Category: Teenage

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Gainesville Special Education & More

When you or a member of the family has special needs, trying to find the right services and resources in your community can be time consuming and frustrating. Here are a few helpful hints on some local services for educational and behavioral services in Gainesville:

 

Schools in our area that provide more individualized learning:

  1. Trilogy – Private 1st – 12th (trilogyschool.org)
  2. Littlewood – public PK- 5th (littlewood.sbac.edu)
  3. Sidney Lanier – exclusively special needs – Public PK- 12th (lanier.sbac.edu)
  4. Chiles – Public PK – 5th (chiles.sbac.edu)

 

Online teaching

  1. Connections Academy is free K-12 online public school teaching, and contracts with Florida Virtual. They provide home schooling on a temporary or long term basis

www.connectionsacademy.com

  1. International Connections Academy is the same but private and costs money

www.internationalconnectionsacademy.com

 

Behavioral modification

Behavioral services are broken down into services for the young and older, and then the low and high functioning, and the low functioning older kids and young adult populations are where our community faces the biggest deficits in services.

 

Here are some local behavioral services:

 

  1. FAC (Florida Autism Center) – children must be under the age of 13 and have a diagnosis of Autism
  2. BARC (Behavioral Analysis Research Clinic) – works with all ages and diagnoses including severe and intensive behavioral challenges, and is a feeding clinic
  3. BLS (Behavioral Learning Systems) no autism diagnosis needed, no brick and mortar, therapists go out into the community to provide services
  4. BASS (Behavioral Analysis Support Services) no autism diagnosis needed, all ages, brick and mortar clinic and community outreach

 

To search for an individual behavior analyst you can go to BACB.com to check credentials

 

Stay healthy and Informed, Dr. Patricia Hess – Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

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Suicide Awareness

As a doctor, I concern myself most with preventing and easing the suffering of my patients and giving them hope. As a psychiatrist, the worst outcome of that endeavor is suicide. Clinically, most of the patients I treat who have suicidal thoughts and plans are 12 – 19 years old — some younger and some older, but most fall in that range. Certainly there are adults who suffer as well, but since the majority of my patients are children, adolescents and young adults, I will stick to this population. Fortunately, I have not lost a patient to suicide, but it is unquestionably a subject that comes up frequently with my patients. I’ve had quite a few very brave and strong patients fight their way back from its clutches.

The latest statistics on youth suicide may shock you:

3rd leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds

6th leading cause of death for 5 – 14 year olds

The list of possible causes and catalysts for suicidal thinking, attempts and completions is vast and trying to list them all would be no small clinical task. Instead, I’d like to share some of the things I hear from young people in my practice. If you’re a parent, this may help you be better aware of some of the signs. If you are someone suffering, I hope you will consider treatment if any of this sounds familiar:

  1. When a young person is depressed for more than a week, they should seek help from a trained doctor or therapist. Some young people may come straight out and tell you they are depressed, but lots don’t.

Some symptoms of depression are:

Irritability, anger, little patience – this is a big one for young people

Sleep changes – sleeps all day, wakes too early, can’t fall asleep

Interests diminish – no longer doing things they typically like as much

Guilt or self blame – feeling no one loves them or being highly self critical

Energy changes – can be up or down

Concentration decline – grades may fall

Appetite changes – may see weight changes

Physical movements diminish or increase and appear anxious or agitated

Suicidal statements or gestures

Hopelessness – things will never get better

Helplessness – no one can help me

  1. Here are some statements I have heard from young people with suicidal thoughts:

“If you are not skinny, pretty and making straight A’s, you may as well not exist”

“I had good friends, but there was some drama, and now they don’t speak to me”

“I just feel so overwhelmed with school and my parents and trying to do everything that       I just don’t care anymore”

“I was in all advanced classes In High School, and now I am failing my first semester of college and I don’t want to face my friends and family”

“My parents are constantly on my back and only care about my grades”

“I can’t figure out why he or she broke up with me, I don’t know what I did wrong”

“This person I know killed themselves and it has really hit me hard”

“My parents fight all the time, and I can’t stand being at home, but I’m too young to drive”

“Everything was great where we used to live, but we moved here and everything sucks”

“If I can’t be myself, then why should I be alive”

“My Dad chose his new girlfriend or wife over me”

“My Mom chose her new boyfriend or husband over me”

“I’m never going to be successful”

“My parents have taken everything from me that I love, so what’s the point”

“I got bullied in middle school and I have never really gotten over it”

“I drink and smoke and take whatever I can get my hands on, because if I’m sober I just think about dying”

“I don’t think anyone can help me”

“My Grandmother died last year, my dog died a few months ago and now my aunt died suddenly and everyone just dies anyway”

  1. Sexual and/or physical trauma can be very devastating for both girls and boys and can precipitate suicidal thoughts and attempts
  2. Bullying is a serious and common problem and can result in suicidal thoughts and attempts

*Don’t be afraid to seek treatment for your kids if you suspect they may be in trouble. Talking about suicide with a trained professional won’t cause it or put the thoughts into their head, it will show them that you care and give them a safe place to talk about their problems.

*Always takes suicidal statements seriously and seek help for your child

Stay healthy and informed, Dr. Patricia Hess – Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

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Supervising Children on The Internet

On a daily basis, I listen to parents complain about how much time their kids spend on some kind of electronic device. At the same time, I recognize there are wonderful things electronics can provide for our kids, with links to educational applications, encyclopedias at their fingertips, games with awesome graphics, beautiful photographs of animals and nature, the ability to keep in touch with their friends, check their grades and keep up with assignments, etc. Spending long lengths of time sitting still and doing any one thing does usually require moderation by parents, but time on devices isn’t the only thing to be concerned about.

When a device has the capability for online access, well just imagine: that access instantly puts a child in a room where every book, magazine, photograph, movie and video ever written, taken or made is in there with him. He can browse at will in whatever direction his curiosity takes him. Also imagine there are strangers or bullies who know he is in the room and may be waiting to prey on a child they find alone. Sounds pretty scary doesn’t it? Not only that, but with the ability to patch into wireless connections everywhere, controlling unsupervised online access for kids can be very difficult. Here are some tips to supervising your kids online so they get the cool stuff and not the scary stuff:

 For younger kids

  1. When kids are very young, say up through elementary school, they should not be left alone with Internet access. They can be over-exposed with the swipe of a finger.
  2. Use any parent controls and safe guards on your devices.
  3. Make sure a passcode is needed to turn on your device so you have to be the one to unlock it.
  4. Don’t give your kids the password to purchase apps.
  5. Make it a rule to keep computers, laptops, iPads, etc… out in family areas.
  6. Watch a couple of episodes of the shows you allow your kids to view and make sure they are appropriate.
  7. Think twice before allowing your young kids to own cell phones. If you do, you may want to consider disabling or blocking the Internet connection. Verizon and some other carriers offer ways to filter content. You can also turn off internet access on a phone, but remember most kids and their friends are pretty tech savvy, so that’s no guarantee.
  8. It’s so easy to give our kids our iPad or phone to keep them occupied while we get things done and not putting them at risk boils down to common sense: supervision, paying attention to what our kids are doing and taking a zero-tolerance attitude when it comes to exposing our children to extremely inappropriate content.

  For tweens and teens

  1. Limit time spent surfing.
  2. Teach that online communication etiquette should be the same as communicating in person.
  3. Educate them about safe ways to chat with their friends through social media, and the dangers of meeting strangers online; never agree to meet someone you have met online.
  4. Educate that any personal information, photos or videos shared on a device are now free to be shared with everyone.
  5. Encourage them not to cyber bully others and to report any bullying they see, so parents can be alerted.
  6. Some parents have their teens turn all their electronics over to them before going to their rooms at night, so there is no temptation to get online, or lose precious sleep communicating with friends through the night.
  7. Again, think about keeping computers and laptops in the family room.
  8. Consider carefully if your child is mature enough to own a cell phone and consider if letting them take a cell phone to school poses more of a benefit or risk.
  9. Please comment and share any ideas you have on protecting our children from over-exposure through electronic devices

Stay healthy and Informed, Dr. Patricia Hess – Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

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When School Is A Struggle

I see parents struggle with how to make sure their children are getting the best education possible when they are faced with a mental health or learning challenge. A child’s rights to an equal public education can be confusing, so here is a simple breakdown of the 2 laws in place and how they basically differ. This may help you choose which educational map or right for your child. For more information check out the Disability Rights website in your state. In Florida that site is www.disabilityrightsflorida.org

The individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):

  1. This is an education law
  2. Children ages 3-21 must have a disability & need special education
  3. Child will get an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) which should prepare him or her for future education, employment and independent living
  4. All students eligible for IDEA are also protected under 504, and modifications are also included in the IEP
  5. Detailed due process, written notice to parents is required for meetings, and meetings must be held by the school before changes can be made to the IEP
  6. Conduct related to disability can’t be disciplined by change of placement for more than 10 days. Conduct not related to disability can be disciplined but child remains eligible for special education after discipline procedures.
  7. May be right for your child if specialized instruction or education is required

 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:

  1. This is a civil rights law, not an education law
  2. Children must have a disability, but do not need special education
  3. Children & parents, otherwise capable, will not be discriminated against or excluded from school programs and benefits based on their handicap, modifications and support services are put in place to ensure equal opportunity to education and school activities
  4. Students protected under 504 are not necessarily eligible under IDEA
  5. Many detailed left to the school, only adequate notice need be given to parents with an opportunity for the parents to be heard before changes are made
  6. Conduct related to disability can’t be disciplined by change of placement for more than 10 days. Conduct not related to disability can be disciplined and the child is not necessarily entitled to continued education at that school.
  7. May be right for your child if modifications or accommodations are needed, but specialized instruction or education is not needed

Stay healthy and informed, Dr. Patricia Hess – Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

circle-159252_1280

Gainesville Special Education & More

When you or a member of the family has special needs, trying to find the right services and resources in your community can …

9723708930_e38aeceba0_o

Suicide Awareness

As a doctor, I concern myself most with preventing and easing the suffering of my patients and giving them hope. As a psychiatrist, …

children-internet

Supervising Children on The Internet

On a daily basis, I listen to parents complain about how much time their kids spend on some kind of electronic device. At …