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Why We Misunderstand Behaviors in Autistic Children— And How We Can Get It Right

An Indiana school recently made headlines after one of its special education teachers presented an autistic fifth grader with an award for “Most Annoying Male” at a school ceremony. While the incident was unfortunate in many ways, perhaps most disturbing was how it revealed that even people who work closely with such children can utterly […]

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The Two Life-Changing Qualities That Make Teachers Extraordinary

In my job as a clinical psychologist and as a mother, I have repeatedly observed two qualities in extraordinary teachers: * They provide a warm, calming presence and regulate their own emotions. * They are relationally connected and engaged with their students. It’s not difficult to see what a difference a good teacher can make. […]

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Childhood Trauma: Understanding Behavioral Challenges as Survival Instincts

This is a blog post I never wanted to write. In light of the tidal wave of neuroscience research, I had hoped that by now the fields of education, mental health and juvenile justice would change the way they view and support children and teens exposed to trauma. That hasn’t happened yet. And while I’m […]

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How To Cut Stress in Kids’ Transitions from School to Summer

The end of the school year can ban bring both fun and challenge for both parents and children. Some parents find it easy to transition their children to beloved and familiar settings such as local summer programs, day camp, or sleep-away camp.  But others experience stress and scramble to find appropriate options for their children […]

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Why Being a Happy Mom (or Dad) is a Gift to Our Children

Mother’s Day always transports me back to my days as a young mom, juggling my psychology practice with the activities of our household: three young children, a wonderful husband, and a rambunctious dog named Lacy. With all three girls active on their soccer teams and their dad serving as coach, we sometimes needed a spreadsheet […]

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When a Child Cries, Ignore the “Experts,” Not the Tears

Every parent knows how difficult it can be to watch your child burst into tears. Your instinct is to do whatever you can to bring comfort and calm the child. But in my work as a child psychologist, I sometimes observe behavioral interventionists suggest a different reaction for the children they work with, including those […]

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Why We Misunderstand Traumatized Children’s Behavioral Challenges and How We Can Do Better

By the time he turned eleven, “Luke” had consistently displayed such challenging behavior that he had been kicked out of four foster homes. Finally, a social worker placed him with parents who had been trained in a program that focused on behavior management.  That placement was also unsuccessful, and he landed in a residential school […]

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Moving Beyond Autism Awareness and Acceptance

According to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), “autism acceptance” shouldn’t be limited to a specific day or month. Rather, it should be an ongoing, collective effort to  create a world that values, includes, and celebrates all kinds of minds. As a child psychologist who has worked for decades with families of children on the […]

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Can Rewards and Consequences Make Kids’ Behavior Challenges Worse?

“Martina,” a 7-year-old in a special-needs classroom, wanted to let her teacher know that she was feeling anxious,  so she tried to connect with her, repeatedly grabbing at her arm and shirt. The teacher had been trained to ignore “negative” behaviors, so the more Martina grabbed, the less attention she gave her. Her strategy was […]

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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.1 day ago
Momentum!! I'm loving how far Phyllis Steinberg Fagell's post is going to shift the lens. We need not fear bad behaviors, we can learn from them! #Resilience #SocialEmotionalLearning #PositiveParenting #ChallengingBehaviors #BeyondBehaviors
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.2 days ago
Yes, let’s talk about this! And with all due respect let’s talk about how we are defining “preparation” to teach our special ed kids..If we continue to accept the status quo children will continue to be punished and required to undergo compliance training rather than having their Neurodiversity — including their behaviors— properly appreciated and understood. Thanks Edlyn Peña, Ph.D.-Autism Researcher for sharing. #neurodiversity #Beyondbehaviors #compassion
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.3 days ago
My talk about the power of relational safety at the SSP gathering in Florida. It was a professional audience, highlighting Dr. Porges' transformative works, and why I wrote #BeyondBehaviors. #SSP #ProtectiveFactors #SpecialEd #SpecialNeeds #ChallengingBehaviors #ACES #Resilience #Traumainformedcare #Occupationaltherapy
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
The Polyvagal Theory and the Power of Relational Safety
Dr. Delahooke's presentation at the 2019 SSP Gathering in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The Polyvagal theory and the concept of neuroception of Dr. Stephen Porges...
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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.6 days ago
Recently--at yet another meeting where a child is accused of "seeking negative attention", I'm reminded of this post. Most vulnerable children don't act out to seek "negative attention". They don't. That's not how the brain works. #resilience #beyondbehaviors #relationshipsfirst #behaviorshavemeaning #SelfCompassion
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.6 days ago
Such a fun conversation about our kids-& ourselves-with Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman