Thursday, March 27, 2014

Light It Up Blue for World Austism Awareness Day

Autism Speaks Light It Up BlueDid you know that adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at least three times more likely to be verbally and physically bullied? Some experts believe that the primary characteristics of ASD, such as communication difficulties and trouble understanding sarcasm and humor, make some kids with ASD easy targets for bullies.

As we already know, victims of bullying are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems; problems that can compound the stress and anxiety many autistic children already feel in social situations. Bullying of those with ASD tends to increase as the child reaches adolescence most likely due to the more increasingly complex social interactions and pressure for teens to conform.

As with most forms of bullying, bullying of those with ASD decreases with increased awareness, bystander intervention, and peer support. Expert believes that Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) programs that specifically address interacting with people who have disabilities can help adults and children become better equipped to interact with those with ASD as well as intervene in a bullying situation.

Please join me and countless others on April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), as we raise awareness about this growing global health crisis. In the United States, 1 in 88 people have ASD, the majority of them are male. According to the National Autism Association, "Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities." Experts believe early detection and intervention can help those diagnosed with ASD to reach their full potential.

Around the world, hundreds of stores, stadiums, bridges, landmarks, hotels, homes, and offices will Light It Up Blue next Wednesday, April 2nd. You can help by lighting up your own home, wearing blue that day, sharing information about Autism with your social network, or attending a local fundraising event.

For more information about WAAD and Light It Up Blue, visit

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stories from Our Collective Past and a Modern-Day Golem vs. Bullies Story

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? And some of the best stories I know are those that have been passed down through the generations and shared between cultures.

In honor of World Folktales and Fables Week this week, I’ve pulled together a list of some wonderful resources for enjoying the classic as well as the not-so-familiar stories from our collective past.

Some Fantastic Reads:
  • Tales of the Shimmering Sky: Ten Global Folktales with Activities Retold by Susan Milord (available at
  • Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls Collected and told by Jane Yolen (available at
  • Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales (available at
Read Tales Online:
  • - A comprehensive collection of tales including King Arthur’s Knights, Grimm, Andersen, and Aesop as well as tales from countries from around the world
  • - Kid-friendly site with colorful graphics 
  • The Baldwin Project - A collection of Celtic fairy tales including “A Legend of Knockmany” and “The Shee an Gannon and the Gruagach Gaire” 
And, if a child in your life is interested in writing his/her own fairy tales or myths, be sure to check out’s Myths, Folktales & Fairy Tales writing project that features tips and suggestions from popular authors like John Sciezka and Jane Yolen.

Let’s end our celebration of World Folktales and Fables Week with a review of Timothy Tolliver Bully Basher, an imaginative reworking of the Jewish Golem legend of a man of clay brought to life to protect the Jews from persecution.

This funny and short chapter book for children in grades 3-5 is written by award-winning professional storyteller Aaron Shephard (the Kindle version is currently available for free here).

When classroom bullies make life especially difficult for fourth-grader Timothy and his friends, they decide to take matters into their own hands by building their own robot to protect them.
"Yeah, but the Golem came first, and that was probably where the idea for Frankenstein came from." Arnie grinned. "Wouldn't it be cool if this robot could protect us from the Stinks, like the Golem protected the Jews?" 
At first “Joe” seems like a dream come true and a creative solution to their bully problem. But, like the original, Timothy’s Golem develops a mind of its own.

Timothy Tolliver Bully Basher is a fun adventure story with an important lesson. I think it’s a great book to read with your child and start a conversation about bullying. Be sure to visit the author’s website for more great stories.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When the Bully and the Victim are the Same Person

A growing number of bullying experts are recognizing that abusive self-talk, or self-bullying, can have long-term detrimental effects on our self-esteem, especially with teens. Think about it: your inner voice is always with you. Most of us would avoid spending time with anyone who regularly criticized, attacked, or denigrated us. And, we'd certainly not want our children exposed to such behavior. Some believe their inner voice, even when it is hurtful, motivates them to be a better person. But, unfortunately, the end result is not excellence but more guilt, shame and emotional pain. I encourage you to consider the ramifications of self-bullying in your own life and the lives of those you love. I've found a few resources to get you started. 

Bullying: The Really Big Problem Behind the Really Big Problem 
by Jonathan Hewitt, Founder, Life Ki-do Parenting, Martial Arts and Life Education,

"...I believe that the really big problem behind the really big problem is self-bullying.

I have taught anti-bully programs to children and teens for 20 years. I have taught the mental, emotional, verbal and physical safety skills to prevent and deal with a bully situation. Of course, there is huge benefit to these kinds of programs, but at some point I realized that it just wasn't enough. I wasn't addressing the problem behind the problem.

Under the tremendous pressure and influence of peers and media, kids today are bombarded more than ever with how they should look, how they should act and who they should be. Because no child can possibly live up to these false standards, it all becomes fertile ground for self-directed negative thoughts, harsh self-judgments and damaging comparisons.

The problem compounds because when children don't know how to deal with their own self-negativity, they look for other ways to alleviate the pain. Too often a child will try to feel better about himself by putting down someone else. Thus it's a domino effect and without addressing self-bullying, we will never have a chance of making a big dent in the bullying problem."
Read the entire article 

Stand Up To Self-Bullying 
Approach yourself with compassion for a happier life. 
by Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., Psychology

"Do you think of yourself as a nice and caring person to others; yet simultaneously criticize and push yourself mercilessly? If so, I hope you’ve given serious consideration to the inherent contradiction in this. It’s important to acknowledge that you are bullying an extremely important person—you!

Instead of continuing this self-destructive behavior, consider learning to treat yourself as well as you treat others; particularly when you are struggling or distressed. The best way to do this is by relating to yourself with compassion."
Read the entire article

Self-Bullying is Being Mean to Yourself 
by Hey

"According to Hey U.G.L.Y.'s National Spokesperson, American Idol Contestant and singer/songwriter Devyn Rush, 'After all, no one is a perfect person, and no one really has a perfect life. It is important that we not compare ourselves with others because there will always be someone we'll consider more attractive, smarter, more talented, or who has a cuter boyfriend/girlfriend, or more money, etc.

The next time that voice in your head tells you that you are not good enough, just picture a face with that voice. Picture a scared child. Now imagine that scared child is you when you were young. Hold that child and tell him/her that he/she IS ENOUGH. Think about all of the things that you do well and compliment that little child on each one. Maybe you're good at singing, dancing, biking, running, drawing, etc. Maybe you are a great friend, good at math, writing, etc. When we take good care of ourselves, and surround ourselves with friends and family who love us that just has to be good enough!

If we focus our energies on what we do have, and make the most of it--instead of obsessing about what we don't have--it can help us feel like we really ARE enough.'"
Read more about self-bullying and teens

Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Never Forget to Celebrate National Grammar Day

It’s National Grammar Day this week and I’m sure you’re all celebrating by posting and sharing hilarious photos of spelling and grammar mistakes via Facebook and Twitter. While not a grammar geek myself, I do enjoy the various comics, quotations, and corrected signage photos that circulate around this time of year.

So, quick quiz: is it “first come first serve” or “first come, first served”? Was Ronald Reagan president in the ‘80s or the 80’s? Do you use the Oxford comma or not? What’s the difference between regardless and irregardless? Is it “could care less” or “couldn’t care less”?

Has your tolerance for talk of grammar reached its peak or has your interest been piqued by this peek at common errors?

If you want to brush up on your grammar or just impress your friends, spend a little time browsing the following sites this week. Fun and informative!
 And, of course, don’t miss the official National Grammar Day site.

If you’re looking for some funny fodder to share around the web in honor of National Grammar Day, look no further:
 Whether or not you’re a fan of grammar, I’d wager you might agree that even the best ideas dim when clouded by spelling errors, dangling participles, poor apostrophe usage, and the like. That’s why I regularly say, “Thank heavens for great editors!” Happy National Grammar Day to you all!