Spit it Out, an award-winning documentary codirected by Jeff Shames and Jonathan Skurnik, follows the poignant journey of Jeff Shames in his efforts to find self-acceptance as a stutterer.
In one of the delightful opening scenes, Shames is attending a workshop at a conference held by Friends, a support organization for children who stutter and their families. The children are outdoors ready with their speech monsters in hand, an art exercise depicting their struggles with stuttering. “We need to show them who is the boss of our talking!” says the group leader. “Put your speech monster inside the rocket!” The kids crumple up their speech monsters, dump them into a rocket, and blast it off into space, giving back the power to the children.
From the start of football season, to the turn of colors in the leaves, to upcoming holiday gatherings, the fall season inspires memorable meals. It can also be a challenging time of year to eat healthfully and stick to our health habits.
Jennifer Stack, award-winning chef, professor at the Culinary Institute of America, and a guiding voice for foodies with diabetes and pre-diabetes, is a passionate believer that seasonal eating can be both pleasurable and healthful.
For Chef Stack, it’s all about flavor, “One of my guiding principles is that it has to taste good, really good, not just okay. I have found that flavor brings more people to the table of healthful eating,” said Stack.
Building memories of healthful family meals is what’s important, she explained, “Ultimately, if someone doesn’t come back to a staple in their eating habits, it’s not going to be a good source of nourishment,” she added. What’s on Chef Stack’s fall menu? I asked her to give readers her best cooking class tips.
Am sending my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all who are affected
and struggling with the difficult events of this year. Here is a link from
PBS parents on how to talk with kids about traumatic news events ...
Talking with Kids about News - Strategies for Talking and Listening
Are you a sensation seeker, or do you prefer a low key evening with quiet music playing in the background? Decoding our sensory style is the subject of a fascinating book, Living Sensationally: Understanding Your Senses, by Dr. Winnie Dunn, Chair and Professor of Occupational Therapy at University of Kansas Medical Center. Dunn's research on sensory processing disorders indicates that people fall into four categories of sensory styles: seekers, sensors, by-standers, and avoiders. In a recent conversation, I spoke with Dr. Dunn about the broad applications of her work.
“People with sensory processing disorders may be more sensitive to sensory input, but we are all wired to have idiosyncratic reactions to sensory experiences - sound, touch, taste or smell,” notes Dunn. In families, finding creative ways to respond to such needs of children can alleviate unneeded emotional suffering. Dunn provides the following example, “At a family gathering, a child with autism may want some time away from the group due to over-stimulation of social energy. Guests present can understand this as a sensory need versus another thing wrong with the child," she advises.
Last year, while working on a coping series for the American Brain Tumor Association, I learned of the Bloch Cancer Hotline in Kansas City, MO. The hotline was founded 30 years ago by Richard and Annette Bloch after Richard Bloch’s diagnosis of terminal lung cancer. Richard experienced many challenges in negotiating his cancer care. With a second opinion and perseverance, he survived for many years after his diagnosis. This personal experience prompted Richard and his wife to dedicate their life’s work to giving hope to cancer patients.
Each day, we humans participate in a common activity—the ancient craft of storytelling. Reading the daily paper, watching movies, or catching up with friends—sharing or listening to stories is at the heart of our nature. But can telling your story have benefits for your health? “Yes, most definitely,” says Paul Browde, actor, psychiatrist, and narrative therapist, “it made all the difference to my health and life."
Sharing the healing power of storytelling is a narrative exercise that Browde and his fellow actor Murray Nossel, an academy-nominated documentary filmmaker, have engaged audiences in for the last 14 years through Two Men Talking, a live unscripted performance that has been showcased to acclaim in New York, London, and South Africa. On stage, the two men explore a variety of stories: growing up white, Jewish, and gay under apartheid in South Africa; homophobia; racism; AIDS; and most importantly, their friendship and the passage of time.
The outpouring of emotion for the recent passing of tech genius, Steve Jobs, is validation of how much the magic of digital devices has become a central part of our daily lives. Phones and tablets are lifestyle managers, offering apps that help with organization, planning for dinner or checking one's budget. Jobs will be remembered as a central inspiration for the digital age, but how people continue to make creative use of digital technologies is the post-Jobs story.
Bridging Apps is a innovative web community of parents and professionals who seek to share information on ways to use educational/therapy apps on the latest technology devices—iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android and others—to support developmental learning goals for people with disabilities.
Throughout the year, I come across many dedicated non-profits doing important advocacy work for health and wellness. Among my favorites: The American Brain Tumor Association, Blissful Bedrooms, and Post Polio Health International. Donations to such organizations fund research to find cures, provide adaptive
rehabilitative equipment to those who do have not the resources, or sponsor projects to improve quality of life for young persons with disabilities.
From the moment of birth children process the world through their senses. Through discovering taste, touch, sound, and movement, each child develops unique likes and dislikes. For some children, however, sensory processing can be painful or disorganizing.
Raising a Sensory Smart Child, by Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L, and Nancy Peske, is a resource-rich, practical handbook for parents and caregivers of children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as they work to help kids find their daily balance.
The mind and body absorb stress like a sponge. The good news is that stress management can be learned. It may feel unnatural at first to take a moment to relax when feeling stressed. Having a variety of stress management strategies to implement, based on your available energy level can be a helpful skill set - daily (breathing or stretching), weekly (scheduled exercise), or monthly (mini day vacation). No need to wait until you are stressed-out to take care of yourself. Managing your stress levels actively versus reactively can foster increased resilience. Countering the vicious stress loop is worth the effort and the payoff is usually immediate.
I am a freelance writer whose work covers
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