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Cognitive Disabilities | In-Home Recommendations for Parents (part one)

Melissa Gendreau, MS, LPC

Melissa Gendreau, MS, LPC

Part 1 of 2:

A child’s environment is vital to his/her future health and success. For the parents of children with a cognitive disability, the task of creating an appropriate environment can be daunting.  Children with this diagnosis require an environment that is calm, predictable, and supportive.  Children with cognitive disabilities require simple, concrete behavioral expectations in their environment.  In addition, they must experience immediate, consistent, non-shaming consequences (that are appropriate for their individual level of functioning) for not meeting those expectations.  Short-term behavior goals matched with equally short-term consequences may be the most effective method for children with cognitive disability.  The important aspect to remember is to ensure that it is a realistic goal for the individual child. Incorporating all of the above aspects is no small feat.

These children often require intense supervision and structure in the environment.  They often do best in their environment when they came to understand the schedule and routine of the day.  Parents with children who function at an intellectually disabled level often find their child will require multiple parenting and teaching strategies for him/her to be more successful.

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Lifestyle, Mental Health and the New Year’s Resolution Syndrome

ind.programming

Dr. David Ammend, MD

Dr. David Ammend, MD

by Dr. David Ammend 

As a general pediatrician by training, I have been taught to try to look at children as a whole when attending to their health needs.  In my role as Medical Director of Northwest Passage residential treatment programs over the past 18 years, my practice has been focused on the health of children with a very particular set of problems, and there can be a tendency for me to pay insufficient attention to children’s general health as we are sometimes faced with a child and family in extreme distress due to mental illness.  However, my ability to keep the “whole child” in mind has been sharpened by the growing recognition that it is exactly the issue of “lifestyle” in its broadest sense has a profound impact on mental health.  Here I would like to discuss some of the challenges that anyone involved with the care of children face when trying to promote a “healthy lifestyle”.

Over the past 5-6 years I have been working with some of my Northwest Passage colleagues to better understand the role of a healthy diet and physical activity in promoting mental health, and to use that knowledge to inform our work with the kids we serve.  What has become increasingly clear to me over that time is that there is a large and growing body of scientific evidence that one’s lifestyle – and in particular one’s diet and level of physical activity – can have a significant impact on both the maintenance of mental health and treatment of mental illness.  I have been pleased to see evidence of a growing recognition among health care professionals and the lay public that these factors are connected.  Sadly, I have also witnessed a seeming glacier pace of tangible progress in the society-wide promotion and achievement of healthier lifestyles for our children.

As a measure of the slow response of our institutions, I believe that a look at the reality of the progress achieved by our schools in the areas of nutrition and physical activity is instructive.  I do not mean here to “pick on” our schools, nor do I wish to paint all schools with the same (largely negative) brush.  But overall the evidence shows that by-and-large our nation’s schools have done a poor job of promoting healthy living.  To those who would say that we already ask our schools to do too much, and give them too much blame, I would say that in general that may be true.  However, when it comes to fundamental lifestyle issues like diet and exercise, I don’t see how we can achieve better health for our kids WITHOUT including the schools, given that kids eat 1 or 2 meals per day (plus snacks) and spend nearly one half of their waking hours 5 days/week for 9 months of the year at school.

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Ice Cave Adventures

“Ice Caves Go Viral” by Kaitlyn

As fleeting as they are iconic, the ice caves of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are considered an endangered national park experience.  With spring around the corner, the ice caves will soon be a memory, with no guarantee of their accessibility in winters to come. But the young women of Northwest Passage Prairieview (previously known as Northwest Passage III) are among the lucky ones.  Braving the biting cold of a couple weeks ago, they trekked across the big lake to experience–and capture–these elusive cathedrals.  Enjoy their photos below.

 

"Fingers" by Abby

“Fingers” by Abby

Untitled by Talise

Untitled by Talise

"Icicles Right On You" by Kaitlyn

“Icicles Right On You” by Kaitlyn

Untitled by Cody

Untitled by Cody

"People GALORE!!!" by Courtney

“People GALORE!!!” by Courtney

Untitled by Kiera

Untitled by Kiera

 

Diagnosis Versus Identity

Angela Frederickson, LCSW

Angela Frederickson, LCSW – Clinical Director

This bit of reflection is dedicated to a beautiful soul who left this world much too early.  I have been searching for a way to honor the footprints she left and this blog seems to be an appropriate stage.  My experience walking with her down her road is representative of many adolescents’ experiences in the world of mental health treatment.  I remember her taking a fiercely protective stance regarding her identity and raging against adults who dared define her as a “disturbed child” or “victim”.  She described those who engaged in the sin of categorizing her as “haters” and enjoyed the fight they provided through their ignorance.    She was particular about the name others used when they referred to her.  She knew what kind of mother she wanted to be and what kind of mother she did not want to be.  She asserted herself as “Anishinabe” and educated me that she was of the “original people”.  She stated one day, “I know exactly who I want to be and where I want to go”.

In my journey with her I was reminded time and again the power of words, the power of labels.  (more…)

Northwest Passage presents at annual NATSAP conference

Dr. Himanshu Agrawal and Angela Frederickson speak on addressing suicidal and self harming behaviors.

This year’s annual NATSAP conference was held February 6-8 in Henderson Nevada. The conference is a great event that presents useful information to mental health professionals, including clinicians, program directors and more.

This year, Northwest Passage was able to send two staff members to the conference for to present a short program “I’ll be the Death of Me”. NWP’s on-staff psychiatrist, Dr. Himanshu Agrawal, as well as our clinical director Angela Frederickson, spoke to a room full of mental health professionals about assessing and addressing chronic suicidal and self injurious behaviors with adolescents.

The program more specifically focused on the addressing and  assessment of the current emotional state in suicidal clients and the use of tools to more effectively increase insight into the precursors to self-harm and suicidal behaviors. They discussed a specific approach to use with clients engaging in these behaviors, including application of the Stages of Change model. Topics of discussion included methods of training, communication, and ongoing consultation within a multi-disciplinary team that promotes critical uniformity among responses. The presentation included a theoretical framework and information about current research and best practice models, while also following the specific case of a teenage girl.

Racing Bikes on Snow?!?

“Intensity” by Margaret Ann

 

It’s true. The sport of Fat Biking has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Athletes float across the snow on bikes with over sized frames and tires expressly designed for that purpose. The young women of Northwest Passage Prairieview (previously known as Northwest Passage III) captured images of racers at the Solstice Chase, the inaugural race of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Race Series. CyclovaXC, a local ski and bike shop and good friend of Northwest Passage hosted the event and invited us to be there to enjoy and document it. The Race took place at Big Rock Creek Retreat north of St Croix Falls, WI. It was a very exciting day and a first for all of us from Northwest Passage (myself included).  Racers role modeled camaraderie, perseverance, and a sense of humor in the face of challenging and chilly conditions. We hope you enjoy the photos!

-Ian Karl, NWP In a New Light Counselor

 

"Call of the Wild" by Abby

“Call of the Wild” by Abby

"Determination" by Talise

“Determination” by Talise

"Ghosts of the Past" by Abby

“Ghosts of the Past” by Abby

"If You Stop Smiling You'll Only Cry," by Talise

“If You Stop Smiling You’ll Only Cry,” by Talise

"Exhilaration" by Margaret Ann

“Exhilaration” by Margaret Ann

NOW AVAILABLE – In a New Light : The Art and Nature of Healing

In a New Light : The Art and Nature of Healing follows the youth of Northwest Passage, a mental health residential treatment center for children and teens, on their journey of hope and healing.

This new book is a beautiful photographic account of expeditions to six national parks, including Badlands, Yellowstone, Apostle Islands, Rocky Mountain, Isle Royale, and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The photographs tell a story not just of the beauty of America’s natural places, but also the story of youth finding renewed hope in their lives.

To celebrate, the In a New Light Gallery will be hosting a Book Release and Signing Open House on December 18th, from 1:00PM – 6:00PM. Several of the young In a New Light Photographers will be in attendance to sign copies of books – which are available for 25% off during the open house. The book can also be purchased online.

Poster

Order your copy of the book HERE

please note you will be redirected to an external site.
In a New Light is conducted in partnership with the National Park Service, and is funded through a grant from the National Park Foundation. The new book is funded through the popular crowd source funding website, Kickstarter. 

Introducing Dooskaabi

Dancing – by Cody, 17

 

In June, 2013, Northwest Passage launched its newest photography project, Dooskaabi. Centered at our Hayward Group Home, Northwest Oasis,  Dooskaabi aims to empower Native American youth to tell the story of the natural and culture landscape of their community, with a special focus on the Lac Courte Orielles Reservation. The project blends training in nature photography and photojournalism, and connects youth with leaders in their community. “Dooskaabi” is the Ojibwe translation of “open eyes.”  We hope this small sample of photos opens your eyes, and know that there are many more to come. Enjoy!

 

Ordinary and Beautiful, by Jack, 17

Ordinary and Beautiful, by Jack, 17

“When I look at these leaves, it makes me wonder how something so simple and ordinary can be also be so beautiful.   Maybe nothing is ordinary.”

A Simple Bug, by Aaron, 17

A Simple Bug, by Aaron, 17

“A simple bug, no more than a basic form of life.  Yet at the same time, keeps going on day and night.”

Beautiful Bug, by Jack, 17

Beautiful Bug, by Jack, 17

“This bug is beautiful, even though it was as small as an ant. Nobody really notices something like this on a leaf. When you take the time to pay attention you can see the natural beauty in all things.”

"Eagle in Flight," by Brent, 16

“Eagle in Flight,” by Brent, 16

This is a beautiful sculpture at the LCO Ojibwe Veteran’s Memorial.

Run Away, by Cody, 17

Run Away, by Cody, 17

“Run away from your problems.  But when you look back they’ll still be in front of you.  When you look forward they stay behind.”

Beautiful, by Trent, 16

Beautiful, by Timmy, 16

“When you look out over the lake, the sun looks very graceful.”

Youthful Flower, by Aaron, 17

Youthful Flower, by Aaron, 17

“A youthful flower at its prime.  Of course, like all life’s things, it will die, but the earth will remember it through the tunnels of time.”

Rescue In a New Light

Northwest Passage Prairieview (previously known as Northwest Passage III) teamed up with the Humane Society of Burnett County to take these gorgeous portrait photos of the animals awaiting adoption. The young photographers used this as an opportunity to learn truly top notch studio portraiture techniques to capture the personalities of their subjects. The photographs were used in marketing materials (posters, flyers, etc.) to help find these amazing pets new homes within our community.Ten percent of all proceeds from this exhibit will be donated back to the Humane Society of Burnett County to help them in continuing the amazing work that they do.

Rescue In a New Light is the newest exhibit to the In a New Light Gallery, located just south of Webster off of Highway 35.

Rescue In a New Light

Rescue In a New LightRescue In a New LightRescue In a New Light

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