A year-and-a-half following the horrible killings at the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, elementary school, we Americans are still searching our souls, trying to understand how this tragedy could happen, why it did, what might have been the warning signs before young Adam Lanza snapped. Journalist Andrew Solomon met with Adam’s father, Peter Lanza, over six gut-wrenching […]By: Evander Lomke
One of the world’s largest publishing houses was named by co-founder Bennett Cerf Random House. The name describes the true nature of trade-book publishing. (In fact, one publisher goes one better, calling itself Serendipity Press.) It is an interesting word: Random. Many of a philosophic or theological disposition believe nothing in life occurs randomly: that […]By: Evander Lomke
This subject interests me on many levels. At the beginning of my career in clinical psychology, I worked directly with hundreds of people with developmental disabilities. Serving as an expert witness for parents, I helped to implement the federal laws noted below. Later, as clinical director of a day-treatment program, and serving as a Board […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
On our AMHF blogs we have tried to feature information about where the Venn diagrams of spirituality and counseling intersect. It seems peculiar that many religious people–from many religions–are reticent to link the spiritual resources and traditions of their faith with modern psychology and psychiatry. When people are depressed, psychotic, or anxious, there is a […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
For three days last week American Mental Health Foundation Books shared a booth with its distributor, Lantern, at the annual BookExpo America—which is held at the Jacob Javits Center on New York City’s West Side. (New York remains the publishing capital of North America, even with the multitude of changes the industry has seen.) The […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
Newly minted pastor Ed Stetzer, writing in CNN.beliefnet, writes of his dealings with a man in his congregation. This person would often disappear for days at a time, and later Stetzer would hear that the fellow had spent hours praying the psalms. Later the man killed himself, leading Stetzer to reflect of aproaches churches could […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
Most of us, unless we have the personalities of saintliness, find ourselves in an irritable mood once in a while. Parents may be particularly prone to these episodes. One hopes that they pass without even a cranky word; although it’s difficult to stifle one’s facial expression. Justin Meyer, writing in the Washington Post, brings refreshing […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
As Edward R. Murrow said, there are two sides to every story. Our previous probing into an increase and acceleration in funding for research into the brain waxed positively. A different viewpoint—now taken by major pharmaceutical industries—suggests that their interest in brain research is waning. Reuters reports the following: “Many pharmaceutical companies harbor deep doubts […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
April is World Autism Awareness Month, with Autism Awareness Day annually on April 2. What is Autism Spectrum? It is not easily defined, even by professionals. Modalities of treatment likewise vary and are in their infancy—even as strides are made. AMHF calls our readers’ attention to this often-misunderstood and easily misidentified diagnosis. Asperger’s syndrome (or […]By: Evander Lomke
President Barack Obama made headlines with his proposal to encourage American scientists to work toward understanding the great mysteries of the brain. Done as a massive project, this could rival past collective enterprises such as Getting a Man to the Moon; when President Kennedy suggested this, it took everyone’s breath away. It looked unattainable in […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
Several months ago the Cuomo administration announced that budgets for nonprofit agencies serving the developmentally disabled would be cut. This had led to an outcry from parents, community members, and those who work at these agencies. Recently it was announced that the cuts would be changed. Although this is helpful, it still leaves most organizations […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
The Mid-Hudson Valley in New York State may be atypical from many other localities: it has the highest proportion of developmentally disabled persons in the country. Over 10,000 developmentally disabled residents from Willowbrook, Letchworth Village, and Wassaic Developmental Center have been re-integrated into the community. A large number of jobs—private and nonprofit—are part of the […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
This is the fifteenth movie in the AMHF series of twenty-one. Rain Man won four Academy Awards at the sixty-first Oscars show: Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Director, and Actor—Dustin Hoffman’s second in a remarkable performance. The film revolves around the relationship between a younger, self-centered brother, likewise played to perfection by Tom Cruise, an inheritance, […]By: Evander Lomke
Consumers of mental-health services may not realize the extensive system of codes that go into insurance billing and medical records, both for mental-health services and other medical services. For mental health, every person who receives insurance reimbursement receives a diagnostic code from the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, as […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
After physicists split the atom, unanticipated positive effects emerged—such as medical isotopes—and many negative ones as well. Where do we store the waste? How do we understand fallout and its deadly effect? What happens when there are nuclear plant accidents? Biologists work in a similar environment as they work to split the genome. Once again, […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
Word from ABILITIES FIRST in Poughkeepsie, NY October 5, 2012, Poughkeepsie, NY—As Dr. Lori Crispi’s term on the board of Abilities First, Inc., a Dutchess County based nonprofit that serves children and adults with disabilities, was coming to an end, she felt that she couldn’t just walk away. “I enjoyed being part of the organization […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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: […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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, […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
Finally Hollywood has discovered a good man with the right stuff to play the part of an incredibly loving father who happens to be a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, loves baseball, and who has just a enough of Asperger’s syndrome qualities (a mere scent) to bond closely with his nine-year-old, a […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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 […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.
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, […]By: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.