A Guide to Moving with Children Who Have Autism

A Guide to Moving with Children Who Have Autism

Written by Claire Bough

Featured on MyMove.com 

Moving becomes a part of our lives at many different stages: When we move away from our parents, relocate for a job opportunity, or find somewhere new to retire. No matter your circumstances, it can be a stressful process. And if you’re moving with a child with autism, it’s especially important to help relieve moving stress for both you and your kid.

It’s easier said than done, but relocating with a child with autism — and limiting stress while doing so — is entirely possible if you prepare and plan ahead. It’s important to maintain as much of your normal routine as possible and to consider additional ways to help kids with autism while you’re moving. Maintaining normalcy will help you and your children adjust quickly to your new home so you can settle in quicker and feel comfortable.

What is autism?

According to the advocacy site Autism Speaks, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) “refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, as of 2016, approximately one in 54 children is diagnosed with Autism in the U.S. Though it’s a relatively common developmental disability, it’s not commonly understood.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there are many different subtypes. The way ASD manifests, and the subsequent challenges and strengths that come along with it, can vary depending on the person.

“Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less,” the CDC reports.

So, the ways in which moving stress could impact your child may vary. This article outlines some best practices based on expert resources. But to truly prepare, you will need to consider your child’s triggers and previous experiences. We also recommend you discuss the impending move with medical professionals that you trust and who know your child.

The importance of routine in the lives of children with Autism

One of the effects of autism is difficulty processing sensory information, which ultimately affects behavior. Through changes in their environment, children with autism can easily experience sensory overload. Established routines are known to help prevent sensory overload by allowing children to expect predictable outcomes and relieve some of the chaos they might feel from too many changes. Maintaining as much of a routine as possible during your move while help your child feel more comfortable throughout such a big change.

How to prepare your child for an upcoming move:

When moving with a child with autism, you can prepare them using consistent communication and positive reinforcement. As their routine changes leading up to the move, you can offer rewards for completing new tasks like packing. Allowing your child to adjust to the new behaviors that come with moving will help ease stress and anxiety.

5 ways you make a move easier for your child…

 

Mindful Living During a Pandemic

Mindful Living During a Pandemic

Amanda Marshall, Psychology Intern

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken this year from us, and has created a lot of confusion, stress, anxiety, and frustration. Between remembering your PPE while running out to the grocery store, managing online instruction for the kids, working from home or experiencing job loss, and managing all the necessary day-to-day tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning – this is getting old quick! It can feel like a bag of bricks that we have been dragging around for months, and if you ask me, this is exhausting. When the world is swirling around us like this, and there are only so many things we can really control, it is important to take a step back. Practicing mindfulness is an effective tool for each of us to have in our back pocket.

Here are some tips for mindful living (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic):

Three Good Things. This practice, promoted in positive psychology, can help you to refocus your mind, build resilience, and encourage feelings of happiness and optimism. As we learn to adapt to living through these unusual times, it may be nice to start or end you day with Three Good Things. There is a lot of flexibility with how you choose to engage with this task as long as you include these main elements: (1) think of something good that you have in your life or that has happened recently; this can be something as simple as an enjoyable conversation with a friend, (2) reflect on how this positive thing impacts you and your life, and (3) take a moment to experience gratitude for the positive thing you have identified. Repeat these steps, identifying Three Good Things in your life. You may even enjoy journaling about these good things to have them to look back on when you are in need of a positive reminder.

Mindful Appreciation. This year, our routines have been dismantled, and many are struggling to find a new normal. As we move through each day, mindfulness and appreciation can help us to build a more positive mindset and provide moments for much needed reflection. To use these tools, allow yourself to have greater awareness of each of your activities throughout the day (eating, getting your kids ready, listening to the rain fall, or even sipping that first cup of coffee!) and allow yourself to acknowledge the significance of each of these small things. Sometimes the repetition of our daily routine can overshadow the simple joys, so try to draw your attention in on these moments and intentionally dedicate a thought to appreciating what is there in front of you. Recognizing the small things in life can help us to gain a more positive outlook and have greater appreciation for where we are today, instead of concern for where we will be tomorrow.

Meditation and Laughter. Sometimes finding much needed balance in life can feel impossible, but meditation and laughter can help us to achieve some of that balance by reclaiming our calm and enjoying life out loud. Meditation is quiet, purposeful, and allows the mind to rest and reduce anxiety. Laughter can be loud, it releases tension in the body and helps to alleviate stress. Laughter has an immediate effect, increasing positive feelings, stimulating the heart and lungs, and releasing endorphins in the brain. I think we could all use a bit more laughter in our lives, especially when life feels uncertain and stressful. Finding ways to incorporate meditation into your day (even if it is only 3 or 5 minutes!) and finding ways to laugh throughout each day can lead to wonderful long-term benefits and are simple ways to engage in self-care.

Life may feel uncertain right now. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but these are just a few small ways that we can encourage a more positive mindset, brighten our day, and engage in some much-needed self-care.

HOW STRESS CAN AFFECT YOUR HEALTH

How Stress Can Affect Your Health

by Healing Hands Chiropractic Staff 

Stress is bad for your health, but everyone deals with it. That’s why it’s important to learn to manage your mental health. Here at Healing Hands Chiropractic, we have a few tips to help you out.

WHAT IS STRESS A SIGN OF?

This is your body’s natural reaction to any stimulus or change in your environment. Even just thinking about something can cause you to feel stressed. The body reacts emotionally, physically, and mentally to these changes in varying degrees.

image by pexels

Hey Parents in 2020… Be kind to Yourself

Hey, You!

Yeah, You, trying to parent in 2020:

Be kind to yourself!

Written by Michelle Molle-Krowiak, LCSW, Ed.S.

Parenting in 2020 is a challenge like no other. Looking back, it is odd to think that the typical chaos of December and January were simpler times compared to what are handling now. Over the past few months children and families have been exhausted. So many are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression as a byproduct of this new world. It has been a long Spring filled with unprecedented challenges and it seems that there are still many more challenges to come as we transition into Fall.

 

One of these unique to 2020 challenges is deciding whether to send our children back to school this Fall. There are many perspectives circulating about what the best option is. But the truth is, this is a really complicated issue, there is no one right answer, and we are all just trying to do our best.

 

At the end of the day, every parent must make a decision that they feel comfortable with for their family. Some parents may prefer and be able to keep their children home, while others may feel that sending their children back to school is the best option.

 

Both choices are valid.

Both choices will present their own challenges.

Both parents love their children and are just trying to do their best.

 

During these difficult times, we need to come together as a community to support one another. We must do this without extending judgement to those who make a different choice than ourselves. Each family is weighing their options, sometimes without even being sure what options will be provided by their school district. Families are contemplating the potential costs and benefits of sending their kids to school or keeping them home. They are doing so with consideration for their financial circumstances, their child’s social and educational needs, childcare, work schedules, and a variety of other impacting factors. We may not know the struggles others are facing, and they may not know ours. Having to make these decisions can cause stress, anxiety, and guilt. It is just one more thing you have to worry about – as if life wasn’t already complicated enough!

 

This is not easy for anyone.

Here at PEC, we have each chosen to dedicate ourselves to supporting you and holding space with you as you navigate these challenges. It is our honored role to do so, and we want each of you to know that we are here for you.

 

We see you.

We hear you.

We will get through this together.

 

Moving forward, give yourself some credit. While life may feel disorganized and unpredictable, you have risen to the challenge. Even if you don’t feel like a hero, you have done something incredible and you need to allow yourself to be proud of the small feats. Life is not ‘normal’ right now, so you need to adjust the expectations you put on yourself and consider what is realistic for you in light of the current circumstances.

 

Don’t be so hard on yourself!

 

In fact, spend some time celebrating your small victories.

 

You deserve it.

 

Today, I challenge you to take some time to care for yourself. Here are 3 key points to help organize your body, mind, and soul:

Spread Kindness. Spreading kindness fills your emotional bucket as well as others. Sometimes a simple smile or a kind word can change someone’s day. Most of all, be kind to yourself. Take a moment to reflect on a challenge you have overcome and allow yourself to proud of it. Practice kindness by spending some time today doing something that you enjoy – something that brings you peace or happiness. A little bit of positivity can go a long way.

 

Find Your Calm. Take a moment to breathe. Throughout the day you may experience frustration, anger, anxiety, or controversy. Sometimes reacting based on our emotions does more harm than good. Try to be mindful of your experience and shift from the emotional reaction to a more purposeful response. Our breath is powerful. It empowers us to choose responses that are more constructive and healthier. Through this, we practice kindness and demonstrate respect for others and our own mental health.

 

Take Control by Letting Go. At this moment in time, it can feel like life is happening to you without your permission. There are so many things that we cannot control, and for those us who are anxious by nature, that can feel terrifying. Sometimes we feel like we need to be on top of everything or something will certainly go wrong. The truth is, we are not very good multitaskers and when we try to do this, we spread ourselves too thin. Take a moment to think about all the things weighing on your mind. Now choose one to put aside for now. Give yourself a little relief and know that it is OK to not be able to do it all. Ultimately, you are in control of your own life, thoughts, choices, and emotions. Sometimes we have to be reminded to let go of the things we cannot control or change in that moment. We must allow ourselves to find some relief.

Through practicing these 3 key points, you will find you are creating the power within you to make a difference for yourself and others.

 

From all of us here at PEC, we wish you a restorative summer of healing and some relief from the difficulties of life.

 

Free Webinar – Conscious Parenting: Staying Sane Through the Summer

Free Webinar – Conscious Parenting: Staying Sane Through the Summer

Parenting is an ongoing learning process, and many parents are reporting intensified challenges that are arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please join Samantha Curiale-Feinman, Director, New Frontiers Executive Function Coaching, and Dr. Liz Matheis, Clinical Psychologist, Psychological & Educational Consulting, Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 1pm for a discussion on what conscious parenting is, how the pandemic has affected parenting, tips on how we can structure the rest of the summer to parent proactively, and much more.

Samantha Curiale-Feinman and Dr. Liz Matheis

How I’m Teaching My Child About Racism While Educating Myself

How I’m Teaching My Child About Racism While Educating Myself

Written by Heidi Borst

Featured on TheMighty

Recently, my family relocated from the Northeast to the Southeast, and we joined our neighborhood country club, located on a road ending in “plantation.” My 7-year old son asked what the word meant — he’d never heard of a plantation before. I considered my response carefully; should I tell him it was a type of farm, and leave it at that, saving myself from an uncomfortable conversation? Or should I take this opportunity to teach my child about a malicious aspect of our history many of us like to pretend didn’t exist?

I chose the latter, knowing it would lead to a much more complex discussion. I also knew, finally, that avoiding these difficult conversations only contributed to the perpetuation of racial bias, and I had a responsibility to speak up.

I took a deep breath and began, “Well, a plantation was a type of farm that grew different kinds of crops, like cotton and tobacco. The owners used slaves to work the land, and they were treated very badly, like property instead of like humans.

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

How to Help Young Children Feel Secure in Uncertain Times

How to Help Young Children Feel Secure in Uncertain Times

Written by Dr. Liz Matheis

It’s been almost two months since we started to quarantine due to COVID 19, and we, as adults, are pretty spent. Our children – especially younger ones – continue to be baffled by what is happening and why they can’t go to school, see their friends or their grandparents, cousins, or go to the store. Their little lives have been changed dramatically, and this change took place rather quickly.

Many of us adults didn’t think this would last this long and that we would return to ‘life as usual’ sooner than later. However, that’s not the case and you may be noticing that your toddlers and young children are sad, angry or becoming increasingly anxious in these uncertain times.

You may be noticing the following behaviors

  • Inflexibility – e.g., “I want the red cup!” and no other cup will do
  • Tearfulness over things that didn’t create tears before quarantine
  • A greater number of meltdowns over “small” things
  • Physically clinging to Mom or Dad
  • Becoming anxious if Mom or Dad leave the room
  • Hitting
  • Biting
  • Regression in potty training
  • Middle of the night wake visits

The Standards of “Shoulds”

The Standards of “Shoulds”

Jennifer Mandato, LAC

As I sit home in the silence of this quarantine, my mind is riddled with “should’s”.

I should be cleaning my house more…. I should be exercising more…. I should be practicing more mindfulness…. Those are only a few that I hear daily.  I felt because I am home more SHOULD be able to get done.  Then one day as I was unwinding after work scrolling through social media, I came across this quote by Jenny Jaffe “You’re only unproductive by the standards of the world we live in two months ago and that world is gone”. Almost instantly I felt myself exhale and a weight lifted off my shoulders.  In that moment with everything going on that was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I was comparing myself to our previous normal of what I could get done but things are not that way.  I cannot go to stores and go about daily routines as I used to.  Our world is very different now and what I can accomplish in a day is enough.  What we can do on a given day under the circumstances is enough.  This quote has almost become a daily mantra to remind myself of as to know I am doing everything I can and that is enough.  What you are doing is enough and breathe!

 

 

Image source unknown

Dear COVID-19: Why I’m Angry but Grateful

Dear COVID-19: Why I’m Angry but Grateful

Written by Dr. Liz Matheis

Dear COVID-19,

I can’t believe how you, a virus, have taken our world and turned it upside down. You have shutdown our world, isolated us, taken away our ability to hug and to lay a warm hand on another’s shoulder who is not in our immediate home. You have taken away our ability to work outside of our homes, physically sit in a restaurant and enjoy a meal or go to the movies.

You have taken away our children’s milestones, planning for a vacation and ability to go into stores without being panicked. You have taken away our ability to be human interacting with humans.

I’m so mad at you!

I feel isolated, sad, anxious and tired because I can’t sleep without waking up…

 

Image by Pexels

"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