Tuesday, July 29, 2014
The world out there can be a scary place. The news is full of plane crashes, bombings and people screaming at school buses filled with children. Consider it through the eyes of your children. I caution parents to be fully aware of what is on your TV and computer screens and to realize what kids can and cannot process. I imagine scenes of downed airplanes can produce an anxiety response in children whose parent travels for work or as they prepare for a summer vacation flight. They may worry that angry grown-ups will confront their school buses when they go back to school. Be vigilant, be calm and most importantly, listen. Talk with your kids at their level of comprehension about any concerns they have on what they have heard or seen. Let them see that you care, that you are confident and in control. Protecting our kids is our job but so is preparing them for what’s ahead. Sometimes you are going to have to address the big world issues on your little home turf.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Despite all of your efforts and planning there may come a time when an escalated situation becomes out of control. Here are some things to consider if a meltdown goes too far:
1. Don't try to reason with your child about why they shouldn't be upset. It may seem trivial and slight to you but whatever has gotten them upset is very important to them. Invalidating their feelings will only make the situation worse.
2. Avoid eye contact and unless absolutely necessary, don't talk. The difference between a meltdown and a tantrum is that a tantrum is typically an attention seeking tool, a meltdown is a complete loss of control that has to run its course before it ends and will escalate further with additional external stimulis. No amount of talking or reasoning will stop a full blown meltdown and will almost always make it worse.
3. If you are in public then expect a scene. People will stop and stare and judge and there is nothing that you can do about it so as embarrassed as you may be, ignore the audience.They don't know your child and likely have no idea of the syndrome. Some parents have told me that they tell bystanders that their child is autistic because most people are aware of autism and that their presence is making the situation worse. Don't let an audience alter your actions. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a bad situation that will have an end to it.
4. This is their meltdown, not yours. You need to stay calm and strong, joining in the heightened state of anxiety and frustration will most certainly add to your child's already upset state.
5. If your child is at imminent risk of hurting themselves or someone else you may have to hold them. Depending on many factors, including your own or their physical strength, this may not be possible and you may need to call 911. Their safety is your number one concern. There are a number of programs nationwide that teach physical holds. If you are interested or feel that this may be necessary for you I recommend contacting one of these programs and taking a course.
6. A bystander may call the police. It is always helpful to have the police involvement cards available through PWSAUSA handy as these explain PWS succinctly.
7. After your child calms down they will likely fall asleep. Let them. Their bodies and minds have gone through a lot and this is a necessary crash.
After the incident, refrain from judgement or punitive actions. It was a lack of skill that caused the problem, not a conscious decision to misbehave. Think through the events that led to the incident and determine which skills were lacking and focus in teaching those rather than spending too much time rehashing the event with your child. They will probably not be able to verbalize what caused the dis regulation in their emotions and will already feel shamed by acting out. Most importantly try to remember that no matter how bad the situation gets it will end and it is not something that they would chose to do if they were thinking clearly. No one wants to see their child suffer but staying steady and in charge will help move the situation to an end and allow everyone to get back to the good stuff. And there's so much good stuff!
Manager PWS Services
Top Ten Strategies for Meltdowns in Public
Creating a Behavior Plan
Be There For Me
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
You know it’s tourist season when you call to get your dog groomed and the first appointment available is six weeks away. This gives new meaning to the term “dog days of summer”. I find my patience running out much quicker as I add on the extra time necessary to my commute, food shopping trips, appointments, and errands. I totally get why people are coming to Cape Cod for their precious time off but must you all be on the road at the same time? Deep breaths; take deep breaths. Six weeks left and I’m counting down to Labor Day.
But you know what? I know how fortunate I am. No small children to load, secure and entertain in the car. No sporting equipment taking up (and smelling up) the back. Hockey equipment is, by far, the worst stuff in the world to be carting around. I have no need to find handicapped spaces or have a grand plan around meal time. My complaints are nothing more than minor inconveniences in my life. MINOR!
So to the parents and caregivers out there battling the daily grind, I salute you. I want you to know how truly remarkable I think you are. You are schedule-maker royality, prepared for every potential curve ball thrown your way. You have back-up plans, know where all the rest rooms are enroute to your destination and carry wet wipes, band-aids and healthy snacks in your bag. You are the masters of distraction—you know your child’s musical likes and play it in your car over and over again. You count trucks, school buses, traffic lights and you do all this while driving your precious cargo to school, activities and medical appointments. It is no wonder that you are exhausted at the end of the day. In between this you have a job, a home and other responsibilities. Corporations, governments and the military would benefit from your efficiency and time management skills.
I plan on remembering that all this is a minor inconvenience the next time I have to sit in traffic, in my car, by myself. And when I get home tonight I recognize my day is done but yours is still going. That’s what parents do. And you are mighty, mighty parents.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
The Latham Works staff is proud to announce a milestone we reached today. For the first time our student employees surpassed 100 hours of clocked-in work time in a two-week pay period! 39 students contributed to this total – some worked a half-hour, some worked over ten hours, but everyone has pitched in beautifully to start a busy, busy Summer Tide Vocational schedule.
Friday, July 18, 2014
- If it is a family member that you have entrusted to watch your child be sure that it is a mature, considerate, and proven ally. Tempting as it may be, your 14 year old niece who texts more than she talks is probably not the right choice but siblings, parents, and grandparents can be a great support to you given the correct information and expectations.
- If your child has challenging behavioral or medical complications plan for two or more caregivers at once. Multiple caregivers ensures that your child’s needs will be met and will also give you a more accurate picture of what happened while you were away.
- If you are using an agency to schedule short term caregivers, insist that whoever they send watches one of the many PWS training videos. You are paying for this service and are well within your rights to ask for this to be done. You can also ask for the person who will be watching your child to come to your house to meet your son or daughter beforehand. This is a reasonable request that can ease a lot of anxiety on the part of you and your child.
- If you are not satisfied with a caregiver, either from an agency, the school or even your own family, offer feedback and support before switching to someone else. We are used to many of the common behaviors and idiosyncrasies of PWS but for someone new to the syndrome they can be confusing and baffling. Take time to teach and explain, support and foster before giving up. This is, of course, barring any egregious acts.
Whomever you decide to use take the time to train them to the needs of your child. Have them spend time with your child while you are home to get an idea of the dynamic between them and to offer help in the moment when any issues arise. Being present initially allows the caregiver to see how you would handle a difficult situation and allows your child to see that everyone is on the same page. Be sure to go over your expectations with your child before you go and hold them accountable for any undesired behaviors that occurred, this sends a clear message of your expectations for them regardless of who they are with. Most importantly, if you find a good caregiver that you trust- treat them well and hang on to them tightly! Good, trusted caregivers are hard to find and are so necessary to your overall well-being.
Manager PWS Services
Thursday, July 17, 2014
As one of the Lower Cape's largest employers, Latham Centers has many "alum employee" friends in the community. One of those individuals is Susan Lindquist of Brewster. Latham Development staff Katrina Fryklund and Gerry Desautels met with Susan Lindquist at Lower Cape TV in Eastham to record for Cable TV and WOMR radio “This Place Matters.” Lindquist, former Program Director at Latham Centers in the early years, is the host of the show. “This Place Matters” features interviews with Cape Cod Professionals about important matters in the community. The show will air on television channels 99 and 22 on July 23rd at 12:30 as well as on WOMR, 92.1 FM and WFMR, 91.3 FM. Please see the TV schedule HERE.
Susan, Gerry, and Katrina reminisced about Latham’s past and celebrated Latham’s future. View the show online or in a compatible listening/viewing area to learn of the dramatic changes in Latham’s training processes and the progress Latham Centers’ residential clinicians and staff have made over its 44 year history, specifically in regards to PWS programming.
The show also touches upon Latham's newest vocational initiative--Latham Lifelong Pet Care. As individuals with complex special needs are highly underemployed, those with PWS can face even more severe obstacles in finding meaningful and safe employment environments. Latham Lifelong Pet Care sees individuals with PWS not only as hirable, but essential to the new program's success and vitality. Moreover, Latham Lifelong Pet Care meets the pet care needs of the Cape Community through dog walking and short and long-term care options.
To learn more about this program please visit www.lathamlifelongpetcare.org.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
If I had planned a vacation on Cape Cod, this would have been the week. Why? Basically the weather has been, how shall I say this…awful. Yes, truth be told, we occasionally have nasty weather and with my luck, this would have been my week. So, as a parent and an employee of an agency specializing in complex special needs, the question becomes….what does one do during spells of bad weather?
Many beaches have adaptive wheelchairs that not only go on the sand but can take your child right into the water. Check with the visitor center in your town to see where these are available. Always go to life-guarded beaches. As the mom of former lifeguards I can tell you that they still work on those days (they might not be happy, but they are working). And if they aren’t available, that’s probably a good indicator that you shouldn’t be there either. Inform the lifeguard of any special concerns that you are comfortable sharing. It has been my experience that these heroes of the beach can make a positive lasting impression on kids and offer parents an extra pair of eyes scanning the water. And never assume anyone else is watching your kids more closely than you.
Bring back shells, driftwood, beach glass, pebbles (leave the live things there please) and make a memento of your time on vacation. Nature trail walks, bike rides, outdoor exploring can all happen on days the sun doesn’t come out. It doesn’t have to mean sitting in front of the TV all day. Especially when there are adventures to be had!