Resources for Families, Individuals and Professionals

Ask the Experts

Because children are not born with an owner’s manual that tells us the best way to care for them, it is often a trial and error process. Ask the Experts is a collection of articles that cover topics of interest to parents and caregivers with children from infancy through adolescence.

Articles are organized by age in the categories below.
Early Years 0-6
Middle Years 6-12
Teen Years 13-19
All Ages

Transition Can be Difficult – Parents Can Help

Ask the Experts by Pete Pullen

Q: How do I prep my student who learns differently for the new school year?

A: For many students including those who learn differently, change and transition can be difficult. Every student will be starting a new grade, a new school, or both. Those are all significant changes that children of all ages experience each year. Students typically struggle in three areas when starting their new school year: 1) Organization 2) Anticipating what is coming next, and 3) Anxiety.

Read more: Transition Can be Difficult – Parents Can Help

Driving Safety and Your Parent’s Ability

Ask the Experts by Kris Scarfone and Kristen Whitney

Q: My elderly father is still driving, though I have concerns about safety and am looking for guidance. What should I do?

  • A: Ideally, the first conversations about driving safety should come before driving becomes a problem. Having an open dialogue early on can help eliminate the strain of asking someone to change his or her driving behaviors. However, for most of us, this is not the case.This topic is an emotional one for both parents and their children. Be prepared to have multiple conversations regarding driving safety and your parent’s ability to remain on the road safely. The following are warning signs that it is time to take action and your parent’s driving may be unsafe: Read more: Driving Safety and Your Parent’s Ability

The Benefits of Creativity for your Health

Ask the Experts by Asha Shajahan, MD, MHSA

Q: Is engaging in creativity and art a good treatment for anxiety and depression?

A: Participating in creative art can reduce anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue and improve the perceived quality of life. These therapies include music, dance, movement-based expression (such as acting), visual art, and creating art

You may wonder how? These creative expressions influence the neurotransmitters of the brain- specifically norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Norepinephrine awakens the brain and enhances self-esteem. Dopamine improves mood, motivation and the sense of wellness, addiction management and the attention system of the brain. Serotonin combats sadness and impulse control.

Read more: The Benefits of Creativity for your Health

Learning to Balance Social and Academic Pressures

Ask the Experts by Susan Fell

Q: I feel like my kids are over-scheduled, even in the summer, but when they have downtime, all they want to do is be on their devices or playing video games, which I like to avoid as much as possible. How can I have the best of both – an active schedule with appropriate, quality “down-time”?

A: As parents, we want the best for our children, but we sometimes forget to teach them how balance and healthy stress management play into a successful life.

Our society does not promote or reward laziness. Efficiency, expertise and over-involvement are highly promoted. We expect much from ourselves and our children; it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap and feel pressure to overextend by signing up for multiple activities, teams, clubs, volunteering, etc.

Read more: Learning to Balance Social and Academic Pressures

When to Consider an Occupational Therapy Evaluation

Ask the Experts by Lauren Vanderlist

Q: When should I consider an occupational therapy evaluation for my child? Are there symptoms or red flags that I should be concerned about?

A: When your child has difficulty with activities of daily living (e.g. dressing, grooming, eating), play activities (e.g. toy play, coloring, building, playing games), or participation in learning environments (e.g. writing, staying attentive, following directions) an occupational therapy evaluation may be necessary. Your child’s strength and coordination, sensory processing, social-emotional development, fine and visual motor skills will be assessed to determine why they are having difficulty.

Below are examples of behaviors that may warrant an evaluation. Please reach out to a professional to discuss your concerns further.

Read more: When to Consider an Occupational Therapy Evaluation

Steps to help Improve your Self-esteem

Ask the Experts by Amy Lawrence-Skwiers

Q: How do I improve my self-esteem?

A: To change anything, we must first understand it. Self-esteem reflects the confidence we have in our own abilities and worth. It is not inherited but learned and can fluctuate between high and low depending on circumstances. Those with high self-esteem typically believe in themselves, recognize where they are successful, make assertive decisions, trust their own judgement and have a strong sense of self-worth. On the flipside, those with low self-esteem tend to be highly self-critical, hypersensitive, have a need to please people and struggle to enjoy life due to feelings of unworthiness.

Read more: Steps to help Improve your Self-esteem

Making all the Arrangements

Ask the Experts by George Horattas

Q: I’ve heard of people making all the arrangements for when they die. I understand, but are there specific reasons why I should preplan my cemetery property?

A: Making final arrangements is far more difficult when a loved one has passed than if you plan for it now. By preplanning you will be relieving loved ones from making a sudden & emotional decision.

Read more: Making all the Arrangements

Dealing with the stress of trying to find the right house

Ask the Experts by Suzanne O’Brien

Q: My family is considering a move to a bigger house. I’m worried about the stress of trying to find the right house, understanding the financials, and making the best choice for everyone. Do you have any tips on how to do this with less stress and confusion?

A: This decision can be a tough one for families. And now, many folks have told us that they are ready to make a move since values have recovered, and interest rates remain at an all-time low. Finding the right living situation can present a challenge based on what is available. When options are scarce, the decision to move can a very stressful one that often results in frustration and defeat and can cause some turmoil at home.

However, there are ways to take advantage of this kind of real estate market and approach it differently both as a homeowner looking for a different way to live or an investor. Think of it, first, in terms of the homeowner. The secret is to get ahead of the inventory and be the first to know when an option that fits will become available. For this reason, we have tapped into state of the art technology and can reach out to folks who are the next most likely to move. It’s a simple concept when you consider traditional real estate marketing typically involves marketing a home to prospective purchasers. Read more: Dealing with the stress of trying to find the right house

Summer Presence

Ask the Experts by Jennifer Raybaud

Q: I love summer but feel I’m too distracted to make the most of it. Are there things I can do to enjoy the upcoming season even more?”

A: Yes! There are many wonderful things you can do to slow down and take advantage of the season fast approaching. One way is through learning more about how things like mindfulness – intentionally practicing how to better “zone in” at a time when so many of us are “zoned out” – can make even the most seemingly mundane things or experiences this season, come to life. In fact, I’m thrilled to share some great opportunities, right down the road.

Read more: Summer Presence

Keeping Reading Skills Sharp

Ask the Experts by Nick Smith

Q: My child has worked so hard during the school year to become a stronger reader. How do I keep his reading skills sharp, during the summer months, especially when he does not enjoy reading?

A: A common concern among parents, especially those who have children that struggle with reading, is what to do over the summer months so that the skills attained during the school year do not regress. According to a report released by RAND Corporation, the average summer learning loss in reading for American students amounts to one month per year.

Eventually, year-round schools will be the norm, and there will be no need for concern. Indeed there are already year-round choices in many districts. Slowly but surely, the realization that children are no longer needed to tend to the crops during the summer months is resulting in reform. Until that time, reading routines that had been established during the school year should continue without interruption during the summer months.

Read more: Keeping Reading Skills Sharp