Is a Therapy Dog Right for Your Child with Autism

Is a Therapy Dog Right for Your Child with Autism?

Written by

Featured on DogDigz.com

Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a set of conditions with symptoms such as repetitive behaviors, challenges in communication and social skills, sleep disorders and sensory sensitivities. For many children, the signs of autism begin to become apparent by the age of two or three. Sometimes autism developmental delays may lead to an even earlier diagnosis.

There are varying degrees of autism, and while there is no cure, there are many therapies, tools and interventions that may be helpful.

One option families explore is bringing an autism therapy dog into their family. While there can be benefits, a therapy dog may not be the right fit for every child or family.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Sometimes “therapy dog” is used as a blanket term, but there are differences between service dogs and therapy dogs. There is also a third category to be aware of, which is a companion dog.

Managing Autism Meltdowns, Tantrums and Aggression

Written by Kim Barloso

Featured on Autismparentingmagazine.com

 

To an outsider, a child with autism having a meltdown might appear like a child having a temper tantrum, but the circumstances are often more complex than what meets the eye. Those who have cared for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will know a meltdown is handled differently and with intimate knowledge of the child’s personality.

What is an autism meltdown?

A meltdown is defined as an intense reaction to sensory overwhelm. When a child with autism is overwhelmed, he/she knows no other way to express it other than with a meltdown. This might involve emotional verbal outbursts such as screaming and crying or physical reactions like kicking, biting or hitting.

Meltdown vs temper tantrum

Although they may look similar, meltdowns are different from temper tantrums. A temper tantrum is usually a child’s method for getting what he/she wants. A meltdown, however, has no purpose and is beyond a child’s control.

To be more specific, a temper tantrum happens when a child is:

  • Frustrated with not getting what he/she wants
  • Not able to do what he/she wants
  • Not able to properly communicate

A child might stop a tantrum after the following responses:

  • Being comforted by a parent or caregiver
  • Being given what he/she wants (although not an ideal strategy)
  • Being ignored and giving up on his/her own

Youngsters who throw temper tantrums are aware and in control of their actions and can adjust the level of their tantrum based on the response they get from a parent or adult. Here we can use behavioral strategies to manage tantrums.

Meltdowns have entirely different causes. Because they are triggered by sensory overload, a child on the spectrum having a meltdown can have a few defining characteristics.

image by pexels

Psycho-Educational Evaluations are Now Available

Psycho-Educational Evaluations are Now Available

Now that we have been providing home instruction to our children for over 3 months, we have become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Many parents may be noticing that their child is struggling with a particular subject, skill, or is restless, hyperactive, impulsive, and struggles to focus. Many of you may be realizing the impact that anxiety has on your child’s ability to learn. At Psychological & Educational Consulting, we are now available to conduct Psycho-Educational Evaluations that will answer your questions about your child’s learning profile. Your evaluations consist of an IQ test, achievement testing and executive functioning testing. Your completed report will include a diagnosis, if warranted, as well as recommendations for support programs in school such as a 504 Accommodation Plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP), as well as accommodations for home and school.

Please call (973.400.8371) or email (DrLiz@psychedconsult.com) so we can review your child’s individual profile. I look forward to working with you and your child!

Dr. Liz Matheis

Psychological & Educational Consulting LLC

513 West Mount Pleasant Ave, Ste 212 Livingston, NJ 07039

DrLiz@psychedconsult.com

973.400.8371

Navigating Special Education & Partnering with your Home District

NAVIGATING SPECIAL EDUCATION AND PARTNERING WITH YOUR HOME DISTRICT

Presented by: Dr. Elizabeth Matheis and Dr. Harold Tarriff

Thursday, June 4, 2020 7-8:30pm FREE!

This session will provide parents with information on the requirements for the provision of special education from both legal and professional perspectives; beginning with a brief overview of legal requirements, followed by prerequisite procedures and, most importantly, the most effective ways for parents to participate meaningfully in this process. As a result of this session, parents will be better prepared to be co-equal partners with the professionals charged with meeting the unique special needs of their children.

Dr. Tarriff has an extensive background as a Special Education Administrator, in both public and private schools. He holds a doctorate in Special Education and is a  Director of Special Services. Dr. Matheis is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist who specializes in treating the whole child, adolescent and young adult, which includes home and school, emotionally, socially and behaviorally.

Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

COVID-19 Updates for Families of Students with Disabilities

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Questions and Answers document to give guidance on how Districts should be providing services to students with disabilities as the school buildings begin to close.

This past weekend, they issued a Supplemental Fact Sheet wherein they made it clear that Districts may provide special education and related services through distance instruction, whether virtually, online, or telephonically.

The question we have most frequently received since school closure became a possibility is: Does the district still have to follow my child’s IEP? In short, the answer is YES, as long as they are providing educational opportunities to the general student population. Specifically, the DOE stated that “schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504.” However, with the onset of this national emergency, the United States Department of Education has urged that parents and school districts be flexible and collaborative in working within the confines of distance teaching and safety measures to provide disabled students with a free and appropriate public education. Thus, related services that require physical contact may not be feasible at this time, but other services/accommodations such as extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing, may be able to be provided.

School districts will be required to assess on a case by case basis whether compensatory education services are required when school resumes.

We have had a few IEP meetings via google hangout and conference call within the past week. So far, they have gone more smoothly than anticipated. We are learning ways to make them more efficient (i.e., mute if you are not speaking, in order to eliminate background noise; if it is just an audio call, have speakers identify themselves). Please be patient with Districts as they work out the kinks in this new way of conducting meetings. If you have an IEP meeting coming up, or are due for an annual review meeting, we recommend you reach out to your child’s case manager to inquire how the meeting will be conducted. We have obtained the appropriate technology so that if your IEP team states that they are unable to handle a remote meeting, we can certainly “host” it for them.

Finally, we hope you are all staying safe, and isolated!

If you’d like to schedule a virtual meeting, please contact Melissa (admin@manesweinberg.com), and she will schedule something for you. You can also call our office (973) (376) (7733).

 

Manes & Weinberg | Special Needs Lawyers, LLC

 

Image by pexels

Parenting a Child with ADHD

As a parent of a child with ADHD, you are always on the go too, but not always by choice. You are constantly surveying the environment and trying to accommodate your child so that he can perform at his best. This applies to school, home, birthday parties, family gatherings or wherever and whenever. At the end of the day, you may feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and yet, you still haven’t handled all of the items for the rest of the family, your house, or your job. Instead of focusing on your child with ADHD, I would like to take a moment to focus on you, the parent.

Perhaps you are an adult with ADHD, and perhaps you are not. If you are, you are trying to get through your day while being distracted by children, co-workers, your spouse, and your own thoughts. On top of trying to manage yourself, you are also trying to create a structured home environment to help your child with ADHD function day to day. You most likely understand what a day in your child’s world feels like, but you may be having a hard time getting through the same kinds of tasks and responsibilities yourself.

If you are not a parent with ADHD, your child’s world feels foreign, frustrating, and constantly moving. You may be having a hard time understanding why your child cannot walk in a straight line, pick up his shoes and put them on without picking up a random toy on the way, or going back upstairs to get his favorite socks. His actions feel random, and draining on your time and energy.

Here are a few strategies to help you, as a parent of a child with ADHD, to prevent burn out from caring for, coaching, and managing your child:

Click Here to Read the Full Article

by Dr Liz Matheis Shield HealthCare

Two Sides Same Coin

Children have many kinds of strengths. Sometimes these strengths are obvious, like how social they are, athleticism, or their creativity. But some strengths can be harder to notice or may even initially appear to be a weakness. The way you perceive your child and recognizing these strengths can help your child to grow and thrive

Image by: adhddd.com

3 Ways to Teach Social Skills at Home

Your child may also become easily frustrated because other children are not as interested in certain topics, games, or other children don’t want to talk about that topic for very long. Possibly, your child may not notice the body language and facial expressions of a peer who has lost interest, and ultimately walks away. When your child feels rejected, but doesn’t know why – they may become very angry, yell or become aggressive towards the children whose behavior or actions aren’t understood. The other children don’t understand your child’s internal experience and begin to label him as angry or weird. To a parent, that’s heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, you can’t go to school with your child and mediate these peer interactions (even though you’ve thought about it!), but you can use a few strategies to help build your child’s social awareness in an effort to make social relationships a little bit easier.

Role Play
To help your child understand what a disinterested peer looks like, act it out, or be exaggerative in your response to him when he tells you a story at home that is now going on for a long period of time with no end in sight. Your tolerance is higher and your patience may be greater because, after all, this is your baby. However, friends are not that patient.

See if your child asks you what’s wrong or why you’re making that face or slouching in your seat. Use this as a time to tell your child that his story is too long. You may feel like a ‘bad’ parent for saying something like this, but if you don’t, his peers will – and they likely won’t be as nice about it!

You can also role play other signs of disinterest, such as looking around the room, starting a conversation with another person, or walking away. Let your child know that it’s time to end a story or conversation and do something else. For example, she can ask her peer a question to keep the conversation going, “What did you do this weekend? What’s your favorite cartoon?” or “Do you want to play tag with me?”

Image by: Shield Healthcare

by Dr. Liz Matheis

You Are Not Alone: Support for Parents of Children with ADHD

In the mad morning rush before school, you’re applying Post-Its to his folders and lunchbox so he won’t forget to turn in those overdue library books or hand in his completed homework. At baseball practice, you’re dashing into the dugout with a forgotten glove or quick snack. During homework time, you’re the bad cop — fueling him with food, setting the timer, and keeping him on task when he’d rather be doing just about anything.

At the end of a typical day with your child, you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. And yet you still haven’t handled all of your to-do-list items for the rest of the family, your house, or your job. And you certainly haven’t taken even a moment to focus on yourself. That is not good.

If you are an adult with ADHD, you work hard to get through your day while being distracted by children, co-workers, your spouse, and your own thoughts. On top of trying to manage yourself, you are also trying to create a structured home environment to help your child function at his best. You understand better than most people what a day in your child’s world feels like, but you may be having a hard time getting through the same kinds of tasks and responsibilities yourself.

If you don’t have ADHD, your child’s world may feel foreign, frustrating, and constantly moving. You may be having a hard time understanding why your child cannot walk in a straight line, put on his shoes without picking up a random toy on the way, or brush his teeth without 12 reminders. His actions feel random, and they drain your time and energy.

Here are a few strategies to help you, as the parent of a child with ADHD, prevent burn out while caring for, coaching, and managing your child:

1. It’s okay to ask for help.
This help can be a hired tutor or nanny, a family member, or a switch off between parents. If you are going to hire someone to help you, make sure that person is older than your child, and train him or her. Provide clear-cut information about your expectations regarding activities and accomplishments – i.e., finish math homework, take a bike ride, give a bath. Share the strategies that you’ve found help your child to complete tasks (e.g., take a five-minute break after working on homework for 10 minutes, break down homework or tasks into individual steps, etc.).

If another family member is willing to help, offer similar training so that person is using the same terminology, following the same routine, follows whatever structure you have created. Continuity and consistency across caregivers is critical.

If you can, break up ‘shifts’ with your spouse. For example, you might take the morning routine if your husband takes the bedtime routine. This offers each of you a break during one of the high-stress times of the day. You may also want to rotate so there is no burnout within that shift.

​Image by: AttitudeMag.com

by Dr. Liz Matheis

The Truths & Myths of ADHD

There is an abundance of information about ADHD available to us every day. Type in ADHD in children or adolescents to Google and the amount of information is overwhelming – where do I begin? With all of the information available to us, it is important for us to clarify some of the misinformation that is out there.

Let’s start with the basics and get to the heart of it:

  • ADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder that can result in weaknesses in attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
  • It’s more common in boys than with girls.
  • Treatment options consist of:
    • Medication
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy and Executive Functioning Coaching aimed at finding strategies to maintain attention to task, complete assignments/work, and build social skills.
    • The combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy and/or Executive Functioning Coaching is ideal; however medication is a personal/parental choice.

With that said, there are some myths about what ADHD is, how it can be managed and how to teach our children the skills they need to channel their non-focused energy into specific targets.

Myth #1: ADHD is not real. It’s a disorder of the spoiled, non-disciplined child. Parents just need to be stricter and the hyperactivity and impulsivity will go away.

False, false, and false again. ADHD is a physiologically based disorder in which there are deficits of neurochemicals in the brain as well as under-developed areas of the frontal lobe, which is responsible for our executive functioning skills. What are those, you ask? They are the skills that we develop as we mature, such as time management, organization, inhibiting things we want to say, knowing how to read social situations and act accordingly.

It is not something ‘caused’ or ‘created’ by parents. It’s like saying to a diabetic that he should tell his pancreas to make more insulin and he will be fine. There is a true neurochemical imbalance.

Truth
Children with ADHD have amazing skills and capabilities. They are not necessarily functioning at a disadvantage because of their disability. Instead, they have a great ability to think abstractly, see the big picture, and have creative and imaginative ideas. They are great problem solvers and out-of-the-box thinkers.

I’ve heard teachers say that their school year was that much better because of the richness of ideas that were shared by a child with ADHD! That student was encouraged to express his ideas and thoughts that triggered more abstract ideas for others. What a way to recognize and encourage this learning style within the classroom!

Myth #2: All kids with ADHD are impulsive and hyperactive.

No, they are not. There is also the inattentive type as well as the combined, impulsive and hyperactive type.  The inattentive child loses focus and can daydream often. This type of child may appear to have ‘lost’ information along the way, but is not distracting to others, fidgety or restless.

This type of ADHD can be easily missed because the ‘squeaky wheel’ tends to gets noticed, while the inattentive student may ‘fall between the cracks.’

Truth
You may wonder if your child will be able to succeed in this world and be able to get through college, maintain friendships, and hold onto a job. The answer is an absolute YES! Your child will find his areas of strength and find outlets for himself. So, she may not be a detail oriented person – she won’t choose a detail-oriented field. She may need an administrative assistant to help organize her schedule. Whichever your child’s strengths and weaknesses, he will find the field that will let him thrive and strive!

Just a little clarification on what ADHD is and what it isn’t. With the right supports at home, and accommodations at school, your child will be able to achieve great things!

Image by: Shield Healthcare

by Dr. Liz Matheis, PhD
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Julie C.
"Dr. Matheis has a remarkable ability to understand the unique needs of her patients and address them constructively. She builds strong, meaningful relationships with patients and their families, encouraging trust and collaboration. When working with my son who struggles with autism-related anxiety, she created an environment in which he was able to calm down and open up to her in ways I had not seen before. She was able to reach him and helped him work through his crisis/problem. Most importantly, she empowered him to move forward."
- N.L.
"Dr. Matheis is amazing. She has tremendous resources and loads of energy. She is not willing to accept anything less than the most effective results for her clients. She made me feel as if my son was her top priority throughout the entire process. I would, without reservation, give her my highest recommendations.  Thank you, Dr. Matheis!"
- Anonymous
"Dr. Matheis has an amazing ability to read kids and connect with them. She has been an invaluable resource for our family over the past several years and has helped us with everything from educational consulting, to uncovering diagnoses as well as family therapy. Working with Dr. Matheis never feels clinical and most importantly, our children love and trust her. We can not thank you enough Dr. Liz!"
- Anonymous
"My teenage son had been seeing Dr. Matheis through his senior year of high school, as he was only diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old.  Dr. Matheis came highly recommended from our pediatrician and she has done wonders for our son as well as our family, navigating new ways for him to deal with his diagnosis without the use of medication.  She taught him ways to organize himself and even when something did not work for him, she patiently continued teaching him new ways to keep himself on track.  She has also helped us as parents to understand how his mind works so that we did not continue to blame his lack of focus on him, rather on his unique way of thinking.  Thank you Dr. Matheis!!!!"
- LG
"Dr. Liz is the best! Our family was directed to her by our Pediatrician to assist with figuring out severe mood changes, severe anxiety, strange new fears and food aversion that had come onto one of our children literally overnight. After just a couple of visits, she suggested that the issues may actually be rooted in a physical issue and suggested we immediately take our child to be swabbed for strep, because Dr. Liz suspected PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder brought on by strep). The same Pediatrician that suggested Dr. Liz would not do the swab (they do not believe in PANDAS and we no longer go there) but I took my child to my doctor who did the swab and it was positive for strep. When our child went on antibiotics, within 24 hours all symptoms went away and our child was back :-) Dr. Liz then recommended a PANDAS specialist who helped us and our child is in complete remission and is happy and healthy. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Liz for her knowledge of all things, even the most remote and unusual and for helping us so much! Thank you!"
- Anonymous
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Anonymous
"Thank you, Dr. Liz. Although we have told you countless times, it will never feel enough. You have listened when J could barely speak and continued to listen when he was sad, angry and confused. You've challenged him and directed us in our roles as parents. You've helped J face his fears while the list evolved and changed, and yet you've stayed committed to 'the course.' We pray that your children realize that time away from them is spent helping children learn and that vulnerability is a sign of strength and bravery."
- June I
"My son was admitted to an Ivy League school when only 2 years ago, you assessed him and saw his struggles, his Dyslexia. We are grateful that he no longer has to carry that deep feeling of inadequacy or shame that must have kept him so self conscious and from reaching his potential. He has the PERFECT program for him. He has A's in high math and economics. He became a Merit Scholar, a Boys State legislature, the HEAD captain of the football team and help a job ALL while studying and managing his classes and disability. I am PROUD of you, a young doctor, who knows and sees the vulnerability of children and helps them recognize "it's NO big deal" God bless."
- Anonymous

Learn More About Dr. Liz!

Subscribe to our Mailing List
Psychological and Educational Consulting Logo

513 W Mt Pleasant Ave, Ste 212,
​Livingston, NJ 07039