Monday, November 29, 2010

Awesome New Resource for Kids with Asperger's

Southeast Psych's own Frank Gaskill ("Dr. G") and University of South Carolina doctoral student Ryan Kelly have completed work on Max Gamer, a graphic novel about a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who uses his special abilities to become a superhero.

The graphic novel is the first in a series of Max Gamer books, all intended to promote a positive view of Asperger’s.  While those with Asperger’s—or “Aspies”—are the main target audience for the series, Dr. G. believes anyone interested in superheroes or those with special abilities will enjoy the books.  “Max Gamer has special abilities, but rather than having them become burdens, they become ways to help himself and other people around him.  He’s awesome, just like most Aspies I know are awesome.”

Dr. Temple Grandin, the internationally-known autism pioneer, said of Max Gamer, “This comic would have helped me when I was a teenager who was being teased.”  She added, “I think it will help the smart Aspie kids to feel proud of themselves.”

Published by Hero House, a division of Southeast Psych, Max Gamer is available starting tomorrow through  Check it the website to see the making of Max Gamer and a great Aspie blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Moms Need Love, Too

by Dr. Barrie Morganstein

As a new mom, I am learning firsthand how hard it is to take care of a baby and take care of myself (not to mention also taking care of a husband and a dog). I have always been notoriously bad at getting to bed at a reasonable hour and my baby’s arrival has made it even worse. With our little bundles depending on us, our good health is even more important; here are some things that new moms can do to manage stress and feel good:

· Get out of the house. After my baby was born, I stayed in the house a lot. Although I needed the rest and recuperation, I definitely found myself going stir-crazy. Getting out of the house -- whether its outside for fresh air or to the mall -- will do a lot to lift your spirits and invigorate you.

· Get some exercise. As hard as it is to get up off the couch and as tired as you are, get moving. Walking slowly on the treadmill, doing a light yoga class, or even just stretching in your living room, moving your body will make you feel better physically and mentally.

· Keep in contact with friends. It can be helpful to speak to your friends and commiserate about your new parenting trials and tribulations. However, it can be just as helpful to simply talk about girl-stuff. Being a mom is just one of our many roles, so we may find pleasure in discussing things other than the kids (such as what happened on The Real Housewives of New York).

· Don’t be afraid to say “no”. We often try to be superheroes and take on too many obligations. The added strain and fatigue that comes with baby care makes you more vulnerable to stress and emotional overload. Nicely explain to others why you are not able to take on a certain project – supportive people will understand.

· Ask for help. Women are capable of a lot, but even Wonder Woman had a sidekick (not to mention help from the rest of the Justice League). Don’t be afraid to ask your Superman for help with whatever you need, whether it be baby’s bedtime, laundry, bills, etc.

· Remind yourself what a great job you are doing. We are often our worst critics; chances are you are not only keeping up with your new babe, but excelling in your new role.

· Get help if you need it. If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, talk to someone. Let your significant other, family member, or friends, know that you need some extra encouragement. A psychologist or counselor can also be a valuable addition to your support-network. 

Dr. Barrie Morganstein is a psychologist and new mom at Southeast Psych.  You can contact her at 704-552-0116.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now? The Basics of Central Auditory Processing Disorders

Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD) is a learning disability that is not very well known and is often under-diagnosed and misdiagnosed.  CAPD is also confusing because there are many signs and symptoms that are often attributed to other disorders, especially Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or severe anxiety.  Below are some of the most common signs that can suggest CAPD.  An individual with CAPD may…

  • have poor expressive or receptive language
  • have difficulty with reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, and/or foreign languages
  • have difficulty following long conversations
  • have difficulty following verbal directions, especially when involving multi-step directions
  • need extra time processing information
  • have decreased comprehension in noisy environments
  • have difficulty with phonics or speech sounds
  • talk less than peers
  •  “tune out” or seem to be in a “world of her own”
  • be less social because of comprehension problems

It is very easy to determine the presence of CAPD.  Many audiologists are trained to identify CAPD.  It is also very important to consider having a psycho-educational assessment completed by a psychologist to rule out the presence of other issues (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, other learning disabilities, etc.).  These professionals are also likely to help you determine the best approaches for intervention.  Some excellent books about CAPD are When the Brain Can’t Hear: Unraveling the Mystery of Auditory Processing Disorder – Teri J. Bellis, Ph.D. and Like Sound Through Water: A Mother’s Journey Through Auditory Processing Disorder by Karen J. Foli & Edward M. Hallowell.  

Dr. Barrie Morganstein is a psychologist at Southeast Psych who sees a wide range of clients and has a specialty in the assessment and treatment of central auditory processing disorders.