Do you ever wonder why your child can detect the sound of lolly wrappers at 50 metres, but appears unable to follow instructions? You know your child can hear, but how well can they listen, or understand what they are hearing?
For many of us, the ability to process sensory information has been impacted by overwhelming events during infancy and early childhood. When we were frightened, our bodies adapted, and, over time, we learnt to attune to background sounds, rather than focus on the human voice.
When a parent brings a child who struggles with signs of autism, ADHD, dyslexia or other sensory disorders, I usually offer a listening assessment as part of a general sensorimotor development assessment. My experience is that many children who struggle in the classroom have immaturities in auditory processing ability – that is, they may struggle to block out background sounds to be able to focus on the teachers voice, particularly in a noisy classroom, or the parent’s voice in a busy home environment.
It can be heartbreaking parenting a child who finds it difficult to mix with other children, gets into trouble often at school, or struggles with learning to read, write and develop number skills, and so often, it is hard to know where to turn for help.
Learning happens sequentially and sometimes, for a variety of reasons, some of these early stages of development can be missed, or be incomplete. As a result many children struggle with various aspects of social, emotional, behavioural, physical and academic learning.
Behaviour as Communication
Children’s behaviours are often their way of communication, when they have really big feelings, and are unable to find the words to express their distress. Research shows strong links between overwhelming events during infancy and early childhood, and gaps in early development, learning difficulties and challenging behaviours.
Are you struggling to understand your child’s challenging behaviours? Perhaps you are concerned that your child has signs of autism, ADD or ADHD. Maybe he or she throws tantrums, has meltdowns, often complains of headaches, tummy aches about going to school, or is fearful of trying anything new?
Perhaps you have a child who behaves impeccably at school, sits quietly in class, then comes home and acts out, kicking and screaming angrily. In my practise I have found this to be a common behaviour, but something you might be uncomfortable talking about. I know I was.
Do you ever have the feeling that you just want to hide, your palms get sweaty, your stomach churns, your breathing comes in shallow gasps, your thoughts are racing, and you have trouble concentrating?
Perhaps you are feeling the need to constantly stay on alert, your movements feel a bit awkward and uncoordinated and you struggle to find the words to express yourself?
For some of us this can happen regularly, without warning, and we have no idea where these feelings have come from.
I’m often asked “What is Psychotherapy? How is it different from Psychology?”
Exploring the field of available therapies can be a bit daunting, as there are so many different modalities to choose from. One of the biggest questions in my mind has been wondering exactly how psychology and psychotherapy differ, and what, if any, are the similarities? Are they, in fact, just two different ways of looking at the same mental health issues?
Holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to treat yourself to healing therapies that are often difficult to fit into everyday life. Addressing tensions and stresses while in a relaxed state can allow you to return home feeling more balanced and emotionally lighter. This can be especially helpful if you have been going through a challenging time, or are recovering from a stressful experience.
Perhaps there is something in your life you would like to change. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling with a vague feeling that there might be more to life?
Starting school is an exciting time, and we have great hopes for our children’s future, but for many children, life in the classroom can be quite overwhelming. This feeling of overwhelm may cause increased anxiety, resulting in learning and behavioural difficulties, often presenting as signs of autism, ADD, ADHD or dyslexia. These disorders generally have common underlying issues, and an assessment often reveals gaps or immaturities in early stages of development.
Behaviours are Telling us a Story
I see these behaviours as telling us a story, an expression of big feelings that the child is unable to understand and express in words. Rather than as something to be punished or controlled, my view is that we need to look behind these behaviours, and address the cause.
Many people visit a Counsellor when they are seeking to change something in their lives. You might be upset about something (or someone), or feel you are looking for a new direction in life. Perhaps you are feeling confused, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, but you’re not sure why. Maybe you are just feeling a bit down and don’t know what to do.
Maybe you just need to talk to someone, but find it difficult to share problems with your friends. Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone outside your circle of close acquaintances.
Rosalind is a PACFA accredited Holistic Counsellor and Psychotherapist and long-term resident of Moruya, on the south coast of New South Wales. An empathic and compassionate listener she will respect your need for safety, trust and confidentiality in the therapeutic relationship.
Rosalind brings to therapy the depth of understanding that comes from lived experience.