Home » 2011 » August

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Video: Chi Lessons from Horses : Spirituality & Health Magazine

Video: Chi Lessons from Horses

Allan Hamilton was all by himself one morning years ago when he leaped off a fence at summer camp and onto the back of a horse named Thunder. No saddle, no bridal, and no clue how to get down. And so the future brain surgeon simply hung on as the horse wandered. He missed lunch and dinner and rode late into the night, until a camp counselor finally showed up with a flashlight and got him down. The long ride left him so sore he couldn???t walk, but it transformed him from being the shy and fearful new-kid-at-camp to being the camp hero. It was also a giant leap into a lifelong love affair with horses and a fascination with how humans and horses connect.

In the current issue of Spirituality & Health, Dr Hamilton writes about lessons in spiritual leadership that can be learned from horses. He also promised video examples of some of these lessons. He???s been working on the videos for the last couple of weeks at his ranch in Tucson, where he and his wife Jane teach equine-assisted therapy. Check out the video below to see this fascinating work in action, and click here to see even more. Hamilton???s wonderful new book, Zen Mind, Zen Horse, is also available at Amazon.com or your favorite book store.

Last February I had the opportunity to experience these lessons firsthand with Dr. Hamilton. The videos don???t capture the thrill of learning to control a beautiful horse with a simple shift of intention. At the same time, it is amazing to see footage of what I experienced directly in the horse ring. My skeptical left brain still doesn???t know what to make of this silent, right brain communication, but having experienced it in person and watched it on video, I find it difficult to deny.

There are great lessons in these short clips. Enjoy!

Stephen Kiesling is editor-in-chief of Spirituality & Health magazine, winner of the Folio Gold Award for best magazine in religion and spirituality. Kiesling is the author of four books, including the bestselling The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence. His writing has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and Outside. Kiesling has been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, and in the New York Times.

Steve Jobs’ Biological Dad Regrets??Adoption – Business News – ABC News Radio

A 22-year old Steve Jobs poses at the first West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco, California, where the Apple II computer was debuted. Tom Munnecke/Getty Images (CUPERTINO, Calif.) — In the wake of Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple CEO last week, the billionaire’s biological father has told media outlets that he regrets giving up his son for adoption some fifty years ago.

Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian immigrant who now works as a vice-president at a casino in a Reno, Nev., was quoted by the New York Post as saying he didn’t know until just a few years ago that the baby he and his ex-wife, Joanne Simpson, gave up grew to be Apple’s CEO. Jandali has emailed his son a few times, he said, but did not call Jobs for fear that he would think Jandali was after his fortune.

Jandali told the Post that had it been his choice, he would have kept the baby, but Simpson’s father did not approve of her marrying a Syrian, so she moved to San Francisco to have the baby alone and give it up for adoption.

Jandali said he hoped Jobs would call him someday, and would be happy for the two of them to get just a cup of coffee together once before it is too late. Jandali is 80, and Jobs has been in declining health.

Jandali did not immediately return calls for comment from ABC News.

Though he was one of the world’s most famous CEOs, Steve Jobs has remained stubbornly private about his personal life, ignoring the media and the public’s thirst for knowledge about his inner life ever since he co-founded Apple Computer in 1976.

“He’s never been a media person,” said industry analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “He’s granted interviews in the context of product launches, when it benefits Apple, but you never see him talk about himself.”

Bajarin said Jobs, 56, keeps a close cadre of friends, including John Lasseter of Pixar and Larry Ellison of Oracle, but beyond that, shares very little of his personal life with anyone.

But that personal life — given up at birth for adoption, romantic links with movie stars, a child out of wedlock — is full of intrigue for his fanbase and Apple consumers.

Many fans know that Jobs and his wife, Laurene Powell, have been married for over twenty years; the two were married in a small ceremony in Yosemite National Park in 1991, live in Woodside, Calif., and have three children: Reed Paul, Erin Sienna, and Eve.

Less well-known are the other members of his family. He has a daughter, Lisa Brennan Jobs, born in 1978 with his high school girlfriend, Chris Ann Brennan.

His sister is Mona Simpson, the acclaimed writer of books like Anywhere But Here. Jobs did not meet Simpson until they were adults, when he was seeking information on his birth parents. Simpson later wrote a book based on their relationship. In the book, A Regular Guy, Simpson shed light on Jobs’s relationship with Brennan and his daughter, Lisa.

Fortune magazine reported that Jobs denied paternity of Lisa for years, at one point swearing in a court document that he was infertile and could not have children. According to the report, Chris Ann Brennan collected welfare for a time to support the child, until Jobs later acknowledged Lisa as his daughter.

The highlights of Jobs’s career trajectory are well-known: a prodigy who dropped out of college and, at 21, started a computer company with his buddy Steve Wozniak in his parents’ garage; a multimillionaire by 25; on the cover of Time magazine at 26; and thrown out of the company at age 30, in 1985.

During those years, though, Jobs also lived an exciting personal life. At Reed, Jobs became romantically involved with the singer Joan Baez, according to Elizabeth Holmes, a friend and classmate. In The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, Holmes tells biographer Alan Deutschman that Jobs broke up with his serious girlfriend to “begin an affair with the charismatic singer-activist.” Holmes confirmed these details to ABC News.

Deutschman’s book also says Jobs went on a blind date with Diane Keaton; went out with Lisa Birnbach, author of The Preppy Handbook; and hand-delivered computers to celebrities he admired. Deutschman did not immediately return calls for comment.

Most recently, as Jobs battled pancreatic cancer, he shied away from disclosing health details to the public or to his employees. Fortune magazine reported that instead of surgery to remove the malignant tumor, Jobs instead treated his tumor with a special diet. The Apple Board of Directors pressured Jobs to get the surgery, and eventually he did.

As Jobs went through professional ups and downs — leaving Apple, working at NeXT and Pixar, and eventually returning to Apple — he kept his private life closely guarded. Now, as he steps down as CEO of Apple, the public will be watching this private man to see what comeback might be next.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

My first thought when reading this is “Oh yeah, you missed his money too…” I guess that is a bit cynical but you do wonder. The story does sound sincere and I have heard it many times in my work with families where cultural and generational influences force moms to relinquish their children to be adopted. Very sad story either way.

Using social scripts to improve social skills

It is always surprising to me how many children actually like school. I don???t know if things are different now from when I was growing up but as a child I thought summer went so quickly and dreaded having to return to the demanding routines of homework. As I watch my grandson and friends children get ready for school, they seem so excited to get back to school. Perhaps it is just the parents excitement?

One of the common denominators it seems for these eager children is the power of social connections. Getting to see friends again or making new ones is a strong drive in all of us. Unfortunately, not all children are good at making friends. They might have the want to but not the know-how for successful social skills.

One way parents can help children improve these skills is by using social scripts. Applicable to all children but commonly employed with autistic spectrum or attention deficit children, social scripts teach basic skills on interacting with peers, help manage anxiety, and addressing interfering behaviors like aggression, fear and obsessions. The underlying principle of social scripts is the cognitive technique of rehearsal or role play. It???s kind of like practicing for a play but the play is life. Like learning any new rote activity, you feel awkward at first and the words seem, well ???scripted???, but with practice you become more spontaneous and comfortable.

There are some excellent websites that have detailed instructions for parents of children with developmental challenges:




Originally created by Carol Gray of The Gray Center, social scripts for developmentally challenged children, there are several books, DVD???s, and topical scripts that parents can use with their child. The one thing that a published script can???t give is awareness of a child???s social context. I recommend that parents talk to teachers, see their child on the playground, ask a friend for honest feedback and talk with other parents of special needs children to get ideas on how to create a personalized script. Additionally, scripts should focus on reinforcing a child???s strengths and applaud any effort at positive social interactions.

The elements of a good social script include ???who??? is involved, ???what??? happens, ???when??? the event takes place, ???why??? it happens and ???how??? it happens. The subject for these elements could be asking to play a game, telling a joke, giving others personal space, waiting ones turn, sharing with others, being more assertive, etc. Older children may need more detail about feelings and motivations than younger children.

Parents of all children can use expressive and dramatic play to rehearse a social script. Set up a target topic, like telling a joke, and then draw it out on paper, use puppets to show interactions, dress up in home-made costumes and act it out or just have a spontaneous conversation in the car on the way to school. I used made up stories about forest animals struggling to get along with other animals when my children were young. I have used toys figures with my clients in family therapy to role play tough social situations. The more creative, the more fun. Give high fives and words of praise to increase motivation. Talk about how it worked afterwards and re-rehearse if necessary.

Helping our children feel and be more competent socially will help them be more successful academically. It will improve self-esteem and help to create leaders in the world.



Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta




Experts push disclosure of failed foster adoptions

Experts push disclosure of failed foster adoptions

By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press???2 days ago 

MIAMI (AP) ??? Deb and Doug Carlsons’ adopted sons have trashed bedrooms, stolen credit cards and threatened to kill them. One drew a disturbing picture of beheading the southwest Florida couple and throwing a party.

When the Carlsons adopted the now teenage boys from foster care in 2007, they were handed a slim file with few details except that the two suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. No one told the empty nesters the boys had severe mental health issues and had bounced between foster homes. Now teenagers, the boys are living in separate therapeutic group homes.

Therapists say one son needs to be in a supervised residential facility, which the state will no longer pay for, unless the Carlsons turn back custody to the state.

“We love him and he’s part of our family. To have to make such a difficult decision to get him the care he needs is ludicrous. It sends a horrible message to him,” said 55-year-old Deb Carlson. “You really feel like once you sign on the dotted line you’re on your own. You’re totally abandoned by the state.”

While the overwhelming majority of adoptions end happily, some families like the Carlsons say they weren’t told about their new child’s psychological problems and can’t get help from the government agencies that recruited them.

Their complaints come amid a nationwide push to find homes for older foster care children and those with serious behavioral and mental health problems, which can emotionally and financially drain adoptive families. Most states focus money on recruiting parents but once a child is adopted few funds are directed to supporting the new families, some experts say. About 50,000 foster children are adopted annually in the U.S., almost double the number in the 1990s.

“We place them in an adoptive home and we don’t support or train the parents … we sometimes set families up to fail and then those children are placed back in the system,” said Rita Soronen, president of The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The Ohio nonprofit estimates more than 20 percent of the nearly 6,300 foster children it has served came from a failed adoption.

But there’s no national data to show how many adoptions fail or track how many children need additional help, and states aren’t required to track or report the figures. Florida is among the few states tracking so-called disrupted and dissolved adoptions, which happens when adoptive families return children to foster care while in the process or after finalizing the adoption. Florida had nearly 200 dissolved or disrupted adoptions in 2008-2009. There were 3,777 total adoptions that same year. However, most of the dissolved adoptions each year are actually adoptions that took place in previous years.

In Oklahoma, one child advocate said half the 14 boys in the group home where she worked had been adopted and returned to the system. Legislators there pushed for a law in 2009 fearing there was little transparency in the process.

A Pennsylvania adoption program estimates about 60 of the 200 foster children they work with come from failed adoptions.

A majority of failed adoptions involve older children with trauma issues, including reactive attachments disorder, or RADS, where children struggle to bond and act out against their adoptive families. Some have been victims of sexual abuse and, in turn, act out sexually on other siblings in the home. States typically cover a portion of care, but that coverage can run out quickly. The costly services can drain private insurance, leaving parents forced to pay out of pocket or return their child to the state to access government-funded mental health services.

Many states have relinquishment policies that force parents to choose between keeping their children and getting them help. Those who do relinquish their children may face criminal abandonment charges and may not be eligible to adopt again, said Mary Boo, assistant director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children in Minnesota.

“States could fund the treatment and not bring the kids back into foster care but they don’t. It’s a way to keep the states from having to pay the bill,” Boo said.

The demand for more post-adoption services comes as most state child welfare agencies are already slashing budgets. Programs vary widely across the country, from telephone assistance lines that link parents with services to intensive family therapy sessions and respite care. There’s little research evaluating which programs work best, making it difficult to get funding.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families has trained more than 150 therapists to work with adoptive families. More than a dozen of the agency’s private contractors have hired case managers to work with families after the adoption.

Ohio’s program offers adoptive parents up to $10,000 for services ??? a drop from $20,000.

A few states, including Pennsylvania and Illinois, offer robust programs and are even increasing services.

Casey Family Services, covering New England and Maryland, has expanded over the past three years after hearing from more families in crisis. Diakon Adoption and Foster Care in Pennsylvania, which specializes in finding homes for hard to place foster children, also had an increase in failed adoptions. Diakon connects families with a case manager to help with school problems and links them with therapists and other medical help. Services also include support groups and respite care, but families can only receive them for one year.

But in Florida, the Carlsons encountered problems when they tried to get counseling and other post adoption services for their boys: The organization’s waiting list was so long they eventually told the Carlsons they couldn’t help anymore.

The boys can’t be left alone or play in the neighborhood like normal teens. Each week brings new crisis. Deb Carlson quit her job as a payroll manager to deal with the chaos. She spends hours on the phone navigating the system. A nonprofit advocate recently agreed to take one son’s case in hopes of getting the state to pay for more residential care.

Deb Carlson doesn’t understand how a loving family’s noble ambition to help neglected foster children could turn into such a nightmare.

“You have these idealized visions, you treat them nicely and give them things and make up for all the things they didn’t have in their life,” she said. “All of the resources I’ve found I did on my own.”

In May, several child welfare organizations lobbied Congress for more post-adoption services to help families like the Carlsons. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a bipartisan bill that would have required states to spend a portion of the federal dollars they already receive on adoption services and accurately report failed adoptions, but the bill stalled in committee.

“The minimal services could make a big difference for these families. They feel very abandoned sometimes. We don’t even have the statistics to look at when it goes wrong, how and why,” Klobuchar said. “It’s very hard to improve things if we don’t have that data.”

Copyright ?? 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

These parents experiences are all too familiar occurr
ences. Would the problems have been solved if they would have known more about the children they were adopting? I don’t think it would have solved problems. I think it would have helped them make an informed decision and reduced one more “failed” placement for the adoptees.

8 Things about Failing: How to combat perfectionism

Do you struggle with perfectionsism? Always worried what other people will think? Do you fear failure? Here are eight things about failing that you can meditate on (pray, journal, draw, sing, research???) to combat your inner critics.

Eight Things About Failing:

1. Distinction: Failing vs Being a Failure
2. What you do with the failures in your commitment is up to you.
3. Failure is only a temporary setback.
4. Failure is not the disgrace everyone thinks it is.
5. Nothing of value is ever achieved without the risk of failure
6. Failure is a natural preparation for success.
7. Every failure brings with it the POSSIBILITIES of something greater.
8. Failings are OPPORTUNITIES to learn.


Family Going Veggie? How to Make Sure They Get The Right Nutrients

According to the American Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarian diets, people who eat a vegetarian diet have a lower risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. They also tend to have lower LDL cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI) readings and overall cancer rates (1). However, when it comes to a vegetarian diet, there are right and wrong ways to go about adopting this (largely) healthful way of eating. For this reason, education on a healthful vegetarian diet is critical.

A 2005 poll showed that 3 percent of 8- to 18-year-old children were vegetarians (1). While it’s been well established that a vegetarian diet can be healthful and adequate in nutrition, children and teens do require age-appropriate intakes of certain nutrients. Especially important for vegetarians are: protein, calcium, iron, zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 in amounts sufficient to support growth and development. Guidance from parents in making deliberate food choices helps maintain balance and variety, ensuring that nutritional needs are met. If your child has decided to “go veg,” here are the nutrition considerations that need to be taken into account:

Protein???: For many people, protein is synonymous only with meat, fish and fowl, however, there are many plant-based foods that are high in protein, such as, beans, peas or lentils, nut butters, soy foods and eggs (for lacto-ovo vegetarians). Children’s protein needs, depending on age, ranges from 16 to 44g per day (2), but a variety of vegetarian protein sources can provide sufficient amounts. Iron is the most common nutrient deficient in vegetarians, and especially in vegans, who don’t eat any animal products, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Pediatric Nutrition Handbook” says. This is because iron-rich plants contain a type of iron that’s harder for the body to absorb than the iron found in animal products.

Vitamin D???: The American Academy of Pediatrics recently doubled the amount of Vitamin D it recommends for infants, children and adolescents to 400 IU per day beginning the first few days of life. Vegetarians can get vitamin D from fortified foods, supplements and sunlight exposure.

Vitamin B12: ???The requirement for Vitamin B12 is tiny but critical. It can be found in fortified cereals, fortified soy and other nondairy milks, fortified veggie meats, and cow’s milk, eggs and yogurt for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Calcium: ???Sufficient calcium intake can be obtained from a variety of plant-based sources, but fortified orange juice as well as soy, rice, almond and other plant-based milks are an easy and efficient way to help meet kids’ calcium needs (2). Fill in the gaps with fortified breakfast cereals, almonds and almond butter.

Zinc???: Getting enough zinc isn’t typically on new vegetarians’ minds, but vegetarian diets often contain less zinc than non-vegetarian diets. Because this mineral is a critical component in so many functions of the body, it’s wise to know good food sources. The National Institutes of Health says that non-meat sources of zinc are more difficult for people to absorb. One way to make plant zinc more absorbable, they say, is by “soaking beans, grains and seeds in water for several hours before cooking them and allowing them to sit after soaking until sprouts form.” They also say that consuming leavened grain foods — like bread — helps the body to better absorb the zinc, compared with unleavened grain foods, like crackers. There are many other kid-friendly options that are high in iron, such as veggie burgers, dates, almonds and cheese. A good multivitamin also helps cover the bases.

1. Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(7):1266-1282.

2. Melina V, Davis B. The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet, 2nd ed. Summertown, Tenn.: Healthy Living Publications; 2003.


Follow Joanna Dolgoff, M.D. on Twitter:


School Refusal – Dealing with severe anxiety

Wow!  It’s really that time of year again.  While there are a range of thoughts and feelings that students have about heading back to school, it is the students that have a true phobia about attending that I hope to reach in this post.  Hopefully, this will find its way to parents that have seen their child seriously resist school and it will provide other parents with good information so they recognize what they see if their child begins to truly resist school.

A preliminary study on children and adolescents that refuse school revealed that not only is this group more likely than their peers to suffer from an anxiety disorder, there is also a pattern in the way that they cope with their anxiety.  Researchers investigated something that psychologists call emotion regulation and they found that kids and teens that refuse school tend to have difficulty reframing safe situations as such and also hide their feelings about their fears from others.  These two phenomena are referred to as cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, respectively, and they both may contribute to a student’s ongoing school refusal.

The study took place in Australia and used a sample of children and adolescents in treatment at a school refusal clinic.  As opposed to truancy where students typically try to hide their absenteeism and also have behavior problems, this group of participants refused school for reasons of anxiety.  The study group was matched for age and sex to a same size group of peers that did not refuse school. 

As one might guess, the school refusal students had higher levels of anxiety when compared to their peers.  They met criteria for diagnoses such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and separation anxiety disorder.  Many of these students also had mood disorders (e.g., depression) and/or behavioral disorders (e.g., oppositional defiant disorder). 

The school refusal students were found to oftentimes view everyday situations as threatening in some way.   For example, something as routine as eating in the cafeteria or being called on in class could seriously overwhelm the students described in the study.  In addition, they were less able to reframe situations as safe.  In other words, they used cognitive reappraisal less frequently than their peers.  Also, the school refusal students hid their anxieties from others.  This expressive suppression is thought to serve two purposes.  One, the individual can avoid the uncomfortable emotion more easily.  Two, it can protect the individual from being ridiculed by others or other negative social consequences.

While the authors state that these results are just the beginning of understanding the possible role of emotion regulation in school refusal and that more research is needed in this area (including in the US), there are some takeaways worth noting.  First, school refusal in this study was closely linked to anxiety.  That anxiety was fueled further by an inability to reframe non-threatening situations as non-threatening.  Second, participants that refused school were also more likely to conceal their true feelings. 

Perhaps clinicians, parents, teachers, and others that encounter these students can bring some relief to them by working to increase a sense of emotional safety in the school environment as well as warmly and openly allow for honest discussion about the anxieties associated with attending school.  While this is where I would normally say more on recommendations, chronic school refusal problems would probably be best served by an experienced professional who is skilled at understanding and treating the underlying causes of school refusal.  This person could spend time getting to know your child as an individual and work directly with your child to help decrease anxiety, reframe the school experience in a more positive light, and promote effective emotional understanding, management, and communication.  Finally, he/she could work in conjunction with parents and school personnel and provide feedback and recommendations that can ease the transition back to regular school attendance.

Please bear in mind that this study is not describing the student that occasionally complains about going to school or wants to stay home now and then.  This post is addressing a much higher level of school refusal.  For any parent whose child is sometimes refusing school or tentative about going, however, looking at their worries about going may be a good place to start.

Thanks for reading.  -Anita

Source: Hughes, E. K., Gullone, E., Dudley, A., & Tonge, B. (2010). A Case-controlled Study of Emotion Regulation and School Refusal in Children and Adolescents, Journal of Early Adolescence, 301 (5), 691-706.


Good article on children who refuse to go to school due to problems with anxiety. There are some practical tips that I like to see from reviews of research too. The challenge is going to be getting schools to cooperate with things like making the child feel safer by spending time getting to know them better. In my experience, this is more based on the personalities of the teachers but most have overloaded schedules and unrealistic expectations put on them as educators already. I would suggest parents make an effort regardless to help their child manage their anxiety and have a successful school year.