Urgent answer for an important question

URGENTMamas, this question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor — completely anonymous. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

Less than 48 hours ago, this note came in and we rushed it to a licensed professional counselor and fellow mom, Lauren Levine. Our thanks to her for getting us such a quick reply so we could publish it in hopes that whoever sent it to us will see the answer. Please know that we are thinking of you and praying for your safety. We know all our fellow moms reading this will join us in doing the same.

Question:

In the past 30 days my husband has put his hands on me during four separate arguments. I’m a stay at home mom and I don’t know what to do. Started with pushing and has lead to grabbing me by the throat and pushing me to the ground to hitting me in the nose. How do I document or prove any of this unless I call the cops? We have three kids still at home, our youngest is 8 months. I have nothing — no job, no money. I solely rely on him but I can’t take this anymore. I’m scared if I leave he will have the kids for visitation and I won’t be there to protect them.

Dear Anonymous,

First, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in this tough situation. There are a few things you should know.

  • domestic_violence_awareness_posters-r5b998ded0d574653ae2b5adac87d4e88_wfb_8byvr_324First, reaching out the way you have in writing was a big step and I know this may have been hard for you to do.
  • Secondly, nothing that is happening in your home is your fault. You cannot cause your husband to hurt you, no matter how much he tries to blame you.
  • Third, there is help for you. 

As best you can, make sure to document any incidents and evidence of this by taking pictures of injuries and/or documenting in writing with dates of the incidents. Leaving an abusive or violent situation is not easy but it can be done.

Some women hang on to hope that things will change. You might be afraid of what your spouse will do if he realizes you’re planning to leave. You also express fear that the kids may be hurt if alone with him. It is my experience that supervised visitation is the norm in domestic violence cases, which means your husband will most likely NOT be left alone with the kids if there is evidence of violence. 

It’s not unusual to feel trapped and helpless. Most communities including Northwest Arkansas have women’s shelters that are protected and anonymous. I have worked with women who have found safety in shelters such as these. There you will find many resources including counselors, legal services, vocational support, child care and more.

Remember: You deserve to be treated with respect; You deserve a safe and happy life; Your children deserve a safe and happy life; You are not alone. There are people waiting to help. Including me. I am a licensed professional counselor and have experience photolaurenwith helping in  situations like the one you are in. Please accept my offer to call me so that I can offer some guidance to you on the phone. My number is 479-236-4172.

Sincerely,

Lauren

Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter: 479-246-9999

Peace At Home Family Shelter: 877-442-9811 (toll free)

Click here for more info about abuse.

lauren info

On Your Mind: Play during therapy

What are the benefits of using toys, music and art in my child’s therapy sessions?

Something parents don’t often realize is that a child’s brain is not fully developed. The frontal lobe – the part of the brain that controls one’s ability to reason, problem solve and recognize consequences based on current actions – does not fully form until we’re in our 20s. That’s why kids don’t understand and communicate in the same way adults do.

toysSince most children (depending on age and intellect) can’t sit still and have a conversation like most adults, therapy should be tailored to what they can do. Using toys, music and art can be one of the most effective types of treatment for children from age’s birth to 18, with almost any identified problem. Play in all varieties acts as a child’s natural form of communication.

Through play, children express their fears, concerns, desires and it can help them work through issues such as abuse, divorce, or depression. Toys, music and art act as the words the child uses to create “their” story.

Keep in mind every child is different, so a child may not benefit from the same types of treatment that others do. But more often than not, if you provide a child with the right tools to communicate, that child will open up and talk.

This “On Your Mind” segment is provided by Caitlin Forrest, LMSW, a therapist at Methodist Family Health’s january writer1Counseling Clinic, 74 W. Sunbridge Dr., in Fayetteville, where the phone is (479) 582-5565. Caitlin is currently being trained in Play Therapy and will be a certified play therapist this summer.

Methodist Family Health is a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral and mental health services to children under 18 and their families all across in Arkansas. The organization has been serving families and youth for more than 114 years, beginning as an orphanage in 1899. Today, Methodist Family Health has all levels of care, ranging from outpatient counseling clinics to residential treatment centers to an inpatient behavioral hospital and an extensive staff of trained therapists and mental health professionals. To find out more about Methodist Family Health, call 501.661.0720 or 501.866.3388 toll free or visit www.methodistfamily.org.

On Your Mind: When is it more than teen-aged moodiness?

On Your Mind MFH

Welcome to new nwaMotherlode.com sponsor, Methodist Family Health! The licensed counselors at Methodist Family Health will be fielding questions from local women in our monthly “On Your Mind” feature. This feature tackles the mental and emotional issues that can affect any of us, including things like grief, anger, depression, stress, anxiety and more.

Remember that you can submit a completely ANONYMOUS question to one of the counselors at Methodist Family Health. Just submit the question via our online hotline link by clicking the butterfly icon below this post. The question will be received with absolutely no email address or other identifying information attached to it. Once your question is received, a counselor will answer it here on nwaMotherlode.com in an upcoming “On Your Mind” post.

Here’s this month’s question.

Q: Sometimes I just don’t know how to deal with my teen-aged daughter. She is moody so often and seems angry at the world. How do I know when it’s time to seek help or speak to a mental health counselor?

depressed teenA: I feel your pain. The mood swings that sometimes accompany the teen years can be hard on parents, too.

First, answer these questions:

  • Are the problems with your child getting in her way?
  • Do they interfere with the major areas of her life, such as going to school, finishing schoolwork, family relationships, peer relationships?
  • Has there been legal involvement?

All of these are ways of looking at the impact your child’s symptoms are having on her and the family. Gauge your child’s behavior by that of other kids close to her age. Have there been sudden changes in behavior, especially withdrawing, a loss of interest in things she used to like (such as suddenly dropping out of an extracurricular activity), crying spells, or sleep disturbance, such as difficulty falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night?

In some children, stomach aches, headaches and other physical complains can be linked with feeling anxious or depressed. Any mention of harming  herself or others or threats of suicide should be red flags. Whatever you do, do NOT ignore these signs.

So here’s what you can do. First, contact your school counselor, family doctor or an outpatient provider to determine if you need additional services. Many providers have therapists who can meet privately with children in their school setting so their school day is less disrupted. It’s so important that you keep talking to your teen, while at the same time respecting her need for privacy. Be direct and honest and tell her what specific changes you’ve noticed in her and why you’re concerned.

Mental health professionals are equipped to offer sound advice to parents and children alike and to work with your family to create an effective treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to seek the help and advice of a licensed mental health professional.

Wishing you and your daughter the very best.

Methodist Family Health is a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral and mental health services to children under 18 and their families in Arkansas. Methodist Family Health has all levels of care, ranging from outpatient counseling clinics to residential treatment centers to an inpatient behavioral hospital and an extensive staff of trained therapists and mental health professionals. To find out more about Methodist Family Health, call 501.661.0720 or 866.813.3388 toll free, or visit www.methodistfamily.org.

Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer:  This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or the Methodist Family Health website.

One-On-One: Speech language therapist answers question about 2-year-old not talking

Guest post by Kristy Brown, Northwest Arkansas speech language pathologist, Arkansas Regional Therapy Services

ARTS boysAs I travel to see children for speech and language services, mothers or teachers will often question me regarding typical speech and language development for children. 

One very common question I have received this summer is:

“My two year old is not talking, but my pediatrician does not seem concerned.  I was told that we can re-visit this concern at their three year check up and decide then whether a speech-language evaluation is warranted”. 

As a Speech Language Pathologist, I see Early Intervention as an important key to communication success! Often, in classrooms, I see frustration (sometimes in the form of biting or tantrums) due to delays in receptive and or expressive language and delayed social skills.

In response to the concern quoted above, I think there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Parent Concern. As a parent, if something doesn’t feel right, do not feel bad about getting a second opinion.  You may not have the Arkansas Regional Therapy Servicessame training or knowledge as a speech pathologist, but you have the advantage of knowing your own child better than anyone else on earth, and therefore your views and insights are extremely important.   EARLY INTERVENTION is the key here.  The earlier a delay is caught the better!  Speech and Language evaluations are painless. :) Actually children often find them very fun. They want to come back and ‘play’ and are very heartbroken when the evaluation is over.
  • Age.Once a child is 2, you will not have another well child check up until they are 3.  So, in my opinion, waiting an entire year is a long time when there might be possible developmental delays.  Our state has a wonderful Early Intervention program that allows you to obtain a speech_-language evaluation at no charge!
  • Family history.This is very important if an older sibling has a history of speech/language delay or a diagnosis such as Autism.  It is wise to stay in the loop of typical development for your other children as well.  Your child may also have an existing genetic diagnosis that could have possible effects on speech and language, which you would want to keep documented for evaluation purposes.

What areas might a Speech Language Pathologist evaluate?

Production of Speech-  Production is the ability to mechanically produce speech sounds and is also known as articulation.  You might ask:  Has he developed the necessary control of the muscles of his tongue and lips? Does he still need to learn how to produce certain speech sounds? Which ones? Is he understood by others?

Comprehension- Your child’s comprehension of speech is their ability to understand language.  You might ask:  Can he respond to verbal directions?  Does he understand new words readily?  Does he respond to questions appropriately?

Expression- Expressive language is the ability to express your thoughts/language.  You might ask:  How well does he convey his ideas to others? Does he use any grammatical rules (like rules of word order)?  Does he relay his messages clearly?

Social-  Social language is how our child functions socially and is also known as Pragmatics or Social Skills.  You might ask:  Does he get along with peers?  Does he play with peers and toys appropriately?  Does he demonstrate appropriate social languages skills such as responding to his name, saying hi/bye, eye contact, and following classroom rules with the group?  Does he pick up on social cues such as tone of voice or facial expressions?  Does he understand jokes?

Feeding/ Swallowing- Feeding and swallowing can encompass skills such as lip closure, appropriate chewing, drooling, sensory issues, and other developmental feeding needs such as cup drinking, drinking from a straw, etc.  Your Speech Pathologist is usually part of a team to address these issues.

Kristy BrownIf you do have a concern about your child’s speech-language development, feel free to call a local speech pathologist and speak with them about your concerns.  They are often able to take a short list of your concerns, along with some other pertinent details, and give you an idea of whether or not you should request an evaluation.  They can also give you strategies to use in the mean time to help encourage your child’s speech and language development at home. Contact Kristy Brown at 479-283-4637 or visit the Arkansas Regional Therapy Services website by clicking here.

On Your Mind: About Asperger’s Syndrome

on your mind

Dear Tom,

I’ve been reading a lot about Asperger’s Syndrome lately, and my son has many of the characteristics associated with this condition. He is 8 years old and has never been diagnosed. Isn’t this something our pediatrician would have already caught? What type of doctor typically diagnoses someone with Asperger’s and how should I proceed, if I think he might have this condition? Is there any treatment available for Asperger’s Syndrome?

Dear Mom,

Asperger’s syndrome, also called Asperger’sdisorder, is part of the continuum of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). PDDs are a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. PDDs include the diagnoses of Autism and the milder form, Asperger’s syndrome

While Asperger’s syndrome is a part of the PDD continuum which includes Autism, Asperger’s is at the milder end and there are some important differences between the two. Children with Asperger’ssyndrome typically have better social functioning than do those with autism. In addition, children with Asperger’s syndrome generally have normal to near-normal intelligence and near-normal language development.

Asperger’s syndrome is frequently first diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 8 years but can actually be identified at almost any age once delays in social development can be identified. While there is no cure, early identification and treatment can be helpful in improving quality of life and functioning level. Some treatment interventions are Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy. Also, Social Skills training and Behavior Modification can assist in enhancing pro-social behaviors and reducing problem behaviors.

Asperger’s syndrome is usually first recognized by a pediatrician during a routine well-child checkup when looking at social developmental milestones. Not all pediatricians will be quick to make this diagnosis as it requires parents to report some of the developmental concerns that would flag a more thorough investigation. Most commonly, a pediatrician will refer the child for further assessment by a specialist to be assured of the diagnosis. A more complete assessment may be done by a specialist, such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist, pediatric neurologist, developmental-behavioral pediatrician, or another health professional who is specially trained to diagnose and treat Asperger’s syndrome.

Good luck Mom.

Tom

Tom Petrizzo serves as CEO of Ozark Guidance and has degrees in social work and law. You can reach Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020. Tom has spent the last 20 years managing non-profit centers in Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas. He has also served as adjunct faculty at the social work graduate program at three large universities. He’s married to Teri Classick, a licensed clinical social worker, and they have two daughters. When he’s not at work, Tom likes to jog, bike ride, read and he even belted out the National Anthem lately at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals Game!

Tom would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback. Tom will be back each month to answer another woman’s question.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

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