GROWING KIDS – In the stages of cognitive development identified by the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, children aged six to 12 are already able to think logically and understand analogies about concrete events. But when this is not the case, what should be done?
The key is for parents to be able to recognize the warning signs of childhood disabilities and be able to seek appropriate treatment before it is too late.
Visual and hearing impairment
Warning signs for children with visual impairment include: eyes that wander, are swollen, red, or cross-eyed; difficulty in reading and writing, trouble reading what’s written on the blackboard or bulletin boards, shutting one eye while reading or tilting the head to one side, squinting, frowning, or other facial distortions when reading, trouble locating tiny objects, and sensitivity to light.
Warning signs for children with hearing impairments include: poor attention, poor speech, inability to regulate their voice (too loud or too soft), difficulty following directions, looking as if they were reluctant to participate in oral activities, giving inappropriate answer, and complaints of earaches, colds, and sore throat.
Regular check-ups can be done so as to minimize problems occurring from the undetected impairments. Classroom and teaching strategies can also be adapted to help kids cope with their special condition.
Asthma and allergy
When kids have asthma, their airway is blocked or narrowed, making it difficult to breathe normally. The blockage is usually temporary, and may result in shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing, tightening of the chest, and chronic cough.
Depending on the severity of the asthma or allergy, a doctor should be able to prescribe a suitable treatment. Many children who suffer from asthma lead normal, active lives. It is therefore important for parents and teachers to know what substances or food items could trigger asthma attacks in school If teachers and the school’s health professionals are informed, they can all work together to prevent asthma attacks-make your children’s stay in school as worry-free and stress-free as possible.
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures, often resulting from certain activities in the brain. An epileptic seizures, often resulting from certain activities in the brain. An epileptic seizure can be triggered by many things. It can be caused by ordinary activities as reading, or by a flashing of lights. It can also be triggered by tiredness and sleep deprivation, stress, constipation, or menstruation.
If your kids experience epileptic seizures, you should inform the school administration, the teachers, and the school clinic about your kids’ condition. Instruct them on what needs to be done in case of an attack. Also, give them the contact numbers of their doctors, the nearest emergency room, and even your home and office numbers.
The most common sight of autism is the seeming lack of communication skills and consequently the failure to develop normal relationships with others, and even their own parents. Because kids with autism lack the conventional facility of language, they may prefer to play alone, resist being comforted, and not ask for help even when they are hurt. They seek out routines and familiar environments and can become attached to particular objects. They are also drawn to repetitive body movements such as twisting or flicking of the hands, banging of their hands, or flapping of hands. Research shows that rearing methods of parents have hardly any effect on the development of pervasive developmental disorders such as autism.
However, there are health professionals who can accurately diagnose autism. They can also develop programs that can help your kids live as close to a normal life as possible.
Children with learning disabilities have difficulty mastering some tasks at home or in school. They also have difficulty understanding and following instructions, remembering something which has just been said to them, such as mastering spelling, reading, writing, or math skills.
One of the most common learning disorders is dyslexia, where kids have trouble reading using the left-to-right orientation and therefore jumbles up letters and the spelling of words. A health professional specializing in learning disabilities can evaluate kids who may have this problem, and together with school professionals, can determine the extent of the learning disability and develop a program suitable to certain kids’ needs.
Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Problems with concentrating, as well as hyperactivity, are sometimes the result of ADD/ADHD. Other symptoms may include impatience or trouble waiting for one’s turn, constant distraction, shifting form one activity to another, and restless sleeping. Sometimes, ADD/ADHD develops as a result of other problems such as sight or hearing impairments or other physical and emotional illnesses. Again, a qualified professional can diagnose this condition, and develop ways to help your kids overcome the condition little by little.
Separation anxiety disorders
Kids may be suffering from an anxiety disorder if their fears do not go way with time and lead to a constant feeling of terror, dread, or worry. Irrational fears of objects or situations which cannot be overcome with reasonable explanations or actions are phobias. Common phobias are fear of a particular thing or object, animals, heights, and others. Social phobias, on the other hand, exhibit fear of being with other people and interacting with them.[pq]An anxiety disorder common to younger children is separation anxiety, wherein they panic when loved ones are out of sight. This disorder can appear suddenly in kids without displaying any prior tendencies.[/pq]
Kids suffering from this disorder may refuse to leave the house alone, go to a friend’s house to play, and may follow their parents around the house. When separated from their parents, they are preoccupied with fears that harm will come to them or that they may be abandoned. This disorder disrupts normal activities such as attending school.
There are many ways to help your kids overcome this problem Psychodynamic play therapy, for instance, helps kids express their anxiety through play, while behavior therapy helps kids overcome this fear of separation through gradual separation from the parents.
Behavioral disorders (conduct and oppositional defiant disorder)
Some children start to exhibit delinquent behavior when they enter their preteen years. Also, there are times when children just don’t want to follow rules or what their parents say. However, when children go out of their way just to be defiant, or the severity of behavior problems increases over time such as continually arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with requests, deliberately annoying people, having problems controlling their temper, and exhibiting anger and resentment, as well as spite and vindictiveness-they may be exhibiting oppositional defiant disorder.
This can be particularly challenging to deal with, but experts recommend a combination of counseling for the kids and behavioral-management-techniques training for the parents. This would require a lot of strength and understanding from the people around the children, so it’s best to get as much help where you can get it.
Depression can affect kids, and it certainly affects their overall energy, mood, and expressions of emotion and behavior. It is labeled by experts as a “mood disorder.”
Some symptoms associated with depression in children include crying, feeling sad, helpless or hopeless feeling worthless, loss of interest in activities they usually like, loss of energy on a daily basis, bad temper, irritability, fearfulness, tension and anxiousness, a drop in school performance, repeated emotional outbursts, shouting or complaining, not wanting to talk to others, repeated physical complaints of headaches, stomach aces, aching arms, or legs without any medical cause, significant changes in appetite and sleeping habits.
Certain “low moods” come and go and diminish over time. Sometimes, kids just need some time and space to make it go away. However, if symptoms do not decrease and persist over time, parents should seek immediate advice and consultation from a qualified healthcare professional, such as a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Although there are many treatment options for depression, the one found to be most effective for kids are peer-group approaches and those that emphasize the involvement of the entire family. Play therapy is also appropriate for younger children.[pq]Parents should avoid extended isolation from their kids’ activities. Spending time with them and showing how much you care for them can help them a lot.[/pq]
Some common forms of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. They often affect girls. Although there are many factors that lead to eating disorders, the family may have the greatest impact on kids during the younger years of their lives. It is important for parents to promote a healthy self-esteem to guard against eating disorders. This can be done by offering healthier food choices while not harping on how food can be bad for the health, criticizing the kids’ weight while labeling someone as beautiful because of her weight. Parents should demonstrate a healthy, active lifestyle, and avoid teasing because of one’s appearance.
On the other hand, some children suffer from obesity.[pq]Factors influencing obesity are family history of obesity, eating habits, and lifestyle.[/pq]
Risks include pediatric hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stress on joints and other body parts, low self-esteem, and difficulty in relating with peers. Obesity can be treated with adapting a formal exercise routine and increasing physical activity, creating a diet-management plan, and behavior-modification techniques.
Some organizations specializes in helping kids (as well as their families) with certain physical and psychological difficulties. If you feel as if your kids have any of the problems mentioned in this story, you may get in touch with the following (only applicable in the Philippines):
-Autism Society Philippines
47 Kamias Road 1102 Quezon City
Tel no / Fax: (63-2) 926-6941
Web site: http:// www.autismphils.org
-AD/HD Society of the Philippines
Room 210 Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs
Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University
Katipunan Road, Quezon City
Tel no: (63-2) 927-3463, (63-2) 426-6001 loc 4649;
Fax: (63-2) 927-3463
Website: http:// www.adhdsociety-ph.org
– Center for Family Ministries
Tel no: (63-2) 426-4289
-Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired
1680 E. Rodriguez Boulevard, Barangay Immaculate Conception, Cubao, Quezon City
Tel no: (63-2) 725-4191
Telefax: (63-2) 431-9257
-Bible Institute for the Deaf “Train for the Deaf”
Valenzuela City, Metro Manila
-De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde School of Special Studies Manila
Taft Avenue, Manila