30 Apr 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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How to Recognise Anxiety in Childhood

Most children experience worry and/or fear about a range of things growing up. For example many children will go through a phase of fear of the dark only to grow out of this. Some children though develop worries and fears that seem to stay put and start to impact on their quality of life.

No one really knows why some children experience anxiety more than others. Some children are born with an anxious temperament which makes them vulnerable to worrying. Some children unfortunately are exposed to life events which teach them that the world can be a scary place. And for some, it may simply be about a need to be taught how to cope with worries.

There are all kinds of anxiety disorders in childhood however they have a few common elements. Firstly the child will have a re-occurring and persistent worry or fear about something that lasts for at least six months. Anxious feelings are often accompanied by complaints of sore tummies, headaches and other physical symptoms. For some children their worries affect their sleep with some finding it harder to fall asleep and/or some finding it hard to stay asleep.

Children’s thinking can also change, with children spending a lot of time engaging in “worry” thinking. Parents often find themselves spending a lot of time providing reassurance.

And lastly, children will at some point want to avoid the thing that is causing them concern. For some children this may involve wanting to stay home, rather than go to school. For others it may look like refusal to do things that they normally would and could.

The key to breaking out of this pattern is to help the child develop positive coping strategies. There are a lot of great online resources that can help parents. Our team of psychologists at the Child Wellbeing Centre are also able to help children overcome their anxiety.

Please call Tracey on 9274 7062 for more information.

27 Apr 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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When to seek assessments for autism spectrum disorders

I was a school last term observing a young client of mine during recess when an education assistant came up to me and asked whether “8 years old” was too late for an autism assessment.

As some of you will know, I will see children and families at the Centre for autism assessments. I often get asked this question. The good news is that it is is never too late for an autism assessment. Children, adolescents and adults can be seen for assessment at any time. Research compels us though to advocate for early assessment as this usually leads to early intervention. It also gives us a chance to talk to families of children who don’t receive a diagnosis about next steps and supports.

An assessment can happen at any age. The advice that I give to families though is that if you intend to seek an assessment it’s best to time your assessment before the child turns 12 years of age. Aside from an easier assessment process, it also allows time to plan for issues such as transition to high school.

Whenever a parent decides to request an assessment keep in mind that parents play an active part in the process. You know your child better than anyone else and the assessment team will want to partner with you in understanding your child strengths and weaknesses.

Referrals for assessment usually start with seeing a paediatrician. Your GP will need to refer you to either the appropriate government service or a private paediatrician. Wait-lists will vary according to the age of the child – which is another reason not to leave assessments too late!

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

25 Apr 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Explaining ANZAC Day to Young Children

Explaining ANZAC Day to Children

ANZAC Day is an important day for many Australians, when we recognise the service of defence personnel past and present, and in particular the anniversary of the troops landing in Gallipoli.

Children may learn about ANZAC Day at school through specific lessons and remembrance ceremonies. At home, children may want to talk about ANZAC Day further, which might include aspects of war. Answering their questions can be tricky. We want to tell the truth but at the same time not give them so much information that we take away their sense of safety about the world.

It is important to consider how much your child might be able to cope with both intellectually and emotionally. This is going to vary from child to child, and with children of different ages.

For young children (around 4 to 8 years), we want to encourage questions but keep the messages simple and reassuring:

  • It’s a day when we remember and thank everyone that has helped to look after our country
  • It’s a day when we are say thank you and are grateful that we live in a such a great country
  • It’s a day when we remember that we have to look after everyone that lives in our community, including our older people who helped make it so great.

In these discussions we want to gauge how our children are managing this information, and not provoke or exacerbate any feelings of anxiety.

If they are very concerned, keep reflections to past or offshore events, and discuss how in Australia we are now safe. For tender hearts, the details of death and destruction can be postponed until it can be better managed with maturity. Remember that anxious and sensitive children can generalise their fears, and it is best to not avoid but hear them voice these concerns so that they may be addressed specifically.

Our children will continue to process these concepts as they grow older, and develop their own opinions with influences from many sources, including your values as their parents.

If you are ever need assistance with any of this, you have the support from our Psychology Team. Just call Tracey at the Centre on 9274 7062  to make an appointment with one of our experienced psychologists.

Naomi Ward and Sharon Jones

Child Wellbeing Centre

24 Apr 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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ABACAS Tuesdays – Learning to Learn Skills

Ever wonder why your child, who you know is so clever, might be struggling in school or to pay attention to others? They might need to work on a set of skills called “Learning to Learn”! Learning to Learn skills are the foundation skills a child needs before they can learn effectively in places like a classroom or in therapy sessions.

ABA can help children to achieve these skills by breaking them down into small, achievable parts, and scaffolding them into a whole skill set for your child. Skills like sitting on your bottom with still feet, making eye contact with a teacher, and waiting for a peer to finish speaking before asking a question are all a part of this group. Without some of these skills, children are not able to experience the full benefits from their daily experiences.

Because ABA is always focused on being applied, generalised and effective, we can work with your child 1:1 or provide training and interventions to teachers or carers who can support learning these skills in the context they need to be used.

If you have a child who might benefit from these skills, or are a professional who would like to learn how to foster them please contact Jenny Lin, Program Manager on 9274 7062.

24 Apr 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Holding the line – consistency and temper tantrums

Last week (while on holidays) I sat in a food hall with my family admiring the way another parent was managing their four year old’s temper tantrum. I wasn’t there for that purpose but these things happen when you least expect them.

As far as temper tantrums go this was a good one – kicking, screaming, crying, and shouting out loud “I hate you”. The trigger? The family were at the bakery and the parent (after much negotiation with two children) bought a ginger bread man to share between two. As soon as she went to buy it, the child in question started telling the mother that he wanted his own. From there it escalated…

What I admired about this mum is she held the line. She didn’t give in and buy two ginger bread men as it would have been so easy to do. She told the child “no” and dealt with the consequences. She ignored the impatient sales assistant and stuck to her guns.  The child could be heard screaming all the way to the exit and on a couple of occasions made a break from his mother and ran back towards the bakery. She calmly picked him up and hustled him to the car. I don’t know what happened in the end but I admired her calm response (when under considerable fire).

Temper tantrums are stressful in public (and at home too). Staying firm and consistent is so important no matter where you are. Here are some thoughts about how to stay strong:

  • Start as you mean to go. Do you really want your child behaving this way as a 16 year old? It’s important to start early to help children learn both how to self-regulate and to accept disappointment. You’re not going to hand over your credit card to a demanding 16 year old are you? At least I hope not!
  • Remind yourself that no matter how bad it is, it will be over soon. For some of us that might mean 20 mins for some, longer. The longer you hold the line, the shorter the temper tantrum becomes over time…until there are few to no tantrums.
  • Ignore the hurtful words. The four year old screaming “I hate you” doesn’t mean this – what they are communicating is “I’m angry and I don’t like your decision”. What they’ve learned is that those words hurt and might cause mum and dad to give way.
  • Ignore the onlookers or at least only look at the ones that are sympathetic. People forget how tough parenting is. That parent would never have known but my husband and I were quietly cheering her own and praising her for being such a great mum.

Lastly, if you’re stuck in a recurring pattern of temper-tantrumming – call in the “Calvary”. That’s the psychology and behaviour team in the Centre. Having others to problem-solve with you and support you while you make changes can get you across the line.

Please call Tracey on reception to tell you more about our services on 9274 7062.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

23 Apr 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Friendship Club Enrolments- Now Open for Term Two

Making friends are important skills for children to learn. Social skills are the things we develop that allow us to confidently make and keep friends with our peers. For some children a little extra social skills training is all that’s needed to get kids back on track with their friendships.

In Term Two, the Child Wellbeing Centre will be running a social skills program for children between 6-9 years of age. These sessions are run once a week after school.

Registration are now open for the Term Two program.

Please contact reception on 9274 7062 (or use the GET IN TOUCH link on the website) to express your interest in this program and to receive more information.

23 Apr 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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School Holiday Blues

Well we’re half way through the school holidays with a week or so to go. For some, you will be wishing time would slow down, and for others, you will be counting the days!

Keeping children entertained can be challenging during the holidays. Finding time to fit in  all those other things (work, cleaning, caring for other relatives….not to mention self-care) can be challenging too!

Some tips to get through the next week:

  • Don’t sweat the little stuff. When the kids are back at school, there will be time to catch up on all the tasks you couldn’t get to during the break.
  • Plan activities but don’t overcrowd the agenda. Too much fun can be tiring too. Instead spread out activities with free time or down time.
  • Get that sleep routine back in place. The children will be better for it once they start school next week plus you need your quiet time.
  • Outsource if you get desperate! If you need a break call in help from your social and family networks.  There are many websites where you can book a baby sitter for a few hours – just so you can have some free time to catch up or chill-out.

And lastly, when the holidays are over – take the time to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. It’s all useful information to help plan for the next school holidays.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

10 Apr 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Autism Awareness Month – let’s talk about ABA and Autism!

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a set of principles that explains how behaviour works and how learning takes place. Over the past 70 years, the field of applied behaviour analysis has been testing out many techniques and methods to make sure interventions are effective and to eliminate treatments that are harmful to the children and may interfere with learning.

As a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA), the principles of ABA I find myself using everyday are (1) finding out the functions of behaviour (the “ABC”), and (2) task analysis.

Finding out the function of a behaviour is the first step to create an intervention. And by knowing the function, it makes it so much easier to understand the causes of the behaviour.

Task analysis, also known as chaining, is a process of breaking a skill down into smaller and more manageable components. We teach the skills from the smaller components, such as putting on a shirt, slowly build up to a bigger picture, like completing a morning routine. And even within the smallest component, like putting on a shirt, we can deconstruct the skills into even smaller and more precise steps to teach and to master.

Do you know what’s behind your child’s intervention? Ask your therapist this week! If you have questions about ABA, please email Jenny Lin, Program Manager at cwbc@westnet.com.au

Autism Awareness Month is a month to ask questions and to understand what autism is. And I’m here to answer your questions!

Read more on ABA for Autism at:

https://www.autismspeaks.org/…/applied-behavior-analysis-aba

Jenny Lin, Program Manager, ABACAS

04 Apr 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Preparing Children for Hospital

Going to hospital for most of us can be a stressful experience. Aside from finding ways to manage day to day responsibilities, we also have the procedure/surgery to look forward to. As adults we have our previous experience and knowledge to help us adjust to being in hospital. For children, especially young children, this may be their first experience…and it may be a little overwhelming.

Children look to their parents for support and follow their lead. So it helps to have a game plan. Here are some ideas to think about in preparing your child for hospital:

1.Be honest and open with them about what’s happening but think about the child’s developmental and what they can understand.

2.Encourage lots of questions about what will happen. Often this is a way that children can rehearse the steps involved.

3.For children with developmental disabilities (and young children) a social story outlining key steps can be useful too. Use pictures of the hospital and any equipment in your story.

4.For surgery which might require longer stays, ask the hospital if they have any pre-admission programs. These are where the child can come into the hospital and look at where they will be, meet staff and have a look around.

5.For younger children, “playing hospitals” with them and using a doll or Teddy Bear as the patient can not only be fun but also help to rehearse what will be happening.

6.For older children – ask if there is someone (e.g. a nurse or social worker) who can meet with the child prior to admission to walk them through what will happen.

7. And lastly, take a deep breath… children going to hospital can be anxiety provoking for parents too! Sometimes we have to take time to prepare ourselves as well as our children.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to talk to your consultants for support and other ideas on how to help your child and family prepare.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

03 Apr 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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ABACAS Tuesdays – Young Entrepreneur’s Club (School Holiday Program)
Enrolments are now open for the Young Entrepreneur’s Club (School Holiday Program).
Young Entrepreneur’s Club is for children with ASD from ages 9-14. The program is set up for our young entrepreneurs to design and carry out a project. Children will practice social interaction, build the interpersonal relationship, negotiation and communication, and participate in teamwork.
We have a few options for the projects and will pick one that matches the interests of the children:
(1) Art or Science Exhibition
(2) (Autism) Awareness Exhibition
(2) Sport/Activity Carnival (for our younger clients)
(3) Fundraiser for a charity
Starting the first week of the school holildays, the Club will run Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9:30-11:00. And a Presentation/Exhibit day on the last day (Thursday midday; TBA).
For more information, please contact Jenny Lin at 9274 0330 or leave a message at reception with your email address and Jenny will give you a call back.
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