Sunday, April 1, 2012

World Autism Awareness Day

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) and it will take place across the world.  In 2007, the United Nations decided to enact this day to bring increased attention to autism, which affects approximately 1% of the world's populations.  Autism is a pervasive disorder and a general term for a complex group of developmental brain disorders.  About 1 in 88 children in the United States suffer symptoms of autism, and there is a focus to bring light to the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.  

Anyone who has met a child with autism knows the difficulties that come with the disorder (Common challenges include social challenges, difficulties communicating, repetitive behaviors, and physical or medical complications).  However, the children have incredible talents and skills that with patience, understanding, and cooperation can be uncovered and greatly utilized.  Often times, the person who has the privilege of working with autistic children and their families, believe that they are learning just as much or more about life as the family!  They are truly incredible individuals!

Today Autism Speaks, one of my favorite autism advocacy organizations, celebrates Light It Up Blue.

Please use this information to lend your own support in whatever way you may choose.  Education is always one of the most powerful avenues so you may want to check out the Autism Speaks website to learn more about symptoms, diagnosis, interventions, family services and other ways to lend support.  

Perhaps today you will join me and Light It Up Blue!  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is Facebook a Self Esteem Downer?!

Social networking has allowed friends, family, and acquaintances to share their day to day, and sometimes hour to hour, and even at times, minute to minute daily happenings with a wide network of people.  People use Facebook to post exciting life changes, hilarious pictures from weekends or vacations past, and quirky daily happenings that they hope others will find amusing.  There are also the negative posts.  We are all entitled to bad days or unfortunate situations.  In those times of great pain people reach out to their community of Facebook "friends" asking for support, prayers, and perhaps guidance.  Life happens...and support is essential.  However, a new study, to be published soon in Psychological Science, found interesting connections between Facebook, self-esteem, and negative thoughts or feelings.

Amanda Forest and Joanne Wood of the University of Waterloo, found that individuals with low self esteem, who tended to post more frequent negative thoughts, feelings, or events on their Facebook wall, received less attention and fewer responses from the Facebook community.  Forest and Wood found that individuals liked the study participants with low-self esteem less than those with higher self-esteem using a rating system.  

This study simply showed that individuals with low self-esteem are likely to overwhelm their "friends" with too many negative life details, making them less likable.  One might therefore hypothesis that as people do not respond, self esteem continues to remain low.  In comparison, researchers found that individuals with high self-esteem who posted a negative remark, were viewed by individuals in the study as more likable and more likely to receive "comments".  This is likely because individuals with healthy levels of self-esteem are less likely to regularly post negative thoughts or feelings.  

Given that nearly 50% of a person's Facebook "friends" are in reality strangers or acquaintances, Facebook is not the ideal place to turn when you are feeling low.  If you scan your last few status updates and find that you are more likely to post your hardships than anything else, you have a few options.

1)  Seek out a friend to have a one on one conversation.  It is easier to read someone's body language and social cues when you are sitting with them.  They can also aid you in working out your problems in a solution focused manner if you are present with them and not secluded with your computer.

2)  If you are really feeling low, it can never hurt to seek out a therapist and begin individual therapy.  Depending on your therapy goals you could improve your mood and coping skills in a few sessions.  

3)  Challenge yourself to put out positivity, in hopes of receiving it in return.  Be genuine.  If you are having an off day, make personal contact with someone.  Dial up a pal, before you hit the post button.  I would be willing to bet you will feel much better! 

Bad days happen!  The occasional negative Facebook post happens!  That's fine, and your true friends will likely call you before you call them.  However, if your negative thoughts out number the good, consider reaching out to a professional!  

Psychology Today offers a wonderful therapist locator! 

Now if I could...I would "LIKE" these comments:

I keep my mind focused on peace, harmony, health, love and abundance.  Then, I can't be distracted by doubt, anxiety, or fear.
Edith Armstrong

Live so that when other people think of integrity, enthusiasm, commitment, and caring, they think of you.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.  Watch your words; they become actions; Watch your actions; they become habits.  Watch your habits; they become character.  Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Frank Outlaw

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Suggestions for Success

H. Jackson Brown Jr. once gave the following suggestions for attaining Success.
21 Suggestions for Success
1.  Marry the right person.  This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
2.  Work at something you enjoy and that is worthy of your time and talent.
3.  Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
4.  Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
5.  Be forgiving of yourself and others.
6.  Be generous.
7.  Have a grateful heart.
8.  Persistence, persistence, persistence.
9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
10.  Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
12.  Commit yourself to quality.
13.  Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power, prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
14.  Be loyal.
15.  Be honest.
16.  Be a self-starter.
17.  Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.
18.  Stop blaming others.  Take responsibility for every area of your life.
19.  Be bold and courageous.  When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
20.  Take good care of those you love.
21.  Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mom proud.

I printed them off and framed them as a reminder that sometimes, it doesn't take a whole lot to become successful.  I am currently supervising graduate students who find themselves caught up in school work, practicum responsibilities, and qualifying exams.  I recently shared one of my own suggestions for success, which is also quite simple:

Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the stress of others. Be confident in your own abilities, trust that you are a capable individual, and stay focused on your present tasks.

I believe this helped me to remain relatively calm though some long days and nights of intense graduate school requirements!  I have recently defended my doctoral dissertation and used my same suggestion to overcome that last big hurdle.  

What are your suggestions for success?