I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a unique background that allows me to take into account the whole child, the family, and the brain and body in order to best meet your needs.
Maybe you’re a veteran parent who is used to IEP goals, speech therapy, OT, and fighting for your child’s social and emotional needs in the school, and who knows exactly what diagnosis fits your child. Or maybe you’ve just started wondering: Why is regulation so hard for my child? Why isn’t she sleeping? Is my child on the autism spectrum? Why isn’t she talking? The teachers call him a loner, but is that unhealthy? Many parents wonder these questions, because children don’t come with handbooks and often behave in ways that scare or confuse us! Symptoms don’t always necessarily indicate a developmental difference like ASD or ADHD, but it’s healthy to listen to your instincts and seek professional assessments if you are asking questions like this!
I love working with families as a vital member of their child’s care team. I can’t wait to meet with you to hear more of your story, and help create a comprehensive care plan for your child!
Difficulty paying close attention
Makes careless mistakes in school, at work, during other activities, overlooks details
Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks, play, or reading
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly, absentminded
Often does not follow through on instructions
Difficulty organizing tasks and activities, planning ahead, keeping belongings in order
Avoids dislikes or doesn’t want to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
Often loses items necessary for tasks (keys, wallet, books, pencils, glasses)
Is often distracted by extraneous stimuli, forgetful in daily activities like doing chores
Often fidgets, taps hands or feet, squirms and wiggles in seat
leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (like in class, at dinner table), runs, climbs in situations where it’s inappropriate
Unable to play quietly
often “on the go” or “as if driven by a motor”
Often talks excessively
Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed, has difficulty waiting turn, often interrupts or intrudes on others
**Please note that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that ADHD must be diagnosed by a medical professional such as a physician, psychiatrist, or pediatrician. It is important to consider whether the following symptoms are occurring in most settings, and to ask other parents, teachers, and caregivers their impressions of the child as well. Since ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, it is not to be taken lightly as a diagnosis.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (2011) acknowledges that inappropriate diagnosis of ADHD may cause children to receive treatments they do not need, or may cause another condition to be missed. Best practice for diagnosis include an evaluation for all children ages 4-18 who present with inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity and adherence to DSM-V criteria, consideration of the DSM-PC. Providers should administer a rating scale such as the Connors Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scales and the ADHD Rating Scale IV, and obtain behavior reports from parents, teachers, or adolescent child (2011, p. 7). It is important to note that mood and neurological disorders often co-occur with this diagnosis and that the primary care provider should be trained to recognize this and make appropriate referrals. For treatment of children 4-18 years of age the AAP recommends “evidence-based behavior therapy” administered by a parent or teacher and to administer methylphenidate “if the behavior interventions do not provide significant improvement” (p. 2). Typically, preschool-age children who meet criteria are referred to programs such as Head Start or Early Childhood Special Education services in the community, while some physicians will recommend parent training programs. The AAP does advise the PCP or clinician to weigh the risks of prescribing medication at preschool age. For all ages, the organization also recommends medication management to achieve maximum benefits (p.4).
The AAP admits that there is a limitation of mental health resources for children with ADHD.
One of my hopes as a counselor is to use my experience to fill the gap through working to assist children in understanding brain and body, individual differences that come along with ADHD, address self-esteem, peer relationships, and symptom reduction through relationship-based mental health treatment that builds and rewires the brain from the bottom up!
If you have tried behavioral therapy and medication, and are feeling like something is missing, seeking support for your child through a neuro-relational counseling framework could be what you’re looking for!
ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders among children and adolescents. Limberg, et. al (2018) cite the National Survey of Children’s Health, stating that one in eleven school-age children in the United States had an ADHD diagnosis in 2011. Prevalence rates of ADHD are 5% internationally according to Tatlow-Golden, et al. (2016) and to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (2013). Tatlow-Golden’s study on practitioner knowledge also shows a gap in training and a need for increased collaboration between providers and family members.
ADHD is associated with increased teacher stress and classroom disruption. Children with ADHD often experience peer rejection, academic struggles, and some experience anxiety and depression as well as an association with a “greater initial exposure at a young age to substance useand slightly faster progression” (Molina, et. al, 2018). Neurological anomalies are also present in children with this diagnosis.
Relating and emotion
a tendency to avoid interaction; difficulty paying attention to
or making eye contact with others
repetitive statements, play, or behaviors
failure to develop pretend play
intense fears about ordinary objects, activities or events
problems following simple directions
echolalia, or repeating what has just been said
difficulty making needs and desires known by gestures, words or play
Regulatory and sensory-motor
difficulty dealing with changes in environment
avoidance of hugs or light touch
does not point to show you things
“self-stimulatory” behaviors: spinning, hand flapping, head banging
National Research Council (2001) suggests
Education and Support: this includes specialized therapies such as Speech Therapy, Developmental Relationship-Based Therapies, Applied Behavioral Analysis, DIR/Floortime, Denver Model.
Support through providing individually tailored environments that support child’s differences
Education and Support for Caregivers
A global disorder that affects the entire brain and how the brain processes the information it receives
Difficulty taking in sensory information, processing sensory information, and/or executing a response (trouble using body).
Affects the following: Sensory System, Motor System, Visual Attention, Executive Functioning, Theory of Mind.
Early Interventions are key in outcomes
Check out my page on Neurodiversity resources!