Monthly Archives: September 2018

How to Help Them Deal With Bullying

Children with autism and aspergers have a great number of positive characteristics. Unfortunately, the sensitivities of children on the playground and the social scene in middle and high school can be very different from adults who have a lot more education and sensitivity toward those who are different.

Parents may suspect that their children are being bullied when the show some of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Missing or broken possessions
  • Torn clothing or clothing and other items that have been scribbled on
  • Frequent cuts and bruises
  • Increased anxiety
  • School refusal, cutting classes
  • Complaints of digestive upset or headaches
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Depression
  • Morbid or suicidal thoughts
  • Personality change, modeling bullying behavior at home

What is a parent to do if they suspect that some of this is going on?

1) Help the child understand his/her diagnosis. It’s important for the child and the parents to have a working understanding of how the child’s mind works and why s/he may be having some of the difficulties in school. Understanding the plusses and being able to work on areas of growth are key in addressing the bullying.

2) Help the teacher, school social worker, and principal understand your child’s diagnosis. Present them with articles such as this one to help them understand some of the unique struggles that your child may be going through. Request that the social worker and/or teacher incorporate education about tolerance with persons who have disabilities, who are differently abled.

3) Seek to network and connect with other families who have children on the spectrum. Google autism or aspergers support groups in your area. You may find that there are children on the spectrum who have successfully navigated through the social landmines of middle and high school. Wrong Planet is an online forum started by and for Aspies. You may find additional support and solutions there.

4) If you child with Aspergers or autism is seeing a counselor or child psychologist, that therapist can work with your child in the context of social skills training to learn how to be assertive and how to deal with bullying. Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist has written some free material at his site, Bullies2Buddies, that can provide your child with the scripts and mindset to handle the mental and social challenges that come with bullying.

5) Ask the school social worker or home room teacher if there are students who are assertive and compassionate enough to serve as social mentors and friends to your child with Aspergers.

6) Encourage your child to join extracurricular activities at school which are in sync with their interests and abilities. By joining these activities they may connect with peers who can become a safe haven for them at school.

This is a partial list of suggestions that is open to feedback from you, the reader. What have been your experiences, and what are some solutions you recommend?

Working Smart From Home

While working from home it would be handy to keep these tips in mind when looking at potential jobs:

If you’re working somewhere, ask around your current workplace to see if any job and not just the one you’re working at now is movable or portable. A written plan explaining to your current employer about your ideas may help get you what you want. It’s a good idea to expect a lot from the current competition. A lot of people would love to work from home and will go inquire with any company they think have higher chances of hiring them. Don’t expect to hit jackpot or a fortune when deciding to work from home. The sure shot sign of something that is a shoddy scam is the promise of huge and multiple rewards with little effort or hard work. Real stay at home jobs tend to involve hard work, basic skills and a clever business sense.

Look out for any opportunities which involve pushing envelopes and assembling tasks, these activities profit just the promoters of these jobs. Most people earn decent pay packets at home and also at the regular workplace or office. People with good education and qualifications like a business or engineering degree possessing astute business skills have a fine record in workplace success. Stay at home jobs provide you the flexibility to work around your timings and still do other pending household chores like cleaning the house or cooking up a meal. Not having to travel to work anywhere distant or pay for child care are big plusses when choosing to work from home.

Home based call centers are really popular these days and they are a growing industry. Owing to the wonders of the internet and calling technology, more companies are learning that they can outsource their sales, client requirements and tasks to home based employees. Most me home workers have college and university degrees and tend to better educated and efficient than their counterparts according to a recent studies. The jobs that require taking orders under this category pay at lower rates while high paying jobs require smart and savvy sales skills. Some companies that employ home based workers are LiveOps, Arise and Alpine Access.

You can even start a web business operation from home. You can get started at these by getting a small business loan from your local bank or even work at a part time job to keep your entrepreneurial venture going until you start making a good amount of profit or turnover. The most important mindset that you should adopt before taking up such a business is to know that you’re going to learn from your mistakes and make it work as you go along.

Online auction sites like eBay are home to more than a million retailers and sellers who admit that the site is a primary or secondary source of income for them. Selling your personal or household items on these auction sites online can guarantee a sizeable amount of profit. Auction websites no provide guidelines to users to familiarize them with the selling process. Sellers should be careful with the quality and service levels of their product as negative feedback can dent their reputation and influence future sales.

Finding a Qualified Guitar Teacher

Here are some tips for parents to evaluate potential teachers, understand your role in your child’s lessons, and to help find a qualified teacher.

So you’ve decided to seek out a qualified guitar instructor for your child. Where to start? Well, some choices are to use search engines, phone books, local music stores, and local schools and colleges to find a teacher near you. The challenge, however, is to find someone who is both well qualified and enjoys teaching children. How do you know if a teacher is well qualified you ask? Good question. There is no governing board for private guitar teachers that specifies a specific education or certification requirement, so you have to inquire about your teacher’s background yourself.

Some considerations when selecting a guitar teacher for your child should include the following:

1) How long has the potential teacher been teaching full time? It takes several years and hundreds of students to really learn how to teach effectively, regardless of the teacher’s formal education. A teacher learns the most common problems and their solutions during the first few years of teaching and will generally be a much better teacher at 3 years than when they first started.

2) Does the teacher feel that your child should learn to read notes, learn musical terms, and music theory? They should. I think there’s nothing wrong with a teacher showing some things by rote or using alternate notation methods occasionally such as tablature to keep a child’s interest, but the focus should be on learning standard notation. There’s no replacement for notation when it comes to laying the foundation for complete musical understanding. The exception would be very young students being taught in the Suzuki method, where the student is taught by rote initially with standard musical notion being brought in later.

3) Does the teacher’s own background illustrate that they have training in these areas? It’s a safe bet that teachers with music degrees specifically in guitar are qualified in this area. It’s harder to evaluate teachers without degree’s in these areas, but this does not disqualify them, just as a degree does not automatically qualify a teacher. Having a degree simply makes it more likely that they will have the necessary knowledge to effectively teach your child. You must ask them about their experience and evaluate their abilities first hand to see that they are knowledgeable. This can be tough to evaluate if you have no musical training, so tread carefully as there are many people that market themselves as guitar teachers that are not very good in these areas. Don’t get fooled by marketing. Evaluate their resume and experience. For example: A local teacher that plays in the local church’s worship band may be a fine guitar player for that style and a nice person, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify them as a guitar teacher for your child. They may know little of music theory, note reading, or other styles of music.

4) Do you want your child to learn classical guitar? If so, then you need a classical guitarist, period. This is a very specific field of study that requires extensive and specific training. Don’t trust someone that says they teach classical guitar that does not have a degree in classical guitar from a reputable institution. Classical guitarists are often proficient in and teach many popular styles as well, but really are the only ones to go to when it comes to learning classical guitar.

5) What if I want my child to be a rock/pop guitar player or singer-songwriter, do they really need to know all of this stuff? Yes, you should still encourage note reading! There’s no way it’s going to hurt someone’s development. The idea that formal music training might stifle creative development is something as a guitarist I’ve heard before but believe is a misguided notion coming from the guitar being part of our popular culture, often being taught by rote, and compounded by the existence of talented and successful singer-songwriters that have little formal music education. This can give people the impression that note reading is simply not necessary. The truth is that note reading will help your child better facilitate the writing process, but also prepare them for a broader musical life that may include teaching, studio playing, composing, transcribing, etc. Would the Beatles have been as good without the help of their classically trained composer/producer George Martin? I don’t think so and neither does the famous guitarist Jeff Beck. You’re paying top dollar for guitar lessons for your child, so why limit their musical future?

6) Should the teacher be a top level performer? Not necessarily. I believe they should be able to play at a high level though, which is usually the case with guitarist that have performance degrees. You want to make sure that a teacher has been able to translate their own understanding of the guitar into their playing. However, some people just enjoy teaching more than performing and therefore have a more extensive resume in teaching than performing. This is a good thing, as they may still be very high caliber players that simply love to teach. Also, some top level performers may not be around often enough to give lessons consistently, which is especially important for children.

7) Is it OK for you to sit in on the lessons? It should be, and for children’s lessons some sitting in by the parents should be encouraged. You’re going to have to supervise your child’s practice at least some throughout the week if you want them to make good progress. You’ll need to pay attention to the important reminders your teacher gives during the lessons so that they can be reinforced during the week. Remember, it’s the work you and your child do during the week that has the biggest impact on your child’s success. If you sit in on lessons, make sure to let your teacher do their job and not interrupt too much. Occasionally, I’ve had parents who have completely lost patience with their child during the lesson. Though they were only trying to help, they ended up completely ruining the supportive atmosphere of the lesson and consequently the child’s enjoyment. It’s a pretty awkward situation being the teacher in that situation to say the least, and it’s counterproductive to your child’s success. A child needs to feel that it’s OK to make some mistakes while they’re learning, otherwise they’ll give up quickly. So, let your teacher do their job but pay attention to their tips, and you may even want to try playing some of the studies so you can help your child at home.

8) Another important point is that you may need to try a month or so with a teacher to see if they are right for you. Unless the teacher is just awful, you may not get a good idea of their abilities in a single lesson.

Where to find a teacher that satisfies this criteria:

Music stores

While local music stores are often a good place to find a qualified teacher, they’re not without their pitfalls. Some pros: convenient, as they carry the supplies you’ll need and usually have a wide variety of teachers from which to choose. Cons: some teachers may have little to no teaching experience, you’ll often pay the same fee for any of the teachers regardless of their credentials and experience, store’s often have registration/sign up fees to help pay their bills, fees may also rise more often so that the store can stay in business, they may force you to use substitute teachers if your teacher is out sick or out of town, and there’s always the possibility that the store may suddenly go out of business leaving you scrambling to find a new teacher.

So let’s say you’ve chosen to inquire about guitar lessons at your local music store. You should ask the management/owner about the different teacher’s backgrounds and which teacher does the best with children. Assuming you feel comfortable with their suggestion, it is advisable that you wait, if necessary, for an opening with that teacher if their schedule is full rather than starting with someone else. Starting with an unsuitable teacher may give your child a bad initial impression of lessons and could ruin their enthusiasm for learning the instrument forever. As stated, music stores usually have some excellent teachers, but they also often have people with little to no teaching experience as well. You have to keep in mind that their main mission is to keep their studios full so that they can stay in business. It’s possible that they may suggest a teacher that is not nearly as qualified or child friendly if the best suited teacher for your child is full. Remember, it’s your child so it’s your choice who teaches them. Don’t lower your standards for convenience.

Other sources

Private music “schools or academies”. These are usually just private businesses like music stores and have the same potential plusses and minuses except they usually don’t sell instruments. The term school or academy should not denote more credibility as they are not any better or worse a source for teachers than music stores.

Recommendations from public schools and colleges are another good option for finding well qualified teachers who teach privately.

Phone books and internet searches, including music teacher databases can also be good sources for finding local teachers.

Recommendations from friends can be helpful as well, but make sure to do your own research on the teacher. It’s worth the extra effort.


Take the time to get to know who your child’s teacher is both as a person and a teacher. Make sure they’re qualified, competent, caring, and communicate well. By taking the time to keep yourself involved in your child’s learning you will be rewarded with a child who will have a solid musical skill set and a deep appreciation of music for the rest of their lives.

Six Secrets to Ensure Success

Retirement (n): removal or withdrawal from service, office, or business; withdrawal into privacy or seclusion.

WRONG! With apologies to Webster’s Dictionary, this is no longer your father’s (or mother’s) retirement. Today’s retirees, and those approaching retirement, differ from their parents in a number of important ways. Baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are living longer, perhaps spending 30 or more years in retirement. As a group, they are healthier, more active physically and mentally, more affluent, more educated, and more likely to relocate after retiring. Although seemingly an oxymoron, more Boomers plan to continue working in retirement and view retirement as a process, rather than an end, with perhaps several forays into and out of the workforce

This truly is a “new” retirement. In fact, many believe the word “retirement” itself needs to be retired – the word no longer represents the porch-rocking, shuffle-board playing, early-bird dining, silver-haired stereotype of yore. So, how can you plan for a successful, happy transition into the second half of your life? I’d like to offer six secrets:

Secret 1: Have Strong Social Support

Who would have known Barbra Streisand foreshadowed the results of a scientific study when she sang her song “People”? But did you know that those lucky people also live longer? A study done in New Haven, Connecticut found that men and women who were socially active lived an average of two and a half years longer than those who were not. Other studies have found that social interactions have a significant effect in maintaining mental health, regardless of whether retirees live alone, live with someone other than their spouse, or are childless. Satisfaction in retirement is strongly correlated to the strength and number of your personal connections. It would seem that investing in building and maintaining friendships can reap far greater rewards than investing in stocks and bonds!

Secret 2: Have Something to Wake Up For

Intellectual stimulation, structure, a sense of purpose, feelings of pride and accomplishment – these are key ingredients to a happy retirement. Sure, golf, fishing, tennis, and beachcombing are great, but can you really do them 168 hours a week? Although the answer is “yes” for some, for most of us, there needs to be more.

According to surveys, about 70% – 90% of boomers plan to continue working. Though an economic necessity for many, for others, work provides the feelings of engagement and self-esteem we crave (and don’t forget the built-in social aspects most jobs provide). When surveyed, the number one reason people give for retiring is “to do something else.” But, if you are content with working (and your significant other, if there is one, is okay with it, too), and there is nothing else you’d really rather be doing, then by all means continue to work. If your present career doesn’t provide you with the emotional and psychological plusses you need, or if you find yourself unable to work, or you’re bored with your retirement lifestyle, here are some other options to consider so you’ll be leaping out of bed every morning eager to start the day.
In addition to volunteering, a volunteer or service vacation is a way to help others while enjoying yourself. Tens of thousands of people the world over are involved in constructing homes, improving public health, helping set up small businesses, gathering data on global warming, or building trails in National Parks. Examples of organizations that offer volunteer vacations include Habitat for Humanity, the Earthwatch Institute, and the American Hiking Society. Some of the costs associated with these volunteer vacations may be tax deductible – check IRS guidelines, or consult your tax advisor.

Rather hit the books than a golf ball? Lifelong learning opportunities abound – in fact, the mature learner is the fastest-growing contingent on campus, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Many institutions offer classes for free or at reduced rates for seniors, allow you to audit courses (no tests or papers – yippee!), offer distance education courses (curl up in your comfy chair in front of a computer and go to it), have continuing or adult education classes, or offer member-driven courses through organizations such as the Lifelong Learning Institute. Contact your local community college or university for programs available to you. Give the Internet a try – you can take classes online through QuicKnowledge, ThirdAge, or SeniorNet. The term “college senior” can have a whole new meaning!

Strengthen your spiritual life. For many people, this time of transition provides an opportunity to delve further into religion and/or reconnect with the things that are truly important – areas that may have been neglected while climbing the corporate ladder and/or raising a family. Opportunities abound for involvement – explore them!

Secret 3: Have a High Level of Activity (Physical and Mental)

This really isn’t much of a secret at all. The physical act of exercise actually brings about a shift in mood. Even after something as simple as a 15-minute walk, people experience a more positive affect (feelings or emotions), and feel calmer and more relaxed. As researcher Paddy Ekkekakis noted in a study on exercise and mood, “Walking is inexpensive, familiar, and safe. That’s why many have argued that the most effective piece of exercise equipment is a dog.”
If you’re not a natural exercise-lover, increase your chances of consistently exercising by doing activities you enjoy, doing them on a regular basis (first thing in the morning prevents excuses later in the day), and doing them with another person (the guilt factor of letting an exercise buddy down can be a powerful motivator). The three pillars of physical fitness are flexibility, strength-training, and cardiovascular work. To ensure you get the most out of your workouts and are using proper form, consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions. Call your local health club for some recommendations. Costs vary, but run about $50 an hour. Trainers can come to your home (some have mobile vans outfitted with equipment), to your health club, or you can go to their place of business.

In addition to the body, we also need to exercise the three-pound dynamo we call the brain. Comprising about 2 percent of our weight, but consuming close to 20 percent of our energy needs, this vital organ needs to be kept in the best shape possible. Specific suggestions: do crossword puzzles, brain-teasers, acrostics, play bridge or chess, read, listen to music, dance, learn an instrument or foreign language, travel, play board games, or do something to disturb your normal routine such as switching hands to brush your teeth or getting dressed with your eyes closed. These activities can rev up neglected nerve pathways.

“Use it or lose it” applies to both body and mind!

Secret 4: Have a Willingness to Renegotiate Roles

The first two years of retirement are difficult for many, as major changes in roles and togetherness result. If you have a spouse or a significant other, discussing – in advance – your goals, plans, and dreams in retirement may save some angst down the road. For example, do you plan to age in place or relocate? Plan to work part-time or start a new career? If moving, what characteristics are important: climate, proximity to children/friends, excellent medical facilities, beach/mountain/lake living, a small town or a large city with lots of amenities, downsizing to make travel possible? Talking about issues and attempting to resolve or work out differences now may ease the transition. Recognizing that it is good and healthy to have separate as well as shared interests is important as well. If one member of a couple has been the traditional homemaker, that person may want to retire, too, and share (i.e.get rid of!) some of the routine chores. Research shows that most couples are happy in retirement, but talk, talk, talk to help ensure you fall into this category!

Secret 5: Have a Strong Financial Plan

Yes, you knew money was going to have to enter into the retirement discussion at some point! However, some of the studies about money may surprise you – there is both good and bad news. Let’s dispense with the bad news first: only about one-third of adults have saved for retirement, and half of retirees rely on Social Security as their primary source of income. The good news? Research points out that it’s not the total net worth of a person that helps determine financial satisfaction in retirement, but the knowledge that their savings have occurred in a regular, disciplined way over a period of time.

Realize that for most of us there is no retirement number that is ever going to be “enough,” but participating in a forced savings plan during your working years, such as a 401 (k) plan, is a great start toward building that nest egg. Also, consider consulting a fee-based certified financial planner or a certified public accountant (CPA) to help in your retirement planning. Just like you might hire a personal trainer to make sure you get off on the right foot with your exercise regimen, investing some money to put you on the path to fiscal freedom in retirement is a wise move.

Secret 6: Have a Good Attitude

Although there are unpleasant things that happen to us that are beyond our control, we can control the way we respond to them. Practice stopping distorted ways of thinking by replacing negative thoughts with more positive, realistic ones. A little story illustrates the point: Two shoe salesmen were sent to a faraway island to sell shoes. After the first day, both men sent back telegrams. One read: “This place is a disaster. No one wears shoes.” The other telegram said: “This place is a gold mine. No one wears shoes.”