Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happiness Resides In Each Of Us!

Happiness resides in all of us
    Happiness levels in America have remained stagnant over the past 50 years while our living standards have risen. Are we forgetting that we all possess the ingredients for happiness? Even though scientists continually search for a genetic link to suggest some may embody a greater propensity for happiness than others, the fact remains that joyfulness resides in each of us. If your DNA threads lead to a propensity for downheartedness, than you will simply have to burrow deeper to unearth the happiness within. It's there, waiting for you to unearth it! 
     In 36 years of counseling youth and adults, I’ve witnessed happiness or glumness dwelling within both the healthy and ailing, rich and penniless, smart and dull, and handsome and ugly. The happier clients discovered that happiness must be learned and practiced daily or it will wither away. They took responsibility for their own contentment and didn't allow politics, the government, their boss, social attackers and gossip, or a myriad of other external events to upset them for very long.
 
     People who remain in high spirits perform to the best of their abilities on the home front, in the community, and at the office or shop. They deliver more than what life pays them to do and often reach beyond their own selfish needs to extend small courtesies that inspirit the lives of others. They dream dreams, set worthy goals, remain committed to paying the price to achieve them, and enjoy the gallant journey toward reaching them.
     Regardless of your genetic weavings, past experiences or current situation, you possess the ingredients for happiness. Your road to happiness must be an active process that's practiced each day. Life doesn’t devote itself to making you happy, so by design it is the manner in which you travel through life that makes you so. If you passively sit back and wait for happiness to arrive, you will never encounter it…even if it knocks on your door, which it rarely does.    
     The happiest people I've met laugh through life’s little irritations, regardless of their circumstances or genetic make-up. Zig Ziglar wrote about a man who bought a lemon of a used car and drove it back onto the used car lot a week later and said to the upbeat and persuasive salesman, “Could you please tell me about this car again? Sometimes I get so discouraged with it!”
     Yes, disappointing things will happen to you and fairness, peace and justice will not always go your way, so you need to be encouraged... like Zig Ziglar. Happiness is not the absence of problems- it's how you deal with them. You will only be as happy as you make up your mind to be, so don't allow traumatic life events or ill-humored DNA strands inherited from your ancestors to rob you of the power to discover your good side. Don't travel through life with the gusto of the cruise director on the Titanic...you can choose not to.
     I know you can, because I've counseled many people who have found happiness despite past upsets and current injustices. Traumatic events licked the red off their candy canes, but they discovered the free, miracle drug which has no bad side effects…laughter! They didn’t purchase it at the local pharmacy, but unearthed it from deep inside themselves.
     It's a researched fact. Laughter can ease pain, banish tension and worry, and liberate cloudy minds to think more clearly. You can “condition” yourself to laugh at life...and to be happy. Begin the journey!
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is author of the book "Finding Happiness in America."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How to Find Happiness in an Unhappy America

 

      Why are so many Americans unhappy? How do Americans become and stay happy? That’s the theme of Issue 1: 2/03/16 Finding Happiness in America newsletter.
     I hand-selected 15 articles and 5 videos that explain why gloom and melancholy is so prevalent in the U.S. and how you beat the odds and find happiness in the land of the free!
     One article explains a recent LifeTwist study that suggests money can’t buy happiness and more Americans are redefining success and happiness in a way that doesn't involve wealth. Only around one in four Americans (27 percent) still believes that wealth determines success.
     Several articles in the Issue1: 2/03/16 Finding Happiness in America newsletter delve into why Americans are so unhappy. In one, the question was asked to an American journalist on his recent trip to Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. He felt embarrassed by their question as he looked around at the abject poverty in India and witnessed how happy these people seemed compared to Americans.
     I invite you to browse through the Issue 1: 2/02/16 newsletter and find out why two thirds of Americans say they're unhappy - with Hispanics, college grads and the disabled being the most discontented; why the happiest Americans are those over 50 and who earn over $50,000 a year; why women are happier than men; why political independents are less happy than either Democrats or Republicans; and why your talent for happiness is, to a large degree, determined by your genes.
     One article in Issue 1: 2/03/16 of FindingHappiness in America tells how psychology David T. Lykken believes trying to be happier is like trying to be taller and that we each have a "happiness set point."
     I disagree with Lykken, and feel we all can pursue happiness. That’s why I also chose articles and videos that prove we can thwart negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment, and anger and replace them with positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and especially gratitude.

 Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. authored the book "Finding Happiness in America" and has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Begin the "Finding Happiness" process in America today!


 
  
     Take the Finding Happiness in America journey now! It's a wonderful journey of self-discovery, from the inside-out, one that enables you to reflect on where you are and to imagine new possibilities for yourself. You will become  the person you want to be and be able to cope better in a fast-paced American society laden with overwhelming problems and stress.
     Using the FindingHappiness in America manual is a personal and unique experience, for I am available to help you every step of the way: simply  contact me using the SecureContact Form to ask questions or to discuss anything you desire more clarification on. It is not a cookbook approach to help you reinvigorate your life, for you embark on a personal quest that you map out for yourself, based on what's truly important to you.
     You will walk through a learning landscape concerning the issues many Americans face involving family, parenting, educational, social and personal issues that many Americans have.

     Through various exercises, you will analyze and reflect upon your life. This makes the "Finding Happiness" process valuable in the art of self-improvement and in mending things in your life that need mending. 
     By actively engaging in the "Finding Happiness" process, you will unearth inner strengths which you never imagined existed. Begin the journey and gain insight into ways to improve your life…and the lives of those around you.
     And remember, I will be with you every step-of-the-way to assist you as needed in making your journey a successful one-  Feel free to contact me on the SecureContact Form... 24/7! 
 
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in The School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him on the SecureContact Form.

Environmental Toxins Harm America's Children

Environmental toxins harm America's children
    A growing concern among American families is the chemicals in our environment and the detrimental effects it has upon our children. The Flint, Michigan disaster is a recent example. I live near Lake Erie and we have more drinking bans, beach closings due to filthy water, and warnings about eating Lake Erie fish. These grim facts trouble Americans a great deal and coping with environmental toxins is a topic found in the FindingHappiness in America manual.
    In the manual I describe how the National Environmental Trust, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Learning Disabilities Association for America are striving to protect Americans from our increasingly toxic environment. Their research studies estimate that releases into our environment of developmental and neurological toxins amount to 24 billion pounds per year.
     As part of the “Finding Happiness” process, I encourage you to write to your state and federal representatives and request a copy of the first ever, comprehensive look at the sources of such child-unfriendly pollution, entitled “Polluting Our Future: Chemical Pollution in the U.S. that Affects Child Development and Learning.”
    Research is accumulating that demonstrates how toxic pollution affects the way American children suffers from one or more developmental, learning, or behavioral disabilities like mental retardation, birth defects, autism, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
    The National Academy of Sciences released a study entitled, “Polluting Our Future,” which conservatively concludes that 360,000 children in America, or one in every 200, suffer from developmental or neurological disabilities caused by toxic exposures to known developmental and neurological toxins.
     The Finding Happiness in America manual offers actions for families to take. For one, contact personnel at the Children’s Environmental Health Network (510) 587-1393 (dswartz@cehn.org) who recently trained U.S. physicians in pediatric environmental medicine.
    Another action for you to do is to learn the environmental health hazards in your town and send faxes, for free, straight to top-ranked polluters in your area. Contact Scorecard at www.scorecard.org to view maps pinpointing potentially harmful chemicals being released in your neighborhood. It’s quite eye opening!
     In 1918, the U.S. produced a total of 10 million pounds of synthetic chemicals. Today, over 300 billion pounds of chemicals per year are produced and the average American makes and/or uses more than 1,500 pounds of chemical products per year.
     It appears the integration of brain sciences and environmental neuro-toxicology will prove the connection, but without public outcry, Americans should expect little to be done. That’s why the “Finding Happiness” process in the manual encourages American families to speak up! 

 Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. authored the book "Finding Happiness in America" and has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How To Tackle Bad Habits Using "Baby Steps"

    



     Why is it so difficult to replace bad habits with good ones? Partly, I guess, because ingrained habits are embedded and entrenched over time into our daily activities. We forget we have them until someone brings them up to us. Yes, nothing is stronger and stealthier than habits!


     Regardless of how many bad habits you have, you must proceed in “baby steps” to effectively deal with them. Mark Twain said that habits can't be flung out the window, they must be coaxed downstairs, one step at a time. Do you have so many bad habits that you don't know which one to tackle first? Take a lesson from Duane. He smoked and drank too much, overate, gossiped, cussed, consumed a high-fat diet, and had a negative attitude about most things. He sought counseling and was turned off by the term “baby steps”, which his counselor often used. However, Duane soon learned the importance of employing the "baby step" approach when attempting to change his bad habits. It’s a drawn-out, difficult process where he worked diligently on changing one bad habit at a time before moving on to the next one.
     As you proceed through the Finding Happiness in America manual, you'll run into an exercise called "Replace the bad with the good!" which I'd like to share:
     Find a comfy sofa or chair and relax. Begin thinking about your long-range goals, aspirations and what you'd like your ideal life to be like. Spend some time doing this. Next, reflect on your present daily routine and customs. Think about things you regularly say and talk about along with the behavioral actions you routinely take. Write these habits down with specificity. Determine which ones facilitate the attainment of your dreams and put a (+) sign by them. Similarly, decide which ones clash with your goals and aspirations and place a (-) sign before them. Keep this list readily available. Now, you can no longer conceal (from yourself) how your current bad habits are imprisoning your future! You're now in a position to attack your bad habits cognitively, to undermine your entrenched (-) bad habits by deliberately attending to how your good but often under-utilized (+) habits will empower you to succeed in reaching your dreams.
     The only difference between losers and winners is the differences in their habits. It takes constant effort to integrate good habits into your daily routine. You may be a slave to bad habits today, but you have the power to become a master over good habits tomorrow.
     Proceed in “baby steps” by setting short, easily-reachable goals and focus on replacing one bad habit at a time. While harmful behaviors become habitual almost immediately, studies reveal that it takes around 21 days of daily practice before admirable habits become ingrained in us. 
     Isn't it strange how good habits erode swiftly and catch hold sluggishly while the opposite is true with bad ones? Fight the omnipresent temptation to say to yourself “One of these days I’ll begin on what I want to accomplish.” As time marches on, “one of these days” may become “none of these days”.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. authored the book "Finding Happiness in America" and has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

AUTISM- A DISCOUNTED AMERICAN TRAGEDY

     One difficulty prospective American parents face is the rising chance that they will give birth to a baby with autism. The Centers for Disease Control released a gloomy report on autism last year — its latest survey found that one in 88 American children had been diagnosed with autism and related disorders, and one in 54 American boys were determined to be on the autism spectrum.
     In Finding Happiness in America, I describe how researchers are desperately attempting to isolate the cause. They know it is a neurological disorder with no real cure that lasts a lifetime since it stems from a chromosome abnormality involving brain neuro-transmitters. They found autism is genetically transferable with a 15 percent chance of more than one family member having it, occurring eight times more frequently in boys than in girls. There is also growing evidence pointing to environmental factors, including pesticides, air pollution, and other environmental toxins that could impact brain development and lead to autism.

Autism currently (2015) strikes 1 in 88 American children.
     Before the Center’s depressing findings, in a population of 10,000 children born, the incidence breakdown was something like this: there were three to five severe autistic cases, 10 moderate-to-mild cases, and 50 to 75 with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified. Children diagnosed with the latter will still be affected in the manner noted above, so, out of a population of 1,000 school children, five to seven or eight will suffer from a mild-to-severe form of this condition. Unfortunately, these statistics have worsened.
    Not surprisingly, autism comes from the Greek work meaning “self.” Babies with the disorder prefer a solitary existence. It is hard for parents to get them to do the “oooo” back-and-forth communication, and quite often, these babies don’t hold up their hands to be picked up like other infants. Instead, parents receive a “wet noodle” response, or the baby may grow as rigid as a board to avoid being picked up or touched. Autistic children can be spotted in birthday party videos, for they rarely do “declarative pointing” to get others interested in their newly opened gifts. The “point gaze” is missing as well — while playing, they rarely look up at their parents to read their faces, then look back at the toy. They may not respond or look up at parents until their name is called several times.
     The fact that one in 88 children fall somewhere along the autism disorder spectrum is both distressing and frightening for parents-to-be. It is beyond my comprehension as to why this national calamity was not mentioned in either the Republican or Democratic national conventions. Ironically, Geraldine Dawson, the chief science officer for Autism Speaks, calls the situation a public health crisis that demands a coordinated national response, increased research, earlier screening, and better treatment.
     For the sake of our children and parents-to-be, I pray our national leaders heed Dawson’s words.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his position of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is author of the Finding Happiness in America manual.Contact him on the Secure Contact Form.

Friday, January 4, 2013

CHILD GUN SHOOTINGS- HOW TO PROTECT YOURS

Dear Mr. Morton- My three sons have friends whose parents are hunters. They have deer rifles and pistols in their homes and I'm concerned that something tragic may occur. My kids are very curious about everything! Any ideas on how to ease my fears? They are great friends and the parents are responsible, so I don't want to make these gun-owning homes off-limits to my boys.- Concerned Parent.
 
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Dear Concerned Parent- All of us watched with empathy as classes resumed for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Visions of last month's massacre in Newtown that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead remains embedded in our minds. Many of us are amazed at how many guns there are in the U.S. and, ironically, the vast majority of firearms are purchased by sportsmen for themselves and for their children. Yes, many wonderful deep and lasting friendships are forged between parents and kids who share an interest in hunting. Young girls are getting into the hunting scene in record numbers as well...it's not just a father/son thing anymore!

The FBI estimates that Americans buy 12 million guns every year. There’s a lot of them around and your concern is valid- for every 10 children killed each year, one is killed by a firearm. Yes, guns account for 10% of all deaths among kids from age 5 to 14. Last year, 1,400 children under age 18 were killed by guns and for each of these fatalities, almost 5 children received nonfatal firearm-related injuries. Many of these children had access to household firearms that were stored loaded or in unlocked places. Are the guns secured in a locked place at the homes your children visit?  

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So, what can you, as a parent, do in a country where almost as many people are killed by guns than by motor vehicles?
Federal data reveals 31,236 firearm-related deaths and 36,361 motor vehicle-related deaths in 2009... and the gap  is closing. In fact, in ten states, more people are slain by guns each year than are killed in car crashes.

I highly recommend you double-check that the gun-owning households where your children play have guns that are secured and inaccessible to children. Studies show that unintentional injuries, suicide, and homicide among youth occur when young people have easy access to firearms, especially when they‘re not properly stored. Why? Because 90% of fatal firearm incidents involving children occur within the home, and according to a study of children and youth aged 0 to 14 years (Wintemute), 40% of firearm incidents involve a firearm stored in the room in which the shooting occurs. Researchers also uncovered via interviews that twice as many firearm deaths among children and youth under age 18 occur in states with the highest proportion of people living in households with loaded firearms (Miller).
 
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Through surveys, it was found that a third of adults in America keep firearms in or around their home. The prevalence of adults with household firearms ranged from 5.2% in the District of Columbia to 62.8% in Wyoming. The prevalence of adults with loaded household firearms ranged from 1.6% in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey to 19.2% in Alabama and the prevalence of adults with loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.4% in Massachusetts to 12.7% in Alabama. Among adults with children and youth under age 18, the prevalence of loaded household firearms ranged from 1.0% to 13.4% and the prevalence of loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.3% to 7.3%. In sum, the studies reveal that nearly 2 million children and youth in the United States under age 18 are living with loaded and unlocked household firearms.

So, it crucial that you, and other parents with similar concerns, ask two questions: Do you know if the parents of your children’s friends are firearm owners? If so, do you know what their firearm safety precautions are?

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If your answer to the second question  above is "No", I advise that you you to ascertain their firearm safety precautions by considering the following six(6) “best practices” of gun ownership safety, which are espoused by the National Rifle Association (NRA), American Academy of Pediatrics and public health agencies:
1. Keep firearms stored unloaded, locked, and separated from ammunition. A child or teen should not have access to firearms without direct adult supervision.

2. Talk to your children about guns. Common Sense about Kids and Guns is a non-profit group of owners and non-owners of guns committed to working together to protect America's children from gun deaths and injuries. They recommend discussing firearms with children, especially if you have them in the house.
Pre-teens: This is a good time to begin talking with children about ways to solve problems that do not involve violence. With older children, explain to them the consequences of violence and the dangers inherent in the mishandling of guns. Continue to emphasize to children that they should never touch a gun without adult supervision.
Young children: Experts advise parents to reassure children that, as parents, they are doing their best to keep children safe. Children can be exposed to a good amount of violence by the media, especially from TV and movies. It is important to teach children that this is not real and that guns cause real injuries. Emphasize to them that they should never touch a gun and should always tell an adult if they come across one. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repeating this message periodically to keep children from forgetting.
Teens: This can be a difficult time to maintain open communication with kids as they become more independent and rebellious. However, maintaining dialogue with your children can help you spot any potential problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that, at this point in a child’s life, it is easier to keep guns away from teens than to keep teens away from guns, which are often glamorized in the media. It is important that parents watch for signs of depression or changes in behavior, as teens feeling this way are at an increased risk for suicide.

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3. Get yourself educated and aware about the risks of unsupervised access to guns by children and teens. Begin by viewing the “GUNS AND KIDS” videos in the right-hand margin.

4. The most important thing a parent can do, according to Betsy McAlister Groves, director of the Child Witness to Violence Program at Boston Medical Center, is to listen to a child’s concerns. As she told Newsweek, "allowing kids to voice their worries is very important." Not talking about the problem will not make it go away.

5. Contact an organization like Common Sense about kids and guns: Their website is: http://www.kidsandguns.org/ You can reach them by snail mail, telephone or fax: 1225 I Street NW Washington, DC 20005 · (202) 546-0200 · fax: (202) 371-9615.

6. Ask yourself honestly: Do you feel your child may be prone to violence? Or, is any of your children's playmates prone to violence? If so, follow the steps above. Any child who is violence-prone should not have access to firearms. Definitely keep the firearm unloaded and locked away, separate from the ammunition, which should be locked away as well. Studies have shown that teens who are angry or depressed are more likely to kill themselves or others, particularly if a firearm is easy to get. Here’s 23 signs of potential violence in children and teens. All children will, at one time or another, exhibit many of these behaviors without resorting to violence. But, the more of these behaviors your child is exhibiting, the more you should consider locking up or getting rid of your firearms until he/she gets professional help:
  1. makes verbal or written threats of violence;
  2. has shown past violent/aggressive behavior: angry outbursts, etc.;
  3. has access to guns, knives, or any dangerous weapons;
  4. has brought a weapon to school;
  5. has made past suicide attempts or threats; Note: If you have a gun in your home, you are 5 times more likely to have a suicide in your house than homes without a gun. An unlocked gun could be the death of your family.
  6. a family history of violent behavior or suicide attempts exists;
  7. projects blame on others or doesn’t accept responsibility for his actions;
  8. has recently experienced a loss or rejection, or some type of shame;
  9. bullies or intimidates others;
  10. is a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse;
  11. witnesses abuse or violence in the home;
  12. talks, writes, reads material or draws with themes of death or depression;
  13. is engrossed in TV shows, movies, music, magazines, comics, books, video games or Internet sites that show acts of violence;
  14. has a diagnosed illness such as depression, mania, psychosis or bipolar disorder;
  15. uses alcohol or illegal drugs;
  16. gets into disciplinary problems at school or in the community;
  17. has destroyed property or vandalized;
  18. has shown cruelty to animals;
  19. has shown fire setting behaviors;
  20. shows poor peer relations or is socially isolated;
  21. is involved in cults or gangs;
  22. has little or no supervision from parents or other caring adults;
  23. believes he deserves whatever he wants at whatever expense.
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Lastly, make sure your chldren or you chidren's friends aren't attracted to delinquent or gang activity. If you are sure your children aren't, are you sure their friends of gun-owning homes are not? Professor Bernard Harcourt delivered a fascinating Chicago's Best Ideas Talk, entitled "Language of the Gun: A Semiotic for Law and Social Science." Professor Harcourt's talk was based on his recent book, "Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime and Public Policy. He interviewed incarcerated teens about their opinions about guns and analyzed the particular language they spoke about guns and the associations their words have, and what the implications are for public policy.

His interviews were conducted at the Catalina Mountain School, a juvenile prison for boys aged 12 to 17. He uncovered the symbolic dimensions of guns and gun carrying among male youths. His book offers a vision of how semiotics can redraw the traditional relationship between law, social science, and public policy. Here’s some of what he heard:

“If you’re out there and you don't have a strap, you're going to get killed.”

“I had me two baby 9's. I fell in love with those. They look beautiful to me.”

“I never got into guns besides selling them.”

“I like to reload bullet shells.”


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“You feel powerful when you have a gun. You get respect.”

“It's too much time to fxxk with guns.”

“Anybody can fight with a gun, anybody can pull a trigger. It takes somebody, like a real man, to fight somebody.”

“I love guns. Hell yeah, I love guns. I love everything about a gun.”

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Contact Form

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

RECESSION DISTRESSING TO CHILDREN

Dear Mr. Morton- I’m working two jobs, my husband’s laid off, the bills are piling up and our 3 young children are feeling the stress. How can we ease their worries?- Mother. 


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Dear Mother- You’re not alone. Even though our economy is showing signs of improving, there remains people who now seek help from food banks who were actual donors a few years back! Others who worked a steady forty hour week with overtime now are laid off or must survive on thirty-two hours…with no benefits. There are more children on free/reduced school lunches and increasing numbers of kids without health coverage.


As the American family stares at the fiscal cliff, our uncertain economy and the financial strain it places on them is underestimated, and children are not immune to it. They sense the increased stress in their parents and hear and read about it in the news. The best time for you and your husband to discuss his job loss, your working double time, and the bill pile-up isn’t during dinner. Discuss your financial difficulties quietly after the kids are asleep. Children need “predictableness” in times of family stress, so try and keep your discipline and expectations of them positive and consistent, and the household routine as unwavering as possible.

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Keep an eye out for changes in your children’s behavior or emotions. When families undergo any number of extended struggles, children may develop sleep difficulties, headaches or stomachaches, even have unexplained fears or anxiety that may take the form of clinging behaviors.


If they have questions about the extra job you had to take on or why dad was laid off, answer their questions honestly and calmly in an age appropriate manner. Don’t hide the truth from them. Tell them the reasons why the family adjustments are necessary, for children’s fear of the unknown will frighten them more than the truth. If the tight family budget means they can’t get a puppy for Christmas, so be it. But, always reassure them that the family will be okay, which it most likely will be, for everything in life is cyclical and that goes for the financial markets, too.

 
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Low-income families fare the worse. Experts have studied government policies and legislation that have affected below-medium income families. The lack of a national housing policy, affordable housing for families with children, health and medical care, the lack of mental health services, and the difficult-to-access healthcare for the rural poor are problems that grow in a recession. Economic downturns, unemployment and under-employment indirectly affects childcare and the increased work expectations of parents, pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs, as well as the education of immigrant children. The economic insecurities hit middle class families during the recession, but are magnified among low-income families who increasingly live on credit.  
 
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Interestingly, sociologists have compared U.S. policies for children and families to those of selected major industrialized countries. In a 2004 study by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, it was reported that a large number of American families are currently faring poorly in their struggle to provide for themselves. Low-income and poor families were found to contain one-third of all of the children in American working families. Low-wage jobs without benefits mean that families at or below the poverty line live a precarious existence.
 
Lastly, take care of yourself, too! Click HERE to learn more about stress and take a free self-assessment of your stress level in these hard economic times.
 
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Contact Form

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Contact Me- Secure Contact Form

If you have a comment or question about a post on this site or if you have purchased and are progressing through the "Finding Happiness in America" manual and have questions, state them below. I will assist you as best I can...ASAP!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TEEN SLEEP DEPRIVATION ON THE RISE

Dear Morton- Our teen doesn’t get enough sleep due to an after-school job. By Friday, he seems very tired but still makes good grades. Can teens handle a schedule like this where they don’t get enough sleep?- Mother

Dear Mother- The question is, should they? Adolescent sleep deprivation research has shown the problem causes teen memory and information-processing deficits, irritability, decreased creativity and diminished ability to handle complex tasks. 


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Adolescents need more, not less sleep. Teens need nine hours sleep per night to avoid behaviors associated with sleep deprivation. Risks associated with this teen problem include mood and behavior problems, increased potential for drug and alcohol use, and vulnerability for accidents. In fact, National Sleep Foundation researchers found that the majority of fall-asleep driving accidents are caused by young people.

The researchers also found that 20 percent of all high school students fall asleep in school (Maas, 1995) and that the symptoms of sleep deprivation are worse in earlier starting schools (Allen, 1991). A Minnesota study of 7,000 teenagers revealed that students in schools that switched starting time to 8:40 a.m. from 7:15 were less sleepy during the day, earned slightly higher grades and had fewer depressive feelings and behaviors.

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Additional weekend sleep to compensate for sleep lost during the weekdays does not ameliorate the negative effects. Not surprising, students who lack sufficient sleep have poorer grades. As I read through the research, I wondered how much of the teen “illnesses” confronted by school nurses and behavioral problems dealt with by parents, assistant principals, counselors, and the courts could be avoided if teens got adequate sleep.

Walk into any first-period high school classroom and it's obvious: teenagers are exhausted. Sleep deprivation is an epidemic as widespread as obesity and just as damaging. Sleep deprivation affects the lives of more than 41 million adolescents in the United States alone. Yes, it is a chronic problem for kids today. We know this intuitively as we watch teenagers frantically juggle a hectic social calendar with the overwhelming demands of school, work, and chores.School performance around the country is suffering but it's not just grades that are at risk. Sleep deprivation has been found to affect nearly every aspect of a teenager's life, from emotional stability and behavioral issues to physical well-being and the potential for drug and alcohol abuse.
 
For years, we've blamed many of these adolescent characteristics on the natural maturing process or changing hormones. And while chemicals do surge through the body creating strong effects, sleep and the right amount and the right kind has now been targeted for its prime importance in overall success and well-being.

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The natural order dictates that the teenage circadian rhythm be arranged differently- their biological clock signals them to both fall asleep and wake up later. The brain hormone melatonin is produced later at night than it is for kids and adults, thus making it difficult for teens to fall asleep earlier.


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Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. Contact him on the secure Contact Form

Friday, September 14, 2012

MEDICAL EVALUATION HELPS DIAGNOSE LEARNING PROBLEMS



Dear Mr. Morton- my son, age 8, is repeating second grade due to learning problems. The school evaluation team recommended a thorough medical evaluation to rule out possible physical causes. What should I ask the doctor to look for?- Concerned Mother


Dear Concerned Mother- Before making an appointment with your physician, send the complete school evaluation team report to him or her, including the psychological and speech/language pathologist reports, teacher observations, etc. at least several days before the appointment. This will help the physician identify, via proper screening methods, any suspected physical problems which may be interfering with your son’s learning process.
(above photo- Dr. Ortiz with a young client at Northeast Valley Health Corporation)
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Your son can be given a thorough evaluation if you suspect a high fever, lead poisoning, etc., may have had a negative impact on his development. I encourage parents to gain knowledge of unseen childhood traumas.
Children with learning problems often squeak past routine physical exams with no explanations for their inability to keep up with the pace and demands of the regular classroom environment. Hopefully, your physician can determine if any hearing or vision defects exist, inspect for hard or soft neurological signs, or judge if a neuro-motor delay for development has occurred. Your self-report and the school’s evaluation team report will supply him with information on the history of pertinent diseases, injuries and traumas. He may recommend additional diagnoses with an
EEG (for example) or make a referral to other specialists.
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Through the years, I’ve witnessed thorough physical exams uncover inconspicuous causes of learning difficulties in children- a smart, young boy who lagged behind in reading because of seasonally-congested sinuses which hampered his ability to benefit from phonics instruction; a talkative and seemingly bright kindergarten girl who couldn’t learn the alphabet letters was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal abnormality usually allied with mild mental retardation; an adopted boy who was academically slow because of earlier nutritional deficiencies; a child who couldn’t stay alert because of irritating dental problems; etc.

Especially for learning disabled kids, we need to know their physical health is in the best condition possible, a necessity for effective learning to take place. A brightening new future in the diagnosis of learning disabilities has arrived with a focus on the
neuropsychological assessment of patients with learning disabilities and/or ADHD. In fact, the neuropsychological assessment of learning disabilities and ADHD has exploded in the last two decades, thanks in part to the numerous students seeking accommodations in college and for standardized exams such as the SAT.

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More and more clinical neuropsychologists are participating in the diagnosis and treatment of learning disabilities. There are still diagnostic and treatment controversies to the proper diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD children. There should be a more agreed upon and uniform set of diagnostic criteria in both adults versus children. Also, more research is needed for prescription and accomodations, report writing, and practical, hands-on, interventions.

For those of you who are, indeed, suffering from ADHD and related learning problems, it helps to read about individuals who have fought the battle and won. Many of you have become champions! The millions of people who deal with adults and children who have difficulty in learning to read, to write, and to copy from a book know the pain involved in coping with ADHD and learning disorders.

Robert Morton, M.E., Ed.S, has retired from his positions of school psychologist for Fremont City Schools and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. Ten percent of advertising revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Contact him on the secure Bpath Mail Form.

Friday, April 27, 2012

"THOUGHTS ON AMERICA: COPING IN THE LAND OF THE FREE"


"Thoughts on America: Coping in the Land of the Free" is all about the American family and the economic, parenting, family, educational, social, and personal issues it faces. The author, Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. and creator of this website, offers great, well-researched advice on how to cope in modern America. Click HERE to browse this useful book and find out more on how to survive in our face changing society.