Aptos psychologist: Consolidate Santa Cruz County school districts to reduce overhead

Special Education is enormously expensive. The overhead expenses of administration are enormous. School districts must pick up the cost for special education from the age of 3 onward. With the huge increase in students categorized as “autistic-like” by the schools, special educaiton costs are sky rocketing.

Santa Cruz County has 10+ different school districts and two SELPAs. Every school district has a different Special Education Director. The two SELPAs must divide up money in some equitable manner between these 10+ school districts.

Imagine the money that could be saved if there was ONE SELPA and far fewer school districts? Parents need to unionize on behalf of their children and work with the schools for sensible change. Parents & the public must work to reduce overhead administrative costs. We must work so the special educaton “goodies” are spread more equitably.

Aptos Psychologist: While observing a child, learned that Cabrillo College Children’s Center cut 2 tenured teacher positions.

Cabrillo College Children’s Center just cut 2 tenured teacher positions. One teacher had been there for 10 years and loves working with children – particularly those with special needs. To help her & others out, we are starting a Job Board. Coming soon! www.freedomOK.net/wordpress

Aptos mother: Stay HOME and make great CRAB & RICE for your KIDS on Mother’s Day! www.freedomOK.net/wordpress

Great simple food on Monther’s Day: Have plenty of fresh picked crab and shrimp, a casarole dish buttered on bottom and sides, 2 cups rice cooked (4 1/4 c good water, 2 cups Uncle Ben type rice, plenty of shredded chedder cheese and whatever else cheese in refrigerator, fresh nutmeg, 2 Tbsp. sherry.

Start with a layer of rice, then a layer of warm Alfredo sauce (kind all ready to put on pasta), layer of seafood, dash of nutmeg, sprinkle a Tbsp. of sherry. Layer again. Finish with sauce on top.

Cook at 325 degrees in oven with tin foil or top on for half an hour and then remove top. So gets bubbly and a bit brown. Cook slow so the seafood permeates the rice and sauce. Easy to make. Great food to serve your kids on Mother’s Day. Then put up your feet and give thanks for FAMILY!

Serve with salad and french bread.

Aptos psychologist: take a look at Easter Seals study about autism and how families cope. www.freedomOK.net/wordpress

April 30, 2009
Divorce, Single Parenting and Autism: Some Data

“Do couples with autistic kids get divorced more frequently than other couples? Shockingly high divorce rates are quoted frequently, for example, Jenny McCarthy on Oprah, where she said it’s 90%, or Dr Colleen Allen, of the Henry Ford Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, who is quoted online as saying it’s 86%. Even John McCain, in his 2008 statement on autism for the ASA’s rally stated that “divorce rates of parents of children with autism are well above the national averages.” (Autism Advocate, 3rd Edition, 2008, Vol 52, p. 58.) Unfortunately, the data behind these numbers never seems to be included, so it’s hard to know if they are valid.

“What is well documented and readily available is Easter Seals’ Living with Autism study. Easter Seals, with Mass Mutual Financial Group, and the Autism Society of America, conducted an interactive Harris poll. They interviewed US residents with children 30 or younger, where the child has either an Autism Spectrum Disorder or no special needs diagnosis at all. A total of 1652 parents of children with autism were polled, and there was a control group of 917 parents who didn’t have children with special needs. Many issues were studied, including detailed listing of parents concerns, such as their adult children’s quality of life and ability to live independently. It’s an online poll, so of course there are questions about biases, such as which families chose to participate in the study. The study focuses heavily on looking at financial planning questions, not surprising regarding the sponsorship. Many of the findings aren’t exactly shocking, such as the fact that parents of the special needs children were highly concerned with their child’s independence and quality of life, and that they struggled financially and had concerns about their children’s education.
But, there was one section of the report that looked at divorce statistics. The report states, “Families living with autism are significantly less likely to be divorced than families with children without special needs. Among those parents with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder and who have been divorced, only one third say their divorce had anything to do with managing the special needs of their children.” (p. 39) And the rate? 30% for families with autistic children, 39% for the control group without special needs.

“There’s also some information on these divorced families with children on the autism spectrum. The study found that in about half of the divorced families, one parent had sole custody of the child, and 71% of the time the child lived with the parent full time. Certainly, this can be a stress on the single parent, especially when coupled with the fact that over half of families with ASD reported having little or no support from their extended family.Interested? You can download a copy of your own at the Easter Seals website.

Aptos psychologist: visualize your best possible self, help others and practise gratitude can increase your happiness? YES! go www.freedomOK.net/word press

Happiness Enhancing Activities With Evidence They Work
PsyBlog by Jeremy Dean www.spring.org.uk

“The ‘How to Be Happy’ article has become a staple of newspapers, magazines, books and, increasingly, of websites. We should ‘accept reality’, or ‘take a break’, or ‘be honest with ourselves’, or ‘surround ourselves with happy people’.

“These things are unlikely to do us any harm but that doesn’t stop them reading like a list of platitudes – the kind that people are always doling out but never follow themselves.

“We can all create our own lists of happiness enhancing activities and argue endlessly about which is better and for whom. While that’s fun for a bit, I always want to ask: which activities have evidence to back up their claims for increasing happiness?

“Psychologists have only started investigating this question relatively recently, so there’s not a very long list and it is obviously far from exhaustive, but at least there’s some research to back them up. The activities psychologists have investigated are gratitude, helping others, and firstly, visualising your best possible self.

1. Visualising your best possible self
Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic. Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well. You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself.

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper. This exercise helps draw on the proven benefits of expressive writing.

The effectiveness of this activity was tested in a study by King (2001). Students were asked to write about their best possible future selves for 20 minutes over 4 consecutive days. This group was compared with one writing on a neutral topic, one writing about traumatic life events and another writing about both traumatic events and their best possible future selves.

The results showed that those who had only written about their best possible selves showed greater improvements in subjective well-being compared to all the other groups. The benefits of the exercise could even be measured fully five months later.

Since the results were so encouraging after only a four-day exercise, two other studies have investigated longer periods. Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2006) and Dickerhoof et al. (2007) carried out studies over 4 and 8 weeks respectively. Both of these backed up the previous findings.

It’s not hard to speculate on why this exercise might be effective, it probably helps to:

Create a sense of efficacy, meaning and purpose.
Foster optimism.
Set written goals and plan means of achieving them.

2. Helping others
Even if you haven’t come across the ‘best possible selves’ exercise, you’ll almost certainly have heard the idea that helping others is beneficial to the self. Helping out at a soup kitchen, volunteering on a helpline, visiting shut-ins – all are certainly virtuous activities. But isn’t helping others for no tangible personal benefit too much like self-sacrifice?

Actually, the research suggests there’s a very good selfish reason to help others – it really does seem to make us happier. In one study students were asked to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005). These were things like writing a thank-you note, giving blood or helping a friend with their work. Students were told either to perform one act each day or all five acts on one day.

Both experimental groups showed a better outcome than the control group whose well-being declined over the six-week period (perhaps exams were looming!). Those who performed their acts of kindness each day showed a small increase in well-being.

But the highest well-being was seen in those students who carried out all their acts of kindness on one single day on each of the six weeks of the study. Their well-being increased by an impressive 40%.

Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade (2005) suggest the reason for the difference is that a single act of kindness each day doesn’t make an appreciable difference to the everyday routine, especially as these were only small acts.

3.Practicing gratitude
I’ve already covered the third activity that has shown promise in increasing happiness: practicing gratitude. A study conducted by Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that sitting down weekly to write about five things we are grateful for increased happiness levels by 25%. If you’re short of ways of practicing gratefulness, this list of ways to be grateful culled from Dr Emmons’ book will be useful.

You might also be interested in my review of Dr Robert Emmons’ book ‘thanks!’ which details his experiments and expands on practicing gratitude.

Reasons to be cheerful
I’m sure these are only a tiny subset of the ways we can increase our happiness. At the moment, though, these are some of the ones that have the research to back them up.

In many ways these findings are encouraging. None of these activities involves spending vast amounts of money (or any money really!), none take up that much time and they are all within almost everyone’s reach.

The real challenge they present is in making changes to our daily routines, our standard ways of thinking and behaving. Compared to what we often perceive as a long and winding road to happiness, this trip looks like a doddle, if only we’d open our eyes and look.

» Discover more articles in this series on the new science of happiness.

» Read more evidence on the power of gratitude.


Dickerhoof, R., Lyubomirsky, S., & Sheldon, K. M. (2007). How and why do intentional activities work to boost well-being?: An experimental longitudinal investigation of regularly practicing optimism and gratitude. Manuscript under review.

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389

King, L. A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 798-807

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131.

Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73-82.

Tkach, C. (2005). Unlocking the treasury of human kindness: Enduring improvements in mood, happiness, and self-evaluations. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Riverside.

Psy Blog by Jeremy Dean

Aptos psychologist: On Mother’s Day & Step-Mother’s Day: Who is “family”?

There are numerous mother-in-law jokes and step-mother jokes. Remember the wicked step-mother in Hansel and Gretel?

I over-heard recently: At a family re-union the step daughter (who has two children) said to her step mother over lunch hearing that a half-brother and wife were soon to have a child: “Oh, now you can finally be a grandmother!”

That comment, certainly insensitive, probably sums up how the step-daughter views her step-mother. Dad is Dad and she comes to see her father. She brings him a card for his birthday. But she does not view her step-mother as a grandmother figure for her children. Overtures, conversation, gifts and contact may occur. But the step-daughter only thinks of her biological mother as the one and only grandmother.

And why those feelings? I know the family fairly well. What the step-mother says is that many, many years ago stories were taught to that step-daughter Not true stories. Just stories. And those stories get passed on through the generaltions. Through stories passed down from biological mother to daughter those children are taught who is kin and who is not.

Maybe that’s something that Christian churches and other faiths can offer people: a way to see “family” much more broadly. Family is more than blood ties.

Obama will revoke $7 billion in stimulus money unless CA legislature RESTORES wage cuts for unionized health-care workers.

Obama Administration view of federalism: drop dead. Noteworthy where Obama ranks the political authority of CA legislature enactment versus the political clout of a union. See complete article in Wall Street Journal, May 10. www.freedomOK.net

CA has a 42 billion dollar deficit abyss. The California legislaure passed a budget with steep tax hikes and spending cuts. Now Obama threatens California with a cut of $7 billion of federal stimulus money unless the state restores legislated wage cuts for unionized health-care workers.

So who is holding the California stimulus money hostage? The Service Employees International Union (SEIU). That is the union that wants Card Check passed — which will eliminate the secret ballot when workers vote whether they want to join a union.

Aptos lawyer: Pelosi is a statist. The rules apply to everyone but her. She is a huge union supporter who uses non-union workers. www.freedomOK.net./wordpress

WASHINGTON — What did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know about harsh questioning of detainees, and when did she know it?

“Today, the California Democrat was forced to issue yet another press release, reiterating her past assertions that she had been briefed in 2002 only on new interrogation techniques that had been deemed legal and were planned for future use.

Pelosi had made the same comments in 2007 when word first leaked that she was aware of the interrogation program and had not objected to it.

Her latest statement came three weeks after the Justice Department released formerly classified legal memos that detailed the once-secret CIA harsh interrogation program, and two weeks after she told reporters that when she got her sole CIA briefing on interrogation back in 2002, she had no idea the technique of waterboarding had already been used on a prisoner.

Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama last week called torture.

The House speaker was responding to this week’s release of CIA records that show Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the harsh methods that were then being used. That appeared to contradict Pelosi’s version, which said she understood the techniques were only planned for future use.

The CIA’s records were vague on what exactly she and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss were told. The CIA identified

39 other congressional briefings on interrogation methods, spanning nearly seven years. In only 13 of them was waterboarding specifically noted as a topic of discussion. It was not specifically noted in the sole Pelosi briefing. That briefing only references “enhanced interrogation techniques” that had been approved and used. By inference, that would include waterboarding.

Goss claimed in an opinion piece in the Washington Post two weeks ago that Pelosi and he were specifically told waterboarding had been used against Abu Zubaydah, one of three CIA prisoners subjected to the method. But even the CIA suggests that its account of the meetings will not settle the debate over who knew what and when.

“In the end, you and the committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened,” states the May 6 cover letter from CIA Director Leon Panetta to Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Pelosi is one of many Democrats who favor a truth commission to fully examine the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation program. Her critics claim she is trying to distance herself from the program now that it has been publicly examined and condemned by the new administration.