What is Weight Stigma Awareness week?

How do you feel about your body shape and size? Do you judge a person by their weight?

The Binge Eating Disorder Association recognizes September 24-28 as National Weight Stigma Awareness Week. BEDA’s goal is to bring awareness to the way we judge ourselves and others based on weight.

Sandy Blaies, Manager of the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital says “Our society values thinness and perpetuates societal messages that obesity is the mark of a defective person.

We place a value on the size and shape of our bodies. We uphold stereotypes of body image and assume a person is healthy or unhealthy based on their weight. I am always careful of telling a young person they look thinner. Instead, focus on how the color they are wearing looks good on them, or how you love their smile. What you say matters.”

According to the RUDD Report from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, close to one of three overweight girls and one of four overweight boys report being teased by peers at school. Among the heaviest group of young people, that figure rises to three out of every five.

Peers see obese children as undesirable playmates who are lazy, stupid, ugly, mean, and unhappy. Negative attitudes begin in pre-school and may get worse as children age.

Those who are victimized because of their weight are more vulnerable to depression, low self-esteem, poor body image, unhealthy weight control practices and suicidal thoughts. Also, weight-based teasing makes people more likely to engage in unhealthy eating patterns.

Weight stigma can also lead to social isolation, poorer interpersonal relationships, and self-blame by those who are targeted. BEDA warns that many of these consequences can lead to eating disorders.

Sandy Blaies suggests “We should focus on health measurements that are more meaningful than numbers on a scale. Use an approach which is less about dieting and more about a lifestyle change that emphasizes “intuitive eating”: listening to hunger signals, eating when you’re hungry, choosing nutritious food over junk.

In addition, encourage exercise, but for its emotional and physical benefits, not as a way to lose weight. It advocates tossing out the bathroom scale and loving your body no matter what it weighs.”

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services


How are your children affected by traumatic events in the media?

Events reported in the media can very traumatic for all of us. And the impact of trauma on children can be particularly devastating to their development. Left untreated, all but the mildest of childhood trauma can have an impact on the child.

Trauma is defined as an “event outside normal human experience”. These events are generally emotionally painful and distressing, and overwhelm a person’s ability to cope, The person’s response involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry identifies 2 types of trauma: One-episode Trauma, and Repeated Trauma. One-episode trauma is the result of a specific “event”.

Repeated trauma can include situations of chronic traumatic stress such as repeated neglect, abuse and maltreatment, including physical violence, sexual abuse, repeated verbal abuse and poor early childhood care.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports
• More than 60% of youth age 17 and younger have been exposed to crime, violence and abuse either directly or indirectly.
• Young children exposed to 5 or more significant adversities in the first 3 years of childhood face a 76 percent likelihood of having one or more delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development.
• As the number of traumatic events experienced during childhood increases, the risk for the following health problems in adulthood increases: depression; alcoholism; drug abuse; suicide attempts; heart and liver diseases; pregnancy problems; high stress; uncontrollable anger; and family, financial, and job problems.

According to the Attachment & Trauma Network Inc, parenting a traumatized child is very challenging and requires a more focused, trained approach than parenting emotionally healthy children. Traumatized children frequently show signs of emotional delay, often acting much younger than their chronological age. Behaviors can range from being withdrawn and non-responsive to aggressive and violent. Responses to typical parenting techniques, such as time out or removal of privileges are often surprising, and parents’ frustration to the child’s opposition can inadvertently cause the behaviors to escalate.

In a 2006 report on Trauma Informed Care, the National Association for State Mental Health Program Directors indicates long term effects of trauma on a child vary, depending upon many factors:
• Characteristics of the child- age, past trauma experiences
• Characteristics of the trauma-type of trauma, severity, chronicity
• Post-trauma factors: early intervention, social support & symptom resolution

Early intervention in childhood psychic trauma is important. Families that offer support, understanding, and a sense of safety as close to the time of the traumatic event as possible can effectively limit the effects of trauma on a child. Munther Barakat, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist who works with children, provides tips for parents on dealing with trauma.  It is also a good idea to consult a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation and treatment.

If your child, or a child you know has experienced trauma, contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

For more information on trauma visit these resources:

Is your child ready for the new school year?

Back to school sales are being promoted already in just about every retail store. Is it really time to start planning for the new school year?

Kradwell School offers these tips for making a smooth transition from summer vacation to new school year.

One of the best ideas is to keep a child’s mind sharp when not in school. Use the summer to read, access a local library, engage in a science project at home or visit a museum for a fun history lesson.

Similarly, kids who don’t write during the summer have to relearn to write (and spell) when school starts. Practice handwriting and spelling. Correct the spelling and ask for neat handwriting Here are a few ideas:

  • Have them write a few sentences about what they’ve done that day or week.
  • Write letters to friends or relatives
  • Encourage kids to write thank you notes
  • Teach your child how to write and send an email message
  • Create a family newsletter or blog
  • Suggest your child keep a journal

Before your child starts kindergarten, it would be GREAT if they could write their name correctly, know their numbers to 20, say the alphabet (and letter sounds), and know basic shapes and colors.

Find out about your child’s school.  Whether your child is returning to the same school or starting at a new one, it’s always a good idea to be aware of any changes at the school. Is there a new principal? What’s going on with the curriculum?

As most school districts start in September, schools tend to be open a month before. You can call the school directly and speak with an administrator or visit the school for information.

Whether you attend an “open house” or schedule a one-on-one conference, you should meet with your child’s teachers. By talking with your child’s teachers and/or going to the Department of Education Web site for your state, you can also find out key benchmarks on the academic calendar, such as which tests are administered and when. The teacher may also be able to provide you with a copy of a lesson plan or syllabus that gives you an idea of what will be taught in class.

You should also tour of the building-be aware of all the facilities your child may come into contact with. And don’t forget the guidance counselor. That person will be another key ally for you and your child. Guidance counselors have access to all of your child’s academic records. They also have knowledge of programs to help your child in and out of school. They’re also trained to provide basic counseling services to your child if he is having problems in school.

 Get your child into the back-to-school routine. During the summer, staying up late and sleeping in are the norm. But as the start of school draws near, children need to get back into a routine.

About three weeks before school starts, have your child go to bed 15 minutes earlier at night and get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. When school is two weeks away, have your child go to bed 30 minutes earlier at night and get up thirty minutes earlier in the morning. When your child is about to start school in a week, have him go to bed an hour earlier at night and get up an hour earlier in the morning.

Kradwell School is dedicated to serving the needs of students in 5th through 12th grade who have experienced overwhelming difficulties in traditional educational environments.

By developing a bedtime routine, your child will be less resistant to the early morning wake-up calls to get ready for school. In addition, you can prepare the evening before for morning routines surrounding starting school each year.

Select clothing, including shoes and socks, and have them laid out. Hair accessories, backpacks zipped and ready, lunches made or at least decisions about what will be in the lunch, and determining weather-appropriate attire helps to minimize morning madness. Having a set place for backpacks minimizes lost homework or missing items in the harried morning routine.

Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Sleep experts from the National Sleep Foundation say that kids need their rest to perform well at school. Follow their practical tips for setting your kids’ back-to-school sleep clocks at least two weeks before the school year begins.Pre-school and school-age children should receive 10-11 hours of sleep each night. Establish those bedtime requirements, and then stick to it.

Organize your family’s time. As appointments and daily schedules for the year form, take note of them and write them down. Use a large calendar to keep track of schedules and events or place a weekly schedule for each person on the refrigerator or other prominent place in your home. Make a habit of checking it twice a day – in the morning and at night. Teach this habit to all of your family members.

Buy and organize school supplies.  Depending on your child’s grade level (K0-12), the type of supplies needed will vary. Some schools send a list out a couple of weeks before the school year. If no such list is provided, many stores provide free school supply lists for their customers. They’re pretty concise and arranged by grade level. Be prepared to have to go out and purchase something else the night of the first day of school. There is always one teacher who requires a certain supply but doesn’t let their students know until the first day of school.

Set goals and expectations. The start of the school year is a wonderful time to re-examine school performance – both academically and extra curricular activities. Remember to set doable goals and try not to over stress your teenager. Be sure to set the time for homework-establish a learning schedule, including parameters for homework.

Setting aside a designated period of time after school or in the early evening that is to be used only for schoolwork is a strategy that has been proven effective for many students. There are several factors that can influence the decision about which time is best. Some children, for example, may complete homework more successfully by beginning immediately after school, leaving the rest of the late afternoon and evening for other activities. Others may need time to “wind down” after being in school all day before they’re relaxed and focused enough to complete homework successfully.

Emphasize the positive. Kids pick up on your attitude. If you complain about shopping for back-to-school clothes and supplies, they’ll pick up on it. If you speak negatively about your child’s teacher, they will start the year thinking negatively about him or her. Instead, identify what excites your child and focus on that. Talk to each other about the school year coming up and reaffirm with your child that you are there to help whenever help is needed-be sure to tell your child this and don’t assume they already know. It is easier to handle stress from outside sources – like school – when you know someone is on your side.

Don’t wear them out! Kids who are signed up for five different summer camps, tutoring, piano lessons, and ballet will never get the ‘break’ that comes with summer break! Give them downtime. Let them play. Let them sit around and say ‘I’m bored’ every once in a while. This advice should also be applied year-round. Limit our kids to 1-2 extracurricular activities at a time during the school year. As they get older, maybe they’ll show that they can handle more or less than that. Let your child know that school is their main priority and biggest responsibility.

Kradwell School is a private, nontraditional, nonsectarian fifth through twelfth grade Program. Kradwell School is dedicated to providing a child-centered, flexible, educational environment that meets the diverse academic, emotional and social needs of students.

Fall enrollment is now underway (2012-2013).Contact Leslie Newman 414-395-8125 or mail leslie.newman@aurora.org to arrange a visit to Kradwell School.  Openings are available in both the middle and high school programs. For more details about Kradwell School, enrollment information and a video tour of Kradwell school, visit www.kradwell.org.

Healthy learning, healthier kids: choose Kradwell School this summer

The beautiful grounds of Kradwell School provide an excellent place for summer learning.

Did you child struggle with school this year? The most recent NAEP (National Assessment on Educational Progress) assessments indicate that less than one-third of U.S. fourth graders are proficient in reading, mathematics, science, and American History.

Summer school is a great opportunity to gain some lost ground. Students who are weak in a subject area, perhaps Math, Science or English,  improve their GPA’s by taking these courses during the summer and concentrate on their other courses during the regular school year, in addition to freeing up their schedules for Art, Band,Theater and Sports opportunities.  It is possible to complete an entire course  of geometry, algebra, biology, chemistry, US history or English during summer school.

Kradwell School is now enrolling for Summer School. Kradwell Summer School provides the opportunity for makeup, enrichment, remediation and social skills development.  Students grades 5 through 12 receive individualized instruction in classes with a 5/1 student/teacher ratio.

The summer program runs from June 19 through August 2 and is often recommended to parents and students because the entire middle and high school core curriculum is available. Kradwell is the only summer school program that offers the entire academic curriculumNew this year is a Social Skills class that incorporates classroom and experiential learning.

Kradwell offers the right balance of challenging academics in a fun and dynamic setting while providing the best opportunity for starting the fall semester with a stronger academic base.

Benefits of the Kradwell Summer School program include

  • Individualized instruction with a 5:1 student teacher ratio
  • Flexible scheduling and experienced teachers
  • Weekly progress notes from each teacher are posted online
  • Instruction for kids of all abilities, including gifted and talented
  • New this year: Social Skills class designed for higher functioning autistic children

Is Kradwell right for your child? Visit our YouTube playlist to hear from Kradwell School graduates, parents and instructors themselves.

For additional Summer School enrollment information or to make a referral, contact Program Coordinator Leslie Newman at 414-454-6593 or leslie.newman@aurora.org

I think my friend may have an eating disorder. What would you say to them?

I think my friend has an eating disorder, but I don’t know what to say. Talking to someone about an eating disorder is one of the most difficult conversations you can have.

These ideas, adapted from the National Eating Disorder Association, can help.

• Set up a time to talk, and have your discussion in a private and relaxed setting

• Express your concerns openly and honestly, in a loving, supportive and non-confrontational way

• Talk in a calm and caring way and explain the specific things you have seen or felt that have caused you to worry, and that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional attention

• Ask your friend if they would be willing to explore these concerns with a professional. If you are both comfortable, you can help make an appointment with a counselor, nutritionist or doctor, and go with your friend.

• Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills with your friend if they refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason for you to be concerned. Think of this initial conversation as a starting point. Your friend may be initially defensive, but hopefully will think about what you said. Be sure to share that you are available as a supportive listener.

• Avoid critical or accusatory statements that place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.” • Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, “If you’d just stop, then everything would be fine!” Express your continued support. Remind your friend that you care and want your friend to be healthy and happy.

• After talking with your friend, if you are still concerned with their health and safety, find a trusted adult or medical professional to talk to. This is probably a challenging time for both of you. It could be helpful for you, as well as your friend, to discuss your concerns and seek assistance and support from a professional.

National Eating Disorders Awareness week goes through March 3. Access an Eating Disorders Screening Tool, or learn about the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

How do you find the best school for your child?

Are you actively seeking out the best school for your child? According to the Alliance for Effective Education, 1/3 of students – nearly 1.3 million each year – leave high school without a diploma. If your child is affected by behavioral health issues, the rate is even higher. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports approximately 50% of students age 14 and older who are living with a mental illness drop out of high school. This is the highest dropout rate of any disability group.

Kradwell School is the only school in Wisconsin dedicated to serving students in grades 5 through 12 who, for whatever reason, are unsuccessful in the traditional school environment. Students coming to Kradwell may be diagnosed with a wide range of behavioral or psychological disorders, including learning disabilities such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression, Asperger’s syndrome or reactive attachment disorder. Though unsuccessful in the traditional school setting, many Kradwell students are in fact gifted and talented, and thrive within Kradwell’s student-centric learning environment.

Classes are small, permitting students to work independently and in small groups. The student-to-teacher ratio is 5 to 1, instruction is individualized and self-paced. Curriculum meets Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction standards, and graduates meet all State of Wisconsin requirements for diploma.

Take a video tour of Kradwell School, meet our medical director, principal, caregivers and students, and learn what this facility can do for your child.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs. If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Is back-to-school a season of anxiety for your child?

Is your child excited about starting back in the classroom? Or is your child scared, anxious or reluctant to attend school?

A new school year, unfamiliar classroom, new teachers, and new classmates can be sources of anxiety for children and parents. What level of anxiety is “normal”? Is anxiety disrupting routine activities for your child? Being fearful of getting on the school bus can be a sign of extreme anxiety. So can refusing to go out to recess, or participate in class activities.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse.

If you feel your child is experiencing extreme anxiety, find out how Aurora’s Child and Adolescent Day Treatment program can help.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.