For many parents with kiddos struggling with any number of behavioral health or developmental issues such as ADHD and Autism, the Holiday Season can be an extra stressful time. Watch this Morning Minute Special below on how to prepare your child for the season.
How beneficial is time-out, taking away the TV, or ‘grounding’ a child from going outside? Of course, as most parents have come to find, all of these discipline strategies can be effective. However, what happens if you rely too heavily on these strategies? Well, first, your household can become like a gulag; not too pleasant. Second, you and your child will be miserable. Third, the discipline strategies become less effective.
Many years ago, starting out as a Psychologist, I came across a Principal who established a ritual with his teachers. At the conclusion of every morning meeting, he would huddle the teachers together and lead a chant “softer and closer” repeated four to five times, before sending the teachers off to their students.
Repeat after me…
I am hard pressed to contemplate a more significant or relevant mantra for teachers or parents. I have espoused the “softer and closer” approach since that time, and can think of no better way to connect with a child. Getting on the child’s level, moving-in close, and speaking in a soft tone, if not a whisper, is remarkably powerful, comforting, and bonding for a child in any situation, but especially when the child is experiencing a difficulty and needs supportive guidance.
Well, it’s really not so subtle. It’s the difference between labeling your child, or simply describing an annoying and transient behavior.
What’s the big deal?
When we call our kids “lazy,” “rude,” “liars,” “thieves,” or whatever, we are defining their character, and suggesting that this is their enduring quality. Okay, so now you’re saying, well, they are! That may be true, but I’ll bet you can think of lots of times when your child is motivated, nice, told the truth, and did not steal. Even if the particular behavior is somewhat enduring, your child is still young; their personality is molding and shaping, and you’re in a strategic position to help shape it in the right direction.
It’s that ‘back to school’ time. Yes, it’s sad to see the summer coming to a close and definitely time to get back to the school routine.
Summer vs. School Routine
Need I mention the difference between summer and school-year routines? If you start about 2-3 weeks out, it’s much easier to ship your kids into shape. Otherwise, it’s a culture-shock for your child, and not too pleasant for you either.
What are some of the primary treatment modalities for Autism?
One of the biggest challenges facing a parent of a child with autism is, what’s the most effective form of treatment? The choices seem endless and differentiating one from another can be a daunting task. Parents often rely on therapists to know and carry-out these programs, but many parents want to learn as much as they can and be in the best position to help their child. The most common treatments include speech/language and occupational therapy, counseling (for higher-functioning kiddos), and social skill groups. However, from that point onward, to choose between the options can be quite overwhelming.
We spent the past few posts discussing the diagnosis and treatment of mild autism. By the way, your subsequent comments and questions have been remarkable and very thought-provoking; thank you. At this point, you already know the general signs and symptoms of autism (if not, just check-out any number of my prior posts at helpforyourchild.com), so let’s transition to a discussion about the treatment of more notable autism. In that respect, as a parent, if you have good practitioners to help, that’s great, but you don’t want to be completely dependent on therapists for your child’s well-being. If you know the following two approaches, you will, in fact, be quite prepared and capable.
Children with mild autism are treated with a very specific approach that involves clearly delineating the problem behaviors and tendencies. In that respect, we need as much detailed information about what goes wrong, and what goes well, in what situations, to what extent, for how long, and how frequently? Detailed written descriptions or, even video can be helpful. The more we know, the more effective the treatment plan.
The process of diagnosing autism is rather straightforward, such that it’s a wonder that so many kids are misdiagnosed. It may come as a surprise to you that, from my clinical experience, the issue is under, not over-diagnosis. In that respect, time and time again I have kids in my office for whom there has been ongoing struggles and difficulties in the home, school, and in the community, and parents are dumbfounded why their child is having such difficulties. In that respect, their child has been evaluated elsewhere and diagnosed usually with anxiety, ADHD, or ODD. However, again, time and time again, parents come to me with a suspicion that ‘something more is going on’ and, by and large, they’re right.
You get into an argument with your spouse. You know your point is valid but you’re having trouble getting your mate to acknowledge your view; instead, he just wants to “move on” and “forget about it.” So, he tries to change the subject and you’re left feeling unheard and misunderstood. You’re simply not ready to “move on” and you feel ‘stuck’ and frustrated. As you’re stewing over the problem, you think that, if only your point of view was acknowledged, even in disagreement, you’d feel more at-ease and prepared to move-on. Well, the same thing happens every time you want to “move on” past your child’s disappointment, frustration, anger, or problem.