BookS on MondaY: Husband-wife team Bruce & Heather Galpert talk about their new children’s book, MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY, a mouthwatering discussion on a breakfast staple, the environment, more

By Leslie Lindsay 

Can a pancake save the world? That’s the question this delightful children’s tale sets out to seek. 

Before going fishing one day, Ethan eats his favorite breakfast–pancakes! As his mom explains how pancakes are made with the help of the sun, clouds, rain, animals, and farmers, Ethan sees the world in a new way. 30764934

While playing outside, Ethan decides to create a big splash by throwing a can of in the lake and accidentally contaminates the environment. Time passes and one day Ethan notices that his pancakes taste different. Could that can in the lake have made that change? Ethan enlists the help of his friends to correct his mistake. Do Ethan and his friends repair that mistake, but most of all–what do they learn in the process?

Today, I am honored to have Bruce Galpert here to chat with us…over a big plate of pancakes! 

Leslie Lindsay: I’m always curious about what inspired the idea behind stories, what drives someone to spend countess hours crafting a story…can you tell us your inspiration behind MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY?

Bruce Galpert: As a young father with two sons, I read a lot to my kids…I also spent most Sundays cooking pancakes with and for them–I ate quite a few myself! Trying to teach my kids life lessons, recycling and protecting the environment were also concepts that were important, but difficult to teach to young kids. I always felt that it was hard for children to grasp how their actions could impact the environment positively or negatively. The idea of MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY! came out of that quest.

L.L.: Tell us more about the character of Ethan. How would you describe him? Is he modeled after anyone in particular, your own son, perhaps?

Bruce Galpert: Ethan is just like my youngest son Evan was at that age. The character of Ethan is built around Evan: Ethan is eight years old, observant, intelligent, fun loving, sweet and kind to nature, animals and others. He loves his pancakes and his mother!  He is smart and funny, has tons of friends, and is always asking questions.  In real life, I now have a three-year old grandson named Ethan by way of my son Matthew, so all bases are covered!

L.L.: Writing is certainly not easy or glamorous–at least not all the time. What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY! ?

Bruce Galpert: Getting started, the beginning, the middle, and the end! Writing is not my strong suit! Fortunately for me, my wife Heather came into my life. Not only did she inherit my family, but she inherited this project of 20 years that I was unable to complete, even after attending children’s book writing workshops given by some of the best writers in the business. She is credited for helping me put a structure around the story and move it from an idea to something I can hold and read to my grandkids.

L.L.: What was the most rewarding moment you experienced while writing this book?

Bruce Galpert: Seeing the beautiful artwork that Barbara Cate did, and how it worked in harmony with the writing to really tell the story. Heather and I have had such a wonderful time working on this together – it’s our baby.

204255_origL.L.: How much research did you do for the book? What type of research did you do?

Bruce Galpert: Countless Sundays making all kinds of pancakes: blueberry, chocolate, apple fritters. Flipping pancakes and spending time with my boys, was the extent of my research, the best kind! And sadly, watching the growing environmental stress and crisis we are facing as the years march on.

L.L.: What does your writing process look like?

Bruce Galpert: A lot of hair pulling and the words just fall into place. Heather is the the writer in the family, I’m a numbers guy. She helped me tease out the story.

L.L.: Writers get their inspiration from all places. Where do you turn for inspiration?

Bruce Galpert: Heather

L.L.: I love children’s books and I know exactly why: they were embedded in my young life as my dad read to me after work, his arms draped over my shoulders. Where did your interest in writing–and reading–children’s books begin?

Bruce Galpert: I have always had my favorite books…The 4 Chinese Brothers, Ferdinand the Bull, A Fly Went By, A Fish out of Water, Go Dog Go…many of these were based on cause and effect…progressive events.  I am also a cartoon addict, still to this day I spend more time watching cartoons than any other medium.  My son Evan is a brilliant voice over artist and my dream is to see him as a character in an animated film.

L.L.: Switching gears a bit, what are some ways to get young people interested in the environment and what foods they eat?

Bruce Galpert: Farmer’s Markets, natural groceries, growing seeds from a packet at home. I think getting kids to engage with nature is the best way…sadly this is so hard for many kids around the world. I had the fortune to live in both Japan and the Philippines as a child and young adult, and the differences in the way each of those cultures reveres and cares for their environment is vast. It really begins culturally at a very young age.

L.L.: How should kids be taught about personal responsibility and their role in sustainability?

Bruce Galpert: By their parents, actions speak the loudest.

L.L.: How would you describe the importance of investing in our children?

Bruce Galpert: They are all we have for the future, a dollar invested in them is worth many more dollars in return down the road. You are seeing this in action today with all of the technology innovations from well-educated Millennials

L.L.: So I have to ask, how do you like to eat your pancakes? 

Bruce Galpert: I like putting chopped apples in the batter, adding cinnamon, and then topping with a blend of butter, syrup, and raspberry jam! Don’t forget to sprinkle powdered sugar on at the last minute. [Getting hungry for pancakes?! I am. Check out this delicious recipe from Bruce and Heather] Absolutely-fantastic-peanut-butter-pancakes-with-a-jelly-topping.jpg

L.L.: What do you hope readers take away from My Pancakes Taste Different Today!?

Bruce Galpert: I hope that parents read the book to their kids and that the book is also used as an early reader. This will be the best way to teach children how their actions impact their world.

L.L.: What future projects are you working on?

Bruce Galpert: We have two books in the hopper that we are both very excited about.  One thing at a time I am told by my wife, but creativity has no timeline!

To connect with Bruce and Heather, please visit these social media links:

  • Hashtag #ThePancakesBook

  • Facebook: The Pancakes Book

  • Instagram and Pinterest: thepancakesbook

  • GoodReads Giveaway: Enter to WIN! (Beginning October 10-22, 2016)
  • Book & Author Website

About the Authors & Illustrator: Bruce lives with his wife Heather in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He attended the University of Dallas, where he majored in International Finance and Economics. Bruce has two adult sons, Matthew and Evan, and two grandchildren, Ethan and Avery. Growing up, Bruce lived in the Philippine Islands and Japan. He enjoys traveling, writing, skiing, chess, playing guitar, cooking and entertaining, playing tennis and golf. As a professional, Bruce has been an investment advisor for 32 years, he recommends that the best investment is an investment in our children. Heather thinks Bruce makes the best pancakes in the Whole Wide World!

Heather lives with her husband Bruce in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Heather has worked and volunteered most of her professional career in producing special events and fund raising for non profit organizations such as the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, The Santa Fe Community Foundation, and The Santa Fe Botanical Garden. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College where she studied writing, art and design. Heather enjoys traveling, entertaining, decorating, hiking and playing tennis and golf. Bruce thinks Heather is a gourmet chef and budding tennis star.

Barbara: The Artist

Santa Fe artist Barbara Cate is an illustrator of books and has a greeting card line which may be seen at and at My Pancakes Taste Different Today! showcases her latest paintings. Barbara has lived in Hawaii and enjoys teaching children. Heather and Bruce think Barbara is the bee’s knees. 2892364_orig.jpg

Purchase MY PANCAKES TASTE DIFFERENT TODAY from these fine retailers: 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, through these social media links:

[Special thanks to PRbytheBook for this review copy. Images courtesy of author’s publicist. Interior illustrations retrieved from author’s website. Pancake image retrieved from]

BookS on MondaY: Daria Song’s newest coloring book THE NIGHT VOYAGE on imagination, fantasy, magic, and why wordless books are beneficial

By Leslie Lindsay 9780399579042

We’re back with another amazing round of children’s literature for the next few weeks. I’m in love with children’s picture books and there’s a reason: they’re nostalgic to those days when I’d wait (not so patiently) for my dad to arrive home from work so he could read to me from my Disney mail-order books the floor of my large closet, arm draped over my tiny shoulders, and ‘do’ his voices, making them higher or lower, goofy, or serious, always with a glint in his eye. It was the beginning of a love affair with the written word.

THE NIGHT VOYAGE is highly evocative of PETER PAN meets ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets THE NUTCRACKER (VELVETEEN RABBIT, MARY POPPINS, really I could go on) propelling readers far from the floor of their walk-in closet and into a sort of Narnia…it’s at once delightful, whimsical, and highly detailed.
Daria Song is the author-illustrator and creative mind behind The Time Garden and The Time Chamber comes the third in the series. Technically, THE NIGHT VOYAGE is an adult-style coloring book, but this lovely colorable story is relevant for all, children included. In fact, my artistic 11-year old daughter is in awe and cannot wait to get her hands on this book.
THE NIGHT VOYAGE (Random House, August 2016) is an evocatively illustrated story of a little girl who is swept away on the eve of her birthday by her toy train conductor on a magical journey to distribute gifts around the globe, from London to Paris to Granada. Following the trend of the previous books, Daria Song enchants readers with beautifully intricate art that her fans have come to love, featuring a world of paper cranes, penny-farthing bicycles, trolleys, cityscapes, and hot air balloon-filled skies.
But  you don’t necessarily have to read (or color!) the books in order, I fell right into the magic of this story. Devotees of Daria Song will say this is a continuation of other adventures in the serious, but if you’re just into unique art, magical stories of adventure and whimsy, you won’t need anymore too get launch your mind.
Be Sure to Take a Peek at this flip-through video.
Keep in mind that there are very few words to this story. The first few pages have some text, but then it’s up to you, dear reader, to pull from the depths of your imagination to fill in the blanks. It’s a dream, almost like falling down Alice’s rabbit’s hole.
Here are some discussion points to keep in mind if you read/color THE NIGHT VOYAGE:
  • Why wordless books have meaning.
  • How one person can interpret a series of events differently that someone else.
  • How one’s story vision might be different than someone else’s.
  • Make up your own continuation to THE NIGHT VOYAGE.
  • Draw your own companion art and share with others.
  • Compose a song (or look for one in your collection) that connects to the art within the book. What kind of song did you select?
  • Is the book evocative of a dream? Can you share a dream you had recently that relates?
  • Makes a darling gift for a young/middle grade girl

2116821About the Author: Daria Song is an artist living and working in Seoul, Korea, and has drawn inspiration from time spent in foreign cities as a child. The Night Voyage is the perfect way for coloring enthusiasts to add their own artistic flair to some of the most striking world wonders.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay at:


[Special thanks to B. Leahy at Ten Speed Press/Random House. Images retrieved from Random House website on 10.2.16. With the exception of portion in quotations, all written material and review is my own.]



BookS on MondaY: What we can learn from the “Happiest Country in the World,” a conversation with the authors of THE DANISH WAY

By Leslie Lindsay 

Denmark, home of Hans Christian Anderson and Lego toys, has been voted the happiest country in the world for 40 consecutive years, most recently in the 2016 World Happiness Report. What is the secret to this consistent success? Can happiness become the new Danish export? Photo-Nov-28-2-21-23-PM-1024x735-1024x735

That’s what THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING (TarcherPerigee/RandomHouse, August 2016)  And I have to say, the concept became intriguing to me. When I learned the U.S. ranked 17th in “the most happy,” just under Mexico, I wanted to know why and what did the Danes have on us? Here’s a breakdown of the book, which spells out  P-A-R-E-N-T and is how each chapter is organized:

P – Play: Why free play creates happier, better adjusted, more resilient adults.

A – Authenticity: Why honesty creates a stronger sense of self and how praise can be used to form a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.

R – Reframing: How shifting our perception can improve relationships and well-being.

E – Empathy: How fostering an empathic household can help your children be more tolerant and less judgmental of others.

N – No Ultimatums: Why avoiding power struggles and using a more democratic parenting approach fosters trust.

T – Togetherness and Hygge (Coziness): Why a strong social network is one of the biggest factors in our overall happiness and by creating hygge we can give this powerful

THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING is simply written, yet jam-packed with supporting evidence as to what and how we can parent better. And there’s always room for growth, right? The authors, one raised in the U.S. and married to a Dane and now living in Rome, and the other, a family and child counselor in Copenhagen tell us exactly how the Danish Way is different. Hint: the one major difference has to do with something called hygge, meaning togetherness. Read on to find out what this encompasses. And then consider trying it as early as tonight. 

Leslie Lindsay: The premise of THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING is that Denmark is the happiest country in the world in large part due to their upbringing. It seems there may be multiple variables at play (such as parental leave policies),  but what are some things parents in the United States can implement immediately that can have a positive impact?

Jessica: Two major things we could do here at home everyday is to try to teach more empathy and learn how to “hygge” (pronounced hooga) which is cozying around together with those you care about in a drama-free environment. Danes value hygge time highly and it’s something we can easily incorporate here if others agree to try, too. In Denmark, empathy is a crucial part of education and it starts being actively taught in pre-school. It is just as important as teaching Math or English. Seeing that social connectedness has been proven to be one of the number one predictors of happiness, I think that teaching more empathy as a skill at home and incorporating hygge, we could make a big difference in in our overall wellbeing.  shutterstock_415695742-600x381

L.L.: We’ve heard the “Tiger Mother” philosophy and the French parenting angle, so what distinguishes the Danish Way from these other cultural parenting perspectives or styles?
In Tiger parenting and French parenting, what the parent says goes without question, period. It is very authoritarian. This is a generalization of course but it’s pretty common in these cultures. Tiger parenting is all about blind obedience. In French parenting, children are expected to have “allegiance” to parents, which is again authoritarian. It is literally all work and no play and Danish parenting is just the opposite.

Danish parenting is about respecting the child’s integrity, listening to their needs and encouraging learning through play, trusting them to trust in themselves and having empathy for others. In Denmark, children are encouraged to question rules they don’t understand so that they feel they are fair and exist for a reason. They focus more on democracy and avoiding problems by respecting children’s integrity and believing in their goodness. I firmly believe this is why Danes, overall, have a good self-esteem and are happier. When you grow up believing your feelings and thoughts matter and the world can be just, you feel good about yourself. The philosophy of Danish parenting is teach respect, be respectful and you will be respected.

L.L.: What are a few striking differences in the way Americans parent on a day to day basis versus how Europeans parent?

Iben: Americans in general strive to make their children better than others. This is subtly dividing not connecting. It doesn’t come from a bad place, it is just how you are raised. You all want to be more special and more individual. Because it makes you feel like better parents, better human beings. And being the best is prized. You are by nature competitive because you are raised to know that the “better kids” get rewards, praise, trophies, love and their pictures on the walls etc. In a dog-eat-dog world you do everything to try to make your kid the best. You were told for a long time that nature was built on survival of the fittest. So “I” have to survive against all the others. Denmark is built on a totally different foundation. We are collectivist and raised on teamwork, democracy and togetherness. We are programmed not to stand out, but always emphasizing the “we” and that which is created jointly.

L.L.: Jessica, as an American expat who married into a Danish family, can you describe the more Danish concepts of ‘reframing‘ and ‘hygge‘ and why they were surprising to you at first?

shutterstock_231997051-600x400Jessica: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing,” my husband would say if he had to go out in freezing rain. He had such a knack for finding the silver lining in things and reframing them. He was also often making me aware of when I used extreme language such as “I hate that” or “I am terrible at that” and he would correct me to get a more exact. He was very focused on the importance of language and not being hyperbolic. But when I realized he was also doing this with our daughter’s language around her general experiences of the world, I understood that reframing was a kind of Danish skill that gets passed on through the generations. Her fears became curiosity or her negativity became more tempered all through that language altering. This ability to reframe has a profound effect on long-term happiness because how you choose to see the world greatly affects how you feel about it.

In terms of ‘hygge,’ this was something I saw from day one with my husband’s family but it took me a lot of years to finally get how powerful it is and the breakdown of its psychological components. I describe the crux of hygge as a sacred mental space you enter into with those you love and care for which is free from competition, bragging, complaining or too much negativity. It’s a limited time when you are just there to connect with others and be in a nice environment and cozy around. Many people talk about mindfulness these days, but Hygge_oath_2.jpghygge’ is a sort of “we-fulness.” The purpose is simply to be together stress free, and that feeling of safe social connectedness makes you happy. It was hard for me at first because I wasn’t used to so much “we”-time that was controversy-free, but now I love relaxing into those peaceful moments and I see how much kids absolutely thrive in this we space.

L.L.: What inspired you to write this book?

Jessica: The day I was inspired to write the book was when I was reading the newspaper and Denmark had just been voted (again) as the happiest people in the world. At the very same moment I could hear my husband altering our daughter’s language around her fear of spiders as they talked about one. I reflected on how that was going to change her future. [My daughter] would be more curious, less scared and more open. It was so Danish what he was doing (reframing) and I suddenly felt incredibly lucky to have this influence in my children’s life because I never would have known about these Danish ways otherwise. And then it hit me. The light bulb went off. There is a Danish way of parenting! And it must be one of the reasons why they grow up to be the happiest people in the world! And so the book idea was born.

Iben:  I am Danish and have been brought up on the basis of Danish culture and norms, I am deeply aware that a Danish (or Scandinavian) upbringing differs from that of many other cultures. I believe very much in the importance of learning throughout life, and I am passionate about what I do. When Jessica asked if we should collaborate about writing a book, one could say it was a perfect match. I hope the book will offer a change in perspective or a paradigm shift for someone, which at the end can change children´s life to the better.

For more information, or to connect with the authors via social media, please see:

IbenAbout the Authors: Iben Dissing Sandahl is a certified coach, author and a licensed narrative psychotherapist, MPF, with her own private practice just outside of Copenhagen. She specializes in counseling families and children. Originally trained as a teacher, she worked for 10 years in the Danish school system before earning her degree in narrative psychotherapy. She is a frequent guest expert in magazines, newspapers, and Danish national radio. She is a wife and mother of two girls, Ida and Julie.

Jessica Joelle Alexander is an American author, columnist and cultural trainer. She Jessicagraduated with a BS in a psychology and went on to teach communication and writing skills in Scandinavia and central Europe. Married to a Dane for 13 years, she lives in Rome with her husband and two children, Sophia and Sebastian.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay at: 

[Special thanks to K. Platte at Tarcher Perigee/Peguin RandomHouse. Cover and author images courtesy of Tarcher Perigee and used with permission. All other images retrieved from the DANISH WAY website on 8.31.16]

BooKs on MondaY: Leslie Lindsay talks about CAS, her daughter’s first words, advice to parents, and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay 

Happy First Day of Summer!! Yep, it’s offical, today at 3:34pm. 

I was recently approached by a communication disorders graduate student at Southern Connecticut State University who was working on an assignment in download (12)examining clinical approaches designed for various communication disorders…and she choose CAS and me to connect with. It was an honor to answer her questions and to shed a little light on this communication disorder that has so become a part of our life.

Thought you could benefit from it a bit, too. Here goes…

E.S.: When did you discover your daughter has CAS? What were some of the characteristics of CAS that you noticed your daughter possessed?

Leslie Lindsay: When we gazed at our newborn baby girl, everything about her was perfect. The flawless creamy complexion, the tuft of red hair, and the denim blue eyes. Every other parent would tell you the same about their child; that they are stunningly perfect. And they are. We all want perfection. And most of the time, we get just that. But none of us are completely perfect. When Kate didn’t say her first word “on time,” we were a little concerned. When mothers from my child birth class (who still met up regularly), boasted that their child said, “elephant,” or called the dog by name, I cringed a little inside. Kate wasn’t even saying “mama.” But there was a brightness in her eyes, a curiosity. I knew she had ideas, I knew things were connecting in her world, she just couldn’t get them out. 

It was our pediatrician who suggested there might be something more at play. We shrugged our shoulders in her sterile exam room, the one with a string of babies lined up, their naked bottoms various colors of ivory, cocoa, and peach. We decided not to pursue any action for her speech concerns at 1-year, figuring she would ‘catch-up,’ as so many children did. She was a late-bloomer, that’s all. The next few months progressed with mommy-and-me outings, play dates, baby swimming lessons, chunky book reading, and everything else of early toddlerhood. Still, no words. Until the first ‘hi’ emerged, along with a giant smile–hers and mine. And then nothing. For a long time. In fact, even ‘hi,’ became less often used. I ached to hear ‘mama,’ but finally, the second word, ‘ball’ appeared when Kate was about 21 months old. It was a challenging word for her, but she was enamored with balls. And Papa, who got her to say it. 

Kate knew the rhythm of language. We had been reading to her from the day she came home from the hospital. We talked as we did things around the house. “Mommy’s going to change your diaper now…time to eat…oooh, what color do you see?” She knew where things were in the house. I could tell her we were going to ‘go bye-bye’ and she’d race to the back door, sometimes grabbing her shoes beforehand. And she’s make approximations, too. She’d point at the correct object, or gesture when she needed something. Still, she wasn’t able to get the words out; it was like she was perpetually tongue-tied. 

At 30 months, she was finally diagnosed with CAS. I say “finally,” like we waited an eternity, when in reality, she was still young; she would be okay. It felt like a final relief just knowing what was tripping her up. 

E.S.: Were you familiar with CAS before your daughter was diagnosed?

DSCF2628Leslie Lindsay: Not at all. I had worked with kids in my job as a child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. Before that, I was well-versed in child development, psychology, and being around kids as a babysitter all through high school and college. Never once had I heard anyone talk about childhood apraxia of speech. In one of my clinical rotations in nursing school, I learned of dyspraxia, uncoordinated movements of the body and mouth. I knew some stroke patients needed rehabilitation following a CVA. I knew of speech and language loss from a TBI and I knew of Broca’s aphasia. Still, I had not heard of childhood apraxia of speech.  

E.S.: Which resources were most helpful for you when you first began researching CAS? Which resources do you call upon most now?

Leslie Lindsay: At the time, I was told to *not* go home and Google apraxia, “It will just scare you.” Well, as you can imagine, that scared me just the same! The diagnosing SLP must have seen my eyes grow as wide as saucers because she amended her statement, “Of course, you want to know what’s going on and I don’t blame you; I’d recommend a website called”

I honestly don’t think I even bothered looking them up right away; I needed to sit with the information that my daughter was “quite delayed in her speech and language patterns,” requiring “highly intensive therapy” for her to match her peers. Eventually I did venture over to Apraxia-KIDS and contrary to what I was advised, I freaked out a little there, anyway. There were questions posted to a listserv about future development, reading delays, school concerns, etc. that pretty much blew me away. There were parents who still struggled with their 8,9,10 year old children. Mine was just 2.6 years old! Don’t get me wrong: there’s definitely some value in Apraxia-KIDS; there’s something to be said about the community mentality–“we’re all in this together.”

Since then, there have been other groups that have sprouted up: CHERUB, Speech Train, and countless Facebook Groups that weren’t exactly there when we were first embarking on the CAS journey. 

ASHA also has a good deal of information on CAS and that’s probably where I’d turn now, though Kate’s apraxia has progressed so much that we don’t feel we need the resources so much any longer. 

E.S.: As a parent of a child with CAS, what has surprised you about current research addressing CAS? What direction would you like future research to take?

Leslie Lindsay: Everything! In some ways, I was surprised to learn that CAS is a neuromotor speech disorder and that sometimes, kids with CAS have more neurological concerns; a package deal, if you will. They may have AD/HD in addition to CAS, or perhaps Down’s syndrome or autism. Or even all of the above. In our case, we are dealing with both CAS and AD/HD, which makes for a highly active, inventive, and determined young lady!87c76-410_1target_group_kids_apparel_photography_los_angeles_mike_henry

E.S.: How has the nature of your daughter’s communication changed with intervention?

Leslie Lindsay: Greatly! Well-meaning others ensured us that Kate would eventually “grow out” of her apraxia. Still others claimed she didn’t need to talk because she had such attentive (coddling?) parents. Even still, we heard that we weren’t doing all we could for her–or that was how it was perceived–that we needed to read more to her, dance with her (that movement helped speech), talk with her more. We were doing all of those things, and still, nothing in the way of communication. I guess my point here is, if you suspect a problem, listen to your gut. Only a qualified SLP can make the diagnosis. Only they can provide therapy. Listen to them. Go to therapy. Go as much as your insurance or pocketbook,and time will allow. Kids with apraxia do not simply “grow out of it.”

E.S.: Which interventions have been most effective for your child?

Leslie Lindsay: Many will swear by PROMPT and that might very well work for them. Our therapist used a variety of approaches, including PROMPT, Cued Language, Sign Language (ASL), and movement. I firmly believe it was the movement (occupational therapy/OT) piece that unlocked Kate’s voice. Plus, we worked tirelessly with her at home, working speech practice into our daily routine so it felt natural and accessible. 

E.S. What are some coping strategies she has adopted when communication becomes difficult?

Leslie Lindsay: Kate is full of ideas and she wants to express them! When she was younger, it was the “writing center” in preschool where she would draw, craft, create, and everything in between. As she got a little older, she became more active in her play instead of the docile ‘tea party’ style of play so typical of little girls and was a bit more ‘rough and tumble,’ perhaps more in line with how little boys play.  Around the same time, she would gesture or bring me something she wanted to do. I still chuckle at the memory of her bringing me a swimming suit in the dead of winter and wanting to go to the pool. I let her wear the suit around the house that day, and she gleefully pretended to swim on the family room floor. 

E.S.: What are some suggestions you’d like to make for parents of children with CAS? What would like future SLPs to know about treating children with CAS?

Leslie Lindsay: Parents--know that as serious as apraxia seems, it will improve. It takes years of therapy and a multitude of patience on your part and your child’s but you will all get there. Also, know that you are an important advocate for your child. Since she can’t speak for herself, you have to, but do so in a supportive, encouraging manner. You’re an integral part of the team, a partner with your child’s SLP. 

SLPs–we want what’s best for our child. We want to help in all ways possible. We want to know what you like about our child, what her potential is, how you see her progressing. We want to know her treatment goals and how she is meeting them. Finally, we want to know if we are doing the right things. 

For more information about Leslie, her work with apraxia, or to follow on social media, please see: 

  • Leslie’s main website where she hosts bestselling and debut authors, and occasionally shares her own fiction
  • Follow her on Facebook where she posts about Apraxia/Child Psychology/Parenting/Literacy 
  • Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1
  • For more information, or to purchase SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012), click here

Leslie Author PicLeslie Lindsay is the author of Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (2012), Woodbine House, an award finalist for both Reader’s Choice and ForeWord Review, and 2nd place winner of the Walter Williams Award for Excellence in Non-fiction. A former R.N. at the Mayo Clinic, Leslie has worked extensively with children and has a background in psychiatry. She has participated in several fiction workshops, most recently at The University of Wisconsin—Madison.  In addition, she contributes to two critique groups, and works closely with a critique partner. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two young daughters, and a basset puppy.

Apraxia Monday: Guest Post Surviving & Thriving with a Special Needs Child

By Leslie Lindsay 

Absolutely touched and honored to be mentioned in this lovely article written by Indiana mom, V. Cantwell for National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (March 2016):

Surviving and Thriving with a Special Needs Child

A happy, easy baby: that’s what our daughter Lauren was from the time she was born. She nursed and napped often and easily and started sleeping through the night at just over four months old. Overall, our beautiful blue-eyed daughter fit into our family seamlessly. She and I found our rhythm as mother and daughter, and life with a baby in the house was sailing along smoothly.

Somewhere before her first birthday, my husband starting seeing signs that something was wrong. She wasn’t cooing or babbling. Because he has two older daughters, he knew this wasn’t normal. When she ate solid food, she stuffed her mouth full without swallowing. And then things started to snowball… her first words were late, she wasn’t walking yet, her vocabulary was nowhere near where her pediatrician recommended. It was clear: she was missing many of her milestones. Something was wrong with our little girl’s development. But what was it? Why was this happening?

Little did I know that we were beginning our journey with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS. We had a long road ahead of us, and it wasn’t going to be easy.

Around this time, our pediatrician referred us to First Steps, Indiana’s early intervention program. Lauren qualified because of her developmental delays, which led to over a year of physical and speech therapy. When she “aged out” of First Steps at age three, the next step was to see if she qualified for a Developmental Preschool based on her speech. (A developmental preschool is a preschool especially designed for children with special needs, whether it is a disability or a developmental delay.) She qualified, so she was able to continue getting the speech and occupational therapy she so desperately needed. On my daughter’s third birthday, we strapped her little backpack on, watched her make the big climb up the school bus steps, and sent her to preschool. She literally rode a school bus (with special car seats for toddlers, but still!). We also learned that music therapy and hippo-therapy could help, so she went to music classes and horse-riding therapy. We still had no idea why this was happening: her speech was jumbled, she couldn’t say her own name, and she couldn’t keep up with kids her age on the (12)

After Lauren started at her amazing preschool, we finally got our answer. Lauren’s speech therapist thought it was  Apraxia of Speech, a neurologically-based motor speech disorder. Without getting technical, basically this means that when her brain tried to tell her mouth or muscles what to do, the message got scrambled. She knew what she wanted to say, but when the words came out, they were often unintelligible. I immediately started researching. Thankfully I found an amazing book that changed my life: “Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech” by Leslie Lindsay, an R.N. and mother with a child like mine. I knew it: this was it. We finally had our answer. We learned that CAS has nothing to do with intelligence. And we finally started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lauren is now seven years old, is just as easy going and happy as when she was born, and is the greatest joy in my life. She ended up spending three years in developmental preschool. We had to hold her back and start her in kindergarten a year later than her peers, upon her teacher’s recommendation at her annual IEP meeting. (An IEP is a document that all children who qualify for special services receive, and is developed by parents, therapists, teachers and other school staff during an IEP meeting.) She still gets speech therapy twice a week at school, and probably will until at least the third grade. CAS has slightly affected her ability to learn to read and recite her numbers. But overall, she loves school, is incredibly social, is keeping up with the other kids, and even participated in dance and swim lessons last year.

Lauren Dance Recital

Our daughter was lucky enough to be diagnosed early, had access to therapy, had a family and school that were extremely involved in her development, has had an easy-going temperament which didn’t cause her to get frustrated, and is motivated to try at her therapy sessions. All of these things have led her to where she is today.

This process of mothering a child with special needs has been challenging. I am an achiever, a perfectionist, and extremely type A. I have had to accept that Lauren will do things at her own pace, in her own time. Play dates were not easy for either of us when Lauren was younger. It’s not easy to hear that your child is struggling at school during IEP meetings. What I’ve learned through Lauren’s diagnosis of CAS is that life is not always easy, and sometimes the hard things make you better: kinder, more understanding, more empathetic, more patient.

If your child is struggling with a delay or disorder of some sort, no matter where you are with a diagnosis, hang in there. Keep the faith. Be your child’s advocate and biggest cheerleader. Do the work. Be patient with both yourself and your child. And know that it does get better, I promise.

About Vanessa

indianapolis_circle_logo-200x200Vanessa is a proud Hoosier, currently residing in and raising her family on the north side of Indy in Westfield. She earned an undergraduate degree in Real Estate and a Master’s degree in Accounting from Indiana University. After graduation, she built the majority of her career at an S&P 100 company in Indianapolis. Recently she stepped away from the business world to recharge and focus on her family. Vanessa met her husband Ian in 2008, as well as his two beautiful daughters Audrey and Olivia, and the two quickly welcomed their daughter Lauren to the world in 2009. She enjoys being a “girl mom” and having adventures around town as a family. Now that she’s out of the rat race, she enjoys volunteering at the Grace Church choice food pantry and planning parties for her daughter’s classroom as a room parent. Her interests include working out, reading, anything red velvet, spoiling her two cats Gilbert and Grady and traveling to Michigan as often as possible.

[Originally on Indianopolis Moms Blog 3.28.16.]

Guest Blogger: The AD/HD Parenting Checklist

By Leslie Lindsay 

It’s always such a joy when I can host a lovely writer on my blog–one that brings a fresh new voice and approach to your world. Join us today as we delve into one of my favorite topics: managing life with a child with AD/HD. Whether it’s your own, or perhaps a student in your classroom, we can all benefit from learning a little more about how to understand this often mis-understood diagnosis. This comes to you from Kentucky a mother of two. Take it away, Vee!

The ADHD Parenting Checklist

Guest Blogger: Vee Cecil

The CDC estimates that about 11 percent of children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is a tricky condition to manage (and an even trickier one to diagnose), especially when it comes to your child. While there is no manual on how to conquer every challenge ADHD throws your way, here’s a checklist to ensure that as a parent, you’re providing a winning atmosphere for your child:images (5)

Make sure your child has a strong support system. ADHD can make even the most mundane tasks a challenge, so be his biggest fan. Don’t merely correct bad behavior, recognize and reward good behavior. Provide him a safe outlet to vent his frustrations, whether it’s with you, a sibling or even a canine companion. ADHD often causes people with the condition to feel isolated and detached from family and friends, so make sure your child knows you love and support him exactly how he is.

Keep your expectations in perspective. ADHD affects impulse control, focus, organization, and planning. It doesn’t mean you should “baby” your child or give him unfair advantages compared to his siblings; it merely means you may have to provide a few accommodations. It could be as simple as helping him create a list of exactly what needs to get done in order for his room to be “clean.” Instead of becoming frustrated if he struggles with a task, use the opportunity to figure out how he works best and embrace it.

Make sure communication is always clear. Use simple, direct language when giving your child instruction, but don’t be condescending. When a problem arises, ask your child what’s challenging him and come up with a solution together. Listen to him, and if he interrupts you while you’re speaking, calmly ask him to let you finish your thought. Come up with a nonverbal cue (like holding up two fingers) that can be used during arguments as a polite reminder to take turns speaking.

Don’t forget about the siblings. Educate your other children about ADHD so they can better understand their sibling. Establish house rules that apply to everyone, and clearly explain any accommodations for your child with ADHD. Don’t split time between the kids; instead, organize activities the entire family can enjoy together. Perhaps most importantly, let them all be kids. Don’t make your other children feel like they have to co-parent their sibling with ADHD, and don’t blame them if he misbehaves under their supervision.

Never underestimate your home’s aesthetics. Ensure that your entire home, especially your child’s bedroom, is kept neat and organized. It may even help to color code and label items with their rightful homes. Even your décor can make a difference: earth tones like greens and blues have been known to create a soothing atmosphere, especially when combined with serene artwork of natural scenes.

Parenting a child with ADHD is no small feat, but don’t forget to also take care of yourself. Set the example by eating right and exercising, even combining routines with your child. Work together and soon, this checklist will simply be your way of life!

27ac485Bio: Vee Cecil is a wellness coach and personal trainer. She is passionate about educating others on health and wellness topics via her blog. She lives with her husband and two children in Kentucky.

Follow along the Speaking of Apraxia Blog for more like this:

Coming up in April: Heather Shumaker’s new book, IT’S OKAY TO GO UP THE SLIDE (TarcherPerigee; March 8, 2016) and Adam Grant’s ORIGINALS: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Viking; February 2).

[Vee Cecil image retrieved from her blog on 2.24.16. Image of girl retrieved from Pezibear on 2.25.16] 


BookS on Monday: Meet Patricia Spencer and Lynne Koester of NURTURING LANGUAGE & LEARNING IN DEAF & HARD-OF-HEARING INFANTS & TODDLERS

By Leslie Lindsay 

As a former child/adolescent psych RN and mother of a child with apraxia of speech (CAS), I gravitated toward this book for several reasons. But one that stands out is that I have a friend raising a son with mild-moderate hearing loss. Four years ago, they didn’t understand why he failed his newborn hearing test. 9780199931323 (1)Several years (and hearing aids later), they now have a much greater understanding of hearing loss in infants and children, the slower language acquisition, as well as the benefits of early intervention (EI). Plus, they have an amazing 4 year old who is making strides in social and academic settings; he’s not much different than any other preschooler.

Authors and researchers Spencer and Koester have culled the research for you, placing it between two covers and making the world of hearing impaired and deaf infants and toddlers more accessible. NURTURING LANGUAGE & LEARNING: Development of Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Infants & Toddlers is a wealth of information on “typical” infant-toddler development, paired with struggles of the child with hearing impairments. What might be different for a parent and child if hearing, a vital sense is affected? Spencer and Koester will show you through various examples and research.

Today, I am honored to have Patricia Spencer and Lynne Koester talk with us about the challenges faced by child and parent when hearing is compromised.

Leslie Lindsay: Thank you for popping by today, Pat and Lynne. I am absolutely amazed at the wealth of knowledge poured into NURTURING LANGUAGE & LEARNING: Development of Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Infants & Toddlers. Bravo! Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book, and who is your intended audience?

Pat Spencer: Our goal was to create a kind of “handbook” for parents whose little ones are identified to have hearing loss either at birth or during the early months and years of life.  What developmental accomplishments can be expected?  Which ones remain special challenges? What can parents do to best encourage and support these accomplishments?  We even put together a series of lists of developmental steps that might be expected at different ages, noting when limits to hearing (or to vision) present special challenges.  Despite remaining challenges, we wanted to emphasize the great progress that is being made by so many deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers. We have included stories about the relatively large proportion of young children with limited hearing who have multiple disabilities.  These children can also make much more developmental progress than in the past—but supportive early intervention services are required.

Lynne Koester:  Much of our writing together in the past has been primarily for academic audience, and we felt it was time for some of the “scientific” information to be made more accessible to parents and professionals involved directly with children in the early years. We also wanted to highlight – through vignettes at the beginning of many chapters — some of the cultural and economic variations that can have important influences on the development of children with any kind of disability. The progress being made depends on availability of supportive services, but early identification, early intervention, and even appropriate educational practices are still not available in many parts of the world.

Mother_signing_childL.L.: As much as we want our children to be exceptional, we are often saddled with things that aren’t so-perfect. My oldest daughter suffered from childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) when she was younger. I have other friends who have children with Down’s syndrome, Cru di Chat, AD/HD, and mild-moderate hearing loss. What might you advise parents who are grieving the loss of the so-called “perfect” child?

Pat Spencer: Just as each infant and toddler is unique, so is each parent.  We bring our own experiences and personalities, as well as our expectations of what our children will be like, to our roles as parents.   When our little one doesn’t act in the way we expect—or, importantly, when we have been led to believe that he or she faces overwhelming barriers—we can be thrown off kilter.  We worry whether we can be “the right kind” of parent for this baby…and  fears about our babies’ challenges can lead to some pretty devastating parental emotional reactions.  We want to emphasize, however, that this is not always the case.

“Parents find a variety of paths to overcoming their worries and finding their own and their baby’s strengths:  support from family and friends; sharing information as well as experiences and feelings with other parents; getting to know deaf and hard-of-hearing adults and their accomplishments; making use of support provided by early intervention and other professionals.” ~Patricia Elizabeth Spencer

It is most important, however, that a parent reach out to others—family members, friends, their intervention specialist—if he or she feels overwhelmed, becomes unusually sad, begins to withdraw from others, or even no longer finds that playing with or cuddling the little one is rewarding.  The intervention team should make sure that emotional support from a professional such as a social worker or a psychologist is obtained…whatever helps the parent, also very directly helps the baby.

Lynne Koester: […]social and emotional development are just as important to the overall health of any child as are advances in other realms (intellectual, language, physical, etc.).

L.L.: Full-disclosure: Our first-born failed her newborn screening test for hearing. As a new mom, I was puzzled. The nurse explained that there are sometimes false positives and recommended we re-test in a week or two. Her hearing was just fine when we returned. Still, it caused alarm. How do those newborn screening tests work and why are they important?baby-with-hearingaid

Pat Spencer Hearing screening(the newborn test) essentially asks “Does she respond to these sounds the way we expect for her age?  If not, let’s wait awhile and test again.”  Results of the screening can be thrown off by fluid or other material in the baby’s middle or inner ear for some hours or days after birth.  Or, screening findings can be influenced if the baby moves around or is crying.  As a result, it is not uncommon for a baby to be referred for further testing but turn out to have no hearing loss at all.

When screening for most things, we would rather miss by over-referring for further testing than miss by under-referring.  This is certainly true for infant hearing loss.  Why?  Good data—piles of information—show us that finding limits to hearing early, if early intervention services are then provided, it really promotes developing language, thinking skills, even social and emotional abilities…faster, more complete, more easily than if support for development doesn’t happen until later.  It can be really scary for the parents of a newborn to be told “more testing needed.”  We don’t mean to downplay the anxiety…but the benefits of finding those who are deaf or hard of hearing are so great.

 L.L.: As with hearing issues (deafness/hard-of-hearing/loss) in newborns, I am sure the causes vary. Can you speak to that please?

Pat Spencer:  Currently, about half of newborn or early hearing loss is “genetic,” resulting from different patterns in a baby’s  chromosomes or genes.  These patterns can be “recessive” and “hidden” for generations; others are “dominant” and tend to show up generation after generation.  Some tend to cause hearing loss only, while others (for example, Alport  or Usher Syndromes) present with disabilities in multiple areas.  In some cases, the hearing loss is not present at birth but occurs over the first few years.

In perhaps another quarter of cases, illness is thought to have caused  loss of hearing.  Sometimes it is an illness the mother has during pregnancy. These include viruses like CMV (cytomegalovirus) and (in parts of the world where vaccinations are not common) rubella or German measles.  Some viral diseases can be so mild in the mother-to-be that she doesn’t even know she has been sick.

Infants and toddlers can also contract illnesses after birth that can affect hearing—for example, viral meningitis.  Certain types of antibiotics, which may be needed to save a baby’s life, can cause loss of hearing.  In addition, birth trauma, prematurity, breathing problems, and even severe jaundice can—but do not always—result in hearing loss. 

Medical and genetic specialists are still unable to identify the cause of hearing loss in about a fourth of cases.  Knowing what caused limited hearing can help us predict special challenges that will be faced—and occasionally how we can best address them.  However, in many cases, knowing the cause doesn’t tell us how a baby will progress.  Even babies with the same identified cause have great individual differences in how they can best learn and the paths they take developmentally.

L.L.: What specific challenges does a parent of a child with deafness (or hard-of-hearing) encounter on a daily basis? Can you provide a few examples of how a parent may successfully overcome some of those?

Pat Spencer: Many parents report that the biggest challenge is having enough time–Time for visits to doctors and audiologists, time for home visits from the early intervention specialists, and time for other children or family members.   All this in addition to all the time that any baby or toddler requires!

The primary concern for parents of a deaf or hard-of-hearing baby is how to best support communication and language skills.  We emphasize in the book (based on solid research) that if there are no other developmental challenges, hearing loss should not delay basic communication skills.  These include expressing emotion, gesturing, actions with toys and other objects.  Learning language is, however, a different matter and requires that babies and toddlers have an accessible language model used in their daily activities.  This can be  language received through vision (sign language or cued speech) or through hearing, using a hearing aid or cochlear implant.  Many deaf and hard-of-hearing children benefit from combining both approaches.

josh01_MDL.L.: I understand early intervention is highly recommended. The sooner a child is fitted with a hearing aid, the better. Can you describe what that process looks like?

Pat Spencer: Younger brains are more flexible and much early learning is supported by naturally-occurring, everyday experiences. (Later, more structured activities may be required.)  Babies learn how to use their hearing better if they begin wearing a hearing aid before rather than after 6 months of age….and 3 months seems even better.  This also prevents them from falling farther behind on listening experience.

For the baby, getting a hearing aid tuned up and in the ear is easy; it doesn’t hurt!  It is not so easy, however, for the audiologist (hearing specialist). Special training and experience working with babies is necessary.  Parents need to be directly involved in the process, too: making sure the hearing aid is actually worn, and reporting to the audiologist how the baby reacts to sounds during daily activities. Parents may respond to special questionnaires to help the audiologist know whether the aid is increasing various sounds as best possible.  Repeated audiology visits will be required to monitor the effectiveness of the hearing aid over time.

Hearing aids aren’t magic.  They often don’t provide full access to sounds, especially when the hearing loss is severe.  Although the technology continues to advance, sounds received through them may be distorted—and it is especially difficult to hear clearly when in a noisy situation.  These are some of the reasons that signs or cued speech are also often used with deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers.

L.L.: But early intervention is more than “just” a hearing aid. It may involve parent education and support, small group work, and more. Yet, it seems state funding for such programs are decreasing. What might parents do to ensure their child (and themselves!) receive the supportive programs they need?

Pat Spencer: Federal legislation, Part C of the IDEA  (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), extended intervention services down in age to birth to 3 years.  These services are to be available to all little ones with developmental delay or “potential for developmental delay” due to physical, cognitive, or medical issues.  The definition of “developmental delay” is made at each state level, however, so parents need to find out what is available in their own state. Intervention services should be in place by the time an infant is 6 months old. A team of professionals should be involved, including a case manager or primary intervention specialist who is trained and knowledgeable about little ones with limited hearing.  Services should be provided to the family as a whole and not focus on the child in isolation. 

Parents may have to advocate for their child’s needs.  Current information about recommended services is available from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association.  Parent organizations, such as Hands and Voices can be helpful . The CHIP (Colorado Home Intervention Program,) provides a model for proven high quality services for deaf or hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers.  In addition, Dr. Marilyn Sass-Lehrer’s new book “Early Intervention for Deaf and Hard-of Hearing Infants, Toddlers, and their Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” is a good resource about recommended serviceshandsandvoices

L.L.: Is there anything I may have forgotten to ask that you’d like to share?

Pat Spencer: The impact of warm, responsive interactions between parents or caregivers and young children cannot be over emphasized.  Many of the skills and behaviors that most adults “intuitively” use with little ones seem amazingly well designed to support their development…development of social and emotional abilities as well as motor (or physical), visual attention, communication, and language abilities. EI

We tend to use lots of sensory channels during interactions (holding and cuddling, crooning, smiling and nodding in rhythm with the baby’s movements), an we tend to show and direct attention to toys and people, while assuming that the baby’s behaviors have meaning and responding to that meaning.  These kinds of experiences provide the base from which later skills will develop regardless of the baby’s hearing abilities.  Parents  should recognize the power of these naturally-occurring behaviors…perhaps increasing some of them as their individual baby or toddler shows them what is working best, what is most appealing or engaging.  Despite remaining challenges for deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers (and their parents), great progress continues to be made.

L.L.: Thank you so very much for this very important book and for taking the time to chat with us, Patricia and Lynne.

Patricia and Lynne: Best wishes and congratulations on all you are contributing.

Final Note: As for that sweet four-year old mentioned above, he’s doing great! His mom, Meghan recommends these books and resources for more information on deaf and hard-of-hearing children:

A strong, supportive foundation for optimal learning is achieved from early, positive, and responsive 9780199931323 (1)experiences. With Nurturing Language and Learning, Patricia Elizabeth Spencer and Lynne Sanford Koester provide the expert information and guidelines needed for professionals and parents in order to build that critical foundation. ~Oxford University Press, 2016

  • For more information, please take a look at Oxford University Press’s page.
  • Available in print and ebook.

Patricia Elizabeth Spencer, Ph.D. has been a teacher, assessment specialist, and educational advocate for deaf Patricia Spencerand hard-of-hearing students (including those with multiple learning challenges) across the age range of infancy through post-graduate levels. Her work at the Gallaudet Research Institute focused on early interaction, play, and language development. She has worked internationally as a researcher and educational consultant and has written extensively on issues related to development and education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Lynne KoesterLynne Sanford Koester retired after 25 years of teaching developmental psychology at the University of Montana and at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She has also worked in Ethiopia, Austria, and Germany, and is the former Director of the Intercultural Youth and Family Development graduate program at her university. Her research has focused primarily on infant development within the family context – parenting behaviors and cultural influences, early parent-child interactions, and intuitive parenting.

[With special thanks to C. McCarroll at OUP. Cover image used courtesy of OUP. Author images provided by P. Spencer and L. Koester and used with permission. Mother signing with child retrieved from on 1.23.16, baby with hearing aid retrieved from the CDC on 1.23.16, boy with instructor retrieved from on 1.23.16


BooKs on MondaY: SOMETIMES is opening boundaries in children’s literature

By Leslie Lindsay 

When I was younger, my parents emphasized learning a second language, preferably Spanish. It was a close cousin to Italian, my paramour and so Spanish it was. I’m no where near fluent, but I can see the appeal it had to my parents. I’ve used my limited Spanish skills in various jobs I’ve held from R.N. to writer, and sometimes in the highly Hispanic community in which I live. download (3)

Written by Texas elementary teacher Hugo Ibarra and expert ELL educator John Seidlitz, SOMETIMES is written from first-hand experiences from their students and parents as well as Ibarra’s own story of immigration.

Andreas and Clara are living in Mexico with their mother. Their father has been absent from the family for some time now, sending money to the Qwik Mart each week…until one day the money stops. Eventually, Andreas and Clara’s tia (aunt) arrives from Texas with a promise to take them home with her, but leaving their mother behind. Immigrating from Mexico to a strange U.S. town brings new sights to their young eyes, from boarder patrol to a new school, Andreas and Clara can’t fathom a life away from their mother. With help and encouragement from a beloved teacher, their young lives improve and a welcome surprise comes at the end.

Told in simple, easy-to-read text with colorful images, SOMETIMES is a most touching story on immigration, an authentic experience being made a reality by more and more people.

Best suited for kids ages 4-8 and their caregiver, SOMETIMES is a heart-warming tale of what some families have to do to survive, as well as the amazing sacrifices and influences of an amazing teacher.

If you read SOMETIMES, here are some discussion points to enhance your experience:

  •  Ask your child(ren) about teachers at their school. Is there a particular teacher they feel comfortable talking with about their worries and concerns. Emphasize that teachers play unique roles in the lives of their students: stable role model, leadership, mentor, and more.
  • Have a discussion with your child(ren) about what immigration means. With 2016 being an election year, your children may be hearing more and more about the concept. What is your stance? Consider sharing America’s history with your children/students. After all, America is a melting pot of various cultures. Did your family immigrate from Ireland? Italy? Germany? China? Somewhere else? Read about Ellis Island. Study your family history/family tree.
  • Talk about how teachers can help students with any transition, whether it’s a move across town or across the country, teachers are there to help and encourage.
  • Do you have neighbors from another country living near you? Perhaps you can attempt to understand their ethnic backgrounds. In our suburban Chicago suburb we live near families from Russia, India, China, and other countries. How might we break cultural barriers and become neighborly? What if they don’t speak English?

For more information on SOMETIMES, or to order, please see: 


download (2)John Seidlitz, founder and CEO of Seidlitz Education, works with teachers around the country implementing strategies that promote academic language development through innovative trainings and materials. Mr. Seidlitz is a former social studies and ESL teacher, and has served as a secondary ESL program coordinator and a state education specialist. In 2009 Mr. Seidlitz founded Seidlitz Education with the mission of Giving Kids the Gift of Academic Language.™

Hugo Ibarra immigrated to the United States when he was 25. After studying 91OOGEpWXEL._UX250_immigrant children for his thesis, he received a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from The University of Texas at Tyler and began his career as a Bilingual Education Teacher in Longview, Texas. Ibarra is currently the an elementary school principal in Bryan, Texas. Sometimesis his first children’s book


BookS on MondaY: Laura Choate talks about raising girls in a toxic culture, the importance of the family dinner, stress & coping in tween years


Girls these days have a lot to live up to. Not only does society harbor the impression that girls ought to be bright, thin, beautiful, thin, hot, sexy, and strong yet soft and feminine. They need to be divas, yet liked by peers and adults. They should exude kindness, but still “get ahead.” The world gives our girls a lot of contradictory images to uphold and it’s no wonder we falter in supporting them. Laura Choate, therapist and mother to a daughter (and son), has taken it upon herself to present a balanced approach to parenting a daughter in this so-called “toxic culture,” this concept of SWIMMING UPSTREAM.

As a former child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. with a strong interest in supporting adolescent girls in self-esteem and coping skills, and a mother to two pre-teen daughters, I get it. It’s not easy raising a daughter. Yet, as parents we have such an important job to convey our messages of love and support, and being there with the tough gets going.

Today, I am honored to have Dr. Laura Choate pop over to chat with usabout  SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture.

Leslie Lindsay: Laura, it’s wonderful for to you swing by! You’re a counselor, professor, and mom. What ultimately inspired you to write SWIMMING UPSTREAM? Was there an ‘ah-ha’ moment?

Laura Choate:  In 2013 I had just finished a book, Adolescent Girls in Distress: a Guide to Mental Health Prevention and Treatment (Springer Press), and it was geared to counselors so that they could better understand cultural influences directed towards girls, girls’ development and mental health, and how to treat common mental health problems in girls. After it was published I had a “light bulb” moment when I realized that while counselors need these types of resources, it is parents who are in need of information about today’s culture, how it can affect their daughters, and about what they can do to help their daughters stay resilient in the face of cultural influences. As a parent of a 10 year old daughter, I also recognized how toxic the culture is for today’s girls and how much support parents really need. So I decided to write a new book specifically geared towards parents, and that’s how this book came to be.

L.L.: Because of these seemingly unattainable standards, many girls experience stress, anxiety, eating disorders, self-doubt, depression, and even suicidal ideation.  Can you speak to that, please?

Laura Choate: I agree, and it is a real concern that these problems are on the rise in adolescent girls, and that they disproportionately affect girls and women more so than boys and men. For example, boys and girls experience similar rates of depression until around age 12, but after 12 girls are twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with depression. We also know that rates of depression triple in girls between the ages of 12-15 – from 5% at age 12 to 15% by age 15. It is clear that the transition to puberty and early adolescence is a high-risk period for girls.  They really need our support during this time.

L.L.:  I really love the fabulous text boxes sprinkled throughout the book. They contain activities readers can try (and discuss) with their daughter(s), as well as self-reflection activities for parents.  It makes the narrative so much more accessible for busy families. What are some of your favorite activities mentioned within the book? And have you tried them with your own daughter?

Laura Choate:  I am glad you like them! I tried to make the book as practical as possible so that parents would have some actual tools for applying the concepts described in the book. One thing that is always important and fun to do with my own daughter is co-viewing media and asking her e481fbed721f29d2-163x255questions about what we are watching (e.g., “Why is the female hero in Jurassic World wearing a tight white tank top, skirt, and heels while running through the jungle, while the male hero is wearing hiking boots? or “Why do you think they are using these images to sell this product?” or even “What do you like about this show?” ) I don’t overdo it because it can become annoying when she is just trying to enjoy a show, but I think it is important to instill critical thinking skills in our daughters at a young age.  It is also great to ask questions with print ads as well: “What is the product they are trying to sell? Why did they choose these particular models? What image are they trying to convey? Will using this product bring about the lifestyle being promoted in the ad?” These are great conversations to have and they work well to promote media literacy in our daughters.

I also like to use exercises to help girls evaluate their friendships. To see if their friendships are healthy, they can ask themselves some of the questions I describe in the book: (1) List 5 qualities you are looking for in a friend (2) Do your current friends have these qualities? If not, what draws you to these friendships? (3) Do you have these same qualities? What can you do to work on these qualities in yourself? And finally, (4) Does spending time around your friends cause you to feel better or worse about yourself? Do they support you and build you up, or are they a source of stress in your life?

L.L.: One piece of advice I came across in SWIMMING UPSTREAM is the importance of face time, family rituals, parent self-care, and family meals. Can you share more?

imagesLaura Choate:  A big theme in the book is Love and Acceptance.  A girl needs to feel accepted as she is, not according to who the culture tells her she should be. If she looks to the culture for acceptance, she will feel that she never measures up—not pretty enough, thin enough, accomplished enough, popular enough.  But if she feels loves and accepted just as she is by her parents and support system, this builds resilience and keeps her from desperately looking to others to validate her or pay attention to her.  So accept your daughter just as she is, not who you wish she could be…not if she loses a few pounds or makes better grades or wins first place. Let her know that you love her and that you like spending time with her. Help her know that she is wonderful just as she is!

L.L.: But sometimes there are issues and concerns that go beyond family dinner and listening. How do we know when our girls need a little more assistance than we can provide at home (i.e. therapy, in-patient hospitalization, medication)? What threshold should we be looking at?

Laura Choate: I agree, and that is why I included a chapter in the book about signs and symptoms of common mental health problems in girls: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and sexual trauma.  Parents should be familiar with these symptoms and pay attention to any changes in their daughter’s attitudes and behaviors that might be of concern. It is hard to state all of the warning signs here, but I would say that if you notice changes that concern you, seek professional help earlier than later. Prevention and early intervention is always more effective than waiting until her problems have become deeply entrenched.

L.L.: You mention this wonderful coping skill set that I wanted to reiterate. It goes something like this: 1) Find something fun to do 2) Find an activity to release energy/stay healthy, 3) engage in a soothing/relaxing activity, 4) increase social support, and 5) find a way to change the way you think about a situation. Wow! That’s an amazingly simple and effective recipe. Can you talk more about that?

Laura Choate: Yes, these are suggestions for developing a coping skills repertoire—the idea is that you need to have some coping strategies in place to help you manage multiple types of stressors. For example, sometimes you need something to release energy in order to feel better, while other times you just need to relax. It’s important to realize what you need and to have a go-to strategy when you need it! These strategies are drawn from the ACTION treatment program, a research-based program designed for the treatment of childhood depression, but I find that they are helpful for everyone.

L.L.: What advice would you give to parents of t(w)een girls in four words?

Laura Choate:  Love her, Accept her, Validate her, Like her!

L.L: What other books or resources might you recommend for raising girls?

Laura Choate:  I have a recommended reading list in my book, but some resources I used heavily in the book are: Ginsberg (2011) Building resilience in children and teens; Homayoun, A. (2012) Myth of the perfect girl; Helping our daughters find authentic success and happiness in school and life; Deak., J (2003). Girls will be girls: Raising confident and courageous daughters; Hemmen L. (2012) Parenting a teen girl; Crash course on conflict, communication, and connection with your teenage daughter; Levin, D. & Kilbourne, J. (2008). So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids; Steiner-Adair, C. (2013). The big disconnect: Protecting childhood and family relationships in the digital age, and finally Levine, M. (2012). Teach your children well. download (1)

And I write as a parenting expert blogger on Psychology and address these issues regularly, so that is another place you can go for additional reading!

L.L.: Oh, I feel like I could go on and go…alas we both have other things to attend to! Is there anything I should have asked, but forgot?

Laura Choate:  Just a final note that parenting is hard, and parenting tween girls is both a blessing and a challenge!  I think it is important that parents become aware that the current culture is toxic for our daughters, and so we need to take action to decide how we are going to respond. I encourage parents not to throw up their hands and accept that “this is just the way things are…”; instead we can make decisions as to what we want for our families and what kind of adults we want our daughters to grow up to be, and then parent from those values. We don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. As I say in the book, we can choose to swim upstream.

L.L.: Thanks, Laura for being with us and sharing your wonderful book, SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Parenting Girls For Resilience in a Toxic Culture.

Laura Choate: Thank you so much for your careful reading of the book and for giving me an opportunity to share some of the highlights!

Laura ChoateLaura H. Choate, EdD, LPC, is a Jo Ellen Levy Yates Endowed Professor in Counselor Education at Louisiana State University. Dr. Choate is the author of three books:  Girls and Women’s Wellness: Contemporary Counseling Issues and Interventions (2008), Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Counselor’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment (edited; 2013), and Adolescent Girls in Distress: A Guide to Mental Health Treatment and Prevention (2013) with her fourth book, Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture, published in November by Oxford University Press. She lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and preteen son and daughter.

Laura is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and tweets @DrLauraChoate.

[With special thanks to E. Hallick at Oxford University Press. Cover and author images courtesy of OUP. Image of tween girl selfie from on 12.3.15, family meal image from ]