For all parents and educators of children with special needs

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You’re an adult with ADHD!

“WHAT,” you say?  Why are you offering me “congratulations” on having ADHD?  Isn’t ADHD a “bad” thing?  Doesn’t ADHD make me “disabled?”

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The answer is a BIG.FAT.NO!  ADHD is a medically diagnosed condition, BUT it’s NOT as “bad” as what you’re thinking!  ADHD can actually be a GREAT thing in your life if you learn to manage some of the symptoms and work with HOW your brain works!

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Too many times there are stigmas about brain issues such as ADHD.  When some people encounter ADHD, they often think of it as a “bad” thing.  Like that kid who is “bad,” or who “can’t behave,” or that having ADHD is a terrible thing.  Well, it can be if you focus on just the “bad” stuff.

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What they some people DON’T understand about ADHD is all the “good stuff” about it!  First of all, people with ADHD often are the most creative and successful people out there!  For example, check this out:

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Hmmmmmm….Sounds like there’s a whole HECK of a lot to “like” about having ADHD!  But why do some people think ADHD is so “BAD” if there are so many “good stuff” things about it?  Perhaps because with all the “good stuff,” ADHD has other some “challenges,” NOT BAD things, but just “challenges” because the brains of people with ADHD function in a unique and “different” way.

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For instance, people with ADHD can have inattention issues, where they struggle keeping their focus or staying engaged, or hyperactivity issues, which means it’s pretty hard to be expected to “sit still,” or to be “quiet,” or they be very impulsive, which means they can often make decisions pretty quickly without thinking through the consequences to their actions.  These aren’t BAD things, because every human being has had times of inattention or hyperactivity or impulsiveness, it’s just that for a person with ADHD, it’s harder for them to “control” because of their brain makeup.

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So what can you do about your own diagnosed ADHD?  Well, you could choose to ignore it and just try to go forward.  That’s an option, because many people with ADHD don’t even realize their ADHD is affecting others around them, but if your ADHD IS affecting your relationships, your job, your anger, your schooling, your focus, your ability to accomplish tasks, your ability to concentrate, your ability to make good decisions, and even your ability to control your anger, etc. then perhaps ignoring it ISN’T the best solution.

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There are MANY different options to treating ADHD.  Some with more mild ADHD find that they can manage their ADHD through some therapy with an ADHD coach or through mindfulness activities, frequent exercise, organizational training, or even through homeopathic techniques.  But others find that this is not enough and need more, such as medications—stimulant or non-stimulant medications—in addition to some of the above mentioned techniques.

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In people with ADHD, brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are less active in areas of the brain that control attention.  The important thing to know that although many people “fear” taking medications due to side-effects or fear of becoming “addicted” to those medications, sometimes medications are the VERY answer to helping the body “manage” those symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

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Try and think about ADHD, which is a MEDICALLY diagnosed condition like you would look at Diabetes.  Diabetes is ALSO a MEDIACALLY diagnosed condition!  So would you ignore your diagnosis of Diabetes?  You could, but it’s guaranteed that your quality of life would be very poor, even resulting in death because your body is not getting the treatment it needs.  So, if you would readily take Insulin to give to your body what it needs, why wouldn’t you give your brain what it needs too?

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Is it worth living the highest quality of life?  YES!  So whatever it takes, look into it–DON’T IGNORE your ADHD–so you can use the “good stuff” qualities you have in best way possible!!

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Check out these other great resources for Adult ADHD!

10 Symptoms of Adult ADHD:

How significant is my Adult ADHD?,,20343014,00.html

The Adult ADHD Starter Kit!


So, What IS the SECRET for parents in working with educators?soda-pop

It’s P.O.P.




How do YOU hold a can of POP?  Do you use two fingers?  No, most likely you use all FIVE fingers, so we’re going to talk about the FIVE SENSES (hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling) of Parent Professionalism!




  • Listening is not the same as “hearing.” Really listening means “focusing” on what the teacher is saying—not just hearing “sound.”  70% of our time is spent in communication.  What % are you really listening versus talking or just waiting for your turn to talk?
  • Don’t talk, listen.  Don’t interrupt, talk over or finish the teacher’s  sentences.
  • Take a breath before you speak when the teacher is finished—they can actually FEEL you listening with this technique.
  • Disagree with what the teacher is saying?  WAIT until they are completely finished before saying anything.  You will get your chance to share how you feel, but hear them out first.
  • Don’t immediately jump to conclusions about the “words” said.  Seek clarification first.



  • SEE their side first before judging them. Trying to “see” the world from another person’s point of view does NOT mean you give up your perspective.  It means you add another viewpoint.  If it corrects your viewpoint a bit, then there is nothing to be afraid of.  On the contrary, it is great: you just got a more correct picture of the issue.
  • Think it’s hard “getting” that dreaded “call” from the school about your child’s behavior?  What do you think it’s like “MAKING” that call?  How can you respond to a dreaded call? Here is a technique that I use that has works BEAUTIFULLY in working with teachers:

When the phone rings and you pick it up, it’s the teacher on the other end calling to tell you of a problem happening at school with your child.  

LISTEN FIRST (not just hear the words),

STAY CALM–don’t react. (More info is listed about “low” and “slow” below.)

THANK THEM for calling you–I always told them that if I don’t know what’s going on, I can’t help.

ASK the teacher what YOU can do to support THEM with the issue.



  • Dress up a bit for IEP/504/School Meetings.  Studies show that we are more motivated and focused when we’re dressed up for a meeting.  Research shows that wearing nicer clothes can help improve YOUR performance too.
  • There was some research done on how clothes make us feel or act.  A group of people were given Doctor’s white coats and told that they were doctor’s coats.  They then gave the participants a test.  Most of all the people scored above average on the test.  Then a separate group were given Artist’s white coats and told that they were artist’s coats.  They then gave the participants the same test.  NONE of the participants scored above average on the test.   They found that people wearing fireman’s coats felt more “courage,” and people who wore ties felt more “powerful.”  So clothes DO help us in our interactions.  You don’t need to show up in a formal, by all means, but dress up a little bit more than a pair of PJ’s an a t-shirt and see how well those meetings go with just a little bit of flair!



  • The definition of “Tastefully” is showing or conforming to good taste.  The word “appreciation” is also listed as a word to describe “tastefully.”  Appreciation is HUGE in having tasty conversations.
  • BUT, what about if there’s a conflict between you and the teacher?  The answer is that all problems are about 10% conflict and 90% in how we handle the conflict!  Decide to use your words “tastefully” in the midst of the conflict and things will work out to your advantage.

If the teacher you are talking to is upset (or even if YOU are upset), instead of allowing your words to get higher and faster, try this simple but VERY effective technique:

Slow down your words, and lower the tone of your voice.  In essence:  Go “low” and “slow.”  You will be amazed at how it calms down the other person (or how well it keeps YOU calm.)  I personally use this technique in ANY interaction with people–family AND teachers when I notice that things are “escalating.”



  • The definition of smell is to detect or discover.
  • Don’t immediately take action when something goes wrong.  You’ll invariably NOT come out “smelling like a rose!”  Get the FACTS FIRST from all sides before making that call or visit to the teacher.
  • Let me illustrate by sharing my “other side of the desk” teaching example.  I’m a parent first and foremost.  BUT, when I WAS teaching school I remember a particular example of a parent who didn’t “smell out” the situation before she took action.  And she certainly didn’t do it in a “tasteful” manner.  One day after school, this parent came in to confront me and she was very upset.  Her daughter was in my 5th grade class and had diagnosed ADHD.  The parent was upset because her daughter had come home and told her that I had required the students to give a 20-minute memorized speech in class.  I gently explained that it was a 2-minute speech and not a 20-minute speech.  The parent ARGUED with me that because her DAUGHTER SAID it was a 20 minute speech I was wrong.  What do you say to THAT?  I HADN’T told the class that it was a 20-minute speech.  But, I realized it would do NO good arguing back that perhaps her daughter had “heard” the information wrong, because all the other students had received the same information, so I just apologized and tried to calm the woman down.  The moral of the story is, could the parent have done a little better job “smelling” out the situation before taking action?  YOU BET!  She could have simply come in or called in or written a note simply asking what the requirements were for the assignment I have given for the “Famous Character” assignment.  She would have received the correct information, never had needed to confront at all, and she could have reassured her daughter that it “wasn’t” a 20-minute speech after all!  Problem solved!  So, “smell” out a situation first BEFORE taking action!

There’s an old African Proverb:  “When two elephants fight, only the grass gets trampled.”

If you need more assistance with P.O.P. (how to be more “professional” as a parent), or if you have questions, concerns, need information, or help with navigating the educational process, feel free to contact me at  I’m here to help parents!


Upcoming Events

Nebo School District Parent/Educator Support Group Meetings
Second Thursday of EVERY month.  Starts September 10, 2015
7 p.m. at the Nebo School District Office CTE Building
FREE to Parents.  Adults only, please!
Guest Speakers EVERY month address topics about raising special needs children.
Join us every month!
Utah Parent Center Information:
The Dancing Child dance studio offers Special Needs Dance classes for students ages 7-14.
Classes are run by Melanie Fillmore, who received her degree in Dance Education from BYU and has taught Creative Dance for more than 20 years. Click here to see her complete biography.    Melanie hand selects volunteer mentors who work with students at almost a 1 to 1 ratio, so each student can find success in their own way.
Titled “FUN-damentals Dance” , the class emphasizes both the FUN of dancing AND important fundamentals of movement.  With lots of props, games, rhymes, and more we provide a multi-sensory experience that is fun and engaging. This class is appropriate for both boys and girls.  
We will work with your student on natural, but critical, movement skills like jumping, swinging, hopping, galloping, and sliding.  We will also use “free movement” to teach movement concepts like stop/go, high/low, fast/slow, and big/small.  More advanced students will learn simple choreography and dance specific skills like turns, shasees, and more.  We make sure every student receives lots of positive feedback and feels successful! 
Classes run Tuesdays  5:00-5:45 (for lower functioning students) and 5:45-6:30 (for higher functioning students).  Cost is $36/month.  For this class only, the $25 registration fee is FULLY REFUNDABLE at the completion of the first semester in December.  All other fees are waived as a courtesy to families with a Special Needs student.

Classes run October through May with a simple performance the end of May.

Click any of the links in this email to learn more or to register.  You can also call or text 801.830.2602.  Space is limited so please register now to secure your spot in class.

Best wishes,

Melanie Fillmore

Owner and Artistic Director
The Dancing Child

Scouting For Friends BYU
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LaRene Smart, a doctoral student at Brigham Young University, is conducting a research project regarding parents’ beliefs and experiences in parenting children with disabilities as part of her dissertation. She is currently recruiting parents and primary caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Delays), Down syndrome, or both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome. There is minimal risk to participants and responses are anonymous. The survey will take approximately 25-35 minutes to complete and  may be finished over a three day period. Participants may be compensated $15 for completing the survey by following a link at the end of the first survey and providing their name and mailing address. Those who are willing to assist in this research project may use the following link to learn more about the project and their rights as research participants.


The below survey link was sent to me by someone in the community hoping to support individuals with autism through video game design. He is looking for lots of insight at this point and would appreciate any feedback he can get. This is not a research based survey, just something to inform his design process. Hope you can help!

“I have created a survey asking about the type of video games that those on the spectrum play and what they like about different common features in games. If you could share this I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank You!

Christopher Hostetter



Assistive Technology























Sooooo, in just one week your child will start school.  Okay, take a DEEP breath, it’s going to be okay! BETTER than okay, because if you have done YOUR work to prepare your child and yourself for a more-than-successful school year, then you won’t encounter the deer-in-the-headlights first day of school!  So, let’s check off some of the things to do to help with a successful school year:

  1. VISIT THE SCHOOL: NOW is the perfect time to visit the school your child will be attending.  Most of the teachers are NOW there, so you could even introduce your child to his/her teacher BEFORE the crush of Open House days when everyone is crowding around the new teacher.  It’s also a nice time to take a tour of the school as the hallways are quieter, darker (not all the lights are on) and you can take all the time you need to explore, open lockers, look for rooms, and show your child where the visual signs are on the walls, etc.WALK your child’s school schedule with him/her, starting with the arrival of your child to school to the ending of school.  If your son or daughter takes the bus, go through the same doors and walk the daily schedule.  Look for the nearest bathrooms and drinking fountains.  Where is the cafeteria, library and gym?  Go to the office and meet the personnel there.ALL the while you are doing this, talk positively about the school, about how much fun this is going to be for your child, and how well you know he/she is going to do this year.  DON’T project any of your own anxiety on your child.  He/she already has enough of his/her own!  Go to the school as many times as needed in order for your child to get comfortable with the building.  Elementary-age kids might also play on the playground a few times.  You may meet other families, and your son or daughter may even meet a classmate.
  1. CONTACT YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER/S. You can make an appointment if you’d like to chat face-to-face by contacting your child’s school to see when that teacher is available before school starts, or you can contact the teacher directly through email.When my children were in Elementary, I liked to meet with the teacher about my child’s needs.  But in Jr. High, I didn’t go around to all the teachers, rather, I would just email a short email with information regarding my child, included some of the accommodations in the IEP or 504 plan, and let them know techniques that would help if my child got stressed out in class.  If you do it before school starts, teachers actually have time to look through the information, rather than in the first few weeks of school where it might just be put on the back burner due to all the busy-ness of the new school year.
  1. HELP PREPARE YOUR CHILD AT HOME. Sit down with your child and make a VISUAL daily morning and after-school schedule with your child.  It helps to actually “practice” the schedule a few days before the school year starts.  Getting up, doing the morning routine and making sure he/she has everything needed that day for school can help with the anxiousness too.  Preparing your child beforehand can help the anxiety level be a lot less when it comes to the first day of school.
  2. CALL A SOUNDING BOARD.  Check with other parents about what they’ve done to help prepare for school.  Many of them have great ideas from lessons plans to email formats they use to send to teachers about their child.  And if you need someone to do that with or to help you through the beginning of the school year IEP/504 process, you can call or email me (Heidi Whittaker) at 801-228-8144 or  You can have a GREAT school year with a little prep!  Good luck!





What are your “concerns” about your child transitioning?


At the workshop, many parents shared they feared a new situation, and new teacher, new behaviors, bullying, the future, how their child would react to the new teacher, how the other children would interact with the children and many other general transition fears.  The point is, there are many fears that parents have about transitioning children.

One important thing to remember is that just because WE (parents) might have had a bad experience, or WE might have hated Junior High, or WE have heard rumors about how hard the “transition” is going to be, we might be transferring that fear onto our child’s situation, when it’s not even justified!  And many special needs kids can “feel” our fear (even when we don’t express it verbally) and can become fearful themselves.  Remember, it’s your child’s experience and it CAN be VERY different from the one you had. Remember, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its strength.”

So, what can you do as a parent to not “transfer” those fears to your child?



Follow your child’s lead in preparing him/her.  Some kids need more preparation, some need less.  Some need repeated preparation and some don’t WANT to discuss it.  But even a little bit of preparation can help a child adjust to a new situation better than expecting a child to adjust on his “own.”


—Give your child a new school shirt or sweatshirt

—Attend a new school event before school is out or take advantage of a summer class at the new school.

—Deliberately drive by the school often, expressing excitement about how “great” it’s going to be for them.

—Listen and validate your child’s concerns and ask how you can help him/her make the transition easier.

—Visit the school a week or so before school starts.

Meet key people like the secretary or teacher(s).

Walk his/her class schedule using a map and follow the same route he/she will use daily.  Time it for fun.

Practice using the hall and lockers.

Make Social Stories




How did the school year go?

What strategies worked well and what didn’t?

What suggestions he/she has for the summer.

Ask if there are any packets that can be sent home for practice.


How did the school year go?

How are you feeling about this summer?

What do you wish you could do at home this summer that you do in school?


Make a VISUAL Daily Schedule to help your child from settling into daily routines of just playing video games or watching TV for long periods of time.  This may result in more challenging habits to break when it comes to transition back to school in August.  The recommended “limit” is 2 hours daily for all screen time.  But if you can do “less,” then that’s even better.

Schedule activities or programs that will help your child practice needed skills.



—~Social Skills


Of course, when you start to do this depends on the nature of your child.  Some children need assurance all summer, others will do fine with a week before.

—Social Stories–take pictures of the school, the playground, lunchroom, hallway, bathroom, teacher, classroom etc., and compile a social story and read it often with your child.

—Take a tour of the school

—Make a special countdown calendar in August.

—Schedule play dates with familiar classmates.


What can you do as a family that will be something your child can look forward to?

—Take photos, draw pictures, or write down fun things your child enjoys during the summer time.


Search document until you find Utah County Activities


Need more assistance, resources or ideas?

Heidi Whittaker

Parent Mentor Serving Nebo District


Phone or Text:  801.228.8144



Upcoming Events

  • FREE “PARENT PAMPERING” EVENT: February 12 at 4 p.m. at the Nebo School District Offices.  Adults only.

“The Special Mother,” by Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressure and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how these mothers are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.

“Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew.”

“Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia.”

“Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint…give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”

Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles. “Give her a handicapped child.”

The angel is curious. “Why this one, God? She’s so happy.”

“Exactly,” smiles God. “Could I give a handicapped child a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel.”

“But does she have the patience?” asks the angel.

“I don’t want her to have too much patience, or she’ll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off she’ll handle it. I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that’s not going to be easy.”

“But Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.”

God smiles. “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness.”

The angel gasps, “Selfishness? Is that a virtue?”

God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see–ignorance, cruelty, prejudice–and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.”

“And what about her Patron Saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.

God smiles, “A mirror will suffice.”

Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck