Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

To Spank or Not to Spank?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Given all the recent news regarding spanking and using a ‘switch’ to “teach children a lesson”, I thought it would be a good time to revisit one of my earlier posts on this subject. Please pass it along:

Does Spanking Work?

Okay, as a professional I’m supposed to tell you that corporal punishment (spanking) is a no-no and you shouldn’t do it. I’m supposed to tell you that it’s ineffective and simply does not work. Well, I’m not going to tell you that; or at least not that it doesn’t work. Think of it this way, I imagine most of you men (If any men actually read this blog) would think twice before crossing a guy three times your size. Well, likewise, your kiddo isn’t stupid and realizes when he’s been out-gunned; which is why spanking “works”.

Sure, it can make your kid’s obey, but….

Of course, many of us have our own experience with being spanked, and recognize first-hand the potential effectiveness of the back-hand. However, once we move past the recognition of spanking being effective in getting kids to obey, we are left with some potential problems. I hear you saying ‘I knew you were going to say that…” Well, ignorance can be bliss, but maybe not so blissful for your kids, especially if you rely on spanking as your primary form of discipline.

Problems?

What are the problems? First, do you really want to hit your kids? Is there not something inherently wrong with hitting anyone, let alone somebody you love? Also, are we not trying to send appropriate messages to our kids. Do you like the message of ‘when somebody frustrates you, hit them.’ If your child is prone to be aggressive, e.g. hits his sister when angry, then does it help to tell him “no hitting” and then hit him?

Going too far?

How does a parent feel while spanking? Obviously, they’re angry and frustrated; is it a stretch that an angry parent, in the heat of the moment, might hit too hard, or too many times?

Teachable moment lost

Does spanking teach the child more appropriate ways of behaving? Is time-out, loss of privilege, the softer and closer approach, or behavior charts more effective? Does spanking create good or bad feelings; does it promote a positive, or negative, tone in the family? Is spanking consistent with Jesus’ command to do unto others as you’d have done to you? These are questions to ask yourself; the answers will lead you in the right direction. Oh, by the way, since I brought-up Jesus, you may be thinking about that ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ Bible verse. However, God’s “rod” provides comfort (24th Psalm: “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”); rods were used in Biblical days to guide sheep, not beat them.

Let’s teach, guide, and love our kids

We want to guide our children; love them, teach and comfort them. The manner in which you carry out those duties, in a consistent, loving, and firm way, maybe even with a sense of humor, will serve you well in raising your kids. Now, go get softer and closer with your kids. God bless you and yours.

Dr. John Carosso

What Type Of School Is Best For My Special Needs Child?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

So many from which to choose

There are many school options for parents; brick-and-mortar public schools, public cyber schools, private schools, specialized alternative placements, and homeschooling to name a few. Parents are often left wondering which is the best option for their child, especially parents of children with special needs.

The Public Option

Public school has many advantages given that, by law, the public school system must provide a “free and appropriate education”, and implement special education services if the child meets special education criteria. Public schools are largely compelled to educate no matter the condition (as opposed to expel your child), and ultimately meet your child’s needs or transition to a facility that can, and pay for it.

The Cyber Option

There are situations where parents believe the public school system is failing their child, and the alternative specialized placements are not seen as appealing. Parents may then decide to cyber-school, which can be an excellent option if it’s important for your child to have an individualized environment, a more flexible daily schedule, and be able to work at their own pace. However, parents need to recognize that the “individual attention” is likely going to be provided by them (the parent); and that you may find yourself in the challenging situation of being your child’s ‘teacher’; i.e. sitting with them and providing the prompting, praising, guiding, and cajoling to get your child through their school assignments. If you have the time and gumption, then this can work, but it can be quite an undertaking.

The Home Schooling Option

Whatever is indicated as challenging above under “The Cyber Option,” multiply that x2 for Home Schooling. Not only is the parent compelled to provide individualized attention, the parent also must investigate, obtain, and implement the proper curriculum. Sometimes this works just fine but, again, similar with cyber-schooling, a parent serving as both ‘Mom’ (or Dad) and ‘Teacher’ can be tough for both Mom and the child.

A Private School?

A Private School can be a wonderful option. Private schools typically offer smaller classrooms, sometimes are more flexible than public schools in modifying structure, and teachers are often very accommodating. Moreover, parents often appreciate the spiritual elements inherent in such a setting. However, private schools are not legally compelled to educate your child and can expel if proving to be too difficult, and they are not required to provide ‘special education’ services. Also, at times such schools have the attitude of ‘our way or the highway’, which may not work so well for special needs children.

What about specialized or typical preschools?

Children with developmental issues often thrive in specialized preschools such as through DART/IU programs. However, parents often appreciate their child being in a regular preschool setting so as to model after neuro-typical kiddo’s language and play skills, but have concern that their child may not do well with 15-20 other kids in that typical preschool class. Deciding between the two school options can be quite a dilemma, which is often resolved by doing both. In that regard, enrolling part-time in a specialized preschool, and part-time in a typical preschool but with individualized attention such as from Therapeutic Staff Support. In this way, the child gets the best of both worlds.

So which is best?

Of course, there is no singular answer to this question; it depends on your child, the situation, and the time-frame. In terms of time-frame, I often see parents of a child with an anxiety disorder, for example, ultimately choosing to home or cyber-school their child due to ongoing anxiety and school-refusal. These children often subsequently perform well in the home setting, but the problem is that their anxiety disorder is often not addressed given that the standard mode of treatment for anxiety is having the child confront their fear (go to school). Nevertheless, the cyber or home-schooling experience can be advantageous for a few semesters as the child receives therapy and bolsters their coping mechanisms. However, a return to a more traditional school setting, at some point, would be optimal. In the same sense, many children with special needs flourish in smaller private school settings and home/cyber-school situations and parents relish the opportunity to assist in meeting their child’s educational needs, and have no reservations about the time and energy if it’s seen as beneficial. In those situations, everyone wins. It’s important, however, that parents know ‘what they are getting themselves into’ prior to undertaking the endeavor to avoid any regrets. It’s also vital to thoroughly interview school officials to be sure exactly and precisely what is expected, and what will be provided to meet your child’s needs. It’s also helpful to observe classrooms when possible. These decisions are often complex and multi-faceted; I invite parents to contact me at jcarosso@cpcwecare.com to discuss their child and help them with such decision-making. God bless you in your efforts to meet your child’s needs.

Dr. John Carosso, Psy.D. Child Psychologist

DSM-V and the Autism Diagnosis: Is The Change Hurting Children?

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Fuss

There has been lots of fuss about the DSM-V and the autism diagnosis; will it result in less children meeting diagnostic criteria and therefore less children getting the services they need? Is this concern legitimate? I’ve written about this in prior posts, but here I’ll provide further elaboration.

What’s the problem, and what is the diagnostic criteria?

Is the DSM-V Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis the issue at hand, or is it another DSM-V diagnosis that might be a “problem”?

First let’s take a brief look at the ASD, the criteria includes:

1. “Deficits in social communication and social interaction” manifesting in, for example, poor back-and-forth communication, deficient eye contact, and absence in an interest in peers or inability to sustain the relationship/interaction.

2. “Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, and/or hyper or hypo-sensitivities.

There are also specifiers for severity of the social and verbal deficit, and the extent of restricted interests. Finally, there are specifiers for “with or without intellectual impairment”, “with or without language impairment”, and “associated with a known medical or genetic condition or environmental factor”.

So, you can see that this criteria, with the specifiers, cover everything from what formerly was called ‘Autistic Disorder’ at the more severe end; ‘Asperger’s Disorder’ at the ‘high end’ and ‘Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS’ for those in-between.

Is There Another Diagnosis?

Yes, there is another ‘competing’ diagnosis, and this is where there may be a potential “problem”. In that regard, the DSM-V has a new diagnosis referred to as “Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD), which entails “persistent difficulties in the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication manifesting in”, for example, difficulty “greeting others and sharing information”, using “overly formal language”, and “following rules for conversation” such as in turn-taking and rephrasing, and “difficulty understanding what is not explicitly stated.”

This diagnosis would cover those kiddos who may have autism-like verbal and social deficits and kiddo’s who ‘don’t quite get it’ socially, but who do not have any restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior or interests.

Which DSM-IV diagnosis will be most affected by the SCD diagnosis?

At least a portion of the kiddo’s who would have been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS) will now be diagnosed with Social Communication Disorder (SCD). Research published in January 2014 in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that about 8% of kids diagnosed within the autism spectrum under DSM-IV have subsequently been changed to SCD, which is a far-cry from the 20% predicted earlier by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Most of the children whose diagnosis was changed had been diagnosed with PDDNOS, and were changed to SCD, which is understandable given that PDDNOS has such vague criteria. Those who had been diagnosed with Autistic Disorder or Asperger’s Disorder under DSM-IV were largely unaffected.

Nonverbal Learning Disability

Another “diagnosis” that may be impacted is “nonverbal learning disability” which essentially is the same as SCD. However, given that there has never been a formal DSM-IV “nonverbal learning disability” diagnosis, now these NVLD kiddo’s too have a better diagnostic fit with SCD.

Consequence of the DSM-V?

It’s likely this change in diagnosis to SCD, for the very few children who will be affected, will generally be positive. In that regard, having seen these kiddo’s first-hand, they clearly struggle with verbal and social skills, but are not “autistic”. Up to now, the diagnostic options have been few besides PDDNOS. These children can still obtain services consisting of individual and group speech/language, and outpatient social skill training, while avoiding the autism diagnosis that does not quite fit anyway.

Hope that helps to clarify the effect of DSM-V regarding the “Autism Spectrum Disorder” vs. PDDNOS, Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s, and Social Communication Disorder.

Feel free to follow-up with me, with any questions at jcarosso@cpcwcare.com.

Autism / New On-Line Parent Training Program: Requesting your Suggestions

Friday, April 18th, 2014

We are delighted to announce:

Apple Tree Institute

AppleTreeInstitute.com is an Online Training program offering videos and webinars to help parents of children with autism and/or with behavioral problems.

Our goal is to make the site as helpful, user-friendlyand cost-effective as possible.

We would be indebted if you would view the Web site at AppleTreeInstitute.com, and share your thoughts with us about other topics that you’d like covered, and any suggestions to improve the Web site?

Please forward your thoughts to Dr. Robert Lowenstein, M.D. at r4lowe@gmail.com and Dr. John Carosso at jcarosso@cpcwecare.com.

Thank you again – your feedback is vital and appreciated.

SAD: More Than Just Winter Blues?

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Written by Dr. John Carosso

The change of season blues

How many of you can relate to the dismay of darkness settling-in as early as 5:00 pm? I know it gets me down in the dumps. For some, however, it’s more than just feeling somewhat ‘blue’ in mood; some struggle with severe bouts of depression during this time of year, known as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD). This depression differs from it’s more typical counterpart in that the onset is rather predictable, usually around September or October, and corresponds with the shortening of daylight.

How Common?

As would be expected, depends on where you live. If you’re lucky enough to live in the cold Northern regions, rates go as high as 20%, but as low as 2% in brighter climates. Oh well, guess that’s bad news for all of us here in Pennsylvania.

Kids and Teens affected too?

This is not an adult-only malady. SAD usually begins in the teen years and strikes girls four times more than boys. Interestingly, teens born in the Spring or Summer are more likely to suffer from SAD than those born in the colder months. Not sure why, but may be because of how a child is light-programmed from early-on their life.

What to do?

Well, short of moving to Florida, treatment involves the systematic use of light. Guess this makes sense given the problem is based in lack of light. The ‘phototherapy’ involves sitting briefly in front of box that emits intense light, or the use of a Dawn Simulator; both are quite effective as well as traditional cognitive-behavioral talk therapy, and medication.

Hope that helps

If you’re feeling down, lacking in motivation, and blah in mood, or you notice your kids being exceptionally moody or agitated during the Fall and Winter months, then please do not hesitate to get help. You can reach me at jcarosso@cpcwecare.com or call 1-877-899-6500. You can find out more about SAD in an article on the e-Edition of the Exponent Telegram where I was interviewed about this form of depression. Check it out at www.exponent-telegram.com

God bless.

Research Findings: Should we Trust Them?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Written by Dr. John Carosso

To Believe or not to Believe?

We are deluged daily with research findings concerning everything from A-Z. The findings often come from prestigious journals and universities and from people with lots of letters after their names. However, can we trust the findings?

The Short Answer
No, we can’t.

The Long Answer
Oh, you’re looking for some elaboration. Well, there are problems on so many levels it’s tough to decide where to begin. If, by the grace of God, the research study actually used a sufficient sample size, an adequate research design, stringent statistical methods, and has been replicated (all of which not uncommonly is not the case), the subsequent headline touting the findings still may be misleading.

Examples?
You’d hurt your back picking-up all the articles and books chronicling flawed research. The less strenuous approach of any quick Google-search will demonstrate myriad studies targeting everything from vaccinations and autism, vitamin D and cancer, anti-depressants and depression/autism, climate-change analysis and global cooling from the 1970’s (remember being told we were all going to freeze to death?) and caffeine and Alzheimer’s that have proven inaccurate and/or misleading. Moreover, it seems that the more money and politics involved, the more invalid the research finding.

Recent investigation into this matter, from UCLA and Harvard, found that, for example, between 27% and 37% of the studies of various medications utilized outcome measures that were misleading. For example, the finding that a medication may prevent heart disease by 50% but also increases cancer deaths by the same percentage (guess with statistic was touted); or that a medication reduces risk of heart attack by 50% when, stated another way, the medication lowers risk from two-in-a-million to one-in-one-million (again, guess which statistic was head-lined).

Speaking of Media Hype
I subscribe to a number of listserv journal outlets that email well over a hundred research headlines per week in the mental health and medical arena. I’ve found many of the headlines misleading. Those same misleading headlines are touted all over the news media. When I’ve looked past the headlines to read the actual research article, almost always there are vital distinctions and discrepancies that are not included in the headline and neglected in the subsequent news article. Example: recent finding that mothers with diabetes are more likely to have a child with autism. The media often excluded the lack of statistical significance of that finding. I could provide countless examples of headlines that completely missed the boat.

What to do?
The following might help:
• Don’t rely on headlines; rather, read the actual research article (most are easy to find on-line).
• Look to see if it’s a one-time finding, or replicated.
• On a more technical level, you want to see large sample sizes, control groups, and randomized and double-blind assignment to groups.
• I don’t want to sound conspiratorial, but also consider the source of the research and remember that money and politics can be a corrupting influence.

A healthy Skepticism
There’s a difference between being cynical and skeptical; try for the latter. Don’t get lazy and don’t get caught-up in the hype.
Despite concerns, there are quality research findings that help immensely in our understanding of disorders and best-practices in treatment; you just have to look hard for them.

Please share your comments; I’d love to hear your opinion. God bless you in your quest for the truth.

Autism: When is it good to talk to yourself?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Written by Dr. Carosso

Is it good to talk to yourself?

Sure it is. In fact, this is how we, as humans, problem-solve and work through our difficulties. We learn, beginning at a young age, how to ‘talk things through’ in our head, which helps us to process our feelings, experiment with potential problem-solving strategies, and rehearse resolutions.

Go on, let it out

How often have we heard young children ‘talking out loud’ in their play, or when working through some difficulty? In fact, as adults we not uncommonly do the same thing, but are more discreet about it (you know what I mean; talking out loud while driving home from work and hoping other drivers don’t think you’re strange). However, it’s not until about seven year old that children begin thinking more in words, quietly in their head, as opposed to out-loud and in pictures, the former of which tends to be more efficient and effective.

What’s this got to do with autism?

As we know, children with autism struggle with expressive language. Children who struggle with talking to others also struggle with talking to themselves. In fact, a recent study out of Durham University (Development and Psychopathology, January 26, 2012) found that 2/3 of children with autism experience significant difficulty with self-talk, even if they had some level of expressive language capacity.

Lets talk this out

So, what do we do about this skill deficit? Well, for starters we take every opportunity, in the presence of children with autism, to ‘talk out’ our thoughts as we plan our day and problem-solve, and we give children the words to problem-solve on their own. We do so as simply as possible, using as few words as possible depending on the age and language skill-level of the child.

Younger the better

To help young children and those with more severely compromised language, we use visual cues and schedules with actual pictures of the child or item. However, it’s important to transition, over time, to symbols, then symbols with written words, then only written words with speech, we then rely solely on speech; all of which builds the foundation toward inner speech.

20 Questions

This process is no game, but you’ll present it that way. We build foundations of self-talk by asking questions, during games and activities, which promote planning and ‘thinking things through’. Such as: “what can you do with that puzzle piece?” “What will you need next to finish the puzzle” “Where can you find that piece?” “What will happen after you’re done? Sometimes the questions can be posed to direclty promote self-talk, “I wonder what will happen next if you do that…?”

Turning action into words

The approach I find to be invaluable is ‘parallel talk’ that involves playing alongside a child and talking through what he or she is playing (putting actions into words, which is exactly what we want the child doing to plan and problem-solve). This is also helpful to enhance play skills.

Summing it all up

It is vital that children are able to utilize ‘self-talk’ to plan and problem-solve; it’s a skill that all children need to master but is usually quite deficient in children with autism. These strategies can help to increase your child’s ability to ‘talk to themselves’ and thereby more effectively plan and problem-solve.

Questions?

Please comment, or Email me with any comments or questions at jcarosso@cpcwecare.com or DoctorC@AutismCenterofPittsburgh.com. Your feedback and individual experiences are welcomed and will be invaluable to share with others. Thanks again and God bless.

Improve Your Child’s Community Behavior

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Written by Dr. Carosso

No Drama Outings:
As many of you are too well aware, taking your kids out to the store, or restaurant, can be as adventure-packed as any Indiana Jones movie. However, those are occasions you’d rather do without the drama.

Get some help:
If you want some help to improve your child’s behavior during outings, just go cpcwecare.com, click on Parent Resources, and you’ll find a downloadable packet that provides dozens of tips and suggestions to help improve your child’s public behavior. While you’re there, you’ll also see a bunch of other free and downloadable packets and e-pamphlets targeting childhood:
-Autism
-ADHD
-Mood problems
-Dietary considerations
-Toilet training
-Attachment Disorder and the Traumatized Child
-Encopresis (may not want to read that one before a meal)
-Helping the over-indulged child (I’ll need that for my kids)
-Dyslexia, and more.

Hope you find the packets and e-pamphlets to be helpful. Feel free to refer a friend. Please let me know of any other topics you want covered. God Bless.

ADHD: 5 Top Tips / new ADHD E-Pamphlet

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Hair-loss prevention
The behavior of children with attention deficit and hyperactivity can cause parents to pull out their hair. So, before you become bald, which clearly would add insult to injury, you may want some pointers. Fortunately, I have an approach to treating hyperactive kids that might save what’s left of your hair.

I love you just the way you are!

Remind yourself to love your child the way he or she is. Accept that your child is more active and easily distracted than most, and subsequently needs more attention, guidance, support, and love. Nevertheless, there are some specific things you can do to help.

Softer and closer yet again
First, the ‘softer and closer’ approach is vital (see my earlier post by that name). Hyperactive kids need individual attention, close proximity with eye contact, speaking firmly but softly, and to be taken by the hand and walked-through through their responsibilities including chores. I’ll be describing some specific strategies to promote independence but, no matter, for the time being, don’t expect your child to go upstairs, brush his teeth, put on his pj’s, clean-up after himself, and come downstairs without you repeating step-by-step directions and providing ample oversight. Your individualized attention is invaluable and vital. Enjoy this time of bonding. Don’t become frustrated but, rather, enjoy the opportunities to spend extra time with your child, helping him to complete daily tasks and to make good decisions. Keep in mind that there will be a day when he’ll be out of the home and, believe it or not, you’ll miss this time. In the meantime, in trying to promote independence, here ya go:

Top-Tips:
1.) keep the daily schedule and expectations as routine and consistent as possible. Your child will carry-out tasks easier if the responsibilities are completed at the same time, done the same way, and in the same manner on a daily basis; no guesswork.
2.) Use schedules, both written and visual; such cues are invaluable as reminders of ‘what to do next’ and can include, for example, to ‘turn out the light’ either in writing or a picture of your child turning out the light.
3.) Get eye contact, give direction in short phrases, and ask child to repeat the direction before beginning.
4.) Allow opportunities for ‘blowing off steam’ (ample time to run outside…). Provide vigorous exercise prior to expecting prolonged seat-work such as homework.
5.) Keep the homework area quiet, distraction-free, well-organized, and allow breaks as needed (complete one page, take a break…). Ironically, some children perform homework better with some background music.
6.) One more tip (here’s a bonus tip); don’t forget behavior charts!! For example, child completes homework and gets a sticker that can be ‘cashed-in’ later that evening to watch his favorite show. Kids love it and it’s increased motivation to stay on task.

These strategies can be faded as your child uses more mature coping strategies and becomes increasingly independent. Follow these steps, see the difference, and keep the hair on your head. Now, go and get softer and closer with your kids.

For more information on understanding and managing ADHD, request our new E-Pamphlet: Facts and Fallacies about ADHD. Request in the ‘Comment’ section of this blog, or email me at jcarosso@cpcwecare.com and I’ll get you the pamphlet pronto. God bless and Merry Christmas.

Ten Tips for Managing Meltdowns

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Written by Dr. Carosso

It’s not uncommon that kids may become overly emotional, even tantrummatic at times. Parents typically ignore such behavior and send the child to their room to calm, which can be an effective and appropriate strategy.

To isolate or not to isolate?
For kids who show more severe emotion, banishing to the room may not be entirely effective. In some cases the child, in their room, may become destructive or self-injurious. Moreover, sometimes these kiddos refuse to go to their room, leaving parents in a quandary.  

What to do?
Here is a ten-tip prescription for success:

Remain Calm
Do not lose your cool, raise your voice, or become overly emotional, it only worsens the situation. Two out-of- control people certainly doesn’t help. Rely on the softer and closer approach espoused and explained by me in a prior post (see ‘the softer and closer approach’).  

Pick your Battles Carefully
Some battles simply aren’t worth it. You may have to decide whether your child picking-up their toys is worth a three hour battle that may ensue.

Accessing Antecedents
It’s often possible to predict emotionally volatile situations before they occur. If the problem can be predicted, it can often be avoided. For example, if your child tends to tantrum soon after returning home from school in response to contact with a sibling; you may keep the two apart for 30 minutes after the return from school, and provide a structured routine of after-school activities to slowly bring them back together on your terms, not theirs.

The Struggle for Power
Some kids are especially strong-willed and looking for a fight. If you butt heads, you may win the battle but find yourself losing the war if your home is turning into a battle-zone. Instead, avoid power-struggles by providing choices, using humor, starting the chore with your child, making a race of the chore (who can get done faster…), using hand-over-hand, utilizing the softer-and-closer approach, tag-teaming with your spouse (take a break and let your spouse intervene), reminding of good consequences for compliance, walking away and dealing with it later, giving a choice between a quick ten-minute time-out or losing TV for the rest of the night, and a host of other options. The larger your tool box is, the better-prepared you will be.

The safety zone
It’s sometimes necessary to turn the child’s bedroom in a safe and secure place for your child to calm. Otherwise, parents may find themselves restraining their child for extended periods of time, which often leads to someone getting hurt. If you find yourself in this situation, contact this psychologist, for guidance, at jcarosso@cpcwecare.com.

The Beauty of Behavior Charts
Yes, sticker charts can be a pain, but they sure can provide children with extra motivation to control themselves. When they don’t work it’s often because they’re being used incorrectly. It can be more complicated than people think to figure-out how often, how much, and for what should stickers and rewards be given. For example, it’s all for naught if you give a 4 year-old stickers once per day, and extra rewards once per week (a four year-old often needs reinforcement far more frequently). I’ve found it best that parents seek professional guidance to devise a chart but, in the meantime, see my earlier post explaining behavior charts.

The Medication Malady
Parents are usually hesitant to consider medication. However, many children who struggle with more extreme emotion respond very favorably to various medications. In more severe situations, it may be wise to consider seeing a psychiatrist and such can be arranged with Dr. Lowenstein here at CPC.

What About Autism?
Many of these strategies also pertain to children with autism. However, we would also want to target sensory issues, language difficulties, and socialization deficits that can quickly lead to heightened emotion. It’s vital that we avoid sensory overload, find ways for children with autism to communicate their needs and wants, and avoid social situations that we know will likely contribute to frustration. I’ll write a separate post on managing meltdowns for children who have autism.

The Spiritual Connection
Get your child involved in activities that enhance spiritual development (church services, Sunday School, Children’s Ministries, Youth Group, Retreats, listening to KLOVE (98.3FM), playing with Spiritually-Minded friends…). It is comforting to be reminded that God loves, cares, is a protector, comforter, helper during times of frustration, and that He’s only a prayer away (see my prior post, “the argument squelcher“).

Praise without Ceasing
Always be on the look-out for good behavior, self-control, and cooperation. Praise whatever you want to see more of. Don’t miss an opportunity to praise your child for handling a situation without excess emotion, or for calming-down quicker than usual. Big hugs, high-fives, a big smile, and words of praise go a long way to increase your child’s motivation for next time.

I hope you find this post to be helpful in your effort to calm and comfort your child. If you want some more guidance in dealing with your kiddo’s emotional issues, don’t hesitate to email me at jcarosso@cpcwcare.com. In the meantime, God bless.