Dr. Clatch’s Daily Blogs May 2014

Help for Children with Asperger’s

Parents whose children have just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome may wonder if their children will ever “get better.” The reality is that Asperger’s Syndrome is a pervasive developmental disorder that cannot be reversed. It can, however, be treated – children with Asperger’s can be taught to cope with this disorder and can grow up to lead relatively normal and fulfilling lives, full of the rich connections that their neurotypical peers experience. It is important for parents to collaborate with their childen’s teachers and therapists to determine how their children learn best, to ensure their success in school, therapy, and life.

Praise Their Effort

When your child works hard to achieve a goal, even if they fail, praise them for their effort. Failures can be very difficult for children to accept, especially when they tried their best. By talking with your child and acknowledging their hard work, they will learn that failures are simply lessons to learn from. This will help your child be less afraid of failure, and more willing to tackle difficult tasks in the future.

Transitioning With ADHD

Graduating high school is an incredibly important process for many students; one that often sets them up to pursue their future careers and make necessary connections between education and the real world. Young adults with ADHD, however, may have deficits in decision-making skills and social development. This can create challenges when it comes to transitioning to college and finding employment. For these teens, targeted counseling can be helpful for addressing these deficits, leading to greater success in key areas needed for adult development.

Shock Is Part Of Grieving

Many children that experience sudden loss may not immediately exhibit any emotional reactions. This is known as emotional shock, and is a natural defense mechanism that often occurs to help children cope with the immediacy of the loss. If your child is experiencing emotional shock following the loss of a loved one, be prepared to help your child come to terms with their grief over the long-term.

Social Skills and Asperger’s

We live in a very social world. Children with Asperger’s want to connect with others just as much as any other child, but often do not know how. If children with Asperger’s and autism spectrum disorders are going to lead normal, happy lives, they have to learn to comfortably interact with their peers.

Treatment for Asperger’s can be very successful when it is focused on helping the children learn to cope with a highly social world, even when that world seems very foreign to them. Helpful treatment plans may include play therapy, art therapy, social skills training, talk therapy, physical therapy for children with sensory integration issues, and parent training that reached parents techniques they can practice at home.

While it is likely that these children will always have difficulties with certain social situations and may be viewed as “quirky,” these therapeutic interventions can help them develop necessary skills for socializing and navigating the outside world.

Brilliance in Autism

Though there is a general worry among parents with children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder that their children will have to struggle with being alone as adults, this is not necessarily the case. Their company includes such greats as Bill Gates, Dr. Temple Grandin, chanteuse Susan Boyle,¬†Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Wolfgang Mozart – the latter three being suspected of having Asperger’s due to their social discomfiture and brilliant minds. Considering the amazing achievements this group has given an admiring world, it is important to regard autism spectrum disorders as not something to be “cured.” Instead, we should focus on how to help these individuals continue to connect with a world that needs them.

Get Involved In Your Child’s Therapy

As a parent, it is your responsibility to engage and interact with your child’s therapist and therapy to ensure that treatment is effective and ongoing. A therapist sees your child on an appointment-only basis; you see and interact with your child on a daily basis. Therefore, your role is to reinforce what the child is gaining in therapy:

  • Engage the therapist and create a shared sense of purpose
  • Establish systemic goals for your child and family
  • Work with the therapist to begin problem-solving and listening skills to enhance your child’s communication abilities, and embrace the treatment together
  • Recognize the importance of collaborating with your child and their therapist to achieve goals

Addressing ADHD

Young adults with ADHD may have deficits in decision-making and social development. This can create challenges for transitioning into college or employment. For young adults with these issues, targeted counseling can be helpful for developing focus, strengthening executive functions, and meeting and maintaining goals in order or find greater success in key areas needed for adult development.

Neediness in Grieving

After the death of a loved one, many older children may revert to childlike behaviors in an effort to cope. They may want to be held and find it difficult to be separated from their parents. Understanding that these behaviors following a loss are normal can help you accept these temporary changes in your child’s behavior, so you can help them cope with their emotions.

Appreciate Uniqueness

Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder can be a challenging undertaking. However, if you take the time to appreciate the uniqueness of your child, it is possible to recognize that ASDs offer a number of strengths. For instance, children with an ASD are often very loving and altruistic, making them loyal and dedicated friends.

The Effects of Dating Violence on Teen Girls

Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 are three times more likely than anyone else in the US to be victims of dating violence. This kind of abuse has potential to create severe psychological and developmental issues. Girls that are abused by a dating partner are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, develop an eating disorder, or engage in potentially dangerous sexual behavior. They are also much more likely to attempt suicide than their peers who have not been victims of dating violence. In order for these girls and young women to heal and continue positive developments into adulthood, it is integral that they are provided with therapeutic support and, if necessary, legal counsel.

The Trouble With DSM-5

The recent decision of the American Psychiatric Association to remove Asperger’s syndrome from the DSM-5 has prompted a lot of frustration and concern among those whose lives have been affected by a diagnosis of this condition. Learning to cope with Asperger’s syndrome often defines and shapes an individual’s identity. Thus, the loss of this diagnosis can be difficult for many with this disorder – particularly having to accept a new clinical label, and the worry of how that new label will affect their treatment.

The Challenges Faced By Shut Down Learners

Shut Down Learners (SDLs) face a wide range of academic challenges both in and out of the classroom. In the classroom, these children may have difficulty developing study skills and note-taking capabilities. At home, they will experience notable difficulty completing their assignments independently. Parents can help their child by breaking large tasks into smaller ones, setting goals, and providing structure and supervising. While parents may believe that these skills should be developed by the child naturally as they progress through school, SDLs often need extra help in order to overcome their academic difficulties.

ADHD and Positive Reinforcement

Children with ADD or ADHD typically receive more than their fair share of negative attention. From forcing impulse control to continual prompts to sit still or be quiet, children with ADD/ADHD encounter numerous events during the day in which negativity surrounds them. Because of this, it is vitally important for parents to praise their children for good behavior and accomplishments. Positive reinforcement can not only serve as a beacon of light in what might be a dark day for a child with ADD/ADHD, but it can also serve as a means to build self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-worth. Although it may seem difficult at times to focus on the positives, it can make a world of difference for children struggling to control their behavior.

Recognizing Grief’s Impact

Children affected by grief and loss may not have the tools they need to cope with their emotions. As a result, some children may become aggressive or withdrawn. Recognizing how loss and grief impact the emotions of your child will help you to understand your child and provide the support they need in order to cope and heal.

Stopping The Meltdowns

Children with Asperger’s syndrome may become easily irritated or frustrated by changes in their environment. While it may not be possible to have the exact same schedule every day, reducing outbursts can be as simple as sticking to a routine. Routines provide children with Asperger’s with a sense of comfort. Because children with this disorder are prone to emotional meltdowns, routine can be vital in reducing this behavior.

Playing Games, or Gaming Addiction?

Most teens and young adults spend at least some time online daily, and often engage in virtual games. While this type of social interaction is normal, some young adults may develop an addiction. Youth that are unwilling to engage in other activities or spend more than 40 hours a week on the internet or with their gaming console may have a gaming addiction. If you know someone that may have a gaming addiction professional help may be needed to cope with the addiction.

Why Is It Called “Asperger’s Syndrome”?

Asperger’s Syndrome was named after an Austrian psychiatrist and pediatrician, Dr. Hans Asperger, who first reported symptoms of the disorder in 1944. Dr. Asperger noted that while intelligence of children with this condition was normal, many failed to develop important communication and social skills, and often exhibited physical awkwardness. Dr. Asperger initially described the condition as “autistic psychopathy,” and noted that the most profound symptom was “social isolation”.

Moving On Means Letting Go

After a loss, many children may be unwilling to move on and enjoy their lives. They may believe that moving on means forgetting the one they lost. While moving on is a difficult process that often requires time above all else, parents and guardians need to remind children that moving on does not mean forgetting – it simply means letting go of the sadness. Moving on is a natural part of life that must occur even after we have suffered a loss.


Young Adults Living With Their Parents

The current economic downtown has prompted a record number of young adults to remain at home with their parents. While this living arrangement can provide economic stability for adult children, it can also create havoc in the home. Establishing rules and boundaries with adult children will be key to maintaining harmony. Rules will help parents and children understand their roles and responsibilities.


Adolescence and Asperger’s

For children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), the most difficult years lie between the ages of 11 and 17. During this time period, teens crave new friendships and independence. However, many AS teens have difficulty achieving both successfully because these teens are less likely to be accepted by their peers. This can lead to social isolation and, over time, depression. For parents that have worked actively with their child to overcome these issues, watching these changes unfold can be difficult. Parents need to provide their teen with enough freedom to figure out what makes them happy while still ensuring that some guidance is provided for social and emotional development.

Motivation Mojo

When you feel overwhelmed by work or everyday tasks, you probably break down your tasks into smaller parts. This helps you manage your time and anxiety, and allows things to get done in a more focused manner. However, while adults are good at thinking small, children often lack the ability to do that. The next time your child expresses frustration over an influx of homework and chores, help them break down their tasks so that they are more manageable. This will not only alleviate their anxiety in the short-term, it will provide them with a useful skill that they can use throughout their lives to reduce the stress of everyday life.

Parenting AS Teens

In order to improve social outcomes for AS teens, parents need to consider the different ways in which these children develop. For instance, many AS teens are able to successfully use online chat rooms and message board to connect with others socially. Although parents may find it difficult to witness their child engage in social activities that may not appear to be mainstream, parents need to focus on safety first and then allow their teen to develop social relationships as he or she sees fit. When the AS child reaches adolescence, hone are the days when parents can control their child’s behavior. Instead, by keeping in mind that your role has shifted from control to guidance, you can open your heart and mind to a whole new world for your teen – one in which your child is safe to express themselves in a way that is natural and comfortable. Although this process is challenging, it is one that will be rewarding for you and highly beneficial for your child.

Dr. Michael Clatch, Psy. D
Posted in: Therapy
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