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In honor of February being Black History Month, we take this opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the accomplishments Black Americans have made in the field of psychology. Far too often, these contributions have been overlooked. The following are several notable individuals who are responsible for historic contributions to the field. These individuals and their work deserves to be amplified in order to build a future based on equity, inclusion, and opportunity. 

Na'im Akbar (1944–present): A clinical psychologist, Akbar has written extensively on the psychological and cultural aspects of African American identity and mental health. He is an internationally known scholar, author, lecturer, researcher, and expert. He created the Black psychology program at Morehouse University, Norfolk State University, and Florida State University. 

Kenneth B. Clark (1914–2005) and Mamie Phipps Clark (1917–1983): This pioneering husband-and-wife team conducted influential research on the impact of racial segregation on children. Their famous “doll study” showed that Black children, when asked to choose a doll most like themselves, would disproportionately choose White dolls. This research was used in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and played a key role in exemplifying why racially separate schools were psychologically harmful and violated the 14th Amendment. 

John Hope Franklin (1915–2009): Franklin was primarily a historian, but his work on race relations and African American history contributed significantly to the understanding of the psychological impact of racism. President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. Franklin also served on President Clinton's Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race from 1997 to 1998. 

Alvin Poussaint (1934–present): A psychiatrist whose research emphasized the impact of racism, Poussaint is well-known as an advocate for racial equality. He contributed to research on race and mental health and has been involved in efforts to reduce racial disparities in healthcare. He served as a professor and dean of students at Harvard Medical School. 

Inez Beverly Prosser (unknown–1934): Prosser was the first Black woman to earn a PhD in psychology. She spent much of her short life focused on research concerning the impact of segregation on the educational achievement of Black children. She was instrumental in helping Black students obtain funding for college and graduate studies. 

Joseph L. White (1932–2017): White has been referred to as the “godfather of Black psychology” due to the significant contributions he made during his career. Much of his work focused on the importance of addressing the needs of minorities through multicultural counseling. 

These are just a few individuals who have played important roles in advancing the field of psychology and addressing issues related to race, identity, and social justice. Their work continues to influence and inspire new generations of psychologists.

 

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This week, we welcome guest blogger Sylvia Hall from GAB-on! As a parent of a child with learning differences, Sylvia was able to take her family’s challenges and build a unique way to help families connect. 

 

In the delicate fabric of human relationships, connection is the thread that binds us together. It is a core, fundamental need for human development and helps us get the most out of our lives. For parents and children, communication is the cornerstone of the relationship that cultivates connection and the ability to give and experience love. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell says, “Connection should be the life blood of all families, schools, and organizations.” However, children with learning differences often face a lack of sustained connection due to their unique challenges. This disconnection can result in various struggles in their lives, including difficulties forming relationships at school, in their community, and within the family. Consistent and positive connections play a transformative role in empowering these children. Nurturing such connections over time, children can lead more connected, relationship-rich, and fulfilling lives. 

I’ve always described our son as a “boy full of joy.” He could light up any room with his smile and energy from the time he could walk. When he was entering sixth grade, he was so excited to begin the school year at a new school as he was eager to meet friends. 

After the first several days, a recognizable pattern emerged: “How was your day?” “Fine.” “What did you do in school today?” “Nothing.” Although this dialogue seems to have become a rite of passage, for our family it wasn’t something we were comfortable with. We recognized that, although our son may desperately want to share parts of his day with us, given his executive function challenges (particularly in working memory), he was struggling neurologically to do so. 

Our son Austin inspired us to create GAB-on!, an app that connects children and their parents through simple, meaningful conversations about their daily experiences both in and out of school. We built it for all kids because these simple conversations can nourish healthy connections and conversations. 

Throughout the day, children enter GABs, short 3–5 word entries on any device such as a laptop, tablet, or phone, These serve as summaries of key events that occurred throughout their day to spark their memory at home to drive conversations. Parents receive the GAB entries and serve as a starting point for conversation. 

“Onion skin and lake water” was the very first GAB that Austin sent home. It was a game changer. It didn’t just spark a simple conversation about his day, it was a glimpse into his world. I was so curious to hear the story he wanted to share from his science class that night at the dinner table and it didn’t disappoint. We heard about walking down to a pond with his class and holding a vial to fill with water, bringing the vial back to class and looking at the water under a microscope, seeing a bug in the water and naming her Robeta, and then creating a newsletter to share Robeta’s journey with his classmates. 

We were in awe at everything he shared and what we learned, not just about his school lesson but about where that lesson led him. We felt so connected and I was excited to share our experience the next morning at school drop-off. However, as no other parents had heard any of this experience from their child, no one could share the excitement with me. 

Conversations between parents and children provide a window into the child's world. They allow us to understand our child's experiences, perspectives, and challenges. Conversations are a key ingredient in strengthening the bond between parents and their children. But child-led conversation opens a door to understanding where a child is challenged and, as importantly, where they find their joy. Developing a child’s voice and agency to communicate their interest and passion can help lay out an aspirational roadmap. They also enable the child to feel heard, understood, and know they matter. 

Trust and emotional security are fundamental to a child's well-being. For children who learn differently, these elements are even more critical. They often face additional challenges and uncertainties, which can lead to feelings of insecurity or anxiety. Consistent child-led conversations with parents can help alleviate these feelings. They provide a safe space where the child can express their fears, frustrations, and hopes. They reassure the child that they are loved, accepted, and valued for who they are. This cultivates trust and emotional security, which are essential for a child's emotional and psychological health. 

A few months into eighth grade, Austin entered a GAB that read “armor.” That evening we had company at the dinner table and, when the GABs came up for discussion, he didn’t recall what “armor” meant. I jumped in (not recommended) and asked if it had to do with his welding project and he nodded. The conversation then dove deeper into his welding creations, which he enjoyed sharing. However, the next morning at breakfast, Austin shared with me that he remembered what his “armor” GAB meant. It had nothing to do with welding. It was a reminder to talk with me about two boys in his class that were setting him up to take the fall for things they were doing in the classroom. He didn’t know how to prevent it or what to do about it, and sometimes he wasn’t even aware that it was happening. This conversation allowed me to help him navigate the steps he can take to change his situation (and also caused me to pick up the phone and have a discussion with his wonderful teacher). 

We developed GAB-on! because our son wanted to share his day with us while he was away from home but the tidbits he was able to tell us were like pieces from different puzzles. He didn’t yet have the tools to retrace and recall whole parts of his day and he didn’t know how to start to tell us about it. With the GABs, Austin has the agency to choose what he wants to talk about with us and a few words that he captures at school are enough of a hint to remind him of that moment later in his day. What starts out as a conversation about a lesson or activity in a certain subject often leads to bigger conversations. 

Conversations between parents and children with special needs are about building a strong, loving, and supportive relationship that nurtures the child's development and well-being. They are about empowering the child to express themselves, to help understand their emotions, and to navigate their world with confidence and resilience. They can change a child’s trajectory (and outs). Simply put, conversations build connections and it’s what both children and parents need most. 

 

 

Sylvia Hall is the proud mom of two teenagers and co-founder of GAB-on! GAB-on! connects and empowers children and their parents through simple, meaningful conversations about their daily experiences both in and out of school.

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School psychologists play a key role in collaborating with teachers, parents, and other professionals to assess, diagnose, and intervene when a student may be at risk for learning disorders and dyslexia. Assessing and determining the appropriate educational placements for students influences their academic journey in an important way. 

Here are examples of some unique ways some schools are addressing the needs of students with reading and learning disabilities in order to set learners of all styles up for success.

Encouraging movement and passions 

In one K-8 school in Maryland, the schedule, the environment, and the curriculum are all designed to help students with language and learning differences learn to advocate for their specific needs. The school creates movement opportunities throughout the day to give students an opportunity to work out their energy and gather focus. 

Teachers also incorporate student passions and interests into their lessons in order to ensure a positive and creative school experience for students who may have felt frustrated or left behind in their regular public school environment. Some curriculum examples include: 

  • Integrating topics the students are passionate about into the lessons. 
  • Creating activities that utilize fine and gross motor skills during art class. 
  • Working on a passion project over the course of the school year. 
  • Integrating card games into the daily small group reading instruction.

Putting reading first 

Some charter schools are seeing success building their schedule around an extended period of specialized reading intervention. For example, a school in Staten Island, New York, has students attend an hour-long period of reading instruction, followed by an independent reading period that gives them time to apply the literacy skills learned. The groups are fluid and based on students' reading readiness levels. In order to make time for this extra focus on reading skills, the school day is extended an additional hour. 

Focusing on strengths 

According to Greater Good Magazine, it is critical that school psychologists work with students with learning disabilities to concentrate on their strengths. One way to do this is to put less focus on labels. Even a subtle shift in language can influence how students see themselves and help overcome any stigma they may feel. 

One article suggests that when a label is required, it is helpful to describe why it is needed to the student. One explanation can be, "Labels help us understand why reading is hard for you and what the research says about how to help. But we will all focus on what we can do to help, not what we call it." 

Another suggestion is to focus on a student's strengths. Research suggests these “hidden strengths” of students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities include: 

 

School psychologists are essential in supporting students' well-being, particularly for those students facing reading and literacy challenges. Learn more about how one school district was able to use the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) to help more students with literacy and reading concerns. 

 

Further reading 

Learn more about selecting appropriate reading interventions 

A quick guide for parents of struggling readers 

How targeted reading assessments can unlock student success

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As we embark on a new year, people worldwide are establishing their New Year's resolutions. Although resolutions may be time-honored tradition, many resist the urge as an endeavor that is bound to fail. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the psychology behind New Year’s resolutions and what helps people to achieve their goals. 

According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes Health, the attitudes of 1,000 U.S. adults toward their New Year's resolutions and the types of goals they prioritize have undergone a significant shift. 

Although fitness and weight loss remain popular for the new year, 36% of participants expressed a commitment to improving their mental health. In fact, 55% of participants acknowledged that mental health should be given equal significance as physical well-being in their resolutions for the coming year. So, as we move into 2024, prioritizing mental well-being may be the focus for many.

 

The psychology behind goal setting 

The same Forbes Health poll also revealed that 60% of people feel pressured to set a New Year's resolution. Among these individuals, 37% have specific goals for 2024, and 66.5% plan to create 3 or more goals for the upcoming year. 

What drives people to set goals and make New Year's resolutions? 

Although the answer may be different for different people, there are some common factors for goal setting; these include: 

The fresh start effect: The “fresh start effect” motivates individuals to pursue aspirational goals immediately after a big landmark, such as at the start of a new year. These moments are natural opportunities for positive changes, and aligning with a time frame can help in working toward goals. Research on the fresh start effect show that creating these new mental periods of time helps individuals to put past periods of imperfections behind them and can help motivate aspirational behaviors that make it more likely to stick to those goals than ones that were made with no mental benchmarks. 

Purpose and motivation: Goals provide direction and purpose, driven by a fundamental desire for personal improvement and growth. This intrinsic motivation aligns with psychological theories emphasizing the natural human drive for fulfillment and self-actualization. 

Social connection and executive function: Goals foster social connection and are crucial for building communities. Whether in families, teams, corporations, or nations, shared goals are essential for collective success. Goal setting is integral to the brain's executive function, distinguishing humans by enabling planned and purposeful actions. 

Reward center and dopamine: Setting goals triggers the release of dopamine, commonly known as the “feel good” chemical. Dopamine helps to manage pleasure and reward centers in the brain while regulating emotional responses. Neuroscientists have found that pursuing goals can significantly impact our emotions as it triggers pleasure centers in our brains, regardless of the outcome. This suggests that pursuing a goal is just as important as achieving it, providing a biological basis for the well-known saying emphasizing the significance of the journey over the destination. 

 

Why resolutions fail 

A common reason people fail to achieve their New Year's resolutions is false hope syndrome. This happens when individuals, often fueled with overconfidence, set unrealistic goals, leading to frustration, and eventually giving up on the resolutions altogether. 

False hope syndrome is particularly common when resolutions are related to technology and the internet. Although there is so much technology to help people succeed at resolutions—such as online support groups, habit-tracking apps, smart watches, and social media platforms—these may create a negative circle of reinforcement. The ubiquity of these tools to make habit change easier may actually hinder resolution success. 

While it is important to remember that setbacks are a normal part of any journey, it’s also important to learn that failure can be a constructive part of the process toward eventual success and personal growth. 

Negative thought patterns also can stand in the way of achieving self-improvement goals. Always expecting failure can lead to negative thinking, undermining the outcome of our efforts. The internet can make this worse by reinforcing negativity. 

 

Creating lasting habits 

Surprisingly, too much support can hinder success. Studies suggest that an optimal level of assistance is more effective, emphasizing quality over quantity. Clear and specific goals also play a crucial role. In one study, researchers investigated New Year’s resolutions to understand how successful individuals were in maintaining their resolutions and whether specific support mechanisms could improve success. Participants were divided into three groups with different levels of support: Group 1 had no support, Group 2 had some support, and Group 3 had extended support, including guidance on effective goal setting, formulation of SMART goals, and information on the benefits of involving friends and family. 

The researchers aimed to determine if the support provided, including guidance on effective goal setting, influenced individuals' success in sticking to their resolutions. The study employed various measures, such as self-assessment of success, surveys on quality of life, procrastination, and self-efficacy, along with assessments of participants' confidence in achieving their goals. 

Results from the study indicated that individuals with approach-oriented goals (focused on achieving something) tended to be more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals (focused on avoiding something). Interestingly, the group with some support performed better than those with extended support. 

Building on these insights, the following are practical tips to help you or those you support to stay on track with your resolutions. 

 

Tips for effective goal setting 

Set SMART goals: Set SMART Goals instead of resolutions. SMART goals refer to goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

  • Be specific about what you want to accomplish and why it is important. 
  • Ensure measurability by quantifying progress toward the goal. 
  • Make goals achievable, breaking long-term goals into smaller, more manageable steps. 
  • Determine the relevance of goals in your current life situation, especially in professional settings. 
  • Set a specific deadline in order to create a sense of urgency and motivation to act and create a healthy reward system for meeting each small goal. 

Focus on one behavior at a time: Trying to change everything at once can be overwhelming and lead to discouragement, ultimately hindering progress. Instead, it's better to focus on changing one habit or behavior at a time, allowing for gradual progress and a greater chance of success in the long run. Taking small steps can lead to creating long-lasting positive changes. 

Share your experiences: Talk about your goals with family and friends. Finding support, whether a workout class or a group of coworkers with similar goals, can provide encouragement and understanding. Discussing your struggles and successes with others makes the journey less intimidating. 

Expect setbacks: Perfection is unattainable. Minor setbacks are expected when working towards goals, so don't give up entirely due to minor mistakes. Resolve to learn from your missteps and get back on track. 

 

Key takeaway 

New Year's resolutions are an excellent opportunity to set goals that align with our aspirations for personal growth and well-being, but goals can be set at any point in the year. With the right mindset and approach, any goal is achievable.

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With the holidays in full swing, many Americans are stressed out—but that stress is coming from different sources this year. According to a poll from the American Psychiatric Association, this year, funding the festivities is causing many individuals anxiety this holiday. 

The top three areas people reported causing them stress were all economic:

Affording holiday gifts was cited by more than half of participants Finding and securing those gifts is causing stress for 40% of individuals Affording holiday meals is causing anxiety for 39% of respondents 

Additionally, 37% of individuals said challenging family dynamics were causing them holiday worry, with 1 in 4 respondents saying they were worried about discussing politics or current events with family members around the dinner table. On the positive side, 44% of those surveyed reported they are looking forward to seeing family and friends over the holidays. Eating good food (20%) and taking time off (9%) were also giving people things to look forward to this holiday season.

Stressed about the holidays? 

If you or someone you know are stressed about the holidays, here are a few tips that may help mitigate stress. 

Say no: If you are finding yourself overwhelmed with holiday commitments, remember it is OK to say no. Prioritize the traditions that you value and simplify where you can. Read some advice from PAR CEO Kristin Greco on how she focuses on being present with her family during the holidays. 

Practice mindfulness and meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation doesn’t need to take a lot of time and it can be done for no cost. There are many free resources that can help teach you the skills, such as this online program offered by the University of Minnesota

Get moving: Aim to get 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise four to five times a week. Whether that’s getting outside for a walk, joining a gym, or just stretching in your house, maintaining activity can help combat seasonal affective disorder and provides a boost of serotonin to improve your mood. 

Be realistic about resolutions: Although we all have the best of intentions, sometimes it may seem that New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail. Instead of sweeping resolutions, break your goals up into smaller pieces or plot them out on a calendar to make them more likely to happen. And just because you didn’t succeed at first doesn’t mean your goal for the year is over—be kind to yourself and know that change is a process.

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Each year, PAR asks our customers to select a charity to be the recipient of an annual donation on behalf of our customers. We are proud to announce the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the recipient of this year’s annual donation. 

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. It is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. 

“We began our Pay It Forward campaign several years ago as a way to honor the important work our customers do. While we provide our customers with insights and information to assist clients and patients throughout the year, this allows us to support them in a different way,” said PAR CEO Kristin Greco. “As a company, we feel so fortunate to be able to pay it forward on behalf of our customers.” 

PAR will be donating $5,000 to support the important work NAMI is doing in communities throughout the country. 

“NAMI is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support and education on the topic of mental health. This is vitally important work and dovetails with the work we do at PAR,” said Greco. “We are grateful to be able to contribute toward that purpose during this year’s Pay It Forward initiative.” 

To learn more about NAMI, visit nami.org.

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Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter spent much of her life as a prominent advocate for mental health. On Sunday, November 19, she passed away at her home in Plains, Georgia at the age of 96. We take this opportunity to showcase some of her important work in the field of mental health advocacy.

Advocated for mental health reform in Georgia 

When her husband Jimmy Carter was running for governor of Georgia, Mrs. Carter met a woman who had just clocked out from the night shift. She mentioned that she was on the way home to take care of her daughter who had mentally health concerns. Mrs. Carter campaigned the rest of the day and then stood in line at one of her husband’s rallies. When Mr. Carter asked her what she was doing on the rope line at his rally, she said, “I came to see what you are going to do to help people with mental illnesses when you become governor.” He replied that Georgia was going to have the best program in the country and he would put her in charge of it. 

Mrs. Carter served as a member of the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped during her husband’s governorship.

Served as an advocate for mental health as First Lady 

Once Mr. Carter was in the White House, Mrs. Carter served as the honorary Chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health and testified before the Senate on behalf of the Mental Health Systems Act, which led to the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. The Mental Health Systems Act provided grants to community mental health centers. It was considered landmark legislation and has created a framework for much of the mental health legislation since that time. 

While in the White House, the Carters helped establish 123 community mental health centers.

Focused on improving mental health and health care 

After leaving Washington, DC, Mrs. Carter continued to advocate for mental health. The Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy has focused on improving mental health care by engaging thought leaders on topics such as how to promote access to appropriate and affordable behavioral healthcare services, issues related to improving the quality of mental health services, and concerns about reducing the stigma related to mental health and substance abuse. 

In addition, she was pivotal in the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI). Through these initiatives, Mrs. Carter was able to address the concerns of caregivers, promote mental health awareness, and advance public and social policies by shining a light on mental health issues. 

Mrs. Carter cowrote several books on mental health and caregiving topics and received many honors for her work, including the 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award, Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association, the Dorothea Dix Award from the Mental Illness Foundation, the Nathan S. Kline Medal of Merit from the International Committee Against Mental Illness, the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine, the United States Surgeon General's Medallion, induction in the National Women's Hall of Fame, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. She was an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. 

Mrs. Carter once reflected why it was important to make mental health her priority: “I wanted to take mental illnesses and emotional disorders out of the closet, to let people know it is all right to admit having a problem without fear of being called crazy. If only we could consider mental illnesses as straightforwardly as we do physical illnesses, those affected could seek help and be treated in an open and effective way.”

 

Rosalynn Carter was a tireless advocate for mental health causes. The Carter Center plans to continue this important work.

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The newest additions to the PDD Behavior Inventory (PDDBI) product family are now available. 

The PDDBI can better help you to document and evaluate change in individuals on the autism spectrum. The PDDBI is an informant-based rating scale that can be completed by parents and teachers to assess features of autism and responsiveness to intervention. 

Unlike other measures for ASD, the PDDBI was developed to assess both problem behaviors as well as appropriate social, language, and learning/memory skills. It can be used in assessment, treatment planning, and monitoring. Two new reports and a manual supplement have just been released.

PDDBI supplement provides practical insights 

The just-released PDDBI Professional Manual Supplement: Advanced Score, Multirater, and Progress Monitoring Interpretation digital supplement provides practical insight into the reasoning behind the development of the new reports as well as their application in practice. 

This new supplement provides guidance for calculation and interpretation of parent–teacher rating comparisons and tracking changes in scores over time using Reliable Change Indices. In addition, it includes guidance for advanced interpretation of the PDDBI, including interpretation of individual scores and clusters and comparisons between parent and teacher ratings. Reliable change indices are provided in order to detect significant differences (a) between raters and (b) over time.

Enhanced and updated PDDBI reports 

Updated and new reports offer clinicians additional insights to better document and evaluate change in individuals with ASD. The PDDBI Multirater and Progress Monitoring Reports are both available for no additional charge when you purchase and use a score report for each form you wish to compare. 

  • The enhanced PDDBI Score Report provides a new interpretive guidance section, a revised look and feel with icons clearly indicating score ranges, and an optional items and responses section. 
  • The new PDDBI Multirater Report allows you to select one parent rating and one teacher rating to get a detailed look at both sets of results, with significant differences clearly highlighted, both ratings plotted together on the profile, and an optional item and response section. 
  • The new PDDBI Progress Monitoring Report allows you to compare scores from one rater for up to four administrations. Get a detailed look at progress or decline with significant differences clearly highlighted, all ratings plotted together on the profile, and an optional item and response section. Comparison tables are also included.

Using the PDDBI with TRICARE 

If you are covered by TRICARE, use of the PDDBI is mandated under the Autism Care Demonstration (ACD) benefit. Under the ACD, applied behavior analysis (ABA) providers are authorized to render services for the core symptoms of ASD. The goal of ABA therapy is to minimize challenging behaviors and improve the quality of life for the individual and their caregivers. 

Under this program, the PDDBI is used as a baseline outcome measure to help providers develop treatment plans and evaluate an individual’s change in behavior over time. The PDDBI will be readministered every six months. 

If you are a clinician who accepts TRICARE, the PDDBI is mandated for use as part of initial assessment and every six months to monitor progress. Additional age-based outcome measures that evaluate parenting stress are also required under ACD (the Parenting Stress Index, Fourth Edition Short Form [PSI-4-SF] and the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents [SIPA]) are also available from PAR. Learn more about the requirements for TRICARE reimbursement under ACD.

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This week, schools everywhere will be celebrating National School Psychology Week (NSPW)

NSPW is more than just a yearly observance; it's a way to acknowledge school psychologists who work tirelessly to nurture the mental health and emotional well-being of students. It also serves as a reminder of the multifaceted support that school psychologists provide. From addressing academic challenges to fostering emotional resilience, these professionals are dedicated to ensuring that each student receives the personalized support they need to thrive. 

The importance of mental health in education cannot be overstated. NSPW serves as a platform to raise awareness about mental health issues among students, parents, and educators. By fostering a culture of openness, school psychologists contribute to reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health support. 

Being a school psychologist has always been crucial, and given the current shortage of school psychologists along with the increasing demand for their services, NSPW is just one way to recognize that this role is more demanding—and more important—than ever. 

Sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the theme for NSPW this year is “Let’s Grow Together.” This theme brings to the spotlight the essential work school psychologists do to help students to flourish. 

PAR would like to thank all school psychologists for the essential services they provide to their students, and for placing your trust in our instruments. Celebrate this week by showing your school psychology pride—download our complimentary virtual background here for use on your teleconferencing software. 

 

Looking for more information about PAR school resources and assessments? Visit our school resources page

 

 

How to use a virtual background on Zoom: 

Sign in to the Zoom desktop app. Click your profile thumbnail, then go to “Settings.” Navigate to “Background & Effects.” Download the complimentary image here and click the “+” icon to upload. 

How to use a virtual background on Teams: 

From the Calendar, click “Join” on a meeting. In the pre-meeting screen, turn on your camera. Select the background filters icon and a panel will appear on the right with all the available background options. Download the NSPW image here. Select “Add new” and upload the image from your computer.

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Halloween festivities often bring exciting anticipation for many children. However, scratchy uncomfortable costumes, flashing lights, spooky effects, and scary décor may not spell fun for every child. The following are a few things to keep in mind during this spooky season in order to make it inclusive for all. 

Show your house is inclusive to children with ASD 

Think you may have a child with ASD or other sensory differences visiting your home on Halloween? Autism Speaks offers free printables so trick-or-treaters will know your home is an autism-friendly stop. If you are trick-or-treating with a child who has ASD, Autism Speaks offers many Halloween resources, including a downloadable social story, All About Halloween, that may be a helpful way to explain many Halloween traditions like jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, costumes, and the sights and sounds of the holiday. 

Create opportunities for children with allergies 

A simple step you can take is to offer non-food treats in a teal pumpkin; this is a way to signal to the 1 in 13 children in the U.S. who have food allergies that you have a treat they can participate in without concern for their allergies. If you can’t get your hands on a teal pumpkin in time, simply using a separate bowl for your non-food items can make children with allergies feel included. 

Be understanding of a variety of abilities 

Saying “trick or treat” and “thank you” may seem like the basics of trick-or-treating, but there are many kids who may have difficulties doing so. Do not require kids to do anything in order to get their treat. You may have visitors who are nonverbal, have anxiety, point to communicate, are not wearing costumes, or may seem too old for the festivities. Don’t force kids to say “trick-or-treat” or explain their costume before putting something in their bag. 

Create a clear path for trick-or-treaters 

Keep in mind that individuals celebrating Halloween may have mobility issues—so keeping your path clearly lit, avoiding stairs, and stationing your treats where it’s easy to approach your home makes the night safer for everyone. 

 

Halloween should be a fun time for children and adults. Being mindful of accessibility and inclusivity concerns can help make sure this holiday can be enjoyed by more people—and making some simple changes to your Halloween routine can help create great memories.

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