What can ESA funds be spent on? According to the Arizona Department of Education, "Additional eligible expenses for children with special needs include: • Educational therapies or services from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider" Please contact us or azed.gov for details on using your ESA.
Gluten Free Recipe:
Irish Potato Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 6-8
This simple, food is true Irish comfort food. A few ingredients come together to form a perfect cold-weather dish. Light stock should be used in this soup. Any way you make it it's filling and delicious. The soup may be made pureed at the end for a smooth, creamy consistency, or served with the onions and potatoes diced. If you will make the soup without pureeing it at the end, I suggest a smaller more uniform chop of the onion and potatoes. If you will puree the soup, the chopping may be larger and not as uniform.
1 tablespoon unsalted Butter
2 medium Yellow Onions, peeled and chopped
6 medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cup Stock (chicken, vegetable, or ham), homemade if available
2 cups Whole Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garnish: Chopped Parsley
In a large stock pot, melt the butter. Add the onions and potatoes; heat over medium heat, covered, stirring often until they begin to soften (15-20 minutes). Do not allow them to brown.
Add the stock and milk and allow to come to low simmer. Stirring often, cook until the potatoes and onions are fully soft.
For a smooth soup: Process in batches through a blender or use an immersion blender to achieve a smooth consistency. If after processing the soup is thicker than desired, pour it back into the cooking pot and thin with additional warm stock. If wishing a textured soup: no blending is required.
Salt and pepper to taste and serve garnishing the bowls with the chopped parsley.
Why are our children so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends?
By Victoria Prooday
May 16, 2016
I am an occupational therapist with 10 years of experience working with children, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with this teacher's message that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my ten years as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses. Today’s children come to school emotionally unavailable for learning, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we unfortunately remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why:
Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all. The payment is waiting for you just around the corner. We pay with our kids’ nervous systems, with their attention, and with their ability for delayed gratification. Compared to virtual reality, everyday life is boring. When kids come to the classroom, they are exposed to human voices and adequate visual stimulation as opposed to being bombarded with the graphic explosions and special effects that they are used to seeing on the screens. After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide. The inability to process lower levels of stimulation leaves kids vulnerable to academic challenges. Technology also disconnects us emotionally from our children and our families. Parental emotional availability is the main nutrient for child’s brain. Unfortunately, we are gradually depriving our children of that nutrient.
2. Kids get everything they want the moment they want
“I am Hungry!!” “In a sec I will stop at the drive thru” “I am Thirsty!” “Here is a vending machine.” “I am bored!” “Use my phone!” The ability to delay gratification is one of the key factors for future success. We have the best intentions -- to make our children happy -- but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term. To be able to delay gratification means to be able to function under stress. Our children are gradually becoming less equipped to deal with even minor stressors, which eventually become huge obstacles to their success in life.
The inability to delay gratification is often seen in classrooms, malls, restaurants, and toy stores the moment the child hears “No” because parents have taught their child’s brain to get what it wants right away.
3. Kids rule the world
My son doesn’t like vegetables.” “She doesn’t like going to bed early.” “He doesn’t like to eat breakfast.” “She doesn’t like toys, but she is very good at her iPad” “He doesn’t want to get dressed on his own.” “She is too lazy to eat on her own.” This is what I hear from parents all the time. Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed. What good are we doing them by giving them what they WANT when we know that it is not GOOD for them? Without proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep, our kids come to school irritable, anxious, and inattentive. In addition, we send them the wrong message. They learn they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. The concept of “need to do” is absent. Unfortunately, in order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do. For example, if a child wants to be an A student, he needs to study hard. If he wants to be a successful soccer player, he needs to practice every day. Our children know very well what they want, but have a very hard time doing what is necessary to achieve that goal. This results in unattainable goals and leaves the kids disappointed.
4. Endless Fun
We have created an artificial fun world for our children. There are no dull moments. The moment it becomes quiet, we run to entertain them again, because otherwise, we feel that we are not doing our parenting duty. We live in two separate worlds. They have their “fun“ world, and we have our “work” world. Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school. When they come to school and it is time for handwriting their answer is “I can’t. It is too hard. Too boring.” Why? Because the workable “muscle” is not getting trained through endless fun. It gets trained through work.
5. Limited social interaction
We are all busy, so we give our kids digital gadgets and make them “busy” too. Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills. Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time. Also, technology made the parents less available to socially interact with their kids. Obviously, our kids fall behind… the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills. Most successful people have great social skills. This is the priority!
The brain is just like a muscle that is trainable and re-trainable. If you want your child to be able to bike, you teach him biking skills. If you want your child to be able to wait, you need to teach him patience. If you want your child to be able to socialize, you need to teach him social skills. The same applies to all the other skills. There is no difference!
You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:
1. Limit technology, and re-connect with your kids emotionally
Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights
Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games in my previous blog post), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening
2. Train delayed gratification
Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”
Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead teach them waiting while talking and playing games
Limit constant snacking
3. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!
Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time
Think of what is GOOD for them- not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.
Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoor and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!
Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games
4. Teach your child to do monotonous work from early years as it is the foundation for future “workability”
Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed
Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.
5. Teach social skills
Teach them turn taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others , using “please and thank you”
From my experience as an occupational therapist, children change the moment parents change their perspective on parenting. Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!
Did You Know?
SIRRI offers these services
for both children & adults:
Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
QEEG / Brain Mapping
Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
Auditory & Visual Processing
Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
Stress & Anxiety Management
Retrain the Brain
Neurofeedback treatment is helping veterans, recovering addicts and everyone in between find peace from the noise within.
On the campus of a homeless shelter billed as “one of the largest west of the Mississippi,” it’s a small, dark room comparable in size to a walk-in closet that’s generating much of the buzz. Inside, residents of The Salvation Army Bell (Calif.) Shelter sit in chairs with electrodes affixed to their heads, headphones cupped over their ears, and clutching teddy bears as they watch scenes from “Happy Feet.”
Dr. Carol Kelson explains: “They’re not consciously trying to do anything. All they’re doing is watching the movie.”
It’s true—but unbeknownst to them, their brains are hard at work, retraining themselves through neurofeedback, also referred to as electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback. It’s an emerging, non-invasive technology used to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, autism and addiction.
Before a session, the clinician attaches the electrodes at selected points to a client’s scalp, and the information on brain activity is immediately reported to the client through visual, auditory and tactile stimulation.
The movie screen shrinks or grows, the teddy bear vibrates, and the headphones deliver frequencies, all based on the brain’s activity. As the brain gains awareness of its activity, it subconsciously shifts its behavior toward a more stable state. As the brain waves alter moment to moment, the clients gain awareness of their own bodily responses, and then learn to use them for healing.
The protocol is 20 hour-long sessions for lasting effect because according to Kelson, it’s a training—not a treatment.
“We’re not here curing symptoms,” Kelson said. “We’re just training the brain to operate in a more regulated way, and as a result of that, things improve. We can’t get rid of certain things. We’re not going to get rid of schizophrenia, bipolar [disorder], but we can give them a better quality of life.”
Bell Shelter, which houses about 200 people in total—many of whom are veterans—launched its neurofeedback clinic in 2013 as a pilot program to help reduce PTSD symptoms in veterans at the shelter.
Kelson, who runs her own neurofeedback practice in Los Angeles, conducted a study evaluating the impact of neurofeedback on 10 Bell Shelter veterans with PTSD. Every one showed significant symptom reduction.
Consequently, many residents began publicizing the program among themselves, particularly raving about improved sleep. “For anyone who’s been traumatized, whether it’s sexual abuse or combat, there’s a part of your brain that doesn’t want you to be able to sleep because you’re vulnerable when you sleep,” said Paul Wager, Bell Shelter clinical director of programs. “Bad things can happen, so it’s really a protective mechanism in a sense.”
Kelson said the program now serves anywhere between 18-25 vets, with several more on a waiting list.
“We have a waiting list just from people hearing about it from each other,” Kelson said. “That’s the nice thing about what has happened here. It’s all been word of mouth in The Salvation Army. It started with the [PTSD] study and the people who were being treated in the study talking about it to other people and then other people wanted to come and get the treatment.” To date, the program has served over 150 men and women, both veterans and non-veterans.
According to Wager, the program has had so much success it’s even spawned another neurofeedback clinic at The Salvation Army Haven in Los Angeles, which specifically serves veterans. With equipment donated by EEG Institute’s nonprofit Homecoming for Veterans, clinicians at The Haven have started treating male and female veterans with neurofeedback. Clients are already reporting similarly positive results. Susan, a U.S. Army veteran, was living in her car before she came to Naomi House, The Haven’s emergency and transitional shelter for women veterans.
After years of dealing with nightmares from the sexual abuse she experienced while serving, she had a stroke, which caused her to lose her job. So, she packed up her car with her valuables, gave everything else away, and hit the streets. “I have high anxiety over things I can’t control and I just get frustrated easily,” she said. “When I can’t control my life, I get high anxiety.
“I always tried for the longest time to get back to the old Sue,” she said. “I finally came to the realization with [my therapist] that I can’t go back there because my brain is permanently changed.”
Since being at Naomi House, she said she’s welcomed neurofeedback to help her get to a new place—perhaps somewhere better than she’s ever been.
“I was comfortable with them messing with my head,” she laughed. “I’m sleeping better, and I haven’t had nightmares since I’ve started this.”
With several other Naomi House residents also receiving neurofeedback, she said she’s even noticed a change in the collective energy of the building.
“Naomi House seems to be calmer now,” she said. “Everybody’s a lot more relaxed.”
Teri, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said the program “needs to be promoted more.”
“I want my health to be as good as it can be,” she said. “I have heart disease, so I need to keep my anxiety down. When I left my first session, I felt like I wanted to dance. I just felt so happy, and I was smiling. My sleep is so much deeper now, and I’m so much more calm.”
Yet if neurofeedback is as effective as many of its results might indicate, why has its mass acceptance been so elusive?
“It always takes time for a new treatment option to reach mainstream status in the medical field,” Wager said. “Whenever there’s a new paradigm, you’re running into the old paradigms, like psychiatry, where a pill fixes everything. So, psychiatrists think everything is brain chemistry as opposed to normal activity.”
But, according to Ben Miller, neurofeedback coordinator at Bell Shelter, they’re starting to come around. Neurofeedback is now an evidence-based practice (EBP) for ADHD, and soon enough, it may become an EBP for PTSD as well.
“If we had the money to send clinicians to every doctor’s office and push it, then it might be a little more accepted,” Miller said. “One of the things we were told was that in order for it to get a little more mainstream, is it kind of has to bubble up. It has to get so much noise that it can’t be [ignored].”
According to Wager, they are planning to conduct a three-site study with Bell Shelter, The Haven, and a third clinic they’ve set up at Del Amo Hospital, examining neurofeedback’s impact on PTSD sufferers at each location. One of its goals would be to push the American Psychological Association to include neurofeedback as an EBP for the treatment of PTSD.
“Once you do that, funding, insurance companies—everything changes when you can show it’s an evidence-based practice,” Wager said. “[For] clinicians, people who work with PTSD, there’s no doubt in our mind that it’s working.”
Several reports have documented the effectiveness of neurofeedback as a treatment for drug addiction as well. In a 2007 study, researchers from EEG Spectrum and CRI-Help organized 135 drug rehab patients into two matched groups, one experimental and the other a control group against which the test subjects could be compared. Both groups received standard 12-step treatment. The experimental group also received 40 to 50 neurofeedback sessions directed toward improving cognitive function and mood regulation. Over 50 percent of experimental subjects remained drug-free a year later.
“Neurofeedback seems to offer something none of the other treatments offer, which I think is the ability of the brain to regulate itself better,” Wager said. “The calming and stabilization of brain function seems to really help with substance abusers to reduce their cravings and their desire to self-medicate.”
Dylan, 40, came to Bell Shelter a year ago, after a brief stint of homelessness and a two-decade long battle with alcoholism and addiction. After one week of neurofeedback, he, too, noted improvements in sleep.
“My sleep was horrendous,” he said. “Now, I’m able to sleep a full six to eight hours instead of waking up every two hours.” He also noticed positive changes in his anger, anxiety and cognitive thinking, in tandem with the education he’s received at the facility’s Wellness Center.
Dylan said he now finds himself going through Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)—which occur as an addict’s brain chemistry gradually returns to normal—much quicker, and there’s “no doubt” in his mind that it’s because of neurofeedback.
“[PAWS] is basically your brain healing from all of the damage you’ve done from the addiction, alcohol,” he said. “Now when you go through this, you go through these feelings and emotions that have no root or cause—it’s just your neurotransmitters trying to heal themselves. Neurofeedback helps with this tremendously.
“[Neurofeedback] really helps all areas: education, observing, retaining information, being able to have the patience to just sit and learn,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things that addicts or anyone with PTSD suffer from—how are you going to get this information in your head if your head’s not working properly?” Dylan is now studying at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) to become a chemical dependency counselor. It’s the first time he’s gone to school since he started using at 16.
“This is the cutting edge,” he said. “You can’t say it’s the education without the neurofeedback, and you can’t say it’s the neurofeedback without the education. It’s everything all together. I haven’t seen anybody say it doesn’t work.”
As of now, Bell Shelter and The Haven are The Salvation Army’s only two locations conducting neurofeedback, but that, too, could soon change. On a tour of the clinic, Major Kyle Smith, Southern California divisional commander, spoke with a resident who underwent treatment, and that was all the proof he needed.
“He said he was having massive panic attacks multiple times a week and wasn’t sleeping well, but since he started treatment he hadn’t had one panic attack,” Smith said. “He said it changed [his] life.
“I said ‘We’ve got to expand this program any way we can.’” The adult rehabilitation center (ARC) locations in Southern California could be a potential landing spot.
“Take something on the clinic level and mix it with the spiritual level, the impact could be tremendous,” Smith said. According to data collected by The Salvation Army Western Territory, only 10 percent of ARC graduates not placed into housing upon completion of the program maintain their sobriety. Those that are placed into housing, however, see an 85 percent success rate.
“I like to think if we throw neurofeedback in there, that number could go up even more,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another tool in people’s toolbox to get well.”