mental health

Mental Health in Kids: What to Know

Did you know there is a whole day that focus’ on Mental health in kids? Today, Thursday, May 7, marks the 10th anniversary of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s, SAMHSA, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day! Each year, more than 1,100 communities and 136 national organizations, including Federal programs, participate in this celebration. It is because mental health starts at birth. Mental health can be impacted by a variety of things, like genetics and environment. Here are some important facts about parents:

mental health

Note that depression is normal, but it can effect your little one’s mental health and overall development so get help. Talk to a doctor about your concerns. It is also normal for kids starting at birth to have social and emotional problems but talk to a doctor. The earlier you can get intervention the better. For these babies and children with behavioral health challenges the extra services and supports available to them can mean a possibility at demonstrating their remarkable resilience. By truly getting everyone healthy, it is possible for the whole family to lead richer, fuller lives.

mental health

These children tend to have:

  • Negative Feelings
  • Perform poorly in school
  • Have a harder time focusing
  • Lower self-worth
  • Later become involved in unhealthy lifestyle decisions.
  • However, when these children receive intervention services, they can learn skills to live a more advantageous life
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Learning disabilities

Learning Disabilities: Definitions & What to Know

Learning Disabilities are a disorder that is defined as a permanent problem that affects a person with average intelligence, in a way that he/she receives, stores, and processes information. There are physiological differences in those with learning disabilities, and this impacts their learning.

No one knows the exact cause of a learning disability. One widely accepted theory is that learning disabilities are a result of subtle disturbances in the brain structure and function. The experts, however, agree that learning disabilties can be caused by hereditary, complications during pregnancy and birth, along with incidents after birth, such as a head injury, or lead poisoning. An individual with a learning disability can also have other disabilities.

Some of the terminologies connected with having Learning Disabilties are listed below along with an example of the symptoms:

  • Dyslexia-letters or words can be written or pronounced backwards
  • Dyscalculia– difficulty learning to count by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s
  • Dysgraphia– difficulty writing and organizing ideas on paper
  • Dyspraxia– difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Auditory Processing Disorder– difficulty interpreting auditory information.
  • Visual Processing Disorder– difficulty interpreting visual information such as
    distinguishing between letters like h/n
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder– difficulty concentrating and focusing

Academic curriculum and environment can have a tremendous impact on determining if a child is at risk of becoming a child with learning disabilities (LD).

Learning disabilities

Curriculum factors:

  • School work is mismatched with uneven abilities
  • The child is taught at a level above what he can comprehend
  • The style of teaching does not match the child’s learning style

Because of these problems, students with LD become frustrated, they find it extremely hard to catch up. These difficulties can make a student give up and create behavior problems.

Some possible solutions to these problems:

  • Dictate essays
  • Read by listening to books on tape
  • Reduce the number of words or concepts the student must memorize
  • Teach memory tricks
  • Translate difficult text
  • Make concrete models of difficult concepts.

Modifications must be made in order to reduce the strain caused by these students difference in learning style.

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autism emotions brain

Autism, Empathy, and How the Brain Might Truly Work

As someone who is around a high-functioning Autistic child daily, it is easy to see that many of society’s current notions about the disorder, and how it effects the brain and empathy, might be incorrect. This interesting article was sent me that backed up some current feelings we have in this household.

Autism is thought to result from a deficit in the brain’s social region based on research and ideas starting in the 1980 called the “theory of mind” developed by Uta Frith, Simon Baron-Cohen, and Alan Leslie.

They found that autistic children are late to develop the ability to distinguish between what they know themselves and what others know—something that other children learn early on.

What if however, their perspective was just different? What if they were actually taking in so much information, it became difficult to separate and think about things from a different view point?

autism empathy brain

Nationally renowned neuroscientist and father of a high-functioning autistic boy, Henry Markram, is looking into how autistic children might have “mind blindness” (or a failure to take on different perspectives) but not actually lack understanding of others all together. Markhram’s colleague and another neuroscientist, Michael Merzenich, proposed that autism is caused by an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurons.

So Markram started his research at a circuitry level. They studied rats with autistic behaviors and used what we know about VPA drugs, like Depakote, to increase the odds of these specific rats. The networked VPA cells responded almost 2xs as strong as the normal cells. The cells had become hyper-connected. The rats infected were quicker to both frighten and learn. They also had a harder time forgetting because everything that might of given them fear (the room, the feeling, the smell) would re-trigger the same reaction. The VPA rats learn too quickly with too much irreversible fear.

Markram notes how this sounds more like his son as it does with our experiences of Autism. Depending on the child’s individual experiences and make up, being made of these hyperactive cells could explain a lot of different things we know about Autism.

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High Functioning Autism: Signs and Perspective

High Functioning Autism, HFA, as of 2013 absorbed the label Aspergers. This is the result of the DSM-5 (the test to label it) replacing what it was labeled as. There is talk of another test changing these possibilities in 2017, but that is up in the air. This interesting link was sent to me. It compiles a bunch of different individuals with autism and gives you their insight as to what it feel like to have autism. As we know it is important to think what it feels like to walk in another persons shoes, and hearing it directly from them is the best source. Obviously it is a spectrum and each individual has unique experiences, but there is also something that binds them as a group. By understanding them better, we can be better educators, parents, advocates, therapists, and/or whatever other way in which we relate to one another. It is just part of understanding better how all the the puzzle pieces.

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Here are some signs of High Functioning Autism:

  • Inability to build friendship
  • Social awkwardness
  • Clumsiness
  • Hyper-focus
  • Extremely stuck on their routines
  • Lack of/forced eye contact
  • Lack of Empathy
  • Literal Interpretations
  • Difficulty with fine motor (writing, cutting)
  • Selective Muteness

All of these might not apply to your child or your child might have acquired skills to ‘fake’ some of these. Remember each child on the spectrum is different. Also the link above provides great stories that provide insight to adults with high functioning autism. It seems most are leading full lives, so although autism doesn’t fall in the ‘norm,’ and I do suggest getting your child as much help as possible…there are great possibilities ahead.

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Learning disabilities

Learning Disabilities: Learning the Facts

Learning Disabilities cover a wide variety of symptoms, causes, outcomes, and treatments. This can make it difficult to diagnose or to pinpoint the causes. Learning Disabilities can be divided up into three broad categories. These include: developmental speech and language disorders, academic skills disorders, and Other (includes certain coordination disorders and learning handicaps not covered by the other terms). Each one of these categories includes a number of more specific disorders. Since each child with LD, learning disorders, is so different, there futures with the disability are different as well.

Learning disabilities

There are many early warning signs of future learning disabilities. One of which is speech delays. Kids with weaknesses in oral language have difficulty both with understanding what is said to them and with formulating responses. It can lead to further speech problems, like if a child often failing to understand what an adult say, missing important points, and misinterpreting directions. There are early intervention services available for many children, which can help the child to achieve their verbal goals.  Your local Division of Developmental Disabilities can direct you to the appropriate system to get a baby or toddler evaluated.

  • Although it is possible students will out grow this, there has been much research done on the correlation between speech-delayed preschoolers and students with learning disabilities.
  • Early identification is the best way to prevent further disabilities
Learning Disabilities affect many children and adults in our community.
  • Some students may be able to reach there full potential in a total inclusion environment, but many need extra assistance from resource rooms or special education classrooms.  The students needs should be truly considered in order for them to be best prepared for school and eventually for a successful career.  The child’s classroom needs and educational goals should be outlined in their IEP, Individual Education Plan.
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