Teenage Suicide: A leading cause of death

Teenage Suicide

A leading cause of death

Featured on D’amore Mental Health

47,173 Americans died of suicide in 2017, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the USA. It’s the 3rd largest cause of teenage deaths, only falling short of accidents and homicide.

Suicide doesn’t discriminate. Anyone of any gender, age, race or socioeconomic status might feel suicidal at any point in their lives – even if they “have it all” or appear to be happy from the outside.

However, teenagers are specifically at risk for suicide.

Teenage years are a stressful time and there are many major physical and emotional changes to contend with. Puberty transforms the body in new and strange ways and hormones wreck havoc with moods and emotions. Teenagers go through strong feelings of confusion, fear, stress and doubt – perhaps more intense and traumatic than anything they have faced so far in their lives.

 

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

“My Daily Schedule is in Tatters!” How to Build Routine and Boundaries Now

“My Daily Schedule is in Tatters!” How to Build Routine and Boundaries Now

Written by Dr. Liz Matheis

Without commutes and errands and sports practices, many parents and adults with ADHD feel they should have more time. But instead they just have more work, more distress, and more disorientation — a feeling of being ungrounded and unfocused due to all that unstructured time. Perhaps more than ever before, it’s critical to carve out a schedule that balances work and home life. Here’s how:

Our boundaries are obliterated. We are employees, parents, teachers, house cleaners, personal assistants, and playmates to our children — all at the same time. Each day feels like ‘some’ day; the labels ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Friday’ are just quaint reminders of the schedules we used to keep.

Without commutes and errands and sports practices, many parents and adults with ADHD feel they should have more time. But instead they just have more work, more distress, and more disorientation — a feeling of being ungrounded and unfocused due to all that unstructured time. Perhaps more than ever before, it’s critical for adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD to carve out a schedule that balances work and home life. Right now, routine is the secret to giving you back a sense of the time of day as well as the day of the week, not to mention your goals and priorities.

 

Image by Unsplashed

Avoiding the Screen Time Over Dose During COVID-19

Avoiding the Screen Time Over Dose During COVID-19

Written by Daniel Cherry, MA

COVID-19 has presented so many different challenges to adults and children. Our normal routines have been taken away and we are forced to stay within the confining walls of our home. The consistency of rain has certainly contributed to greater feelings of being closed in. 

Although we are thankful for technology as it has allowed many of us to continue running our businesses, remain employed and for our children to continue learning, it has also created a bit of an over-dose usage of our computers, phones, IPads and tablets.  Our children are using their screens to complete their school work, communicate with their teachers, and  to stay connected with family members and friends. Teens and young adults are passing time by binge watching shows, series and movies in place of extracurricular activities and socializing.

Set a Limit 

Even though we are isolated from our friends and family, it is important to continue to maintain a limit on screen time for the times when we don’t need them for work or social contact.

Set a time limit on the number of hours of screen time for leisure use and monitor your child’s use. Set a timer or set a timer on the device to shut it off when that time is up.  Make sure to especially turn the screen off as it gets closer to bedtime.

Play

With fewer places to go and things to do, we all need to get outside, even on rainy days. Take a walk, a bike ride or a scooter ride. Getting outside and changing our scenery is also important for our overall well being.

Work on a Project

With your child, work on a project or craft together. Not only may your child learn a new skill, but you are also connecting during a time when we feel quite disconnected. Play a game, learn a new game, or create a new game together.

 

Although this is an extremely difficult time,  it is also unique in the opportunity it affords our families for spending quality time. Get creative in the ways you engage with your family. Connectedness builds our resilience and the ability to navigate these trying times. Some of these positive habits may even carry over after this time has passed. Good luck and stay well!

 

 

Image by Pexels

The Importance of Hygiene Habits during COVID 19

The Importance of Hygiene Habits during COVID 19

Written By Nicole Filiberti

There are many ways our lives have been significantly changed in the past few weeks. Educating our children, very frequent hand washing and donning face masks when going grocery shopping are just a few of the many differences in the way we are currently living versus the way we went about our daily lives before this pandemic. The importance of hygiene has increased given the current happenings in the world. Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to keep you and your loved ones safe during this challenging time.

 

  1. Disinfecting is your friend!

Now more than ever are we appreciating the help of disinfectant sprays and wipes. Remember that every time you leave your house, you are at risk of exposure. Removing your shoes before you re-enter your home, or quickly spraying them with disinfectant before you bring them in are steps that can significantly reduce your chances of bringing any unwanted germs into your home. Think about all of the frequently touched surfaces in your home and make it a routine to clean them. This includes electronic devices like iPads, computer keyboards and door handles. It would be remiss to not mention the fact that obtaining these items has become very difficult, so read on for a DIY disinfectant recipe that you can utilize.

 

  1. Barriers, barriers, barriers

The more you can do to separate yourself from the germs, the better. This includes wearing gloves and masks when going out and not touching your face. Create an invisible protection barrier by avoiding any touching your face when outside. Wash your hands before making any contact with any part of your face.

 

  1. Keep the immune system strong

It is not secret that food and habits have a significant impact on our health and well being. Now more than ever is it important to fuel your body with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Try not to fall into the habits of stress eating processed and sugary snacks and instead incorporate fresh, whole foods as much as possible. This is also a great time to step up your sleep game and make an effort to get quality sleep every night. These habits set you up with a strong immune system which is your first line of defense if you are to come in contact with any unwanted germs or viruses.

 

DIY Disinfectant Recipe

Pour hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Spray onto surfaces to be disinfected. Be sure to let it sit for a minimum of 1 minute. There is no need to wipe after.

3 Ways You Can Elevate Your Kids Health Now

A Balanced, Nutritious Diet
If our kids are junk food addicts, it’s on us. As parents, our job is to provide healthy, balanced options at mealtimes as well as throughout the day. And instilling healthy eating habits that foster growth and development early on will go a long way in promoting a healthy relationship with food.  Not sure where to start? A great rule of thumb is to represent each food group at meals (dairy, protein, fruits/vegetables, and whole grains), giving your child the option to eat what they choose. For snacks, combine 2 food groups, such as a cheese stick with an apple, or peanut butter on toast. If your kids are picky, bring them grocery shopping with you to choose healthy foods they’d like to try, and involve them in meal preparation. Most of all, encourage rather than force your kids to try new foods, and keep trying. It often takes repetitive exposure to a new food before a child will embrace it.

Regular Exercise
Our bodies were made to move. As difficult as it can be to get our kids to put down the electronics of their own initiative, their bodies are literally craving movement. Kids who are active for at least 60 minutes a day will not only be stronger, they’ll have a more positive outlook on life. Fulfilling your child’s daily exercise needs can be as simple as going to the playground, participating in a game of tag, or an after-school soccer or swim class. By making movement fun it becomes something our children want to do, and we can set them up for a lifetime of good health, avoiding serious health issues like diabetes and obesity to boot.

Plenty of Sleep
Sleep, an important component of the “health trifecta,” affects our children’s learning, memory, behavior, mental & physical health.  In fact, every single bodily function is optimized by sleep. With sufficient sleep, our kids cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, reproductive, and immune systems are all given a chance to repair, develop, and thrive. On the contrary, getting less sleep needed not only makes our kiddos cranky, it significantly increases their risk of illness and disease. To set your kids up for a solid night of sleep, turn off the electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bed to read together and discuss what you’re grateful for each day.

Sleep Recommendations by age from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
-Infants to 4 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
-Children 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
-Children 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
-Children 6-12 years: 9-12 hours Teenagers 13 to 18 years: 8-10 hours

by Heidi Borst

Allergies and Anxiety: The connection between anxiety and your HVAC System

If you or someone in your home has allergies, you are probably all too familiar with the physical symptoms. Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and wheezing or shortness of breath are extremely common and can make you feel absolutely miserable. But did you know that allergies, especially seasonal allergies, can also have an impact on your psychological health?

A variety of recent studies show a direct correlation between allergies and anxiety. There are many suspected reasons for this, from the body’s natural response to inflammation to the psychological stress of feeling sick, but the latest research leaves little doubt that those who suffer from allergies are at higher risk for anxiety (though the reverse does not seem to be true).

Fortunately, treating the allergies appears to bring down the anxiety as well. Seeing a doctor for your allergies is always important, but minimizing your exposure to allergens can also help. Properly maintaining your HVAC system is one of the biggest ways that you can lessen allergens in your home, reducing allergy flare-ups and the anxiety that goes with them. In addition, regular HVAC maintenance boosts the lifespan of your system, reduces the risk of expensive breakdowns, and keeps costs down by maximizing efficiency. If your HVAC has reached the end of its useful life, consider replacing it with one of the best furnaces or best air conditioners of 2020.

Image by Shutterstock

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Helping Your Child Develop A Healthy Lifestyle

In today’s society we are always on the go and it can be difficult to engage in the healthiest habits for ourselves and our kids.  These habits are not just about exercise but about what foods we put into our body and the relationship we have with them.  While this is a challenge for us as adults it can be even harder for our kids.  Here are some ways to encourage your kids to make healthy choices.

Talk to your kids about food
As parents you can name things your child likes or will not eat no matter how hard you have tried.  Most of us have not asked them why or how food makes them feel.  How do they feel after they have sugar? It may surprise you that they may say they like candy but feel tired or lousy after.  Then ask them about fruit and vegetables? Helping them compare the way their body feels after eating different things can help them make better food choices.  Keep this conversation going and keep learning together about healthy eating habits.

Have healthy food challenges
Make healthy eating fun! Start food challenges/competitions.  Who can make brownies using sweet potatoes? Who can create the healthiest snack? Kids love their sweet treats, so make it fun.  Show your kids they can still treat themselves but there are substitutes and ways to have sweet treats that are smarter choices for our bodies. Take this time to teach them about moderation.

Get active together
In our busy lives it can be hard to settle into a nice workout routine.  Our kids are also busy with after school activities and then homework.  Going for walks in the park, hiking or biking is great for your health but then also provides opportunities to talk to your kids about school and their lives as well.  When the weather gets cold indoor activities like yoga or charades keeps us moving and engaged with one another.

Remember dance like no one is watching!

Image by pexels

by Jennifer Mandato, LAC

Incorporating Exercise Into Family Activities

We have officially reached that part of the winter when we are in full-on winter mode. Less daylight and cold weather have the tendency to keep us cooped up inside, only leaving the house when it’s necessary. Excess snacking and increased Netflix binging may have become our new hobbies. We know all about the multitude of benefits that come along with regularly moving our bodies. Setting an example for our children by staying active throughout the year will help them grow into healthy, active adults. There are plenty of ways to incorporate movement and exercise into the daily routine.

1.       Consistency is key
Make movement a priority by setting a certain day of the week to participate in some form of movement together as a family. Joining a family bowling league or ongoing family yoga class is a great place to start. Search your local area for options and pick one that everyone in the family is at least willing to try. By having a certain day and time set up, you are holding yourselves accountable. Remember, the movement of chose does not have to be everyone’s favorite, but one that everyone in the family is open minded enough to try.

2.       Choose based on the season
We are currently in the winter season, which does put a limit on exercise options. Don’t forget the health benefits and mental benefits of having a fun day laughing while playing in the snow and sledding as a family. Other winter exercise activities include ice skating, roller skating, and indoor trampoline arenas. Set the tone of the day by showing how excited you are, and remember to model resiliency for your children if your ice skating skills are as strong as you remember them to be… get back up if you fall again! In the warmer months, something as simple as taking the dog for a long walk in the park together as a family is a great option.

3.       Simple choices add up
Decide to take the stairs instead of the elevator and see who makes it up the quickest. Select a parking spot in the back of the parking lot and enjoy the extra time outside in the fresh air. Making it a habit to take an after-dinner stroll as a family will lead to your kids automatically taking part in this activity.

Image by pexels

by Nicole Filiberti

How can I get my toddler with special needs to eat healthier?

Q: I have a child with special needs (Autism Spectrum Disorder). How do I get him to try new foods when he has issues with texture? When I try to get him to eat different types of veggies or fruits he will gag. His weight is normal and he is tall for his age but I worry because he doesn’t seem to eat enough. Thank you.

A: Know that every mother worries that her child may not be eating enough, but you may want to shift your focus from quantity to quality.  What is the quality of the foods that he eats? Does he eat some fruits and vegetables and the bulk is carbs? Is he able to handle some sources of protein.  If so, you are in good shape. Or is he eating primarily from one general food group?  This may limit the nutrients that he needs to keep his insides healthy.

Think about the array of foods that your son eats – what does his menu look like from day to day? Does he have an array from foods that he can tolerate?  If there is a particular texture that he enjoys, then try to bring in new foods and textures using that as your stable texture by which to introduce new ones.  By that I mean, if your son likes the texture of applesauce, then you may want to introduce a new food, such as carrots along side the applesauce.  Your son already has a good association with the applesauce and may be more accepting of the carrots if they sit beside the applesauce. You may even encourage him to dip the carrot in the applesauce!

Also, if he likes the texture of applesauce, how about introducing him to a similar texture, such as tomato sauce, a cream of broccoli/mushroom soup or yogurt? Many mothers have been able to sneak in extra vitamins and minerals by pureeing healthy vegetables and adding them to tomato sauce that is served over pasta! You can find these type of recipes in books such as Deceptively Delicious   or The Sneaky Chef.

Another mommy-strategy is to alter the texture of some fruits and vegetables by baking or cooking them. For example, if your son is turned off by a hard apple, how about baking it so that it’s softer and easier to chew and swallow? If a hard carrot is too much work or is just not appealing, how about boiling up some carrot coins? Also, if he likes a particular condiment, such as ketchup, mustard or a particular type of salad dressing, add a dollop of that next to the new vegetable and let him experiment with the flavor by using a familiar one that he likes, and just happens to be sitting right there on his plate… or at least nearby!

Another thing to keep in mind as well is that your son may not be interested in a new food/texture right away. He may need 10-15 exposures (that is, just placing it on the dinner table or on his plate) before he is interested in trying it. Don’t turn it into a power struggle – expose him to the new food/texture and let him explore it. He may poke at it, smoosh it between his fingers or squeeze it in his hand. Just watch and try to stay neutral about it.  You may want to ask him how it feels in his hand and wait to see if he progresses to placing the new food/texture in his mouth as another form of exploration. He may surprise himself and you and actually like it!

It’s very easy to get frustrated or impatient if you find that your efforts are not well received by your son, but know that it will take time for your son to accept a new food/texture. Try to avoid threatening, bribing, begging, or demanding that he try a new food. Let it be his choice, which also puts him in a position of control.  Introduce a new food/texture once every 3-4 weeks and keep exposing your son to the new food several times during that time. You may find it helpful to maintain a log of which new food you have introduced, when, how often, the way you prepared it, and your son’s response to it.  Keep this log and refer to it as you will begin to see patterns in your son’s preferences. This may be helpful in deciding which new flavor or texture to introduce next.

Image by: Pexels

by Dr. Liz Matheis, Ph.D
"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

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