Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Show #60- Jan Olsen, OTR- Handwriting Without Tears, Part II

This week's show starts out with a few quick stories, including a wrap up of the amazing people I met at Podcasters Across Borders. Podcasts to check out:
Quirky Nomads- Sage Tyrtle
Just One More Book- Mark and Andrea
The Catfish Show- Cat & Bob

Thanks to Dave Reader of Parrish, NY for all his help in fixing my flat tires, and sharing his life with me on my way to PAB. Dave told me what it was like for him growing up with dyslexia, and how his experiences affected how he encouraged his children to stay in school. His daughter now teaches autistic children in Massachusetts.

I share comments from listener Susanna about the last show.

In the second half of my interview with Jan Olsen, Jan talks in detail about the handwriting without tears program, and how it can help kids learn to write - tear free. One great comment she made- "Honey, you're doing great- it's your letters that are in trouble!" As a result of my conversation with Jan, I have new workooks, and will start working with my guys again this summer, no more than five minutes, twice a day. I'll post their progress on the blog- this will help keep me honest and accountable, too.

Next show, we'll celebrate our 1 year anniversary!

Thanks again for listening, and as always, contact us by email at and by phone at (206) 666-2343.

Click here to listen to Jan Olsen, Handwriting w/o Tears part II

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Show #59- Jan Olsen, OTR- Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting skills, or penmanship, is no longer taught in schools the same way it was when I was in elementary school in the 70's. Yet, we are putting more and more emphasis on writing skills in school. While it's natural to say "Well, it's all about computers- they need to learn how to type, not write by hand!" and typing skills are important, the ability to be able to express yourself in writing of any sort begins with the process of learning how to manipulate pencils and have letters, words and sentences flow between your brain and the physical act required to record those thoughts on paper (or this computer screen!)

Both of my children have struggled with their handwriting, and the lack of legibility and the lack of fluidity in their handwriting" has had a serious impact on their composition skills. When handwriting is a difficult, frustrating and unrewarding chore, kids start to do as little of it as possile, and become "minimalists" in terms of their composition- doing as little as possible to skate by. Yet the demands on them to write across the curriculum in school- even in math class, continues to increase every year in school. This is not something we can afford to ignore.

Jan Olsen is an occupational therapist who has taught children handwriting for many years. Jan's own son had problems with his handwriting, which led in part to her development of the Handwriting Without Tears Program. Most teachers don't learn about teaching handwriting, mechanics or even the proper posture required during their education, so it's hard to expect them to teach children the appropriate way to form their leters and numbers. Jan's program his being used by over 2 million students and has been adopted in over 16 states as the standard handwriting curriculum. It has an emphasis on fun and success, and it has helped my kids, although we will be spending the summer breaking some bad habits and adopting some better ones, in just 5 minutes, twice a day.
In our two part conversation, Jan and I talk about why handwriting is important, and why it isn't part of the normal curriculum. As you listen to the show, you'll see how important things like positive reinforcement are for kids- "You're fine, but your letters are in trouble" and how even parents can help their children succeed.

Part 2 discusses details of the Handwriting Without Tears Program in some more detail, and how the multisensory aspects of the program really help kids understand how the letters are formed and why, eventually building up to making writing an effortless, automatic task.

Handwriting without tears workbooks can be purchased from their website by clicking here.

As always, we'd love to hear your feedback! Our voicemail number is (206) 666-2343; our email is

I'll be attending Podcasters Across Borders the weekend of June 22-24, and I'll be speaking at BlogPhiladelphia, July 12 & 13th. I am also one of thelead organizers of PodCamp Philadelphia. If you are interested in knowing more about any of these events, drop me a line, and I'll send you everything you need to know!

Click here to listen to Show #59- Jan Olsen- Handwriting Without Tears!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Show 58- Resiliency, Parent Reviews and Changing those Negative Scripts

The pictures above are of my kids, taken within 10 minutes of one another. They show how someone can start a day with a negative attitude and bad scriot, but with a little help, you can change the script into something more positive.

In this second part of my conversation with Dr. Robert Brooks, we talk about the negative scripts, or ruts, we can get ourselves into. But the surest way to make real change is to re-write your script and story. Make changes with how you react to your children, with how you approach problems, and you can dramatically change the outcome of those constant thorns- messy rooms, chore and homework problems, etc. you have to look at each issue as a problem you can solve with your child, often by enlistng their help and suggestions.

We also talk about asking your child for how they view you as a parent, and how this insight- the way you want them to see you, versus what they actually would say if asked to describe you- can work to bring your family together.

As the first anniversary of the podcast approaches, I'm looking for more listener comments on the voicemail line (206) 666-2343 and emails to read- let's make this first anniversary show about you! Send your emails to

I will be at Podcasters Across Borders in June, I'm speaking at BlogPhiladelphia in July, and I am a lead organizer of PodCamp Philly Sept. 7, 8, and 9th. If you are attending any of these events (BlogPhiladelphia and PodCamp Philly are free unconferences- sign up today!) please come find me- I'd love to meet you! If by any chance, you are interested or know someone who might be interested in helping to sponsor PodCamp Philly, let me know!

The draft chapter of my book project, all about the brain,is available in PDF format on the site. If you have read it, let me know your comments, and if it's helpful, I'll post more chapters for you!

Click here to listen to show#58- Dr. Bob Brooks

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Show #57: Dr. Robert Brooks- Raising Resilient Children

I can't think of a better way to help celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the LD Podcast, than my conversation with Dr. Robert Brooks. I met Dr. Brooks almost two years ago now, when he gave a lecture at the Centreville School. He was kind enough to read a book proposal I gave him, and indirectly, our conversations and his encouragement gave me the confidence to start the podcast. So a personal thank you to Dr. Brooks for helping me find my own voice.

Dr. Robert Brooks has lectured nationally and internationally to audiences of parents, educators, mental health professionals, and business people on topics pertaining to motivation, resilience, self-esteem, family relationships, the qualities of effective leaders and executives, and balancing our personal and professional lives.

He has also written extensively about these topics. He is the author of a book titled The Self-Esteem Teacher and co-author with Dr. Sam Goldstein of the following books: Raising Resilient Children; Nurturing Resilience in Our Children: Answers to the Most Important Parenting Questions; Seven Steps to Help Your Child Worry Less (with Kristy Hagar); Angry Children, Worried Parents: Seven Steps to Help Families Manage Anger (with Sharon Weiss); Seven Steps to Improve Your Child's Social Skills (with Kristy Hagar); Understanding and Managing Children’s Classroom Behavior: Creating Sustainable, Resilient Classrooms, and The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life (the latter focuses on resilience in adults). In addition, Dr. Brooks is co-author of a book with Drs. Mel Levine and Jack Shonkoff titled A Pediatric Approach to Learning Disorders and has written a sex education book for the young child called So That's How I Was Born! Drs. Brooks and Goldstein co-edited a textbook titled Handbook of Resilience in Children; they also prepared a parenting video and curriculum about resilience and have produced a documentary "Tough Times, Resilient Kids" that was a finalist in the 23rd Telly Awards.

Dr. Brooks received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Clark University and did additional training at the University of Colorado Medical School. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has served as Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital. His first position at McLean Hospital was as principal of the school in the locked door unit of the child and adolescent program. He has a part-time private practice in which he sees children, adolescents, adults, and families and has appeared regularly on television shows in the Boston area as well as on national cable television.

Dr. Brooks and Dr. Goldstein also have a new book coming out at the end of the summer, entitled The Self-Disciplined Child- something I know we all want for our kids and for ourselves.

In this first part of our two part conversation, we talk about what it takes to be a succcessful adult. Many kids with LD have a hard road to travel down, but their approach and attitude towards these difficulties can make all the difference in the world. We talk about LD being not an excuse, but an inderstanding of where a child is coming from; holding kids accountable for their actions, finding those Islands of Competence, and taking a strength-based approach to your child.

In part II, we'll talk more about changing negative scripts, strategies to get desired results, Listening to your children to understand what's really going on, and knowing how your children would describe you versus how you want them to describe you.

Dr. Brooks has an excellent website where you can find out more about his writings, subscribe to monthly articles, read past articles, and even find out if he is speaking in your area. You can purchase his books through this link to our LD Podcast Amazon Bookstore, where you'll find links to books we've discussed.

We'd like to put together a show all about you, the listeners, so please call into the voicemail line at (206) 666-2343, or send your emails to I'd love to hear from you!

Click Here to listen/download Dr. Robert Brooks- Raising Resilient Children Part I

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Show #56- Anne Ford and John Richard Thompson

This is the last of our three part conversation with Anne Ford and John Richard Thompson about their new book, On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD, published by New Market Press. We talk about how we need to help kids develop self-advocacy skills, in order to help them succeed in the workplace. We also talk about life coaches, accommodations and estate planning. Many thanks again to Anne & John for their time and their truly wonderful book!

Congratulations to our book winners so far - Kim, Tracey, Sue, Terry, Shelly and Patty!

Thanks to Joey and Patty for their audio comments- I will include them in an upcoming show. Please keep those comments and emails coming- I'd like to have enough to do an audience -participation show, answering questions, playing comments, and making you part of our growing community.

Please send an email to or leave a voicemail at (206) 666-2343 !
I'd also love it if any listener would take a moment and leave a review of the show on itunes- it will help the show break into the top 100 featured shows- even if you don't listen through itunes!

Subscriptions: There is no charge for subscribing to the show through any "podcatcher" or through itunes- subscription just means the latest show will be automatically delievered to your computer once it is posted.

New Free Reading Material!

I've also recently added a chapter from my book-in-progress, in PDF format, if you are interested. You'll have to go to the main website at to get it, though. It's about the basics of brain and cognitive development in kids, presented in a "Bill Nye The Science Guy" way for parents. For me at least, it always has been helpful to know what part of a child's issues might be developmental (They'll get better over time as they get older) and which parts are hard-wired (this is something in their basic makeup and unlikely to change much). I am eager to hear what you think- if you do read it, please send you feedback to me at Any and all feedback, positive, negative, indifferent- is all valuable and helpful, so please be honest!

Upcoming shows:

Dr. Robert Brooks- All about Raising Resilient Children and Raising a Self-Disciplined Child
Jan Olsen- Handwriting Without Tears- a great handwriting program used in many schools that you can use easily at home!

Click here to download or listen to Anne Ford & John Richard Thompson- Jobs, Self-Advocacy, Life Coaches & Estate Planning

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