How Can Autism Affect Your Sleep?

If you or your child are autistic, you likely know that autism can affect sleep. Good sleep can be as elusive as it is essential, and countless people experience insomnia at some point in their lives. But for autistic people and their families, restorative sleep can seem a little farther out of reach. Considering its impact on critical areas such as emotional processing, learning abilities, and social interactions, improving sleep is a priority. This is true for everyone, but particularly for autistic people, whose strengths exist outside the social arena. Even though disrupted sleep is often part of autism, it’s possible to improve the situation and wake up well-rested. Sleep differences in autism present before 2 years of age and are one of the first indicators of this neurotype. By comparison, only about half of typically developing children and adolescents experience disrupted sleep. Genetic and neurological differences combined with environment... Read more

The ADHD Guide to Naturally Flowing, ‘Normal’ Conversations

There’s a general assumption that people know the unspoken, unwritten, often mysterious rules of social engagement. These assumptions do not account for the experience of living with neurodiversity. Either way, it’s never too late to learn how to have a conversation. Communication can be tricky for people with ADHD, who may interrupt too much, speak too quickly, or space out unintentionally and miss key elements of a conversation. As a result, many individuals worry that they will say something stupid in conversation, or that they’ll try so hard to appear “normal” that they end up looking strange. The task becomes so daunting, people may question their ability to engage in naturally flowing, comfortable conversations. There’s a general assumption that people know the unspoken, unwritten, and often mysterious rules of social engagement. These assumptions do not account for the experience of living with neurodiversity — some people with ADHD, learning differences,... Read more

Kids’ Ability To Manage Emotion Is Linked to Their Parents

It is estimated that 7% of the child population suffers from developmental language disorder Promoting spaces to work on emotional development can facilitate children's expressiveness and empathyProblems when talking, communicating and expressing feelings are common among children and adolescents, in particular at an early age. These difficulties increase in the case of those diagnosed with developmental language disorder, which affects approximately 7% of the child population. A recent study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, by researchers from the Cognition and Language Research Group (GRECIL), included in the eHealth Center at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the University of Barcelona (UB), has analysed the existence of differences in emotional regulation in children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with specific language impairment / developmental language disorder (SLI/DLD). "There are still few studies that assess the emotional and social dimension of the child and adolescent population with... Read more

Youth Depression: How Can We Support our Kids?

“‘All of a sudden I don’t feel like the norm. I feel cold, not warm. My brain’s like a storm’… Lilly the dog wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do. She hated seeing Benny the bunny so blue.” — Bunny & Doggo: Friends Fight Depression, written by Matt Christensen and illustrated by Leilani “Ducky” Banayos Benny, like a growing number of us, feels scared and uncertain, “stuck in the muck of [a] depressing black cloud.” Depression and anxiety have doubled among young people during the pandemic. Literature suggests that 25% of children – 1 in 4 – are experiencing significant depressive symptoms. “Since the pandemic started two years ago, there has been almost twice as many kids being treated for depression and anxiety,” says Dr. Emily Mudd, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist with Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s and mother of two. “From a neurochemical standpoint, depression and anxiety are closely related.... Read more

Child Sleep Problems Affect Mothers and Fathers Differently

After the birth of children, fragmentation of parental night sleep and fatigue due to the nightly demands of the infant are common.1 Indeed, there is evidence that mothers’ and fathers’ fatigue increase immediately following the birth of their child.1,2 Resulting in insufficient, non-restful sleep, this poses a stress factor for parental health, daily well-being, and functioning.3 In contrast, good children’s sleep quality predicted good maternal sleep.4 Most often, this is a temporary problem and infants develop the competence to fall asleep independently in the evening and go back to sleep after night waking during the first year of life.5,6 However, about 20–30% of the infants and young children are affected by sleep problems during the entire first 3 years of childhood and need support by a caregiver to fall asleep.7–10 Consequently, many parents are concerned with difficulties pertaining to their own sleep as well as handling their children’s sleep problems.... Read more

What do you need to do to break the cycle of shame as a person with ADHD?

What do you need to do to break the cycle of shame as a person with ADHD?

If you're a person with ADHD, you might find yourself in a cycle of shame. Shame for things you may have said, for not "reading a room" the way a neurotypical person might, or shame simply from a childhood where people made you feel bad or less-than because of your differences. Now that you're an adult, how can you shift away from criticism and resentment and move towards forgiveness and letting go? If you're carrying guilt and shame about your attention, learning, and emotional challenges, being judged and unforgiven is especially difficult. You already struggle with maintaining a growth mindset and learning from your mistakes. But when you feel humiliated and resented, it’s even harder to accept your stumbles as a natural part of living. It can be hard to forgive yourself. Now that you recognize those feelings, you can aim your focus on practicing forgiveness with your neurodiverse family... Read more

Children's ability to manage emotions is linked to that of their parents

Children’s ability to manage emotions is linked to that of their parents

Problems when talking, communicating and expressing feelings are common among children and adolescents, in particular at an early age. These difficulties increase in the case of those diagnosed with developmental language disorder, which affects approximately 7% of the child population. A recent study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, by researchers from the Cognition and Language Research Group (GRECIL), included in the eHealth Center at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the University of Barcelona (UB), has analysed the existence of differences in emotional regulation in children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with specific language impairment / developmental language disorder (SLI/DLD). "There are still few studies that assess the emotional and social dimension of the child and adolescent population with SLI/DLD, which is why we wanted to delve into the study of emotional regulation in this population," said Nadia Ahufinger, lead co-author of the research along... Read more

How are teachers using psychology in the classroom?

How are teachers using psychology in the classroom?

A child is not a statistic, roll number or a brick in the wall. Every child has a unique way to process life and learning and to impose a one-size-fits-all teaching methodology is insensitive and short-sighted. Research has repeatedly proven that every individual has a certain learning style that is informed by their upbringing, background, social and personal experiences. As educators, if we cannot address every nuance in a child’s personality, we can at least make an effort to understand the basics of educational psychology to help children learn better. Labelling and castigating children for ‘acting out,’ ‘being difficult,’ calling them ‘emotionally unstable’ and making a bad example out of them is not unusual in schools. The damage this does to the delicate psyche of the child is inestimable. Labels like ‘slow’, ‘disruptive’ and ‘inattentive’ can scar a child forever. Educational psychology is an attempt to approach a child with... Read more

ASD Symptoms May be Present Before Your Baby First Speaks

ASD Symptoms May be Present Before Your Baby First Speaks

Some infants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, may exhibit social communication differences as early as 9 months of age, a new study suggests. Compared to their typically developing peers, infants with ASD may show signs such as a lack of appropriate eye contact and inability to respond to attention. However, these signs may not always be as apparent to parents. Hence, getting help from specialists with child development backgrounds could put concerns to rest. The study’s findings also point to a critical window for targeted early intervention that could help children with ASD reach their full developmental potential. Although speech is many parents’ first concern when spotting signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there may be other forms of communication that could point to autism early on in infancy, a new study has found. Social communication skills such as eye gaze and facial expressions, for example, develop rapidly... Read more

Do Mindfulness Interventions Improve Obesity Rates in Children and Adolescents: A Review of the Evidence

Do Mindfulness Interventions Improve Obesity Rates in Children and Adolescents

Mindfulness interventions have shown promise in improving self-regulation, depression, anxiety, and stress levels across all ages. Obesity rates in children are rising worldwide. It has been postulated that through improvements in self-regulation with mindfulness interventions, obesity rates can be improved in children and adolescents. In this review, we attempt to explain how mindfulness interventions may impact obesity rates and obesity-related complications and give the current state of evidence for the following mindfulness interventions: Mindful Eating, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Yoga, Spirituality, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Over the last 20 years, childhood obesity has become a major public health concern in the United States. According to the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015–2016, 18.5% of American youth between the ages of 2 and 19 were classified as being obese using a body mass index (BMI) threshold >95% for age.1 The rate of obesity increases... Read more

What is Emotional Dysregulation?

What is Emotional Dysregulation?

Emotional dysregulation refers to difficulty in managing emotions or in keeping them in check. These may also be thought of as mood swings or labile moods. It can involve experiencing intense emotions such as sadness, irritability, frustration, or anger that are comparatively more heightened than expected, relative to the situation that triggered them. What is emotional dysregulation? Emotion dysregulation involves difficulties with negative affective states e.g., sadness and anger. Emotional dysregulation might affect children or adults. Adolescents may be particularly at risk due to this developmental period in a person’s life being recognizably a time of increased stress due to puberty and peer context. Although it is a common perception that children learn to manage their emotions as they grow up, for some effectively managing emotions continues to be problematic well into adulthood. Those with emotional dysregulation might not easily recognize their own emotions and can become confused or guilty... Read more

Teach children how to be responsible for their own learning to gain agency

Teach children how to be responsible for their own learning to gain agency

One cannot fail to notice that concerns about mental health and wellbeing are increasingly figuring in all news media, especially in relation to young people. This raises questions as to whether this is primarily a product of our rapidly changing, volatile and unpredictable times, or a lack of parenting and schooling practices that fail to develop strong volition, perseverance and the capability to deal with life’s inevitable challenges. Challenges, albeit in different forms, have always been part of human history. For example, bullying was ever-present in yesteryear, but we hear more about it nowadays, especially in relation to the online environment. Similarly, poverty and discrimination of various kinds are not new existential phenomena, they have always been part of human interactions – or the lack of them. Certainly, statistics paint a disturbing picture, with one in eight children and adolescents in the UK experiencing a mental illness (NHS, 2018). The... Read more

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