16 Sep 2019

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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High school transitions don’t have to be stressful!

For many children the transition into high school comes with a great dollop of trepidation and excitement. While high school means learning about a new school, it brings with it opportunities such as access to specialist subjects and a wider social circle to join.

Some children though find the prospect of a new school, new faces and new routines overwhelming. If this is your child, then the end of Term Three and the start of Term Four are good times to start planning out your child’s transition for the year to come.

Some general strategies to prepare for transitioning to high school 

A good place to start is by talking about what to expect and framing discussions in a positive light. Any older siblings who want to terrorise younger siblings with horror stories need to be reminded that they are not being helpful!

Emphasise the good stuff – like opportunities to make new friends and the opportunity to join in with clubs and sports.

Talk through the information that comes home from school and organise the preparation. Uniforms and book lists need to be sorted and these can be an exciting time and help reassure children that they are on track for high school.

Fortunately, most secondary school these days will have orientation sessions where the children spend time at their new school. This is a great time to answer basic questions like – where is my class, where are the toilets, who will be my teachers?

For the children who will need a little more support with transition

Parents can schedule time to talk to this year’s class teachers about how to prepare their children. Some children need more than the once off visit to school. Their transition may involve making sure that the new school has information about their needs and has an identified person at high school to provide extra support during transition.

A transition program may also involve additional excursions to the new school to help the child become more familiar with the new environment.

This is a good time to remind children about their skills to manage big feelings…self-regulation…and when to use these.

It can also be a good time to brush up on social skills so that children are ready to take advantage of the new social opportunities.

What if you still need help with transition?

Our staff at the Centre are available to help with transition planning and skills development (think self-regulation and social skills). They can also work with schools to help make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

For more information about our services please call Reception on 9274 7062 or our website information on psychology services:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/psychological-services/

05 Sep 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Group Social Skills Programs for Term Four

Registration for Term Four group social skills programs are now open! Each term the Centre runs small  group social skills programs for children between 4 and 11 years of age. Our team work hard to make these sessions fun and motivating, while teaching the important skills needed to make and keep friends.

In each group the team employs a four-part training approach using modelling, role-playing, performance feedback, and generalisation to teach essential pro-social skills to children.  Programs are tailored to meet the needs of the children participating in groups.

All groups are run by two facilitators from our ABACAS team – currently Simone Healy and Toni Schmitz (Provisional Psychologists). Groups are run after school hours and on Saturday mornings and are open to any child needing help with developing their friendship skills.

For our last round of group social skills programs for the year, the team will be running four groups each week  in Term Four.   The program timetable is below:

Social Skill Group Suitable ages Day of the week
Best Buddies 6 – 8 year olds Wednesday and Thursday (note children only attend one session)
Fantastic Friends 8 – 11 years olds Friday
Secret Agent Society (SAS) 10 & 11 year olds Saturday

Please look at our our social skills program page for more information about the various groups programs.

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

For more information about the Secret Agent Society program, please have a look at the following website:

https://www.sst-institute.net/

To register your interest in the program please contact Reception on 9274 7062.

Howe we can feel when bullied 17 Aug 2019

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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How to help your child when they tell you they are being bullied

Hearing that a child is being bullied can be heartbreaking for parents. However not all conflict between children is bullying.

Bullying is where an individual or a group use their personal power repeatedly to cause physical, social or emotional harm to another. Usually the person being bullied feels powerless and unable to stop it. Bullying can take the form of verbal or physical aggression and social exclusion. It can occur face to face and online.

Let’s look at what you can do to help child if they are experiencing bullying

What are some first steps?

For some children, telling a parent that they are being bullied at school can be hard. The child may be worried about how their parent’s reaction. They may fear that they are about to get into trouble or worse still, that the parent will do something to make it worse! Listening (as calmly as you can) to your child then becomes the first step in helping them with bullying. Your aim is to help them tell the story. After which you can then reassure them that they are not to blame and that you are not angry at them.

As parents our first response is often about protection. We want to leap into action to sort the bullying out and make sure it never happens again. Our solutions though may not be what the child needs. Before we jump in its important to ask what solutions the child has thought about and also what they have tried. A classic mistake here that parents make is the “all you have to do is ignore them” suggestion. Usually the child has tried this already and for various reasons, has found it didn’t work.

A careful and considered response is always helpful. There are many different ways to help children with bullying. Fortunately, there are also lots of online sites with different strategies that you can look up. A personal favourite is the Bullying. No Way! website. Not only is it an Australian website but it also captures what the research tells us are helpful responses. I’ve included the link here for you:

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au

Bullying needs to be reported to schools too. This is often something that children feel very uncomfortable about as they are scared about the consequences. Schools however have the responsibility to keep your child safe and can’t do this if they don’t know what’s happening. Request a time to meet with the teacher to talk through what you’ve learned and how the school will respond.

What else can you do?

Keep monitoring what’s happening with your child. Often bullying will die down for a while only to start again a little later when the adults aren’t paying attention.  If this happens, schools need to be brought into the loop again. Children who bully others try very hard not to be caught in the act so sometimes it can be missed by teachers.

Keep reading up and sharing different strategies with your child for them to try. Older siblings can be helpful here too as they may have some great ideas here too. Avoid strategies that escalate conflict such as the “fight them back” idea. Not only will your child be in trouble but this strategy rarely works.

Need more help?

Our psychology team is able to help in this area. They can help children with ways to increase their own safety and better ways of managing bullying (both face to face and online). They can also help parents and work with teachers to put in place more helpful strategies.

For more information about our  psychology services please call reception on 9274 7062. Below is a link to our website with information about our psychologists and more:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/about-us/

 

22 Jul 2019

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Ever wondered what’s involved in an educational assessment?

An educational assessment can be a useful option to consider when children aren’t achieving their learning potential.

Literacy (reading, understanding and writing) is an area that children experience difficulty with but sometimes, numeracy may also be a concern.

An educational assessment can help identify the barriers to learning for children. Assessments maybe helpful as they can give greater insight into why difficulties are occurring, highlight supports that children need and help with decisions about schooling options.

What does an educational assessment involve?

To start with our psychologists will want to talk to you and find out about your child’s developmental, school, social and emotional history. This appointment is with the parent/carer (s) only as this gives you the opportunity to talk freely about your concerns.

From this, the psychologist will be able to work out which standardised tests may be helpful.  They will want to schedule 1-2 sessions with you and your child. These assessments may include a cognitive assessment (looking at learning potential) and an academic assessment (looking at literacy and/or numeracy). Other assessments may also be suggested.

When our team see children, we work hard to put them at their ease so we can see them at their best. The first session in particular may involve rapport building strategies.

The psychologist may want to talk to the teacher too. While school reports have a lot of useful information, our team can learn from talking to the teacher. Sometimes we may even arrange an observation of the child in class to observe behaviours.

What happens after the assessment is completed?

The psychologist will meet with you to give feedback on what the assessment has revealed and their recommendations for how to move forward.  They will also provide you with a written report which you may choose to share with school and other therapists. The aim of this session is to answer your questions and to help you as a parent direction into how to support your child.

For more information about our educational assessment services please call Reception on 9274 7062.

Social Skills Program 01 Jul 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Fantastic Friends – Social Skills Program for 8 to 11 year olds in Term Three

In Term Three, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For children the emphasis is developing play and conversational skills with peers.

Fantastic Friends sessions will be run by two facilitators  (Simone, Toni or Ruby). The program aims to build and develop more complex social skills. For this age group, we will focus on a range of skills including starting and maintaining a conversation, introducing self and other people, asking questions, and apologizing. At the beginning of each term, the specific skills being taught will be customised to the group needs.

Who is suited: Children aged 8-11 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Friday afternoons during school Term Three, 4-5.30 pm

How much: $87.80 per session

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

At the initial appointment we will talk to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

Social Skills Programs 01 Jul 2019

BY: admin

Uncategorized

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Best Buddies – Social Skills Program for 6-8 year olds in Term Three

In Term Three, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For children the emphasis is developing play and conversational skills with peers.

We will be running two “Best Buddies” groups to help to build your child’s confidence. Groups will be using modelling and role playing to practice new skills and refine existing skills.

Who is suited: Children aged 6 to 8 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When:  Group A – Wednesday afternoons from 4pm to 5.30pm & Group B – Thursday afternoons during school Term Three, 4.00-5.30 pm

How much: $87.80 per session

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

Best Buddies sessions will be run by two facilitators  (either Simone, Toni or Ruby). The skills being taught in each term will be determined by the needs of the children in the group. However, we will be looking at a range of skills including introducing yourself, conversation skills, play skills, helping a friend, sharing, and turn-taking.

At the initial appointment we will talking to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

School holidays and sport 24 Jun 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Planning for fun and the school holidays

School holidays are on the horizon. Many parents will be starting to plan how to keep their children entertained during the holidays. For parents with children with disabilities this can be a bit tricky.  Not only may you need programs that match your child’s  interest but you may also be looking for programs that provide strong structure and more individualised support.

School holidays also give the chance to step out of routine, take a break and refocus for the next three months or so. This is a great time to think about the new school term ahead and what else can be done to meet the social and recreational needs of your child. Aside from all the physical health benefits that come with sport, there are many social ones too. Not to mention the opportunity to just have fun.

Stuck for ideas? Below is the list that we’ve come up with so far. The good news is that more and more organisations are offering school holiday programs and out of school hours clubs and sports for children with special needs. So expect this list to grow over time…

Let’s start with school holidays programs

MyCareSpace currently has a list of inclusive school holidays programs and it looks to be growing each term.  You can search by state or post code and then click on the link to the relevant website to find out more information. Their web address is: https://mycarespace.com.au/resources/inclusive-school-holiday-camps

A favourite of Naomi’s  for school holidays programs are those run by Autism West – The Telethon Holiday Makers Program – which caters for children on the autism spectrum aged 10-18 years. Autism West also run different groups during the school term too. Their web address is as follows: http://autismwest.org.au/social-groups/holiday-makers/

What about extracurricular activities during the term?

Here are a few that we’ve found that might be interesting and not all sport based!

The WA Disabled Sports Association (WADSA) has a directory of activities run by different organisations. You can search by topic and then click on the link to take you to the relevant website. It also has a category for “Holiday and After School Activities”. A great place to start to help you and your child work out what sorts of activities might be interesting.

https://www.wadsa.org.au/

For the children and adolescents that are more interested in music we came across this organisation – Music Rocks Australia. They provide programs for children and adults with special needs.

https://www.musicrocks.com.au/children-and-adults-with-special-needs

This program is one that we’ve had our own ABACAS team members volunteer to help with from time to time. Great for the kids who love the water – why not surfing with Ocean Heroes?

https://www.oceanheroes.com.au/

And for the children who really love their technology there is the The Lab – which provides technology clubs for children on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum.

https://thelab.org.au/

We hope these websites are helpful.  They are just a selection of services and programs that caught our attention when looking at what’s currently out there in Perth. Have you got any programs that you’d like to recommend? If so please feel free to let any of the ABACAS Team know so we can add them to our working list and share with other parents!

Lastly, the Centre will be open during the holidays which means therapy doesn’t have to stop. If we don’t see you during the holidays we look forward to seeing you at the start of next term. For  more information about our ABACAS program please click on the following link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/aba-child-and-adolescent-services-abacas/

Penny Wong (Case Manager, ABACAS) & Naomi Ward (Clinical Director)

06 Jun 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Scissor skills-A way to help handwriting

As part of developing ‘desk top’ type skills for school, learning to use scissors is very helpful for a range of reasons. Scissor skills:

  • Require focus and attention;
  • Practice the same muscles used to hold a pencil;
  • Strengthen muscles that open and close the palm arch;
  • Promote maturity of hand skill, separation of the two sides of the hand; the manipulation/control side which includes the thumb and index finger, and the stabilising side of the hand, which involves the remaining fingers.
  • Provide opportunity to practice using two hands together, carrying out different movements
  • Require visual tracking skills

The correct hand position for cutting out, is ‘thumbs up’. The dominant hand holds the scissors in a fixed position in front of the chest while the stabilising hand moves the paper around. It is easier for the middle finger to be placed in the lower scissor handle while the index finger guides in front of it. This is tricky to master! Cutting success is dependent on how well the stabilising hand moves the paper around. Children with lower strength in their palm and forearm tend to drift to a ‘palm up’ position, then the scissors bend or tear paper. Ideally the thumb should be on top! If a child is struggling with this, they need to work on earlier stage activities, e.g. snipping straws and playdough and doing other palm and thumb, index finger opposition strengthening activities before moving on.

Tips for easier cutting with scissors

1) Straight line

After a child masters snipping the next stage is pushing the scissors forward while cutting. Heavy weight paper is best because it doesn’t flop, easier to control. Keep it around the size of your child’s hand. Draw thick straight double lines. Activities such as ‘driving a car on the road’ or ‘train along the tracks’, help to keep them within the lines.

2) Gentle curve

Once your child is confident cutting along within the straight lines, they can progress to a gentle curved line. Keeping the scissors open around half way using small open close movements gives increased control. Following a curved line requires turning the paper with the other hand.

3) Turning corners

A square the size of a child’s palm is a good starting point for practicing moving the paper. Once the corner is reached, the paper has to be turned so the blades are pointing to the next corner. Double lines can be used, from this point, progression to a thick 10mm line will help your child feel successful ‘cutting along the line’.

Simple shapes with less angles are easier to cut. As your child becomes more confident cutting with heavy weight paper, they can graduate to regular paper. The larger the paper, the more manipulation control of paper is required while cutting with the other hand, so the higher the level of difficulty. To help children build confidence, you can draw over simple print out shapes with a thick line and gradually reduce the thickness as they improve.

This site has some good cutting activities that can be printed out:

https://aussiechildcarenetwork.com.au/printables/cutting-worksheets

As always you are very welcome to contact the Centre to ask about our Occupational Therapy services on 9274 7062.

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

children and surgery 22 May 2019

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Medical operations – how much should we tell our children about their procedures?

Traditional thinking used to be that sparing young children details about their operation or serious medical procedure was the best course of action. Many parents and carers saw this as a way of avoiding unnecessary stress for the child. Parents would then shoulder the burden of worry. All of which makes a lot of sense, given our need to protect our children.

The problem with this approach is that parents are always left wondering whether this is the best course of action. Sometimes it comes down to working out just how much information is the right amount of information.  Medical staff have different views on this issue and often err on the side of less information being better than more.

So what does this research say?

A study earlier this year tried to answer the questions of  how much information to give children. The results were really interesting. This study included 91 children and parents of children (between 3-13 years of age) about to have surgery. Prior to the operation, the researchers held an information session which included an interactive video about the specific procedure and a discussion with an allied health member. These sessions involved both parent and child. They then followed up the child and parent after the surgery and compared how they fared on various psychological measures. In this study, the researchers were very interested in symptoms of trauma in children post surgery.

Using all the information collected above, the researchers then compared the results of their participants to the results of children and parents who had been approached but opted out of the study. The results showed significantly higher rates of distress (post-operation) for children who did not receive the full information about their surgery.  Even the younger children (3-5 year olds) had more positive outcomes in this study. The researchers noted that the findings in their study were consistent with previous studies focusing on children with HIV and  with cancer.

Of course this study, like all studies has limitations. Firstly there was a wide range of surgical procedures that may have been a factor in recovery. The time in hospital also varied greatly. I suspect, level of parental stress and anxiety may have been a factor too.

How can we best help children?

What this study does show is that children are more resilient that we think they are. Even at a young age, they have capacity to process more information than we think they can about their treatment. What the emerging research is showing is that when children understand what is about to happen to them are less likely to experience psychological distress post surgery.

It’s something for us to think about as parents should our children ever need major medical intervention. It’s also something we should be talking through with their medical staff as we help them prepare for up and coming surgery.

As always you are very welcome to contact the Centre for information on our psychology service on 9274 7062.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

Ref: Amichi et al (2019) Should parents share medical information with their young children? A prospective study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, vol. 88. Pages 52-56.

scissor skills and learning to write 11 Apr 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Scissor skills and learning to write

Did you know that practising the movement involved in scissor skills can help children write. Learning to use scissors develops the skills required to control a pencil. Both motions need the muscles that oppose the index and middle finger with the thumb working together.

learning new skills can sometimes feel monotonous to children. However it doesn’t have to be this way.

Helpful Scissor Activities

The following activities are designed to develop the muscles and movements required to manipulate scissors. In time, the ‘open close’ squeeze action of the arch between thumb and fingers will become stronger.  You may need to help your child make the movements with some hand over hand guiding to get started.

1) Tongs

Use tongs to pick up large pom poms, aluminium foil balls, lightweight plastic toy items, blocks, lumps of play-dough. You can also incorporate food play e.g. picking up cooked spaghetti.

Once skills with the activity improve, you can use smaller items,  cotton balls, small pompoms. Food items can be used such as marshmallows, small fruits, large nuts, pieces of bread, using the tongs to dip into sauce or icing sugar onto a plate or ice cube tray. It is important to always place items working from left to right, top to bottom, because later when a child learns to read, scanning left to right is required.

2) Water pistol play

These can be used to shoot balloons, or paint with water on the concrete. If you are game, supervised painting activities are fun on an outside easel with different colours for little water pistols. It is very good for index finger strength. Make sure your child is using their dominant hand.

3) Ripping activities

Cut strips of coloured paper to rip into small pieces. Some types of paper for example crepe or tissue paper, have a grain and are easier to rip in one direction. Grasping the top of the paper strip with both hands and moving the hands in opposite directions to rip it. Small pieces can be used for collage, the long pieces can be ripped to make jelly fish tentacles, cloud with rain, pretty bird with a long tail, or long hair, grass and so on.

4) Hole punching

A single hole punch is good to improve palm strength. Holes can be punched in a line on card, or make patterns. Lace the card with shoe lace or string, or connect the holes with crayon lines.

5) Bubble wrap

Small size bubbles, these are perfect for pinching with the index finger and thumb, this strengthens the muscles within the finger and thumb, which will help scissor skill development as well as controlling a pencil.

6) Monster ball 

You can use a cheap tennis ball and cut a slit for a mouth and stick on eyes. Squeeze the tennis ball thumb and fingers,  using the dominant hand. With the other hand ‘feed the ball’ with small pom poms, dice, .  The resistance of the tennis ball will be determined by the length of the slit; the longer the slit the easier to open the ‘mouth.’

7) Hand puppets

Making hand puppets talk encourages practice opening and closing the fingers and thumb in time with speech. You can make one using a single spare sock, buttons for eyes and wool for hair. Make it eat and grab, bite and tug.

8) Playdough

Play dough, especially extra firm dough is excellent for improving fine motor strength. Use a garlic press to squeeze playdough through and make spaghetti hair, squeeze the handles using both hands together.

For the Beginner starting with Scissors

Keep in mind, “both thumbs up”, the dominant hand does the squeezing action “open-shut” steady at the midline of the body, the other “helping” hand manipulates the item to be cut.

1) Snipping

Practice cutting action using small sized scissors, cutting strips of playdough, cutting a circle of playdough into ‘pizza’, snipping pieces of straw, coloured wool, spaghetti!

2) Snipping short lines

Make strips of light coloured card narrow enough so that one snip is successful. Draw horizontal lines. These can be snipped off and artwork can be created with the geometric pieces cut.

Collect paint sample cards from your hardware shop for cutting practice, snip between the colours.

3) ‘Stop point’. Put a sticker or draw a face at the destination point for the end of one snip, with no line as a guide.

Early scissor skills involves ‘snipping’, first things like playdough, spaghetti, wool, straws…then develops to just one short line. More information on the next stages of scissor skills is to come in a later post.

And of course if you are worried about any aspect of your child’s fine motor skills you are welcome to contact Reception for more information about our occupational therapy services on 9274 7062.

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/occupational-therapy/

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