Sol and Maria have been married 11 years. With two active young sons, they’d grown increasingly frustrated about their lack of time for themselves, let alone time to do fun things together as a couple. Even more concerning to them were the verbal conflicts they had with one another. These verbal sparring matches had grown so predictable that one Friday night, their 5 year-old asked Sol, “Are you and Mommy going to be fighting this weekend?” That question prompted them to call Children’s Program and set up a meeting to begin couple’s therapy. Sol, though committed to improve things for the kids’ sake, was a bit hesitant, as he was not eager to attend sessions where they would re-hash conflicts and “dwell on the past.” Both he and Maria were surprised to learn that this was not how therapy worked. Their therapist took time to listen to their story, helped them identify concrete, realistic goals, and got to work with them on learning hands-on skills and techniques to improve their communication. Over the course of their visits, they felt like they were making progress as a couple – and they were delighted when their 5 year-old commented about how well they were getting along.
David’s parents had always known their son was a bright and curious boy — so as 6th grade progressed, they became increasingly confused about his poor grades and many missing assignments. Emails from his teachers suggested he appeared distracted, wasn’t completing his work, and seemed unmotivated in class. After meeting with the teaching team at his school, David’s parents decided to call Children’s Program.
In the first meeting with their clinician, David’s parents discussed the history of their concerns, noting that it wasn’t until 6th grade that problems became apparent. Their clinician requested they gather together school records, going back to kindergarten, and asked them to complete parent and teacher behavior rating forms. Their clinician spent time getting to know David, meeting and evaluating him using standardized tests. They were able to rule out underlying learning or attention problems as the cause of his school difficulty, and made a plan to address his trouble making the jump from elementary to middle school. Individual coaching sessions, plus a workshop for parents and middle school students, helped David and his parents feel united and more confident about his readiness to tackle 7th grade.
Natalie was a third grader who was easily distracted and often missed key pieces of instruction. She could also be demanding, which caused social problems with peers at school. Natalie expressed most of her frustrations at home. She began calling herself “dumb” and said that no one liked her. Natalie’s parents felt their daughter was doing her best, but still was struggling academically and socially. They wanted help for addressing Natalie’s behavior and low self esteem. With testing Natalie was identified as having ADHD. She now receives comprehensive behavioral and medical services for her ADHD symptoms. She’s working with a psychologist on learning ways to stay focused and calm. She’s learning about ways to ask for help when she does not hear all of the teacher’s instructions. She works with her clinician on being a good listener instead of simply making demands on others. She feels more confident and is happier with her friendships.
Even as a young boy, Steven had difficulty in visiting stores or sitting in restaurants. His parents always knew that he needed more supervision and redirection than his brother and sister. Although Steven enjoyed playing with other children and made friendships fairly easily, his over-exuberance often alienated his peers and disrupted group activities. This was particularly true in unstructured situations such as recess or in transitions between activities. Steven’s parents valued their son’s passion, but were concerned by his continuing difficulty “putting on the brakes.” As other children appeared to mature, Steven continued to have difficulties that affected his classroom participation, group activities and peer relationships. Since several teachers had expressed similar concerns, Steven’s parents consulted with their pediatrician who referred them to the Children’s Program. The parents met with a clinician who reviewed Steven’s developmental and behavioral history with them and considered a variety of factors that might be affecting their son’s behavior (learning, sleep, diet, emotional factors, family history). After consulting with the classroom teacher to discuss how to support Steven at school, the family chose a plan that included parent education, family “coaching” and a group therapy program to help build Steven’s self-control skills.
Although Andrew could play with his Legos for hours, he always had trouble following daily routines at home and completing his work at school. Andrew could focus fairly well when interested or absorbed, but it was difficult for him to transition to the next activity. Andrew was a cooperative boy who wanted to please his parents and teachers, but his parents and teachers found it hard to get his attention and noticed how easily he would get sidetracked. Although a bright boy with many strong skills, Andrew would take “forever” to complete written assignments or finish his homework. He needed constant reminding to get things done and he commonly would forget to bring his books from school or turn his homework in the next day. Andrew did well in some extracurricular activities, but was noticeably distracted when he was not in the “center of the action.” After several teachers had expressed concerns that Andrew’s inattention was affecting his learning potential, the family consulted with the Children’s Program. Andrew’s learning style and academic skills were evaluated and a plan was developed that included changes in Andrew’s sleep and in the morning and homework routines. Andrew and his parents started with some individual attention training sessions and then attended a class on how to set and work towards goals, identify and handle distractions, track accomplishments and become more mindful.
In health class at school, Jake learned about terrible diseases and became worried that he could catch them. To avoid the germs that could cause diseases, he washed his hands frequently. He made repeated trips to the bathroom and washed so much that his hands became red and raw. He avoided touching things that might have had germs on them, like doorknobs or the TV remote control. Jake’s parents consulted the psychologist who explained that Jake had developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. They agreed on a treatment plan that involved cognitive-behavior therapy (exposure and response prevention) and parent consultation to reduce Jake’s compulsive behaviors.
Jacob was a 3-year-old boy referred to the Children’s Program by his pediatrician. Jacob’s parents and pediatrician were concerned about language delays as well as the possibility of an Autism Spectrum Disorder such as Asperger’s Disorder. Jacob’s parents felt a great deal of stress around Jacob’s difficulties, and expressed that they wanted “answers and a plan.” In consultation with a psychologist, Jacob’s parents decided to pursue a team developmental evaluation, and Jacob was seen by a psychologist and a developmental pediatrician. After interviewing Jacob’s parents and conducting developmental and social skills testing, it was determined that Jacob did have symptoms of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was given a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. Jacob’s parents worked with the psychologist to establish the right therapies and services. Jacob began speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. He also began to attend a social skills group for preschoolers. His parents began to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorders with the help of the psychologist, and they also started attending a support group to meet other parents of children with autism. The psychologist helped Jacob’s parents with his difficulties going to sleep and “picky” eating. One year after his diagnosis, Jacob has made great strides in his therapies, and has even begun to make a friend. His parents report that they are happier knowing about Jacob’s strengths and weaknesses, and feel confident that they have a plan to help him.
Josh’s parents were concerned that their son, a high school sophomore, was spending an excessive amount of time playing games online. Josh’s grades had decreased and for the first time ever he failed two classes. He was gaining weight and had started isolating himself from his peers. After an initial consultation (IC) with a clinician, they decided to involve in Josh in therapy. Josh realized that he was developing addictive qualities toward his gaming. He was also able to recognize that he was struggling with depression and using his gaming as a coping mechanism. Through therapy, Josh was able to develop the skills to work through his depression. With Josh’s support, his parents set tighter rules around his online gaming. Josh’s grades not only increased, but he became more social and no longer needed the gaming to cope with his depression.
First grade turned out to be much harder for Ernie than his parents imagined. Their sweet, sensitive son was coming home from school either in tears or so angry that he was aggressive toward his younger sister and even his beloved dog. His teacher phoned to say Ernie was shouting at his classmates on the playground and had two incidents of using his fists during disagreements. A family friend suggested the Children’s Program. After consulting with our developmental behavioral pediatrician, the parents elected to have an assessment of Ernie’s emotional, cognitive and educational strengths and weaknesses. The results relieved their concerns. Ernie worked for a short time with our Learning Specialist and became a confident reader. Meanwhile, counseling sessions helped Ernie practice strategies for when he became overwhelmed at school or at home. Now Ernie is happily heading to second grade.
Part-way through first grade, Jessie had trouble going to school. Each school morning, she cried and begged her parents to let her stay home. Once she made it to school, she usually complained of feeling sick, went to the office, and called her mom, begging to come home. When she was home, she didn’t like to be in a room by herself and often frantically called for her family members if they weren’t within sight. Bedtime often involved lengthy tantrums, as she didn’t want to be away from her parents. After consulting with the psychologist, a treatment plan was developed that involved therapy to help Jessie learn tools to feel more comfortable when she was separated from her home and family.