Useful tips for less stress this holiday season

As the Veteran’s Day Weekend officially kicks off two month of craziness, it is a good time to remember the tips to get you through this holiday season.

Autism Spectrum Therapies ( started this list, but here’s my tweaks and additions that make it useful for everyone.

Work as a team to preserve critical routines

As a family, when you start making holiday plans, be precise and honest with family. Work out ways to preserve critical routines- like bedtimes and family dinners- throughout the holiday season. The key is to remind all family members and friends that you need their help to make things work smoothly, that you need to work as a team during the holidays.

For kids- especially those struggling with ADHD, Autism, and other disorders- the disruption in a regular schedule causes anxiety. When you mix this in with the excitement of presents and family any kid will have trouble. Communicate the changes to your kids, tell them what to expect. For younger kids, use social stories to ease into major changes in routines. Children with ADHD respond well to visualized routines. Be creative, use your imagination, think in kid-terms about how to get them to remember.

 Ease into the season and out of it

If you’re like me you want it to go from boring to wonderful in 10 minutes flat. Kids struggle with this though. When you have a poor concept of time it’s hard to remember that those presents aren’t for opening, and that there’s still 2 weeks of school left before winter break. A simple way to overcome this sudden shift that changes your kids into entirely different creatures is to start decorating early and in stages rather than changing the entire home all at once- beginning with an advent calendar (even if it’s homemade). For younger children it’s also important to allow them to interact with the decorations and help put them in place.

When you’re done, back out of the holiday’s the same way. It allows for an easier transition back into the normal, and extends the holiday feeling just a little longer.

Plan Your Shopping Time

I don’t know why I always wait to shop… it’s probably the traffic and all the people that just make it impossible to get into the stores before the last week. But these last minuet scurries wreak havoc on our little ones. Our stress becomes there’s and anxieties are increased when we’re suddenly not there.

Minimize these last-minute shopping trips. For children who rely on routines and react to abrupt changes, unexpected shopping trips can be stressful. And, if your child will accompany you during holiday shopping, plan enough time to allow them to gradually adapt to the intense holiday stimuli found in many stores.

Opening Presents

All the paper, all the toys, if your house is like mine present time can be a lot of craziness. Get through it by sharing the ground rules up front. When opening gifts as a family use an object, such as a small ornament, to show whose turn it is. This sets the stage for children to know that they need to take their time- not rush through all their presents at once. The individual holding the object should be the one to open the next gift. For young children, other’s gifts may look fun too! Prepare siblings and young relatives to share their new gifts by example.

A little planning ahead can go a long way this season.

If you have any other tips I would love to hear about them.

ADHD can stop your child from joining the military

An ADHD diagnosis can stop your child from joining the military

Did you know that a mental health diagnosis can stop a person from being qualified to join the military?

It’s true. Having an ADHD diagnosis on record will disqualify you from service unless you’ve met certain criteria including having a doctor reassess you, and being off medication for at least 12 months. It seems like a hefty price for trying to get help for children who struggle in school, especially when researchers are finding out that more and more children have been misdiagnosed.

A current University of Arizona study is researching the prevalence of children who have sleep apnea but have been misdiagnosed as ADHD. They’re estimating as many as 30% could fall into this category.

Another 30% of the kids diagnosed with ADHD have an undiagnosed learning disability. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to have issues processing information, then be given drugs to slow down that processing even further?

Before jumping to an ADHD conclusion it seems more prudent to work with a counselor to have an accurate diagnosis, and then attempt non-pharmaceutical interventions before the ADHD label becomes part of your child’s permanent record.

When one kid seems like twenty

The Associate Press released today that the Duggars are expecting again. LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) — the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting” may soon need a new name, Arkansas couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday and announced they are expecting their 20th child in April ( ).

This would seem overwhelming to most parents. One kid alone can be a handful. But we can learn a lot from these oversized families.

Do you ever wonder how moms can deal with getting five kids ready in the morning? You may think they’re just organized… but that’s not the trick… they divide up the duties. Older kids help the younger- parents split up breakfast chores- and the parents get up first, giving themselves time while kids are still in bed. It’s more about running the house like a business… delegating duties… and not sweating the small stuff.

With one child the crayon on the wall seems more important than when you have three kids in diapers and there’s just more to worry about. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let it go and approach the crayon like you would someone messing up with a project at work. There is a process to fix it, logical steps to follow to change what has happened. Walk your child through these steps so they know how to fix what they messed up.

There will always be things to worry about, so don’t get caught up in the little things. And… when there is something bigger… get help. Don’t try to go it alone.


Does my child have ADHD?

I want my child to grow up to be like Michael Jordan… or Jim Carry… Joan Rivers… or Einstein. I want my kid to have ADHD???

ADHD affects more than 2 million children and adults in the United States. It literally touches everyone in this country. What is it, though, that makes an Einstein?



Coping skills?

One of the very first obstacles, really, is just understanding what you’re dealing with. A counselor can help you figure out what is really going on. Provide you with resources. Offer you parenting suggestions. Provide your family with coping skills… but you have to make the first step.

Try the ADHD Screener… or call a counselor to ask questions today.

Seek support now to avoid issues in the future

ADD/ADHD: Counseling can help your family learn strategies to help you overcome obstacles that burden loved ones such as poor grades, difficulties with discipline, and issues with medication. Support can be sought both in individual sessions and in group session where peer encouragement is available.

 Teen Troubles: Being a teen is synonymous with trouble. Even kids who don’t face some of the tougher issues still can be plagued with the turmoil which surrounds them. This is only accentuated by the technology that makes it easier for kids to speak before they think. It’s important to be familiar with this technology to help kids use it functionally rather than disrupt their lives.

Money Issues: Depression and anxiety accompany money issues; this is a fact. Seeking support can help you prioritize and manage obstacles before they become barriers.

Changes in Family Relationships : When the structure changes it affects the entire family and often results in issues that range from behavioral to academic. Counseling is a compassionate vehicle there to reduce suffering and lasting damage for the entire family.

Parenting Issues: Parenting is never easy. In good times and bad parents struggle with the right way to approach the ever changing needs of their once babies. Individual and group supports can help you meet your obstacles with love and logic.

Anger Management : Anger is a masking emotion, making treating it a task harder than you would think. Individual and group supports are available to help.

Smoking Cessation: We all know that wanting to quit is the first step, but actually doing it is tough. Group or individual support can get you on the right track.

Counseling is available for any issue you may be experiencing in your life, big or small. When all you need is a little extra support, help is just a phone call away

Brain Gym

Ever notice that it’s just impossible to get your brain working some days? These are great… several refereces believe that these simple and silly exercises help your brain work better to promote focus, decrease anxiety, and re-work brain connections:


 Pinky& Thumb

 Triangle Square


Our brain has control in issues such as pain, heart palpitations, stomach problems, depression, anxiety, and much more. If we let them, the body symptoms can take over, like Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk. But by training those same nerves that tell our body to make our heart race to do other tasks, like breathing techniques or bio feedback, Bruce Banner (you) can stay in control.

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to life here and now with kindness and curiosity. Try it; close your eyes and just listen to the sounds around you. It helps depression, anxiety, and works wonders with kids who lose focus, get angry, or have difficulties at school.

I fully endorse Dr. Amy Saltzman and recommend her Mindful CD’s for people of all ages.



Sometimes we need some practical solutions. Things to put into place to help us work through issues that we deal with on a daily basis. Breathing seems so simple… but it can be a real tool to help with real life issues. It’s great for Depression, Anxiety, Pain… and just all around good health.



1. Sit up straight. Exhale.
2. Inhale and, at the same time, relax the belly muscles. Feel as though the belly is filling with air.
3. After filling the belly, keep inhaling. Fill up the middle of your chest. Feel your chest and rib cage expand.
4. Hold the breath in for a moment, then begin to exhale as slowly as possible.
5.  As the air is slowly let out, relax your chest and rib cage. Begin to pull your belly in to force out the remaining breath.
6. Close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing.
7.  Relax your face and mind.
8.  Let everything go.

Practice about 5 minutes