Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 February & March SEPAC Meeting-Workshops

Next SEPAC Meeting on February 5th at 7:00 PM at the Penn Brook Library Dear All: We will not have a January meeting. However, we have two upcoming meetings that should prove to be beneficial to all our members: 1) Dr. Molly Cook will join us on February 5th to discuss “Practical Strategies for Strengthening Executive Function Skills.” 2) We will be co-hosting a Friends Project Presentation “Introduction to Friends” at the Newburyport High School on March 5th from 7-9 PM. Practical Strategies for Strengthening Executive Function Skills by Dr. Molly Cook: This presentation will help teachers, parents and school administrators alike to address and plan for students who have impairments in their executive functioning skill sets. What is executive functioning and why is it important? Executive functioning is the mental process that helps students apply past learning experiences to present situations, and involves activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details. It also includes the ability to manage time and personal space. A leading expert in executive functions, Philip David Zelazo of the University of Minnesota, describes them as "the deliberate, goal-directed control of behavior." More importantly, strong executive functioning skills (creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline) have been shown to be predictive of school success (even more so than IQ tests). See e.g. Diamond, A. & Lee, K. Science 333(6045):959-964 (2011). Deficits in executive functioning can present as inability or difficulty in: · Making Plans · Organization · Keeping track of time/finishing work on time · Multitasking · Switching focus to different topics · Remembering past details · regulating speech or behavior How do executive functioning impairments present in a child? Does your child keep a messy room or have difficulty following instructions? Does your child have trouble paying attention, sitting still when peers do not or loses his/her possessions regularly? Does your child need to be nagged excessively to remember daily tasks or forget to turn in homework assignments? If you any yes to any of these questions, then you would benefit from Dr. Cook’s expertise. About Dr. Molly Cook: Dr. Cook is a licensed psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of childhood and adolescent learning disabilities and emotional disorders. In her practice, Dr. Cook provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and teenagers who present with symptoms of learning disorders, executive dysfunction, AD/HD, anxiety, depression, and social communication difficulties. Dr. Cook also provides therapeutic treatment, and she is especially excited to offer therapeutic tutoring, which is a hybrid treatment combining traditional psychotherapy and skill building. This service is especially useful for children who have organizational issues, difficulty with written expression, or problems learning and retaining information. Therapeutic tutoring combines practical and concrete skills-based intervention with psychotherapy, and allows a child to enhance areas of weakness and feel good at the same time. Dr. Cook has trained and worked in the Massachusetts area for almost a decade. Her training is diverse and has included a two-year fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at Neuropsychology and Education Services for Children and Adolescents (NESCA) under the supervision of Ann Helmus, PhD, a leading field expert. Dr. Cook has also trained at the Klarman Eating Disorder Center at McLean Hospital and at Franciscan Hospital for Children. Since 2005, Dr. Cook has held a position at Architects For Learning, a private practice in Needham, MA that specializes in the treatment of organizational and written expression disorders, and is run by Bonnie Singer, PhD. Through her work at AFL, Dr. Cook is EmPOWER and Brain Frame certified. Dr. Cook recently opened the North Shore Center for Neuropsychology in Marblehead, and her office is open for referrals. Her website is: For more information on executive functioning, please see: Executive Function Fact Sheet: Executive Functioning and Learning Disabilities: March 5th - Introduction to Friends: Discussing Ways to Help Establish and Sustain Relationships Between People With and Without Disabilities by Jim Ross: This training is designed primarily for groups of parents (and other family members) and people with disabilities, although staff from support agencies may also find it helpful. An ideal group would be about 20 people, although we will present to smaller or larger audiences. The presentation includes discussion and resources on building relationships between people with disabilities and people without disabilities of all ages, but it can be revised to concentrate on “Kids”, “Transition-Aged Youth” or “Adults”, depending on the composition of the audience. The training is pretty informal and invites lots of audience participation (we’re learning from you, too!) and covers: · What do we mean by “Friend” in these modern times? · What are the benefits of friendships? Are there any specific benefits to be found in relationships between people with disabilities and people without disabilities? · What are some of the obstacles or challenges we may encounter that might make it difficult for people to make relationships? · How can we figure out where to put our limited time and energy if relationships and friendships are a priority for us? · What are some of the existing approaches—formal and informal—that have proved successful in helping people with and without disabilities become friends? · Where can we find more information related to “Relationships” and “Friendships”, including people we can contact who might be of further help? Please note that this is at the Newburyport High School!! We look forward to having interactive and informative discussions during both of these events! Shelby Walker, Chairperson Georgetown Special Education Parents Advisory Council