How to Best Support Your Child with a Learning Disability

As a parent, we’re often troubleshooting challenges as they happen. So when you suspect your child may have a learning disability, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and how to obtain the resources to best support your child.

​To help streamline your next steps, we spoke with Dr. Liz Matheis, a licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified School Psychologist who specializes in assisting children and their families with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety and learning/behavioral disorders.

Click Here for the Full Interview

by Sarah Sanchez, NDTR, Shield Healthcare

The Do’s and Don’ts of Parenting an Anxious Teen

I have always been drawn to working with teenagers. They are goofy, funny, and their blooming personalities are fun to watch and experience. I bond well with teens, professionally, and feel that I can reach them. Perhaps because I am a first-generation Egyptian in not only the United States, but New Jersey nonetheless: I felt very torn between being an Egyptian and an American. I struggled to blend my two worlds and figure out who I was in the midst of it all.

My mother and father maintained a circle of friends who were also immigrants to the United States. We attended an Egyptian church weekly, and this was a large part of our social life. Our friends were other Egyptian-American teens and each week, we gathered together and shared our stories about our parents’ “ridiculous” views while our parents shared their favorite meals and nostalgic stories of the motherland. I had no idea where I fit in and how to balance and manage the expectations of our culture, religion and our life in a non-Egyptian community. I wish I had someone to talk to. Someone to validate the angst I felt well into my late 20s.

Now, let’s blast forward to the present where I am waiting for my son while he gets his hair cut. He’s darting looks at me while sending a text, “Don’t come near me.” Just to make this visual complete, I am sitting about 10 feet away from him. But he waves me over and asks, “What do you think? Short enough?”

I’m so confused.

That’s my boy: He’s in the midst of a time of physical growth, emotional chaos, social changes (constantly), insecurity, and trying to figure out his identity. He’s not alone. Adolescent boys and girls everywhere struggle with anxiety, and so is my adolescent boy…

Photo from: Pexels

by Dr. Liz Matheis and Psychology Today

Cyber Bullying: What You Need to Know

Once again, our local Girl Scout, Hannah T from Parsippany, has prepared another blog for us about cyberbullying as she continues to work towards the completion of her Girl Scout Gold Award. The goal of her project is to bring awareness to the issue of social media, internet safety and cyberbullying by creating and presenting on the topic, creating posters, and writing blogs and articles.  Her hope is to educate adolescents and their parents about the subtle hazards of social media by also providing strategies when social media gets ugly.

What Is Cyber Bullying?
Bullying is a term that’s been around for a long time. Parents understand bullying to be physical harm caused by one child to another, for some or no reason at all. The intent is to cause harm, fear, or intimidation. Well, let’s fast forward to our present day with Snap Chat, Instagram, Facebook, and whatever else that’s here or about to be here. Cyber-bullying is here. What is that exactly? It’s when a child/adolescent is being targeted and harmed by interactions over social media/the internet. However, past this definition, it can make teens feel isolated, hopeless, and cause them to lose interest in things they normally love to do. With that said, if your child shares with you that she is the recipient of a rude or hurtful message on social media, you need to know how to mediate these situations.

In the past, before the internet and social media, when someone was bullied in school, when they went home, they were able to gain a break from the bullying. Presently, that barrier doesn’t exist anymore. The bullying persists because of one tap on their phone screen and it’s right there. There is no break of respite from this type of bullying, and it is vital for parents to step in.

What Should Your Child Do?
If your child comes to you with an instance of cyberbullying, whether it be a conflict they had with a friend through text messages, a post directed at him on Instagram, or someone posting pictures of him on Snapchat without permission, the very first thing to do is make sure your child takes a screenshot (picture) of the text, photo, and comments. If the other child chooses to delete her texts or conversations, you still have a copy of the content.

Even more importantly, make sure that your child does not reply to the messages in any way since this will just give the bully the reaction he or she would like. If your child has already replied, still screenshot the conversation, but your child will also then be partaking in cyberbullying, even if they did not act first.

Next, you’ll want to have your child block the person the cyberbullying is coming from, so this doesn’t continue to happen. Also, don’t just have your child block them on the site where the bullying is taking place, have your child block them on all social media platforms where they can possibly be contacted. This will truly ensure the bully won’t be able to contact your child any longer.

What Should I Do?
You should probably keep a close eye on your child’s phone and social media accounts, just in case the bully finds another way to contact your child. If you feel as though the situation is not handled, bring the screenshots/pictures of the cyberbullying to your child’s school principal, and they have to act on the messages they see. Finally, make sure to be comforting and uplifting to your child.

Being cyberbullied makes kids feel helpless, inferior, alone, dissatisfied with themselves, and many other awful feelings. Instead of making your child feel punished by taking her phone, just establish that if anything else happens, she needs to come to you first. Depending on the severity of the cyberbullying, your child may also need to be comforted as well. If your child is highly distressed, you may want to seek counseling.

Remind your child that people only bully others when they aren’t happy with themselves and that the bully’s messages are meant to create fear, panic, and hurt self-esteem. Additionally, try to spend more time with your child, or set limits on phone use. When teens are off their phones and having fun with their friends and family, problems over social media seem less impactful to them, which is what your goal to be as a parent in this situation; help your child realize that the bully is insignificant and shouldn’t be allowed to take over their mood and happiness.

Overall, teens who are being cyberbullied need guidance and support during this time. Bond with your child, listen, offer advice, and sympathize. Seek private counseling if the impact of the cyberbullying is pervasive and begins to negatively impact the ability to attend school, maintain friendships, engage with family members, complete homework, and study for tests. The ultimate goal is to not become punitive but rather to sympathize and problem solve together while maintaining general life activities and family time. ​

Photo from: Pexels

by Hannah T

How I’m Growing Resilient Children

As a mom of four, I am always on the go, and I make mistakes. Some days run smoothly and others, I am barely making it to the finish line. I also realize that as a therapist, we have a running dialogue in our head. We judge ourselves as parents, we judge our decisions, we judge our outcomes. I am trying to become more aware of the messages that I feed my heart and body each day and transform them into more positive messages, which will ultimately flow into my children’s daily lives.

I am a flawed mama. We are all flawed mamas, and that’s more than okay! Unfortunately, we live in a time of rabid social media where moms everywhere are posting their wonderful motherhood moments, with, what looks like, perfect children in a perfect marriage, an organized home, educational field trips, and three organic meals per day. Social media is a wonderful medium of communication, but I think we may have lost our focus here. Instead, let’s focus on how to plant the seeds of resilience in our everyday interactions with our children

Close The Circle
I lose my temper but when I do, after I have cooled down, I apologize to my kids. My hope is to close the circle and show them how I am using my words to repair and improve our communication. Sometimes, I lose my mind over Fortnight and that is okay too. I want my children to see that there will be conflicts and disagreements in life, but it is how we handle them that will make us stronger people as well as build a relationship. I want my children to know that it’s okay to lose your temper, but it is also important to turn around and apologize. It’s okay to be humble and to admit to a moment (or two) of bad judgment. I hope that this also lets them know that when they make mistakes in their adolescence and young adulthood (and they will!), it’s important for them to close the circle and attempt to make it right. I hope that my kids will internalize these conversations into their own internal ‘scripts” to use when problem solving in their own head.

Use Positive Self Talk
As parents, we have flaws. I own my flaws and I work on them – some days better than others. With that said, I realized that by reacting to my mistakes (oops! Sorry, honey, I forgot to pack your lunch last night!) with kindness towards myself, or by making a joke, my kids will see that I am not using negative language towards my mistakes and I am embracing that I am a human who makes errors (lots of them!).

Another classic positive self-talk phrase I like to use is, “I can do this!” I want my kids to see that I am afraid too, but that I’m going to use my fear to drive me towards my goal. Although certain tasks, academic or athletic skills may look like they come easily to some, sometimes it’s trying again and again (perseverance) is needed to ‘figure it out’ along the way. Learn from our errors, pick ourselves back up and come up with plan B when plan A doesn’t work. That’s true resilience right there. The grit that makes us resourceful and tough teenagers, young adults and ultimately adults.

Get Back Up
I have a blackboard hanging in my kitchen with the phrase, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up” (credited to Vince Lombardi). This mantra has set the stage for my family to focus not on life’s struggles but how you cope with them. In today’s society (and I am guilty of it too at times), helicopter parents hover over their children which prevents them from that when they fall, that they are capable of getting back up. Although it feels like I am keeping my child safe, I am robbing them of an opportunity to build resiliency.

Caroline Bologna, wrote “You Need To Teach Your Kids How To Fail: Here’s How” (see full article here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teaching-kids-failure-resilience_l_5c882690e4b038892f485ba9) in which she describes hovering parents who do not allow their child to fail for fear of disappointment as not only the helicopter parent, but the ‘snow plow parent,’ the ‘lawn mower parent’ or even ‘curling parents’.

All of these parents have the same goal – don’t let my child fail. The long-term detriment that this type of parenting style creates far outweighs the benefits gained in the short-term. I urge you to not only to stop being a ‘lawn mower; but to encourage your kids to mow the lawn too, both figuratively and for real!

Photo from: Pexels

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

Internet Safety

The internet can be a wonderful resource for many different things. The convenience of online shopping, research for your son’s science project, and the ability to connect with people from your past through social media accounts…what’s not to love?! Though there are many benefits to the internet and having such easy access to these things, there are also some significant safety risks that come along with its usage. This is especially important for parents with sons or daughters who use the internet. Here are a few tips for ensuring that you and your family are using the internet safely.


Keep An Open Line of Communication


Engage your kids in a conversation about the internet on a regular basis. Review what the right steps are if they were to ever see anything that makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. By creating an open dialogue such as this, you are showing them that you are there to help them if they ever come across anything inappropriate. Also, engage them in a conversation about cyber bullying and how they should speak up if they see anything like that happening on the internet. 


Make Your Expectations Clear


Tell your kids that they are not to give out any personal information online. Tell them they are not to send pictures to others and absolutely are not to make plans to meet up with anyone they speak to on the internet. It is also helpful to have computers in a common area of the house, instead of in children’s bedrooms, where you can more closely monitor their online activity. With smartphones and other devices, use your judgement on whether or not to allow your children to use their devices by themselves. 


​Model Appropriate Internet Behavior

Be sure you are not saying one thing to your kids and then doing the opposite. Take time to go on the internet together with your children and show them appropriate internet safety practices. Use this time to show them how you would not download anything without first knowing what it was. Show them how you are mindful about what you may chose to post on your social media accounts, since once things are posted there is no taking them back. 

By following these tips, you will be proactively taking the approach of safe and productive internet use. The internet can be an extremely useful asset in many ways, but it has to be used appropriately. Keep an open dialogue and tell your children that it is okay for them to speak up if they come across anything concerning.

Photo from: Pexels

by Nicole Filiberti, MSW, LCSW

The Pendulum of Parenting Has Swung Too Far

Today, we feel the need to have an active role in every part of our kids’ lives. It is entirely different from parents in the ’70s and ’80s! Of course, we are trying to assure our kids’ have wonderful lives. However, this has made us parents swing the pendulum! 

So, how can we raise kids who pursue, develop, and maintain healthy goals, careers, and relationships? 

In today’s blog, featured on ADDitude Mag, Dr. Liz discusses the importance of balance in our own lives, and our children’s lives. She further explains how letting our kids make mistakes, take initiative in their social or academic lives, and explore on their own can help strengthen their social skills, problem solving skills, and independence!

COLLEGE AND OTHER TRANSITIONS, SOCIAL MEDIA HELP OR HURT?

The transition from high school to college can be daunting. What can make it even worse is when your child’s first year college experience dosen’t live up to their expectations, which are often based off what they see on social media. This blog from ScreenAgers talks about how social media may influence your teen’s transition into college, and provides tips on how to talk to your child about social media!

Teenage Anxiety

When you are asked to describe your teenager, what are some of the adjectives you would use? Moody, angry, nervous, sensitive or emotional? This stage of life is loaded with intense feelings and drama. Remember your teenage years? But while all of these feelings are age appropriate there has been a significant increase of teenagers who have reported having anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder is the leading mental health issue among American teens, and clinicians and research both suggest it is rising. According to KidsHealth.org experts don’t know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. Several things seem to play a role, including genetics, brain biochemistry, an overactive fight–flight response, stressful life circumstances, and learned behavior. There is no one size fits all solution or pill for anxiety but I do have a few logical and out of the box ideas that may help your teen ease some anxiety.

The Bully of the Brain
Teen anxiety is not only debilitating for your teen, it is debilitating for the whole family. People experience anxiety because the amygdala thinks there might be something it needs to protect you from. The amygdala is the security guard of the brain and it decides what is safe and not safe. If it feels like you are not safe, it’s very easy for the amygdala to get overactivated and can become the “bully in the brain”. When this happens, it surges your body with a mix of neurochemicals (including oxygen, hormones and adrenaline), designed to make you stronger, faster, more alert and more powerful so you can fight for your life or run for it. This is the fight or flight response. It’s normal and healthy and it’s in everyone. In people with anxiety, it’s just a little quicker to activate.

The amygdala can’t always tell the difference between something that might hurt you (like a basketball coming at your head) and something that won’t (like walking into school) – and it doesn’t care. All it wants to do is keep you safe. 

Fight or Flight Over Drive
Everything you feel when you have anxiety is to do with your body getting ready to fight or flee, when there is actually no need for either. When there’s nothing to flee or nothing to fight, there is nothing to burn the neurochemical fuel that is surging through you. The fuel builds up and that’s why anxiety feels the way it does.

You may hear your teen say, “My stomach and head hurt!” and the above explanation is why.  So, understanding why anxiety feels the way it does can be one of your greatest tools in managing it. 

Resources and Strategies for You and Your Teen
Here are some other resources for families that are parenting teens with anxiety:

GoZen!: is an anxiety/stress relief program that can be found on-line: 6 modules that teach kids to understand and control their anxiety.

Mindfulness: many studies have shown that mindfulness can help ease anxiety. Here are some on-line resources and books that describe benefit of mindfulness. The goal of mindfulness is to become aware of our bodily sensations when we are anxious, and then using specific visualizations and breathing techniques to decrease that hijacked feeling to regain control and feelings of calm and well being.

A journal for writing AKA a worry journal
Psycom.net recommends keeping a worry journal. It may help teens see how their anxious thoughts improve over time. Writing the worries of the day followed by one positive thought helps break the cycle of negative thinking that can exacerbate anxiety.

Providing your teen with coping mechanisms and a tool box may help with their anxiety disorder. If you find that the coping mechanisms that you and your teen created are not working in your favor can also find a therapist that can help them build these skills.

by Chrissy Sunberg, M.Ed., AAC

Suicidality and Our Children

Today’s youths are immersed in a world that is technological, fast paced, and sometimes, just cruel. A so-called culture of violence is portrayed in video games and echoed in today’s media. Most youth are exposed to music and television which promote the use of drugs and alcohol and present suicide as a solution to problems. Some suggest that 15 years ago there was not as much hostility in the world which exists today.


No age left behind

What we do know is suicide is affecting our youth much more than generations before. Suicide among teens and young adults has nearly tripled since the 1940’s. In two days this month, June 5th and June 6th, 2018, two successful and well-established humans, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both committed suicide. We often think of suicidality affecting our children and teens, but it affects people of all ages. It affects people who are so anxious or so depressed that they feel that the only way out is to bring their life to an end.
According to the CDC, Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year.  Remember Mallory Grossman, a young 12-year-old middle school student who was bullied and brought her life to an end on June 14, 2017? Suicidality knows no age.
Suicide does not discriminate, but some groups are at higher risk than others. Boys are more likely to go through with suicide. Girls, however, are more likely to report attempting suicide and expressing suicidal ideation than boys.
A nationwide survey of high school students in the U.S. found Hispanic youth were more likely to report attempting suicide than their black and white, non-Hispanic peers. Moreover, The Office of HIV/AIDS Policy on Bullying and Teen Suicide reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual teens are seven times more likely to have reported attempting suicide than their peers (2010).

The Teen Years

The teenage years can be a tumultuous time for many young people and their caregivers. Teens are balancing peer relationships, academics, body image, emotional instability, bullying, and not to mention developmental and hormonal changes. All issues that can prove to be confusing and unsettling for many teens.
As parents and caretakers, there are certain behaviors that are red flag warnings that our children are struggling.

  • Agitated mood
  • Unusual anger
  • Recklessness
  • Cutting
  • Sleeping more or sleeping less
  • Eating more or eating less
  • Using substances to self medicate
  • High anxiety
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Talking about “what if” they no longer existed or if their life came to an end

Among younger children, suicide attempts are often impulsive. They may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or problems with attention and hyperactivity.
Among teenagers, suicide attempts may be associated with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment, and loss. For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems.

“13 Reasons Why”

With the release of Netflix’s drama 13 Reasons Why, researchers found a significant spike in internet searches using terms such as “how to commit suicide” and “how to kill yourself” for 19 days following the release of season 1 of “13 Reasons Why.”
Many experts warn that the show is doing more harm than good, and many families who have recently lost their son/daughter to suicide say the show triggered them. On the other hand, many people who support the show and say it raises awareness about the epidemic and loosely portrays the struggles that today’s youth experience. This community believes the show highlights the many layers that influence suicide in young teens, such as: bullying, cyberbullying, underage drinking/drug use, sexual assault, and guns in the home.
If your child has not yet watched this series, it is advisable to co-view the show with them. Co-viewing the show with your child can help you intervene and point out cyberbullying or sexual assault and ask your child if they have experienced this. If your child has already watched the show, take the time to discuss what he/she took away from the show. Discuss reality vs. fiction and how the show gives an unrealistic view of the help available for teens.

​How To Talk To Your Child About Suicidality

Despite what was portrayed in 13 Reasons Why, there is always help. Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable issues. In order for help to start, a parent or loved one will need to take notice of the warning signs and inform your child that resources are available. Suicide and depression are difficult topics to have with your young one, but it is imperative that you address the topic often and early on.
Ask your child,

  • “Are you feeling sad or depressed?”
  • “Have you ever thought about hurting or killing yourself?”
  • Do you have a plan, or Do you know how you would hurt yourself?

Many youth who experience depression and suicidal thoughts feel isolated in their feelings and disconnected from those around them. Often times they feel misunderstood by adults, and therefore, rarely reach out for help.
As a parent, if you are open and honest about your feelings, it signals to your child that they feel understood and connected. Be available to have this discussion if it comes up, and try not to use judgment. 

  • Listen but don’t judge
  • Validate your child’s struggles
  • Ask your child if he/she would like to speak to a therapist


Reach Out To Your Child’s School Counselor and Teachers

If your child is pulling away from peers and family, involve your child’s school. Inform your child’s school counselor or teacher that you are concerned and ask that they monitor them as well and report any unusual behavior. Sometimes if a child feels disconnected from family they may turn to a school counselor who is an unbiased support. As a parent, you may want to recommend counseling services at your child’s school. In addition, if your school counselor believes your son or daughter may need more help than their scope of practice they may refer your child for more comprehensive services. 

By knowing the signs, you increase your ability to open a dialogue that can prevent your teen from acting on his or her thoughts.

Resources:
Gomez, M. (2010). AIDS.gov. The HHS Office of HIV/AIDS Policy on Bullying and Teen Suicide
Suicide in Children and Teens: The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents: The American Academy of Pediatrics
by Miranda Dekker, LCSW

Opioid Use and Our Teens

In a world full of issues that makes turning on the evening news a sad event, the opioid epidemic taking place in our country is surely going to make the list. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs which, unlike other classes, includes both the legal or prescribed, and illegal kinds.

Unfortunately, New Jersey knows the pain of this epidemic a little too well. According to the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, there have been a recorded 1,138 overdose deaths in the state since January 1st 2018 (njcares.gov). Many studies on the topic have been conducted or are in the process of being carried out by experts across the nation. There are also a great deal of initiatives taking place right here in New Jersey to stop the increasing statistics.
Our teens are especially at risk because heroin is available and it’s “affordable”. With their still developing brains, they are likely to become addicted and not likely to access treatment.

Opioids By Name
We know these as prescription pain killers and there is a high physical and emotional addiction to them – they include: oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. There is also a synthetic opioid called fentanyl. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine can be addictive both physically and emotionally.
To get technical, opioids derive from the opium poppy plant and have both relaxing and pain relieving effects on the body. These effects can be very helpful to people suffering with pain, but are also the reason people use and abuse these substances for non-medical purposes.

Opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors that are located in cells all over the brain. This process results in the body feeling less pain and sense of euphoria. This is where the emotional addiction kicks in. There is also a significant amount of dopamine released throughout the body when someone uses opioids. This process is what strongly reinforces taking the drug repeatedly, as the user begins continuously craving that feeling.  (drugabuse.gov)

Training Our Medical Providers

NJ Cares was launched in February of this year to address this issue. It uses a team approach involving law enforcement officials and other agencies. Working with New Jersey police departments and Emergency Medical Technicians, NJ Cares provides these individuals with support and resources to help identify as well as provide assistance for people addicted to opioids. One of these resources is the usage of Statewide Opioid Response Teams (ORT), which is a 24/7 program in which crisis intervention is provided for individuals who are addicted to opioids.

Mental health advocates, substance abuse recovery advocates, and EMTs will work together with police officers to provide support and referrals to treatment programs for those who need them. Also, part of the ORT program is extensive training to members so they are well versed in de-escalation techniques and methods to utilize when working with those suffering from opioid addiction.

Many studies shed light on a central theme that plays a significant part in addressing this issue: doctors. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (aka SAMHSA), millions of people are prescribed opioid drugs each year to treat medical conditions that may lead to severe pain that is otherwise difficult to manage for patients. Such instances are pain following a surgery or a bone fracture. (samhsa.gov). Both SAMHSA and the CDC have launched programs that include continuing education for prescribers as well as information for patients so they can better determine if opioids are truly necessary and if so, to ensure they are continuously monitored and used appropriately.

The Stats
Another key aspect of NJ Cares is its creation of a website driven by data in real time. A quick look on NJCares.gov will show site visitors information on opioid overdoses broken down by county, as well as monthly reports. This website aims to show people in real time how significant of an issue this is and to inspire individuals to have a conversation about this very real problem.

Warning Signs that Your Child May be Addicted
Sudden changes in behavior can be caused by multiple factors, but one of significance is drug use. It is important to take note of changes in your adolescent’s mood and behavior, especially if they are suddenly appearing tired often or if they begin displaying a hostile attitude. The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists these other warning signs (drugabuse.gov):
– carelessness with grooming
– a change in peer group
– decline in academic performance
– missing classes or skipping school
– loss of interest in favorite activities
– changes in eating or sleeping habits
– deteriorating relationships with family members and friends

Treatment

The internet brings a wealth of resources to families in need of substance abuse treatment. SAMHSA runs a helpful service locator tool which can be found at findtreatment.samhsa.gov. SAMHSA also runs a 24/7 hotline which also provides referrals to local treatment facilities as well as support groups and community based agencies. This hotline phone number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Once an adolescent is discharged from a rehabilitation facility, there are various treatment options available to them. Finding a therapist who has substance abuse counseling experience is key when choosing a treatment provider. Another beneficial factor to look out for is to work with a therapist who utilizes a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach to treatment. CBT helps people in recovery identify negative thought patterns which are then linked to behaviors. CBT assists people struggling with addiction by assisting them in utilizing positive coping skills in response to harmful thought patterns, leading to an increase in emotional regulation.

Reducing the stigma surrounding substance abuse can help individuals suffering from substance abuse feel comfortable seeking out assistance when it is needed. Families should be encouraged to browse this website frequently and have discussions with each other on the topic, specifically developmentally appropriate conversations with children and adolescents from parents and guardians.

The opioid epidemic is a very real problem in New Jersey. There are a few steps individuals can take, whether they are being prescribed opioid drugs or they are community members who want to help reduce the stigma. Having these conversations is vital in addressing the issue and making much needed changes to these very concerning statistics.

Sources 
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide/frequently-asked-questions/what-are-signs-drug-use-in-adolescents-what-role-can-parents-play-in-getting-treatment
www.njcares.gov
https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html
https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/training-resources/opioid-courses

by Nicole Filiberti, LSW
"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