Thursday, June 21, 2012

Disability Training date

I guess a date would be helpful. Friday, July 20 from 8:30-12:30.  The training is open to anyone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Developmental Disabilities Training

My friend Jerrod has a great training coming up in July through the AIAFS, it is called the Forensic Assessment of Developmental Disabilities.  Don't let the title scare you, these two trainers are FASD experts!

Natalie Brown is a licensed psychologist in Washington State and Florida who specializes in forensic evaluation of individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g., fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) and sex offenders. Dr. Brown is the founding Program Director of FASD Experts (,
a multidisciplinary group of professionals that conducts forensic FASD evaluations throughout the US. She is a faculty member in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington, where she consults with the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit on secondary disabilities and conducts research on suggestibility and FASD. Dr. Brown has published numerous articles and book chapters on FASD and conducted trainings for criminal justice and mental health professionals nationally and internationally.

Paul Connor, PhD, is a neuropsychologist specializing in the assessment of adults with developmental disabilities such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). He is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit (FADU) at the University of Washington and maintains a clinical and forensic private practice. He has authored or co-authored over 14 peer-reviewed manuscripts and three book chapters focusing on neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and psychiatric implications of the long term effects of prenatal alcohol exposure into adolescence and adulthood.

Training Description
This training course will focus on forensic assessment of developmental disabilities. This course will also include information on challenges in diagnosis and how to overcome those problems. Participants can expect to learn about the kinds of testing necessary in diagnosing a developmental disability and how to interpret and apply test scores to diagnosis in a forensic setting. Attendees will learn how a neuropsychological evaluation can be successfully utilized to identify developmental disabilities, as well as provide data critical for applying and obtaining services. This course will also address how neuropsychological testing can provide objective data about adaptive functioning, addressing concerns about potential bias from informants who are interviewed about the client’s day-to-day functioning.

Training Objectives
1.Understand the importance of standardized assessment in forensic assessment of Developmental Disabilities.
2.Learn how test results inform forensic opinion.
3.Understand the importance of treatment "planning" in forensic assessment.
4.Determine the referral issues that will guide forensic assessment and testing.
5.Learn how to present large amounts of complex testing data in a fashion that allows for easier understanding.
6.Understand how to confirm potentially biased adaptive functioning reports with objective testing.

If you are interested in attending, email me and I will email you the registration form.  The cost is $55 and it will be held at a Holiday Inn in St. Paul.  I am planning on attending!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Decompressing & scratching

I think that our entire family has been in decompression mode for the past nearly 3 months since Akila left for the Residential Treatment Center (RTC).  The end of May and first week of June got out of control busy for me and that was crazy.  This is the first week of summer vacation, and we are enjoying it so far!

The kids have all had friends sleep over and have been playing like mad.  The cleaning and projects are going to have to start up soon.  I have also been working on getting more healthy (I started a few weeks before Akila left) and have been spending 1-2 hours exercising each day.  Also have been charting my calorie intake and exercise intake on a program called myfitnesspal which I highly recommend.  It is basically like Facebook for people trying to lose weight.  You log your food, your exercise, and encourage your friends.  It is great, let me know if you want to try it and we can be fitnesspal friends!

As I try to earn more calories to eat each day, I have been going for a lot of bike rides.  I rode my bike to Children's Hospital yesterday for a meeting, 10 miles each way.  Very doable, and I burned over 800 calories, works great!  I have lost 22 lbs so far, and have another 20 to go, but it feels great.

I have been meaning to blog about our visit with Akila, but I need our other computer where the pictures are and the kids are on it every time I think of blogging.  So I will someday.  Our visit went very well, and she is coming home next Tuesday for a 4 hour visit.

She called me on Tuesday from her therapist's office.  This is only the 3rd time she has called us, as we call her at least every other day.  We had a great chat, and at the end I asked her what she has been working on with the therapist.  She started to mumble.  I asked her to repeat her phrase several times.  I thought I was hearing the word "farming".  I thought maybe they were going to a farm this summer and learning some ag stuff.  Then she clarified, she was saying "harming" myself.

I have known for years it is only a matter of time before Akila starts to cut.  Cutting is all the rage these days with kids and teens who are emotionally struggling, and Akila is the type that will do it if it is something she thinks is cool or will make her look cool to a certain group.  She also somewhat likes the sensation of pain, demonstrated with her love of shots.  This is the girl who likes shots and smiles while she receives them.  Seriously.  I also am aware of the fact that Akila is going to pick up some behaviors at this RTC that she did not know of before.  She has never really heard of cutting before.  So I have been expecting cutting.

I asked her how she was harming herself.  She said she was scratching her arms.  I asked her who she saw doing this.  She said no one.  I asked her who else was doing this and she said "I don't know".  I didn't make a big deal out of it, and we were done shortly after with our phone call.

About 10 minutes later, the therapist called me to follow up on what she heard Akila telling me.  She said she got a peculiar note from Akila that day, the first of it's kind.  That's Akila, she likes to be the first.  It was from Akila, and it said that she wanted to be put on "precaution".  This means that you are watched more closely, for self injurious behaviors.  Your door has to always remain open, they take away shoe laces, spiral notebooks, things that you could harm yourself with.  One of the girls Akila has connected with was put on precaution the previous evening.

The therapist said that if Akila did "scratch" her arm, she did it so lightly that it was not noticeable at all.  I knew from Akila's word choice, "scratching" instead of "cutting", that she didn't fully understand it and that it was an attention seeking thing for sure.  The therapist and I agreed on this.  For the most part, Akila isn't sophisticated enough or mature enough to really figure it out at this point.

She continues to love it at the RTC, and is still doing well.  She did have an incident where she pushed a girl a few weeks ago, and last week hit a girl.  That is the most aggression she has had.  I do pray that her scratching does not escalate to cutting, but I am prepared for it if and when I get that call.