NESCA is Now Open in Hingham, MA! Currently scheduling neuropsychological evaluations and projective testing. NESCA’s Hingham clinicians specialize in elementary-, middle school-, and high school-aged children and young adults, including those who show signs of: autism spectrum disorders, being psychologically complex, mental health or mood disorders, and emotional, behavioral, and attentional challenges. To book an appointment, please start by filling out our intake form.

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Consultation

On-the-Ground Parent & School Consultation in Honduras

By | Nesca Notes 2023

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Counseling Services, NESCA

NESCA’s International Work
NESCA is well regarded as an expert in providing neuropsychological evaluations for children and teens from around the globe as part of its International Evaluation program. To date, NESCA has provided evaluations to clients from more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and North America.

Many families bring their child/children to our offices in New England to be evaluated, and NESCA’s founder and director Ann Helmus, Ph.D., has traveled to many countries to provide evaluations overseas. She also has a long-standing history training neuropsychologists in the Philippines. Our Transition and Coaching Services teams also conduct transition assessments for international clients as well as virtual executive function coaching to many young adults overseas.

Based on a neuropsychological evaluation conducted by NESCA this past year, I began providing consultation with a 5th grade boy from Honduras who is a student at a non-profit, bilingual, independent, private PK-12 college preparatory school there. Because of my work with this student, his family recommended NESCA’s services to another Honduran family and their child’s school. As a provider, knowing that a family trusts us and finds what we do so beneficial that they recommend us to another family is extremely rewarding.

Setting the Stage: The Special Education Landscape in Honduras
The special education system in Honduras is very different than in the U.S. in that they do not have the variety of resources we are accustomed to in the U.S., and there are not many evaluators in Honduras in any discipline (i.e., neuropsychologists, speech/language, OT, etc.). For instance, there are only six neuropsychologists in the entire country. Another major difference is that it is the parents’ responsibility – not the school’s – to hire a 1:1 paraprofessional or aide if needed for their child. Paraprofessionals function similarly to their U.S. counterparts, but since they are not employed by the school, they are separate from the school.

The special education teachers and counselors also function similarly to those in the U.S.; however, there are unfortunately not enough of them, limiting treatment services. They work from documents similar to IEPs but that are qualitatively are very different from our IEPs.

There are only a couple of special education models used for students: 3 times a week for general special education support or 5 times a week for pull-out reading or math instruction. The 5 times a week options ends at 6th grade. Some of the teachers we worked with reportedly had training in Wilson and Orton-Gillingham, but there are no SLPs or OTs at the schools, and families pay for these services to be provided at the school or after school. Since there are so few professional service providers in the country, these interventions are extremely limited.

Parent & School Consultation in Honduras
As these consulting engagements progressed, both families asked for NESCA to consult to staff at each of the student’s schools in-person in Honduras, and the schools welcomed this support. The families were hoping that my expertise as an educational consultant focusing on inclusion, program design, and autism could greatly benefit the educators and service providers at the schools – ultimately having a positive influence on the students and their classmates.

Both schools are international, bilingual, non-profit, tuition-based college preparatory schools, and are accredited by the Honduran National Ministry of Education, AdvancED, and the International Baccalaureate Organization. One is a Christian faith-based school. Both serve students from nursery through high school and use N-12 American standards of Core Curriculum. They are similar to American schools in that they have a wide choice of classes/electives as students move up in the grades, as well as sports and after school clubs and activities. Upon completion of their high school careers, students at these schools have the opportunity to earn three diplomas: each school’s typical high school diploma, the Honduran Bachillerato, and the International Baccalaureate diploma. A high percentage of graduates go on to higher education in the United States and abroad. They accept students with a variety of “moderate” special needs and have special education teachers and mental health counselors to support them.

For these in-person school consults, I teamed up with another professional who was also already consulting at these schools. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and speaks Spanish – a welcomed addition, as I do not. She is very skilled at providing behavioral support and is not overly rigid in her approach with students. Together, we presented Professional Development trainings for the two schools on the ground in Honduras. We brought a combined, well-rounded knowledge base to our work with the families and schools, offering lessons in a variety of topics, such as Universal Design in Learning (UDL), Differentiated Instruction (DI), Social Skills training/approaches, Mindset and Mindfulness, Sensory Integration, and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS), along with the ABCs (antecedent-behavior-consequence) and functions of behavior (EATS: escape-attention-tangible-sensory). In this first engagement, we provided a broad overview of these topics, giving the staff much to think about regarding their instructional practices, behavior management, classroom design, and teaching styles. We will continue to provide both virtual and in-person consults this coming school year so their learning can continue to grow and deepen.

This is an ongoing training/learning process for the staff at these schools. As mentioned, we will continue providing ongoing training to help the staff implement Universal Design principles in developing their lessons. We will continue our discussion about viewing student aberrant behavior through multiple lenses – not just as “breaking the rules and needing consequences” (i.e., neurology-sensory, cognitive disconnect, attention, etc.), instead thinking about what the student is trying to communicate through their behavior. This education helps them to think differently about prevention and antecedents, thus impacting behavior management and discipline practices.

The Experience
Staff at both schools were willing to learn and collaborate, and welcomed our input, with one school attending the training the week before their school year started, because we were scheduled to be in-person! The Honduran teachers we worked with throughout the year, prior to our in-person visit, were so open to instruction, feedback, and learning more, often reaching out to us between our scheduled virtual meetings preceding our visit. They were eager to figure out how to support their neurodiverse (a new word for them) learners and allowed me to join their classes remotely so I could model different techniques and practices. They were willing to share their successes, questions, and challenges, making consultation both productive and powerful. They were open to the many “homework assignments” (i.e., articles/books to read, videos to watch, visuals to make, etc.) given to them and the recommendations provided. They implemented new class-wide and individual behavior plans (self-awareness plans) and benefited from the modeling of strategies I demonastrated.

It was a wonderful experience for them and us, and I am happy that our relationship is continuing and will deepen well into this new school year. I am looking forward to watching their continued growth – directly impacting the two students who started it all, as well as their classmates and those to come in future years.

If you are interested in learning more about NESCA’s international evaluation, transition, consultation, and coaching services, complete our online Intake Form.

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert clinicians, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant/service in the referral line.

 

NESCA is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Self-efficacy: An Important Characteristic to Develop in Children

By | Nesca Notes 2023

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Counseling Services, NESCA

We often talk a lot about wanting our children to have good self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with good self-esteem; it means that a child has a positive view of themselves and their worth. However, self-esteem is not enough. Life has its challenges, failure being one of them. How are we helping children to pick themselves up and try again? If our children are lagging in this ability, we need to help them develop realistic self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy and self-esteem are related but are also qualitatively different. Self-efficacy is related to how you feel about your ability to succeed in different contexts. It is more specific and context-driven versus self-esteem. Is your child capable of preserving at performing a difficult task? Do they stay engaged and try again, or do they give up? Self-esteem is considered a global belief about oneself, whereas, according to psychologist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.”

A child with high self-efficacy believes their challenges are obstacles to overcome. Failures don’t immobilize them. Their inner voice says, “I’ve got this!” They may demonstrate good self-awareness by knowing their strengths and challenges, thus setting manageable goals and achieving success because the goals are indeed attainable. Their motivation to try difficult tasks is buoyed by a positive thinking style and an inner belief system that recognizes failure as a part of life. So, when they fail at something, their self-esteem remains intact. They don’t “beat themselves up” when they make a mistake. They recognize it as a part of learning. As they say, “they get back in the saddle.” Children with good self-efficacy have better self-regulation, utilize a growth mindset, and have a stronger sense of agency and mastery. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Children with poor self-efficacy often shy away from work that they failed at or with tasks that they perceive as difficult. They tend to believe that these tasks are beyond their capabilities, so they shy away from even trying to do them. Children with low self-efficacy often berate themselves when they make a mistake, lose confidence in themselves, and their self-esteem suffers.

Helping children develop self-efficacy is important to their overall social-emotional functioning and well-being. The earlier we start helping to develop self-efficacy in our children, the better off they will be at improving their self-efficacy independently throughout their lives. Bandura identified four influencers or sources that impact self-efficacy: performance experience, vicarious experience, social persuasion, and physical and emotional states. Using these as our guideposts when teaching our children enhances their development of self-efficacy.

Performance Experience refers to when we perform a task successfully, it strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. This can also be called Mastery Experiences. We feel good about ourselves, our skills, and our knowledge; however, the converse is true as well. Failing to perform a task well will further weaken self-efficacy, particularly if it was not strong to begin with. Thus, it is important to emphasize and normalize the concept that failure is a part of the learning process.

When we watch others who are like us succeed by persevering at and completing a difficult task, it can raise the observers’ beliefs that they, too, can achieve it. This is Vicarious Experience or Social Modeling. By watching another person succeed through dedication, a person can be inspired to achieve the goals they set for themselves.

Another way to improve self-efficacy is through Social Persuasion. It is just as it sounds – someone you trust as a credible source giving verbal encouragement about your ability to perform a task can have a positive impact on one’s self-efficacy, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The last influencer, Our Own Personal Physical Sensations, Moods, Emotional Reactions, and Stress Level, etc., can dramatically…and positively or negatively impact how a person feels about their skills and abilities to complete a task. Bandura, highlighted, “it is not the sheer intensity of the emotional and physical reactions that is important but how they are perceived and interpreted by the person.” If we can acknowledge the stress and minimize it when we are confronted with a challenging task, we can improve self-efficacy. These are all important ways to help facilitate a child’s development of self-efficacy.

Facilitating the development of self-efficacy in our children can be done through a variety of means, keeping Bandura’s four influencers in mind. Here are some approaches to consider:

  • Keep in mind Bandura’s four self-efficacy influencer types as your guideposts.
  • Model self-efficacy and point it out to your children. Share your struggles/set-backs and how you managed to persevere. Talk about how you are willing to work towards a goal even though you failed multiple times along the way. Typically, parents do it without even knowing it.
  • Help children develop realistic self-efficacy by praising them honestly and concretely. Praise their effort, not their ability. Help them recognize failure is a part of life and learning.
  • Preview new learning by saying something like, “Remember you’re learning ___. You might make some mistakes. It’s okay. Mistakes are a part of learning.”
  • Use failures to help build realistic expectations and self-confidence by pointing out growth from previous attempts. Help children learn from their set-backs.
  • Empathize with their emotions related to their failures, struggles, etc.
  • Name their strengths and challenges, and use them as jumping off points related to their effort, not ability.
  • Help children set “realistic” short-term goals and help them stay on track. Help children recognize that their achievements are related to internal strengths, skills, and thoughts – not on external factors (i.e., I learned that hook shot because I practiced, watched and analyzed videos, and listened to my coach, etc.).
  • Create opportunities that are within “their zone of proximal development” (i.e., just right learning level – not too hard or too easy). To help build self-efficacy, a child needs a difficulty level to hold their interest, feel challenged, and experience some amount of struggle while ultimately achieving success.

Self-efficacy is worth paying attention to as it is truly one of the best gifts we can instill in our children. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

References

Bandura, A. 1999. Self-efficacy in Changing Societies. Cambridge Univ. Press, UK.

Self-Efficacy: Helping Children Believe They Can Succeed https://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/cms/lib3/ga01000373/centricity/domain/31/self-efficacy_helping_children_believe_they_can_suceed.pdf

If You Think You Can’t… Think Again: The Sway of Self-Efficacy https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/flourish/201002/if-you-think-you-can-t-think-again-the-sway-self-efficacy

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert clinicians, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant/service in the referral line.

 

NESCA is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Technology to Relieve Holiday Stress – Really?

By | NESCA Notes 2022

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Counseling Services, NESCA

During this holiday season, life for most people gets a bit more hectic. Many of us feel more stressed, busy, and overwhelmed with everyday life as well as preparing for the holidays. Our children are stressed as well, as they feel our stress. Older students feel the end of semester stress of papers being due and final exams looming.

A client, who is a college student, called me the other day and said, “I am just so stressed and angry, I couldn’t wait ‘til my appointment. I am angry at nothing and everything. I am being hard on myself and others.” I reflected on these feelings, and we discussed that, at this time of year, many people feel more stress and have a “shorter fuse.” I reminded him that being angry at himself for being angry wasn’t the solution/remedy; that just intensifies the feeling. Instead, we talked about normalizing his feelings, remembering to focus on his breath, and have compassion. When we focus on our breath, we shift our attention away from the thoughts and feelings that make us spiral. This client plays video games, so introducing him to stress management apps/games was a “no brainer.” I reminded him to use the app at least once a day for a few minutes, especially during this holiday season. This practice helps him and can help all of us to establish a new habit of stress reduction to help us remember how to focus on our breath and shift our attention.

Since most adults and children are using technology daily, let’s focus on spending some of that screen time for managing our mental health and stress levels. Experiment with free versions of apps and find one that resonates with you or your children, then practice it every day. Make it a part of your daily routine for at least 5 minutes. Pick the time that works for you. It is something that can even be done as a family. We establish routines for reading at night, let’s establish a routine of stress management at night, whether it’s an app or another method. Prioritize the time; it will make all your lives better! This habit and skill development will ultimately help us develop stress management skills and be able to use them when we are stressed. The development of these skills also helps us feel less stressed in general. Instead of feeling stress during the holidays, let’s feel the joy, love, and gratitude that abounds.

Listed below are a sampling of several stress management apps related to mindfulness, emotional recognition and regulation, and anxiety/depression to help you and/or your children manage the stress of the upcoming holiday season. Hopefully one of them will resonate with you and your children so that you all may experience more resilience and peace when stress does happen.

Headspace (Children through Adult) is a mindfulness/meditation app that helps people reconnect with their breath. Headspace for Kids focuses on five areas: Calm, Focus, Kindness, Sleep, and Wake Up.

Calm (Children through Adult) is an app that focuses on mindfulness, yoga, guided meditation, breathing programs, improving focus, calming and relaxing music, and more.

Insight Timer (Children through Adult) is an app that includes lessons/classes, talks, music, and more on a variety of topics, such as mindfulness, stress reduction, achieving better sleep, anxiety, yoga, and other areas.

Super Better (Age 13 through Adult) is an app that uses games to build resilience, change mindset, emotional control, mental flexibility, achieve goals – even with challenges – and helps with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and more.

Mindshift CBT (Teens through Adult) is an app that focuses on anxiety reduction, including worry, perfectionism, social anxiety, panic, phobias, and more.

Breathe2Relax (Teens through Adult) is an app that focuses on diaphragmatic breathing and stress reduction.

Smiling Mind  (Ages 7 through 18) is part of a broader collection of tools/curriculum that focuses on mental health for children and adults (teachers and parent). It focuses on mindfulness, deep breathing, body scan, gratitude, and more.

Positive Penguins (Ages 4 through 11) is an app that helps children understand how their feelings and thoughts are connected and to develop more positive thinking.

Resilient Family, Happy Child (Ages 4 through Adult) is an app that uses simple mindfulness- based movement to support the development of resilience and self-regulation.

Mightier (Ages 6 through 14) is a biofeedback tool that uses a heart sensor to help children understand their emotions and teaches them calming strategies.

HeartMath (Ages PreK through Adult) is a company that has many tools, games, music, curriculum, books, and more that focu on stress reduction. They have biofeedback apps and desktop computer versions for single users, classes, or multiple clients. They all use a heart sensor. Inner Balance is the app it uses within the program.

DreamyKid (Ages 9 through 18) is an app that uses guided visualizations, meditations, and affirmations related to mindfulness.

WellBeyond Meditation for Kids (Ages 4 through 8) is like DreamyKid but is geared towards younger kids with guided meditations, visualizations, and breathing exercises.

Breathe Think Do Sesame (Ages 2 through 5) is an app that helps children learn deep breathing, problem solving, an emotional vocabulary, positive thinking habits, and more through guided meditations, visualizations, stories, breathing exercises, and more.

Mindful Powers for Kids (Ages 5 through 10) Through play, games, stories, and more, kids learn about emotions, mindfulness, positive thinking, body scanning, and more. It uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as a guiding principle of its platform.

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert clinicians, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant/service in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Parenting is a Hard Job – Remember You are Good Enough!

By | NESCA Notes 2022

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Counseling Services, NESCA

Much has been published about parenting and parenting styles, whether in YouTube clips, books, podcasts, scholarly articles, newspaper articles, and so much more. But basically, if you are a parent, you are just doing your job – you are parenting, trying to guide your children, teens, and young adults on their own paths so they grow up to be “good humans and lead happy, successful lives.”

My guess is you probably haven’t given your parenting style too much thought. You just go about whatever the day brings you with whatever you’ve got in your tank that day. You’ve probably heard the terms Helicopter Parents, Tiger Moms, Free-range Parenting, etc., to describe different parenting styles. Usually, our parenting styles emerge from our own histories, role models, experiences, and personalities. You may be parenting how you were parented because it worked for you or because you disliked the way you were parented so you moved to the complete opposite way of parenting.

Remember the book, “Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother,” by Amy Chua from 2011? She wrote this book as a memoir – not as a parenting guide – but what a controversy it stirred regarding parenting styles! Alan Paul, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal then wrote, “Tiger Mom…Meet Panda Dad,” as a commentary against the Tiger Mom mentality and to bring dads into the parenting discussion. During this time period, there was much written about parenting styles, often characterized into four styles: Authoritative, Authoritarian/Disciplinarian, Permissive/Indulgent, and Uninvolved/Neglectful. As you can imagine, each style has its driving principles. In case you are interested in what the research says about the four parenting styles, the Authoritative parenting style wins out over the others in helping children develop into well-functioning adults.

No matter what style you are, you are giving it your best shot. Each of the styles has much written about them and their impact on child development – some good some not so good. Parents may change their style(s) depending upon a variety of factors and adopt new ways. Try to be aware of your style and its impact on your kids – this realization may happen as you go. That’s okay. You are learning this job as you go, and we all know there is no manual. You are just doing it, living each and every day with what it brings to you. Most parents do not think about what parenting style they are going to use in the moment. Sometimes you may “catch yourself,“ see your child’s reaction, and adjust your style. Perhaps you are the “softie” most of the time, but then turn on the “tough love” style when needed.

As a parent consultant, I often hear, “I must be the worst parent you’ve ever seen. You must think I’m a fool. Do all kids do this? Am I the only one who struggles getting their kids to follow directions?”…and so much more. Sure, I give them specific suggestions for parenting their child who has ADHD or is autistic; however, I match my recommendations to their parenting styles and personalities.

As a consultant, I often find myself saying these mantras in parent sessions:

You are good enough.
Show and tell your kids you love them.
You are giving it your best shot in this moment.
Be kind and gentle with yourself and your kids.
Have compassion and empathy for yourself and your kids.
Stay calm in the eye of the storm. ___ Happens!
You are human, and humans make mistakes – own them.
Don’t expect perfection. It is overrated. Cut yourself some slack.
Point out the positives. Catch ‘em being good!
Tell them what to do not what not to do.
Develop honest, authentic relationships with your kids.
Lead with your heart.

And as the saying goes….

If you are interested in learning more about NESCA’s Consultation Services, please complete our online Intake Form.

References

Alan Paul http://alanpaul.net/panda-dad/

4 Research-Backed Parenting Styles and How they affect your kids by Caroline Bologna https://www.huffpost.com/entry/four-parenting-styles-affect-kids_l_6270493fe4b0bc48f57e705f

4 Types of Parenting Styles and their effects on the child https://www.parentingforbrain.com/4-baumrind-parenting-styles/

Here’s what makes ‘authoritative parents’ different from the rest—and why psychologists say it’s the best parenting style by Francyne Zelster
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/05/child-psychologist-explains-why-authoritative-parenting-is-the-best-style-for-raising-smart-confident-kids.html

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Changing Habits to Become a More Effective Student

By | NESCA Notes 2022

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services, NESCA

In 1989, Stephen Covey wrote “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and it continues to be a book that is still relevant today, used by many Fortune 500 companies. He was a change-agent, a best-selling author, educator, and business leader, and through his down-to-earth approach, he created a wave of change. He helped people think about “being good” and create habits from the human race’s best instincts. He was named one of the 25 most influential people by TIME magazine in 1996 and authored numerous books that highlight his “inside out” approach to change. He thought who you are and how you view the world is at the core of how you engage with the world. This is such a simple view yet so powerful and one that holds much truth. He thought change started internally and by developing those 7 habits was the way to create a world that functioned better and in more of an us/we mentality versus a me/my mentality. He developed programs, led workshops and inspired change in children and adults. There are curriculums that have been developed for use with children through young adults in schools and colleges. These programs created individual change as well as cultural and system change.

His work has been changing the world one person at a time through his books and his programs for years. He believed that organizational behavior was individualized behavior. His 7 habits of being are about taking responsibility for oneself and through this creating a community of mutual goals, trust and more. In schools, the programs include developing behavioral change through the development of new habits and 5 core paradigms. The five paradigms are:

  1. Everyone can be a leader; NOT Leadership is for the few;
  2. Everyone has genius; NOT A few people are gifted;
  3. Change starts with me; NOT To improve schools the system needs to change first;
  4. Educators empower students to lead their own learning; NOT Educators control and direct student learning; and
  5. Develop the whole person; NOT Focus solely on academic achievement.

These paradigm shifts guide administrators and educators to see and think differently about how they see their role, student potential and the school culture. It allows all students whether they have disabilities or not to be valued, included and take ownership for themselves and each other, and change the culture of the class and school. The 7 habits of highly effective people are:

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is as important as academics, if not more important. Many schools have goals related to SEL, and the vision statements of many districts reflect that. Most vision statements express something like, “We prepare students to be life-long learners who contribute to a global world and demonstrate respect and acceptance for the diversity of our humanity.” How do they bring their vision to life and practice it day in and day out in through their policies, conversations, classrooms and schools? There are many different tools, programs, curriculums and approaches that address SEL and help schools meet their visions and prepare students to be contributing and caring members of society. Stephen Covey’s 7 habits are an example of one of these approaches. Think about how you, as a parent or caregiver, can embrace and reinforce these 7 habits at home as they can help family members thrive individually as well as within the family unit.

 

References:

Covey, Stephen. R. (2020). The 7 habits of highly effective people; 30th anniversary edition. N.Y., N.Y. Simon & Schuster.

Covey, Stephen. R. (2022). The 7 habits of highly effective families Creating a nurturing family in a turbulent world. N.Y., N.Y. St. Martins Publishing Group.

Covey, Sean (2014). The 7 Habits of highly effective teens. N.Y., N.Y. Simon & Schuster.

Covey, S (2008). The 7 Habits of happy kids. N.Y., N.Y.  Simon & Schuster.

 

*NESCA’s has a new email subscriber service for its blog, follow.it. We trialed the platform and officially migrated to their services.*

For those who are already subscribed to our blog, you don’t have to do anything to continue to receive our blog. We’re just letting you know that the look may be different, but the expert content from NESCA’s clinicians remains the same! If you would like to subscribe or suggest others subscribe to our blog, please visit: https://nesca-newton.com/nesca-notes/. Happy reading!

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

A Social Life – What is it Exactly?

By | NESCA Notes 2021

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services, NESCA

Many parents want their children to have friends and a social life, yet are concerned about the quality of their child’s social life. They often describe their child’s afterschool hours as being occupied with screen time, which may actually include others. Other children may be engaged in structured activities, such as scouts, sports, school-based clubs (i.e., robotics), music lessons, gaming clubs, and more. Then there are the children that tire easily when around many people and prefer alone time or being around one or two friends. When children are asked if they have friends, they often say yes and that they are online friends. These children who are engaged in structured social activities, online gaming, and other online activities say they have satisfying social lives. So, who’s to judge? A person’s definition of a satisfying social life is for each of us to decide (so long as they are doing so safely and responsibly).

When it comes to defining friends and a social life, there is often a disconnect between a child or teen’s definition and that of their parents. Today, there are so many more ways to have friends, a social life and socialize than there were “when we were kids.” Having a social life is now defined more broadly, such as online friends, gaming friends, the number of followers on Instagram/Twitter, and so much more.

A “virtual friend” or “online friend” is someone who one connects with online. These virtual friends are often very connected to others and can even become BFVs (best friends virtually). In the “old days” before the internet, these friends would have been called “pen pals,” whereby letters were written and exchanged. These pen pals of old sometimes heard all the trials and tribulations of one’s life. Virtual friends (VF) may stay as that – you may or may not ever meet them, which doesn’t diminish the relationship or make it less important and meaningful. IRLs (in real life friends) are people who one connects with in-person or in real-time. Many times, children and teens have better and stronger VFs than IRL friends. And sometimes they do meet up at different events, such as: E3 Expo, PAX, gaming clubs, Comic-Con and many more.

Socializing is different for each of us. How do we respect our children’s personalities and choices regarding socializing while encouraging them to explore more and different friendships and experiences? There are “introverts” and “extroverts” amongst us. Many extroverts love socializing both in real life and virtually and have many friends. They get energized by being around others. They’ll text a friend(s) and invite them over with no plan on what to do other than hang out. They care little about planning, predictability, and are okay going with the flow, handling ambiguity and uncertainty. Introverts are more comfortable with alone time, structure, predictability, clear boundaries, and rules/guidelines when engaging with others. Often times these kids are more comfortable with VFs and the online world with its structured platforms, anonymity, and being able to participate/not participate on their terms. Many of these kids are often the leaders and moderators on virtual platforms – something you may not suspect given their presentation in real-time/real life.

In this new world of online social connection, it is best to not try to force your child into being an “in real life socializer,” and involved in many social activities but instead make sure they have the social skills and knowledge to be successful in the real world of school, work, and community. Be aware of what and whom your children are connecting with online and accept who they are as a person. Trying to force them to be someone they are not may lead to more mental health challenges than them only having VFs or only engaging with IRL friends occasionally or on their terms. A satisfying social life is a personal choice and one that can’t be forced. There are many adults who are happy with one or two IRL friends and have structured activities they participate in (i.e., book club, trivia night, etc.); yet have many more VFs in their online platforms.

There has been much written about introverts in an extroverted world and how trying to force them to be someone they are not can backfire. Being happy with one’s social experiences and friends – whether virtual or in real life – is what it’s all about.

References

https://www.parents.com/kids/development/shy/raising-an-introvert-in-an-extrovert-world/

https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/08/06/chapter-4-social-media-and-friendships/

https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/11/28/teens-friendships-and-online-groups/

 

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Going with the Flow

By | NESCA Notes 2021

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services, NESCA

It’s September, and a new school year has already begun for most children. We had hoped that Covid would be behind us and the start of this school year would begin with a greater semblance of the old normal. Sigh…it has not. We are still wearing masks, keeping our distance and washing hands amongst other health considerations. Many students are eager to get back to school and in-person learning even though they have to wear masks. Many are accustomed to it, and it is no big deal. However, there are those students who preferred virtual learning and have grown more and more anxious at the thought of going back to in-person learning.

Back at the start of the pandemic, I wrote a blog about going with the flow, and it seemed appropriate to reintroduce the topic again as we start another school year still with so much uncertainty. Will there be outbreaks of the new variants at school? Will there be quarantines happening again? Will someone in my family, class, school get sick and how serious will it be?  We don’t know the answers to these questions, and worrying about them doesn’t help us be in the moment. In Bostonia’s current cover piece, “The kids are stressed, anxious, lonely, struggling, learning, grateful, adapting, alright,” Eric Moskowitz summed it up accurately. What researchers found is that children who were at a disadvantage before the pandemic suffered the most – which is not surprising – yet overall kids are resilient.

In  Angela Currie’s recent blog, “Helping Students Transition Back to School,” she covers the essentials of establishing bed time/morning routines, connecting with teachers, mask wearing routines and many more. I would like to add to her list with the psychological, social and emotional routines and ways of being that will also make the transition smoother.

Education Week offers a few social-emotional checklists that are good to review to help you set your student off on the right foot as they start this school year.

  • First check in with yourself and your own emotions/feelings. If you are feeling anxious, do something to help calm your emotions and gain some centeredness. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
  • Establish those all so important sleep, eating and exercise routines.
  • Establish a calming routine that the family can do together for a few minutes (i.e., yoga, mindful minute, deep breathing, etc.).
  • Acknowledge the breadth of feelings your child may have and how rapidly they may change. Point this out to him/her when they are calm. Introduce the realization that thoughts are connected to feelings, and they can change their thoughts to help their feelings change. Be understanding, supportive and empathetic yet also encourage your student to use their “past data” to support their progress forward through their feelings.
  • As Angela said, establish routines and predictability at home but also model and help your child know that things don’t always go as planned. Have routines yet be flexible, adaptable and a “go with the flow” mindset will be essential as s/he enters this school year. There are always Plans B, C, and D when Plan A doesn’t work. For instance, you may insist your child wear a mask and another child in his class, or afterschool activity/sport, may not. Preview this possible scenario so your child can adept and accept. Or, a student starts the year in-person, but then hybrid (hopefully not) happens…again. You get the idea about teaching flexibility.
  • Stay positive even in the midst of uncertainty, as this helps create the right biochemical mix that allows you to think more clearly.
  • Be aware of your thoughts and help your child be aware of their thoughts. Thoughts influence our mood, feelings and behavior, and we can exert control over them.
  • Be grateful (end the night with a gratitude moment).
  • Be supportive. Acknowledge the efforts, tasks, feelings, etc. that your kids are taking on and experiencing. It helps them develop self-confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy, pride and a sense of competence.
  • Be hopeful. Yesterday is history (don’t dwell there), tomorrow is a mystery (don’t worry about it) and today is a gift (even if you don’t feel like it is). Be present and allow whatever feelings come up (positive or negative) to flow through you so you can make way for new feelings.

Wishing everyone a smooth start to the 2021-2022 school year, and may the force be with us as we continue to combat Covid.

Resources

https://www.bu.edu/bostonia/

https://www.edweek.org/leadership/preparing-for-in-person-learning-a-covid-19-checklist-for-parents/2021/08?utm_source=nl&utm_medium=eml&utm_campaign=eu&M=63136722&U=1970318&UUID=f2e19d19dbb5bd4e92068a32311b141c

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Summer is Here, but There are Still Chores to Do – The Importance of Chores in a Child’s Development

By | NESCA Notes 2021

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services, NESCA

What a year it’s been! Hopefully with the pandemic restrictions lifted and the start of summer, we are all breathing a sigh of relief. I’m certainly looking forward to traveling, seeing relatives and getting out without masks. The pandemic upturned our lives in so many ways, but now that there is a “sense of normalcy” returning, we may be tempted to kick back and really relax this summer. However, I would caution that in kicking back and relaxing, there are still chores that need to be done. So, why not include your children in taking ownership and helping out around the house? There is research that states that toddlers who are taught to “help out” around the house continue to help out as they age. Many children in indigenous communities grow up asking to help or just help out because it is needed. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case in the United States?

Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic parenting website, says that all of us need to feel needed and know we are making a contribution to those around us or to our world at large – even kids. In many families, chores are a tradition, but in others they have fallen by the wayside. Many upper and middle class families have hired household help, so the need to do chores isn’t as great, and fighting with children to do chores doesn’t seem worth it. Let’s face it, no one likes to do chores, but they have to get done. Psychologist Roger McIntire, author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times, says, “A child has to have some responsibilities.” The family is a community, and everyone should chip in and help out. Helping out with family responsibilities and doing one’s own personal responsibilities are useful and necessary skills for a child’s development. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that, “there are benefits to including chores in a child’s routine as early as age 3. Children who do chores may exhibit higher self-esteem, be more responsible, and be better equipped to deal with frustration, adversity, and delayed gratification. These skills can lead to greater success in school, work, and relationships.” Research also shows that children who grow up contributing to the family responsibilities grow up to be adults who work well in collaborative groups and have a “can-do” attitude.

Helping kids learn that they have to do chores and that they are a part of life teaches them that it’s not just about me and what I need at this moment, but that I’m part of a system. I’m part of a family (I set the table). I’m part of my class at school (I clean up after an art project). I’m part of my sports team (I carry the bat/ball bag). I’m part of the workplace (I do my part). Humans crave a sense of belonging and connection, and helping others out and doing work for the good of the whole helps us understand why connection is important. The more we can do to foster this in our kids, the better off they will be as adults. Chores are a form of selflessness and help children develop a sense of responsibility and awareness of the needs of others. They begin to recognize that when they pick up, they can find their toys and they are grateful for the small things. Parents show gratitude when children do chores. Praise is good! Children feel appreciated and connected, and gratitude helps wire our brains to notice more things to feel thankful for, leading us to feel better overall.

Chores are powerful teachers. They help a child develop a greater sense of responsibility and awareness of the needs of others, and they also contribute to a child’s social and emotional well-being. Chores help children believe that they are competent and capable and help them develop greater self-esteem. Doing chores can also help children learn problem solving skills as well as the consequences of not doing their chores (i.e., not putting your baseball shirt in the laundry so it’s dirty for the next game). Chores are an excellent teacher of life skills. Knowing how to set the table, walk the dog, pick up toys, do laundry, prepare a meal, sweep/vacuum the floor, change a vacuum cleaner bag, etc., all help prepare a child for the responsibilities of adulthood. More involved tasks (i.e., cleaning out the garage) can be used in the development a child’s executive functioning skills, prompting them (perhaps with parent assistance) to figure out how to tackle the task in the most efficient, most systematic manner. And they learn about solutions that may be applied to a host of other life responsibilities.

Being a part of a family and taking responsibility for oneself and contributing to the family by doing chores is a powerful gift to give to children, even if they may not do the chores perfectly, may need to be reminded to do them, or grumble while they are doing them. It’s okay. Over time, these will lessen. Stay with it and help your child recognize and understand that life is work, and they have to be a part of the work of life.

If you aren’t having your child do chores now, consider it while the summer is here. It will help them out in many ways in the long run, helping them to be better functioning and more capable adults. If you need help figuring out which chores are age-appropriate, there are many lists online offering ideas and ways to assist in helping children do chores without too much complaining!

References

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Chores_and_Children-125.aspx

https://www.loveandlogic.com

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/opinion/sunday/children-chores-parenting.html

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Daily Journaling While Social Distancing

By | NESCA Notes 2020

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services, NESCA

*This post was originally published almost a year ago. While we slowly start to emerge from our quarantine and begin to safely re-engage in some of the activities and duties from our pre-pandemic lives, it is important to remember to participate in activities to better ourselves and others on a daily basis.

This is such a unique time that we are living in, but one day it will be a distant memory. Get a special journal book, make it from scratch or create one online. It will give you something to look back on and remember how you achieved something every day, smiled and made it through a very surreal time in history. Keep your journal to share with future generations. While we are practicing social distancing or being asked to stay home, challenge yourself to do something out of every category below on a daily basis. Do something for your brain, your mental health, your body, your home, your community, your creativity, your family, the environment and your friends/neighbors. Adults and kids can do this.

 

While Physically Distancing, Do Something For:

Your Brain

❏     Do a puzzle

❏     Listen to a podcast

❏     Tour a Virtual Museum

❏     READ

❏     Challenge yourself with a game, crossword puzzle, Sudoku, etc.

Your Mental Health

❏     Try a meditation app, like “stop, breathe, think” or www.calm.com

❏     Find an example of someone giving back or helping others

❏     Laugh out loud at least twice a day, tell a joke, watch a funny movie

❏     Turn off the news

❏     Record how you are feeling using the Yale Mood Meter

Your Body

❏     Take a walk, go for a run, ride a bike

❏     Create a dance play list and dance, dance, dance – We Are Family!

❏     GoNoodle Indoor Recess

❏     YouTube: workouts, yoga or dance

Your Home

❏     Do a chore – vacuum, dishes, laundry

❏     Clean your room

❏     Put your things away

Your Creativity

❏     Learn something new

❏     Draw/paint

❏     Build with LEGO

❏     Learn Calligraphy or Hand Lettering

❏     Play an instrument

❏     Search Pinterest for “DIY” or “upcycle”

Your Community

❏     Follow CDC Guidelines – stay home and wash your hands

❏     Go through clothing and toys to donate

❏     Check out your community website for what is needed

❏     Make cards to send to a local nursing home, nurses, doctors

The Earth

❏     Go for walks and enjoy nature

❏     Plant something

❏     Pick up litter – wear gloves

❏     Find another use for something before you recycle it

Family, Friends, Neighbors

❏     Stay in touch with each other

❏     Connect on FaceTime calls

❏     Have dinners together over FaceTime, Skype, Zoom

❏     Call people instead of text, write a letter, draw a picture

❏     Make a photo book of memories with a service like shutterfly

❏     Cook something for your family, neighbors

❏     Ask if someone needs help

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Counseling/Therapy: So Many Types and Approaches…Which One Should I Choose?

By | NESCA Notes 2021

By Dot Lucci, M.Ed., CAGS
Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services, NESCA

Many adults, teens and children struggle with a myriad of challenges from everyday stressors, feelings of worthlessness and insecurities to official diagnoses of anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, OCD, addiction, and more. Deciding how to grow and change and alleviate the pain and suffering can be daunting. There are so many different ways to address psychological pain. Psychological, medical, behavioral, psychopharmacological, complementary (e.g., acupuncture), and educational treatments, among others, are possible choices and can assist in lessening an individual’s anguish. How do I decide which one(s) to try? Usually, treatment involves more than one of these, so the decisions may not be as difficult as you think. The first step is recognizing that you, your child, your marriage or family needs help and taking a step to get help.

Psychological treatments include many options: psychotherapy (i.e., “talk therapy or insight-based therapy”), psychoeducational counseling, biofeedback, social training, behavior therapy, mindfulness, stress management, anger management and so many more. Therapy can be individual, group, family or couples work, and there is no single approach that works for everyone. It often depends on the referral question and complaint. Counseling is typically provided by a psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, marriage and family counselor, expressive therapist, psychiatrist and/or psychiatric nurse. Many factors go into making psychological treatment decisions (i.e., referring question/complaint, cost, location, approach, etc.). When it comes to therapy, it is most important to have “goodness of fit” between the clinician and the client. The client needs to have a connection with and feel valued, supported and understood by their practitioner. This allows whatever treatment approach or method to be more readily accepted by the client.

Reviewing the differences between treatment approaches may help with the decision-making process beyond “the goodness of fit.” Psychotherapy involves talking with a clinician to address emotional, psychological and behavioral challenges that can be both conscious and unconscious. The client’s past experiences, perceptions and history may play an important role in psychotherapy. The client “tells a story” that helps the clinician understand their life experiences through their eyes, therefore allowing treatment to be tailored to that client’s personal experience. By working through one’s thoughts, past experiences and stressors with a caring clinician, the client is able to gain insight and perspective, reduce symptoms, change behavior, learn strategies to lighten the load and improve quality of life. Often psychotherapy is long-term and involves good communication/language skills as well as higher level of thinking, often abstractly, and insight capacity.

Psychoeducational treatment is somewhat different than psychotherapy. Education is central to treatment and is a more directive approach. It can have very specific goals and may be short-term. The past is not actively addressed; rather, the purpose is to teach the client to acknowledge, accept and understand their disability and/or mental health condition and provide ways to support growth, change and meet goals. Psychoeducational treatment can be provided to individuals, groups, families, couples, employers and others and may include reading informational text, video analysis, homework, data collection, biofeedback, journal writing and more.

Some of the goals of both treatment approaches may be to:

  • connect how thoughts, feelings and behavior are intertwined;
  • improve coping and problem-solving skills to better deal with life’s stressors;
  • increase positive self-regard; and
  • recognize and better deal with strong emotions.

Many clinicians have training in specific techniques and some use a combination of approaches and philosophies. Psychotherapy typically falls into broad categories: Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic, Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Humanistic Therapy and Integrative or Holistic Therapy.  Sometimes a specific approach may be the best method of choice given a specific condition or specific goal of the client. Some techniques have been researched on large samples of people and proven to yield positive results with certain diagnoses; while others are newer, less researched (yet are still effective).

In determining what technique is most appropriate, consider the age, diagnosis, goal of treatment, efficacy of the treatment, as well as the personality, cognitive and language capacity, cultural/family background, location, cost, etc. Many treatment approaches share common techniques, but some techniques are better suited with certain conditions/diagnoses. There are upwards of 100 different types of psychotherapeutic approaches, so knowing which one works with what conditions, resonates with you as the client and can meet the needs/goals.

Another option is online treatment. In recent years, many in-person practices and newer standalone online treatment options have emerged. Often these are for mild depression and anxiety. As you search out any treatment, ask for references and reviews and assess treatment efficacy. Some online sites include Talkspace, TeenCounsleing and more. There are also online apps to help with stress management, anxiety, depression and more, such as Moodfit, HeadSpace for Kids, MindShift, Inner Balance, and so many more. Needless to say, online therapy and apps are not the same as in-person therapy but may augment and be helpful in some situations.

Many clients at NESCA present with learning differences, anxiety, OCD, depression, trauma, addiction, ASD, and more. The following partial list includes just some of the treatment approaches recommended by many of NESCA’s neuropsychologists. At NESCA, we currently offer a psychoeducational approach to psychological treatment and short-term pandemic related issues of anxiety and depression. If interested in learning more, please visit: https://nesca-newton.com/integrativetherapeutic/.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Attachment-based Therapy
  • Animal-assisted Therapy
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy
  • Expressive Therapy (art, music, drama, etc.)
  • Family Systems Therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Positive Psychology
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
  • Play Therapy
  • Psychoeducational Counseling
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Additional information about treatment approaches can be found at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/types-of-therapy.

https://www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/psychotherapy

https://apa.org/topics/psychotehrpay/approaches

https://talkspace.com/blog/different-types-therapy-psychotherapy-best/

https://verywellmind.com

 

About the Author

NESCA’s Director of Consultation and Psychoeducational Services Dot Lucci has been active in the fields of education, psychology, research and academia for over 30 years. She is a national consultant and speaker on program design and the inclusion of children and adolescents with special needs, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Lucci was the Principal of the Partners Program/EDCO Collaborative and previously the Program Director and Director of Consultation at MGH/Aspire for 13 years, where she built child, teen and young adult programs and established the 3-Ss (self-awareness, social competency and stress management) as the programming backbone. She also served as director of the Autism Support Center. Ms. Lucci was previously an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, researcher, school psychologist, college professor and director of public schools, a private special education school and an education collaborative.

Ms. Lucci directs NESCA’s consultation services to public and private schools, colleges and universities, businesses and community agencies. She also provides psychoeducational counseling directly to students and parents. Ms. Lucci’s clinical interests include mind-body practices, positive psychology, and the use of technology and biofeedback devices in the instruction of social and emotional learning, especially as they apply to neurodiverse individuals.

 

To book a consultation with Ms. Lucci or one of our many expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form. Indicate whether you are seeking an “evaluation” or “consultation” and your preferred clinician/consultant in the referral line.

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.