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  • June 06, 2023 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Great 5 minute video from Bright & Quirky regarding this topic:

    If your bright child resists the very thought of reading, or learning non-preferred subjects, should you push them anyway?

    According to Melanie Hayes, EdD, Director of Big Minds Unschool, this pattern is not unusual in bright and quirky kids.

    Listen as Dr. Hayes shares quick tips on how to proceed in this delicate situation. The answers may surprise you.

  • May 08, 2023 7:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ADDitude  Newsletter

    Q: My teen has ADHD, and sometimes, she can be very sensitive. When she confides in me, I don’t always know when I should give her advice and when to stay quiet and just listen. How can I tell which response is best?

    When your teen opens up, try to determine whether she just wants a safe space to vent or she is uncertain and seeking guidance. Knowing is half the battle. A teenager’s primary job is to move away from their parents little by little to eventually become fully independent. Teens are a lot like toddlers—venturing farther from you to test their independence, but still requiring support as they face a host of dangers they don’t understand. Your role is to encourage safe exploration and stand by.

    You can do this by listening reflectively and asking thoughtful questions. Your best strategies will be to reflect on what you’re hearing, to be honest about your own uncertainty, and to ask what she needs. If she does want guidance, be sure to keep your advice simple, brief, and nonjudgmental.

    You might say something along these lines:

    • “It sounds like this situation with Suzie is really frustrating. I have some thoughts about how you might handle it, but I’m not sure that’s what you want right now.”
    • “Seems like you’re facing a tough choice. What would be the positives if you made choice A? What about B? Are there any negatives to either choice?”
    • “Gosh, that is a dilemma. How would you feel if you didn’t (do the thing, say the thing)?”
    • “I see how much thought you’re giving to this, and I get how challenging this must be. What does your gut say?”

    Walking alongside her as she thinks about and solves her own problems is far more powerful, and supportive of a growth mindset, than is solving the problems for her. But don’t be surprised if she resists answering your questions. If her response is a sigh and an eyeroll, show your reflective listening with responses like, “I get it. Wow, that’s hard.”

    Remember to acknowledge her thoughtfulness, as praise is scarce for many teens who have ADHD. You might say, “Thanks for including me as you think this through. I’m really impressed by how you’re handling it.” For a teen who struggles (and let’s face it: what teen doesn’t?), knowing you’re her ally, confidante, and biggest cheerleader can be the best scaffold in the world.

  • May 08, 2023 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Attitude Newsletter

    As an educator dedicated to supporting students with ADHD and other learning differences, I’ve delivered many presentations over the years to teachers of students who learn differently. One training session, in particular, stands out. I desperately wanted to effect real change, and I remember putting immense pressure on myself to drive home the importance of inclusive teaching strategies.

    As I quietly reflected on how to achieve that, I jotted down a list of essential presentation components: statistics on learning differences, findings from peer-reviewed journals (naturally), quotes from psychologists — anything I thought would make an impact on this group of teachers. Still, for all their compassionate intentions, it was possible they would forget my words by Monday morning.

    Then I realized what was missing: the human element. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a powerful way to appreciate (or try to appreciate) the lived experience of others. That’s what I wanted the teachers to do.

    On the day of the training, I asked the teachers to try some exercises to better understand the top challenges facing their students with learning differences. I still use these and other simulations for educators today.

    Simulations for Educators: Activities to Understand Students with ADHD and LDs

    To Simulate Difficulty with Focus

    For this activity, I have teachers read a short text on a screen and try to retain key points (like names, dates, and places) without taking notes and while loud, distracting noises (traffic, children playing, birds tweeting, and so on) play. The text also disappears off and on the screen during the activity, interrupted by intermittent thought bubbles that display questions like, “I wonder if it’s going to rain later” and “Did I remember to switch off the gas?”

    Without warning, the text abruptly disappears from the screen, replaced by a series of questions about the text. The teachers then have a few minutes to answer those questions.

    To Simulate Sensory Overload

    I ask teachers to take a short quiz in this activity, but the quiz isn’t the main point. The purpose is to gauge how they feel in their environment as they’re taking the quiz and as multiple environmental changes are taking place, unbeknownst to them. These changes are meant to provoke strong sensory responses similar to those experienced by students with sensory processing challenges.

    Before starting the quiz, I have teachers sit uncomfortably close to one another (within reason). I also bring in a few extra lamps. During the quiz, I turn up the heating, turn on the extra lamps, keep blinds wide open if there is bright sunlight, type loudly on my keyboard, and shuffle papers. I also start a ticking countdown timer or coordinate ahead of time with the room next door to have them make lots of noise during the quiz.

    To Simulate Auditory Processing Difficulties

    In this listening exercise, teachers have to write as I read aloud from a passage. (I choose an intermediate-level text). However, embedded into every sentence is a completely made-up, nonsense word. As I read, I do not stop to explain or spell this word. I continue to read as if I’ve said nothing unusual, ignoring the looks of confusion and other reactions from the audience.

    To Simulate Visual Strain

    Many students with dyslexia experience visual perception issues that affect reading. (Though visual strain is also common in dysgraphia and other learning differences.) Black text against white backgrounds tend to cause most visual strain, even causing letters to appear blurry, distorted, and at different line heights. This is somewhat straightforward to simulate. I have teachers read blurry black text printed on a white sheet of paper, and I ask them to compare that to the experience of reading the same text, but printed in blue and on cream-colored paper. The latter, of course, reduces visual strain.

    Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Helping Neurodivergent Students Succeed

    Ultimately, a neurotypical person can never truly understand the neurodivergent experience. But, without fail, there is always a tangible shift in the room following these exercises. I know that I’ve hit the mark when I hear “wows” and see heads nodding — or shaking. Teachers will share that the activities made them feel “stupid,” “frustrated,” “uncomfortable,” and “ashamed.” They are instantly curious and eager to know what they can do to avoid making their neurodivergent students feel this way. They want to know how to become inclusive educators who can help all students succeed. They want to enact real change.

  • March 26, 2023 3:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “How was your day?” “Fine.” It’s not exactly illuminating conversation, is it? Unfortunately, many kids with ADHD don’t leap at the opportunity to talk to Mom and Dad about how their day at school went — especially if it went poorly. Here’s how parents can encourage better communication (hint: it starts by asking the right questions).

    Kids don’t like to share their thoughts and feelings about school, especially if they have had a rough day. Unfortunately, many children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a lot of rough days at school. Many of them find school a slog — seven hours of falling short of expectations and feeling bad about themselves. Who would want to talk about those experiences every day?

    Liz Evans, a mother of three and a former educator who blogs at Simple Simon and Company (, wanted to get more out of her two tight-lipped children, Simon and Grace. When she asked how school was, they grunted “Fine” or “Good.” Nothing else.

    Evans wanted more feedback, as many parents do. So she blogged about a list of questions to ask that get them talking. According to Evans, some questions have led to interesting conversations, hilarious answers, and insights into how her children think and feel about school. Her question-and-answer strategy worked. Simon and Grace started speaking in full sentences. If your child is quiet about school, try out some of Evans’s questions on him or her:

    1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
    2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
    3. Whom would you like to sit by in class? (Whom would you not want to sit by in class? Why?)
    4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
    5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today (or something weird that someone said).
    6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
    7. How did you help somebody today?
    8. How did somebody help you today?
    9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
    10. When were you the happiest today?
    11. When were you bored today?
    12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
    13. Who would you like to play with at recess whom you’ve never played with before?
    14. Tell me something good that happened today.
    15. What word did your teacher say the most today?
    16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
    17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
    18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
    19. Where do you play the most at recess?
    20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
    21. What was your favorite part of lunch?

    Evans’s favorite answers came from questions 12, 15, and 21. The “alien” question gives kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and encourage a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn’t know about.

    “When I asked question 3,” says Evans, “I discovered that one of my children didn’t want to sit by a best friend in class anymore — not out of a desire to be mean but in the hope that she’d get the chance to work with other people.”

    “As my kids get older,” says Evans, “I know I’m going to have to work harder to stay engaged with them — but it’s going to be worth the work.

  • February 27, 2023 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If your child has ADHD, give her some alone time — you just might be blown away by her creativity, and she’ll get a major self-esteem boost.

    Giving time, space, and freedom to middle-schoolers with ADHD to do what they want to do, without criticism, works wonders for their confidence. Downtime gets their dopamine flowing, not only through the thinking parts of the brain but the reward centers as well. It may be the only time of the day that they feel comfortable in their skin.

    For kids with ADHD, any pressure to achieve can cause tension and discouragement. Children with ADHD are especially sensitive to criticism. It takes a lot of positive responses to counteract one negative response. And it’s hard for them to get positive responses when day-to-day tasks seem boring, they are struggling to meet other people’s goals, and they are discouraged from thinking outside the box.

    Life on the Wild Side

    Kids with ADHD show their creativity best when they are left to their own devices. Natural improv comedians, they pick something up and think, “What can I do with this?” “I wonder what would happen if…”

    How can parents help their kids express their authentic selves? Here’s how.

    TIME: Don’t over-schedule your child’s time. Allow him time to do nothing. He (and his friends) will fill the time with something. It’s no secret that kids with ADHD have an abundance of creativity, just looking for an outlet.

    SPACE: Creativity is usually messy. Set aside part of a basement or garage for your child’s projects. Or give the kitchen over to him for an afternoon. Some middle-schoolers I know do their projects at one end of a walk-in closet or in a tree house.

    MATERIALS: Help your child to assemble a mini-junkyard — duct tape, wire hangers, round oatmeal boxes, shoe boxes and Styrofoam packing, cardboard tubes, scraps of fabric or wood, things with parts missing, old wheels from a toy. Other raw materials are paper, pens, and markers.

    Access to tools goes along with a selection of materials. A good gift for a middle-schooler is a toolbox equipped with basic tools. You can never have too many scissors, staples, metal rulers, or screwdrivers. Drop your old sheets, shower curtains, and shirts into the junkyard for messy activities.

    FREEDOM: Once equipped, don’t tie your child’s hands or mind with rules and directions. Forgo critiques, unless safety requires otherwise. One 13-year-old I know told her mom she wanted to make a dress. The mother gave her some remnants, needles, and thread, and let her try.

    The daughter was happy with the shapeless garment she created, and happy enough with the experience of making the dress, but her mother’s response was, “I thought you wanted to make a real dress.” Instead of a put-down, she could have said, “I like those colors together” or “That was fast.”

    Offer help; don’t urge it. If the child is disappointed in the results, and says, “This is crooked,” or “I thought it would turn out bigger/different/straighter,” that is the time to say, “If you want, I’ll show you how to use a pattern” or “There are ways to prevent that. Let me know if you want me to show you how.” If you take over their projects, kids will feel inadequate and afraid that their interests are not up to your expectations.

    [How “Making Connections” Helps Kids with ADHD]

    When a parent shows confidence in his middle-schooler’s choices, and encourages her to follow her own plan or whim, that confidence is contagious. She learns that her choices are sometimes right, that her personality is OK, and that it is fine to do things because they feel right, even if they don’t serve someone else’s purpose.

    “Look What I Did!”

    Some kids I know with ADHD have used their downtime to:

    • Cut a large bamboo cane and make six-ounce drinking glasses from it.
    • Dam up a small stream. When the dam broke, they built a bridge over it.
    • Write poetry, stories, jokes, and even chapters of a novel or autobiography while trapped in the car on a family road trip.
    • Transplant sprouted acorns and other tree seedlings into a “tree farm,” and tend it for several years.
    • Write, stage, rehearse, shoot, and edit a video.
    • Train a dog to shake hands with either front paw.

  • February 23, 2023 1:02 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    From the William & Mary School of Education web site . . .

    What is the 2e at William & Mary Conference? 

    The 2e @ W&M: Twice Exceptional Conference focuses on twice-exceptional (high-ability/gifted with learning differences/disabilities or neurodiverse) children at home and school.  The conference aims to provide information, resources, support, and community building opportunities to educators, administrators, parents, practitioners, counselors, and district personnel.

    When is the conference?

    This time, the 2e at W&M Conference is online February 24-25, 2023. The 2021 and 2022 conferences were also online and are available for purchase below.

    2023 Registration Information

    • Full Conference: $200
    • Full Conference Early Bird: $175 (until Jan. 9th)
    • Parent Only Sessions: $100
    • W&M Students: $30
    • Division Access (up to 15 participants): $2,000

    See the conference web site for details on schedule, presenters, and registration.

  • December 15, 2022 6:59 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    From 12/15/2022 Argonne National Laboratory email:

    Are your female students curious about science and the world around them? Are they natural problem solvers? Are they compelled to understand how things work? Have them come join Argonne National Laboratory in exploring the world of engineering and science at the 21st Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED).


    8th grade girls interested in STEM


    Friday, February 17, 2023

    8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


    Argonne National Laboratory

    TCS Conference Center

    9700 S Cass Ave, Lemont, IL 60439


    Register Online by January 27, 2023 to be entered into the lottery.

    Click here for complete details and registration.

  • September 14, 2022 10:30 AM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    From Educational Programs at Argonne National Laboratory 9/14/2022 email . . .


    Council Seeks High School Students To Share Their Voices

    The Argonne Education Teen Advisory Council (ATAC) is an opportunity for young people to strengthen the impact of Argonne’s educational programs by providing feedback on current and future activities. While the ATAC is not a hands-on STEM program, as a member, you’ll have access to STEM professionals and resources that align with your interests in a variety of fields. You’ll also have the opportunity to virtually learn what it’s like to work at a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory.

    Membership on the ATAC is a commitment that requires you to contribute your time, energy, and ideas for the council. We will meet virtually every Thursday after school and occasionally meet in person at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont and Argonne in Chicago at Harper Court. This council will run from November through May 2023.

    Applications Due October 15, 2022. Click here for complete details and to apply.

  • August 25, 2022 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Strong executive function skills often make all the difference between daily family stress over academics and helping your child become more independent and successful in school.

    What is one way parents can help their kids stay better organized throughout the school year?

    Sunday sessions can be an integral part of your child’s success. When parents sit down with their children on Sunday to explore the week ahead, they position themselves as partners, which helps to create and maintain a cooperative and productive dynamic in the family.

    During these sessions, students and parents should include their commitments and tasks for the week and discuss what will be necessary to ensure everyone’s responsibilities and needs are met. The “We are all in this together” message is powerful!

    Watch this video to see Educational Connections Founder and President Ann Dolin, M.Ed., explain how Sunday Sessions work and why they’re so effective.

    How to Hold a Sunday Session:

    1. Set aside a few moments to discuss the week ahead with your child. This can happen during Sunday dinner or whatever time you decide works best for your family.
    2. Tell your child, “Let’s talk about the week ahead.” Then ask them, “Do you have any tests or big projects coming up this week?”
    3. At this time, ask your child to get out their computer and open their LMS (Schoology, Canvas, or whichever platform their teachers use for assignments).
    4. Your child can then write down all of their big tasks for the week.

    By preparing for the week ahead, your child will go to school on Monday organized and aware of what’s coming up instead of just showing up blind to the week ahead.

  • August 25, 2022 11:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Punishing disruptive behaviors in the classroom that stem from ADHD will do little to change behavior. Luckily, teaching executive function skills to these students can help minimize blurting out in class, talking too much, and leaving assigned seats.

    Talking too much. Leaving an assigned seat. Blurting out in class. These disruptive behaviors — commonly associated with ADHD — are often misperceived as intentional misbehavior. In reality, they are clues pointing to a child’s delayed brain maturity and executive dysfunction.

    Disciplining or punishing this disruptive behavior will do very little; to influence change, parents and educators must look deeper to solve the executive function deficits at behaviors’ core. Below are common school behaviors rooted in inhibition and impulsivity problems, and strategies for each. Keep in mind that younger students with ADHD may lack the language skills to understand instructions or to express their emotions. They may become easily frustrated and scream, cry, bite, or hit others.

    Inhibition Challenge #1: Talking Too Much or Blurting Out in Class

    • Post and regularly review a Voice Level Chart: outside voice, presentation voice, partner & group work, whisper, silent (for classwork).
    • Remind students that “work time” is “silent time.”
    • Teach students to take a quick water break and stretch if they feel tempted to talk during “silent time,” or quietly move away from a classmate who disrupts them.
    • Take a picture of the student raising her hand and waiting for help. Tape the picture to her desk as a reminder.
    • Give the student a small color-coded flip chart that indicates three levels of work status:
      • green – “I’m working fine”
      • yellow – “I need help but I can keep working”
      • red – “I need help and I can’t keep working.”
    • Teach students to write down comments or questions, especially during “silent time.”

    [Download: The Big List of ADHD School Resources from ADDitude]

    Inhibition Challenge #2: Leaving an Assigned Seat or Fidgeting

    • Seat a fidgety student at the end of the row for more mobility and allow them to stand, kneel, or sit on their knees at the desk.
    • Assign two workstations so the student can move desks for different subjects.
    • Take a snapshot of the student sitting at their desk or tape it in a visible spot. Discuss and practice the desired behavior.

    Inhibition Challenge #3: Losing Focus and Finding Distractions

    • Increase activity levels and student interactions in lessons, and give students 5-minute brain breaks between sessions.
    • Use a variety of teaching strategies — lecture, worksheet, white board work, and team collaboration or game play — within each lesson.
    • Pre-record a 10- to 12-minute lecture so students can work at their own pace with ear buds. Group students to discuss answers and complete worksheets together.

    Inhibition at School: Next Steps

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