Bio: Dr. Sekandari is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in working with families and children of all ages. She is currently licensed in California and Arizona. For more info. please visit www.drsekandari.com
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- Overspending. “Often times a person will spend over their budget and get into deep financial trouble, spending well above their income,” says Engs. “The normal person will say, ‘Oops, I can’t afford to buy this or that.’ But not someone who has an addiction,” explains Engs Shopaholics have difficulty recognizing the boundaries of a budget.
- Overbuying: Women with shopping addiction often have racks of clothes and accessories with the price tags still attached which have never been used. They might go to a mall with the intention of buying one or two items and come home with bags and bags of items (they might go for one pair of shoes and come back with 10)
- Long Term Problem: “A shopping addiction is a continuous problem,” says Engs. “It’s more than two or three months of the year, and more than a once-a-year Christmas spree.”
- Lying and Deceit: “Shopoholics will hide their purchases because they don’t want their significant other to know they bought it because they’ll be criticized,” says Engs. “They may have secret credit card accounts, too.” They are often in denial about the problem.
- Vicious Cycle: “Some people will take their purchases back because they feel guilty,” says Engs. “That guilt can trigger another shopping spree, so it’s a vicious circle.” And in these people, debt may not be an issue because they’re consistently returning clothes out of guilt — but a problem still exists.
- Impacts Personal Relationships: “It is not uncommon for us to see impairments in relationships from excessive spending or shopping,” says Rick Zehr, vice president of addiction and behavioral services at Proctor Hospital at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. “Impairment can occur because the person spends time away from home to shop, covers up debt with deception, and emotionally and physically starts to isolate themselves from others as they become preoccupied with their behavior.”
- Need for Consequences: “It’s just like any other addiction — it has nothing to do with how much a person shops or spends, and everything to do with consequences,” says Zehr. “We often get the question around the holidays that because a person spent more money than she intended, does this make her an addict? The answer is no. However, if there is a pattern or a trend or consequences that occur with excessive shopping then the person may be a problem spender — the hallmark is still loss of control. If they are no longer in control of their shopping but their shopping is in control of them, they’ve crossed the line.”
- Pay cash only for purchases
- Use a shopping list and stick to it
- Shop with a friend or spouse
- Destroy all but one credit card, meant for emergency use only
- Leave your wallet at home when going “window shopping”
- Avoid TV infomercials and shopping channels
- Take a walk or exercise when the urge to shop comes on
- If fear, anxiety, or condemnation comes upon us, keep in mind it is not from God. It is simply unwanted thoughts related to a chemical imbalance in our brain.
- When unwanted thoughts or fears hit, do your best not to let the attack distress you. Let it wash over you, keeping as calm and unconcerned as you can. The thoughts or images won’t hurt you, and God does not accuse you. Temptation usually takes the form of thoughts being satanically placed on our minds, and temptation is not sin.
- When you reach the point where you don’t react to the unwanted thoughts of doubt, oppressive guilt feelings, and spiritually repulsive thoughts, the attacks themselves will lessen. Psychological fact: Anxiety is a driving force behind Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so if you are not anxious about the thoughts, you’ll notice a significant reduction in the attacks. Spiritual fact: When the devil is thoroughly convinced that he can no longer use such things as unwanted thoughts to annoy you, or undermine your faith, he will eventually begin to tire of that approach and only try it now and again, just to check that you have not reverted to being concerned by such attacks.
- We give pleasure and power to the devil when we fall into his trap of supposing that his plan is to get us to think or feel wrong things. The devil’s main goal is to get us distracted so he can ambush us.
- The devil’s evil scheme is not to entice us to think or feel anti-God things but to fool us into denying the saving power of God by us forgetting God’s power to continually forgive every person who repents and puts faith in him.
- When unwanted thoughts creep in your mind, catch them and write them down. Right below the thought, challenge the thought by asking if that is a true thought. Is it 100% true about you? Below that write down,
“it’s just a thought”.
- Practice daily affirmations such as “I’m doing the best that I can”, “My thoughts are just thoughts and only have power over me if I give them power and I choose not to empower these unwanted thoughts”, “I put my trust and faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness”. The affirmations might not feel true for you but repeating them daily will help you replace the negative thoughts with the positive affirmations, thereby lessening the power of the negative unwanted thoughts.
- Practice deep breathing exercises and repeat to yourself “I am safe and with God’s blessings, the devil can’t hurt me”.
- Actively get involved in a deeply engrossing activity that you enjoy such as exercising (yoga, running, biking, etc.) or playing a board game where you are not focused on the negative thoughts.
- Force yourself to smile. This simple act will automatically make you feel happier and relax. Your mind is incapable of having a good and bad thought at the same time. When you smile, you force your mind to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
- Work with a mental health professional to address the symptoms of scrupulosity. Past traumas (like sexual/physical abuse) and unsavory conduct and lifestyles of the past that may be responsible for severe guilt leading to OCD, must be dealt with in therapy with a trained mental health professional.
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Excessive arguing with adults
- Often questioning rules
- Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
- Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
- Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
- Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
- Frequent anger and resentment
- Mean and hateful talking when upset
- Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking
- Often loses temper
- Often argues with adults
- Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
- Often deliberately annoys people
- Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
- Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
- Is often angry and resentful
- Is often spiteful or vindictive
- What are your concerns about your child’s behavior?
- When did you first notice these problems?
- Have your child’s teachers or other caregivers reported similar behaviors in your child?
- How often over the last six months has your child been spiteful or vindictive, or blamed others for his or her own mistakes?
- How often over the last six months has your child been touchy, easily annoyed or deliberately annoying to others?
- How often over the last six months has your child argued with adults or defied or refused adults’ requests?
- How often over the last six months has your child been visibly angry or lost his or her temper?
- Do any particular situations seem to trigger negative or defiant behavior in your child?
- How have you been handling your child’s disruptive behavior?
- How do you typically discipline your child?
- How would you describe your child’s home and family life?
- What stresses has the family been dealing with?
- Has your child been diagnosed with any other medical conditions, including mental health conditions?
- Give effective timeouts
- Model the behavior you want your child to have
- Avoid power struggles. Almost everything can turn into a power struggle — if you let it
- Remain calm and unemotional in the face of opposition, or take your own timeout, if necessary
- Recognize and praise your child’s good behaviors and positive characteristics. Be as specific as possible, such as, “I really liked the way you helped pick up your toys tonight.”
- Offer acceptable choices to your child, giving him or her a certain amount of control
- Set limits and enforce consistent reasonable consequences. Limit consequences to those that can be consistently reinforced and if possible, last for a limited amount of time
- Establish a schedule for the family that includes specific meals that will be eaten at home together, and specific activities one or both parents will do with the child
- Set up a routine. Develop a consistent daily schedule for your child. Asking your child to help develop that routine may be beneficial.
- Work with your partner or others in your household to ensure consistent and appropriate discipline procedures.
- Assign your child a household chore that’s essential and that won’t get done unless the child does it. Initially, it’s important to set your child up for success with tasks that are relatively easy to achieve and gradually blend in more important and challenging expectations. Give clear, easy-to-follow instructions.
- Learn ways to calm yourself. Keeping your own cool models the behavior you want from your child.
- Take time for yourself. Develop outside interests, get some exercise and spend some time away from your child to restore your energy.
- Be forgiving. Let go of things that you or your child did in the past. Start each day with a fresh outlook and a clean slate.
- Seek the help of a mental health professional to help you deal with your frustrations.
- Importance of Routines: Rather than rules, routines make expectations clear in a way that is value neutral, especially if the teacher can stay cool and collected. Instead of having a rule that says: “Never get out of line,” teachers can have a routine that the class practices such as getting into line, walking without touching or bothering neighbors, and getting quickly and quietly from point A to point B in school. Establishing routines means being pro-active, and planning thoroughly what the classroom expectations will be.
- Importance of Reinforcements: Teacher must pay attention to the things students like or think are important. Positive behavior contracts can be set up with the child and their input determines the types of reinforcements they will work for. Students can earn time listening to music in a quiet corner or earn free time on the computer to play educational games by completing academic tasks or earning points for appropriate behavior. Reinforcements can also include earning stickers and a positive note home. They do not need to be elaborate in order to be effective.
- Importance of being Calm, Cool, and Collected as the Teacher: The function of the behavior associated with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is often to engage people in authority in a tug of war or power play. The most important thing is not to engage in a battle no one will win.
- Doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months
- Doesn’t gesture — such as point or wave — by 12 months
- Doesn’t say single words by 16 months
- Doesn’t say two-word phrases by 24 months
- Loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age
- Repeated movements such as hand flapping
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT), where behavior therapists work one on one with a child in small steps to shape behavior.
- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), where they use motivating pictures to communicate words.
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT), where they use play-based reinforcement of many kinds in an attempt to respond to commands.
- Floor time, when the child directs the play and the therapist encourages the child to make connections.
- Find a team of trusted professionals. You’ll need to make important decisions about your child’s education and treatment. Find a team of teachers and therapists who can help evaluate the options in your area and explain the federal regulations regarding children with disabilities.
- Take time for yourself and other family members. Caring for a child with autism can be a round-the-clock job that puts stress on your marriage and your whole family. To avoid burnout, take time out to relax, exercise or enjoy your favorite activities.
- Seek out other families of autistic children. Other families struggling with the challenges of autism can be a source of useful advice. Many communities have support groups for parents and siblings of children with autism.
- Learn about the disorder. There are many myths and misconceptions about autism. Learning the truth can help you better understand your child and his or her attempts to communicate. With time, you’ll likely be rewarded by seeing your child grow and learn and even show affection — in his or her own way.
- American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.
- Baer, T.R., Wolfe, M.M, and Risley D.A. (1968). Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29:1-7
- Smith, Tristram (1999). Outcome of Early Intervention for Children with Autism. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 6:1, 33–49
Original Post: Huffington Post by
How’s this for peer pressure? Not only do the cool kids smoke pot, but it turns out the smart kids do, too.
We joke, of course. But a new study suggests that teens with high scores on academic exams were almost twice as likely as low-scoring peers to use cannabis persistently at ages 18 to 20. Smarter kids also were less likely than low scorers to smoke cigarettes, and more likely to drink.
Lest you consider this study permission to claim your youthful indiscretions as confirmation of genius, consider this: The researchers regard their findings as a warning against assuming that teens with poor academic performance are more likely to abuse substances than their peers. They also note that while high-achieving teens may eventually get into good universities and secure high-paying jobs, substance abuse can derail those promising futures. For instance, some evidence suggests that marijuana can have a harmful effect on developing brains, and alcohol use among minors is linked to a higher risk of fatal car collisions, accidental injuries, alcohol poisoning, and suicide.
“Reducing harmful substance use in this age group is important, no matter the level of academic ability, given the immediate risks to health and the longer term consequences,” researchers James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson write in their article, published in the journal BMJ Open.
The relationship between substance use and academic achievement
Williams and Hagger-Johnson, from the University College London Medical School, got data from about 6,000 representative participants across England and sorted them into three groups based on results of a nationwide test all English students take around age 11.
They tracked these students over the years with surveys that included questions about cigarette, alcohol and cannabis use, zooming in on early adolescence ― ages 13 to 17 ― and late adolescence ― ages 18 to 20.
They found that the high-scoring students were 62 percent less likely than low scorers to smoke cigarettes in early adolescence, but were 25 percent more likely to drink occasionally (not every year) in early adolescence, compared with the low scorers. Their chances of drinking persistently (every year) was more than double in late adolescence.
Finally, the high-scoring kids were also 50 percent more likely to use pot occasionally, and 91 percent more likely to use pot persistently, from ages 18 onward. Compared with low scorers, the medium-scoring kids had a 37-percent higher likelihood for occasional use, and 81 percent for persistent use.
The same was true for alcohol. High-scoring students were more than twice as likely to drink alcohol, compared with low-scoring peers in late adolescence, while medium-scoring teens were 56 percent more likely to drink, compared with low scorers.
Why do more intelligent teens experiment with drugs and alcohol?
Do smarter teens know something other kids don’t about illicit drugs? Why are smarter teens more drawn to cannabis over cigarettes? This kind of study doesn’t measure what causes these kinds of associations, and it can’t definitively say why smarter teens tend to have higher rates of cannabis and alcohol use than others.
Potential explanations range from the possibility that smarter kids may be more open to new experiences, be more accepted by older peers who have access to these substances, or simply may be more honest when filling out self-reported surveys, the researchers said. Parents could have something to do with the association, as intelligent and wealthy parents tend to drink more alcohol and shun cigarettes.
The new findings seem to line up with past research on adults, who are also more likely to use cannabis and drink more if they score highly on intelligence tests.
Some of the study’s limitations include the fact that there was no data on cigarette smoking after age 16, and that the teens weren’t able to regularly use cannabis until they reached age 18. The researchers also couldn’t collect data on the amount of alcohol and cannabis teens consumed. All of those shortcomings point to the need for more research.
“Instead of condemning and criticizing others, perhaps it would be better to try to understand them, to try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness, rather than contempt!!!” -Dale Carnegie
The following poem was written by W. Livingston Larned in 1927 but continues to have a profound lesson in our interaction with our children. Many times we expect from our children far more than they are capable of giving. We forget they are children and have brains that are continuing to grow and develop. We forget they need repetition and correction when learning new tasks. Adult concepts are not as easily grasped for children due to their limited life experiences. It will do us a lot of good to stop and see our children as works in progress rather than fully developed little adults.
Author: W. Livingston Larned (Poem written in 1927)
Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone.
Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
These are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither.
And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding. This was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of yours was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.
Condensed as in “Readers Digest”
Originally posted in mentalhealth4muslims
“They say I have A.D.H.D. They just don’t understand…oh look, a squirrel!”
Original Source: http://psychcentral.com
The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can present parents with many challenges. Kids with ADHD “often lose track of their things, have difficulty staying on top of homework and seem generally scattered when attending to chores or assigned tasks,” says George Kapalka, Ph.D, clinical and school psychologist and author of three books on ADHD, including Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-use Program for Teaching Self-Control.
Impulsivity is another challenge, which can lead kids to be defiant or to argue, he says. “They tend to easily get overstimulated and they overreact to frustration or failure.”
Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and author of Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who is Bright, Bored, and Having Problems at School, agrees. She says that kids with ADHD have “hair-trigger, fight-or-flight reactions to stress,” which can make enforcing rules difficult for parents. Parents may have a tough time knowing how to provide structure without pressure, she says.
“Children with ADHD know what to do [but] they don’t do what they know,” Palladino notes. Consequently, parents might not know when to be firm and when to be patient, she says.
Plus, parents have to deal with the tricky balance of believing “in your child’s abilities while protecting him from the pitfalls of his ADHD,” she says. You might wonder, “How much accommodation and special treatment is best?,” and worry that you’re fostering dependence or self-doubt in your child.
Fortunately, while there are many challenges that come with raising kids with ADHD, there are also effective strategies and rewards. Kapalka and Palladino share 16 targeted tips for parenting kids with ADHD.
Parenting Strategies for Kids with ADHD
1. Stay calm.
Both Kapalka and Palladino emphasize the importance of staying calm. As Kapalka says, “Once the parent is out of control, the child’s anger becomes even more escalated, assuring that the interaction will result in a non-productive outcome.” So pay attention to yourself if you have a tendency toward ADHD behaviors like reactivity.
Arguing with your child won’t get you anywhere. Take homework time, for instance—an activity that can feel like a tug-of-war. Arguing simply creates “a diversion that delays homework even longer,” Palladino points out. Instead, “Diffuse, don’t engage.”
Palladino suggests the following: “Say, ‘I understand this is no fun for you,’ followed by silence, positive expectancy and a loving touch on the shoulder. The wrong move here would be saying, ‘Stop complaining. You’re dawdling over nothing.’”
2. Set limits on your own behavior.
“If you’re inclined to be a worried, rescuing parent, remind yourself that the more you do for your child, the less he does for himself,” Palladino says. The key is to “Support, but don’t get into the driver’s seat.”
For example, during a homework session, it’s fine to ask “Do you need more of those papers with the lines and boxes on them to finish these long division problems?” she says. But taking your child’s pencil and saying you’ll both work on that long division can be problematic.
If you’d still like to keep an eye on your child, “sit close by, but bring your own work to the table—pay your bills, balance your checkbook.”
3. Set structure—but make it pressure-free.
According to Palladino, structure involves “star charts for young children, calendars and planners for older ones, and clear rules and sensible routines, especially at bedtime.” Structure helps reduce disorganization and distractibility, Kapalka notes. As such, “set a consistent time to do homework, with certain privileges only available to the child after” they’ve successfully completed their assignments, he says. (Another tip — work with your child’s teachers to create a consistent homework routine, he says.)
As Palladino explained earlier, it’s best to avoid imposing pressure. So what does pressure-free structure look like? It includes “not using threats or unreasonable deadlines and punishments that contribute to hostility, fear or drama,” she says.
4. Give your kids the chance to make wise choices.
To help teach kids self-control, Kapalka says that “Parents must provide ample opportunities for children to be faced with choices of how to respond.”
Palladino suggests using a technique called “structured choice,” which gives your child two choices that steer him or her in the right direction. For example, parents might ask, according to Palladino: “Do you want to do your math or your science assignment next?” or “Before we can go, your room needs to be picked up. Do you want to start with the clothes on the bed or clear the top of your desk?”
5. Use reasonable consequences for rule-breaking.
As a start, Palladino suggests parents ask their child what the consequences should be if he or she breaks a rule. This helps kids create commitments that they can actually own, she says.
In addition, create and consistently enforce positive consequences for positive behaviors and negative consequences for negative behaviors, Kapalka says. This helps your child “recognize that positive behaviors result in positive consequences, and negative behaviors result in negative ones.”
6. Expect rule-breaking, and don’t take it personally.
As Palladino says, it’s in your child’s “job description” to occasionally break the rules. When your child breaks the rules, “…correct him the way a police officer gives you a ticket. He doesn’t take it personally or groan or yell, ‘I can’t believe you did that again! Why do you do this to me?’ Like the officer, be respectful, consistent, and matter-of-fact.”
7. Advocate for your child when appropriate.
Certain accommodations might be necessary for your child because of his or her ADHD. However, you still want to encourage kids to cultivate their abilities.
Palladino gives an example of finding this tricky balance: “… stand up for his right for an accommodation like talking books, but encourage and expect him to learn to read fluently, giving him time, attention, a tutor, and most especially, your belief that he can.”
8. Avoid muting a headstrong child.
As Kapalka says, one of the mistakes parents can make is “Trying to turn a spirited, willful child into one that never questions authority and accepts all that is said ‘just because I said so’ as a parent.”
Instead, he suggests that parents “ accept that some children will protest and talk back, and parents must set a limit that on the one hand realizes that children need at least some way to express their frustration, while still enforcing reasonable standards and rules.”
9. Realize that your child isn’t misbehaving on purpose.
Parents of kids with ADHD “subconsciously make erroneous assumptions about why [their] child is misbehaving,” Kapalka says.
In reality, he says, “Children are very goal-directed and do what they do with the hope of obtaining an outcome they seek, which usually pertains to something they want to do or get, or something they are trying to avoid (like chores, home work or bed time).”
10. Be persistent.
According to Kapalka, kids with ADHD may “require more trials and exposure to consistent consequences in order to learn from that experience.” Trying a technique one or two times with no results doesn’t mean that it’s completely ineffective. You just might have to keep trying.
11. Tackle one issue at a time.
Every concern can’t be fixed at once, Kapalka says. So it’s important for parents “to prioritize what situations seem most important, and start with those, temporarily letting go of the less important problems,” he says.
12. Educate yourself about ADHD and attention.
Knowing how ADHD symptoms affect your child is essential. You might think that your child is being stubborn or behaving a certain way on purpose, but these actions may be symptoms of ADHD.
Kapalka suggests parents also educate themselves about ADHD’s causes and child development. (You can refer to books on ADHD or talk to a therapist who specializes in ADHD.)
The other important part is educating yourself about attention and learning when your child is at his or her peak of productivity. Consider the following scenario, Palladino says: Your child won’t finish his homework, so you firmly tell him that he’s grounded if he doesn’t “buckle down right now.” Instead, though, he has a meltdown. The problem? His arousal level was too high. “Deep down, he was scared to put something on the paper, because he anticipated it wasn’t going to be good enough — too sloppy, poor spelling, not as polished as his siblings’ or his classmates’ work,” she says. The heightened arousal caused him to feel overwhelmed, so he needed less adrenaline to focus on his task.
Knowing when your child can concentrate best helps you “chunk assignments into manageable steps, suggest breaks to decrease tension, alternate interesting and boring tasks, and keep his adrenaline-based brain chemicals pumping with a steady stream of just the right amount of stimulation,” Palladino says.
(In Palladino’s book on attention called Find Your Focus Zone, she includes a long chapter called “Teaching Kids to Pay Attention,” which may be helpful to parents raising kids with ADHD.)
13. Help your child adjust to change.
Children with ADHD have a difficult time with “set-shifting,” a brain function that involves adjusting to change or switching cognitive processes, especially if they’re hyper-focused on an activity, Palladino says.
She emphasizes the importance of giving your child—no matter how busy you are—the “time and information he needs to mentally adjust for big changes—such as vacations, guests or a new babysitter—and small changes—such as stopping one activity to begin the next, especially when what’s next is getting ready for bed.”
For instance, when you get back from vacation, the night before, review your child’s routine with him or her, she says.
14. Focus on your child’s strengths.
Instead of harping on what your child can’t do, hone in on what they can, Palladino recommends. Keep reminding yourself about your child’s “resourcefulness, creativity and individuality. The same self-determination and intractability that drives you nuts today will empower your child tomorrow. Picture him as a tireless entrepreneur, attorney, or doing any work he feels passionate about.”
It’s best for parents to try to strike a balance. “Don’t deny his special needs, and don’t define him by them, either,” she says.
15. Cut yourself some slack.
Raising a child with a disorder whose symptoms include impulsivity, defiance and “limited self-control is one of the most challenging tasks any person will ever attempt,” Kapalka says.
So acknowledge that you’re working hard, and “Do not feel like a failure. You did not cause your child to behave this way, but you can make a difference,” he says.
16. Celebrate being a parent and being with your child.
Parenting kids with ADHD can feel like a frustrating—and sometimes unfeasible—task. But “Don’t let ADHD rob you of the joy of being a parent,” Palladino says.
When parents are at their wits’ end, they can do a few things to help. For instance, she suggests a parent “cradle your arms and remember what it felt like when your child was born.”
If you’re “correcting your child too much, turn your ring or put your wristwatch on your other hand, and don’t put it back the right way until you’ve thought of and said something positive or caught your child being good,” she says.
She also recommends the following self-talk:
“I am thankful to be a parent. The responsibility is great but the rewards are greater.”
“I teach my child and my child teaches me.”
“I am thankful for my children — their gifts and talents and their love.”
According to the Mayo Clinic Website “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD.
With OCD, you may or may not realize that your obsessions aren’t reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings.
OCD often centers around themes, such as a fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until they’re sore and chapped. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts, the thoughts or urges keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior — and a vicious cycle that’s characteristic of OCD”.
There is hope for individuals living with OCD. Therapy and medication have been proven very helpful in learning to effectively manage and control OCD symptoms. If you or someone you know suffers from OCD, please talk to an OCD specialist in your area.
When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking. ~Elayne Boosler
For some going to the mall with their friends and splurging on beautiful items is thrilling. Some go as far as saying it is therapeutic or retail therapy. It feels good to buy a new item and imagine yourself wearing it for a special occasion. Shopping can be therapeutic and lift up the spirits for some individuals but for others, shopping can be more than an enjoyable outing with friends. In those cases, shopping becomes an addiction that can lead to financial ruin for the individual as well as their families.
Terrence Shulman, the founder of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding states “Everyone wants a slice of the American pie …a nice outfit, a nice car, a nice home. So people feel impatient or entitled to live the life of the rich and famous. . . . People with shaky self-esteem or self-worth are particularly vulnerable,” he says.
“Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control,” says Donald Black, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. “Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one’s impulses. In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping.”
“Shopoholics” are individuals whose shopping habits are out of control and excessive. If you “shop ’till you drop” and max out your credit cards, you may be a shopoholic. People with a shopping addiction believe that if they shop they will feel better. In reality, compulsive shopping and spending generally makes a person feel worse. This is similar to other addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, gambling, and overeating addictions and has some of the same characteristics.
“No one knows what causes addictive behaviors, like shopping, alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling,” says Ruth Engs, EdD, a professor of applied health science at Indiana University. “Some of the new evidence suggests that some people, maybe 10%-15%, may have a genetic predisposition to an addictive behavior, coupled with an environment in which the particular behavior is triggered, but no one really knows why.”
Although we can’t fully identify the cause of addiction, the reasons for addiction are better understood. “Individuals will get some kind of high from an addictive behavior like shopping,” says Engs. “Meaning that endorphins and dopamine, naturally occurring opiate receptor sites in the brain, get switched on, and the person feels good, and if it feels good they are more likely to do it — it’s reinforced.”
Compulsive shopping or spending can occur when a person feels depressed, lonely and angry. Shopping and spending will not guarantee more love, raise self-esteem, heal past hurts, end regrets, reduce stress, or end the problems of daily living. It often makes these feelings worse because of the increased financial debt related to compulsive shopping.
How To Spot A Shopoholic
“There are certainly a lot of commonalities among shopoholics and other addicts,” says Engs. “For instance, while alcoholics will hide their bottles, shopoholics will hide their purchases.” There are other signs to look for:
Treatment Options for Shopping Addiction
If you or a family member is addicted to shopping, seek professional help. Encourage friends and family members to intervene. There are many 12 step programs, such as Debtors Anonymous, available locally to provide ongoing maintenance and support. It’s also important to get credit counseling and begin to reduce your debt as soon as possible. Medications have been used to treat the underlying issues of depression but results have been mixed. Treating shopping addiction with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) along with the credit and debt counseling have been the most helpful approach. There is no quick and easy cure for shopping addiction, and treatment is necessary for solving the problem. In addition to treatment, it’s essential for the addict to change their behavior. Therapists can best help each individual determine the best treatment route, whether it’s a complete ban on shopping or having someone else control their finances. Simply admitting the problem is half the battle. The addict must identify the problem as a problem before changes can take place. Cutting credit cards and limiting access to checkbooks is a good next step. Limit access to stores either in malls or online and never shop alone. It’s also extremely important to find a more healthy and meaningful replacement for shopping.
Prevent Future Shopping Binges:
Wikipedia defines scrupulosity as a psychological disorder “characterized by pathological guilt about moral or religious issues. It is personally distressing, objectively dysfunctional, and often accompanied by significant impairment in social functioning”.
Religious practice and devotion are not necessarily the cause of scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD can occur in different forms. There are a variety of different types of obsessions and compulsions. The nature of intensity of these symptoms may vary over time. In some cases, aggressive, sexual and religious obsessions can occur together in the same individual.
The obsessions in OCD are the recurrent thoughts or impulses that make an individual anxious (such as the fear of germs in public places making one sick). Despite an individual’s efforts to control and suppress the obsessive thoughts, the obsessions persist. The thoughts often feel intrusive and disturbing despite the individual’s awareness of the thoughts being produced in their own mind. Obsessions can include fear of harming someone, becoming contaminated, and/or doing something embarrassing.
Compulsions, however, are repetitive behaviors or mental acts the person feels driven to perform. These acts are often with ritualistic rigidity aimed to prevent the anxiety connected with the obsessions. These actions may include the urge to wash, count, check, or repeat phrases to oneself.
OCD appears to be a biologically based disorder with severe psychological consequences. According to the OCD foundation about 1 in 100 adults – or between 2 to 3 million adults in the United States have OCD. The OCD foundation also estimates at least 1 in 200 – or 500,000 – kids and teens that have OCD in the United States. OCD statistics is assumed that up to 2.5 percent of the world population is affected obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some compulsive symptoms are detected in approximately eight percent of population.
People suffering from OCD also end up suffering from depression, a lack of self-esteem and self confidence, very weak willpower, relationship problems, and social withdrawal.
How Scrupulosity differs from devout faith and practice
Scrupulosity is when the individual is overpowered by their devotion and practice of their faith. The scrupulous individual will focus excessively on a few specific rules and rituals while neglecting other aspects of the religion. It often involves mistakenly thinking that innocent or unavoidable things are sin and so feeling needlessly guilty. When scrupulosity turns to obsessive thoughts, it can generate upsetting, uncontrollable blasphemous thoughts or images about God, or exalting the devil.
Just as some people with OCD feel compelled to keep checking locks or washing their hands, others might feel compelled to obsess over blasphemous thoughts that they hate or to keep doubting their salvation. Due to the doubting nature of scrupulosity, it has been also been called “pathological doubt”. OCD sufferers will take a simple act of locking a door, switching off the oven, or seeking Allah’s forgiveness, and then worry abnormally over whether they did it correctly. They feel driven to keep seeking assurance far beyond what is rational.
Scrupulosity is considered a hidden disease due to the fact that it can fill people with such false guilt that many are unlikely to admit to it, while others have no idea that they have an unhealthy sense of guilt and so suppose there is nothing wrong with them.
These negative unwanted thoughts play a significant role in many mental disorders that involve anxiety and cognitive distortions. Although unwanted thoughts can affect individuals regardless of age, sex, faith, or creed, the nature, content, severity, and influence of these thoughts varies in individuals. For some, they only cause mild anxiety and worry, while others are more severely affected to the point of becoming spiritually, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and socially paralyzed. Recurring thoughts about catching germs, being unclean, and questioning one’s faith appear to be the most common form of OCD amongst individuals but those suffering from scrupulosity, the unwanted thoughts tend to be more debilitating.
People suffering from scrupulosity often believe the devil is involved with their thinking. In religious terms, the devil will try and distract individuals from his real schemes and instead focuses their attention on past sins instead of present forgiveness. The devil will also try and trick them into becoming so preoccupied with needlessly worrying about dishonoring God with words that they do not even mean, they don’t notice that they are dishonoring God by not believing the extent of His love and forgiveness, even towards those of individuals who feel certain they are the worst sinners ever to walk this planet. No matter how terrible the words or images that invade your mind are, you are not “sinning”. The devil’s dirty trick is to put despicable thoughts in our mind and then blame us or God for it. God isn’t fooled into blaming us for the devil’s trickery and we shouldn’t be fooled either. Just like we can’t stop the devil from being evil, we can’t stop thoughts of temptation from popping into our thoughts. All we can do is stop ourselves from being deceived by the thoughts.
All in all, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder. It is fear/anxiety that keeps us hounded by doubts, guilt feelings or unwanted thoughts that keep repeating in our minds. It is the very nature of deceiving spirits to foster and exploit fear for their evil purposes, and their highest goal is to fool us into losing faith in our religion.
Treatment of Scrupulosity
Like other forms of OCD, scrupulosity responds to medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). About 60%–80% of patients show some degree of response to treatment. The neurotransmitter serotonin appears to be involved in the pathology of OCD. Medications that boost the level of serotonin in the brain such as SSRI’s (e.g. clomipramine, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, and citalopram) are the most effective in treating OCD.
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) has been successfully used for the treatment of OCD. ERP focuses on the fact that compulsions provide only a temporary reduction of the anxiety produced by obsessions. The only way to experience more permanent relief is to habituate (get used to) the anxiety caused by the obsession, without performing the compulsion. The key factor of ERP is habituation. While this type of therapy typically causes some short-term anxiety, this facilitates long-term reduction in obsessive and compulsive symptoms. Facing the negative, unwanted thoughts will create anxiety. It is highly unpleasant, but they must disregard their fears in order to benefit from treatment. Facing their anxiety is an unavoidably unpleasant experience, but they must continually force themselves to stay close to God, even though their fears of rejection and divine displeasure are immense. As the person with scrupulosity begins to face his/her fears, he/she may experience a temporary increase in anxiety but with continued support and medication, the anxiety will decrease and symptoms will improve
When overwhelmed by unwanted thoughts:
Overall, relaxation, daily practice, education, medication, and cognitive behavior therapy can be combined to treat OCD and Scrupulosity.
Originally posted in MentalHealth4Muslims.com
“For many people, one of the most frustrating aspects of life is not being able to understand other people’s behavior.”
All children, especially when tired, hungry, stressed or upset, can act oppositional from time to time. This oppositional behavior might include arguing, talking back, disobeying, and defying their parents, teachers, and other adults. Oppositional behavior can be a normal part of development for two to three year olds and early adolescents. However, being openly uncooperative and hostile on a frequent and consistent basis becomes a serious concern, especially if it stands out when compared with other children of the same age and developmental level, and when it affects the child’s social, family and academic life. Although children can be difficult and challenging at times, if there is a persistent pattern of tantrums, arguing, and angry or disruptive behavior toward you and other authority figures, your child or teen may have Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).
Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is thought to be caused by a combination of psychological, biological, and social factors. A child’s natural disposition, along with lack of structure or parental supervision, inconsistent discipline practices, and exposure to abuse or community violence have been identified as factors, which may contribute to the development of ODD.
ODD typically occurs in families with a history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), substance use disorders, or mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder. Studies which have looked at brain images of children have suggested that children with ODD may have subtle differences in the part of the brain responsible for reasoning, judgment and impulse control. In psychological studies, findings have indicated children who display aggressive behavior have trouble correctly identifying and interpreting social cues from peers. The aggressive children tend to see neutral situations with children as being hostile. Children with ODD also tend to generate fewer solutions to problems while expecting to be rewarded for their aggressive responses. Children with oppositional defiant disorder may have trouble in school with teachers and may struggle to make and keep friends. Due to this difficulty in reading social cues, children might inappropriately be identified as having Autism Spectrum Disorder.
For many children diagnosed with ODD, symptoms do improve over time. There is evidence through follow up studies that the signs and symptoms of ODD resolve within 3 years in approximately 67% of children diagnosed with the disorder. Research also indicates that approximately 30% of children with ODD eventually develop conduct disorder. The risk for developing conduct disorder is 3 times greater for children who were initially diagnosed at a very young age (e.g., preschool). ODD may also be a precursor to other, more-severe problems such as substance abuse and severe delinquency. Children diagnosed with ODD while in preschool are also likely to exhibit additional disorders several years later, including ADHD, anxiety, or mood disorders. Approximately 10% of children diagnosed with ODD will eventually develop a more lasting personality disorder, such as Anti-Social Personality Disorder.
What ODD Looks Like in Your Child:
At times it can be difficult to recognize the difference between a “strong-willed” or emotional child and one with oppositional defiance disorder. Although it’s normal to exhibit oppositional behavior at certain stages of a child’s development, there is a difference between the usual independence-seeking behavior of children and that of Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
Symptoms of ODD may include:
The symptoms are usually seen in multiple settings, but may be more noticeable at home or at school. One to sixteen percent of all school-age children and adolescents have ODD. Many parents report that their child with ODD was more rigid and demanding than the child’s siblings from an early age. Signs of ODD are generally present before a child is 8 years old. Although ODD can sometimes develop later, it’s almost always present before the early teen years. When ODD behavior develops, the signs tend to begin gradually and then worsen over months or years.
A child may be displaying signs of ODD instead of normal moodiness if the behaviors are persistent, have lasted at least 6 months, and are clearly disrupting the family or home environment.
DSM-IV Criteria for oppositional defiance disorder to be diagnosed include a pattern of behavior that lasts at least six months and includes at least four of the following:
It’s important to remember a child diagnosed with ODD isn’t likely to see his or her behavior as defiant. Instead, they will probably believe that unreasonable demands are being placed on them.
As a parent, you might feel overwhelmed in trying to manage your child’s behaviors related to ODD. You might be reluctant to accept the diagnosis of ODD for fear it might reflect negatively on your parenting skills. It’s important to realize there is a combination of factors involved in a child developing ODD. Instead of focusing on what you might’ve done wrong, turn your focus instead on how you can move ahead and get your child the help he/she needs. The earlier this disorder can be managed, the better for you and your child. Treatment can help restore your child’s self-esteem and rebuild a positive relationship between you and your child. Your child’s relationships with others in his or her life also will benefit from early treatment. Medical Doctors, Psychologists, and child development experts can help.
There is no single treatment for children with ODD. Treatment of ODD involves therapy, training to help build positive family interactions, and possibly the use of medications to treat related mental health conditions. The most effective treatment plan will need to be individualized to the needs of each child and their families. It’s important to note treatment must be delivered for an adequate period of time (at least 6 months or longer) and may require follow up sessions. Treatment will often include both individual and family therapy and the therapist may need to develop a plan to work with your child’s school and classroom teacher. Teaching the child appropriate problem solving skills training along with family interventions such as parent management training and school based interventions have been found to be the most effective forms of treatment. During the parent management training, parents learn more-effective parenting techniques, which lead to improvement in the quality of the parent-child relationship and decreased problem behaviors. Your child might also benefit from social skills training that will help him or her learn how to interact more positively and effectively with peers. Social skills training will also increase flexibility and improve social skills and frustration tolerance with peers.
Medications alone generally aren’t used for ODD unless another disorder co-exists. Medication may be included as part of the treatment if the child is also diagnosed with ADHD, depression, or anxiety. It’s important to diagnose and treat any co-occurring illnesses because they can create or worsen irritability and defiance if left untreated.
Questions to consider when meeting with your medical doctor or mental health professional
Effective Parent Management Techniques
Although the following parent management techniques may seem like common sense, learning to use them in the face of opposition isn’t easy, especially if there are other stressors at home. Learning these skills will require consistent practice and patience. Most important in treatment is for you to show consistent, unconditional love and acceptance of your child — even during difficult and disruptive situations. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This process can be tough for even the most patient parents!
At first, your child probably won’t be cooperative or appreciate your changed response to his or her behavior. Expect that you’ll have setbacks and relapses, and be prepared with a plan to manage those times. In fact, behavior can temporarily worsen when new limits and expectations are set. However, with perseverance and consistency, the initial hard work often pays off with improved behavior and relationships. Many children with ODD will respond to the positive parenting techniques.
Effective strategies to decrease ODD behaviors include:
Importance of Parent Self Care!
Being the parent of a child with ODD isn’t easy. Counseling for you can provide you with an outlet for your frustrations and concerns. In turn, this can lead to better outcomes for your child because you’ll be more prepared to deal with problem behaviors. Here are some tips to help you:
Support in School for Children with ODD
Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is one of two pediatric behavioral disorders defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM IV) that are included in the Federal IDEA definition of “Behavioral Disturbances.” While not as serious as a Conduct Disorder, which tends to include aggression and property destruction, ODD as a behavioral disorder, still compromises a student’s ability to succeed academically and develop meaningful relationships with peers and teachers.
Students diagnosed with ODD can receive instruction in the general education settings if it is determined that the disorder does not prevent him/her from participating fully in the general education classroom. It is also possible that students with ODD who are receiving academic instruction in programs for Emotional Disturbances (ED) can manage their own behavior to the point where they can be successfully integrated into the general education classrooms.
Although all students benefit from classroom settings with structure and clear expectations, for students diagnosed with ODD, it is critical that structure is clear, explicit and above all consistent (regardless of setting). Consideration to classroom organization for kids with ODD should be made (e.g. Seating arrangements that put children into clusters of 4 may be fine in settings where children are raised with high expectations, but creates too many opportunities for disruptive behavior for students with ODD). Students with ODD often use seating arrangements as occasions for work avoidance than about interpersonal dynamics or angst. Seating arranged in rows or pairs work better for student with ODD.
Effective classroom strategies for students with ODD
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” ~Joyce Maynard
Parenting is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding gifts of life, however, it can also be just as challenging and daunting. Many parents today are overwhelmed by the fast-changing world around them and often feel lost about how to keep their kids safe from the ever present dangers while still allowing them to find their own identities. Parenting can feel like a tight-rope act; on the one hand we fear being too permissive since no one wants to raise a brat, but on the other hand we fear overly controlling our children and raising a trembling and sullen child. We need to focus on a middle ground where our children grow up to be respectful, caring, and well behaved. It’s important to start the discipline process early when your children are young and teach your children they are part of the family system and everyone’s in it together. Expect everyone to pitch in, even in a small way such as being cooperative when you are dressing them. Also keep in mind respect is mutual. If you expect your children to listen to you, it’s important to set a good example early on. If your child complains you are not listening when they try and tell you something, stop what you are doing, focus your attention on your child, and listen! You can then require the same level of courtesy from them later on.
Whether you have a toddler or a teen, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
1.) Be consistent. Follow through and mean what you say and never make empty threats! Consistency is key with parenting…it’s the one way to raise an emotionally well balanced child. Even if you are consistent with one rule or chore, your child will benefit tremendously from it. Being firm and consistent actually communicates to your child that your care enough about him/her to expect responsible behavior. Inconsistency on the other hand creates confusion and chaos in a child’s mind.
2.) Be reliable. Keep your word, arrive on time, and keep your promises. The sure fire way to lose credibility with your children is to do one thing and say another. Set a good example and take responsibility seriously. This also teaches your child respect.
3.) Be rewarding. Tie rewards to good behavior. Don’t just give it away if it’s not earned or deserved. Many parents give the toy away for free without tying it to good behavior or they expect the child to behave appropriately AFTER getting the toy. Just as we as adults need to be reminded of our rewards (paycheck) and consequences (getting fired) at work, children need similar reminders to make good decisions and be responsible.
4.) Be clear. Give children meaning for what is expected of them by spelling things out and being clear about your expectations. Children need rules to be clear and specific, not vague. Telling your child to “be good” before dropping them off at school is not being clear. Instead say “remember to keep your hands and feet to yourself and listen to the teacher when she is talking”. You can explain to them why this is important for their well being as well as for the well being of others around them. In the above example you can add “by doing that, you will be able to follow along with the rest of the class, your teacher won’t get mad at you, and you won’t miss any class or recess time with your friends since you won’t be sent to the office for inappropriate behavior”. This might seem like it’s above the younger child’s head but it’s not. I have these conversations with Kindergartners often. Sometimes simply re-directing your child as you are explaining the reason is enough to convey the message that you will not tolerate unacceptable behaviors.
5.) Be firm. Never ask “why”. Having a dialogue with your kids about every little thing, especially when trying to discipline them can backfire on you. Stay in control and be the one to end the discussion. Sometimes it’s necessary to just put an end to the negotiations and firmly restate your expectations. Some negotiations can be listened to if they are appropriate but be careful not to reinforce whining or avoidance of consequences.
6.) Be loving. Always offer unconditional love. Withholding love is cruel and will make your child distrusting of you in the long run. Keep in mind your child can do bad things but not be “BAD” as a person. Convey this message to your child and let them know that although you are upset, disappointed, or angry about their behavior, you still love them for who they are. Take a moment after you are both calm to explain why you were upset and what they could do differently in the future but don’t punish your child by withholding love from them.
7.) Be forgiving. Just as you erred as a child, so too will your children. Don’t be self-righteous and learn to teach rather than judge. This goes along with #6. By being loving, you are also teaching them forgiveness. Remind yourself we all make mistakes and teach your child the important lessons mistakes can teach us. Use the opportunity to teach your child the lesson while forgiving them for their mistake.
8.) Be playful. Make “fun” time with your kids, even when asking for help with chores. Remember that they live in the temporary world of ease and wonder, leave them there and feel free to join them from time to time. It’ll do wonders for you as well! I find it helpful to turn on some fun music and make chores playful. Kids will begin to look forward to doing chores rather than dreading it. Children crave fun time with their parents so the more fun you have and the less you direct them from one chore to the other, the more enjoyable your time with your children will be. Remember to build self esteem first and worry about chores later! Fingerpaint more and point the finger less. Take hikes and spend time outdoors throwing the ball around or flying a kite. Stop being so serious and seriously learn to have fun with your child!
9.) Be alert. Intently look out for good behavior and catch them in the act. Watch your children engaging in appropriate behavior and praise them for it. Tell them how proud of them you are for the small steps they are taking. You’ll be amazed at how closely the relationship to increased positive behavior is with increase praise and reward. Kids are watching us intently and wondering if we notice so make sure you are alert and catch them being good!
10.) Be affectionate. Offer loads of hugs and kisses and validate them often! Hugs and kisses help a child thrive not only emotionally but also physically and cognitively. Children who feel loved, accepted, and secure, tend to do better academically, socially, and emotionally.
“Autism is not a puzzle, nor a disease. Autism is a challenge, but certainly not a devastating one.”
–Trisha Van Berkel
Autism is a very common issue in the United States. Many parents feel that they are at a loss because they don’t understand what it is. Recently, there was a tragic story of a mother from Texas who killed her two autistic children because she wasn’t able to cope with their condition. Clearly, there was a misunderstanding of what the children may have been experiencing and how the responsible adult in their lives was interpreting their state. It is important to make sure that our community is confronting these realities instead of living in denial. We should encourage parents to take these matters seriously and seek treatment and not worry about shame or social pressure. Many people from our cultures would rather sweep these matters under the rug than actually admit that their child might have a “problem”. Some parents may have no clue and end up pushing their child even harder rather than providing a good support system for him or her to cope with being different.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs), is a complex developmental disability causing severe and pervasive impairment in thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to relate to others, that typically appears within the first 3 years of life. It is usually first diagnosed in early childhood and ranges from a severe form (difficulties in language, social skills and behavior) to a milder form (high-functioning with abilities to speak but challenged in behavior). These different ranges are what define the “spectrum” of Autism.
According to the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual), “Autism is impairment in social interaction along with two of these symptoms: impairment in the use of non verbal behavior, failure to develop peer relationships, lack of seeking to share enjoyment or lack of social or emotional reciprocity.” Autistic individuals display delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas with onset prior to age three years: social interaction, language or imaginative play. There is no clear indication of what causes autism and there is no cure for it.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 out of 110 American children are diagnosed with Autism. Some people believe the numbers may be under-reported and others believe it is over- diagnosed. “Studies have shown that about one third of parents of children with an ASD noticed a problem before their child’s first birthday, and 80% saw problems by 24 months.” Boys are at much higher risk than girls (1:4), and children from families in which at least one other person who is autistic are at a higher risk of having autism.
A controversial issue, without a clear answer. Usually it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors along with other factors. However, there is not enough evidence to support that one factor is the sole cause for the disorder. Some hypotheses are: vaccinations, living in coastal regions, some links to problems with immune system, some believe Gluten in foods may also be a cause.
Babies develop at their own pace, and many don’t follow exact time lines found in some parenting books. But children with autism usually show some signs of delayed development by 18 months. If you suspect that your child may have autism, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it will be. Your doctor may recommend further evaluation if your child has ALL or MOST of these symptoms:
Medication is now available to help alleviate symptoms but we must remember the medication cannot cure Autism. Some studies have shown that a Gluten-free diet can also help reduce symptoms.
Early intervention and therapy has also proven to be extremely helpful. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a form of therapy which helps the child learn at their own pace and is usually performed by a behavior therapist (Smith, 1999). Some other forms of therapy are structured teaching, speech and language therapy, social skills therapy and occupational therapy.
If your child has repetitive behaviors that are reoccurring over long periods of time it may be a good idea to bring up your concern with your child’s pediatrician. Usually if your pediatrician deems it necessary your child will be referred to a neurologist for further testing and a possible diagnosis.
“Autistic beings develop and bloom if their spirits, talents and self-esteem are not destroyed by bullies, prejudice, ‘doggie-training’, and being forced to be ‘normal’.” –Trisha Van Berkel
How does it effect our community?
If your child is diagnosed with autism the government provides free services to help reduce the behavioral symptoms. This information is very important to remember since there are many children who suffer from Autism but because they never received a diagnosis, the child was not able to benefit from these free services.
As parents, we may ignore or become defensive of people’s comments about our child’s different behavior. We may also fear what it means to get a diagnosis and if that child will be “singled out” from others. Know this: you are helping your child by giving them the treatment as soon as possible. The sooner they receive help, the sooner they will be able to develop skills to meet the school’s standards. Proper intervention will help Autistic children learn life skills which will help them function as independent people when they become adults.
What is ABA?
Behavioral therapists mainly use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in which procedures derived from principles of behavior are systematically applied to improve socially significant behavior to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate experimentally that the procedures employed were responsible for the improvement in behavior (Baer, Wolfe & Risley, 1968). ABA is a mixture of psychological and educational techniques that are utilized based upon the needs of each individual child.
There are six key aspects to ABA. These aspects are: science, systematic and technical, procedures derived from the basic principles of behavior (operant behavior), socially significant behavior, improvement and understanding functional relations (the factors that are responsible for the improvement).
ABA consists of the following sub-theories:
Coping and support
Raising a child with autism can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining. These ideas suggested by Mayo Clinic may help:
“Autism means your children approach our world differently. We just need to learn to interface through therapy, play, school, medical interventions, depending on the child’s needs. Give them the tools they need so they can communicate and understand; but I’m not one of those who insist on a cure. Our children have various gifts and instincts that might well be changed if they no longer had autism — I don’t want to lose those.” -Babs M. (a mother with autistic children).
3. Blessed with Autism by Christina Peck (A Parent’s Resource for Securing Financial Support for the Treatment of Children With Autism and Special Needs)
4. The Autism Book: Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions by S. Jhoanna Robledo, Dawn Ham-Kucharski
5. Activity Schedules for Children with Autism: Teaching Independent Behavior by Lynn E. McClanahan, PhD & Patricia J. Krantz, PhD
Websites, workshops and online support groups:
3. Support Group: http://www.mdjunction.com/autism
4. Regional Center of Orange County: http://www.rcocdd.com
5. Complete list of DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctors in California:
6. List of workshops in the United States: http://www.autismweb.com/events.htm
Adapted from Mental Health 4 Muslims
“Anger is the energy that people use in order to act. But when you are angry, you are not lucid, and you might do wrong things” Thich Nhat Hanh.
Anger, as an emotion, is a primary, natural, and mature emotion experienced by all humans at times, and has functional value for survival. Anger alerts our body to take corrective action when we or someone we care about have felt wronged or mistreated. Although anger as an emotion is normal, it’s what we do with this emotion that can lead to destructive actions. Uncontrolled anger can have a negative affect on our physical, mental, and social well-being.
“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one”. Benjamin Franklin
Anger is oftentimes a cover for deeper, underlying emotions such as fear and loss of control. We may feel justified when we are angry and feel we know the source of our anger but oftentimes, it’s less about the other person and more about our perceptions. Personal perception plays a big role in eliciting anger. If a person perceives to lose control of a situation, they might get angry despite what the reality of the situation might be. We often notice when we are happy, a similar situation may not stir the emotion of anger inside of us as when we are irritated, feeling down on ourselves, etc.
“When anger rises, think of the consequences” Confucius
Although anger can at times be constructive, most times it clouds our judgment and creates stress in our lives. If anger leads to aggressive behavior toward others, it can lead to permanent harm to personal relationships. Prolonged or excessive anger, deep resentment, and even mild anger has been linked to cardiovascular problems and heart attacks.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”. Buddha
We must learn to pay attention to our anger and explore the underlying emotions related to it such as hurt or fear. Learning to feel empathy for others and taking the perspective of others is often helpful as well. For example when driving and experiencing road rage, you can view what might possibly be going on with the other driver. If you view the driver as ignorant and lacking proper driving skills, you might become enraged but if you view the driver as being sick or elderly, you might not be so quick to lose your temper. How often have you made mistakes on the road that you did not intent to? Maybe drove a little too slow while answering your phone or slowed down to hand something to your child in the back seat. We can imagine the person in front of us making such unintended mistakes as well and therefore not be so harsh in our judgment. Simply assuming the good intentions of the other person oftentimes has the ability to cool our fires. Another way to slow the speed of your rage is to think about your expectations of others. What are you expecting that you aren’t getting? Is the expectation reasonable? Can a compromise be made in meeting your expectation? Can you forgive the short comings of the person you have expectations from? Many individuals have difficulty forgiving others and would rather hold onto the anger out of revenge and spite or fear they may forget. Claudia Black, a psychologist says it best when she says “Forgiving is not forgetting, it is remembering and letting go”. Sometimes we just need to let go of our anger and make the choice to be happy. Holding on to anger for the sake of revenge is a useless and destructive habit.
“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Unexpressed anger can have destructive consequences not only emotionally and socially, but physically as well. According to a New York Times article, chronic anger can be more dangerous than smoking and obesity in shortening your life. Additionally, chronic anger can also rob you of the chance to be happy and simply enjoy life.
“Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.” Buddha
Anger management strategies
1.) Learn to recognize your physiological reaction to anger (e.g. increase heart beat, sweaty palms, clenched fists, face feeling flushed, etc.)
2.) Take a time out and count to 10 backwards when you feel the anger building up. Breathe deeply 4-5 times in order to allow yourself time to come up with an appropriate reaction or plan to deal with the situation.
3.) Learn to communicate your feelings and be assertive rather than aggressive. Express your feelings using “I” messages (e.g. “I am feeling upset right now because I feel what I’m saying is being taken out of context”).
4.) Learn constructive ways to channel your anger out (e.g. walk away from the situation and clear your head, exercise, meditate, write in a journal, speak into a tape recorder, talk to someone that is not related to the situation in order to get a clearer perspective, etc.).
5.) Accept that you can’t change the world or anyone else…you can only change your reaction. When you give up the idea that you can somehow change a person’s behavior or thoughts you become empowered and in control. You realize the only thing you have control over is your reaction to the person. You can choose to laugh about the situation, ignore it, make a joke out of it, or get angry. All those emotions are under your control and your choice.
6.) For chronic anger, you might want to look into an anger management program to learn strategies and coping skills in better managing your anger. Talking to a trained mental health professional is another recommended option.