How to Help When a Child You Love Suffers Trauma

Early trauma can leave a lasting impact on a child’s brain.  The younger a child is, the more vulnerable their brain may be to the impact of trauma.  Childhood trauma can include any negative experience that causes major stress.

Having healthy relationships with caring adults can help children who have experienced early trauma.  When children feel unsafe, they spend more time in the “survival” part of their brain as opposed to the “thriving” part of their brain where they are bonding with caregivers, learning to talk, etc.  Early trauma can interfere with learning and may lead to other health problems in the future.

You can help a child who has suffered childhood trauma in the following ways:

  • Facilitate opportunities for children to talk about what happened.
  •  Help children play out their feelings.
  •  Allow the child to talk and tell their story without pressure. Read more

Social Skills Training for the Treatment of ADHD

Research has indicated that the number one treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a combination of stimulant medication and social skills training.  The purpose of this blog is to give a primer for parents on skills training and what this constitutes for a child with a diagnosis of ADHD.  There are four major components associated with skills training for a child with ADHD:

1. Parent training

Parent training focuses on inattentive and impulsive behaviors that are evident within the home environment.  With this intervention, parents are taught specific behavioral strategies to help modify the child’s environment to best manage the behaviors in the home environment.  Time is spent discussing changing the environment to limit distractions as well as create specific and practical schedules of reinforcement to improve the frequency and duration of positive behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors.

2. Social skills training

Social skills training is often conducted in a group format and focuses on improving the child’s socialization skills in a safe setting.  Here the child is forced to socially engage with same age peers.  In addition, the group leader is able to provide immediate and practical feedback regarding the success or failures of the child’s success in the social setting. Read more

Positive Thinking Tricks for a Better Mood

Changing your child’s thinking may be a helpful way to appropriately deal with day to day conflict that inevitably occurspositive thinking tips for teens. Have you noticed that when minor upsets in the day occur, your child has a reaction that lasts a long time? Does your child tend to think of the glass as half-empty? By challenging your child’s thoughts (and your own!) you will start to see the way that more positive thinking can improve his or her mood.

Tips to Help Your Child Think Positively:

  • Challenge extremes by finding exceptions. By challenging extremes (ex. Does every single kid in the classroom really get to do that? ) you can help your child see that there are exceptions to the generalizations that he is likely making. In the example above, if your child is feeling down because some of his peers get to do something he is not allowed to do, he may utter, “but EVERYONE else gets to!” By questioning the truth of his statement in a non-threatening way, you can help him see that there are indeed exceptions.  A great way to do this is by having him list a few examples. Read more

Halloween Candy: Gluten Free, Peanut Free, and What to Do with All of It

Halloween is just a few days away. If you have a child with diet restrictions, or if you need to send candy to school, it can be a little overwhelming figuring out which candies are ok to have. To be safe, it is a good idea to send peanut free candies to school since chances are, there is a child who has a peanut allergy in the classroom. For kids with Celiac disease, or for those who require a gluten free diet, see the list below for candy they can have. The starred candies are those that are both gluten free and peanut free.

Peanut Free Candy:

  • Twizzlers
  • Smarties*
  • Tootsie Pops*
  • Dum Dum Pops
  • Junior Mints*
  • Dots*
  • Whoppers
  • Skittles
  • Mike and Ike Originals*
  • Starburst

Gluten Free Candy:

  • York Peppermint Patties
  • Heath Bars
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Tootsie Pops*
  • Dots*
  • Junior Mints*
  • Charleston Chew
  • Caramel Apple Pops
  • Charms Blow Pops
  • Mike and Ike Originals*(along with several other Mike and Ike flavors- see website below)
  • Neccos Read more

Social Thinking: Improving Social Skills to Enhance Socio-Emotional Health

What is social thinking?

Social thinking is what we do when we interact with people. For successful social interactions, it is important that the individual take in and process information embedded in both verbal and non-verbal cues and process how to effectively respond based on the context and topic of presented material. Joint attention, knowledge of expectations regarding behavior, and mental flexibility are all key components for appropriate social relationships.

What happens when social skills are impaired?

When a child has difficulty with focus, understanding the context of the environment around them, and lacks knowledge of how their behaviors make others feel, social thinking may be impaired. Social skills deficits can have profound effects on your child’s academic performance, feelings about self, ability to connect with others, and ability to achieve desired wants and needs. Read more

Pumpkin: A Nutrition Powerhouse

It’s that time of year! Pumpkin season is here and we are all heading to the patch to find the best ones. Although pumpkins are most popular for carving and decorating, they should also get attention for being very nutritious. Both the seeds and the flesh are packed with nutrition.

Read on to find out why pumpkins are so nutritious, and enjoy these recipes using pumpkin that your family will love:

Pumpkin Seeds:  In a nutshell (no pun intended), they are a great source of omega 3s. These are the super healthy fats that reduce inflammation and are highly concentrated in brain tissues. Omega 3s are essential fatty acids, which means our body does not make this type of fat, so we have to get it from our diet. Eat up those pumpkin seeds, and reduce your risk for chronic disease while boosting your brain!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe:  Save the pumpkin seeds from carving for a healthy snack. Rinse them in a colander to remove all of the flesh, then boil them in salted water for about 10 minutes. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet with olive oil for 5-15 minutes or until golden brown. Read more

Phonological Process Disorder vs. Childhood Apraxia of Speech

A phonological process disorder and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) are two speech disorders that affect your child’s intelligibility and in some cases, can present similarly. However, characteristics of these two are different.

Phonological Process Disorder:

A phonological process is a predicted and patterned speech sound error.  Speech sounds developmentally progress in your child’s speech. If a sound is too difficult to produce or developmentally inappropriate, children naturally simplify it to an easier sound, thus producing a phonological process. For more information on sound development, click here to read my blog entitled Speech Sound Developmental Milestones.

Click here to learn more about phonological process elimination.

Below are some red flags of a phonological process disorder:

  • Unintelligible speech (a child should be understood 75% of the time at age 3, 80% of the time at age 4, 90+% of the time at age 5)
  • Frustration from your child when his/her speech is not understood
  • Patterned and predicable errors: consistent substitution of P for F such as “peet” for “feet”  Read more

The Importance of Sleep in Adolescence

Sleep is vital for everyone.  Many children and adolescents do not get enough sleep on a nightly basis.  Research has demonstrated that there are some major concerns with an adolescent’s social and academic behavior when he or she does not get enough sleep.

There have been several studies examining later school start days in which the adolescents are able to get more sleep due to later morning awakenings and the positive results with their academic and behavioral functioning (Beebe, 2011).

These studies indicated that these adolescents who are able to attain more sleep demonstrate the following:

  • Less subjective and physiological sleepiness
  • Improved high school enrollment stability
  • Better attendance among the least stable students
  • Less tardiness
  • Fewer automobile accidents
  • Fewer sick days

Anytime an adolescent exhibits concerns with academic, social, emotional, or behavioral functioning, it is always recommended to assess that individual’s amount and quality of sleep.  Click here to read more on how a lack of sleep affects children.

If you have concerns about your teen’s sleep, contact our neuropsychology department for more information.

Reference: Beebe, D. (2011).  A brief primer on sleep for pediatric and clinical neuropsychologists.  Child Neuropsychology.

Understanding Genetically Engineered Foods (GMOs)

The topic of genetically engineered food is hot right now. There is a debate between food labeling advocacy groups and large food industry producers over the need to label foods that are genetically engineered (GE). The term GMO (genetically modified organism) refers to a food that has been genetically engineered. The following points can help clarify what the debate is about and why it may be important to your family to be informed.

What is a GE or a GMO?

These terms are essentially interchangeable. A genetically engineered food has had foreign DNA bred into the plant (or animal, although at this point GMOs are all crops), which results in DNA that would not otherwise naturally occur in that food. The goal of genetic engineering from an agricultural standpoint is to produce crops that tolerate pesticides or to breed pesticides into the crops. Virtually all genetically engineered seeds contain viral or antibiotic DNA (or both). Read more

Gross Motor Skills and Dance

Dance has always been a fun and exciting recreational activity for children of all ages. Along with the enjoyment of dancing to upbeat music and the social experience, dance is also a great way to help develop your child’s gross motor skills. Read on for 4 aspects of your child’s motor skills that can be facilitated with dance lessons and performance of any style.

4 Gross Motor Benefits to Dance:

  1. Balance-Many dance moves incorporate balancing on one leg, standing with feet right next to each other or standing with one foot in front of the other. All of these positions are challenging for your child’s balance systems, which help to strengthen her balancing abilities.
  2. Coordination-While learning to dance, your child will begin by learning different dance moves and positions. Most positions involve different placement of all 4 limbs, which requires a lot of coordination. Also, once your child learns a dance routine with multiple dance positions sequenced together, she will need to coordinate the entire routine. Read more