Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Your Child Needs Social Skills

When working with a youngster with special needs, it can seem like there are so many demands--medical and therapy appointments, academic remediation, and behavior modification that it's impossible get everything done. One area that often falls through the cracks is social skills.

It's easy to overlook social skills--they may not seem of critical importance compared to other struggles. But they should not be neglected, as they become vitally important later in life. Social skills are required

  • to make and keep friends.
  • to participate in social activities with family, friends, and church members. 
  • to be successful in a classroom, especially when the focus is now on group work. 
  • to function in the school cafeteria, on the playground and in many elective classes. 
  • to be on a sports team or in a performing group such as the band. 
  • to find and keep a job. 
  • to go on a proselyting or service mission.
  • to date and get married. 
I've found that those children who are relatively high-functioning are often the ones with the most glaring problems in this area. Manners and courtesy must be addressed from an early age or these children will not develop the critical skills needed during the teen years. 

How have you been developing your child's social skills?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Does Your Child Have an Accurate Diagnosis?

Having a diagnosis is the first step in helping your family member with a disability. Professionals require a diagnosis when beginning to design interventions. The accuracy of the diagnosis impacts the effectiveness of the treatments.

Dr. Adita Shankardass, a neuroscientist with expertise in neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and neuropsychology, had been performing digital quantitative EEGs on many children diagnosed with developmental disabilities. She has discovered that many of these children have neurological disorders rather than developmental ones, and require far different treatments.

For example, some children previously diagnosed with severe autism were found to have epilepsy that caused them to display autistic-like traits. Prescriptions of correct medications raise them to functional levels consistent with their peers.

Not sure that your child has an accurate diagnosis? Watch Dr. Shankardass' TED talk here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Collaboration - The Key to Helping Your Child

During a recent trip to an amusement park with my family, we were entertained while waiting in line by a video game. This activity involved getting those in line to steer a bird around obstacles by leaning left, right, or backwards. There were three groups competing, and success depended on the willingness of complete strangers to work together.

I did briefly wonder if this was some sort of social experiment, but was soon lost in the fun as we leaned, laughed, and ultimately won the race.

I have to admit I was surprised that so many people were willing to cooperate at the drop of a hat. And I began to consider how this related to the families of those with disabilities.

The answer is pretty simple. We need to learn to work with others, even complete strangers, to help our family members live the best life possible.

How does this work? Consider the following scenarios:

Someone misconstrues your child's disability-based actions. Remember that they have little to no comprehension of your situation and need education. Simply reply that your child has a disability and this particular situation is a special challenge. This gives you a chance to improve understanding in a way that doesn't put people off from your message.

You are trying to get additional evaluations or services. Begin in a collaborative manner, and remember that the people you speak to are employees who have directives. If you listen to their responses and seek understanding, you will get farther than if you scream, which will get you labeled as a "problem parent".

You object to something someone has written (possibly even this post). Take time to read the entire article and then respond without name-calling or insults. This is a good way to get your voice heard.

How do you best collaborate with others?