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[TORONTO] We are right to be leery of each and every new psychological term that tries to invade our lives.  We’re not about to fall for a repackaging of something we already bought.  Nor do we need to live up to some diabolical new yardstick for job performance, school progress or (worst of all) self-worth. And in truth, emotional intelligence (EI) is not new. It is simply a neglected part of ‘intelligence’ itself, even as IQ test-builder David Wechsler defined it, back in 1940.   He meant this concept to include all abilities we need, to develop and to achieve, on our own terms.  But he never presumed to pack all that into one handy test kit. Others began filling gaps. Today, measures of emotional self awareness, other-awareness and problem-solving are much stronger predictors of school success, career success and social satisfaction than any cognitive

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Fitting a full psych-ed assessment into a month of school work can be tricky. Two months, including a Winter break booking, can make a lot of sense. And if your health benefits year renews at New Year’s, double the coverage can reduce your costs to a small fraction of the total.

familiesonline_comBut the bigger reasons for seeking assessment are the lifetime ones. Getting to the root of the problem means giving the student more durable ways to keep up grade level and permanently improve academic skills.

student writing intense HS creative writing2Accommodations and supports in school or on campus can be a new beginning. And they don’t stop at undergrad. Graduate and professional schools all must provide reasonable accommodations for the student who learns dfferently — yet completely.


Individually tuned learning strategies, teaching strategies and, where justified, provincial funding for assistive technologies (laptop and learning support software) can become permanent rights. School support teams get to work. Grades, confidence and graduation rates go up.  School Team - flopped - birds eye view iStock_000017019878Large


Most educators would like to provide more assessments and learning support. It’s good for the learning environment, the future workforce and the economy. Just ask the successful teachers and professors who now practice with a learning disability and are that much better at teaching, for it. Your school trustee or MPP will be interested in your input, on these issues.



And both would wear masks, so they couldn’t be recognized. Bringing them into harmony, so that the student’s strengths shine and he or she copes skillfully with challenges, requires a personalized approach.  Teachers of Gifted classes know this. That does not help the student whose giftedness goes unnoticed. Criteria are strict and there is no back door. But students who need both enrichment and support have a distinct profile, which justifies both.


OSAID logo

In a word, “NEVER.” Transcripts do not show the student’s exceptionality. You apply to post-secondary, based on marks alone. If you are already accepted, your university or college must still consider results from a Summer assessment, toward accommodations and learning supports, in all years of study. If you take a university or college course called Learning Strategies or the like, that CAN show up on your transcript, but odds are that it will be surrounded with good-to-excellent marks that put the lie to any notions of limited potential. So unless someone on staff had a liquid lunch, your disability status remains private health information, not for educational documentation.

A December-January assessment can be more relaxed . . .

There are other advantages to assessments that straddle Winter Break:

  • Less juggling around schoolwork, so the student is often more relaxed and ‘into it.’
  • It’s easier to alternate activity & exercise between the 2 or 3 morning sessions.
  • Time to catch up on sleep first may be more available.
  • A relaxed clinic schedule at Beaches includes much Winter break availability.
  • Three-week turnaround enables families to approach the new school term with results.

Even graduate students professional-school applicants can be assessed and get accommodations:

  • LiveScribe_SmartPenSome adult students have succeeded despite severe struggles, but no-one is superhuman.
  • There is no upper limit, in educational level, on the right to accommodations and learning supports.
  • Some assistive technologies, such as LiveScribe Smartpen, didn’t even exist when today’s grad students started undergrad. A SmartPen records voice audio, sync’d line-by-line to your note-taking.
  • Sameness is not fairness, even for future leaders, so give yourself fairness instead.

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc / Queen St E. at Glen Manor Drive, Toronto M4E 2X2

416-698-0999 ext 108 / / @PsychIsGrowth

Mental health in schools is kind of like mental health anywhere else. Building and maintaining it both depend on a great many things ‘going  right.’ So how can a parent, or for thDSL for Parents 2013at matter even a hard working teacher, even get the big picture of a student’s school day? Of what they are going through?  One place to start is to piece together all available professional input and to organize it in ways that make sense to the average person. Luckily, stacking things in a bio-psychological way (symbolized by the ridiculously tall school house here) makes sense of a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s also consistent with newer ways of looking at mental health. But this approach is going to be the subject of a workshop at Canadian Mental Health Association in June, by me, so respecting the limits of not double-publishing material now promised to the CPA, I’ll have to ask folks to wait at least until mid June before  say more. (The concept map shown here was previously web-published.) In the meantime, this is the active team approach already in use at Psychology is Growth.

illustration by Paul Lee & Brian Horton, from, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Omnibus, Volume 3, Dark Horse Books, Jan. 2008


[Buffy] My former self hates the new Me. –But I LOVE Me.

[Xander] I think you just warped something besides time, there, Buff.

[Willow] A time warp! Exactly! Buffy, that’s how you USED to think your assignments would get done.  Seemed easier than measuring out each day and week like wooden yardstick. Right? Now you know it WORKS! But we have to know exactly HOW stick with that stick!

[Xander] Quit stealing lines and sticking with sticks, Willow. Not your gig!

[Buffy] But she’s right, Xander, and the tricks she taught me should work for guys too. You know the best part? I get to HOLD TEACHERS ACCOUNTABLE. I NEED to start my assignments early. I NEED to pace them toward their due-dates. Now it’s the TEACHERS who are scrambling to get stuff to ME!  THE POWER!! Ooooh, this is better than my last triple kill. . .


[Xander] Oh, clever. Slayer passing discretely as a slayer. That’ll throw them.

[Willow] Lay off Buffy, Xander. She’s discovered the FOUR BASIC MISTAKES she was making. And she’s corrected all four. Taking notes, twinkie-eater? Here you go:

1. DON’T wait til the teacher gets around to structuring the assignment. TELL them what times you have already booked to work on it and WHEN you need their deets.  UP FRONT.

2. DON’T wait until you have a large block of time to work on a large assignment. Large blocks mostly get wasted. Then you are even farther behind.

3. DON’T attack an assignment as if it was all one big thing. It’s not. It’s a bunch of hidden sub-goals. You have to do the detective work first. Find all your sub-goals. Put them in the order. Be ready to do the first sub-goal. Right on that day you first get the deets.

4. DON’T lose a single day. Book one hour each day, or second day, to bank some progress. Get intense for that hour. Then lay off. Berween days, it’s still in your head. So you don’t really lose that day either.

[Xander] Cool. Can I get marks for those days off?

[Willow] Get real. My point is this. Never again will you keep forgetting what your assignments are even about. Man, I never had that problem.  But everyone I know practically pees themselves when it happens.

[Xander] Nice to know you’re comfy-dry there, Willow.

[Buffy] Be nice, you two. We’ve got work to do. Best part is this: The kill is SO SLOW. It’s against the Slayer Code to do that to a vamp. Nev-Ver! They have feelings, you know?  BUT ASSIGNMENTS?  NO MERCY!

[Xander] Buff. Chill. You’re sounding psycho. In fact, lemme outa here.

[Willow] You can do it too, Xan. You don’t have to be all vicious like Buffy here. Maybe you go can undercover. Let’s shop for reading glasses. Maybe a visor ‘n’ like-that. Just til you get your courage up. No-one needs to know that you’re Heaven’s Child sitting on the Hellmouth. ‘Cept — come exam time — gotta warn ya — EVERYBODY wants to be your friend. Guys are the worst. And if they can get YOU to help them instead of Buffy or me, WELL! Get ready to play Popularity, Release 2.0, Mister.

[Xander] Okay. But they can get their own Twinkies. Hell! They can BRING the Twinkies!

[Buffy] That’s the spirit!

[Willow] WHERE?! …OH CRAP, BUFFY! DON’T USE THAT…It sounds different, from you.




Professor and seminar group(ONTARIO) “Try writing like Helen over there. She can give you some tips.”  Prof. Claritti’s comment is a bit out there, for the lecture hall. But he means well. He likes Jac’s concepts. When he can find them.

Jac got into his first-pick university because his high school averages soared. – On wings of math and science.  Now, these strict, First Year expectations for smooth, clear, concise writing are hitting Jac like a line-drive to the gut. Feedback notes on his lab reports and essays seem ‘blind’ to Jac’s best efforts.

Jac never needed special education. High school teachers consistently ‘tolerated’ his writing because he was a strong student overall (if sometimes a big show-off). His teachers had other issues to address . . .

peer editing

Teachers never had cause enough to get Jac to practice key strategies. For example:

   -Note-taking while Reading then Outlining.

   -Listen to the ‘sound’ of writing you like. 

   -Write the Abstract & Conclusion, then fill in.

   -Have a friend read your draft to you, aloud, and without commenting.

Whether you form a study group with stronger writers, hire a private tutor, or qualify for learning disability Access Centre and BSWD for software like Kurzweil and WordQ, you’re among many first-year students who have a wall to climb, just to raise their writing to expected levels. If a disability is truly unlikely, just max-out your campus network by trading your highest skills for writing guidance and arm’s length editing. -And keep your ethics. Even when a friend is happy to trade in theirs.    KM 



 east-york-runners-600_1000171121[TORONTO] For 20 years now[1], we’ve known that our supposedly all-grown-up adult brains are still birthing their own baby neurons, right through adult life (at least in certain key regions) to help keep us keep learning, growing and doing what matters most.  But more recently, we’ve learned that the biggest factor seems to be aerobic exercise. [2,3] This comes as no surprise to active members of running clubs. Stimulating convo’s and upbeat vibes are always in good supply. But did you know how many different ways running grows your brain? Neurogenesis, as it’s called, has many benefits.

Mood. ‘In clinical trials’ regular aerobic exercise usually relieves depression at least as well as an antidepressant drug – but let’s be clear that sometimes, in the darkest days of our lives,


any one of us might just need both at once, in addition to good friends and family (and-or professional help). We used to think this was due to so-called ‘happy chemicals’ (sort of internal opiate drugs) but new brain cells seem to have at least as much to do with it.

Spatial Memory. What steps should I retrace, and to how many places, to find my keys? You’re less likely to lose them in the first place (AND find them if you must) because you’ve kept on running (or doing any aerobics.)  By the way, this probably applies to all kinds of memory, because it all happens in an increasingly famous brain region called the hippocampus. (To remember that word, if you accept that ‘elephants never forget,’ now tag on another pachyderm: ‘Hippos learn like they’re carrying the damn campus on their backs.’)

Pattern Separation and Anxiety Telling a safe situation apart from an unsafe one is a big part of reducing anxiety. When we get new brain cells (say it with me –in the hippocampus) our pattern separation skills go up. We can ditch nasty associations and just chill, more easily.


For parents, you’ll see more- easily when your child is feeling needy but not just trying to wind you up (though they have at times) and free your mind to quickly think of a nice redirection they can enjoy with you. (Now you can do that ‘catch them being good’ thing!) For singles, take a chance going out with that nice respectable individual who just happens to have many of the same mannerisms as Mr. or Ms. Wish-I-Could-Forget-Them but clearly a healthier, giving  approach to life.

Learning It stands to reason that  any boost in memory is a boost in learning. Post-secondary students in general have stress levels higher than the working population. They have to manage not only the constant adjustment to new learning situations and groups of people but life goals that depend upon those adjustments.

 student writing intense HS creative writing2

They work too late, some party too much in an attempt to decrease stress, and ALL face make-it or break-it evaluations. Aerobic exercise may seem like it doesn’t fit anywhere in the schedule. Yet, when students make it fit, everything in that schedule becomes easier to manage.

Trauma reduction? Could using aerobic exercise to naturally maximize  neuro-genesis help us  address the epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans, first responders and car accident victims?  There is some preliminary evidence to suggest it may work.  The fact that we lose a lot of our earliest, childhood memories is thought to be a reflection of so much early neurogenesis that our young minds just can’t keep up the work of constantly re-organizing those memories before they get over-written by new, neural circuits, as they integrate into our existing ones. While good trauma therapies do exist, there aren’t nearly enough highly-trained practition-ers. Even then, single-method  therapies can fail sufferers of severe PTSD, terribly. For traumatized vets brave enough to continue their education, the threats to


completion of their program can be enormous. As a general principle in therapies, adding a second and third method, especially with no bar to starting them all at once, can make all the difference. For those who have bravely protected us, and now themselves deserve to feel safe again too, let us hope so.

Aging While aerobic exercise is not quite a fountain of youth, working up a good sweat three or four times a week might just be the closest thing to those mythic waters. It will not cover-off the many likely causes of dementia, but it is sure to reduce several risk factors once: risk of stroke, falls and concussions, depression (which interacts with dementia) and social isolation.


What more could you ask of a single preventative method?

You want a medal too?

Wait!—Maybe we can arrange that!

(References follow, below.)





1 Cameron,H.A.,and Gould,E.(1994). Adult neurogenesis is regulated by adrenal steroids in the dentate gyrus. Neuroscience 61, 203–209.

2 Vadodaria, K.C. & Jessberger, S. (2014). Functional neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus: then and now. Frontiers in Neuroscience ; 27 March 2014 doi: 10.3389/ fnins.2014.00055

3 Mustroph, M.L., Chen, S., C. Desai, S.C., Cay, E.B., DeYoung, E.K. & Rhodes, J.S. (2012). Aerobic exercise is the critical variable in an enriched

environment that increases hippocampal neurogenesis and water maze learning in male C57BL/6J mice. Neuroscience. 2012 September 6; 219: 62–71.

4 Legrand, F.D. (2014). Effects of exercise on physical self-concept, global self-esteem, and depression in women of low socioeconomic status with elevated depressive symptoms.

Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology 36(4):357-65

5 Kheirbek, M.A. & Hen, R. (2011).

Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews 36, 373–374


student writing intense HS creative writing2

Good news for undergrad seniors and graduates looking toward professional schools for next year and beyond. First, the following link explains the advance in LSAT accessibilty for talented future lawyers who have a learning disorder that will not restrict their capacity to practice:

Wall_Street_Journal_on_LSAC/LSAT_Settlement_by_US Department_of_Justice 

Similarly, MCAT examinations can be accommodated for learning disorders.  “If you are a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States (“Green Card” holder), or have been granted refugee/asylum status by the U.S. government. you can access financial assistance for psychological re-assessments, from the AAM.”  Association_of_American_Medical_Colleges

But trust Educational Testing Service, I say, to go the extra mile. ETS not only offers a full array of relevant accommodations: Testing accommodations but also

helps you prepare more effectively:  GRE Test Preparation Materials in Accessible Formats

Returning to the terms of the LSAC settlement in June 2014, they do set a precedent that AAMC probably keeps in mind. Thanks to a colleague at Jewish Vocational Services for this summary:

(1) $7.7 million civic penalty for a victims’ compensation fund to compensate the “more than 6000 people who requested accommodations such as extra time” but were denied. (2) Streamlining accommodations requests, so that candidates with previous accommodations (such as SAT, ACT, GED) can be granted accommodations for the LSAT. (3) Ending the practice of “flagging” LSAT scores (i.e., indicating on the score report that accommodations were provided).

Yes, it remains a maze to negotiate, but less so, now. Those who clearly have the potential to be effective professionals should find the first watershed in their path considerably fairer.

If you have questions or would like to see about an appointment, feel free to use the contact form, below.


The key to best health outcomes for you as patient OR your child, is integrated care by as many different health professions and para-professions as necessary. Whether the needs of your child, adolescent, or you as adult are emotional-relational, or centred on learning and achievement, or both, you deserve effective, time-optimized care. In some cases, there may be both health professionals and educators on the team.

As a full member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO), both for Clinical and School Psychology, I am registered to practice with Child, Adolescent and Adult clients in Ontario. I uphold the standards of outcomes-directed practice which have made psychology on of the most progressive forces for wellness and healing, that our era has to offer.

Being also a member of the National Association of School Psychologists (US) and the Ontario group, OAPA, mean that your practitioner participates in resource and research networks that offer the most updated methods and insights, for thoughtful integration with long-established, sound, best practices.

Such a cliche is the word “teamwork” now that we can almost call it ‘the T-word’ now. On the other hand, professional problem-based-learning means at three things:

First, we see you as an individual; not strictly a ‘patient.’

Second, as colleagues, we’re regularly learning from each other.

Third, anything we don’t know, we find out, and we strive to do so in time for it to make a difference in your care.

Preventative health care is also a growing part of psychological practice today. Practitioners, administrators and politicians can all find themselves struggling with methods of service delivery which may unintentionally punish providers for taking ‘extra’ time to do preventative work. Understandably, care systems may also reward practitioners for giving just-equitable time-per-patient. Sameness is not always fairness. Care integration means that everyone works preventatively and helps assemble the big picture. We exchange ideas constructively and plan strategically for your wellness, or your recovery.

Yours in health and development,

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc



If you missed our lawn table event, but you are enrolled with an Ontario physician, contact Beaches Family Practice to request a 5 minute baseline test by Psychology is
Growth. Or see if your BBP_Ken+TestAdministratorsown medical clinic

has begun to baseline



(The above link DOES provides private, secure messaging.  The contact form below DOES NOT.)

Yours in health and development,

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc

We have cheated boys out of understanding their bodies as both precious gift and weighty responsibility. Secular society must begin to find its way with gender and violence, wherever peaceful faith traditions cannot reach. Faiths add another layer, but in a pluralistic world, faiths cannot do it alone. As fathers and mothers, we find ourselves reaching for new models of maleness. As a society, we cannot fail our boys again. -KM