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Category Archives: Special Education

Ways to Improve Working Memory

brain-healthWHAT IS WORKING MEMORY?

Jonidas, Lacey, and Nee (2005) define working memory as a system that can store a small amount of information briefly, keeping that information quickly accessible and available for transformation by rules and strategies, while updating it frequently.

This means working memory is a mental control process that involves higher order thinking tasks, which require attention and concentration.

Schwean and Saklofske (2005) reviewed multiple studies of children and adolescents diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Learning Disability.  Researchers found that children with these diagnoses tended to have lower working memory index scores.

HOW IS IT MEASURED?

Working memory is typically assessed by standardized assessments.  Wechsler intelligence tests have reigned for years as the “go to” intelligence assessment.  The Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC) measures working memory via the Working Memory Index.  The Working Memory Index measures attention, concentration, and working memory.

WHAT DOES A DEFICIT IN WORKING MEMORY MEAN?

Adults and teenagers with serious working memory deficits, who are employed, may have considerable difficulties at work.  A weakness in working memory may make the processing of complex information more time consuming and tax mental energies more quickly compared to co-workers.  This may contribute to more frequent errors on a variety of job-related tasks that require sustained attention and concentration.  Auditory working memory deficits may make the tasks of taking notes and attending to lectures more difficult.

ARE THERE WAYS TO IMPROVE WORKING MEMORY?

  • Yoga.  Research has shown that a combination of yoga postures and supine rest (meditation) improved memory scores and decreased state anxiety scores (Subramanya & Telles, 2009).
  • Mindfulness.  Executive Functioning is improved by mindfulness.  Executive functioning is Inhibiting irrelevant information, updating working memory, and controlling attention.  Therefore, paying attention on purpose can improve all aspects of executive functioning, which, in turn, enhances working memory (Diamond and Lee, 2011).
  • Memory Games.  Games such as Sudoku and crosswords may help with memory.  Lumosity, an online brain training game, is a free brain training regimen that has been researched by Harvard and Stanford Universities (Finn & McDonald, 2011).
  • Eat Super Foods.  Fruits and vegetables protect the brain from free radicals.  It’s important to reduce meat and sugar in the diet as they cause inflammation. The best foods to promote brain health are those rich in omega 3’s and B12 such as fish (wild salmon) and avocado.
References

Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4 to 12 years old. Science, 333, 959 –964.

Finn M, & McDonald S. (2011). Computerised cognitive training for older persons with mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study using a randomized controlled trial design. Brain Impairment, 12(3), 187–199. doi: 10.1375/brim.12.3.187.

Jonidas, J., Lacey, S.C., & Nee, D.E. (2005).  Process of working memory in mind and brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 2-5

Schwean, V. L., &  Saklofske, D.H. (2005). Assessment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with the WISC-IV. In A. Prifitera, D.H. Saklofske, & L.G. Weiss (Eds.), WISC-IV Clinical Use and Interpretation: Scientist-Practitioner Perspectives (pp. 235-280). San Diego, CA: Elsevier

Subramanya, P., Telles, S. (2009). Effect of two yoga based relaxation techniques on memory scores and state anxiety.  BioPsychoSocial Medicine

 

 

Simple Stuff to Help Children Self-Regulate

Children gym fitness kid girl with small dumbbells vector. Fitness kid small dumbbells and sport girl. Little fitness kid girl and cartoon fitness kid girl. Sport dumbbells healthy lifestyle fitness.

Heavy Work = Self-Regulate

Proprioceptive receptors are located in the muscles, tendons, and joints.  These receptors respond to active movement and gravity.  Proprioceptive exercises involve deep pressure.  These exercises are a powerful tool to help children self-regulate.  Here are five simple exercises that can be incorporated into their school day.

  1. Wall Push-Ups. Place palms on the wall, bend elbows, and plant feet firmly on the floor.  Push against the wall for ten second.  Wall push-ups provide proprioceptive input into the arms, hands, and legs.
  2. Seated Push-Ups. Sit on the floor (with legs crossed) or chair (with feet flat). Push on the floor or chair with flat palms trying to slightly lift up the bottom.  Hold for ten seconds.
  3. Palm Push. Press palms together and hold for ten seconds.  Palm push provides proprioceptive input to the hands and helps balance the brain.
  4. Squeezes. Cross wrists and squeeze up from the wrists to your shoulders then squeeze down the arms again from the shoulders to the wrists.  Go up and down the arms ten times.  Squeezes improve attention, develop the brain, and provide proprioceptive input.
  5. Down Dog. Begin on hand and knees.  Spread the fingers wide and press the hands firmly into the mat.  Tuck the toes and bring the hips high while trying to push the heels toward the floor. Keep a slight bend in the knees and relax the head. Make it fun by wagging your tail.  Down Dog requires heavy work, which is movement that provides resistance to the muscles and joints. Heavy work develops the brain and helps children self-regulate.

Special Education Tips for Parents

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Is your child struggling academically, but the school has refused to evaluate for special services? Ummm….They can’t do that! The school system is not always forthright in letting parents know their parental rights when it comes to their child’s education.  Below are a few basic tips to help your child obtain the evaluation or services they need as quickly as possible.

  • Put everything in writing. When attending intervention meetings make sure all requests and concerns are added to the meeting notes.   When requesting an evaluation put the request in writing to the principal and make sure to date the letter.
  • Ask for and read the parent’s rights booklet. Everything a parent needs to know is listed in this booklet.
  • Ask for a draft of the plan a week in advance of the meeting. Review the plan, revise, and list concerns with the plan before meeting with the school team.
  • Do not sign anything at the meeting. If a draft of an intervention plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is proposed at a meeting take the draft home and really look at it to make sure you agree with all that is stated. Do not let the school team pressure you into signing something at the meeting you are unsure. This is your child’s education!
  • Hire an advocate. If you feel as if you are being bullied by the school system by all means hire an advocate as soon as possible. Advocates are well versed in special education law and love litigious meetings. Reduce your stress by letting them negotiate for you.

If the educational jargon in the parent’s rights booklet is difficult to decode or you need an advocate call us at 913-660-8219. We love attending meetings and revising IEPs. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga offers one free consult. Also, the team at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga just so happens to specialize in advocacy services and special education assessments.

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children