What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning difference that impacts a child’s reading skills. In many cases, a child’s basic reading skills do not develop automatically, and reading can be quite effortful for them. Children with Dyslexia often struggle with phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is a neuropsychological process that allows us to understand the foundational sound structure of language and to manipulate that sound structure to decode, blend, and spell words. At its core, it is the ability to associate a sound with certain letters or letter combinations, which is then used to sound out, read, and write words. Other cognitive skills that Dyslexic children can struggle with include reading letters and words at a typical pace for their age, verbal memory, vocabulary knowledge, and processing speed.
When talking about Dyslexia, you might see two different terms – Specific Learning Disorder with impairment in reading and Dyslexia. There are some nuances to both of the terms, but they are generally used interchangeably. Dyslexia just happens to be the term that more people are familiar with.
What are the signs of Dyslexia?
My child just received a diagnosis of ADHD. Now what?
It’s always a lot of information to absorb, so don’t worry if you don’t remember all of the points. If you did not get all of your questions answered when you initially received the diagnosis, reach out to the provider. Write your questions down to make sure you get the information that you need. Hopefully this post can also help you organize and digest all of the information. If you’re still needing more help understanding ADHD and how to support your child, consider working with a clinician who can provide parent education and training related to what ADHD is and how to support your child with ADHD at home.
Treatment recommendations for ADHD are likely to vary based on the child and their needs. That said, there are some common recommendations that we can review here.
Stay tuned for more in this series about ADHD and common treatments. In this post, we will explore what ADHD is, how it is diagnosed, and if it is over-diagnosed.
What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is a constellation of differences in thinking and behavior that affects an individual’s ability to regulate their focus, listen or attend to directions or instructions, organize, and/or regulate their behavior in expected ways. The disorder is thought to be brain-based, meaning that certain pathways or parts of the brain are thought to play an important role in ADHD, though the way the diagnosis is typically made is based largely on behavioral observations (i.e., is the child displaying X behaviors across multiple environments?). ADHD symptoms are generally seen in childhood, though some children and adolescents find ways to compensate or hide their challenges.
Saying it’s hard to be a parent doesn’t even begin to capture it. Additional roles including working parent, caring for multiples, or caring for other family members means that a lot of us are trying to fulfill very big things with finite resources, making our mental health extremely important. How you are feeling, what you are thinking, and how you view yourself cannot take a backseat.
People have LOTS of opinions on self-care, so let’s start by getting on the same page about what self-care is. Self-care is the basics – getting rest, eating nourishing food, and moving our bodies. At its core, self-care is just the basics. Although if I could add a higher-level function to this list, it would be talking to ourselves in a kind and compassionate way (more on this to come).
Self-care has also been associated with, or equated to, treating yourself, indulgence, and sometimes weakness. It’s almost as if, if you have to engage in self-care, there is something wrong with you or you’ve let something get out of hand (all unhelpful thought processes, by the way!)
Let’s take it back to the brain though.
I’m sure you got a lot of information when your provider diagnosed your child with Autism. It would be normal to be feeling overwhelmed, sad, guilty, relieved, hopeful, or all/none of these emotions. It may be difficult to know how to take action or what next steps are. Hopefully your provider made you feel like they are part of your team and they are open to your questions. If you did not get all of your questions answered when you initially received the diagnosis, reach back out to the provider! Write your questions down to make sure you get the information that you need. While treatment recommendations following a diagnosis are likely to vary significantly based on the child and their presentation and needs, some common recommendations or treatment modalities are reviewed here.
If you haven’t read my previous blogs, a quick note about language. Society has largely adopted “person first” language as being politically correct. Here, that would be “person with Autism Spectrum Disorder” or “person with Autism.” Many doctors have also been trained this way. Many Autistic people though prefer “Autistic person” or “Autistic brain.” I am using the latter, because an Autistic person’s right to dictate how other people refer to them is important to me.
In this post, learn more about why a diagnosis of Autism might be helpful, if Autism is over-diagnosed, and what to do if you want to pursue an Autism evaluation.
Why is a diagnosis of Autism helpful?
People have many different thoughts and perspectives on labels, and medical labels at that. One of the primary purposes of labels, for better or for worse, is to open up access to services, which can be life changing for people. Similarly, labels can open up access to supportive communities.
Another important outcome of a label though, is self-validation. Even children are able to recognize that they are struggling. Sometimes when this happens, children can internalize it, thinking that there is something wrong or, quite honestly, defective about them. This is not a helpful thought. Instead, when we can help them put language to why they are struggling, we can reduce feelings of shame and self-blame and empower them to get their needs met.
How we talk to kids and teens about their diagnosis is another topic for another blog! Just know that we are likely going to talk with kids and teens about this at multiple times in their development, and using developmentally appropriate concepts and language.
Is Autism Over-Diagnosed?
I bet many of you are asking this question and curious about the answer!
This post is just scratching the surface about Autism and what a diagnosis of Autism means in a clinical context. Stay tuned for a future post about why it may be helpful to test for, and have a diagnosis of Autism, and what supports might be helpful for an Autistic individual.
Is it Autistic person or person with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
A quick note about language here. Society has largely adopted “person first” language as being politically correct. Here, that would be “person with Autism Spectrum Disorder” or “person with Autism.” Many doctors have also been trained this way. Many Autistic people though prefer “Autistic person” or “Autistic brain.” I am using the latter, because an Autistic person’s right to dictate how other people refer to them is important to me.
What is Autism?
Autism is a difference in thinking and perception. People with Autistic brains process the world differently than non-Autistic brains (aka “neurotypical”), primarily related to social and sensory experiences. The word differently is extremely important here. Although it is a clinical diagnosis and considered a disability, the Autistic brain is an equally valid way of being in the world.
Hello! We are Wolff Child Psychology!
The purpose of this blog post is to introduce you to our practice and to the intention behind starting this blog. So, let’s dive in!
Wolff Child Psychology was founded by Brian Wolff, Ph.D., in 2011 and has grown over the years to 13 providers, including psychologists, psychology trainees, and academic and behavioral coaches. Serving children, teens, and young adults, our services include psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations, individual, family, and group therapy, behavioral support, executive functioning coaching, and writing tutoring. Check out our website to learn more about each of our providers and their areas of expertise!
Wolff Child Psychology was founded on the tenet of providing evidence-based, individualized services that support kids, teens, and families through a better understanding of themselves, their strengths, and their challenges. Through this understanding, they learn new ways of making life more joyful and easeful. Evaluation, therapy, behavioral support, and tutoring are all different tools to do this.
Wolff Child Psychology is a team of licensed psychologists and neuropsychologists, psychology trainees, and academic and behavioral coaches that provide a range of psychological, behavioral, and academic services
(Click here to see our provider page).
This blog was created to help parents and providers understand more about what we do and give you concrete tools and resources about topics like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, anxiety, parenting, and more!
We hope that this information can help empower you to make changes or get the support you need for your child and family.