Homeschooling Strategies for Your Child with Special Needs

Homeschooling Strategies for Your Child With Special Needs

Helping you and your child succeed with homeschooling during COVID-19.

Written by Dr. Liz Matheis

This period of time feels a little surreal to me, as I’m sure it does for you, too. As parents, this is a time where we are balancing our work and home demands. While we are trying to maintain our employee status, we are also being given the responsibility of teaching our children through their subjects.

I know when I saw the pile of work that was sent home for my children, as well as the emails and Google Classroom notifications, I was most definitely overwhelmed. I had to find some way to organize the assignments and create some sort of order for each day. For my child with special needs, understanding her academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as emotional needs, hasn’t been easy for me, and my appreciation for her teachers is that much higher and deeper.

Our teachers are not expecting our children to work for the duration of the entire school day. However, it may be taking you and your child longer than the school day to complete a few assignments. My efforts have been met with tears, falling to the ground and a fair share of yelling … on both of our ends. Now that it’s been a week, I have a few strategies to share with you that may save your sanity and help you to create realistic expectations for what a school day will look like for the next few weeks.

Take a Quick Read Through Your Child’s IEP

Although you are not a special education teacher (or maybe you are!), take a look at your child’s accommodations and get a sense of how to work within the classroom is broken down for your child. This may give you a few ideas of how information is presented.  If you’re still not clear, email your child’s teacher and ask her or him how you could teach your child a concept or how to work through the assignment. You are likely going to gain a few great ideas!

Break It Down

For some of our children, having your parent become your teacher is a mixing of roles and relationships. Understandably so! Your child may push back when you present work more so than she would with her teacher.

So, let’s get you through this. Break down subjects with specific times and specific time limits each day. For example, your child’s four major subjects, regardless of age or grade, are science, social studies, math, and language arts. Based on your child’s tolerance and endurance, you may wish to:

  • Each class will last 30, 45, or 60 minutes
  • Decide on the time before you begin
  • Set a timer
  • Teach three subjects per day
  • Rotate the subjects so that one subject is being “dropped” daily
  • Break down tasks into parts. For example, if your child is assigned to write a paper, break it down into its parts: an introduction, paragraph one, paragraph two, paragraph three and conclusion. You may wish to work on one to two parts each day
  • Work on five or 10 math problems at a time
  • Take breaks in between subjects; decide the maximum amount of time that will feel relaxing but not too relaxing where re-engaging becomes too difficult. Set the timer again

 

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Por Favor, Dejen de Castigar a los Niños Por Sus Discapacidades Invisibles (Please Stop Punishing My Child’s Invisible Disability)

The Mighty hopes to make all their blogs and articles available to all people across all languages. We are happy to share my blog, “Please Stop Punishing My Child’s Invisible Disability” in Spanish. Please read and share!

Como siempre digo, primero soy madre de tres hijos, y luego soy psicóloga de niños. Trabajo con muchos niños, adolescentes, adultos, jóvenes (y sus familias) que tienen trastorno por déficit de atención e hiperactividad (TDAH), ansiedad y discapacidades de aprendizaje. También soy madre de clase en la escuela de mis hijos donde hay niños con estas y otras discapacidades. He trabajado como psicóloga escolar en escuelas públicas y sé lo que recomendé para los niños en mi carga de casos. A lo largo de los años, he oído de los padres, con los que trabajo, que sienten que a veces la discapacidad de su hijo es malinterpretada y subestimada.

La Discapacidad
No se puede ver una discapacidad del aprendizaje, trastorno del procesamiento sensorial, ansiedad, TDAH (y muchos otros). El perfil único de un niño es detectado por el equipo del niño (padres, maestros, pediatras, psicólogos, etc.), pero no es un hecho, cambia, y no viene con un manual.

Entonces, ¿qué significa esto para usted, como el padre de un niño con una discapacidad invisible? Usted va a ser un defensor de su hijo hasta que él o ella aprendan a abogar por sí mismos. Esto significa que usted necesitará educar al maestro de su hijo, paraprofesional, administrador de casos y al director, porque las áreas donde su hijo muestra fortaleza y debilidades no siempre son fáciles de ver o recordar.

Permítanme compartir una historia de un dia en el que me ofrecí como voluntaria para la clase de medios de mi hija cuando estaba en primer grado (ahora está en cuarto grado). Este adorable hombrecito (con TDAH) quería un libro de, “Curious George.” Su paraprofesional se paró junto a él con un cronómetro y lo acosó con comentarios como: “Elige un libro. Tienes tres minutos para elegir un libro. ¿Ya has elegido un libro?” El pobre no tuvo la oportunidad de procesar. Pude verlo como se agitaba mas y mas y estaba sucediendo a manos del mismo apoyo que se suponía que le ayudaría a tomar una decision.

Image by: The Mighty

by Liz Matheis, The Mighty!

Choosing a Child Psychological Evaluation: School Based vs. Independent

The beginning-of-the-school-year-honeymoon-period is now over, and your child is settling into the school year. Perhaps you’re noticing that your child is struggling with word problems, identifying letters, remembering the sounds letters make, or writing. Perhaps your child’s teacher is pointing out to you that he is struggling to sit in his seat, finish work in class, interact with his peers. So now what? What do you do with this information?

If you’re making these realizations now, you may want more information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and possibly gain a support plan in school. In essence, you may be ready to seek an evaluation. The next question is what kind? Who can provide an evaluation for my child? What information do I want to gain from this evaluation? So, where do you begin?

Seeking a Psychological Evaluation for Your Child:

Step One: Speak to your child’s teacher and gain feedback regarding your child’s performance academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally? What are academic strengths and weaknesses?

Step Two:
 Decide if you would like for your school’s Child Study Team to perform the psychological evaluation vs. seeking an independent evaluation.

Before you make that decision, you need to answer the question: what’s the difference between the evaluation and report you would gain from your Child Study Team vs. one gained from an outside professional? Well, there are several and here is a summary to help you when you make this decision.

The Psychological Evaluation through your Child Study TeamThe Psychological evaluation completed by your school should consist of a standardized test, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scales, an observation, and a student interview.

In the end, you will gain a report that provides an IQ of your child’s cognitive/intellectual performance, a summary of a classroom observation, and information about your child’s interests, preferences, and reported academic strengths and weaknesses. Please note that the School Psychologist is not permitted to provide any diagnoses, if relevant, within this report.

This information will be used to compare to the results of the Educational Evaluation that is completed by the Child Study Team Learning Specialist in order to determine if there is a learning disability that is negatively impacting your child’s ability to perform academically.

The School Based via the Private/Independent Psychological Evaluation:

If you are seeking an independent psychological evaluation, that means that you are working with a Clinical Psychologist, privately, to provide you with an evaluation and report. The Clinical Psychologist has the ability to administer additional tests in order to answer questions you may have as a parent, or to gain more specific information about your child’s intellectual and academic skills.

Being a School and Clinical Psychologist, when I perform a private psychological evaluation, I also administer an achievement test and executive functioning testing, as well as look at anxiety, attention, learning, and memory. All of this information creates a learning profile that indicates your child’s learning style, strengths and weaknesses.

This report is comprehensive and offers information about learning style that the School Psychologist’s report does not contain. That is, is your child a visual spatial learner; an auditory learner? A hands on learner? With this information in mind, the recommendations in the report can then be geared towards the best way to teach new information to the student that is in line with the way he naturally takes it in.

Pros & Cons
So, what are some of the major pros and cons of a Child Study Team (CST) generated psychological evaluation vs. a private/independent one?

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Image by: Shield Healthcare
by Dr. Liz Matheis

The Essentials of a Successful School Year

The Essentials of a Successful School Year for You and Your Child’s IEP

When a new school year begins, students are not the only ones with butterflies in their stomachs. Parents of students with special needs also worry about what a new year, a new teacher and a new classroom may bring. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the legal document clearly delineates your child’s needs. Here are tips for creating a positive classroom experience and successful school year.

Schedule a parent-teacher-case manager meeting.
At the start of the school year, all of your child’s teachers provide written signatures that they have reviewed your child’s IEP. However, it is a brief overview and teachers are not yet familiar with your child’s program, modifications and accommodations.

After the first couple months of school, schedule a time to sit down with your child’s teachers and case manager to review academic supports and accommodations. In essence, you are setting aside this time to give teachers an overview of how your child is best able to take in information while reviewing accommodations, such as providing a word bank on a fill-in-the blank test or giving a lesson outline prior to the presentation of new material so that your child can follow the outline and add personal thoughts or notes. This is also a time for you to meet and make a connection with all of your child’s teachers, permitting them to know you by name and face.

For a Successful School Year: Put it in writing.
Once your child’s IEP meeting has been held, your child’s program goes into effect within 15 days of the IEP meeting date, with or without your signature. Sometimes, parents are misled to believe that if they do not sign the IEP, they are showing disagreement or require more time to review the document in detail. However, when you are in disagreement with an element of a behavior plan, related service or program within your child’s IEP, prepare a written letter to your child’s case manager indicating what specifically you are in disagreement about.

Integrate a sensory diet into your child’s day.
Create a personalized activity plan that can be integrated into your child’s daily schedule in order to satisfy the need for movement, deep pressure or heavy work. These types of activities satisfy proprioceptive, vestibular, auditory, visual and tactile needs for a child who may have a sensory processing disorder, difficulty sustaining attention, or is restless and fidgety.

For example, a child diagnosed with ADHD or Autism may not be able to maintain attention and focus to one task while sitting down at a desk for an entire class period. As a result, a sensory tool may include a move ‘n sit cushion, which is a seat cushion that is wedge shaped and filled with air. It is used to help fidgety or lethargic students maintain a level of alertness. A child who is restless may also need the opportunity for movement breaks within the school day. It might benefit a child like this to work at his or her desk for ten minutes and then take a five-minute break to go to the bathroom or water fountain, or to send a note to another classroom teacher or the main office.

For children who are hyperactive, a five-minute gym break for a quick run or game of basketball can be integrated into the child’s schedule to allow for a better ability to focus on class tasks.

Consult with the occupational therapist (OT) in your child’s school for additional ideas and how they can be integrated and implemented on daily basis. Overall, these strategies can help you and your child to transition into the new school year smoothly. While also giving you the chance to discuss your child’s academic program and develop a positive rapport with your child’s teachers.

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by Dr. Liz Matheis

Balancing School, Homework, Sports and Extracurriculars

“Come on, hurry up and get your math homework done so we can get to soccer practice on time! You can eat dinner in the car on the way there. Don’t forget that after practice you have a Girl Scout event and then when we get back we have to review your spelling words for tomorrow’s test!” How many of you can relate to these kinds of conversations with your kids? Our kids today are so overbooked with activities and stimuli that it’s no wonder anxiety is on the rise. The following are some tips to help families navigate all of the hustle and bustle in a balanced manner.

1. Limit the amount of commitments your child has
I still encourage the use of a rule that Dr. Liz had shared with me one day. “One activity, per kid, per season”. Maybe your child enjoys playing two different sports in one season. Maybe they enjoy their piano lessons and singing in the school choir. Have a conversation with your child and narrow it down instead of automatically signing up for all of the activities at once. Take things on gradually, seeing how one activity plays out in the schedule before signing up for another.

2. Schedule down time 
With schedules so packed, take a look at the calendar and notice where there are open spots. Make it a priority to keep these spots open and allow your child to have down time where there is less structure and less pressure to perform a certain way. Children need some time to unwind from the school day and busy weekends filled with activities. This is also a good opportunity to schedule quality time together as a family, which does not have to be anything elaborate. Planning a family movie or game night are easy ways to promote healthy communication patterns and family bonding. This scheduled down time should be just as much of a priority as the piano recitals, soccer games and cheer practices.

3. Check in with your child
Engage your children in ongoing discussions where you are checking in with their stress level. Tell them that it is perfectly acceptable for them to speak up if they feel they are too busy or not getting enough time to rest. Help your child develop their priorities in terms of extracurriculars and narrow down the ones that mean more to them. This will depend heavily on your child’s developmental level, but it is important that as they mature, they have more of a say in their extracurricular activities.

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by Nicole Filiberti, MSW, LCSW

Weighing in on ADHD Medication

Your Best School Year Yet

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and you’re patiently cajoling your middle schooler to start his homework. He’s avoiding it with every ounce of his being. You finally get him to agree that if he finishes his homework, he can have one hour of video games. He sits down ready and eager, but quickly realizes that he didn’t bring his math book home, can’t find his science sheet and has a social studies test tomorrow, but can’t remember which chapter to study.

If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, this ongoing struggle may be familiar, and you’re probably feeling like something needs to change. It’s common to want to avoid the medication route and seek behavioral strategies that teach your child the skills needed to organize, prioritize, get the work done and hand it in. On the other hand, medication is helpful to lots of kids with ADHD.

MAKING YOUR DECISION
Medication has side effects, and those side effects can sometimes be scary for a growing child. It’s frustrating to watch and not easy for children with ADHD. They have true neurochemical deficits in the frontal lobe that aren’t all that different from a diabetic whose body doesn’t create sufficient insulin at the right times.

So, what’s the “right” thing to do? Is there a “right” thing? The answer is no. Here’s what to consider when deciding the appropriate course of treatment for your child:

  • What’s the impact on your child’s daily functioning?
  • How much is your child affected by poor focus, hyperactivity or impulsivity, anxiety, difficulty transitioning, going to school each day and daily routines?
  • Is she able to establish and maintain friendships?
  • Can he take in class lessons and learn?
  • Does she distract herself or others in the classroom?
  • Is he able to transition from home to school to activities?
  • Is completing homework a struggle?
  • Can she participate in leisure activities such as birthday parties or family gatherings?

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MEDICATION-FREE STRATEGIES

You can begin to implement behavioral strategies, routines, boundaries and consistency from day to day. For example, create a space for your child to complete homework that’s not at the kitchen table, since your kitchen is likely the Grand Central Station of your home. It’s also helpful to implement a no devices rule while homework is being done. Create a visual schedule of morning, after-school and bedtime routines. You can also make a list of household rules and consequences and make sure to implement them consistently using a calm demeanor. You may want to start a nightly, tech-free quiet time before bed.

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by Dr. Liz Matheis, PhD for NJ Family Magazine

How can I make studying less stressful for my child?

Attempting to get your child to sit and study is a chore in itself, and then once you get them to sit they actually have to study.  This process can bring upon a lot of anxiety for your child. Did I remember all my materials? Will this be on the test? What if I get a bad grade? What if I forget what I studied?  How long should I study? As someone who was challenged by test anxiety, these questions ran through my brain before every test. As I got older and learned what tactics best suited me, anxiety lessened.  Not to say it disappeared, after all we are all human, but I found the best ways to help myself.Learning Style
Not every child learns the same. One child may be able to listen to the material and have it memorized, while another child may have to see it written.  Think about when you have gotten a bookshelf or something to put together and it just had pictures and no written directions, was this easy or difficult?  If you are a visual learner this was a piece of cake; if you are a verbal or auditory learner this may have been quite the challenge. Someone can be a visual (pictures), auditory (sound), verbal (written words) or physical (hands-on/touch) learner.  Finding out how your child learns can help decide if flashcards or an audio recording of their material would be most helpful.A designated study space
When it comes to doing homework sometimes kids can be nomads.  They will plop themselves on a couch, bed, floor, wherever they may land.  Unfortunately, this is not optimal for homework or studying. Your child should have a designated study area.  This should be an area as free from distraction as it can and calming. For some children, this may be an office desk or kitchen table.  If their desk is in their room, it is important they use their desk and not the bed or bean bag chair that may be in it. While some students use apps such as Focus Keeper to stay on track, not having it placed within reach is key.  It should be close enough that they can hear the timer for their break but not close enough where they can play games and browse social media.How to study
As many of us learned the hard way, cramming was not the best way to learn and retain information.  Setting up a study schedule for an allotted amount of time before the test will help your child retain information and reduce stress before the exam.  This can be done using their agenda book or a dry erase calendar in their room. Including reminders and goals will help reduce the last minute cramming and test anxiety. While they are studying, allow for breaks.  As mentioned above there are apps that can be used to set an amount of time to study and time for a break. These breaks should be restorative and not involve screen time. That can make getting back to studying more challenge and cause a power struggle between you and your child.

Celebrating their hard work
Even though they may have not gotten a perfect score, celebrate their effort.  Knowing that studying is difficult for your child, the fact that they were able to sit and prepare for their tests is a success.  It’s the process not the product. The more encouragement and sense of pride they feel the more they will want to continue these habits to make not only you proud but they will make themselves proud!


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by Jennifer Mandato, LAC

The Benefits of Inclusion

As humans, we are born with the drive to relate and connect to others. Fostering emotional connectedness from a young age is a critical foundation for healthy development. Oftentimes, when our children receive a diagnosis, there is a race against time to start services and work on skills that may be lagging. However, what often seems to be missed is the importance of emotional development and building relationships. All children, regardless of a diagnosis, desire and deserve to have meaningful relationships. When my son started in a preschool inclusion program, I had a lot of unanswered questions. Is he mature enough to be a peer model? How will he handle observing children experiencing sensory overloads and needing support to work through these experiences? After all, he is only 3 and needs support regulating his emotions as well. What I began to realize was that it wasn’t only the “peer models,” that were modeling and helping. They were all learning from one another. They are all tiny humans that desire to be loved and have friendships with one another. The Inclusion program instills values in my child through natural experiences that can’t be taught through a textbook or expensive curriculums.  Inclusion programs challenges teachers to see the whole child and nurture each and every child’s emotional self.

Promote Empathy
A strong, developmentally- appropriate social/emotional emphasis is crucial in creating a successful inclusion program. Through structured social/emotional lessons, modeling emotional coaching in the moment, as well as play experiences, children learn that we all have feelings and different coping strategies. Mirror neurons fire in our brains through observation of other human beings. By exposing our children to teachers and caregivers co-regulating with other students and working them through strong emotions, we are laying the groundwork for building empathy. Students also learn how to enter into another child’s world and see the world through another person’s eyes. For example, another child may share a similar passion for Mickey Mouse, however, their play may look a little different e.g. stacking or lining a figure up. With assistance and modeling from adults in the room on how to engage with students, we are teaching them how to consider others’ interests and needs. In the future, this may help our children to include other children in their play and social interactions that may not initiate on their own. I know that my hope for my own child is to be an individual who respects and includes all people.

Enhances Communication and Interpersonal Skills
As adults, an important skill to be successful in life is learning how another individual communicates and tailor our interactions accordingly. Exposing our children to inclusion settings from an early age helps them to gain an understanding that we all communicate differently. In addition, exposing young children to a variety of communication modalities help to strengthen and develop language.

Multi Sensory supports and engaging lessons help each student access the full curriculum and accommodate all learning styles. 

In an age of high-stakes testing, the importance of supporting and enhancing childhood development in an educational setting is often lost. Children need to move and experience to learn. An inclusive setting supports the critical, developmental building blocks for learning that are sometimes not emphasized in all educational settings. The importance of experience and process is lost through pressure of the “product.” Multi sensory learning experiences are critical for all children to access the curriculum through their individual learning styles. Inclusive settings create a supportive learning environment, engage a variety of learners and creates a more responsive learning environment.

When I walk into my son’s classroom, it’s difficult to distinguish between the students who have individualized education plans and those who do not. This is exactly as it should be. Through my son’s eyes, each and every one of his classmates are his buddies. Some communicate with technology and sign language. Some need cool little gadgets to make their bodies feel safe and ready to learn. Some of them like Paw Patrol just like him. Most of them like to move while learning just like him. Most importantly, they are his friends. By exposing our children to these types of educational environments from an early age, we are raising children who will grow into empathic adults and creating a more inclusive world.

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by Rachael Berringer, LAC, MA

Kindergarten, here we come!

​As the summer winds down, many feelings begin to swirl around! Excitement and anxiety begin to peak especially for Kindergarten, for both parents and child.

Working to make a child’s school experience transition successful, here are some tips to help ease anxieties and build success.

Rehearsals

Drive by the school your child will be attending to familiarize them. Stop and play on the playground! This is a great way to build excitement as well as prepare them. They will have an pre-existing level of comfort that will build confidence for those first few days.

I also recommend lunch rehearsal. Pack their lunch and have them practice independently taking it out, opening their lunch containers, and even how to heat up, if needed. All schools have lunch aides to assist but creating opportunities for independence so your little one who may be to shy to ask for help yet or does not have to wait too long for that help.

Practice the school schedule! Yes, that means those summer lazy sleep in days (at least for my children) need to start getting their school sleep schedule back on rhythm. I can thank high school’s summer sport schedule for kick starting me and my high schooler with early morning wake ups, but now I have to shift my elementary kids back to earlier bedtimes and earlier wakes up times as well.

Books- setting the tone!

Books are great emotional tools that helps prepare for the upcoming transitions as well as the emotions with change.

For working on parent attachment and being able to successfully separate, I recommend:

Attachment & Separation 

Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

This book establishes a loving gesture that helps an child detach successfully. This is an easy quick routine to add to your morning send off!

Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson
This book highlights all different adventures while the parent will be there at home waiting for the child. The message of independence with comfort of a waiting parent will help the kindergarten be ready to “leap” to school!

The Invisible String By Patrice Karst
This book is a fantastic metaphor of how love connects us even when we are not together. I like to pair this book with a small physical transitional object like a ring, necklace, string bracelet etc…

I Love You All Day Long by by Francesca Rusackas
Another simple book that reassures a child of their parents’ love which helps with separation.

Kindergarten Preparedness 
Here are books that will help set the tone and ease anxieties. When we know what to expect, the unknown becomes less scary!

  • Kindergarten Rocks! By Kate Davis
  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneber
  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
  • Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
  • The Night Before Kindergarten. by Natasha Wing
  • First Day of School by Mercer Mayer

Managing Your Own Anxiety!

Last but not least, how we, as parents, feel! I know I struggled when my babies went to kindergarten. I still remember happily waving goodbye to my kids oozing confidence for them to absorb. Then, after the school bell rang with all the school children tucked behind the doors as parents shuffled to their cars, I balled crying. I share my story as an example of how it is important to set the tone for our children. If we show anxiety and showing uncertainty, our children will read this and increase their anxieties. So, as Dr. Liz’s says, “Fake it, Until You Make It”. Of course, it is ok for both to be nervous, but this is the time for you to be their rock. And if anyone wants to cry together, I will be balling as I send my oldest to his first day of high school, we can meet up after that bell!

Happy First Day of School!​

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by Michelle Krowiak, LCSW, Ed.S

What are Executive Functioning Skills Anyway?

​Executive functioning skills (EF) are the cognitive processes that assist us in regulating our emotions and behavior, making decisions, as well as setting and achieving goals. They can be viewed as our “air traffic control tower” in everyday life. They are our ability to think, plan, and prioritize.

Think about EF as the skills that we want our children to begin to develop in different phases of their development. These skills are also referred to as:

  • self-regulation
  • inhibition of impulses
  •  performance monitoring
  • working memory
  • planning/organization
  • task initiation.

Looking closer at our children’s EF skills will help us better understand our child’s areas of strength and weakness, which will ultimately help us as parents to better be able to effectively communicate and advocate for our children in school. In the book, Smart but Scattered, Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare beautifully outline 11 sub-skills of executive functioning:

Response Inhibition
the ability to think before we act.

Working Memory
the ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future.

Emotional Control
the ability to manage emotions in order to achieve goals and complete tasks.

Flexibility
the capacity to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information or mistakes. It relates to adaptability to changing conditions.

Sustained Attention
the capacity to maintain attention to a situation or a task in spite of distractibility, fatigue, or boredom.

Task Initiation
the ability to begin projects without undue procrastination, in an efficient or timely fashion.

Planning/Prioritization
the ability to create a roadmap to reach a goal or to complete a task. It also involves being able to make decisions about what’s important to focus on and what’s not important.

Organization
the ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information or materials.

Time Management
the capacity to estimate how much time one has, how to allocate it, and how to stay within time limits and deadlines.

Goal‐directed persistence
the capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal and not be put off or distracted by competing interests.

Metacognition
the ability to stand back and take a birds‐eye view of oneself in a situation. It is an ability to observe how you problem solve. It also includes self-monitoring and self‐evaluative skills. This is a higher-level skill that we try to build with our teens and young adults.

Stress Tolerance
the ability to thrive in stressful situations and to cope with uncertainty, change, and performance demands.

Let’s be very clear – children are not born with these skills, nor do they develop as part of regular growth and maturation. These skills are learned and develop with practice.

As their parents and teachers, we can set the framework to help build these skills by setting routines, breaking big tasks into smaller, attainable chunks, and creating activities to improve impulse control and emotional regulation.

Children with delayed executive skills may display challenging behaviors and parents may find themselves in a reactive pattern. Executive functioning coaching can help families better understand their child’s unique profile as well as develop a plan to strengthen these capacities in order to build self -esteem and raise independent thinkers capable of regulating their emotions and reaching their fullest potential across environments.

Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2009). Smart but scattered: The revolutionary “executive skills” approach to helping kids reach their potential. New York: Guilford Press.

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by Rachael Berringer
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Julie C.
"Dr. Matheis has a remarkable ability to understand the unique needs of her patients and address them constructively. She builds strong, meaningful relationships with patients and their families, encouraging trust and collaboration. When working with my son who struggles with autism-related anxiety, she created an environment in which he was able to calm down and open up to her in ways I had not seen before. She was able to reach him and helped him work through his crisis/problem. Most importantly, she empowered him to move forward."
- N.L.
"Dr. Matheis is amazing. She has tremendous resources and loads of energy. She is not willing to accept anything less than the most effective results for her clients. She made me feel as if my son was her top priority throughout the entire process. I would, without reservation, give her my highest recommendations.  Thank you, Dr. Matheis!"
- Anonymous
"Dr. Matheis has an amazing ability to read kids and connect with them. She has been an invaluable resource for our family over the past several years and has helped us with everything from educational consulting, to uncovering diagnoses as well as family therapy. Working with Dr. Matheis never feels clinical and most importantly, our children love and trust her. We can not thank you enough Dr. Liz!"
- Anonymous
"My teenage son had been seeing Dr. Matheis through his senior year of high school, as he was only diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old.  Dr. Matheis came highly recommended from our pediatrician and she has done wonders for our son as well as our family, navigating new ways for him to deal with his diagnosis without the use of medication.  She taught him ways to organize himself and even when something did not work for him, she patiently continued teaching him new ways to keep himself on track.  She has also helped us as parents to understand how his mind works so that we did not continue to blame his lack of focus on him, rather on his unique way of thinking.  Thank you Dr. Matheis!!!!"
- LG
"Dr. Liz is the best! Our family was directed to her by our Pediatrician to assist with figuring out severe mood changes, severe anxiety, strange new fears and food aversion that had come onto one of our children literally overnight. After just a couple of visits, she suggested that the issues may actually be rooted in a physical issue and suggested we immediately take our child to be swabbed for strep, because Dr. Liz suspected PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder brought on by strep). The same Pediatrician that suggested Dr. Liz would not do the swab (they do not believe in PANDAS and we no longer go there) but I took my child to my doctor who did the swab and it was positive for strep. When our child went on antibiotics, within 24 hours all symptoms went away and our child was back :-) Dr. Liz then recommended a PANDAS specialist who helped us and our child is in complete remission and is happy and healthy. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Liz for her knowledge of all things, even the most remote and unusual and for helping us so much! Thank you!"
- Anonymous
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Anonymous
"Thank you, Dr. Liz. Although we have told you countless times, it will never feel enough. You have listened when J could barely speak and continued to listen when he was sad, angry and confused. You've challenged him and directed us in our roles as parents. You've helped J face his fears while the list evolved and changed, and yet you've stayed committed to 'the course.' We pray that your children realize that time away from them is spent helping children learn and that vulnerability is a sign of strength and bravery."
- June I
"My son was admitted to an Ivy League school when only 2 years ago, you assessed him and saw his struggles, his Dyslexia. We are grateful that he no longer has to carry that deep feeling of inadequacy or shame that must have kept him so self conscious and from reaching his potential. He has the PERFECT program for him. He has A's in high math and economics. He became a Merit Scholar, a Boys State legislature, the HEAD captain of the football team and help a job ALL while studying and managing his classes and disability. I am PROUD of you, a young doctor, who knows and sees the vulnerability of children and helps them recognize "it's NO big deal" God bless."
- Anonymous

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513 W Mt Pleasant Ave, Ste 212,
​Livingston, NJ 07039