Thought of the Day for September 25th, 2019

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Kenneth H. Blanchard

The Four Agreements (Pt IV)

Written by Don Miguel Ruiz


Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are tired as opposed to well-rested. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

The Four Agreements (Pt III)

Written by Don Miguel Ruiz


Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

The Four Agreements (Pt II)

Written by Don Miguel Ruiz


Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

The Four Agreements (Pt I)

Best selling author Brene Brown’s concept of fitting in versus truly belonging has stuck with me since I first heard of it two years ago. As an educator, this carries out in front of our eyes daily as we see students who struggle to find themselves, but also belong to a group of peers.

In Brene’s words, fitting in is NOT belonging:

“In fact, fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are.

Brown states in her book, “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone”:

  • “As it turns out, men and women who have the deepest sense of true belonging are people who also have the courage to stand alone when called to do that. They are willing to maintain their integrity and risk disconnection in order to stand up for what they believe in,” Brown said.
  • When we “fit in” as opposed to “belong,” we acclimate to the situation instead of standing for our authentic self.

Brown says so well for all of us,what I know to be true in my own life. During various stages of my life, I have not fit in. I was too different (proud of my physical disability), too awkward, and too much of a “rule follower” in school.

Now, as an educator, I continue to help young at-risk youth with their sense of personal belonging and personal strength. As a result, for the next few days, I’ll be posting Don Miguel Ruiz’s FOUR AGREEMENTS. I enjoy using these when discussing the idea of contentment with youth.

Written by Don Miguel Ruiz


Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

PTSD affects the Classroom

According to Stanford Children’s Health, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that follows an event that the person finds terrifying, either behaviorally or emotionally, causing the person who experienced the event to have persistent, frightening thoughts, memories, or flashbacks.

What causes post-traumatic stress disorder?

The event(s) that triggers PTSD may include:

  • Something that occurred in the person’s life.
  • Something that occurred in the life of someone close to him or her.
  • Something the person witnessed.

A youth’s risk for developing PTSD is often affected by the following:

  • Proximity and relationship to the trauma
  • Severity of the trauma
  • Duration of the traumatic event
  • Recurrence of the traumatic event
  • Resiliency of the youth, the coping skills of the youth, and the support resources available to the youth from the family and community following the event(s).

The following are some examples of events where there is a threat of injury or death that may cause PTSD if experienced or witnessed as a youth or adolescent:

  • Serious accidents (such as car or train wrecks)
  • Invasive medical procedures (under the age of 6)
  • Animal bites (such as dog bites) 
  • Natural disasters or man-made tragedies
  • Emotional abuse, bullying
Who is affected by post-traumatic stress disorder?

About 4% of youth under age 18 are exposed to some form of trauma in their lifetime that leads to post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Youth and adolescents with PTSD experience emotional, mental, and physical distress when exposed to situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Some may repeatedly relive the trauma during the day and may also experience any, or all, of the following:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling jittery or “on guard” or being easily startled
  • Irritability, more aggressive than before, or even violent
  • Avoiding certain places or situations that bring back memories
  • Problems in school; difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms (such as headaches or stomachaches)

How Educators Can Help!

Teachers, counselors and other adults can use their discretion to help youth with PTSD by listening, connecting, modeling and of course teaching.

  • Teachers or adult school staff should provide students with an opportunity to share their experiences and express feelings or other concerns about their safety.
  • Convey interest, empathy and availability, and let students know they are ready to listen.

One of the most common reactions to trauma is emotional and social isolation and the sense of loss of social supports. This can happen automatically, without students or adults realizing that they are withdrawing from their teachers or peers, respectively.

  • Restoring and building connections promotes stability, recovery and predictability in students’ lives.
  • A student’s classroom and school is a safe place to begin restoring normalcy during a troubled time.
  • Through the eyes of youth, adults can identify the “systems of care” that are part of their everyday life, move from beyond the classroom and school to the family and then to other community.
Model Behavior

Adults can model calm and optimistic behavior in many ways, including the following:

  • Maintain level emotions and reactions with students to help them achieve balance;
  • Express positive thoughts for the future, like “Recovery from this disaster may take some time, but we’ll work on improving the conditions at our school every day;” and
  • Help students to cope with day-to-day challenges by thinking aloud with them about ways they can solve their problems.
  • To support the coping process, it is important to help students understand normal stress reactions.
  • School staff can help youth become familiar with normal reactions that can occur after a traumatic event or disaster and teach relevant coping and problem solving skills.

Source: Stanford Children’s Health –

Inspirational Thought for April 7th

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inspirational Thought for April 6th

“There’s nothing more beautiful than when you prove to yourself just how strong you are.”


Inspirational Thought for April 5th

“The world you see is created by what you focus on. It is never too late to adjust your lens.”


Inspirational Thought for April 4th

“Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what’s even scarier?


Zig Ziglar

Self-Reflection Tips for Youth

  • Be honest with yourself. You don’t do yourself any favors if you aren’t 100% honest with yourself about how things are going and how you are behaving.
  • Notice behavior patterns. We are all creatures of habit. Some of these habits are helpful and others are not.
  • Be able to evaluate your personal core values. If you don’t know what’s important to you, how can you ever grow and represent your best self? Take time to consider what’s most important to you.
  • Be forgiving to yourself. Change is hard and old habits are hard to break. It’s okay. We’re all human. We all make mistakes
  • Keep track of your self-reflection. Start a journal. This will help you when looking back to remind yourself of where you’ve been and where you want to go.


Inspirational Thought for April 3rd

“In my world there are NO BAD KIDS, just impressionable, conflicted young people wrestling with EMOTIONS & IMPULSES, trying to communicate their FEELINGS & NEEDS the only way they know how.”

Janet Lansbury

What does resilience and grit look like in youth?

What resilience is…

Resilience is the ability to cope and thrive in the face of negative events, challenges or adversity. Key attributes of resilience in at-risk youth include:

  • social competence and optimism
  • a sense of purpose and responsibility
  • attachment to family, to school and to learning
  • effective problem solving and coping skills
  • pro-social values
  • a sense of self-efficacy and positive self-regard.

While the National Resilience Institute defines resiliency based on the 6 following traits:

As an Educator what can I do to enhance resilience

Teachers and schools can enhance resilience through modeling effective behavior and emphasizing positive and social norms between teachers, peers and the academic goals of our youth’s academic/social environment.

Why teaching resilience matters?
  • Resilience enables people of all ages to thrive and take on all that life has to offer, including the inevitable challenges.
  • Resilience is about knowing strengths and calling on them when needed; hence helping develop a growth mindset.
  • Resilience can benefit any youth who may be struggling with their mental health.

In addition, the rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 26. Adolescents are prone to at-risk behavior simply based on their brain development, as result, by building resilience in young people, we are empowering them to be able to learn from their mistakes and to understand that failing is okay – it’s an integral part of the learning journey.

Inspirational Thought for April 2nd

“If they respect you, respect them. If they disrespect you, still respect them. Do not allow the actions of others to decrease your good manners, because you represent yourself, not others.”

Mohammad Zeyara

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

My cerebral palsy (CP) made me the person I am today. It has shown me that there is strength that can be found within our weaknesses. So, what is CP?

CP is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is the most common motor disability in childhood. CDC estimates that an average of 1 in 323 children in the U.S. have CP.

I was aware at a very young age that I was different than other individuals. I didn’t however, truly understand what CP actually was until Junior High School. My younger self was conscious of the fact that my stiff muscles made it challenging for me to walk with a level or balanced walk, much like all my friends.

Yet, around the age of 12, I decided that even though I’d never be a professional athlete, I would work on my understanding of myself .

In 8th grade, I learned that CP does not look the same on every diagnosed person. “Cerebral Palsy” is a broad term used to describe various conditions.

For example, those with quadriplegia are affected in both arms and legs; those with hemiplegia have only one side of the body affected; and those with diplegia are affected in both legs.

Further, there are different types, like, spastic CP which describes tight muscles, dyskinetic CP which denotes spasms, and ataxic CP which describes shakiness.

Below you’ll find a great infograph explaining the complexities of CP

Things to Know

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth.

Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. In general, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or some combination of these.

People with cerebral palsy may have problems swallowing and commonly have eye muscle imbalance, in which the eyes don’t focus on the same object. They may also suffer reduced range of motion at various joints of their bodies due to muscle stiffness.

Cerebral palsy’s effect on functional abilities varies greatly. Some affected people can walk while others can’t. Some people show normal or near-normal intellectual capacity, but others may have intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy, blindness or deafness also may be present.


Signs and symptoms can vary greatly. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:

  • Variations in muscle tone, such as being either too stiff or too floppy
  • Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
  • Stiff muscles with normal reflexes (rigidity)
  • Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)
  • Tremors or involuntary movements
  • Slow, writhing movements (athetosis)
  • Delays in reaching motor skills milestones, such as pushing up on arms, sitting up alone or crawling
  • Favoring one side of the body, such as reaching with only one hand or dragging a leg while crawling
  • Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing, a wide gait or an asymmetrical gait
  • Excessive drooling or problems with swallowing
  • Difficulty with sucking or eating
  • Delays in speech development or difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty with precise motions, such as picking up a crayon or spoon
  • Seizures

The disability associated with cerebral palsy may be limited primarily to one limb or one side of the body, or it may affect the whole body. The brain disorder causing cerebral palsy doesn’t change with time, so the symptoms usually don’t worsen with age. However, muscle shortening and muscle rigidity may worsen if not treated aggressively.

Prevalence and Characteristics

  • Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood. 1
  • About 1 in 323 children has been identified with CP according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network


Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormality or disruption in brain development, usually before a child is born. In many cases, the exact trigger isn’t known. Factors that may lead to problems with brain development include:

  • Mutations in genes that lead to abnormal brain development
  • Maternal infections that affect the developing fetus
  • Fetal stroke, a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain
  • Infant infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain
  • Traumatic head injury to an infant from a motor vehicle accident or fall
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia) related to difficult labor or delivery, although birth-related asphyxia is much less commonly a cause than historically thought

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Services

Both early intervention and school-aged services for CP are available through our nation’s special education law—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • Part C of IDEA deals with early intervention services (birth through 36 months of age), while
  • Part B applies to services for school-aged children (3 through 21 years of age). Even if your child has not been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP), he or she may be eligible for IDEA services.


Inspirational Thought for April 1st

“Don’t confuse your path with your destination, just because it’s stormy now, doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.”


Inspirational Thought for March 31st

“From every wound there is a scar, and ever scar tells a story. A story that says, “I SURVIVED.”


Inspirational Thought for March 30th

“It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it.”

Leon Brown

Inside the Teenager’s Brain

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.

The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 26. Adolescents are prone to at-risk behavior simply based on their brain development. The diagram below compares an adult and teenager’s brain.

In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.

What’s a parent to do? 

You’re the most important role model your kids have. Sure, their friends are important to them, but the way you behave and fulfill your responsibilities will have a profound and long-lasting effect on your children.

  • Discussing the consequences of their actions or behavior can help teens link impulsive thinking with facts. This helps the brain make these connections and wires the brain to make this link more often.
  • Remind your teens that they’re resilient and competent. Because they’re so focused in the moment, adolescents have trouble seeing they can play a part in changing bad situations. It can help to remind them of times in the past they thought would be devastating, but turned out for the best.
  • Become familiar with things that are important to your teens. It doesn’t mean you have to like hip-hop music, but showing an interest in the things they’re involved in shows them they’re important to you.
  • Ask teens if they want you to respond when they come to you with problems, or if they just want you to listen.

Signs of trouble

It’s normal for teens to be down or out of sorts for a couple of days. But if you see a significant mood or behavioral change that lasts more than 2 weeks, it could mean something else is going on, such as depression.

If you think your teen could be depressed or struggling with mental health, promptly seek professional treatment for your child. Depression is serious and, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.

Teen need guidance, even though they may think they don’t. Understanding their development can help you support them in becoming independent, responsible adults.

Find out more about the Guidelines for Working with At-Risk Youth by checking this previous post.

How to Manage Your Worries

Would be a great poster resource for any young adult to see as a simple reminder in any classroom or common area.

Continue reading How to Manage Your Worries

Resilient Youth Equal Growth Mindset

There is wide understanding that resilience – the ability to respond positively to life’s challenges – is an important skill for healthy youth development. However, there is much to learn about how to promote resilience in youth and how to help youth increase resilience.

Resilient youth are able to utilize their strengths to cope and recover from struggles and challenges. These struggles may include academic failure, social or family problems, mental health, medical issues, or the death of a loved one.

Instead of hiding from problems with unhealthy coping strategies, resilient youth face life’s difficulties head on. Many will still experience anxiety and struggles, but may emerge even stronger than they were before.

Those at-risk youth who lack this resilience and grit may instead become overwhelmed by such experiences. They may dwell on their failures and struggles and begin unhealthy coping mechanisms or risky behavior to deal with life’s challenges. These individuals are slower to recover from setbacks.

Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties.

Utilizing Growth Mindset with Youth

One important element of resilience is the type of “mindset” young people hold about their own abilities to change and grow.  David Yeager and Carol Dweck demonstrated in their 2012 article, “Mindsets That Promote Resilience: When Students Believe That Personal Characteristics Can Be Developed” that we hold in our minds certain implicit theories regarding our personal qualities and abilities, specifically about whether we can improve them or whether they are fixed and we cannot change them.

The first attitude is called a “growth” mindset (personal qualities are malleable and we can change and grow them).

The second is called a “fixed” mindset (personal qualities are fixed and stable, resistant to change and improvement).

These theories about ourselves and our abilities have a powerful influence over how we approach the world, how we judge events that happened to us, and the choices we make for ourselves. 

Yeager and Dweck suggest that interventions to promote a growth mindset are most effective when they

  • (a) include messages that precisely target the way a fixed mindset is affecting students in a given context
  • (b) are delivered using methods that lead students to quickly internalize those messages.

Yeager and Dweck continue to show that such interventions can lead to increased resilience and positively impact on future youth development.

I can recall back in 2015, when I first heard about, a Growth Mindset, I found it important to remember that this is a journey – one that involves small shifts in thinking, rather than huge leaps. Most people aren’t Fixed or Growth, but somewhere in between.

Model Resilient Behavior

As a result of Yeager and Dweck’s result on “Growth Mindset” how can help youth in their own fostering of resiliency?

Simply begin with the fact that many youth need to be shown how to handle struggles. It’s important for teachers, parents, mentors to remain cool, calm and consistent.

As an educator and mentor I’ve always found it important to admit my own personal mistakes to the students I am working with. This honesty will allow for future conversations to take place where it is not okay but expected to discuss how we can improve our behavior and decision-making next time.

Allow for Mistakes

No matter the youth’s age it is a priceless lesson for adolescents to see and learn from the consequences of their actions. As a result, they will be surprised to see how they bounce back from their past struggles and failures.

Model Proper Management of Emotions

Young adults should be told and shown (especially young males) that all emotions are okay. By accepting risky behavior, limitations can be established. Whether you’re a teacher, mentor or parent it is important to take time to help youth brainstorm ways to tackle the issues. This type of transparency will benefit decision-making in the future.

Teach Problem Solving

It’s important to help our youth understand that not all problems or failures can be fixed for them by others. Rushing to solve a solution will not all for any growth to occur. Rather, work with the young adult to brainstorm continued solutions that will help them address current challenges they may be facing. Be sure to allow for discussion related to potential consequences of each solution.

In the end when working with at-risk youth, it’s important to remind them that will learn more from their own personal struggles than they will ever from their successes.

As a result, I truly think that John Greenleaf Whittier said it best with the following poem,

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will;

When the you’re trudging seems all uphill;

When the funds are low and the debts are high;

And you want to smile but you have to sigh.

When all is pressing you down a bit-

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit

Success is failure turned inside out;

The silver tint on the clouds of doubt;

And you can never tell how close you are;

It may be near then it seems far.

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit ~

It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.”

John Greenleaf Whittier

“Don’t Let No One Silence YOU.”

Throughout the journey of life, there’s a multitude of instances where human interaction can pursue oneself in ways we can’t control, or at least make us think we can’t. Whether it may be silent and in our head or voiced as an opinion in-person and/or broadcasted through social media, being resilient to any feedback is a must. Negative or positive, opinion based feedback becomes our onus in how we let it influence our lives.

Among youth today there are many of situations where individuals become depressed, saddened or even pushed over the edge because of one or many comments from his or her peers. What most young individuals don’t realize or haven’t been taught is that each individual has their own control over how each and every day goes. Yes, things happen unexpectedly and negative aspects of life hit us in ways we can’t imagine, but overall there is always a silver lining to these situations and we ultimately have the control of each outcome as to how it affects our lives moving forward.

One thing that I was personally taught throughout life is creating a BRAND for yourself through each step of life is the only thing that should remain important to us. Recently I watched the Green Book and one of the actors had stated that, “One should never let another quiet them”. I took the quote a bit farther and thought to myself that we should all, “let our brand speak without intimidation of failure”.

Brand = Our personal brand expresses our impression on each and every individual we touch throughout life with the intent of making a positive impact.

Most individuals today are frightened by failure in life, whether it may be in school, work, sports or even personal relations. It’s hard understanding that failure is inevitable, but failure can be conquered by being resilient and moving forward from the past. No one goes through life without failing and we tend to credit the past as if the future will reflect the same outcome, while underestimating the current and the future. Overall, building our own personal brand is and always will be difficult if we don’t understand resilience, which is a great building block for anyone who wants to move forward in life.

Life is as easy as we make it on ourselves by being RESILIENT.

Inspirational Thought for March 23rd

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”


Inspirational Thought for March 21st

“We fall. We break. We fail …

But then, we rise, we heal, we overcome.”

Kiana Azizian

The Impact of the Mental Health Stigma on Youth

Mental illnesses are common in the United States. As of 2016, nearly 44.7 million adults and one in five U.S youth live with a mental illness.

Unfortunately, there is a long history of stigma related to mental illness in American society and other cultures. According to the Mayo Clinic,  the term ‘mental illness’ is often seen as different from physical illness.

To some, the word ‘mental’ means the problems are caused by personal choices and actions, not true illness.  Others may think the condition is all in someone’s head. They may consider people with mental health disorders/illness to be weak and lazy. They should just “get over it.”

When in fact a mental health disorder is a condition that disrupts a person’s mood, thought or behavior, often for a long period of time.

Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. AMI can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment.

Some believe that people with mental health disorders/illness are dangerous and violent. This stigma is often reinforced by the media and  crime reports where someone is vaguely referred to as ‘mentally ill.’

However, the statistics do not demonstrate a connection between mental illnesses and violence.

Prevalence of Any Mental Illness in Adults?

  • In 2016, there were an estimated 44.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI. This number represented 18.3% of all U.S. adults.
  • The prevalence of AMI was higher among women (21.7%) than men (14.5%).
  • Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of AMI (22.1%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (21.1%) and aged 50 and older (14.5%).
  • The prevalence of AMI was highest among the adults reporting two or more races (26.5%), followed by the American Indian/Alaska Native group (22.8%).
  • The prevalence of AMI was lowest among the Asian group (12.1%).
  • Source: Statistics retrieved from the National Institute for Mental Health at: 

Graph 1 directly above shows the past year prevalence of AMI among U.S. adults.

What mental health disorders are common in our schools today?

Anxiety and Mood Disorders are most common and can affect nearly 5 million youth today.

As a result, when a youth is struggling with their mental health, it is significantly harder to learn.

Teachers, counselors, school medical teams and parents can benefit from being aware of signs and symptoms and how they may impact a youth’s attendance, learning, motivation, and performance in the classroom.

Prevalence of Any Mental Illness Among Adolescents

Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), The graph below shows lifetime prevalence of any mental disorder among U.S. adolescents aged 13-18.

  • An estimated 49.5% of adolescents had any mental disorder.
  • Of adolescents with any mental disorder, an estimated 22.2% had severe impairment. DSM-IV criteria were used to determine impairment.
  • Source: NIMH NCS-A study page.

Graph 2 directly above shows the lifetime prevalence of AMI among U.S. adults from 2001 – 2004.

What are the consequences of mental illness stigma for youth?

As a result, according to David Anderson, an expert on schools and mental health at the Child Mind Institute, “Kids who suffer from mental health disorders … inevitably miss out on opportunities for learning and building relationships.” The lack of opportunity and relationship building may lead to stigma being placed on them.

Stigma often causes people with diagnosed mental illness to feel ashamed or rejected. Consequently, they may:

  • Try to pretend nothing is wrong to friends and family
  • Refuse to seek help or treatment
  • Be isolated from family or friends
  • Experience work or school problems or discrimination
  • Have difficulty finding housing or adequate health coverage Be victims of physical violence or harassment

Ways to fight Mental Health Stigma

Today, the stigma surrounding some mental health disorders is slowly disappearing. There is greater understanding of mental illnesses and the biological basis of most mental health disorders. As causes of mental illnesses and better treatments for them are discovered, stigma may fade even more.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness here are some ways to combat the stigma of mental health:

In the end, a person with mental illness decides who to tell and how much to tell. Often, after confiding in people they trust, they will find much-needed compassion, support and acceptance.

For more information, check out the National Institute of Mental Health @

Inspirational Thought for March 20th

“As bad as it was, I learned something about myself. That I could go through something like that and SURVIVE.”

Nicholas Sparks

Inspirational Thought for March 18th

“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.”

Robert Tew

Inspirational Thought for March 17th

“Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay. Rather, it is knowing that you will be okay no matter how things turn out.”


What is EBD?

Although many youth normally are carefree , many adolescents experience emotional difficulties throughout stages of their young life. As a past K-12 teacher and now as someone who teaches students with emotional or behavioral issues in a Federal I Special Education Setting and closed-custody correctional setting occurrences of emotional outbursts are commonplace.

Yet, that does not diminish the difficulty of initially identifying an emotional or behavioral disorder (EBD) in youth. Below you’ll find the EBD definition under IDEA 34 CFR 300.8 (4) (i).

(i)A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time & to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers & teachers.

(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

(ii) Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.


Eligibility and Needs Associated with EBD

Students who meet the IDEA criteria for EBD may exhibit a wide variety of needs for consideration: 

  • Social skill, speech & language deficits 
  • Cognitive factors, such as slower processing speed 
  • Self-regulation & Thought &/or mood disorders 
  • Experience the least favorable outcomes of any group of individuals with disabilities. 

Examples of EBD

The following examples of emotional and behavioral disorders are from the DSM-IVR criteria. This list is not comprehensive, but is included to give examples of EBD affecting youth.

Adjustment Disorders describe emotional or behavioral symptoms that children may exhibit when they are unable, for a time, to appropriately adapt to stressful events or changes in their lives. The symptoms, which must occur within three months of a stressful event or change, and last no more than six months after the stressor ends, are:

Anxiety Disorders are a large family of disorders (school phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, avoidant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, panic attack, etc.) where the main feature is exaggerated anxiety.

Anxiety disorders may be expressed as physical symptoms, (headaches or stomach aches), as disorders in conduct (work refusal, etc.) or as inappropriate emotional responses, such as giggling or crying.

Anxiety occurs in all youth as a temporary reaction to stressful experiences at home or in school. When anxiety is intense and persistent, interfering with the child’s functioning, it may become deemed as an Anxiety Disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which occurs at a rate of 2.5%, means a child has recurrent and persistent obsessions or compulsions that are time consuming or cause marked distress or significant impairment. Obsessions are persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and inappropriate (repeated doubts, requirements to have things in a specific order, aggressive impulses, etc.).

Compulsions are repeated behaviors or mental acts (hand washing, checking, praying, counting, repeating words silently, etc.) that have the intent of reducing stress or anxiety.

Many youth with OCD may know that their behaviors are extreme or unnecessary, but are so driven to complete their routines that they are unable to stop.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop following exposure to an extremely traumatic event or series of events in a youth’s life, or witnessing or learning about a death or injury to someone close to the youth.

The symptoms must occur within one month after exposure to the stressful event. Responses in youth include intense fear, helplessness, difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, persistent re-experiencing of the event, numbing of general responsiveness, or increased arousal.

Young children with PTSD may repeat their experience in daily play activities, or may lose recently acquired skills, such as toilet training or expressive language skills.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition, affecting 3-5% of children, where the child shows symptoms of inattention that are not consistent with his or her developmental level.

The essential feature of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is “a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.”

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). The central feature of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), which occurs at rates of 2 to 16%, is “a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behaviors towards authority figures, lasting for at least six months …”

The disruptive behaviors of a child or adolescent with ODD are of a less severe nature than those with Conduct Disorder, and typically do not include aggression toward people or animals, destruction of property, or a pattern of theft or deceit.

Typical behaviors include arguing with adults, defying or refusing to follow adult directions, deliberately annoying people, blaming others, or being spiteful or vindictive.

Conduct Disorder, which affects between 6% and 16% of boys and 2% to 9% of girls, has as the essential feature “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate social norms or rules are violated.”

Youth with Conduct Disorder often have a pattern of staying out late despite parental objections, running away from home, or being truant from school.

Youth with Conduct Disorder may bully or threaten others or may be physically cruel to animal and people. Conduct Disorder is often associated with an early onset of sexual behavior, drinking, smoking, and reckless and risk-taking acts.

Bipolar Disorder (formally Manic Depressive Disorder) has symptoms that include an alternating pattern of emotional highs and emotional lows or depression.

Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. While most youth will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any. Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, managing mood swings and other symptoms are possible by following a treatment plan.

Major Depressive Disorder occurs when a youth has a series of two or more major depressive episodes, with at least a two-month interval between them. Depression may be manifested in continuing irritability or inability to get along with others, and not just in the depressed affect.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, characterized by the presence of markedly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction and communication, and a markedly restricted level of activities or interests.

Youth with Autism may fail to develop relationships with peers of the same age, and may have no interest in establishing friendships. The impairment in communication (both verbal and nonverbal) is severe for some children with this disorder.

Schizophrenia is a serious emotional disorder characterized by loss of contact with environment and personality changes. Hallucinations and delusions, disorganized speech, or catatonic behavior often exist as symptoms of this disorder, which is frequently manifest in young adulthood. The symptoms may also occur in younger children. The lifetime prevalence of Schizophrenia is estimated at between 0.5% and 1%.

After-School Challenges

Youth with EBD often display characteristics that do not support success in or out of school.

  • They may not be able to maintain appropriate social relationships with others
  • They may have academic difficulties in multiple content areas
  • They may display chronic behavior problems, including noncompliance, aggression, & disrespect toward authority figures. 

Youth with EBD by the numbers in terms of overall school completion:

  • Graduated – 48.4%
  • Aged out – 1.3%
  • Dropped out/were expelled – 50.3%
  • School completion rates 14 times lower than their non-disabled peers


Inspirational Thought for March 15th

“Never wish them pain. That’s not who you are. If they caused you pain, they must have pain inside. Wish them healing. That’s what they need.” ~ Najwa Zebian

A look into the School to Prison Pipeline with a Info-graphic Approach

As a correctional educator of both youthful and adult offenders for over a decade the follow blog from Michael Sandberg’s Data Visualization is very telling. The School-to-Prison Pipeline continues on…

This was previously posted by Michael Sandberg

Readers: In today’s blog post, I am showcasing infographics related to the School to Prison Pipeline. Per their website, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is committed to challenging the “school-to-prison pipeline,” a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these […]

via DataViz in Education: School to Prison Pipeline Infographics — Michael Sandberg’s Data Visualization Blog

Inspirational Thought for March 13th

“My scars tell a story. They are reminders of when life tried to break me, but failed.”


Inspirational Thought for March 12th

Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason. Don’t give up.


Guidelines for Working with At-Risk Youth

What is it like working with at-risk youth?

Educators teach youth of all different abilities and needs.  As someone with juvenile and adult corrections education experience firsthand, unfortunately, some at-risk youth have had a difficult journey based on their behavioral needs and that has made their education process challenging for all. No worries. In our experience, success is possible for struggling youth if they are given a chance. It will take time, effort and a caring mentor or adult. Is that you?

What follows are helpful guidelines that can be utilized while working with and teaching at-risk youth which can improve their self-resiliency in and outside of school.

Continue reading Guidelines for Working with At-Risk Youth

Inspirational Thought Today 11/14/2019

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” ~ Max Lucade