CHILD & PARENT ADVOCACY

Touch Into Calm

LA and Orange County Body Centered Psychotherapy
Therapy for Stress, Trauma, Depression, Relationship Issues
Adults, Children, and Family

Educational Advocacy

Children at times seem to bounce back from events remarkably, and we also don’t always know what they are experiencing because they are not able to understand or verbalize their distress.   On the other hand, an individual’s brain is still developing at least through age 20. Within those years, there are crucial times of brain development where the individual is most vulnerable to stress as well as to loving support and to learning.  They learn whatever is going on in their environment and depending on how responsive their caregivers are to their unique needs. 

Life isn’t perfect.  We cannot always control what our children experience, but as parents we try.  We want to provide them with whatever they need to become loving happy healthy children, and eventually adults.  Children have varying issues for which parents may seek outside help. 

I have worked with children and their parents for 30 years, 28 years as a school psychologist and school counselor.  Some of these childhood issues may be parent discord, separation or divorce.  Other issues may relate to mental or physical health issues of the child. Children, depending on the age, don’t usually understand what they are distressed about, and don’t know how to ask for help.  The parent or school may observe that the child seems quiet or withdrawn.  On the other hand, the child may be acting out, aggressive toward others, calling out in class, not doing their homework.  Sometimes, we don’t know where this is coming from; what is the cause, and how to fix the problem, or cure it. 

When a child is having trouble learning, it may manifest in not completing homework, or not wanting to go to school.  Perhaps it is only in one or two areas, such as reading and writing. In other cases, a child may be demonstrating developmental delays in learning, adaptive skills, communication and social interaction, that are noticed before or soon after the child enters school.  Especially if it is a first child, it may be the school teacher that notices the discrepancy between skills of the child and his same aged peers.  As a child in school is challenged to complete tasks to learn, it becomes more evident what he can and cannot do compared to peers.   If there is a big difference, the child is going to experience stress, is not going to be able to learn at the same rate or from the same skill base as others. 

The child may be entitled to special education support within the public school system.  There is support for children and families available, no matter what age they are.  The school may say to the parents that they think the child has a learning disability or a developmental or an emotional disability.  This is a hard news for parents to handle.  Sometimes it is the parent who notices the problem first, with the school only becoming aware. In situations like these, there are legal support systems put into place within the school that can help the child.  It usually starts with a Student Success Team meeting (sometimes called Student Study Team), where the parents, teacher, counselor and usually the school psychologist attend.  Sometimes the principal or assistant principal attends as well.  Strengths and areas of concern are discussed and a plan of action is developed to increase learning or behavior. 

Sometimes there is a health issue affecting learning, such as epilepsy, or ADHD that warrants what is called a 504 plan, which is also usually comprised of a similar group of people, parents and school staff.  The child may qualify for general education programs like Reading Recovery or other state funded reading programs for those children who are having consistent reading difficulties.  If problems persist, despite these attempts, the parents or school may recommend a Psycho-Educational Assessment conducted by the school psychologist and other pertinent staff, to determine need and eligibility for special education services.  After 60 days of testing, an Individual Education Program team meeting is held, comprised of the parents, teacher, administrator, school psychologist, and staff member who is assigned to the special education program to which the student may be recommended.  If the IEP team, including the opinion of the parent find the child eligible and in need of services, educational goals and services are recommended.  Typically these services can be started very soon after this IEP team decision is made. 

If this is all familiar to you, you’re in a pretty good position to begin to deal with it.  If it sounds confusing, and it can get much more complex than this basic explanation, then the parents (and the child) are going to need support in the way of psycho-education about how all of these processes work and what special education rights the parent and child have.  The parent and child need emotional support and guidance as well as specific information about how the system works and how to deal with ongoing questions and issues.  As a school psychologist and school counselor I have been through thousands of these types of meetings, completed as many psycho-educational assessments, read as many clinical and educational reports, designed goals to optimize learning, and considered types of special education programs that are the best fit for a child’s needs. 

I can help the parents navigate this complex process that may continue, change and require different actions over years of growth.  I am available to interpret and try to explain any of this, speak if needed on the parent and child’s behalf, and even conduct additional assessment if needed.

How I Can Help

I have also spent many years doing individual and group counseling with children from ages 3-18. Many of these children were not special education students and some of them were.  Some of the topics of counseling I have done with children include the following: 
  • Accepting and dealing with parent separation as well as gaining step-parents and step-siblings
  • Social phobia or friendship
  • Self-regulation of stress levels to manage behavior
  • Developing a sense of well-being and stability (grounding)
  • Experiencing extra support, approval, joy, being heard
Some of this is achieved through talk, play, art; and sometimes, Touch Trauma Therapy (clothed, and upon parent permission) is offered if appropriate.  Touch is not required but it deepens the process for those who are soothed by it; even as we know, a touch on the shoulder can be reinforcing to both children and adults. 

Because many of our issues are preverbal and for adults and especially children, are unable to be expressed verbally, touch can be deeply helpful in more fully embodying change; but again, is an option. 

A parent often comes for therapy separately, so they can deal with their own issues as well as those that pertain to their relationship with their child and the relationship of the family to the school.
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