Thursday, July 27, 2006

Show # 13 And Exciting News!

Show # 13 The Myth of the Fix

This is part one of our ten part series- Things Parents Can do to Maximize Their Child's Cognitive Abilities. Researchers have found that one of the best things we can do for our kids is NOT to treat them as clay we can mold into any shape we want, but that we should look for their own natural talents and abilities and find ways to help them make the most of these abilities, even if they are things we ourselves aren't crazy about.

For parents of kids with learning difficulties, and those struggling in school, this is absolutely essential. We need to be able to recognize what are children CAN do, rather than always picking on the areas and things they can't do. This may mean giving up some of our parental hopes and dreams, and creating a new version of reality. As a result, many parents go through stages similar to those going through the grieving process as they adjust to the child they have, rather than the ideal, dream child they may have wished for.

We want you to know that the child you have is wonderful and talented, despite any problems. The next lesson, discussed in the next show will cover the next step- Setting Goals that are realistic, and neither bore nor frustrate your child.

We recommend a series of books by Donald Clifton that can help you identify your child's blossoming talents.

The songs in this episode include Skimming by Mike Errico, and Lend Me Your Love by Slackstring. Both available on the Podsafe Music Network.

Please check out Podshow Plus- the best podcast locator and listening service on the web!

Leave us a review in iTunes, or vote for us at Podcast Alley!

We'd love to hear from you! Our new voicemail line can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (206) 666-2343

Our new email address is

Thanks for listening!

Click here to listen to Show # 13 The Myth of The Fix

The exciting news is that the local paper, the Wilmington News Journal, came and interviewed Melody and I for a story on podcasting for the paper! It should be published in a few weeks, and I'll post links to the article when it's published!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Show # 12 Organization

We all want to be more organized- It's critical for kids with lD, especially ADHD. They are prone to losing things, forgetting things, and it can drive parents mad, but a little organization can go a long way. In this show, I talk about the little organization things that have helped us out tremendously, to keep the whole homework process and "State of the Bedrooms" situation under control.
The songs this week include "Wasting My Time" by Matthew Ebel, available on the Podsafe Music Network, and The Sun will Shine Again by Slackstring, also available through the Podsafe Music Network. Matthew Ebel also has his own podcast you can find in podshow +, and he'll be on tour this fall with Geoff Smith, another great podsafe music artist! I hope they come to the East Coast!

We have a new voicemail number: (206) 666-2343 and I'd love to play your comments on the show!
Check out our website at, and our page on Podshow+!

Please remember to vote for us in podcast alley or leave a review in iTunes. I'd love to hear from you! You can also email me at

Click here to listen or download Show # 12 Organization

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Show # 11- Therapists

In this show, Melody and I talk about our experience with therapists and what makes a good therapist- child relationship. Whether it's language, speech, occupational, physical, or behavioral therapy, all good therapists have to have a great relationship with the child and have an ability to make skill building fun and enjoyable. If the child is miserable in therapy, they won't get alot of benefit from it, wasting time and money.
We also include two songs today, Not On The Radio- a podcasting anthem of sorts, by Geoff Smith. Geoff writes great music, and also finds time to write jingles and intros for many podcasters- my dream is to have him do some music for me! Please check out his other great songs through Podshow + and Geoff's Website, The second song is Summertime by Brother Love, also available on the podsafe music network.

Our recommendation for today is Pocket Full Of Therapy. It is a great resource for all those little therapy toys, pencil grips, and other things to help your children at home. They have a great catalog they can send you, or you can look at products online at

We now have voicemail! Leave your comments and ideas for us, and we may play your comment in a future show! Our voicemail number is (206) 666-2343.

Click here to download Show # 11, Therapists

Friday, July 14, 2006

Show # 10 Self Esteem

Show # 10 Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is important to everyone, but vital to kids with learning disabilities. We all have internal critics telling us we're not good enough, or we could do better- but for kids who are struggling in school, they received a double dose- nagging from parents and teachers, magnified by their own internal critic, telling them they'll just never measure up. We all carry a fair number of these scars around with us from when we were young- on today's show, we talk about just a few of these, and why it's so important to help children learn what they do well, not just point out where they can improve. I have included a clip from my favorite podcast. Mommycast, where Paige and Gretchen talk about the stress children are under to perform.

Today's song is Alison, by Hayman Hartman. My cousin, Jon is "Hartman" in Hayman Hartman, and you can listen to more of his music online by clicking here.

If you are interested in idetifying your child's strengths, I can recommend "Strengths Explorer". The Gallup Organization has developed online "testing" for children ages 10-14 and 15- 21, which helps identify areas of strength that parents and children can use to begin cultivating their natural talents.

Click here to download Show # 10

New Shows in the Works

We're working hard to make sure we keep to our weekly schedule here at the LD Podcast. With family vacations coming up, this means producing quite a few shows in a short time frame, so don;t be surprised if you see several shows appearing in a few days, and then a small haitus until the next appears until mid-August.

Upcoming shows will include:

Self-Esteem- Why what we say to our children and how we say it is so important

Finding Your Child's Strengths

Therapists- Our kids have had occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language therapy, but not all therapists are created equal. How can a parent tell, and what should parents look for in a therapist?

Handwriting: For this show, I am hoping to have a few of my favorite occupational therapists talk about why handwriting is actuallymore important to a child's academic success than you might think, and how it involves so much more than just the way they hold a pencil.

Long Range Plans-So many parents of kids with learning disabilities worry about if their child will ever go to college, rather than where they will go. The path to success as an adult isn't always straight, and can have many twists and turns for everyone. For most kids with learning disabilities, college is very much in the picture, and they have every opportunity to succeed. This show is about how education needs to be a good fit for your child, and why Harvard and Princeton aren't necessary for, or a guarantee of, later life success.

The 10 Part series of Parent Lessons That Can Maximize Your Child's Cognitive Abilities
This series of podcasts willl be based on a book chapter I read this summer by Williams & Sternberg (from Cornell and Yale University, respectively) that details 10 lessons parents can take to help their children become the best they can be. Some of the lessons may surprise you, but all are useful for children with or without learning disabilities.

Organization for a Good Start to the School Year: Simple things can make a big difference in day-today hassles. Homework boxes, time and place for studying, and even timers can all help us develop a routine that can take the hassle out of homework.

As always, please visit our main webpage at You can leave comments here, or on the webpage, or simply email us at I'd love to hear your feedback and what topics most interest you!

Books On Strengths

Below are links to some of my favorite books about maximizing strengths- this is especially important for kinds with learning disabilities. While these books focus primarily on adults and business, the principals are applicable to everyone.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Show #9 Motivation

In addition to positive reinforcement, parents need to know how to motivate a child, and how motivation works. In this shopw, we explain the three basic principals or foundations of motivation, and what actually motivates us to behave. In this show, we also recommend the 101 Uses for Baby Wipes podcast, Not Soap, Radio bubbble bath for kids and adults (works great to get rid of those stuibborn monsters under the bed!) and play a wonderful song, The Sun Again Will Shine by Slackstring. It's available through iTunes and the Podsafe Music Network!
Please check out our main website at, and please email any questions, comments or show ideas to me at
Have a great week!
Click here to listen to Show # 9

Friday, July 07, 2006

Show # 8 - Discipline

Click Here to Listen to Show # 8- Discipline

Every parent wants children who are well behaved, but what does this mean? I know I haven't put all of the house rules into written form, so how do we really expect kids to "know all the rules" and what is the best way to get children to behave? The secret is simple and has been around for ages- Positive Reinforcement. Simple things, like catching your child doing things you like- being nice to siblings, heloing out, and letting them know how much you appreciate it can really change things for you.

In our house, once we started using "positive reinforcement" consistently, we saw a change in everyone's behavior and mood, including our own. I appreciate the little things my husband does for me now, rather than always looking for the things that don't measure up to my expectations. As a result, everyone is really happier. If you don't believe me, Amy Singer, in the New York Times, wrote a great and funny article entitled "What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage" on June 25, 2006. You can link to the article by clicking here, but since the Times will archive this soon, I am putting an excert here:


I love my husband. He's well read, adventurous and does a hysterical rendition of a northern Vermont accent that still cracks me up after 12 years of marriage.

But he also tends to be forgetful, and is often tardy and mercurial. He hovers around me in the kitchen asking if I read this or that piece in The New Yorker when I'm trying to concentrate on the simmering pans. He leaves wadded tissues in his wake. He suffers from serious bouts of spousal deafness but never fails to hear me when I mutter to myself on the other side of the house. "What did you say?" he'll shout.

These minor annoyances are not the stuff of separation and divorce, but in sum they began to dull my love for Scott. I wanted — needed — to nudge him a little closer to perfect, to make him into a mate who might annoy me a little less, who wouldn't keep me waiting at restaurants, a mate who would be easier to love.

So, like many wives before me, I ignored a library of advice books and set about improving him. By nagging, of course, which only made his behavior worse: he'd drive faster instead of slower; shave less frequently, not more; and leave his reeking bike garb on the bedroom floor longer than ever.

We went to a counselor to smooth the edges off our marriage. She didn't understand what we were doing there and complimented us repeatedly on how well we communicated. I gave up. I guessed she was right — our union was better than most — and resigned myself to stretches of slow-boil resentment and occasional sarcasm.

Then something magical happened........

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I'd kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller.

I was using what trainers call "approximations," rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior. You can't expect a baboon to learn to flip on command in one session, just as you can't expect an American husband to begin regularly picking up his dirty socks by praising him once for picking up a single sock. With the baboon you first reward a hop, then a bigger hop, then an even bigger hop. With Scott the husband, I began to praise every small act every time: if he drove just a mile an hour slower, tossed one pair of shorts into the hamper, or was on time for anything.

I also began to analyze my husband the way a trainer considers an exotic animal. Enlightened trainers learn all they can about a species, from anatomy to social structure, to understand how it thinks, what it likes and dislikes, what comes easily to it and what doesn't. For example, an elephant is a herd animal, so it responds to hierarchy. It cannot jump, but can stand on its head. It is a vegetarian.

At home, I came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding me while I cooked. To lure him away from the stove, I piled up parsley for him to chop or cheese for him to grate at the other end of the kitchen island. Or I'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon I'd done it: no more Scott hovering around me while I cooked.

I followed the students to SeaWorld San Diego, where a dolphin trainer introduced me to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away.

In the margins of my notes I wrote, "Try on Scott!"

It was only a matter of time before he was again tearing around the house searching for his keys, at which point I said nothing and kept at what I was doing. It took a lot of discipline to maintain my calm, but results were immediate and stunning. His temper fell far shy of its usual pitch and then waned like a fast-moving storm. I felt as if I should throw him a mackerel.

Now he's at it again; I hear him banging a closet door shut, rustling through papers on a chest in the front hall and thumping upstairs. At the sink, I hold steady. Then, sure enough, all goes quiet. A moment later, he walks into the kitchen, keys in hand, and says calmly, "Found them."

Without turning, I call out, "Great, see you later."

Off he goes with our much-calmed pup.

After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love. I used to take his faults personally; his dirty clothes on the floor were an affront, a symbol of how he didn't care enough about me. But thinking of my husband as an exotic species gave me the distance I needed to consider our differences more objectively.

I adopted the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault." When my training attempts failed, I didn't blame Scott. Rather, I brainstormed new strategies, thought up more incompatible behaviors and used smaller approximations. I dissected my own behavior, considered how my actions might inadvertently fuel his. I also accepted that some behaviors were too entrenched, too instinctive to train away. You can't stop a badger from digging, and you can't stop my husband from losing his wallet and keys."

Basically, through positive reinforcement, using "successive approximations" [like rewarding those small steps to the larger goal] and getting away from the punishment mode, Amy Singer helped make her marriage better, and I am telling you, it works like a charm on kids. Just remember, consistancy and patience are the key. this is for long term change, not over night change, but the change is wonderful and dramatic.

I hope you enjoy the show! Please let me know what you think- you can contact me by email at or leave comments here, or on the LD Podcast website,!