Time flies; it is almost Memorial Day. It is hard to believe that since the weather has been so strange this year. It does not feel like summer is about to start, but it is. Summer means the school year is ending and the long, carefree days of summer are starting. For some, that is wonderful. For others, that can be nerve-racking.   

apple-blur-book-stack-256520.jpgFor those of us who have children transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle school to high school, we will be celebrating with promotion ceremonies, saying good-bye to teachers and schools, and looking forward to bigger and better things. At the same time, these transitions can be overwhelming. 

Middle school and high school bring added pressure, more difficult classes, increased social demands, concerns about the future, and increased responsibilities. These changes can be scary for anyone, but even more so for a child with special needs – a child with mental illness such as ADHD, depression, or anxiety, or a developmental or learning disorder like autism.  

I have one of these students: Bryce. Bryce struggles in school, and even with supports, school does not come easily for him. As a parent, I want my children to be happy and...

Everyone agrees that parenting is hard, but before you become a parent, you don’t fully understand the daunting task that parenting really is. Children need to come with warning labels! It isn’t just the changing diapers or sleepless nights that are challenging. EVERYTHING that comes with being responsible for raising another human is difficult.     

parent_child_anxiety.jpgWhether or not you had anxiety or stress before you became a parent, there is a chance that parenting creates new stress and anxiety in your life. Every day, there are new challenges; each age brings new behaviors and needs. Of course, there are wonderful and rewarding moments when you are a parent. It is not all stressful. But when that stress happens, it can often be overwhelming. 

For some, once you are stressed or feeling anxious about your parenting or about how your children are doing, it is difficult to control those feelings. Stress and anxiety can cause you to become tired and angry, which you then inadvertently take out on your children and family. That in turn can make your child anxious and more stressed, leading to a cycle where your stress passes on to your child, which in turn can upset you even more.    

We all...

We are conditioned to understand that when on an airplane, in case of an emergency we are to put on our oxygen masks first, then help others. In the moment, it makes sense as a clear case for the importance of self-care in an emergency, so that you may be available and well to help others. However, families and caregivers of loved ones on the autism spectrum often don’t take the time to use this same philosophy and instruction when addressing their own self care needs. Time, finances, and even guilt can all play a part in a reluctance to ask for support and help, or to seek it from known agencies when offered. The demands, strain, and energy it takes to support your child, sibling, or family member with autism are unique. You need a support system that you can trust, someone who can understand the intricacies of what it means to be on the autism spectrum, and who is capable of addressing the emotional and behavioral needs that are specific to our friends with autism spectrum disorder. 

respite_blog.jpgRespite care is a service provided by many agencies, churches, and other community organizations. Respite care can provide families and caregivers with an hour, a day, an overnight, an afternoon,...

When I was in training a long time ago, I was taught that there were only a few medicines you use to treat individuals with autism. Children with autism were all lumped into one category, and the medicines you used were mostly focused on decreasing aggression. 


However, what I’ve learned from working with children with autism is that they are all different; they are all unique. I’ve learned that children with autism can have depression, anxiety, a mood disorder, or ADHD. I’ve also learned that all of these disorders can cause aggression, and to decrease aggression, you have to use the right medicine to treat the disorder. There are so many causes for aggression: for example, an individual with autism may have frustration with communicating, and this frustration can lead to aggression. Or, a child might be in pain, having an ear infection, and if they are unable to communicate this, they can be aggressive.

There is no one single cause for aggression in children with autism, since they are all different and all have different situations. It is imperative that we as doctors understand those we treat, so we can determine the true cause of aggression. This will help us design...

According to Dr. William Rush Dunton, founder of occupational therapy, “meaningful occupation heals mind, body, and spirit.” Volunteering is one of the most meaningful ways to occupy oneself. However, many overlook the mental health benefits that volunteering offers the volunteer. Here are a few of the ways that volunteering even a few hours of time can be beneficial.

Social Connection

Many volunteer roles involve working with other people toward similar goals. Connecting with others in this way can help to decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. It can also be a way to meet like-minded people with values and interests that align with your own. For someone who is shy, it may be easier to find a topic of conversation if you share common interests and experiences. You may also find that you can make deeper personal connections with others who share your values. You never know where these new connections may lead. 

Meaning and Purpose

Volunteer roles can help people to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution to a cause that is important to them, and changing the world for the better in some way. Contributing in this way can be a powerful experience, and can add...

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