Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

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Violent Video Games & Kids: Definitive Study Shows Both Short & Long Term Harmful Effects

Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson has made much of his life’s work studying how violent video game play affects youth behavior. And he says a new study he led, analyzing 130 research reports on more than 130,000 subjects worldwide, proves conclusively that exposure to violent video games makes more aggressive, less caring kids — regardless of their age, sex or culture.

Read the original research paper (PDF)

The study was published in the March 2010 issue of the Psychological Bulletin, an American Psychological Association journal. It reports that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive thoughts and behavior, and decreased empathy and prosocial behavior in youths.

“We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method — that is experimental, correlational, or longitudinal — and regardless of the cultures tested in this study [East and West], you get the same effects,” said Anderson, who is also director of Iowa State’s Center for the Study of Violence. “And the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts. Such exposure also increases aggressive thinking and aggressive affect, and decreases prosocial behavior.”

The study was conducted by a team of eight researchers, including ISU psychology graduate students Edward Swing and Muniba Saleem; and Brad Bushman, a former Iowa State psychology professor who now is on the faculty at the University of Michigan. Also on the team were the top video game researchers from Japan — Akiko Shibuya from Keio University and Nobuko Ihori from Ochanomizu University — and Hannah Rothstein, a noted scholar on meta-analytic review from the City University of New York.

Meta-analytic procedure used in research

The team used meta-analytic procedures — the statistical methods used to analyze and combine results from previous, related literature — to test the effects of violent video game play on the behaviors, thoughts and feelings of the individuals, ranging from elementary school-aged children to college undergraduates.

The research also included new longitudinal data which provided further confirmation that playing violent video games is a causal risk factor for long-term harmful outcomes.

“These are not huge effects — not on the order of joining a gang vs. not joining a gang,” said Anderson. “But these effects are also not trivial in size. It is one risk factor for future aggression and other sort of negative outcomes. And it’s a risk factor that’s easy for an individual parent to deal with — at least, easier than changing most other known risk factors for aggression and violence, such as poverty or one’s genetic structure.”

The analysis found that violent video game effects are significant in both Eastern and Western cultures, in males and females, and in all age groups. Although there are good theoretical reasons to expect the long-term harmful effects to be higher in younger, pre-teen youths, there was only weak evidence of such age effects.

Time to refocus the public policy debate

The researchers conclude that the study has important implications for public policy debates, including development and testing of potential intervention strategies designed to reduce the harmful effects of playing violent video games.

“From a public policy standpoint, it’s time to get off the question of, ‘Are there real and serious effects?’ That’s been answered and answered repeatedly,” Anderson said. “It’s now time to move on to a more constructive question like, ‘How do we make it easier for parents — within the limits of culture, society and law — to provide a healthier childhood for their kids?'”

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But Anderson knows it will take time for the creation and implementation of effective new policies. And until then, there is plenty parents can do to protect their kids at home.

“Just like your child’s diet and the foods you have available for them to eat in the house, you should be able to control the content of the video games they have available to play in your home,” he said. “And you should be able to explain to them why certain kinds of games are not allowed in the house — conveying your own values. You should convey the message that one should always be looking for more constructive solutions to disagreements and conflict.”

Anderson says the new study may be his last meta-analysis on violent video games because of its definitive findings. Largely because of his extensive work on violent video game effects, Anderson was chosen as one of the three 2010 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientist Lecturers

Read the original research paper (PDF)

Source: Iowa State University
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April 25, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Parenting, research, Social Psychology, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Internet, Facebook, Pornography & Affairs: A Talkback Podcast Of Real-Life Stories

On Sunday 12th March I took part in an amazing talk-back discussion on Peter Jan965_logoetzki’s “Talking Life” radio program on which I am a regular guest. The discussion, which involved a number of stories from listeners calling in, was about the darker side of the internet and social networking. A number of people spoke of the tragic circumstances of losing  their relationships through affairs, in which Facebook and other social networking sites where involved. We explored with callers what their experiences had been, what they had learned and advice which they would give to others about realationships and social networking. If you use Facebook, social networking or online gaming or your partner does, this is well worth a listen.

You can now listen to the entire podcast (four parts) by selecting the links below. These files are now stored in my library internally for easy access: (Free – mp3-internal links) click to play or right click on the links and “save link /target as” to download.

Affairs on the Internet part 1

Affairs on the Internet part 2

Affairs on the Internet part 3

Affairs on the Internet part 4

OR

Peter Janetzki

Peter Janetzki

A podcast of the entire show in easy to listen parts, and podcasts of recent shows can be found here or by clicking on the 96.5 logo.You can listen to the podcast from your browser or with iTunes, Talking Life streams live every Sunday night from from 8-10pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10) and you can listen by going to the 96.5 website @ 96five.com and clicking on the home page media player.

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April 24, 2010 Posted by | Addiction, Bullying, Internet, Intimate Relationshps, Marriage, Parenting, podcast, research, Resources, Sex & Sexuality, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Saw It Happen”: Children Who Witness Bullying Can Be Traumatized Too

Students who witness bullying of their peers may suffer more psychologically than the victim or the bullies.

Read The Original Research Paper (PDF)

2002 students ages 12 to 16 were surveyed at public schools in England. The survey asked them whether they’d committed, witnessed, or been the victim of several types of bullying behavior (e.g., kicking, name-calling, threatening, etc.) and whether they had experienced psychological stress symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or hostility.

Why bystanders suffer more than victims of bullying

As reported in the article, previous research shows that children who witness bullying feel guilty, presumably for not doing anything to help the victim.

In addition, they may have felt more stressed by vacillating between doing what they thought they should do (i.e., help the victim) on the one hand, and being afraid of being victimized themselves, on the other.  Being in this type of “approach/avoidance” conflict has been shown in numerous studies to create high levels of stress.

The combination of guilt and fear among witnesses that they will experience the same thing may be another reason why they are more affected by bullying than the actual victims.

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Uncertainty, especially combined with feelings of fear or guilt, contributes to stress. Stress leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Sitting down and discussing feelings of fear and guilt with your child may help to minimize the destructive force and ultimate impact of those emotions on mental health.  Practical “survival” tips about how to avoid, distract, or other means of handling bullies would help, too, giving kids options if they are cornered by or are a witness to bullies in action.
Read The Original Research Paper (PDF)

Source: Psychological Association (2009, December 15). Witnesses to bullying may face more mental health risks than bullies and victims. ScienceDaily.
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April 22, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Parenting, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Too Sexy Too Soon! PART ll – Are Sexual Images Now An Inescapable Part Of Children’s Lives?

See Part I of this Post HERE

A billboard for a brothel on a school route

Source: AAP

THE professional body for Australia’s psychiatrists says the self-regulation of advertising and other media industries has failed to protect children from an onslaught of sexualised content.

Today’s generation of kids faced the “widespread use of sexual images to sell anything from margarine to fashion”, Professor Newman, the president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said.

She said risque images were now an “inescapable” part of a child’s environment and pointed to billboard and TV advertising, magazines and music videos and even the posters in department stores.

Prof Newman is calling for a new regime of restrictions to protect children from both targeted and inadvertent exposure to sexualised media content.

She said more Australian research was needed to gauge its effect, though the anecdotal evidence was troubling.

The exposure appeared to push typically teenage and adult concerns about body image, “sexiness” and of being a “worthwhile individual” well into a child’s first years of life.

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“I’ve seen four-year-olds and pre-schoolers who want to diet … going on intermittent food refusal,” she said.

Introducing sexualised themes to children could be overt, Prof Newman said, such as the move by a British retailer to sell a child’s pole dancing kit or “tween” magazines that offer advice to girls on how to be more attractive to the opposite sex.

But in many cases it was inadvertent.

“If you go into a 7-Eleven, at child’s eye-view will be Ralph magazine next to cartoons,” she said.

“The child might be attracted to the cartoons but what they are bombarded with are all these really quite unusual women with breast implants.

“It is sending a message that this is sexual attraction, this is what gets you on the front of a magazine.”

Prof Newman said it was natural for children to be inquisitive about bodies, and eventually about sex, though these matters should be discussed within a family at a developmentally appropriate time.

“They don’t need to know about adult sexual themes, and that’s the concern,” she said.

Prof Newman will speak on the issue at the Australian Conference on Children and the Media, in Sydney on Friday.

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April 21, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Eating Disorder, Girls, Identity, Parenting, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology, Spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Sexy Too Soon! PART I – Should Girls As Young As 9 Be Taken To Get Their Legs Waxed?

Video still of an children's fashion shoot image which was released as part of a report into the sexualisation of children.

There has been an increasing amount of concern amongst health professionals regarding the rise of “tweenage” culture, the target marketing of pre-adolescent children, particularly girls, with clothing and cultural images that seem to be pushing them towards adulthood way too early. The following newspaper articles from this weekend’s newspapers highlight this disturbing trend, and offer up some food for thought for parents.

Source for both articles: news.com.au

PARENTS are sending girls as young as nine to have painful beauty treatments.

Beauticians say that young children are being brought into salons by parents to undergo painful hair removal treatments.

NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney criticised the paractice, and although she stopped short of calling it abuse, she said that mothers should not force their daughters to mature too quickly.

“Most people would be pretty aghast that girls as young as nine would feel that they need to have their legs waxed,” Ms Burney said.

“It raises the broader issue of children growing up too quickly and brings up the issue of sexualisation of children. Children should be allowed to be children and not feel they need to emulate what they see in gossip magazines and the advertising industry.”

Too young, too painful

She warned that the sexualisation of young girls through such beauty treatments could lead to depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Parents needed to use common sense in deciding when the right time was to allow their child to wax, but there was also an onus on the beauty industry, although regulation was not the answer, she said.

“At the end of the day, it is really on the proprietor to make a particular decision about whether they will allow that client in the salon,” Ms Burney said.

Bullied

Ms Burney said that there may be exceptional circumstances, for example, if a child was being teased or bullied because they were particularly hairy.

Child sexualisation expert and humanities and social science lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Emma Rush, said she was “disturbed” parents were taking young children to have the procedure.

“It might seem like a nice thing to do for a little girl, but not at that age. Mid-teens, sure. Children aged nine or younger have not got the cognitive (capacity). They don’t have the need for it. There is the question of whether they are ready to cope with the attention that can attract,” Dr Rush said.

She said girls in primary schools were now exhibiting depression, anxiety and eating disorders, which had all been strongly linked to sexualisation.

“Parents also need to think about the message that this is sending to their children,” she said.

“It is very limiting for a child how much focus there is on looks.”

She said children should never be pressured to undergo such beauty treatments and discouraged from starting them until at least 14.

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Leg waxes for nine year olds?

Alison Godfrey

Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 11:17am

THE Sunday Telegraph this weekend reported that parents were forcing girls as young as nine to get leg waxes.

In the article NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney said mothers should not force their daughters to mature too quickly.

“Most people would be pretty aghast that girls as young as nine would feel that they need to have their legs waxed,” Ms Burney said.

“It raises the broader issue of children growing up too quickly and brings up the issue of sexualisation of children. Children should be allowed to be children and not feel they need to emulate what they see in gossip magazines and the advertising industry.”

She warned that the sexualisation of young girls through such beauty treatments could lead to depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Firstly I was horrified, then I wondered – are they really forcing them? Or are nine-year-old girls asking their parents if they can shave their legs and mums are taking them to the salon instead? Are mums just buckling to pester power?

Either way, it does raise the issue of sexualisation of young children. The story about leg waxing follows a run of other stories of inappropriate products aimed at children. Take a look at this padded bra for seven-year-olds which a UK retailer was forced to remove from sale after The Sun called the bra a “paedo (pedophile) bikini”.

Last month, Professor Newman, the president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist said she had seen four-year-olds who wanted to go on diets. She said the overt sexualisation of society was pushing teenage concerns about body image, “sexiness” and of being a “worthwhile individual” well into a child’s first years of life.

If you need any more proof of the issue – there’s this article about Noah Cyrus, Mylie’s 10-year-old sister selling fishnet stockings and knee high dominatrix boots.

Last week I was shopping for clothes for my soon to be born baby girl. I was shocked by the by the rock star style mini-skirts and leather jackets in Best and Less. I just wanted something cute, simple, elegant and baby like. What girl under one wears black leather and studs? What are they thinking?

But then, we should also be asking what are the parents thinking? Because ultimately it is the parents that agree to buy these items for children. It is parents who say yes, rather than no.

Yesterday I made my husband turn off Video Hits because CJ was watching a scantily clad woman gyrating to hip hop music. It made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t appropriate for a two-year-old. I can only imagine the conversations that must generate in families with older children.

When my baby girl is born in, hopefully just over 10 weeks, I know that I will probably be even more protective with her. And leg waxing will have to wait until I am ready for it.

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Books, Bullying, Child Behavior, Eating Disorder, Girls, Parenting, research, Sex & Sexuality, Social Psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Kids Who Bully Want Status But Long For Affection

Read The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2010) — Bullying is common in classrooms around the world: About 15 percent of children are victimized, leading to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other negative outcomes. What’s driving bullies to behave the way they do? According to a new large-scale Dutch study, most bullies are motivated by the pursuit of status and affection.

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The longitudinal study was conducted by researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. It appears in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

In their work, the researchers questioned almost 500 elementary-school children ages 9 to 12. Based on their findings, they conclude that bullies generally choose to gain status by dominating their victims. But at the same time, they try to reduce the chances that they’ll end up on the outs with other classmates by choosing as victims children who are weak and not well-liked by others. In short, even bullies care a lot about others’ affection and don’t want to lose it.

Gender also plays a role. For example, the study finds that at this age, bullies only care about not losing affection from classmates of their own gender. So when boys bully boys, it doesn’t matter whether girls approve or disapprove. The same holds for girls. Moreover, boys will bully only those girls that aren’t well liked by other boys, regardless of what girls think about it, and girls will do the same in their bullying of boys.

“To understand the complex nature of acceptance and rejection, it’s necessary to distinguish the gender of the bully, the gender of the target, and the gender of the classmates who accept and reject bullies and victims,” according to René Veenstra, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, who led the study.

Read The Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

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March 28, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Bullying, Child Behavior, Identity, Parenting | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Online ‘Cold Shoulder’ Shown To Effect Kids Self-Esteem

Read the original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — Research by psychologists at the University of Kent has revealed that online ostracism is a threat to children’s self-esteem.

The study, the results of which are published March 22 in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, looked at how children, adolescents and adults react to being ostracised by other players during an online computer game. This is the first time the effect of online ostracism on children has been investigated.

The study was carried out by a team at the University’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes and was led by Professor Dominic Abrams. Professor Abrams explained that research into cyber-bullying usually focuses on direct abuse and insults. ‘However, a more indirect and perhaps common form of bullying is ostracism — when people are purposefully ignored by others,’ he said. Professor Abrams also explained that ‘online ostracism affects adults by threatening their basic needs for self-esteem, sense of belonging, sense of meaning and sense of control. We wanted to discover whether children and adolescents have similar reactions.’

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Three groups of participants took part in the study: 41 eight and nine-year-old children, 79 thirteen and fourteen-year-olds and 46 twenty-year-old adults. All were asked to play a game of online ‘cyberball’ in which three online players — depicted on screen by their names — passed a ball to one another. In games where the participant was included, they threw and received the ball four times within the trial. However, in a game when they were ostracised they received the ball only twice at the start, and then the other two players continued to play only passing the ball between themselves.

After each game participants’ basic needs were assessed, as well as how much they had enjoyed the game.

Professor Abrams said: ‘For all age groups, online ostracism substantially threatened the four basic needs — esteem, belonging, meaning and control — and also lowered their mood, showing that social exclusion online is very powerful even among children.’

However, there were also differences between the three age groups in their responses to cyber-ostracism. Ostracism affected the self-esteem of the eight and nine-year-old children more than the other groups. This suggests that the adolescents and adults have developed better buffers against threats to self-esteem.

Among the thirteen to fourteen-year-olds ostracism had the largest effect on feelings of belonging, strongly suggesting that adolescents may place a higher value on inclusion in peer networks than do children or adults.

The good news is that the negative reactions were cancelled out when children were included in a later game. Professor Abrams added: ‘Whereas adults might be quite skilled at finding a relationship in which to be included after having been ostracised, it could be a bigger challenge for children. This suggests that parents and schools need to be vigilant in case children in their care are experiencing sustained ostracism.

Read the original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

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March 26, 2010 Posted by | Addiction, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Parenting, Resilience, Social Psychology, Technology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Anxiety: Another Side To The Struggle

Read Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2010) — When you think of people suffering from social anxiety, you probably characterize them as shy, inhibitive and submissive. However, new research from psychologists Todd Kashdan and Patrick McKnight at George Mason University suggests that there is a subset of socially anxious people who act out in aggressive, risky ways — and that their behavior patterns are often misunderstood.

In the new study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Kashdan and McKnight found evidence that a subset of adults diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder were prone to behaviors such as violence, substance abuse, unprotected sex and other risk-prone actions. These actions caused positive experiences in the short-term, yet detracted from their quality of life in the longer-term.

“We often miss the underlying problems of people around us. Parents and teachers might think their kid is a bully, acts out and is a behavior problem because they have a conduct disorder or antisocial tendencies,” says Kashdan. “However, sometimes when we dive into the motive for their actions, we will find that they show extreme social anxiety and extreme fears of being judged. If social anxiety was the reason for their behavior, this would suggest an entirely different intervention.”

Kashdan and McKnight suggest that looking at the underlying cause of extreme behavior can help us understand the way people interact within society.

“In the adult world, the same can be said for managers, co-workers, romantic partners and friends. It is easy to misunderstand why people are behaving the way we do and far too often we assume that the aggressive, impulsive behaviors are the problem. What we are finding is that for a large minority of people, social anxiety underlies the problem,” says Kashdan.

The researchers suggest that further studies of this subset group can help psychologists better understand and treat the behaviors. “Recent laboratory experiments suggest that people can be trained to enhance their self-control capacities and thus better inhibit impulsive urges and regulate emotions and attention,” says McKnight. “Essentially, training people to be more self-disciplined — whether in physical workout routines or finances or eating habits — improves willpower when their self-control is tested.”

Credit: George Mason University

Read Original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF internal link)

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March 20, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Bullying, therapy | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Quirky Yes,Hopeless No’:Making Quirky Cool & Helping Kids With Aspergers Learn Social Skills

By PATRICIA MORRIS BUCKLEY – For the North County Times | Posted: March 17, 2010

Beth Wagner Brust knows there are few things more difficult than watching your child struggle to make friends. Her youngest son, Ben, was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten, but by third grade he still didn’t have any friends.

“My pediatrician said he had Asperger’s,” explained Brust, a Carmel Valley resident. Asperger’s is considered a higher form of autism that makes social interaction, among other things, difficult. “Like any parent, I was thrown for a loop. Then I heard about the Friends Club in Carlsbad.”

The Friends Club is a safe, non-threatening and non-stressful environment where kids with Asperger’s get together to learn the “unwritten” social skills. Now it’s inspired Brust and Cynthia La Brie Norall, Ph.D., to write “Quirky, Yes — Hopeless, No: Practical Tips to Help Your Child with Asperger’s Syndrome Be More Socially Accepted” (St. Martin’s Griffin).

Asperger’s children are often the kids who are bullied, sit alone at lunch and rarely get an invitation to a birthday party. But at the club, they learn such skills as making eye contact, greeting people, letting others talk about their interests and being less rigid through games, breaking skills into baby steps and role playing.

By learning the subtle social cues that typical children take for granted, they can begin making friends. And that’s exactly what happened with Ben.

“By the end of the first year, I heard him ask another kid, ‘Am I boring you?’ and I almost fell over,” recalled Brust. “I’d never heard him say that before. It was amazing to see that growth in six months.”

The Friends Club was the brainchild of Norall, an educational behavior psychologist. While working at a preschool in Valley Center in 1992, she first encountered children with autism. That’s around the time that autism diagnoses began to rise dramatically. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 out of every 100 8-year-olds is autistic.

“I just found this population fascinating,” Norall said. “I went to every seminar and conference I could on autism. I really wanted to help them.”

In 1999, she opened her own practice, Comprehensive Autism Services and Education (CASE). A year later, she started the Friends Club when her mentor, Dr. B.J. Freeman, a child psychologist who founded the Autism Clinic at UCLA, suggested that she do something to help those higher on the autistic spectrum.

The Friends Club broke the commonly held professional belief that social groups should also contain typical children.

“I got a lot of negative criticism over that decision,” she said. “But these kids know that they are different and if I brought in typical kids, the Aspies (kids with Asperger’s) would stand out. They needed a place to connect.”

Norall likes to tell the story of a teenage girl on her first time at Friends Club who said, “Well, Cynthia, it’s about time you put this together for my species.”

Nine years later, thousands of Aspies have been through the Friends Club. In addition to the branch in Carlsbad, there are Friends Club satellites in Napa, Vancouver, Canada and Oahu, Hawaii, and also a camp during the summer. Twenty-two groups have approximately 150 kids. Groups are broken into age categories; from very young (age 3 to 7), to tweeners, teens and young adults. Norall’s staff now numbers 50, a few of whom are Friends Club graduates. Each group contains six kids and two leaders.

Parents, amazed at the results, kept encouraging Norall to write a book. With that goal in mind, she’d kept extensive summaries of each activity as a report for the parents, but also to remind herself what the kids had taught her. Still, it took Brust, a children’s author herself, to persuade Norall to really get writing.

They decided they wanted the book, originally titled “Decoding Your Asperger’s Children: Lessons Learned at the Friends Club,” to be a practical parenting guide rather than a book on what Asperger’s is or how to “cure it.”

The book is organized alphabetically by topic, such as cooperation, discipline, bullying, perfectionism, anxiety or meltdowns. The lessons teach “people skills,” including how to greet others, how to make eye contact, how to pay compliments, how to cooperate and ask for help and how not to be rude.

Ultimately, Norall and Brust wanted their readers to understand how the Aspie’s brain is wired differently. Then they can not only help the youngsters, but also be less frustrated overall and enjoy the differences these kids bring to the world.

“We wanted a book that had no jargon, but written in a conversational tone like Dr. Spock,” said Brust. “We also wanted readers to be able to skip around in it. There’s always a ‘trouble du jour,’ and you can read just about that. Parents of special needs kids have no time and it doesn’t take a big time commitment to read this book. We’ve made it as accessible as possible.”

The finished manuscript quickly sold to mainstream publisher St. Martin’s Griffin. “Quirky, Yes — Hopeless, No” hit stores in August. Alyse Diamond, the book’s editor, believes there’s nothing like it in a market filled with technical books by doctors or memoirs by mothers.

“What gripped me was that this wasn’t just another book written by a doctor,” said Diamond. “The co-writer is a mom and she’s been in the trenches with her son, so together they bring a unique perspective that you don’t normally see. More and more kids are being diagnosed with autism every year. It’s not going away. That’s why it’s important to us to get a book like this in the hands of people who need it.”

Reaction to the book has been highly positive. Publisher’s Weekly said, “Although a dozen or more experts are cited, the book is conversational in tone, full of insights and will help and encourage parents and their Aspie or high-functioning autistic kids alike.”

Temple Grandin, the author of “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships” and “Thinking in Pictures,” and perhaps the most famous person with autism, said in her review, “This is a fantastic book for helping people on the autism spectrum learn social skills. Great for individuals on the spectrum, teachers, and social skills training specialists.”

While good reviews from major publications and notable names in the autism field are welcome, the ones that mean the most to Norall and Brust are those from parents and professionals who work with the children.

“I want everyone to read this book so that the teasing will stop,” said Brust. “These kids can be creative and fun. I love being around Ben because he thinks differently. But that can also be frustrating because we don’t understand how they think.”

The good news is that Ben, now a senior at Canyon Crest High School, is doing so well that he plans to attend community college soon. While he just stopped going to Friends Club, Brust sees the lasting value of what he learned there and hopes that people who read their book will experience some of the same social connections he’s had.

“This book is about helping Aspie kids navigate the world better,” Brust said. “Every chapter has something specific and concrete that parents can do to make a difference. Our goal is to help as many of these kids as possible.”

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March 18, 2010 Posted by | Aspergers, Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Bullying, Child Behavior, Education, Parenting, Resilience, Social Justice, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cyber-Bullying & LGBT Groups: Prevalence & Psychological Impact

From  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Schools are typically on guard against students who bully by inflicting repeated violence on other students. But technology has given rise to a relatively new form of bullying which inflicts emotional harm in a stealth manner, working through Web sites, chat rooms, e-mail, cell phones and instant messaging.

And according to a new national study by Iowa State University researchers, one out of every two lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and allied youths are regular victims of “cyberbullying,” which causes psychological and emotional distress to victims — producing thoughts of suicide in some who are repeatedly victimized.

In the online survey of 444 junior high, high school and college students between the ages of 11 and 22 — including 350 self-identified non-heterosexual subjects — 54 percent of the LGBT and allied youth reported being victims of cyberbullying in the 30 days prior to the survey. Cyberbullying includes attacks such as electronic distribution of humiliating photos, dissemination of false or private information, or targeting victims in cruel online polls.

Among the non-heterosexual respondents, 45 percent reported feeling depressed as a result of being cyberbullied, 38 percent felt embarrassed, and 28 percent felt anxious about attending school. More than a quarter (26 percent) had suicidal thoughts.

“There’s a saying that we’ve now changed to read, ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can kill,'” said Warren Blumenfeld, an Iowa State assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and the study’s lead author. “And especially at this age — pre-adolescence through adolescence — this is a time when peer influences are paramount in a young person’s life. If one is ostracized and attacked, that can have devastating consequences — not only physically, but on their emotional health for the rest of their lives.”

Co-authored by Robyn Cooper, a research and evaluation scientist at ISU’s Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), the study is being published in this month’s special LGBT-themed issue of the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy.

The results underscore the helplessness felt by victims of cyberbullying. Forty percent of the non-heterosexual respondents indicated that their parents wouldn’t believe them if they were being bullied online, while 55 percent reported that their parents couldn’t do anything to stop it. Fifty seven percent also indicated that they didn’t think a school official could do anything to stop it.

“They feared that there might be more retribution by ‘tattling,'” said Blumenfeld, who was bullied as a teen for being gay.

“One of the things we found is that the LGBT students really want to make a difference,” said Cooper, who authored her doctoral dissertation on minority stress and the well-being of sexual minority college students. “They want their stories told. They want people to know what they’re going through, but they don’t want the repercussions of being bullied. So being able to respond to this survey was very helpful.”

One in four of the LGBT and allied students responded that they needed to learn how to deal with cyberbullying by themselves. More than half also feared telling their parents about the cyberbullying because they might restrict their use of technology, which Blumenfeld says is often the “lifeline to the outside world” for many young LGBT students who have been ostracized by their peers at school.

The ISU study also proposes strategies for cyberbullying prevention. Eighty percent of the survey’s respondents indicated that their peers should do more to stop it.

“One of the strategies coming out of this study – since respondents expect and want their peers to step in more – is that we should find ways on our campuses to empower young people to speak up and act as allies,” Blumenfeld said. “In bullying circles, it’s empowering the bystander to become the upstander to help eliminate the problem.”

Blumenfeld and Cooper recommend developing social norms programming at schools that focus on peer influences that correct misperceived societal norms.

The ISU researchers plan to author additional papers on their analysis from this survey. They also have submitted a new grant proposal to extend their research to a larger national sample that would include face-to-face interviews and focus groups.

Source: Mike Ferlazzo
Iowa State University

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March 10, 2010 Posted by | Adolescence, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Parenting, Resilience, Social Psychology, Technology | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments