When I started teaching at a high school for students with learning differences, my first goal was to make my communication as clear as possible.
I streamlined my presentations, tried to wipe out any sarcasm that could be taken literally, and crafted obnoxiously clear assignment instructions. These tactics proved apt, but little did I know that my most effective communication would involve neither instruction nor planning.
As a Beacon Health Options Peer Support Specialist raising a child with multiple disabilities, I never fully grasped that recovery is an inside job – until I had to recover myself.
Many Beacon locations employ peers, people with lived experience of mental illness or substance use disorder, to empower the individuals we serve to live their lives to the fullest potential. We might help them to navigate the health care system, or to define their own paths to recovery.
As a young person, whenever I saw a “coming of age” movie like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “The Breakfast Club” or even “Footloose,” I would become angry rather than entertained.
I never knew why. I now believe it was because, as a young, closeted gay person living with a newly divorced mother, nothing could have been more inconceivable than the idea I would one day “come of age” and live my own life.
It should have been a call forgotten without hesitation.
The daycare director called my office to let me know my 18-month-old daughter, Lilly, had eaten sand on the playground. She just wanted to let me know. I mentioned the call to a coworker, and she acted like it wasn’t unusual at all. “Kids test out the world one bite at a time,” I recall her saying. Yet, I didn’t forget the call and probably never will.
With April as National Autism Awareness Month, it’s a good time to recalibrate where we are when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
While there is much to celebrate, there is also a reminder for continued vigilance: children receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services achieve better outcomes with fewer hours of intervention, but its use is still well below the ASD prevalence rate.
The numbers aren’t good. Approximately, 16-20 percent of the nation’s children and adolescents have some kind of behavioral disturbance, with 4-7 percent suffering from significant functional impairment, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. That translates to about 15 million youths who need specialty psychiatry. However, there are only 8,300 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists. If every youth needing treatment was seen by one, that would be more than 1,800 patients per practitioner – an undoable ratio! However, this problem is not new, and with some creativity and practicality, phone consultation projects have been developed to address it. To get an understanding of just how they work, consider the story of Johnny Marks (a fictional case based…