autism treatment

Spring into Social Skills

Matters on My Mind. 

May 2017 - With school almost out, warmer weather here, and local events abounding, we tend to get more social. We start to leave behind winter hibernating and cocooning and move outside to mix with more people. For many of us it is easy to be social and welcome seeing friends, old and new.  But, for those on the Autism Spectrum or dealing with ADHD/ADD it is not so easy and social skills impairments are a significant disability. Social skills doesn't just mean relating to "party" atmospheres, but refers more to relationships, jobs, and community living. To get along in our world you need to be able to communicate, relate, and interact in ways that engage others, not ways that alienate others or show indifference. 

Some signs of social skills impairments include:

  • failure of normal back and forth conversation - am I talking too much or too little? am I speaking too loud or too soft?
  • abnormalities in eye contact and body language - look at me, but, when am I staring? what is my body saying to the listener?
  • absence of interest in peers - sharing is for mutual enjoyment and interest; not just my interest.
  • how do I find a friend? keep a friend?
  • how do I avoid being bullied or being a bully?

How can we help? Social Skills Groups/Classes are structured, small group sessions that teach social concepts and practice them with other children of similar abilities. Here at Mind Matters we follow the curriculum created by Michelle Garcia Winner. but adapt it to what is needed for each group. These groups are creative and fun! Social skills learned are also reinforced at home and at school so that they become "generalized"  and can be used in many situations. Mind Matters offers these classes regularly. We are now also offering one-on-one social skills training for those who aren't quite ready for group dynamics. This summer during the second and fourth weeks of July we will be offering social skills ...

Visit us at www.mindmattersclinic.org or on Facebook or call us at 209-728-2184 to learn more or to sign up for a social skills opportunity.

Enjoy spring and get ready to spring into social skills!

The Courage to Love

Matters on My Mind. 

February 2017 - Of course we all think of love in February; Cupid, hearts, and chocolate are all around, but, I have been thinking about how love sometimes takes courage. As you know Mind Matters serves those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, and other Learning Disabilities. However, it is not just the client that we serve. It is the whole family and extended family who often need our support, guidance, and professional expertise. These are the people that I am thinking of when I say sometimes you need courage to love.

Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, sister, brother; these are the brave ones. These are the people who get up every morning ready to love whether or not the person they are loving recognizes that feeling. Maybe the child or partner doesn't feel that emotion and/or know how to return the feeling. Maybe he/she does everything possible, intentionally or not, to make you not love her/him. Yet everyday Mom and others will get up and face the challenge with an open heart, a loving heart, and courage. Courage to face the immediate challenges of getting ready for school, work, or just the day. Courage to face others stares and lack of understanding. Courage to do what is best for each moment of the expected and unexpected. Courage to learn more skills and courage to come to Mind Matters, sometimes from as far away as the Bay Area, to engage with us in our comprehensive services and treatments. So, it is to our clients and their families that I, and all of us here at Mind Matters, send our love this February.

Please join me in love and support for the courageous ones. If you would like to make a donation to help with financial aid and scholarships for many of our clients, please click on the Donate button on our website - it is easy and you can even sign up to make a hassle-free monthly donation.

With love and gratitude, thank you.

To a Successful New Year!

Matters on My Mind. 

January 2017 - January, the beginning of a new year, seems like a great time to think about success. What does success mean to you? What successes have you had in the past? What goals/successes lie ahead for you? We, at Mind Matters, find success when our clients find success. I'd like to share two examples of recent successes here at Mind Matters:

One is from a mom about her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. He has been taking our Fast ForWord class for about two weeks. Fast ForWord is a computer-based, scientifically proven program developed by Scientific Learning (www.scilearn.com). The program is a reading and language intervention program that improves auditory/visual processing skills which leads to academic achievement, while building self-confidence along the way. We offer Fast ForWord here at the Clinic, at home with professional guidance, and at a Sonora location. Please call the office at 728-2184 for more information and assessment. Bob [not his real name] is also taking our recommended supplements daily. Mom and his teachers have already noticed a change! Bob has been communicating more understandably at school. He is not repeating and repeating another person's words while not making any sense [called echolalia and a symptom of his disorder]. Bob is more focused on his homework and doing the work willingly - wow! Math and reading have both significantly improved. Mom is thrilled!

The second success is reported from a dad about his son, Marty [not his real name]. Marty has been doing Cogmed, a program that helps improve attention, planning, and organization by improving working memory. Marty has completed 12 sessions of Cogmed and the change has been remarkable. Marty is now keeping his room clean, getting out of bed and ready for school the very first time he is called, and generally being more responsible for his own actions. His grades are all A's and B's and assignments are all handed in! The family and Marty are very happy!

Please see our website (www.mindmattersclinic.org) for more information about these classes and call us to sign up.

We hope this is just the start of successes for our clients and through our comprehensive services we can help more clients to achieve their maximum potential. If you would like to be a part of someone's success, please consider giving a one-time and/or monthly donation to Mind Matters. We accept cash, checks, and credit cards and more. See our website for easy ways to give or mail us a donation. 

Thank you and we are grateful for the support we get from community and beyond.

 

December Reflections

Matters on My Mind. 

December 2016 - Well, here it is almost the end of 2016 and the end of my first year as executive director for Mind Matters. For me, it has been a year of transition from board member to staff member, a year of learning, and a year of rewarding experiences with staff, board, community, and clients.

Two major changes for the Clinic were the departure of long-time MFT and Clinical Director Susan Deax-Keirns and the addition of Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dr. David Simons.

  • Susan had been with Mind Matters since its inception, 9 years ago! She started as a MFT Intern and. once fully licensed, became our primary therapist. She also served as a most compassionate and professional Clinical Director for many years. Susan now has her own private practice in Murphys and although we miss her feisty enthusiasm as well as her knowledge, we applaud her and her new venture.
  • Dr. David Simons is the very first Clinical Psychologist to work at Mind Matters. He has brought over 30 years of experience in counseling and is quickly becoming our expert in Autism Assessment and Evaluation. His addition has allowed Mind Matters to offer more in-depth services to our clients and he is a welcome addition to our team.

This year we have also been able to bring back our popular and successful Social Skills Groups. Social Skills focuses on teaching positive social behaviors and providing social coping tools to those children most at-risk. Studies show a significant decrease in violent and negative behaviors, as well as increases in emotional well-being, academic success, and social harmony when this social skills program is implemented early especially for marginalized youth and individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ADD/ADHD.

Another highlight for Mind Matters was holding our 5th Annual Off the Beaten Path Walk/Run. It didn't rain! and it was a fun time for all, with the event bringing in $6,000 for the good of our clients and programs. We were chosen for a fundraising reception night at Sonora Repertory Theatre's production of A Christmas Story. Again the weather was great and with a fun play for viewing, yummy hors d'ouevres and drinks to enjoy, and a super theme-based basket of goodies for the raffle, new and continuing friends of Mind Matters enjoyed a wonderful evening out and raised $6,000 for a good cause.

The Board of Directors has been busy developing a fund development plan, a scorecard/strategic plan, and expanding their numbers to better round out their skill set. As always, the Board remains dedicated and active in making Mind Matters the best it can be.

Last, but, certainly not least, we have been able to serve over 350 clients with comprehensive treatments and services. Definitely the most rewarding memories of 2016.

Hope your year was a good one, and from all of us at Mind Matters, we wish you a most happy and loving holiday season!

 

Matters on My Mind: Thanks & Giving

Matters on My Mind. 

November 2016 - Family, friends, food, and thankfulness - what a wonderful celebration! Here at Mind Matters we are very thankful for so much:

  • First and foremost we are thankful for our clients and patients, those that come on their own and those that come as a family - extended, blended, and nuclear. It brings us joy when a client tells us "I can't remember a time when we have been so hopeful for what the future holds. Mind Matters is the perfect blend between modern medicine and holistic methods."
  • Our donors - individuals, family foundations, and businesses. We could not provide services to our clients and patients without our generous, sustaining, and supporting donors. Mind Matters funding is comprised of 1/3 private pay & 2/3 donations & grants. We need your support.
  • Board support - we have a dedicated and active board who work hard as ambassadors for Mind Matters. They contribute freely of their time, talents, and their dollars.
  • Staff - Medical Director/Physician, Dr. Ryan Thompson, Clinical Director/Clinical Psychologist, Dr. David Simons, Licensed Clinical Social Work, Sarah Krutsinger, Educational Services Coordinator, Cheri Tichenor, Learning Specialist, Marianne Hale, Receptionist/Bookkeeper, Cristi Canepa all work compassionately and professionally to provide comprehensive services and treatments for our patients & clients to become a happier and more productive member of his or her community!

This is the Mind Matters team and we need each of you and are thankful for each of you every day! So from me, Trudy Lackey, Executive Director and all of us who are part of the Mind Matters neighborhood, we wish you a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Matters on My Mind: October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Matters on My Mind. 

October 2016 - Since October is designated ADD/ADHD Awareness Month, I thought I would write a bit about these disorders. ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are both prevalent. In our tri-county area of Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Amador there are over 2,500 incidences. This indicates 11% diagnosed, a 33% increase in the last 12 years. Here at Mind Matters 43% of our clients are being treated for ADD/ADHD.

What are some signs of ADD/ADHD?

  • Inattention: difficulty with focus & attention, trouble getting organized, being easily distracted, and/or finding it difficult to perform sequential or sustained activities.
  • Impulsivity: doing or saying things without considering the consequences, interrupting and blurting out, tendency to have more accidents & risky behaviors, and/or having trouble controlling emotional responses.
  • Hyperactivity: constantly moving, squirming, or fidgeting, talking excessively, humming or making inappropriate noises, and/or playing too rough.

What causes ADD/ADHD?

  • Genetics: ADD/ADHD is often inherited. A sibling will also have ADD/ADHD 32% of the time, while a parent will also be affected 50% of the time. There is not just one gene, but, rather multiple genes that have been identified as contributing to the conditions.
  • Environment: Possible exposures(directly or through food) include pesticides, lead, food dyes, prenatal tobacco & alcohol exposure, and/or air pollution. 
  • Medical Risks: low birth weight/prematurity, head injuries, thyroid disease, iron deficiency, repeated ear infections, and some medications.

Treatment Strategies

  • Create a Strategy: This complex disorder requires a comprehensive and well thought out plan. Create a team with the individual, family, educators, therapists/clinicians, and doctors. Keeping everyone in the loop greatly reduces stress and any possible negative responses the person may face on a day to day basis.
  • Family and Individual Therapy: Get "everyone on the same page" so that strategies will be successful. The diagnosis itself often creates conflict within the family; some are apt to believe and embrace the diagnosis,while others are resistant or resentful of being "labeled" with a disorder. Individual counseling to improve organizational skills and other "executive functions" are useful. Parent counseling can offer new approaches and help create consistency and harmony between parents.
  • Educational Team: Often ADD/ADHD in children is first seen when they enter the school environment; their struggles are different and more profound than their peers. Working closely with the teacher(s) in a collaborative way can be vital. The process of creating a plan for school based assistance can be initiated by either the parents or an educator. Potential options include: Student/Child Study Team (SST/CST), further educational & behavioral testing, informal or formal 504 accommodations, and/or an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Nutrition and Lifestyle: Effective diet modifications include: high protein breakfasts, avoiding artificial food colorings, food allergy elimination diets, reducing processed foods, and eating organic foods. Typical supplements include: omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil), magnesium, zinc, pycnogenol, pyridoxal 5 phosphate (P5P50), and melatonin. Lifestyle changes include: reducing screen time in front of television, computer gaming & smart phone use while also increasing any form of exercise and unstructured outdoor activities.
  • Medications: Medications can be a useful part of a treatment strategy. There are a variety of medications which act differently in the brain and require someone familiar with the "art" of using them to tailor them to the needs of the the individuals. Medications include stimulants, non-stimulants, and anti-depressants. All have risks of side effects which need to be clearly explained.
  • Other Treatment Options: A variety of other treatments available include: Cogmed, EEG Biofeedback, and Interactive Metronome Training.

Finding Help

Mind Matters is a Comprehensive Treatment Center serving individuals and families affected by ADD/ADHD and more. Check out our website for more information or to make a donation www.mindmattersclinic.org or call our office at 209-728-2184. Get Answers   Get Help   Get Moving

Thank you to Dr. Ryan Thompson, Medical Director and MD at Mind Matters Clinic for providing the information for this blog.

 

 

 

Introducing "Matters on My Mind."

Many of our clients are affected by Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders [ADD/ADHD], and the transition from summer vacation to back to school and back to work can be a rough time. All of us feel the change and often some concentration on making our diet and nutrition a little better can make a big difference.

Shop with AmazonSmile to Benefit Mind Matters

If you ever shop online with Amazon, then please consider helping Mind Matters with every purchase you make. Through the AmazonSmile program, Mind Matters receives 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases. 

"Off the Beaten Path" A Success!

We want to thank all of our sponsors and runners for making the 5th annual Off the Beaten Path, walk/run for Autism Awareness a success! More than $4,500 was raised to provide financial aid for families who could not otherwise receive our services. Thank you for your support.