• September 13, 2018

    Teenagers with School Challenges: Flexibility


    Flexibility is the ability to change and shift plans, tasks and approaches to solve a problem, complete a task or activity or maintain open communication.

    Flexibility can be understood in a few different contexts. It helps us adapt and manage a variety of situations and expectations. Flexibility can be important in problem solving, in routines, and in social interaction and relationships.

    Flexibility Challenges Can Occur in Multiple Settings

    Inflexibility can pose challenges for a teenager in school, at home and in social settings.

    Some teens may be inflexible in all areas of life, and others may be inflexible in one context and not in another. Teens who are struggling significantly with flexibility may have anxiety or Autism Spectrum symptoms.

    Problem Solving

    The first context is flexibility in problem solving.

    Can a teenager explore different approaches and consider perspectives from the teacher/ classmates/ group work partners to solve a novel problem?

    Some teenagers get stuck. They see a task from only one angle, failing to think flexibly about how to solve the problem.

    Helpful Strategies

    These teens may need to be taught specific strategies to try at least 3 ideas for solving a problem.

    Another strategy is for the teen to teach another student how to solve the problem, and then that student teaches the teen a different way to solve it. They take turns being a teacher and being a learner.

    Flexibility in Routine

    The next related context for flexibility is flexibility in routine.

    This concern may be evident at home when you have a teenager who must always follow the same routine after school.

    For example, he must always do his math homework at the kitchen table, have a snack, and then take a break.

    If you have a doctor’s appointment or a school program, this change is met with stress and sometimes refusal because the schedule is changing.

    Encourage Flexibility

    Encouraging some flexibility in a teenager’s routine is good.

    Certain activities, like getting ready for school or bedtime, benefit from a predictable routine. Find time to vary it up, encourage spontaneity and try new things with your teenager.

    Flexibility Challenges at School

    Inflexibility in routines and schedules can also cause challenges at school if changes occur. For example, an assembly, a fire drill, or a substitute teacher may alter the flow of the day, the routine, and the expectations.

    These changes can cause frustration and stress in a teenager who is inflexible.

    At school, it can be possible to create choices for a student who struggles in these situations. Allow a student to select preferred seating at an assembly or to leave the class early for a fire drill. Provide notice that the teacher is out sick, and have the student choose to stay in the classroom or take his reading to the library.

    Provide Choices

    A very inflexible teenager may need choices built into the day when schedule changes or other differences in the day may provoke anxiety.

    Some schools will be accommodating no matter what. Others may require a Section 504 plan noting the presence of a disability, like anxiety or autism, to provide accommodations for these changes in routine.

    Social Interactions and Relationships

    The third type of flexibility is important in social interactions and relationships.

    An inflexible teenager may feel misunderstood by a certain teacher and may refuse to work on the relationship. Some teenagers struggle to see the perspective of others, to take the time to understand differences of opinion. Teens who are inflexible in relationships tend to feel they are always right.

    Teenagers with autism especially need to feel like a teacher understands and respects their point of view; otherwise they often discount a teacher and don’t try to learn from them. These teens may also have conflict with others who have differing opinions and perspectives.

    Teaching Life Lessons

    Flexibility to be able to listen to teachers, classmates, friends and parents and to consider other perspectives and opinions helps build relationships. Helping teenagers see the value in hearing all sides of an issue will improve their ability to build relationships.

    If your teenager struggles significantly with social interactions and relationships, a counselor or school psychologist-led social group may be helpful. Teenagers must practice being collaborative and learning from each other; learning social flexibility is an important life lesson.

    If your teenager has considerable difficulty with any or all aspects of flexibility, try some of these strategies. See CLEAPE for other free ideas and strategies: https://cleape.com/organizing/flexibility/ https://cleape.com/behaving/rigid-behavior/ https://cleape.com/socializing/perspective-taking/.

    Connect with CLEAR

    If you need more support or believe your child might have a disability, like autism or anxiety, CLEAR Child Psychology can help. Call or email today to schedule a consultation.

    Contact CLEAR today by calling 303-222-7923 or visiting our website at www.clearchildpsychology.com.


  • September 4, 2018

    Teenagers with School Challenges: Executive Functioning

    Executive Functioning is a fancy term to refer to challenges with planning, initiating, executing and organizing tasks and information.

    When students move into high school, they are expected to independently navigate a schedule of 5-8 classes, all with different timelines, expectations and assignments. Students must keep up with materials, deadlines and schedules to be sure work is submitted on time to the right teacher in the right format.

    Even with the websites and emails and ways to track and schedule using technology, these skills are not easy for any of us (adults included).

    Teens Get Overwhelmed

    For some teenagers, these tasks feel daunting and overwhelming.

    Many teenagers just give up.

    Others try their best but fail to execute a complete plan. They may do the work but never turn it in at school.

    Parents are scratching their heads or yelling in frustration. “Why are you failing math?” “Where is your missing geography homework?”

    How to Help Your Teen

    It is most helpful when a student can have just enough support to learn these skills.

    A teenager needs to experience success to have the motivation to keep trying. For some teens, this support means having a teacher or mentor who helps them make a schedule and checks in weekly on the assignments and progress.

    Taking big projects and breaking them into manageable chunks with due dates for each part can help a teen maintain organization.

    Teens, Teachers, and Parents Working Together

    A teacher or mentor also needs to have some email communication with both the teenager and a parent so that a teen can have support at home in meeting deadlines. This small team can really help scaffold executive functioning skills for a teenager.

    Students with learning disabilities, ADHD or Autism tend to have impaired executive functioning skills already, making this process more difficult than it is for teenagers who have fully functioning prefrontal cortexes. Often, schools are willing to be more accommodating and provide more scaffolding and support for those students who have a disability.

    Connect with CLEAR

    If you think your child might be struggling more than other students with executive functioning skills, CLEAR Child Psychology can help. We can assess skills to see if a disability is present and/or consult with families to work out a plan to tackle these issues.

    Also, on our companion website CLEAPE, we offer free articles on “organizing” that provide more information and strategies to parents and teens. www.cleape.com

    Don’t let your teenager put his or her head in the sand. Executive functioning is an important life skill. Get help before challenges escalate and grades start to fall.

    Help your student achieve success, build skills and maintain high motivation.

    Contact CLEAR today at 303-222-7923 or visit our website at www.clearchildpsychology.com.

  • August 28, 2018

    Is Your Child Having Trouble with Writing?

    Is your child having trouble with writing?

    If you ask your child what he or she likes about school, is writing the very last on the list?

    Many children dislike writing or find it very difficult. Why is writing so hard? The issue with writing is that it requires so many skills to work simultaneously.

    For example, your child has to be able to tell a story (Narrative Coherence), express his ideas (Expressive Language), remember words and how to spell them (Visual Encoding), use fine motor coordination skills to physically write letters (Handwriting & Dexterity), and to stay calm in the face of frustration and difficulty (Self-Regulation & Anxiety).

    It can be hard to determine why a child is struggling with writing. If it is possible to narrow down the causes of writing challenges to one or two of the areas mentioned above, it will be easier to target the right intervention. Parents and teachers can help a child achieve success by targeting the area of need. Interventions for challenges with story telling are different from interventions for challenges with handwriting, but both can make writing challenging.

    At Cleape.com, all of these skill areas are described, including what you can do to help https://cleape.com/learning/writing/

    If you continue to have concerns about your child’s writing or other struggles in school, CLEAR Child Psychology can help.

    Started by the psychologists who authored CLEAPE, CLEAR Child Psychology is a primarily web-based psychological practice founded in Broomfield, CO with the goal of making Clinical expertise accessible and reliable (CLEAR). Clear launched services summer 2018 with the mission to: Shorten the time from first concern to diagnosis, free families from the burden of unknowing, and connect kids with the help they need to lead happy lives.

    Call or contact CLEAR today to schedule a $99 consultation with these psychologists to identify strategies and resources to support your child. You can receive help within the same week, at times on the same day you call.

    Call 303-222-7923 or contact us on www.clearchildpsychology.com

  • August 15, 2018

    Parent-Teacher Collaboration: What to Expect and How to Make the Most of Your Relationship

    The idea of parent/teacher meetings can be scary or uncomfortable for parents, particularly when your first child is starting school. It’s your first time navigating parent-teacher relationships.
    CLEAR Child Psychology offers five points for you to consider as your child begins school. Here’s what you should do in those first weeks or months!

    One, get to know your child’s teacher at the beginning of the year. Go to any offered open houses or school tours to meet school personnel. Familiarize yourself with the school and school community.
    Early exchange of information about your child should be positive from teachers and parents. Help your child’s teacher get to know all the wonderful things about him or her and build a relationship before addressing any unique learning needs.

    Two, if you can, volunteer occasionally in your child’s classroom. These opportunities are another way to understand the classroom and to get to know teachers and aides.
    Even spending an hour there once a month will help you gain a better understanding of the classroom structure, flow of the day and other requirements.

    Three, teachers and parents should have open email, note or phone communication so that a child’s needs are met through collaboration.
    Some classrooms will have websites with information about what the children are learning and links to homework and enrichment information.
    Parent-teacher meetings will go more smoothly if you know something about the lessons, homework and day-to-day classroom schedule and interaction.

    Four, as a parent it is important to go into a meeting with your own questions.
    Be prepared to listen to your child’s teacher and also have information to share or questions to ask about assignments, classroom behavior and aptitude.
    If you have concerns that your child is struggling with certain material, share them with his or her teacher so you can be on the same page.
    At the same time, hear a teacher’s praise and concerns, thinking all the time about collaboration to meet your child’s needs.

    Five, Collaboration is key. If you have ideas about what works for your child at home, share those and expect that your child’s teacher will share what works at school.
    For strategies on specific concerns you may have for your child, see www.cleape.com.

    If you come into a parent-teacher meeting with a few ideas for your child’s learning, it is more likely that your child’s teacher will share his or her ideas and collaborate with you to best support your child. Win-win!

    School and home collaboration is the most effective way to support learning and troubleshoot concerns.

    We hope your child has a wonderful school year!

  • August 7, 2018

    Back to School Transitions

    Wondering how to get your child ready for school this fall?

    As a parent, you know your own child. You know how he or she copes with transitions.

    Whether this is your first year of school or your child is going into 5th grade, some children struggle with the end of summer and the start of the school year.

    At times, schools offer camps or activities toward the end of the summer that take place at school. These opportunities can be helpful ways to gradually transition your child back to the school setting.

    In the absence of camps or sports activities that get a child back into school, consider other ways to support your child in the weeks leading up to school starting.

    First, think about bedtime, wake time, and lunchtime.

    Summer schedules change as children attend camp, go on vacation, go to the pool or stay up late to watch those summer action movies.

    Try to set up a consistent schedule that closely matches your school schedule.

    Gradually ease your child or children back into a regular routine so that they are not shocked when school requires earlier mornings and rules around snack and lunchtime.

    Next, take advantage of any opportunity to introduce your child to his or her new teacher in advance. Preferably, find a quiet time to meet the teacher, see the classroom and even find his or her seat or cubby can help a lot.

    Give your child a chance to see the structure and expectations, read any classroom rules or see the daily schedule.

    Allow your child to tell the teacher about interests, favorite classes, etc. Even 15 minutes to get a glimpse into the school year may help your child get off to the right start.

    While not every child in the class may have such an opportunity, request this brief meeting if you know your child struggles with transitions back to school.

    Every teacher wants to get the year off to a good start. Your child’s teacher should be open to meeting him or her in advance to improve the probability of a successful first day.

    Usually, schools are happy to accommodate you on a teacher training and set up day.

    Finally, try to plan some play dates with school friends in the weeks leading up to the transition. See if you can find out who is in your child’s class.

    Otherwise, meeting with students in and around your child’s grade level, even to play on the school playground, if accessible, can help your child turn his or her focus back to the fun aspects of school and things to look forward to in the new school year.

    Sometimes, difficulty with transitions can be related to general flexibility. Parents might find this article helpful to learn more about helping your child be flexible. https://cleape.com/organizing/flexibility/

    If you continue to have concerns for your child, call CLEAR Child Psychology to schedule a consultation.

    We hope your child has a smooth transition and a great school year!


  • July 31, 2018

    How www.cleape.com Can Help Educators

    What is CLEAPE?

    Cleape, Knowing What’s the Matter, is a free tool developed to help parents and educators understand a child’s learning needs.

    Developed by clinicians who have worked in schools and who have expertise in areas like school psychology, speech and language pathology, behavioral analysis and occupational therapy, CLEAPE helps parents and educators collaborate and address learning needs.

    What will I find on CLEAPE?

    www.cleape.com has 99 articles on specific concerns a teacher or parent may have for a child. All the articles are free. Each article contains research-based tips and strategies an educator can try in the “What to do” section.

    CLEAPE provides references at the end of each article with up-to-date research.

    References also include books and resources a teacher could use and share with a family or parent to help meet the learning needs of a child.

    Why was CLEAPE developed?

    The MTSS (Multi-tiered Support System) process can feel daunting, which is why CLEAR Child Psychology offers this free resource to encourage collaboration and the use of research-based strategies to meet the needs of a child.

    Reliable information at your fingertips to meet professional requirements

    As classroom teachers know, when parents and/or teachers have concerns for a child, they are required to implement interventions in the classroom that are research-based to address a specific learning need.

    Teachers are required to progress monitor to see if interventions are helpful and to determine if additional supports like a Section 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are necessary to help a child succeed.

    Access targeted strategies, web-based interventions, and resources

    At times, parents and teachers will find that a child has needs that require a special plan or other team members like a Speech Pathologist or School Psychologist. Share https://cleape.com/professionals/ with parents.

    At other times, teachers and parents will find that a few targeted strategies make all the difference. See https://cleape.com/moving-sensing/handwriting/ for children who have sloppy handwriting. This article provides many strategies a parent and teacher can use to address this issue and help children improve their writing.

    If a child is struggling to learn to read, this article provides helpful web-based interventions and strategies to try as well as resources for parents to seek outside tutoring if reading challenges persist https://cleape.com/learning/basic-reading-skills/. We know from the research that early intervention from parents and teachers for reading leads to the best outcomes. A combination of school support and home support can help a child make faster progress.

    Sometimes a child has a few social challenges that are not evident until he or she is expected to be successful in a classroom. A teacher can provide a parent with great resources to practice social skills by providing this article https://cleape.com/socializing/parallel-play/. Social skills are another example of a skill that responds best to early intervention and strategies from parents and teachers.

    Together, we can improve student outcomes!

    We hope this free resource will lead to early interventions and better outcomes for your students. Please share www.cleape.com with your colleagues.

    Collaborations with parents can improve student outcomes. Please share www.cleape.com with parents at your school.

    Last but not least… Connect with CLEAR

    You are not alone. Be in touch with the clinicians who created www.cleape.com by visiting our sister site www.clearchildpsychology.com. We are available to provide professional development to educators, in addition to other supportive services.

  • July 10, 2018

    Authors of Cleape Launch Psychology Practice: Clear Child Psychology

    Summer 2018: Grand opening for new psychology practice from the authors of Cleape. CLEAR Child Psychology is based in Colorado, but is a primarily web-based clinical psychology practice that makes Clinical expertise accessible and reliable (CLEAR). A team of psychologists started full time this summer with the mission to help 1 million families find the right help for their kids.  Visit the site at clearchildpsychology. To learn more about what psychologists do see https://cleape.com/professionals/licensed-psychologist/.

    Here on cleape readers have FREE access to a wide variety of resources and psychological information. For example, learn about processing speed and what it means for your child here https://cleape.com/understanding/processing-speed/ 

    Cleape is free and will always be free. CLEAR is a psychology business offering up fee-based services for kids and their parents who have concerns about mental health, development, or education.

  • November 6, 2017

    We are presenting CLEAPE on Saturday at CSSP

    This Saturday (11/9-11/11) in Beaver Creek for CSSP, our team will be presenting on using the Cleape model as a hypothesis testing framework. Rather than puzzling at the many reasons why a child might struggle with writing, School Psychologists and other mental health professionals can identify root causes through a simple framework of related symptoms. Our presentation will help professionals identify interventions, accommodations, and services to address writing problems. We will be doing the Thursday evening event, an exhibit table all day on Friday, the Friday night event, and then a workshop presentation on Saturday morning (11/11). I hope to see you up there or read it for yourself here: