Handwriting Without Tears

In this technological age, it’s easy to overlook the importance of handwriting. Pen and paper are no longer the primary means by which most people write. Instead, we favor keyboards and touchpads to communicate. While these modes are certainly less messy and more convenient, studies show that children who do most of their reading and writing on the computer have a harder time retaining and processing information. (American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2006). For this reason, educators and occupational therapists alike are encouraging children and their parents to make building handwriting skills a priority.

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Caring for a Bipolar Child

by Talia Rudkin, B.A., Psychological Services Diagnostic Extern

Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) has been given a considerable amount of attention in recent years.  Even though pediatric bipolar disorder has yet to find its individual place in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), there has been a recent influx in the number of children and adolescents being diagnosed with bipolarity.  This can be an alarming diagnosis for parents, as it is one that is often given to adults.  In fact, bipolar disorder is so much more common in adults that the DSM-V does not distinguish adult-onset from pediatric-onset symptoms of bipolar, despite clinically significant differences in the presentation and duration of symptoms(3,5,6,7).  However, a growing interest in this topic has led to an increase in research and treatment options for how to best care for a bipolar child. 

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The Road to Healing—During and After Divorce

by Tami Sollo LCSW, Coordinator of the Divorce Specialty Center

I encounter many couples experiencing the early phases of divorce. Marked by the tearing down of comfortable routines, fear of the future and its unknowns, and sadness over the loss of a familiar way of life—no matter how unhappy it may have been—the early stages of divorce are chaotic and emotionally overwhelming. Like any time of grief or great loss, recovering from divorce is a process. How quickly couples move towards healing depends upon several factors:  how well spouses work together to co-parent or make decisions for their separate futures; the level of conflict between the couple; the couple’s financial situation; how well developed the couple’s psychological coping skills are; and the external support systems of the soon-to-be ex-spouses.  

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Raising Mental Health Awareness

Fifteen year-old Anna lounged on the sofa in Robin Stein’s office, sinking into the cushions with her legs folded beneath her. Though her features remained stoic, the cell phone she cradled shook in the palms of her hand as she rapidly swiped at its surface with her thumbs. “Here,” Anna said, and held the phone out to Stein, a licensed clinical social worker at Jewish Child & Family Services. The screen displayed a somewhat pixelated selfie of a very young girl with a gun pointed at her temple. “She talked about dying all the time.” Anna was in grief therapy with Stein; the girl holding the gun was Anna’s younger sister, Sarah, who had taken her life the year before, ultimately overdosing on a relative’s sleeping pills. Sarah was only 10.

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Our Stories Have Power

by Beth Fishman, PhD and Nina J. Henry, LCPC, CADC

Many individuals in addiction recovery struggle with an important question:  Should they tell people that they are in recovery?  The traditional response would be reflected in a quote from the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous:  “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program.” Guarding anonymity in a world full of stigma against people who struggle with alcohol, drugs and mental disorders was a realistic response.  Individuals in recovery had reason to worry about their vulnerability and often only shared their status as a person in recovery with people they trusted to not judge them.

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A Camper's Heartfelt Experience

by Miles Allan, Firefly Camper

I attended Camp Firefly every summer since 2010.  After six years of going to camp, it's safe to say that it was the best experience of my life. I don't really think there was a second of camp that I didn't enjoy. Everything about it was amazing; from the great friends I've made to the fun camp activities. It was an unforgettable experience, to say the least.

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What Can Parents Do to Make “The Social Network” a Safer Place for their Children?

by Alexander Friedman, M. A., Psychological Services Therapy Extern

The Social Networking Parent

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr…. These are just a few of the many social media platforms that children and teens use to communicate today. While there are many benefits to being digitally interconnected, there are also many dangers. No parent can possibly keep tabs on everything their children do on social media. However, there are certain measures you can take to help your children use social media more responsibly. But before diving into this subject, let us first briefly review the pros and cons of online social networks.

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Help, Healing and Hope After Loss - “How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies”

by Elizabeth Siegel Cohen, LCSW
Coordinator, Jewish Healing Network of Chicago
Bereavement Specialist

I recently read a letter published in the Washington Post by a young widowed father of two named David Creekmore. The letter was written to his deceased wife, Trish, who died three years ago.  Towards the end of this deeply moving letter David wrote “Life’s too short.  I had to lose you to really understand that. You are not forgotten. We move on because we have to, not because we want to.” These words really resonated with me because they speak so powerfully about how the experience of loss can forever change our focus and priorities in life.

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Camp Does the Mind & Body Good

by Olena Vasilik, Psy.D. Camp Firefly Coordinator

Parents and children alike speak of summer camps with excitement, often reflecting on fond memories from their own experiences.  Summer camps are an opportunity for children of all walks of life to continue to build upon the cognitive, emotional and psychological skills learned throughout the school year. 

Camp Firefly is tailored to the special needs of children, teens, and young adults who struggle in social spheres.  Whether diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger’s, Non-Verbal Learning Disability, Social Anxiety, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or just generally having problems with social communication, then consider Camp Firefly for your child.  The camp offers specialized, therapeutic assistance in boosting self-confidence, engaging with peers effectively, and managing emotional dysregulation within a safe, supported, and fun environment.  At Camp Firefly, youth learn new skills while engaging with like-minded peers.

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Forever Friends: Camp Counselors Share Their Story

By Eliana Wool, M.A. and Caitlin McIlwee, M.A.

“Camp friends are forever friends.” This proverb was the first of many pieces of wisdom passed to us throughout our time as counselors at Camp Firefly.  We were both eager to be counselors, and, like the campers preparing for session, we wondered what our experience had in store for us. Nothing could have prepared us for how rewarding, fun and unforgettable camp was!

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