Monday, March 9, 2009

Daring to Share

Lately, every time I turn on the television, the radio, or pull up my favorite online news site, what I am seeing and hearing is grim. Hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. Millions, their homes.

It certainly is sad, anxiety-provoking, and for some families and individuals, absolutely tragic.

But in the midst of all this, there is one positive thing we can do: Share.

As parents and caregivers, teachers and therapists, we are constantly asking, telling, or teaching our kids to share. Share your toys, share your favorite bouncy ball, share that video game controller, share your room, and ad infinitum.

If we look to our kids during this difficult time, there is quite a bit that they can teach us -- especially about sharing.

Think about when your child runs up to you and gives you his perfect, crooked smile that fills you with that sunshiny feeling: it's better than a million bucks! Or, about those times when your toddler says something so cute and funny that you feel richer than the richest man or woman on earth and can't wait to share it with the next person you see.

We can follow our children's examples. We can call up the old friend we miss to say, "I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you." We can smile at our neighbor, who unbeknownst to us, was until a minute ago, having a really hard day.

If you're willing to try it, I promise you will get something back. A good feeling, a greater sense of connectedness. And, the more you share, the better you'll feel.

Bottom line: Sharing creates abundance. Maybe that's what we've been trying to teach our kids all along.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

DIR/Floortime: Support for Parents with Developmentally Challenged Children

For local parents who have children with developmental delays, there is a very helpful workshop coming up in Pasadena, California on April 4th.

An "Introduction to Floortime" will be presented by Diane Cullinane, M.D. of Pasadena Child Development Associates, Inc.

Dr. Cullinane is a Developmental Pediatrician, a Certified DIR Clinician, and an ICDL (Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental & Learning Disorders) Faculty Member. She is one of the few experts with advanced DIR/Floortime training in the area. I've attended this workshop of hers before. It is highly informative and will give parents more knowledge and tools for helping their developmentally challenged children.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based/Floortime model was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and his colleagues for working with kids on the autism spectrum. It takes into account the individual differences of each child, including temperament and sensory issues. DIR/Floortime focuses on helping children to improve their overall development (including communicating and relating, problem-solving, and logical thinking) rather than only on skills and isolated behaviors.

While DIR is the part that helps the clinician to assess the child's overall functioning, Floortime provides a framework for how to "be" with the child in school, daycare, home, and other settings. It includes how to interact, energize up to engage with the child, and play in such a way to both support and challenge him or her. It's a great tool that parents with developmentally delayed children can use!

I am a huge fan of DIR/Floortime and have found as a child therapist that it can also be successfully used with kids with emotional problems who are not necessarily delayed.

"Introduction to Floortime" (For Parents and Professionals)
Date: April 4, 2009
Location: Huntington Hospital/Braun Auditorium, 100 W. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA

Dr. Cullinane will present an overview of Floortime, including:
* What is Floortime and the DIR approach (as described by Dr. Greenspan and Serena Wieder, Ph.D.)
* The six Functional Emotional Developmental Milestones
* Basic steps and strategies of Floortime.
* Video examples of Floortime intervention.
* Time for questions and discussion.

To register over the phone, please contact Amber at 626-793-7350 x229 or Barb at 626-793-7350 x219.

To learn more about DIR/Floortime itself, visit the ICDL website, which includes a free video showing Dr. Greenspan and Dr. Weider explaining what DIR/Floortime is. There are also useful links and resources for parents on the site.