PWS Mindfulness and Meditation Trailblazer Singh To Speak at 2019 Conference

Singh (002) squareThe ability to regulate emotions is an essential skill for a happy life, and for many of us this can be challenging to accomplish! When left unmanaged, high levels of stress can lead to both mental and physical ailments which is why learning coping strategies is important for long term health.

A well-developed meditation practice can provide a skillful means of navigating the stress and anxiety of caring for someone with PWS. Dr. Nirbhay Singh, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia, is an expert in mindfulness, behavioral and cognitive behavioral treatments of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and this October, he will be joining us at the Annual FPWR Family Conference to provide a 90-minute mindfulness training workshop for our PWS caregivers!

“This is a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to learn some strategies to help care for themselves. Raising a special needs child is a marathon, not a sprint—so we need things to help us along the way,” explains Lauren Schwartz Roth, Ph.D., Mental Health and Behavior Program for FPWR, “Dr. Singh is a trailblazer in the area of mindfulness and meditation for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. I am thrilled that we will have such an expert join us at our conference in New Orleans and offer this great experience.”

Why Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a technique in which a mental state is achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment. Rather than trying to change an external situation, it teaches the individual to change the nature of their response to a problem. In a number of studies, mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and improve a person’s sense of well-being. Given the challenges PWS often presents to caregivers, spending time to develop mindful meditation is a sound investment!

Mindfulness based techniques not only have the potential to help the caregiver, they could benefit the person with PWS as well! In a small but intriguing study, Dr. Nirbhay Singh and colleagues examined whether mindfulness might help individuals with PWS better manage their sometimes volatile emotions. Dr. Singh’s group worked with three adolescents with PWS to teach them a mindfulness technique that is designed specifically to help individuals be better able to regulate their emotions during emotionally arousing situations. Parents were first trained in the technique; they then taught their children with the help of an experienced mindfulness trainer. Following the training period, all three individuals with PWS showed impressive decreases in verbal and physical aggression. These encouraging results are being further examined in an FPWR funded study of mindfulness for the treatment of temper outbursts, which is now enrolling individuals with PWS, ages 13-30 and their caregivers.

About the Mindfulness Workshop

Given the potential benefits of mindfulness training to both caregivers and people with PWS, we are bringing Dr. Nirbay Singh to the 2019 FPWR Family conference to teach a 90-minute mindfulness training workshop for our PWS caregivers!

This interactive workshop, which will be held Saturday, October 5, 2019, will cover a range of formal and informal mindfulness practices, which parents and caregivers may find useful in their own lives and in interactions with their family members, including those with PWS. The workshop will include engagement in selected informal mindfulness practices, pactice of mindfulness of breath, and brief presentations of the research data that support these practices.

This workshop does not require previous knowledge of meditation or mindfulness practices. It will provide useful take-home tools for parents and other caregivers.

More about Dr. Singh

Nirbhay N. Singh, Ph.D., BCBA-D. is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University. His research interests include mindfulness, behavioral and cognitive behavioral treatments of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and assistive technology for supporting individuals with diverse abilities. He is the developer of Mindfulness-Based Positive Behavior Support (MBPBS) for assisting parents, paid caregivers, and teachers in reducing their own stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue that arises from prolonged caregiving, and to successfully help those in their care to better manage their maladaptive or challenging behaviors. Dr. Singh has over 700 publications, including 25 books.

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Melissa Demand

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Melissa became involved with FPWR in 2014 after her son, Kemett, was diagnosed with PWS. That year she hosted her first One SMALL Step Walk which raised over $115,000 and earned herself the honor of hosting the FPWR conference in Austin, TX in 2015. Melissa has over 9 years of fundraising and development experience and a Masters in Social Work from The University of Texas with an emphasis on Community and Administrative Leadership. Melissa will be assisting with database management and administrative duties.

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