people”.

I tend to be very vocal in my sessions and I tell my clients that is because as I form ideas or concepts, I believe in sharing them. I let them know that I don’t have to be right, but when I share my thoughts, I give the client the opportunity to respond and, in turn, engage in more discussions. In fact, I encourage them to correct me if they think I am way off base.

As the time was moving quickly and I wanted to engage Aaron as much as possible in this first interview, I validated whatever I could and let him know I understood what he was saying. I also shared with him how hurt I thought he was and how his own anger might frighten him at times. Knowing that Aaron had been previously diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability, I took a big chance in saying to Aaron that I thought I could describe the happenings of his life. I told him at age four to five he began getting frustrated because he couldn’t seem to keep up with the other kids and he learned the feeling of embarrassment. By seven, other kids started noticing this and began making fun of him. About the same time his parents and teachers started feeling that he was lazy and told him so. By nine he was aware of his own anger growing inside him and began to bully other kids, like they had been doing to him. By eleven he was pretty sure of his inadequacies and knew that everybody thought he was a failure. He was getting into more trouble at home and school and was acting out his anger, which, in turn, got him into more trouble and gave him even more doubts about himself. By thirteen he viewed himself as not only a failure, but also a troublemaker and took pride in how he could intimidate others. This continued until around fourteen when drugs began taking a role in his life. By fifteen, the police were involved and there he was in my office.

I must say that as I was describing this, Aaron’s mouth dropped open, his eyes grew wide and tears formed as he moved closer in his chair. The only thing he could say was, “How did you know?” With that, Aaron and I started a remarkable relationship. With all the counselors he had been to over the years, Aaron said that no one really understood him. Here was the angry young man who didn’t want to be there, fully engaged and ready to work, ready to share his pain, ready to begin a trusting relationship.

You won’t believe how this session ended. Aaron’s story is fascinating and develops into a positive experience in understanding anger management. Stay tune for Part 2, as I share what happened at the end of the session and how Aaron’s (and my) life changed.

Mr. Schild is the Executive Director of Regesh Family and Child Services in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Regesh runs many programs helping families and youth dealing with personal and family issues in their lives. He is currently open to speaking engagements. He can be reached at 416-495-8832 extension 222 or eschild@regesh.com. Visit www.regesh.com.

When Touch Gets Too Touchy

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Most people don’t think much about their socks, but for eight-year-old Suri W., they are all-important today. The seams at her toes are terribly irritating. Suri spent an inordinate amount of time this morning getting them into a perfect position. But now, three hours later, they apparently shifted. The teacher’s voice has receded into the background; a friend’s request for a pencil has gone unheeded. The itch has taken over.

This is not an isolated incident. Things like this happen to Suri all the time. Suri can’t take sock seams, finger paints, crumby fingers, glaring sunlight, and swings – and she absolutely abhors itchy wool. She is super-sensitive to touch. Just now, her teacher, sensing that Suri is tuned out of the lesson, tapped her lightly on the shoulder. Suri recoiled from the gentle touch, leaving her teacher wondering if she did something wrong. To Suri, the teacher’s touch felt shocking – more like a slap than a gentle pat. Little wonder, than, that she recoiled.

Suri suffers from a form of Sensory Processing Disorder. Her sense of touch is over-responsive. The disorder affects her life, in every way – by distracting her from schoolwork, holding her back from joining her classmates in activities, and filling her life with pain and frustration.

Sensory Processing is the way the Central Nervous System processes information coming from the five senses. Good sensory processing is vital to human health and functioning. It is the way we take in messages from our bodies and surroundings, the way we interpret those messages, and the way we organize our responses to those messages.

When a person has a Sensory Processing Disorder, the central nervous system is out of sync. It interprets messages too intensely or too weakly – or confuses messages about space, leaving its victims unsure of where they, their limbs, and the people and things around them are situated in space.

Children with the disorder are missing the “sixth sense” that makes the world make sense. They often can’t understand the world around them – and the world can’t understand them. Learning can be difficult. So can acquiring gross and fine motor skills. Body language is a major issue.

Experts say that 90% of communication is not verbal – but children with sensory processing disorders often can’t interpret body language. They don’t notice other people’s anger, boredom, or shock – a problem that understandably creates major social and behavioral issues. Many children who suffer from a Sensory Processing Disorder are misunderstood and mislabeled – with disastrous results.

“My teacher used to give me a ‘look’, and expect me to stop whatever I was doing,” says seventeen-year-old Malky R. “She thought I was being chutzpadik, but I honestly didn’t understand that when she stared at me with pursed lips, she expected me to stop what I was doing. I can’t tell you how many times I was punished – but I never understood why.”

“I also had a problem with friends,” Malky adds. “I would lean close to a classmate’s face, or keep tapping her arm, and never notice that she was feeling uncomfortable

Seven-year-old Toby also suffers a Sensory Processing Disorder.

“Toby is so sluggish,” says her mother. “The world just goes on around her. It’s like she’s not an active participant. She doesn’t have friends, because she doesn’t do anything. When she does get up, she is so clumsy; she falls over her own two feet. She is having trouble reading, too. My pediatrician says that she is a healthy child who is just uncoordinated and unmotivated, but I think there has to be an explanation.”

There is. Toby suffers from Under Responsivity – when the central nervous system under-responds to messages. She is suffering academically and socially.

Moishy W. suffers from a different sensory disorder.

“Moishy can’t get enough of things,” says his mother, Leah. “He splashes in the muddiest puddles, turns the music up to blasting, and loves touching the radiator – even when it feels dangerously hot. Yesterday, I found him pricking himself with a pin. He seemed to enjoy the sensation of pain.”

Moishy is a sensory seeker. He craves sensory input, and seeks intense sensations. He doesn’t mind things that others would find irritating or painful – and doesn’t seem to notice normal sensations. This creates many problems with issues such as hygiene. Moishy doesn’t seem to feel dirt on his face and hands – a huge social issue. His behavior is also often dangerous.

Moishy’s sensory issues carry over to his vestibular system – the system that lets a person sense direction, and his relationship to it. Up and down; right and left; fast and slow, are all issues. Since Moishy is a sensory seeker, he loves action and speed. His rebbe calls him a “troublemaker.” His mother is extremely frustrated.

“Yesterday, Moishy rode his bike down a steep hill. I saw him speeding, peyos flying, and this picture of sheer joy on his face. Then he hit a rock – and flew off his bike. I was afraid to look – but Moishy just picked himself up and laughed. To him, it was fun.”

A child whose vestibular system is over responsive will behave the opposite way. He will get dizzy on a swing, be a poor traveler, and trip often. Such children often suffer from social issues, because they can’t seem to get things “right.”

“Sruly is so clumsy; he’s always spilling or dropping something. At breakfast this morning, he broke a glass, spilled milk all over his sister, and banged into his brother on his way to the fridge – all in the space of two minutes. The kids yelled at him and called him a klutz. I couldn’t bear to see the look on his face. He looked so defeated.”

The problem is worse, in school.

“When Chanie’s teacher told her to glue sequins onto the class banner, the girls in her group groaned. A minute later, she banged her elbow into the plate of glue. Her classmates were furious, as they watched the thick white puddle spread onto the blue velvet.

“I knew something was going to happen when Chanie joined us,” a girl said.”Now we won’t win the contest.”

Sruli’s and Chanie’s sensory issues have serious social implications. Their clumsiness causes frustration and anger, and makes them the perfect target for teasing and bullying.

Often, children with a sensory processing disorder are misdiagnosed as having ADD or ADHD. Although the conditions sometimes overlap, they are separate conditions.

Sensory Processing Disorder is very common. Experts say that as many as 5% of children have some form. The percentage is much higher amongst autistic children. The good news is that the condition is treatable. Social skills training, reading help, and tutoring can teach a child to overcome the problem, and become successful, academically and socially.

Malky, the girl who misunderstood body language, was extremely successful in overcoming her disorder.

“For me, it was a matter of training,” she says.”Once I learned that my behaviors were annoying, I was able to avoid them. My whole life changed,” she says.

All children with Sensory Processing Disorder need to be evaluated by a professional. Conditioning and training can help them learn to respond to sensory stimulation appropriately, and to develop an appropriate sense of themselves and others in the world.

An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/when-touch-gets-too-touchy/2010/01/20/

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