Help! My child was diagnosed with learning disabilities.

“My child’s teacher wants to set up a meeting: she says there are too many “red flags” all over the place concerning her performance at school. She thinks we might need to have her tested.”

In the “old days”, students with different learning styles  or learning disabilities simply didn’t fit it – they were labeled “dumb”, “slow”, or “lazy”. They fell between the cracks, fell behind, and ended up in vocational or trade schools. The Toronto school system decided early on what their outcomes would be, and that was that.

Today, students who are not achieving or meeting expectations in elementary school are discovered, but the way we deal with them has changed enormously. It is a good thing when teachers call home, letting parents know their child is having difficulty. It’s time to put heads together and see what’s up.

What the teacher might be seeing is behavior such as social withdrawal, nail-biting, fidgeting, poor attention, acting out “being the class clown” etc. At home, you may have bed-wetting, Sunday night stomache-aches, or even school refusal starting to kick in. All of these markers provide clues that your child may be struggling with regular grade-level work. On the flip side, it can also indicate your child is  bored – that the classroom work is beneath his/her abilities.

If you or the teacher suspect a potential learning disability, it’s time to join forces and request a meeting.

Gather information to share:

  • Is this new behavior?
  • Was your child having challenges last year?
  • How is your child doing socially, outside of the classroom?

Parents can provide an enormous amount of information to support the classroom teacher’s observations.

Pay attention to your child over a week or so, and take notes about:

  • His or her mood after school – is he wiped out? Stressed? Angry?
  • What else is he/she doing during the week – how many extra curriculars have you booked?
  • What subject areas does he/she love? Hate? Refuses to even look at?
  • Is he/she reading for pleasure – what level? Picture books, graphic novels, chapter books?
  • How much screen time is allowed at home? (computers, devices, TV, gaming systems etc)
  • Bedtimes.  How many hours of sleep does he/she get?

Bring all this to a meeting scheduled with your classroom teacher, and be open to what they have to share about what they observe in the classroom. Then, together you can decide if further investigation is warranted. In the Toronto public school system, the next step is asking for a “team meeting”. Your teacher can set this up for you.

To learn more about how to enlist my services, simply call or email to set up a free 30 minute telephone consultation.

Parent support for Asperger’s/ASD in Toronto

If you are the parent of a child/adolescent with ASD, you may often feel isolated. It is a huge challenge to parent children with atypical development!

Parents need the support of external resource people who are knowledgeable about ASD, understand its impact on family life, and can point them in the direction of supports in Toronto for people on the ASD spectrum. Most importantly, parents need to meet other parents who share the same challenges. People who understand.

A new group is being offered this fall for parents of children with high functioning ASD/Asperger’s. It is a professionally led, mutual support group where you will have an opportunity to:

  • learn about your child’s strengths and challenges
  • improve your parenting skills
  • locate resources in Toronto for people with Asperger’s/ASD
  • develop plans for self care/ respite care
  • have a confidential space to share your feelings

The group will be held at an accessible downtown Toronto location/next to a subway station on a monthly basis. Please contact me for further information, and to hold a spot. Start date: October. Days and times TBA -weekday evening or Saturday depending on group preference.

Help, my child was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.

Many parents of children with Asperger’s are in this predicament: after years of wondering if, and what might be different about their child, they finally get an answer…but it’s just the beginning. After all the testing is done, doctors pull together a diagnosis: a medical term that best explains the symptoms, traits and behaviors you have been wondering about in your child. For most parents, it’s a relief.

The diagnosis means your child has one type of the newly classified Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – on the continuum with other forms of autism. The syndrome best describes people who have social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. These challenges have likely impaired your child to some degree in the playground, at daycare, or in the classroom if he or she has started school.

Now, armed with a formal diagnosis, you are in the position to be able to locate and access services.

During this first conversation with your medical practitioner, you might have been given a few places to start – depending on your child’s immediate needs. It makes sense that you begin to seek treatment for areas where the need is greatest – at this point in time. Down the road, your child’s needs will change, and you will be looking for different resources or help from your community.

Here are a few areas to explore:

  1. Medical: ask the clinic where your child was diagnosed what follow up care they suggest and provide. They may have parent support groups, individual or family counselling, referral to a dietician, information on speech and language pathologists etc.
  2. Community agency: seek out the community agency in your area that serves children with ASD. For example, in Toronto, call the Geneva Centre, or the Toronto Chapter of the Asperger’s Society of Ontario.
  3. Childcare: if you are in a large municipal or agency run childcare, ask the manager for the special ed supports they have available to your child. The City of Toronto run daycares have a resource person who can provide extra consultation to your child if you are enrolled in their child care centres.
  4. Social: find other parents who have children with ASD – join your local Asperger’s organization. Contact me if you are interested in a parent support group that meets monthly in Yorkville.

If this is new to you, go slow, breathe and try not to get overwhelmed. Take one day at a time!

ADHD Toronto study needs participants

ADHD (Young Adults, Parents, and Professionals) are interviewing young adults with ADHD, their parents, and professionals who work with young adults with ADHD. The insights drawn from these interviews will be used to develop health solutions and programs that better meet patients’ needs. Your personal information will be kept strictly confidential.

They are interested in interviewing individuals who meet the following criteria:

Eligibility Criteria:

Young Adults:   18-24 years old with ADHD   Canadian (both English- and French-speaking)   Currently attending or preparing to attend college/university   Available to be interviewed by phone between September 3 – October 17

Parents:   Parents of 18-24 year-olds with ADHD who are attending or preparing to attend college/university   Canadian (both English- and French-speaking)   Available to be interviewed by phone between September 3 – October 17

ADHD Educational Counselors, Student Support Services, or Health Care Professionals:   Professionals in a university/college setting who work with young adults with ADHD   Canadian (both English- and French-speaking)   Available to be interviewed by phone between September 3 – October 17

The interview will take about 45 minutes. The young adult interviews will be followed by 5 days of journal-writing (10 minutes per day). There is a financial incentive for this study.

If you are interested in participating, please contact

Thank you for your interest!

Claim social work fees for ADHD as medical expenses



As of September 26, 2012, counseling services provided by Registered Social Workers (RSWs) can be claimed as a medical expense tax deduction when you file your income tax return. In other words, Registered Social Workers are now authorized “medical practitioners” for the purpose of claiming medical expenses.

To access the CRA Chart list of professions in each province and territory so authorized, click on the following link: You can find more information at the following link: