Social Language Disorders

According to the Speech and Hearing Association, a Social Language Disorder has three characteristics:

  • Difficulty knowing how to use language to meet different needs
  • Difficulty knowing how to change your language based on who your listener is
  • Difficulty making conversations

Beth Waite-Lafever, MA-CCC/SLP-ATP is CRG’s Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Specialist. She can provide a social language evaluation to determine if you or your child have a speech-language disorder. If a diagnosis is made, Beth can provide individual language therapy. CRG also offers social skills groups and Gap Year services for recent high school graduates who need help making the next step in the transition from high school to adulthood.

Click here to watch a video of Beth discussing Social Language Disorders and how CRG can help.

Who Is At Risk for Self-Injury?


In a 2014 systematic review of worldwide studies to date, pooled estimates of self-injury prevalence rates were 17.2% among adolescents, 13.4% among young adults, and 5.5% among adults.  According to a recent article in the American Psychological Association Monitor on Psychology, the rate of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI) has begun to stabilize over the past five years.  NSSI is defined as deliberate self-inflicted harm that is not intended to be suicidal.  However, those who engage in 20 or more self-injuring behaviors are more likely to attempt suicide in the future, at an increased rate of 3.4 times the normal population.  The likelihood of self-injury does not seem to be related to race or socioeconomic status.  While females are thought to be more prone to NSSI, it is very likely that males who self-injure are underreported.  Those who are of sexual minority status are more likely to self-injure, especially gay and bisexual males and bisexual females.  In addition, those with eating disorders and those who are bullied are more likely to engage in NSSI.  Body devaluation is also a risk factor for self-injury.  Further information on NSSI may be found on the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury.

Julie T. Steck, Ph.D., HSPP
CRG/Children’s Resource Group
Indianapolis, IN

IRCA Parent Group Meetings

IRCA Reporter

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
Indiana’s University Center for Excellence in Disabilities
Indiana University, Bloomington

Parent Group Meetings
2015-2016 Schedule

The Indiana Resource Center for Autism staff will present information to parent support groups across Indiana. Below is a link to the scheduled parent support group meetings for 2015-2016 along with information about topics, locations, times, and dates. In cases where information is incomplete, please email the contact person(s) for that parent support group to get specific logistical information. Information will also be updated on our website at as it is made available. 

These parent support group meetings are free and open to the public. However, the content will be geared toward family members of individuals who have a diagnosis along the autism spectrum. The information will not be geared toward professionals. If you are a professional and know of family members in your area that may benefit from such a meeting, you are encouraged to forward the relevant information.

These free parent group meetings are possible because of the kind donations received from individuals and organizations. If you are interested in donating to the work of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, please contact Pam Anderson at or mail your check payable to Indiana University to the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, 1905 North Range Road, Bloomington, IN, 47408.

Date: September 16, 2015
Speaker: Kristie Lofland, MS, CCC-A
Topic: Understanding Behavior and Selecting Appropriate Strategies for Individuals with ASD
Location: Easter Seals Crossroads, Autism Family Resource Center 4740 Kingsway Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46205
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM
Sponsor: Easter Seals Crossroads
Contact: Amy Miller,  


Date: September 16, 2015
Speaker: Anna Merrill
Topic: Supporting Social Skills and Positive Relationships in Your Child with ASD
Location: Milan Elementary School 418 E Carr Street, Milan, IN 47031
Time: 5:00-6:30 PM
Sponsor: Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn (ROD) Special Education Cooperative
Contact: Cheryl Corning,  


Date: September 23, 2015
Speaker: Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D
Topic: Behavior Strategies for Home
Location: Cooperative School Services 1389 Saint Gaspar Drive, Rensselaer, IN  47978
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM Central time
Sponsor: Cooperative School Services
Contact: Dawn Poole or Kris Hobson,, 219-866-8540


Date: September 29, 2015
Speaker: Kristie Lofland, MS, CCC-A
Topic: S.O.S.—Save Our Students. Organization, Homework and Behavior Strategies for High Functioning ASD Students
Location: Lawrence Education Center,Professional Development Room 6501 Sunnyside Road, Indianapolis, IN 46236
Time: 6:00-7:30 PM
Sponsor: MSD of Lawrence Township and MSD of Warren Township
Contact: Alex Dinwiddie, or   Allison Woods,


For the complete Parent Group Meetings 2015-2016 Schedule Click Here


Gap Year Services

By David R. Parker, Ph.D.

Every fall, hundreds of thousands of high school graduates pack up the car, carefully stow their new electronics, take a deep breath, and head off to college.  Some of these students take quite a few breaths because, deep down, they realize they aren’t ready for the huge transition before them.  For decades, many European students have taken a Gap Year to ensure this transition goes smoothly.  After graduating from high school, they spend a year working, traveling, and developing greater independence before starting university the following fall.

More and more U.S. colleges and universities are recommending this practice, too.  In fact, Ivy League institutions such as Harvard and Yale provide scholarships just to students who have completed a Gap Year.  Why?  Because research shows that these students are more likely to succeed, persist, and graduate as the result of the increased maturity and focus they bring to college a year later.

Our society is GO-GO-GO.  But few of us feel comfortable GOing against the tide.  So, it can be very difficult for students and parents to consider the benefits of deferring admission for a year before writing all those tuition checks.  Parents like to compare notes at this time of year during backyard barbecues or in the supermarket aisles:  “So, where is Suzie going to college this fall?”  Unlike other countries, we don’t yet have a culture that makes it comfortable to say, “She’ll attend DePauw next year but is working at Habitat for Humanity’s Midwest office this fall and looking into internships for the spring.  She wanted some time to just catch her breath and learn more about possible majors/careers before diving back into classes again.”

But that’s an incredibly smart plan for many students, especially those with learning or attention issues.  We know that such students with disabilities are often delayed in their emotional development by up to three years.  We know that a much greater percentage of students with disabilities who start college drop out, or take longer to graduate, than their peers without disabilities.  At CRG, we also know that far too many young adults come to see us in December, embarrassed and confused by the fact that they struggled in their first college semester despite doing well in high school.  They realized too late that…they just weren’t ready to start college.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, CRG’s new Gap Year Services may be of interest.  Dr. Dana Lasek (psychologist) and Dr. David Parker (Postsecondary Disability Specialist/ADD&Life Coach) will launch these services next month.  Gap Year will run from September 2015 to April 2016.  Participating students need to be high school graduates.  It’s likely they will have learning or attention issues (e.g., LD, ADHD, Asperger’s, depression, anxiety) although this is not required.  They have been accepted into colleges or are thinking strongly of applying.  But they would benefit from a year of structured activities and accountability to work on personal growth goals in the meantime.  This will be unique to each student but may include work experience (including volunteer activities), more detailed searches for the right college and major career exploration, developing strong study skills, and strengthening daily living skills (i.e., grocery shopping, using public transportation, following a budget, and doing the laundry).

For more information, visit our website and call our front office at (317) 575-9111 soon to schedule an intake appointment.  Gap Year begins the week of September 7, 2015.  Dr. Lasek or Dr. Parker would be happy to call you back to discuss if this option is right for you or your young adult.

Resources for Families with Autism

The Indiana Resource Center for Autism (IRCA) is located at Indiana University-Bloomington.  Their website provides a wide range of evidence-based articles about identifying and meeting the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum.  Topics include Adult, Behavior, Communication, Educational Programming, Family, General Information, Self-Help-Medical, Sensory, Social/Leisure, and Articles by Temple Grandin (a noted animal behavior scientist who has autism).  The Center’s website also provides information about visual supports/tools that enhance communication and emotional functioning as well as trainings/workshops about autism-related topics.  All of this information is very practical and geared toward families who know a great deal about autism first-hand but are also seeking help and further information from expert sources.  In addition to myriad articles on this website, visitors can also sign up for the IRCA Reporter.  This is the Center’s e-newsletter that can be sent to your email box for free.  CRG was pleased to serve as a practicum site this summer for Anna Merrill, a doctoral-level psychology student at IU who serves on the IRCA staff

Back-to-School Sleep Schedule



Many children and teenagers adopt a later sleep schedule over the summer, going to bed later and sleeping longer in the morning.  A deliberate and gradual transition back to an earlier sleep schedule as the first day of school approaches can help kids start the school year well-rested and ready to perform.  The Riley Sleep Disorders Center has created worksheets to help families with this transition, one for IPS students starting school on August 3rd and another that can be customized to any school start date. 

Some tips for helping children with this transition:

  • Start by figuring out how much sleep the child needs.  While the worksheet presents guidelines for recommended sleep amounts, sometimes a better marker is how much a child sleeps when there are no schedule restrictions.  In other words, if a child goes to bed at 11pm most nights over the summer and often sleeps until 8am the next morning, he or she likely needs around 9 hours of sleep.
  • Once the sleep need has been determined, work backwards from the scheduled wake time to determine an optimal bedtime.  Be sure to add 15-30 minutes, as it often takes this long to fall asleep. So, a child who has to wake at 6:30am and needs 9 hours of sleep would have a target bedtime of 9pm.
  • Unless the child’s summer schedule is several hours later, usually a week is sufficient to make a transition.
  • Start by having the child wake up 15-30 minutes earlier the first day, THEN move the bedtime 15-30 minutes earlier that night.  This makes it less likely that kids will be asked to go to bed at a time when they are not yet tired, which can cause insomnia symptoms to develop.
  • Have the child wake at the scheduled wake-up time even if he/she was not able to fall asleep at the scheduled bedtime.  As long as the child wakes on time and does not nap during the day, he or she will often be able to fall asleep at the earlier bedtime after a day or so.

Contributor: Sarah Morsbach Honaker PhD, HSPP, CBSM  Riley Sleep Disorders Center


Anxiety and Neurodevelopmental Disorders



There is increasing research-based information available in the area of neurodevelopmental disorder and anxiety, as well as other mental health disorders.  Neurodevelopmental disorders include Autism Spectrum Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities, Blindness/Low Vision, Deafness/Hard of Hearing, Cerebral Palsy and other neurologically based conditions, Learning Disorders, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  The research is confirming what clinicians have known for some time:

  • Those with neurodevelopmental disorders are at higher risk for mental health disorders, including anxiety, than those without these disorders.
  • Those with neurodevelopmental disorders are likely to meet criteria for the mental health disorder for a longer period of time, meaning the symptoms persist longer.
  • Those with neurodevelopmental disorders are less likely to receive mental health services than those without these disorders.

The symptoms of anxiety in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders are the same as those manifested in the general population and include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Irrational fears
  • Discomfort interacting with or having others look at them
  • Stomachaches and bowel problems
  • Other physical symptoms of stress
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Avoidance of stressful situations
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Compulsive and ritualistic behaviors

Those with neurodevelopmental disorders are under a great deal of pressure to “fit in” and to function in the same manner and in the same time frame as those without these disorders.  These pressures cause anxiety to escalate quickly and too much anxiety often is reflective by a “fight or flight response” and is seen as a behavioral issue.

For those who live with or work with individuals with such disorders, the following strategies may be helpful in decreasing anxiety and increasing more appropriate responses and behavior:

  • Allow more time for any daily routine or task
  • Talk less and use straightforward and direct language
  • Minimize transitions from one place to another, one activity to another, and one person to another
  • Use visual supports to help with schedules and communication even if the individual is highly verbal
  • Decrease stimulation in the environment
  • Establish predictable routines that are not over-stimulating
  • Find alternative ways to include the individual in family, educational, and community activities without over-stimulating
  • Make sure the individual is getting adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise
  • Recognize the individual’s perspective may not be the same as your own perspective
  • Remain calm when the individual becomes anxious and agitated—so that you may find a solution

The Anxiety Curve illustrated on The Incredible 5-Point Scale (Buron & Curtis) provides an excellent way of representing the relationship between anxiety and behavior in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. The lower curve of the illustration represents the need for the staff or parent to remain calm and manage their own anxiety.  For further information, go to

Other references:



Julie T. Steck, Ph.D., HSPP

CRG/Children’s Resource Group

Indianapolis, IN



“PsychBytes” is a weekly educational resource from the Indiana Psychological Association provided for psychologists, their colleagues and their patients. We hope you will use and share this material!

Click here to read last week’s PsychBytes, “Men’s Sexual Health”.

If you would like to contribute a PsychBytes article or recommend a topic for future publication, please reply to this email or contact PsychBytes editors Dr. Aarika White and Dr. Julie Steck at


Dr. Lowinsky: Building Community Partnerships

by Dr. David Parker

During its 21 years, CRG has always valued learning from and supporting our community partners. We often use the saying here, “It takes a village.” Working with colleagues around the state and beyond, we welcome opportunities to share and gain knowledge about children, adolescents, and adults with behavioral healthcare issues. Building and maintaining networks with respected colleagues allows CRG providers to strengthen the community’s capacity to help people in need.

Dr. Joshua Lowinsky, CRG’s adolescent and adult psychiatrist, wears a number of professional hats. Among these is co-founder of the Primary Care Psychiatry Foundation and current president of the Indiana Psychiatric Society. Dr. Lowinsky will be making presentations this summer at three important professional gatherings. On June 15, he will give the keynote address (“Building a Primary Care Psychiatry Workforce”) at the Indiana Rural Health Association conference in French Lick Retreat and Conference Center. On July 23, Dr. Lowinsky will return to French Lick to speak at the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians’ annual conference. This time he will speak about depression and bipolar disorder in primary care. On July 25, he will give two talks in Michigan on Mackinac Island for Medical Education Resources which will include presentations on adult depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, suicide, and prevention of psychiatric disorders.

In reflecting on opportunities to work with colleagues throughout Indiana, Dr. Lowinsky commented, “If I can begin to share, in a presentation, the excitement and privilege I feel on a daily basis while working at CRG and in IPS schools with individuals and families who courageously fight to make their lives better, then I am hitting my mark.”

Gap Year: A New Service at CRG

by Dana Lasek, Ph.D. and David R. Parker, Ph.D.

A long-standing tradition in the U.K. and other European countries, more American students are taking a Gap Year between high school and college.  This year is a structured time in a young adult’s life that helps him/her meet important transition goals.  It is not a year of sitting on the couch and playing video games.  This time can address each person’s life goals but often focuses on work/volunteer experience (that can help students choose an appropriate major), travel, developing life skills, gaining greater maturity, and possibly even getting a “taste” of college before investing in full-time tuition before the student may be ready to handle that level of commitment.  Students often defer their college admission for a semester or year while pursuing a gap year, then start college a bit later with greater maturity, life skills, and sense of purpose.  Many Ivy League colleges actively support gap years because students who have chosen this transition option tend to do better academically, and graduate on time, compared to undergraduates who start college immediately after graduating from high school.

CRG is working with a growing number of young adults who may benefit from a Gap Year.  It is not a year of sitting on the couch and playing video games.  With the right amount of guidance and support, a Gap Year can be a tremendously wise “next step” immediately after high school graduation to help the student determine and plan for a successful entrance into adulthood.  CRG psychologist, Dr. Dana Lasek, and CRG Postsecondary Disability Specialist/ADD&Life Coach, Dr. David Parker, are planning a pilot approach to new Gap Year services starting in Fall 2015.   They invite you to attend a free pizza dinner at CRG soon to learn more, ask questions, and offer suggestions.  Please call CRG at (317) 575-9111 to register.  Here are the dates:

Parents and students:  Monday, May 11, 2015 (6:30 to 8:00 p.m.)

Educators/Other Professionals:  Monday, May 18, 2015 (6:30 to 8:00 p.m.)

Resilience and the Transition to College

by David R. Parker, Ph.D.

While the number of students with disabilities who attend college is at an historic high (about 11% nationally at the undergraduate level), students with LD, ADHD, Asperger’s, anxiety, depression and related learning issues encounter bigger barriers in college than students without disabilities.  This can include 1) higher drop-out rates, 2) taking on average one extra year to graduate, 3) high levels of stress due to decreased structure and increased demands on independent learning, and 4) new decisions about using formal accommodations such as extended test time.

To help students and families prepare for these challenges, CRG has launched the “Got BOUNCE?” workshop, which we now offer every spring and fall.  We hosted this for the second time on April 23, 2015, to an enthusiastic group of high school and college students, their parents, and educators.  A highlight was the student panel in which Naomi and Dean (high school students) and Meaghan and Nick (college students) described some of their educational or personal challenges and the steps they have taken to “bounce back” from these experiences.  The following comments captured audience reaction to this powerful evening of learning and inspiration:

“The students were very impressive.  I appreciated how open and honest they were.”

“This evening was worth every penny, every minute.”

“It [the workshop] was amazing and made me feel hope for my boys and my family.”

“I am so proud of all the student speakers.  They are life smart, too.  Please tell them how thankful I am and how funny they are!”

Check back on our website and look for future emails about the fall offering of “Got BOUNCE.”  CRG is privileged to work with extraordinarily resilient people.  This workshop helps us celebrate this quality in students and to honor their hard work on this part of their life journey.