Posts Tagged ‘Strategies’

No More Meltdowns in 5 Steps

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

You’re almost done with Saturday morning errands, you have just reached the supermarket, and then it happens: a meltdown! Meltdowns are not always about being defiant. Most meltdowns occur when a child feels out of control, or doesn’t understand a situation. Why are transitions so hard for some children? It’s not that they wouldn’t like to have dinner, or go to Grandma’s house. The reason is more likely that they were focused on a particular activity or expecting a certain routine, and your plan seemed to come out of nowhere. The good news is we have a few tips to help decrease meltdowns, and help you and your child feel more in control when things are about to get ugly!

1. Explain where you are going, when you are leaving and when you will return. We wouldn’t like to be taken to some mystery destination, and neither would our kids. Letting your child know what you’ve planned helps him to understand what to expect from the your outing.

2. Talk about potential disappointments and how we should react. You might remind your son about a time his favorite restaurant was closed and he got upset. “Last time you were disappointed when the pizzeria was closed, what should we do today if we our plans don’t work out?”

3. Make a game plan together. Discuss with your child ahead of time what is expected of him, what you as a parent can do to make him feel better, and what you will do as the one in charge, if the situation goes out of control. For example, I usually let my kids know why we are at Target, and what we are looking to buy. I then let them know what fun place we are supposed to go afterwards. Then I tell them, I am going to count each time you do something you are not supposed to do(being loud, not following directions). If I get to three, we will leave the cart, get in the car, and go home. On a good day, I might get to “one”, on a bad day, I might get to “three” just as we are leaving the store. Be consistent! Once your child knows you mean what you say, they’ll follow your plan too.

4. Ask your child how he feels. Sometimes the meltdown is just too much to handle right in the middle of a public area. Take your child to the car, or to a quiet place and talk it out. Let him know you understand that he is disappointed and ask him if he could explain what upset him so that you can understand better. Most children like to know that their parents are on their side. By acknowledging his feelings and trying to understand his point of view, you are showing just that! If your child is just too loud to reason with, don’t say a word or try to compete with his intensity, simply wait for him to calm down or wait for a pause so you can be the voice of reason.

5. If you know a particular place always results in tears and tantrums, you might consider not going there until your child is a little more mature. When he asks you why you haven’t taken a trip to that particular place, let him know the reason. You could say, “I don’t think we are ready for that store. It seems to upset you, and I would rather not go there.” Our children might not be aware of the consequences of their behavior. Not going to a fun place might be the necessary consequence for him to understand the importance of staying calm and using his words, rather than throwing a tantrum.

All children will throw tantrums at some point. Children with processing issues, ADHD, or Autism will have more frequent meltdowns. However with the right attitude and a lot of consistency we can survive and decrease the menacing meltdowns!

Camp Academia can help!  Call our office, 706-884-4492 to learn more.


Spring forward without falling backward!

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
sleeping child

courtesy of pixabay

We’ve taken a vote and decided that the Monday after the Daylight Saving Time change should be a national holiday. Just kidding!

It would be nice to have that extra day to adjust to the new time, especially for families with children with ADHD, Autism, other processing, and behavioral issues. That one hour change can often throw off our kids’ systems for weeks and even cause a set back to steady progress. Changes in sleep patterns and routines affect everyone, with or without learning issues.  However, there are some ways to help kids stay on track even when their bodies are telling them otherwise.

1. Stick to routines

Children with ADHD, Autism, and other learning differences are already struggling to understand the world around them.  Adding an extra hour to the day can be difficult to process.  We can help keep anxiety low by keeping to our regular routines and schedules.  The less out of control your child feels, the easier the adjustment period will be for everyone.

2. Try shifting your child’s schedule by 10-15 minutes each day

Often letting a child know exactly what is about to happen is the best way to prepare for a new situation.  Forwarding the day by a whole hour fits into the “new situations” category.  About ten days before Daylight Saving Time Sunday sit down with your child and let them know that soon everyone will be forwarding their clocks forward and that as a family you will all be preparing for the time change.  Children with ADHD and Autism are often visual learners. You can even make a chart or mark your calendar with the new wake-up and bedtimes to clearly show them how the time will change.

3. Light blocking shades

Too much light at bedtime can be a problem for kids with learning disabilities.  Their internal clocks often use environmental cues such as sunlight or darkness to help them wake and sleep.  Try using sun-blocking shades to keep out the light in the evening to help children fall asleep and to prevent them from waking up too early.

4. Extra exercise

Encourage your child to play outside or take them to the playground.  Physical activity can improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration.   Also, studies have shown that exercise reduces stress by increasing the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.   The combined benefits of releasing pent up energy, and reducing stress can have a positive impact on helping your child adjust to time change.

5. Avoid extra stimulation in the evening, especially around bedtime.

Help your child’s bedtime routine by avoiding rowdy games, electronic devices and any other activities that may energize your child and prevent them from falling asleep.  Instead, encourage quiet games, reading, coloring, and other calming activities.  Screens should be avoided.  Artificial light from tablets and smart phones has been shown to interfere with the body’s natural sleep patterns and can slow down the production of melatonin, a chemical the body naturally produces to regulate sleep.  Individuals with low melatonin levels will have difficulty sleeping at appropriate bedtimes.

6.  Brainjogging

Brainjogging can help your child adjust to Daylight Saving Time too!  Make a wordlist using relevant words and short phrases to help your child understand what Daylight Saving is and how it will affect his day.  You can add some of the ways that you plan on helping him adjust.  Look out for our word list about Daylight Savings under “My Assigned Lists”.

Overall, it is important to be aware that the Daylight Saving Time change may affect your child’s sleep patterns and behavior.  Be prepared, have a plan, and be patient!


New studies show rapid brain growth early in development in children with Autism.

Monday, February 20th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

Parents having children with autism are often anxious about younger siblings having the same diagnosis. And if they do have autism, parents are more likely to want to start earlier interventions. It looks as though recent studies will make this more likely for parents. In a study published in Nature, researchers were able to use MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in infants with autistic older siblings, to correctly predict 80 percent of those infants who would later meet the criteria for autism at age 2.

It is estimated that one out of 68 children develop autism in the United States. For infants with older siblings with autism, the risk may be as high as 20 out of every 100 births. Most children are not diagnosed with autism until they reach 24 months. As experts have observed, the earlier the diagnosis the better the outcome of the child.

For this Nature study, Piven, Hazlett, and researchers from around the country conducted MRI scans of infants at six, 12, and 24 months of age. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion (over-growth) of brain surface area from six to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of the condition at 24 months of age. Increased growth rate of surface area in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of overall brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.

This is great news for parents who already have a child with autism, and are having or thinking about having another baby. The earlier in development a child is exposed to the right conditions the more likely it is that the child will succeed. If a child is exposed to books and is read to from infancy, it is more likely that child will develop a love for reading. Along the same lines, if a child’s brain is at risk for specific brain changes that cause autism, exposing them to the right therapies and social environments has the potential to alleviate those social deficits and symptoms of autism.

Brainjogging is one such intervention, and can be done as early as 3 years old. When done twice a day, the cognitive exercises help to sync the brain’s pathways. In the case of autism, many children experience overstimulation, where multiple neurons are firing at once. This can make even the simplest task seem complicated. After Brainjogging, children with autism are able to focus on the task in front of them. The younger a child starts interventions like Brainjogging, the more likely it is that the child will overcome learning difficulties and deficits.


“Early brain development in infants at high risk for autism spectrum disorder”,  Nature 542,  348–351 

Kids who learn music, read better!

Monday, January 16th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Do your still children still have music class in school? If not, you might think about finding a good piano or violin teacher. Studies show that music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills.

According to initial results of a five-year study by USC neuroscientists, music instruction speeds up auditory pathway development in the brain and increases its efficiency.  In other words, the neuronal path from the ear to the brain gets stronger.  This process helps accelerate the development of language and reading, two key components to academic success!

So, how can we introduce our kids to music?

1.  Start young!

Sing nursery rhymes and make instruments out of items around the house to make music time a fun time!

2.  Join a Mommy and me music group.

Isn’t everything more fun with friend?  Joining a toddler group will help your baby learn social skills along with an appreciation of music.  It doesn’t hurt that you might make a friend a long the way!

3.  Support music in the schools.

Many school budgets do not support the arts.  Having musical instruction in school is not only great for cognitive development, but also for improving team work, critical thinking, and imagination.  Music class also provides an stress-busting environment for older children who might have a schedule full of tough classes the rest of the day.

4.  If you play an instrument, don’t stop!

If you hear stories about famous singers and musicians, many give acknowledge the fact that their parents played an instrument, or that their dad always had jazz in the background.  It may not always seem like it, but children do model their parents’ behavior.  If we play an instrument or sing around the house, our kids are more likely to do the same!

5.  Find a good music teacher.

When your child is old enough, try sending her to an age appropriate music camp, or sign up for piano (or any instrument) lessons.  We can’t force our children to like an instrument, but we can expose them to different forms of music in different environments.  The possibilities are endless!


Sleep deprivation affects children differently than adults

Thursday, December 1st, 2016 by admin

If you have kids, then you know the horror of a sleep-deprived child!  We also know that we as adults need a good nights sleep to be our most productive.  However, a new study shows that sleep-deprivation affects children differently than adults.


“The process of sleep may be involved in brain “wiring” in childhood and thus affect brain maturation,” said Salome Kurth, Ph.D., first author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.   A lot of important neural connections are made when children sleep.   According to his recent study,  when adults are sleep-deprived, damage is seen in the frontal regions of the brain.  However, when children do not get needed sleep, damage occurs in the parieto-occipital (language, math, spacial relationships, vision) region, in the back of the brain.  This correlates with the fact, that in childhood, sleep is needed for development of the posterior regions of the brain.

After staying up too late, both children and adults need a period of deep sleep to recover.  This recovery phase is characterized by an increase in an electrical pattern called slow-wave activity, which can be measured with a non-invasive technique called an electroencephalogram. With a large number of electrode channels distributed across the scalp, this method also detects which brain regions show more slow-wave activity than others.

Kurth and his colleagues at the University of Zurich, measured the deep sleep patterns of two groups of children.  One group had a  normal night’s sleep.  The other had been kept up past their bedtimes by reading and playing games with them.   After only getting half of a night’s worth of sleep, the children showed more slow-wave activity towards the back regions of the brain, the parieto-occipital areas. This suggests that the brain circuitry in these regions may be particularly susceptible to a lack of sleep.

In addition, the study also showed a correlation between deep sleep activity and myelin content in the brain.  Myelin is a fatty microstructure of the brain’s white matter that allows electrical information between brain cells to travel faster. It can be measured with a specific magnetic resonance imaging technique.  The higher the content of myelin in a region of the brain, the more the sleep loss effect is similar to adults.  Regions of the brain that are undergoing development, will be more affected by sleep deprivation.


How can we be sure that our child is getting enough sleep?

Creating the right bed time routine for your child can be tricky.  But if you make it simple and clear, it can be done!

  • Set up a routine from start to finish and be consistent in following each step.
  • Have your child start his bedtime routine at the same time each day.
  • If your child responds to visual cues, a chart might help!
  • Avoid video games.
  • Some children have food sensitivities that can irritate their digestive system and prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep.  Stop all snacks and meals 2 hours before bedtime if you think that might be the case.
  • Keep a journal to see what worked and what didn’t.

Children love predictability!  A bedtime routine often leads to better behavior because our kids will get needed sleep as well as know what to expect each day.






Mommy! Mommy!: Sharing “mommy time”

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 by admin

Your daughter needs extra help with her reading homework, but at that very moment, your son has figured out how to build a car with legos. Where do you turn? Sounds like a day in the life of every mom, right!? When one child needs extra help in any area of his or her life, it is easy to forget that the other child (or children!) need your attention too! We assume they know we love them, but for most children our approval  and attention is a sign of our love.

So what do we do? Grow four more arms and another set of eyes? As helpful as that might sound, we have a better way! Why not include the other child? Are you showing your baby how to crawl? Have everyone crawl around the house to chase a ball. Maybe, your elder child needs help in math. Have a hands on math activity your youngest can do beside you while you assist the older child. Give praise to both as they complete their work.

At Camp Academia, siblings who see their brother or sister do Brainjogging want to be apart of the action! Why not teach them how to help instead of “shooing” them away.  In the picture below, the 4 year old little sister is holding her brother’s head, so he can do Brainjogging. (Brainjogging only works when you keep your head very still and only move your eyes!)


Kids can help too!


We can also make a child feel special by give her special mommy time. You can schedule a specific time for that child and have your spouse or another family member spend time with the other child or children. A special drive or a trip for ice cream can turn into a wonderful memory for a child!

How do you make time for your children? Do you give them individual time? Or do you find away to include everyone?

5 Steps to a Low-Stress Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 by admin

Happy Halloween!


Halloween…that one day of the year when even the most typical child can experience sensory overload!  Check out these 5 simple tips for a fun and low-stress Halloween!

1.  Have your child try on his costume at least one week before Halloween. This prevents those OMG moments that can arise from itchy or tight clothing. You’ll get a chance to cut off all those troublesome tags too!

2.  Have replacement treats if your child is on a special diet and have a plan that your child agrees on for switching to “safe” candy.  If your child knows the plan ahead of time, he will be more willing to cooperate with you!

3.  Plan your family’s Halloween fun! Invite friends that your child feels comfortable with for snacks and trick or treating.   You don’t even have to go trick or treating.  Plan the day according to what you and your child are comfortable doing.  If your son or daughter would prefer an evening of fun snacks and games at home, then that’s what you should do!  Creating an environment where your child feels safe and at ease will help them stay calm and focus on the fun!

4.  Try to stick to regular meal and bedtime routines as much as possible.  Cranky and hungry kids are scary even without the costumes!

5.  Realize that it’s Halloween and the most important part of the day is NOT getting the perfect picture with the scarecrow, making jack-o-lantern cupcakes, or reaching every house on the block. The most important aspect of any holiday is spending time with your sweet little pumpkin!

Is Screen Time Worth the “Quiet time”?

Friday, October 21st, 2016 by admin

Screens are everywhere! Even as we enter a bookstore, we see a variety of tablets and big HD screens playing the latest movie releases. But, when all is said and done, are the 30 minutes of quiet time we get from giving a child a smart phone or iPad a good exchange?

There are emergency situations that pop up, and as parents we need to do what is right for our children based our individual situations.  But what about our daily regular daily routines?  What are we trying to accomplish by giving a child a smart phone? Maybe we want a quiet dinner, or we want to be able to finish cleaning the kitchen.  We might need some extra time to respond to work emails. And we should be able to have time to do these important tasks. But when we give a child an iPad at dinner, he may be quiet, but he is missing an important part of growing up! The interaction children get at dinner when they can sit with their family in a safe environment and discuss the day’s events is important for social development.

Instead of turning on Netflix while you clean, maybe have an activity they can work on in the kitchen. Better yet, divide the chores according to age and everyone is able to help clean the kitchen faster!

Responding to work emails is trickier! If you can’t wait until the kids are sleeping, maybe you can respond during homework time, and let the kids know that you have work to complete as well.

When a child is misbehaving at the supermarket, will giving him a smartphone solve the problem? Probably not. The child has learned that the reward for misbehaving is getting to play on your smart phone!  Instead, plan on quick trips to the store or make a list with your child to make your food shopping a fun learning experience too.  The supermarket is a great place to talk about eating healthy, letters, counting, money,  manners, and more!

Numerous studies have shown that children who play games on iPads and smartphones, talk later, have less focus and attention, and can even have delays in basic motor skills. Have you ever tried to take an iPad away from a 5 year old? The hour it takes to bargain with your child to get the iPad back makes the 30 minutes of quiet seem irrelevant!

The next time you need to occupy your children to get work done, take a second to think of the pros and cons before handing them a screen.  If you can’t think of any other activity, I’ve given you a list below!

Here is a list of some activities they could do instead (there are a lot more!):

  1. Read a book/listen to an audiobook
  2. Play a board game with siblings.
  3. Pick up their toys.
  4. Play outside.
  5. Call Grandma.
  6. Help with chores.
  7. Help younger siblings learn something new.
  8. Bake cookies.
  9. Find different colored leaves and press them in books.
  10. Call a friend over to play.
  11. Go to a friends house to play.
  12. Write a story.
  13. Paint
  14. Help cook dinner.
  15. Go for a run or bike ride.
  16. Play doh.
  17. Legos/blocks
  18. Workbooks
  19. Make a fort/play in a tent.
  20. Write a letter/draw a picture for Santa.





Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 by admin


As we all know, the only way to help a child with an ADHD diagnosis is to TREAT THE ISSUES! The best way for parents to be sure their child is getting the needed support and services, is to KNOW THEIR CHILD’S RIGHTS!

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has received thousands of complaints of discrimination based on disability, with 10 % being students with ADHD. The most common concern is that these students are not being evaluated in a timely manner, and are NOT receiving the needed aides and services.

Here are the facts:
1.  Schools MUST evaluate a student when he/she NEEDS or is BELIEVED TO NEED special education or services.

2.  Schools are OBLIGATED to provide services based on SPECIFIC needs, NOT GENERALIZATIONS about ADHD or any other diagnosis. (Each student should be evaluated individually without comparison to previous students or case studies.)

3.  Students who experience behavioral challenges, or seem unfocused COULD HAVE ADHD, and may need to be evaluated.

4.  Schools must allow parents to APPEAL decisions regarding identification, evaluation, or educational placement of students with any disability, including ADHD.

How can we ensure our children are given the necessary services and aides to help them succeed at school?

1.  Be an advocate for your child.  No one knows your child better than their parents (or guardians).

2.  Stay informed!  Know your rights and be knowledgeable about the latest advances and research regarding ADHD.   Being aware of different accommodations and treatments will help you to make the best decisions for your child!

3.  Maintain a good relationship with your child’s homeroom and resource teacher.  Having an open line of communication will keep you and your child’s teacher aware of any important changes in behavior.

The right combination of support from parents, teachers, and mentors is crucial in helping each child succeed!


U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance On Civil Rights of Students with ADHD,  July 26, 2016

Reading is FUNdamental!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 by admin

What was the last book your child was excited to read? What was the last book you were excited to read? We know the importance of reading, but how do we get our children to love books? As with anything, we need to make it fun!

If you were give a choice between reading Poor Richard’s Almanac and the latest New York Times bestseller, what would you choose? I’d choose the book I was more eager to read! Think about your kids for a minute. You can choose books you think they should read, or you can take them to the library or bookstore and have them choose books that they WANT to read.

One of our students with language processing issues had a tough time choosing a book to read for his weekly reading comprehension test. His mother sent a note asking for an age appropriate book from the Flat Stanley series. When her son brought home the book, he quickly lost interest after reading one or two chapters. It was a struggle to finish the book and an even bigger struggle to get him to review the main concepts.

At a trip to the book store she noticed her son looking at the Mercy Watson series of books. She asked her son, “Why don’t you bring home a book about Mercy Watson from the library?” Well that did it! He not only brought home one book about that silly little pig named Mercy, he has been bringing every book in the series, and reading on his own!! He even got a 90% on his last test!

Let’s get our kids on the path to succeed by helping them them love to read!