Addressing Ebola Fears

Addressing Fears following Second U.S. Confirmed Case of Ebola

Indianapolis, IN, October 16, 2014  — The tragic death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola and, now, second US Ebola case confirmed can increase the worry and fears for everyday Americans of their health risk. It is important to recognize that media coverage has provided relevant facts from medical experts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about how Ebola spreads and relative risk. However, anxiety can often preclude hearing the facts of the message especially as it escalates. It is vital that we provide the American public health communications that address and normalize that unease and allow them to psychologically prepare themselves in times of uncertainty.

The American Psychological Association (APA) provides the following resources for consumers and media during this time:

The Indiana Psychological Association (IPA) is available to answer any questions media personnel may have regarding risk reduction messages and addressing fear of Ebola. Please contact Dr. Julie Steck at, Dr. Carrie Cadwell at or 574-485-4583, or Dr. Rich Kennel at or 812-232-2144.

Tips for a Sensory-Friendly Halloween and Fall

Fall is here! As Halloween approaches, families are beginning to look for costumes for their children to wear while trick-or-treating and during other fall activities.  When a family member has sensory issues, it may be a struggle to find a costume that doesn’t irritate or overwhelm the child.   Indiana Resource Center for Autism has created some strategies to help families find costumes that are sensory-friendly.    Click here to read this helpful article.

School Plans and Response to Suicide: Responding, Preventing, and Caring for Those Involved

By Chelsey Brophy, Ph.D.

When a student commits suicide, it significantly affects the student’s family and friends, but also the school community where the student attended school.    The peers of the students are grief-stricken and unsure of what to do and how to respond.  The school staff are usually shocked and feel at a loss to console each other and students.  Students and teachers alike question why the suicide happened, what they could have done to recognize the warning signs and intervene.  School communities can find it very difficult to know how to respond given the range and intensity of emotions that both students and faculty need to work through. The good news is, however, that a school’s response can have a major impact on the student body and surrounding community. Although many schools have a general crisis plan in place, it is recommended that these educational communities also have a specific plan for responding to a student suicide.   If your school does not have such a plan, there are a number of resources suggested by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) that may be helpful.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has created a useful resource that includes practical resources and recommendations for schools. The toolkit includes templates and sample materials and covers topics such as crisis response, assisting students with the coping process, memorializing the student, social media, contagion effects, and mobilizing outside resources. Additionally, the University of South Florida has created a similar guide, which includes research-based information and statistics as well as checklists to help school personnel cover essential elements. Topics covered in this manual include: school climate; risk factors, protective factors, and warning signs of suicide; suicide prevention guidelines; intervention strategies; family partnerships; community response; working with media; suicide prevention programs; and national suicide-related statistics.

While knowing how to respond to suicide is crucial for families, schools, and communities, prevention efforts are also essential. Research suggests teachers serve as effective observers of students’ mental health.  Helping faculty, in addition to parents and others working with youth, know how to recognize and refer a student in need of services is crucial. Schools around the country have recognized the importance of training teachers and students alike in suicide prevention efforts. In Massachusetts, teachers are being trained to identify students who may be potentially suicidal; one school in Wyoming has implemented a program to train students.

Lastly, self-care of those involved in helping students cope following a suicide is important. Teachers and administrators need to ensure that they also receive support and the necessary time to cope and care for themselves during these emotional instances. The American Federation for Suicide Prevention has 10 suggestions to care for oneself following difficult times.

While we all hope, of course, for an end to teen suicides, being prepared and knowing how to respond is critical. CRG has several resources that may be of value to your school including providers available to discuss depression, suicide, and mental health needs of youth and how to recognize warning signs. We also are available to work with any students in need of professional services and are accepting new patients daily.   It is our goal to provide the highest quality of care for adolescents and their families and to collaborate with schools in addressing students’ mental health needs.

IRCA Free Parent Group Meeting




October Workshops & Events
Presented by IRCA


Free Parent Group Meetings

October 7, 2014 @ 6:30 PM; Ellettsville, IN – Dr. Cathy Pratt; Topic: Addressing Challenging Behaviors in the Home Setting.
October 7, 2014 @ 6:00 PM; Fairland, IN – Barb Fogarty, MS; Topic:  Behavior Challenges and ASD
October 8, 2014 @ 5:30-7:00 PM; Marion, IN – Melissa Dubie, MS; Topic:  Puberty, Hygiene and Sexual Health:  Preparing Adolescents with ASD
October 13, 2014 @ 6:30 PM; St. John, IN – Dr. Cathy Pratt; Topic  Addressing Challenging Behaviors in the Home Setting
October 15, 2014 @ 6:00-8:00 PM; Kokomo, IN – Catherine Davies, MEd, MSc, LMHC; Topic:  Puberty & Sexual Health in Individuals with ASD
October 16, 2014 @ 6:30 PM; Evansville, IN – Dr. Cathy Pratt; Topic:  ABA in the Home:  Practical Ideas
October 23, 2014 @ 6:00 PM; Indianapolis, IN – Dr. Cathy Pratt; Topic:  Addressing Challenging Behaviors in the Home Setting
October 29, 2014 @ 6:00-7:00 PM; New Albany, IN – Kristi Jordan, OTR; Topic: Sensory Differences.

For more information and schedule of parent group meetings held in November   Click Here


Expanding Expression Tool Workshop

October 9, 2014; Registration Check-In @ 8:00AM; Workshop starts @ 8:30 AM
Location:  Lawrence Education Community Center, 6501 Sunnyside Road, Indianapolis, IN 46236.  More Information >>>


Primarily for Paraprofessionals:  Handling Problematic Behaviors and Using Applied Behavior Analysis

October 9, 2014 – New Haven, IN
October 16, 2014 – Jasper, IN
October 17, 2014 – Evansville, IN

Presented by Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D.  Registration Check-In @ 8:30AM; Workshop starts @ 9:00 AM.  For More Information and Dates/Locations for November — Click Here


Structured TEACCH®-ing Strategies
Two Day Workshop

October 28 & 29, 2014; Registration Check-In @ 8:00 AM; Workshop starts @ 8:30 AM.  Location:  Southside Special Services at RISE Learning Center, 5391 Shelby Street, Indianapolis, IN 46227.  More Information>>>


Depression in Children and Teens: What To Look For

By David R. Parker, Ph.D.

In talking with numerous students of late who knew local high school students who took their own lives, my colleagues and I have been struck by a common reaction the teens have reported:  “I had no idea he/she was struggling like that!”  This expression of shock is one of the many important emotions teens and others need to talk about to work through their grief.  Stigma complicates the ability to seek help when depression or other forms of mental illness arise.  We hope the community will continue to “normalize” mental health needs so that those who experience them feel more comfortable getting the help they deserve.  The Mayo Clinic offers powerful insights into how to make good health – and not societal pressures – your focus.  In addition to stigma, however, another barrier to effective treatment can be a lack of knowledge.  Some people still believe, for example, that children and teens don’t experience depression; that it is only an adult issue.  Others are not sure what to watch out for in their children or students, since signs of depression can look different in youth compared to adults.  A recent Washington Post article provides a wealth of information about this important topic.  Finally, plan to watch “The Race to Nowhere” on Thursday, September 25th (9:00 p.m. on WTIU).  This program explores how today’s teens and families grapple with relentless pressures to succeed that can become overwhelming.


Suicide: A Need for Action

By David R. Parker, Ph.D.

The national and local news have included too many recent stories about individuals who have committed suicide.  The media have reported endless versions of how Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams took their own lives.  Here in Indianapolis, two Cathedral students and a Brebeuf student have ended their lives since the start of the school year.  As our hearts break and our minds race with countless questions, everyone at CRG expresses our deepest sympathies to the families, teachers, school staff and others who have been personally touched by these tragedies.

A recent article on provides some startling statistics.  By 2012, suicide had become the second leading cause of death by injury in America, surpassing car accidents for the first time. In the past decade, suicide rates among middle-aged American adults have risen by 28.4 percent.  Men in their 50’s seem most vulnerable, as rates of suicide in that demographic have risen by 50% since 1999.  While each person’s story is unique, experts note some general reasons for this trend.  The recession has created an enormous financial impact on many people.  If men are the breadwinners in their family, losing the ability to financially support spouses and children can be overwhelming.  Rates of depression are on the rise while the stigma about seeking help for mental health issues remains strong.  The Werther Effect (“copycat syndrome”), which suggests that at-risk individuals are more likely to commit suicide after great attention has been paid to this topic, remains an issue that requires a sensitive response in our media-saturated world.

Death in young people is particularly unsettling as it contradicts the natural order of things.  We grieve when a 90-year old passes away, but our sadness is coupled with an appreciation for that person’s long life.  When someone in their teens or 20’s dies unexpectedly, the news can take our breath away. This can be particularly true when, from all appearances, that young person seemed to have had so much to live for.  The quiet story behind the scenes in many cases is a mental health condition that created strong risk factors.  WIBC radio recently interviewed CRG’s Dr. Julie Steck and others about teen suicide.  The program included Stuart Hobson whose son, David, recently committed suicide.  A highly successful student, athlete, and leader at Cathedral High School, David struggled with depression and lamented that it was the one aspect of his life he hadn’t yet been successful in mastering. Mr. Hobson recommends that schools develop support structures for students with mental health issues similar to those provided to students with LD and other types of disabilities.  In calling for more efforts to de-stigmatize mental health issues, he said, “There are a lot of teens with depression.  It’s the second leading cause of death among teens in Indiana.  More people need to talk about it; it needs to be out in the open and more needs to be done.”

Perhaps the bar of success has been raised so high that many teenagers no longer feel they can safely make mistakes or encounter big disappointments without encountering devastating results.  When did we lose the ability to become resilient by working through the ups and downs that life throws our way?  In an era where our Facebook pages only tell the world about the exciting fun we are having, has being “average” become its own risk factor?  In the article, “Resilience for Teens:  Got Bounce?”, the American Psychological Association recommends a number of strategies young people can use to take care of themselves emotionally in today’s hypercompetitive, over-scheduled world.  Talk to others, even if their feedback might challenge our mindset.  Find a way to express our feelings, even when they are negative and dark.  Stay connected with others and, when possible, take our mind off of our own challenges by trying to help others with theirs.

Sometimes teens or parents realize there’s a need for help but don’t know who to turn to.  Sometimes parents aren’t sure if their son/daughter is just being a “difficult teen” or if he/she is really struggling with significant mental health issues.  If you want to explore any of these issues, there are many community resources that can help you in a confidential manner.  CRG can be a first start.  Call us at (317) 575-9111 ext. 3.  You can also find many excellent resources on Cathedral’s website.  We stand together with the community during this difficult time and look forward to being a part of the solution to a complex problem.

ADHD, Learning, and Exercise

By David R. Parker, Ph.D

There is growing scientific evidence that regular exercise and even body movement have a positive impact on self-regulation and learning.  These findings are particularly true for youth with ADHD.  The New York Times Sunday Magazine section recently published an article, “Put The Physical In Education.”  Author Gretchen Reynolds reports on intriguing findings from a 2013 study in The Journal of Pediatrics.  Forty children (boys and girls) took computerized academic and attentional tests after two conditions:  20 minutes of sitting quietly and reading and 20 minutes of brisk walking or jogging on treadmills.  Half the children had ADHD; half did not.  ALL students in the study showed noticeable gains in reading comprehension and math scores after the exercise, but the improvements for the children with ADHD was particularly significant.  This has implications for school learning but also for homework.  Parents often encourage children to “sit still and get your work done.”  Paradoxically, many children with ADHD find it easier to focus during or after periods of movement.  Working at a counter (while standing up), writing out definitions or formulas on a whiteboard, and even reciting dates or spelling vocabulary while doing jumping jacks should be explored.  Even using a squeeze ball while completing worksheets can be encouraged as a research-based “best practice.”  This movement activates the production of neurotransmitters in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain behind the forehead that controls attention, decision-making, and self-monitoring.  For more examples of applying this principle, read “Fidget to Focus.”


Collaborative Partnerships: A Win-Win Approach to Wellness and Success

By David R. Parker, Ph.D.

A record-cool summer in Indiana has flown by and yellow buses have begun to transport students back to school. Where did the last few months go? August is a particularly busy time at CRG as families solidify resources to help their children succeed and adults shift from vacation mode to the busy months ahead. This issue of our newsletter focuses on collaborations. The British poet, John Donne, famously wrote, “No man is an island.” A wise African proverb tells us, “It takes a village to raise a child well.” Our providers and staff have always believed that partnerships can help our patients take good care of themselves. Our colleagues in public and private schools, universities and colleges, and other healthcare practices are a vital part of those collaborations. With patients’ permission, these community partners provide invaluable information that helps us do our jobs better. Multiple CRG providers are often involved in the assessment, medication, therapeutic, and/or educational services we provide. Patients tell us that these partnerships are one reason they enjoy coming to CRG. Behind the scenes, CRG providers actively consult with each other to better understand and serve our patients. This allows us to bring our unique professional backgrounds and clinical perspectives to the coordinated care plan a patient receives.

As we publish this issue, we are also pleased to launch a new format for these newsletters. You will notice that each issue is briefer (just three articles). A given issue will roll out, however, over three successive months. We hope this new approach makes it easier for you to read without getting too bogged down with a lengthy newsletter. As always, all published CRG newsletter articles are archived on the CRG Website. Jessica Beach, our superb front office supervisor, has reorganized these by topic area to make it easier to find a given article. Feel free to forward these to friends, family, or your own community partners. And keep an eye on our website as we launch new informational videos this fall.

This issue begins with an article by Dr. Julie Steck, psychologist and CRG’s co-founder. She writes about the many ways CRG collaborates with schools to serve students and families and to help educators address students’ needs. Read Dr. Steck’s description of four ways this partnership can unfold despite changing cultures and practices.

The next article explores how psychiatrists and ADD coaches collaborate to meet the needs of a growing number of CRG patients. ADD/life coaching is a wellness model that helps people reach their goals more effectively. Dr. Joshua Lowinsky, psychiatrist, and Dr. David Parker, ADD & Life Coach, use a Q&A format to discuss ways to identify potential clients, make appropriate referrals, and coordinate care when a person is seeing a psychiatrist and working with a coach. To read this

We hope you are thriving during this transition of seasons and appreciating the wisdom of using whatever resources help you do so.


Engage in Change

In March 2013, CRG hosted a symposium to raise awareness about Bullying Prevention and what we can do to create a Culture of Acceptance.  While preparing for this event, CRG met Chad Mills, a local musician with a passion to spread the word about Bullying Prevention, and how important it is to stand up for each other and be kind.  Chad made a music video with the help of local school children to promote his message.  Please visit his website to watch this powerful video, as well as learn more about his movement to create a Culture of Acceptance for everyone.

Talking to Children about Death

It’s a very difficult subject, to be sure, but a critically important one when the need arises.  Sometimes children are first exposed to the finality of life when a pet passes away.  Sometimes a relative’s death triggers adults’ need to consider questions such as, “How do we talk to a child about death?” “How much detail should I go into?” “Will his/her reaction to this event affect his/her mental health and development?”  The Indiana American Psychological Association’s “Psych Bytes” blog recently posted a wonderful article by Dr. James F. Schroeder from St. Mary’s Center for Children.  Click here to read his thoughtful article, “Conversations about Death…in Pursuit of Life.”