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Your Struggling Child explains the different and overlapping symptoms of learning, mood, and behavior disorders and guides parents in getting the right diagnosis and treatment....
Your Struggling Child explains the different and overlapping symptoms of learning, mood, and behavior disorders and guides parents in getting the right diagnosis and treatment.
You sense that your child has a problem. Maybe Jack's a whiz in math, but by second grade he's still not reading. Mary has a phenomenal vocabulary for a fourth grader, but she's still having trouble tying her shoes. Jody is a helpful eighth grader around the house, with lots of friends -- but he's constantly sitting in the principal's office. At seventeen, Sally still can't pay attention long enough to finish her homework, so she's getting frustrated and discouraged. Or maybe you have a teenager who seemed to do fine in elementary school, but now that he's facing more challenging work in high school, he's starting to have problems and you're wondering if he has an undiagnosed learning disability.
You know something seems to be wrong -- but what? So many times parents have told me, I just had a feeling that something wasn't right. All too often, parents with these vague concerns don't know what to do with their intuitive feelings. In some mild cases, a teacher may not mention your child's problems at all. At other times, a teacher may notice something going on at school that doesn't happen at home, and suddenly you get a surprise call from a teacher because your child's progress isn't what it should be. Here you were thinking everything was going well, and suddenly you've got a teacher with another point of view entirely.
If this sounds like your situation, take heart! Your feelings of confusion or uncertainty are really quite common, but so often unaddressed. The problem is that many behavioral or learning issues aren't obvious or straightforward. It's hard for parents to figure out if their child's skills or behavior are simply at the far end of "normal," or if the child really has a problem. And if your child does need help -- where do you start?
That was the dilemma for Sandra, a single mom who was worried about her only child, seven-year-old Celeste. "When Celeste was in kindergarten and first grade, she seemed fine," her mom reported. She made friends, enjoyed school, and was reading above grade level. But by the end of first grade, something had changed. Her teacher noticed that Celeste had started to withdraw and stare blankly out the window. She wouldn't eat lunch with her friends. By the third grade the problems had only gotten worse.
"After a month of school that fall," her mother reported, "her teacher called and said something had to be done." Celeste was acting spacey and was barely speaking in class. When the teacher asked her what was wrong, she'd just shrug. "I noticed these changes at home, too," Sandra said, "but I didn't know what to do or where to turn."
Was Celeste just bored? Unchallenged? Slow? Could she have a brain disease?
The Guilt Game
Sandra's story isn't unique. In fact, lots of parents sense something isn't quite right with their child about the same time that the child starts to have problems at school. Often, this begins in late preschool or in the early elementary grades. When you see your child struggle, it's easy to feel guilty or worried. Parents ask themselves, "Did we do something wrong? Are my child's problems my fault?"
It can be even more upsetting if you think there's a problem, but the school either doesn't recognize a problem or shrugs off your valid concerns. At that point, you're left with a haunting dilemma: Is it me? Is my child actually okay? Am I just overreacting? Maybe the school knows best . . .
Between the confusion about what might be wrong and not knowing where to go for help or whom to ask, it's not surprising that you feel lost, anxious, and frustrated. At this very moment, millions of children across the United States are falling behind in school or acting out impulsively at home. Some of these kids don't have any friends. They don't get along with their brothers and sisters. They may be troubled by dramatic mood swings; perhaps they're hostile, hyperactive, listless, apathetic, easily distracted, withdrawn, antisocial, or destructive. And their parents are frustrated and afraid because they feel they've lost control and they don't know how to find out what's wrong. They don't know where to turn for help, how to get a diagnosis, what treatments are available, or how to cope with their child's challenging behaviors and moods. They don't know whether their child's struggles are normal or abnormal.
Why I Wrote This Book
If this sounds like what's going on with your family, don't worry -- there's hope! That's why I've written this book -- to help you find the answers to all the heartrending questions that many other parents just like you have asked me over the years:
What's wrong with my child?
Will my child make it through school?
Will my child ever be normal?
All these questions were on Sandra's mind after she had spoken to Celeste's teacher. Something was definitely going on with this student, the teacher insisted. So Sandra took Celeste to her pediatrician, and then to another pediatrician, and then to a child psychologist -- but none of them seemed to understand her daughter's problems. One recommended that Celeste start taking antidepressant medication after a mere five-minute interview. "She might be depressed," the doctor suggested, but Sandra resisted the idea of medicating her child before she really knew what the problem was.
Sandra had a growing intuition that this problem wouldn't go away on its own, but she needed more information. Eventually, Celeste was referred to our clinic for an evaluation.
Excerpted from Your Struggling Child by Robert Newby Copyright © 2006 by Robert Newby. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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|1||Helping You Better Understand Your Child||1|
|2||Charting the Problem: Notes, Checklists, and Behavior Diaries||23|
|3||How to Work with Your Child's School||40|
|4||Getting an Outside Opinion: Teaming Up with Professionals||59|
|5||It's Test Time: What You and Your Child Can Expect||85|
|6||Learning Difficulties: Thinking, Academics, Language, Speech, and Motor Skills||105|
|7||Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Other Disruptive Behavior Patterns||142|
|8||Autistic Spectrum Disorders||167|
|9||Anxiety and Traumatic Disorders||192|
|10||Mood Difficulties: Depression and Bipolar Disorder||209|
|11||Rarer, Complicating, and Controversial Diagnoses||223|
|Appendix A||For More Information...||249|
|Appendix B||Helpful Organizations and Associations||255|