March 31, 2012

Smart, Disorganized & Overwhelmed: Childhood Struggles

Does your child struggle with organization, prioritizing and focusing? If so, they may have executive function deficits. Most children with ADHD, autism spectrum and learning disorders have executive deficits.
This is challenging and confusing for parents. These children have average or above-average intelligence but cannot get things done. They are forgetful and have problems completing basic tasks such as getting ready for school, doing homework independently and following through with multiple task requests by parents. Additionally, traditional parenting techniques such as incentives and consequences, do not work well in children with executive dysfunction. They are motivated but find it difficult to meet expectations.
Two very important treatment strategies include consistent routines and breaking down multi-step tasks. Children with executive functioning problems become easily overwhelmed with all that they must get done. Routines will decrease the number of tasks they need to think about. Breaking tasks down into smaller steps helps children overcome their lack of intuitive understanding about what is included in an activity such as getting ready for school.

Organizational skills need to be taught to these children. If they are disorganized at 10 years old, they will still be disorganized at 16 years old without the proper training. Poor executive functioning can be a lifelong disability but one that can be treated and supported.  

The Path from Despair to Hope

Speaking of the power of resurrection, Martin Luther once said, “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.” Certainly, Easter is a season of hope as death is overcome by life & our hope is renewed.
The work of the Community Christian Counseling Center is all about hope. Clients come to us in the midst of despair, struggling with all sorts of issues. One comes with depression that keeps her locked into a world of loneliness and sadness, full of self criticism & condemnation. Another comes with a history of trauma that is controlling their thoughts & feelings. Yet another is struggling with a relationship that is in crisis, ready to fall apart at any moment. A parent brings a child that she has lost hope for. The despair can seem relentless & overwhelming.
The counseling center provides services that provide hope. We listen with the compassion of God.  Positive change is possible when people feel heard & understood. We help people desire change & to believe it  can happen. Often, we learn & grow as humans only when we are in pain. A good therapist is able to draw on that pain to help people to believe that pain can yield positive growth. We help clients to rediscover hope that is lost in the midst of their despair. Not a hope that is wishful thinking but a hope that is realistic & therefore a positive factor in healing. Sometimes that may involve learning to accept something that seems unacceptable. Other times it involves helping to find a pathway where there seems to only be a dead end. Often times it involves teaching new skills to deal with unwanted feelings or conflict in relationships.
We help clients to recognize that the only one they can change is themselves. Often times we want to change others; we see the splinter in their eye, but miss the log in our own. A good counselor will help you to focus on yourself to see how you might relate to problems differently. Finally, the counselor will help clients to realize that only they can do the changing, with the help of God. We cannot walk the lonesome highway for them, but we can walk alongside them on their journey. The therapist can help clients to see new habits, paths, and ways of being, or more positive stories to tell about the self and the future. However, the client is the one who must choose these new options.