Topic: DIR

Why We Misunderstand Behaviors in Autistic Children— And How We Can Get It Right

An Indiana school recently made headlines after one of its special education teachers presented an autistic fifth grader with an award for “Most Annoying Male” at a school ceremony. While the incident was unfortunate in many ways, perhaps most disturbing was how it revealed that even people who work closely with such children can utterly […]

Read Full Article

Moving Beyond Autism Awareness and Acceptance

According to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), “autism acceptance” shouldn’t be limited to a specific day or month. Rather, it should be an ongoing, collective effort to  create a world that values, includes, and celebrates all kinds of minds. As a child psychologist who has worked for decades with families of children on the […]

Read Full Article

It’s Not Just What You Say But How You Say It: How Early-Intervention Professionals Can Support Parents

Sitting on my office couch, Shawna let out a sigh. “We need help,” she said, barely getting the words out before she began to cry. Her face was gaunt and she had dark circles under her eyes. Over the next hour, she explained what had led her to seek my help. Shawna and her husband […]

Read Full Article

Freedom of Choice: Why Special Education Programs Should be Transparent About their Approaches

When parents enroll their children in a school, they often don’t realize they’re choosing not only a program, but a whole approach. I was reminded of this when I was asked to observe a little girl at a state-sponsored preschool for children with developmental differences. “Ana”, 3, was happily playing when she noticed that a […]

Read Full Article

Sensory Processing and Challenging Behaviors: Below the Iceberg

Grant, age four, was asked to leave two preschools because of misbehavior. With tousled brown hair, big brown eyes, and a playful spirit, he both charmed and confused most of the adults in his life. He had such difficulty following directions that his teachers had to reprimand him every few minutes. They described him as […]

Read Full Article

What to Consider before Starting Childhood Behavioral Therapy

Aly’s sleep problems were becoming so challenging that now her parents were losing sleep. For years, the five-year-old had woken up several times nightly. When a pediatrician’s advice failed to alleviate the problem, her parents sought help from an agency that offered their daughter sleep training using a behavioral approach. After just three weeks, Aly […]

Read Full Article

Why It’s a Mistake to Prioritize Behavior Goals Over Social-Emotional Development

It was almost dinner- time, and little “Max” was hungry and tired. After a busy and active afternoon, he was in the midst of a lengthy home session with his behavior therapist when his mother stepped in the door from work. Smiling with delight, the boy instinctively ran toward the door to offer a greeting, […]

Read Full Article

Why We Can’t Let Play Disappear from Children’s Lives

An essential ingredient has been slowly disappearing from children’s lives: free, spontaneous play. Many factors have converged to cause the decline of play. Technology absorbs more and more of children’s attention. Schools pile on academic pressures earlier and earlier. And parents are increasingly opting to place their children in structured extracurricular activities. That makes today’s […]

Read Full Article

Autism Approaches Should Respect Children’s Emotions

Nearly thirty years ago, as a newly minted clinical psychologist, I was fortunate to learn about social-emotional development from the writings of such pioneers as John Bowlby, who launched the field of study known as attachment theory. Bowlby was among the first to recognize the importance of early emotional attachments and their positive impact on […]

Read Full Article

TOPICS