What Parents Can Do to Help Their Special Needs Children during Virtual Learning

By Eleanor Kim

With the abrupt transition to online learning last March, teachers, students, and parents alike were left to quickly adjust and find new ways of making virtual learning feel “normal”. While this transition may have come more naturally to some, there are still many families who are struggling to ensure that their children are getting a quality education in their homes. One demographic of online learners who are finding it exceptionally difficult are those who have special needs and learning disabilities. It is hard to spend hours focusing on a Zoom session, especially when special needs learners no longer have direct access to the specialized teachers and aids that help them learn in a normal school setting. Unfortunately, this additional stress during an already unprecedented time has taken a toll on special needs parents and it is important that parents are self-compassionate to themselves as they journey through this uncharted online learning experience. That being said, there are still many new strategies that parents can try to implement to assist their child’s distanced learning.

  • Ask teachers to offer “asynchronous” work in conjunction with any Zoom activities to allow your child more hands-on learning opportunities or request more one-on-one learning through break out rooms or personal Zoom meetings
  • If you are unable to remain with your child during their school hours, reach out to your child’s teachers and aids for an update on how they are doing and how you can help after school hours
  • Offer your child “fidget toys” during Zoom calls to help them remain focused on class material
  • If your child has a hard time staying seated during Zoom meetings, offer Bluetooth earbuds or headphones to allow your child the ability to move around while still remaining attentive and participatory during class
  • Incorporate time within your child’s schedule to stretch and relieve any additional stress or energy by going outside or having a dance break!
  • Make sure to schedule check-in meetings with your child’s school team (teachers, aids, counselor, etc.) to help your child express any frustrations or emotions they are experiencing during this difficult time.

Let your child know that it is okay to be having a hard time right now and that you are there to help them through it. Also make sure that you, the parent, are receiving the support you need while helping your special needs child with online learning in addition to any other struggles you may be facing during these unusual and overwhelming times. We here at Arista Counseling have many therapists and support options available for you.

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_parents_can_support_children_with_special_needs_during_distance_learning

Image Source:

https://dynaimage.cdn.cnn.com/cnn/c_fill,g_auto,w_1200,h_675,ar_16:9/https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.cnn.com%2Fcnnnext%2Fdam%2Fassets%2F200810224242-20200810-online-learning-main.jpg

Siblings with Disabilities

By: Isabelle Siegel

People readily consider the struggles experienced by children with disabilities as well as by their parents, but siblings’ experiences and difficulties oftentimes go unnoticed. However, growing up with a sibling with a disability is not without consequences. Having a sibling with special needs is associated with numerous challenges, but also numerous opportunities.

Challenges

Growing up alongside a sibling with a disability can be associated with many negative emotions, some of which include anger, guilt, jealousy, embarrassment, and fear. Siblings of children with disabilities often report feeling neglected by their parents and feeling forced to hide their own problems for the sake of their family or brother/sister. They may also undergo “parentification,” meaning that they take on the role of a parent to themselves or even to their sibling. Although this parentification is associated with increased maturity, it is also associated with increased emotional vulnerability and distress. Taken together, these negative emotions and challenges render siblings of children with disabilities at higher risk for developing psychological adjustment difficulties: that is, they are more vulnerable than the average child to anxiety disorders, peer problems, academic struggles, and more.

Opportunities

People are quick to assume that having a sibling with a disability is a purely negative experience. However, growing up alongside a sibling with a disability is associated with many positive emotions and opportunities. Siblings of children with disabilities report feeling immense pride, gratitude, loyalty, and love. They tend to be more mature, responsible, empathetic, and tolerant than the average child. These positive experiences are equally as important as the negative ones, and must be acknowledged in order to fully comprehend what it is like to have a sibling with a disability.

What Parents Can Do

In order to best help the siblings of children with disabilities, parents can take several steps. These include:

  • Making sure to spend one-on-one time with each child
  • Keeping the siblings informed about their brother’s or sister’s disability and its implications
  • Understanding both the negative and positive emotions associated with being the sibling of a child with disabilities
  • Getting siblings involved in psychological services such as therapy

If you or a loved one is the sibling or parent of a child with a disability, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/band-brothers-and-sisters/201406/siblings-children-disabilities
https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/child-adolescent-psychiatry/emotional-problems-facing-siblings-of-children-with-disabilities/
Image Source: https://raisingchildren.net.au/disability/family-life/siblings/supporting-siblings

Autism vs. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

Autism vs. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

By Crystal Tsui

Autism and Disruptive Mood Dysregulation disorder are often diagnosed together. However, DMDD is a fairly new diagnosis that first appeared in the DSM-V in 2013. As per DSM-V, DMDD is typically diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 18 years old, but symptoms can begin before the age of 10. Before the child is diagnosed, symptoms should last about a year. DMDD goes even further than childhood “moodiness.” It can cause functional and emotional impairment.

Symptoms of DMDD include:

  • Irritability or angry most of the day, almost every day
  • Severe, explosive temper (verbal or behavioral) an average of 3x or more per week, not related to a situation and child’s developmental level
  • Trouble functioning in more than one place (e.g. home, school, and/or with friends)Autism Spectrum is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. It has been categorized by patterns of repetitive behavior and difficulties with social interactions. Symptoms tend to be present in early childhood and affects daily life and functioning.

Symptoms of autism include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Isolation
  • Obsessive interests
  • Resistance to physical contact
  • Word repetition
  • Little danger awareness

Individuals with these symptoms are not guaranteed to be autistic. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, each individual has their own strengths and challenges. Early intervention has shown to lead to positive outcomes later in life for individuals with autism.

Because both of these disorders are usually diagnosed together, there are no set ways to treat either disorder. If a parent or guardian is concerned about diagnosis or treatment plans, always feel free to get a second opinion.

If you or someone you know who may have Autism and/or DMDD, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Citations:

https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Disruptive-Mood-Dysregulation-Disorder-_DMDD_-110.aspx

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/disruptive-mood-dysregulation-disorder-dmdd/disruptive-mood-dysregulation-disorder.shtml

https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/dmdd/dmdd-and-autism-how-are-the-two-related

Image:

https://www.healthyplace.com/sites/default/files/styles/related_articles_tile/public/2018-07/Challenges_of_Parenting_a_Child_with_DMDD.jpg?itok=sueCdX4V

Am I Too Sensitive?

Am I Too Sensitive

Am I Too Sensitive?

By Julia Keys

Has anyone ever said to you in passing, “you’re so sensitive”? Our society seems to shun sensitivity without truly understanding or appreciating it. Stereotypically, a “sensitive person” is portrayed as irrationally emotional or ready to cry at any moment. In reality, sensitivity is defined by psychologists as the amount someone reacts physically, emotionally, or mentally to external and internal stimuli. Researchers have actually coined a term for someone you may describe as “sensitive”: the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

Highly Sensitive People, (HSP), process their external and internal environments with more attention than typical people. About 20% of the population are estimated to be a HSP. Some evolutionary psychologists suggest that HSP evolved from people that needed to be hyper vigilant in their environments to survive. Nowadays, we do not need as much extra attention to survive, but HSP are still affected by their high level of sensitivity.

It is easy to think that HSP and introversion are interchangeable traits, however there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. HSP are not always introverts, they may like being around other people, but certain social environments can be overwhelming to their senses. Also, introversion refers to one’s preference for spending time alone versus spending time with others while sensitivity is how one processes sensory input. Although some HSP are introverted, there are definitely a fair amount that are extroverted as well.

Signs of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • Easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby
  • Gets more anxious than typical people when there a lot to do in a short amount of time
  • Easily disturbed by violence or graphic images
  • Feels the need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where they can have relief from overstimulating environments
  • Makes it a high priority to arrange their life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations
  •  Notices or enjoys delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art
  • Has a rich and complex inner life
  • Was shy or sensitive as a small child

Being an HSP can sometimes cause distress. HSP can have feelings of anxiety or stress when they are in environments that are overstimulating. Certain environments that may be enjoyable for neurotypical people such as parties, outside markets, or concerts may present too much sensory input for an HSP to enjoy. As a result, some HSP may struggle with isolation or loneliness.

On the other hand, the Highly Sensitive Person can also benefit from their heightened sensitivities to stimuli. HSP tend to be observant and perceptive, picking up on small details that others would not. As a result, many HSP are highly creative and innovative. HSP are also naturally empathetic, making them sensitive to others’ emotions and needs. HSP that balance their attention between a healthy internal and external environment reach their highest potential.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress being a HSP may bring, and are seeking stress management, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/live-life-creatively/201906/the-creative-power-the-highly-sensitive-person

https://hsperson.com/

 

Source for Picture:

https://www.google.com/search?q=ripple+in+a+lake&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibsYD2ztDiAhXymOAKHRgYCNoQ_AUIECgB&biw=1280&bih=561#imgrc=q1KPhEKi3gC5dM: