Category: Individuals with Special Needs

Ann Coulter: Use of the “R” Word

Timothy Schriver, writing in the Huffington Post (Oct. 27, 2012), forwards to writer Ann Coulter a letter from a young man with Down syndrome. Recently Ms. Coulter used the “R” word while criticizing the President of the United States: “Dear Ann Coulter, “Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why […]

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A Father’s Sadness about Schizophrenia and Schools

Paul Gionfriddo, formerly a state legislator in Connecticut, writes about his son, who showed signs of schizophrenia when very young and whose life has been ravaged by the disease. (Article, My Son Is Schizophrenic—the Reforms I Worked for Have Worsened His Life in the October 15, 2012, edition of the

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A Current Look at Mental Health and Learning Disabilities in Schools

Public Law 94-142, passed by the Congress in 1976, and following legislation including Individual Education Disabilities Act (IDEA), defined different handicapping conditions for which a child could receive additional support (and therefore additional funding) in the public school system. A continuum of extra supports was initiated. This could range from being in a smaller class […]

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Grant to Astor Services Follows APA Recommendations

The AMHF grant to Astor Services for Children—to identify and evaluate interventions that help adolescents at risk for suicide and psychosis, and to create scientifically supported guidelines—supports the exact kind of empirical investigation recommended by American Psychological Association President Suzanne Bennett Johnson. In the President’s Column of the July August 2012 APA Monitor (American Psychological […]

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Delivered from Distraction

Edward Hallowell and John Ratey have published a follow-up to their successful book Driven to Distraction. On a hopeful note, it is titled Delivered from Distraction. The first book was written in the 1990s. It contains much good advice on ADHD: diagnosis, medications, telling it apart from other conditions as well as finding it in […]

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Combating Autism Act of 2006: PL 109-416

Although the education of children and teens with autism is covered both in Public Law 94-142 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), even with these supports some parents and advocates worried that the intense needs of those with autism were not being fully addressed. This led to the passage of PL 109-416. This act: […]

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One Less “Big Brothers Big Sisters”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization which matches volunteers to children who could use a supportive adult in their life. Children in foster care, in single parent families, children with an incapacitating illness–are the kinds of youngsters who might be given priority status. The sponsoring agency has been known to do a careful […]

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Play Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Decades ago I was a pre-doctoral intern in clinical psychology and was assigned a therapy case of a young man who would probably now be considered to be experiencing an autism spectrum disorder. He was extremely guarded, withdrawn, and tactile defensive (not liking to touch objects in his environment). Three times each week we met […]

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Pre-School and Later Incarceration

When I worked in the Astor Day Treatment Program many years ago, our program shared a large inner-city school building with a Head Start Program. It was heartwarming to see young children learning the skills and developing the kinds of relationships that would lead to later success in life. Many didn’t get proper nutrition and […]

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New Books on Counseling

Here are some new books on counseling by members of the American Counseling Association, as described in the February 2012 edition of Counseling Today: Married to the Enemy: A Guide to Overcoming the Obstacles to Intimacy When We are Raised in a Culture that Uses Stereotyping and Sexism to Divide Us By Dawn Kozarian and […]

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Psychiatry Films from AMHF: “Charly” (1968)

This is the fifth of twenty-one films in the AMHF series of blogs. Charly is a controversial film, about mental retardation and psychiatry. The central controversy revolves around the question, “What is a human being?” Are individuals challenged by developmental delays “to be cured?” Are they not soulful, “whole individuals”? What would be the role […]

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Developmental Delays and Disabilities Listed in IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) lists conditions present in a child that can qualify him or her for special services in the educational system in preschool. These are: *Chromosomal Abnormalities (e.g., Down syndrome) *Syndromes (e.g., fetal alcohol syndrome) *Neuromuscular Disorder (e.g., cerebral palsy, spina bifida) *Central nervous system (CNS) abnormality (e.g., caused by bacterial/viral […]

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Neuropsychology and Children

There are occasions when a child will need to be tested—not by a school or clinical psychologist, but by a neuropsychologist. This occurs when a child displays a brain-based disorder, which can mean an entire spectrum of disorders. Learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, head injuries, cancer, and even gunshot wounds are among the kind of problems […]

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Trends in Psychological Testing

Many people still have the idea that psychological testing is mostly practiced in clinics and hospitals, and have images of psychologists sitting with clipboards giving Rorschach Inkblot tests and intelligence tests. In actuality, most psychological testing is now done in schools, and it has a preventive function: to identify mental retardation, learning disabilities, emotional disorders, […]

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APA Guidelines on Disabilities

The American Psychological Association has announced, in the January 2012 issue of American Psychologist, “Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention With Persons of Disabilities.” This document lists twenty-two practice-guidelines for psychologists who work with persons displaying disabilities of various kinds. The task force for this report was chaired by Kurt F. Geisinger of the University […]

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Highly Sensitive People (HSP)

Elaine Aron pioneered new ground over a decade ago when she wrote the trade book The Highly Sensitive Person; this was followed up by a workbook, a book on parenting children who are highly sensitive, and even a primer for therapists. Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP), in her view (which incorporates findings from important developmental psychologists […]

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Curt Schilling Reflects on ADHD, Video Games, Scheduling

Many remember Curt Schilling for his postseason successes with the Boston Red Sox, including one in which he pitched while in pain and with a bloodied sock. Schilling recently announced that he has formed his own video-game company, which will be releasing a fantasy-oriented game for gamers. The story behind the story here is that […]

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American Psychological Association Announces Guidelines for Psychologist Involvement in Pharmacological Issues

In the recent yearly “Reports of the Association” issue of the American Psychologist (December 2011), the American Psychological Association announced “Practice Guidelines Regarding Psychologists’ Involvement in Pharmacological Issues.” This report notes several factors that will make psychologists more involved in medication-management issues. One survey noted that the number of Americans using antidepressants increased from 6.7 […]

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Feds: NYS System Fails Developmentally Disabled

From the Poughkeepsie Journal, January 12, 2012: “ALBANY. A federal report finds the Cuomo administration and previous administrations ran a system to care for the developmentally disabled that not only failed patients and had an alarming number of unexplained deaths, but also excluded public review and ideas that could have protected patients better. “The Department […]

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Special Needs Financial Calculator

Ann Carrns, writing in the January 11, 2012, New York Times, notes a new financial tool, one geared for families with individuals who have special needs: “Families with children who have special needs or disabilities face even bigger hurdles than most people when it comes to planning for their financial futures. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management […]

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Counsel, Don’t Just Medicate, the Dually Diagnosed

The December 22, 2011, edition of the New York Times brings out another article on the problems and abuses in New York State public groups homes where developmentally disabled persons reside. It is important to note that the focus of the NYT articles has been on “public” rather than private group homes. Many of the […]

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Psychiatric Center Closing Looms

Hudson River Psychiatric Center was a massive development built in the 19th century in Poughkeepsie, New York. The solid-brick buildings, many with iron window bars to prevent escapes, formed a city unto itslef, with capacity being over 5,000 patients who required hospitalization from illnesses we now term schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, late-stage alcohol and […]

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Order of Malta Meets in NYC

This past week the Order of Malta (Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta) met in New York City. This is a lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church whose members are dedicated to serving the poor and the sick. They represent a 900-year-old history of helping the […]

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Epilepsy Awareness

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. I want to take a few words to reflect on this baffling, often-misunderstood condition, especially within the mental-health profession. Epilepsy has been known since ancient times. In the New Testament, Jesus cures an epileptic, recommending fasting and prayer. Such might be the genesis of the ketogenic diet, developed since […]

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Still More on the DSM Discussion

From the 14th edition of Abnormal Psychology by James N. Butcher, Susan Mineka, and Jill M. Hooley (Boston: Allyn and Bacon): “The concept of mental disorder, as we have seen, suffers from the lack of a truly objective means of what is disordered and what is not. It is also in the financial interests of […]

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American Mental Health Foundation Annual Report November 1, 2011

American Mental Heath Foundation Annual Report November 1, 2010, to October 31, 2011 This is the first Annual Report on the American Mental Health Foundation, a research organization founded in 1924, incorporated in New York State in 1954. The new Vision Statement on the homepage of the Web site: Building a More Compassionate Society. The […]

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AMHF Attends 51st Annual Meeting of New England Psychological Association

AMHF attended the 51st Annual Meeting of the New England Psychological Association (NEPA), held October 28-29 at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. After a wonderful dinner, hosted by Drs. Robin Crabtree and Susan Franzosa, deans at Fairfield, participants heard child-development expert Dr. James Garbarino speak of “Children and the Dark Side of Human Experience: Confronting […]

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AMHF Attends Northeast Conference for Teachers of Psychology

On Friday, October 28, 2011, AMHF attended the 17th Annual Meeting of the Northeast Conference for Teachers of Psychology. This is a group of psychologists, who teach in colleges and universities, dedicated to improving their teaching of undergraduates and graduates. Participants of the group come from a wide range of specialties and interests including developmental, […]

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Some Headlines on Developmental Disabilities

Kathryn Lopez in National Review Online brings to our attention a young lady with Down syndrome who was elected Homecoming Queen of her high school. In juxtaposition to this is a news report from Ann Curry, from Serbia, showing that abuse of the kind that occurred at Willowbrook continues to occur in Serbia. These three […]

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New Books from American Counseling Association

Some good new books from American Counseling Association: Cyberbullying: What Counselors Need to Know, by Sheri Bauman. This book is geared toward counselors, teachers, school leaders, and all professionals who work with children and teens. In a reader-friendly style, the author addresses real-life dangers on the Internet, including offensive, confrontational, and harassing messages; disclosure of […]

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