A few FAQs regarding children, emotions, and covid-19
Q: How can we reduce our children’s anxiety regarding covid-19?
A: It is important to talk to your children about the virus, as knowledge generally reduces anxiety and assists children to feel more in control. There’s a great resource from Mindhearts (see attachment) which explains covid-19 as “cousins with the common cold/flu”. It allows you to talk about how the virus travels, the symptoms it might bring with it, open discussion regarding how your child feels about the virus and the impacts of this on them, and how you can reduce the spread and stay protected. It is important to use age-appropriate facts from reputable sources, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), and the Commonwealth Health authorities, but to be mindful of how much information you give at once.
Q: What about specific worries regarding older or high-risk friends and family members?
A: Your child may also have worries about their older family members, such as grandparents, or those with health concerns, catching the virus and possible death. It could be helpful to explain that old and sick people sometimes pass away, however old and healthy people are more likely to be okay. It may also be helpful to talk about the precautions your family can take, such as social distancing/isolating at this time, and the ways in which your children can assist older family members to be safe at this time, such as dropping off food and making video calls to stay connected. Helping our children to feel empowered to do something that adds value is really important when trying to increase their confidence and coping skills.
Q: What are some of the psychological concerns that may arise from the stress surrounding covid-19 for our children?
A: Anxiety and stress are most likely to occur. In addition to this, pre-existing mental health issues, such as mood disorders, may reappear. OCD like behaviours may also emerge, due to the emphasis on handwashing, cleanliness, and germs. If at any stage you are concerned that your child’s behaviours are no longer healthy, please speak up and raise this concern with your child (if appropriate), your GP or your child’s psychologist.
Q: What can anxiety/depression look like in children?
A: Children often express their emotions through their behaviours. You might observe an increase in controlling and/or defiant behaviours, or notice changes in appetite, sleep patterns, increased restlessness/fidgeting, repetitive questioning, increased focus on the news or social media, becoming withdrawn, and/or no longer finding pleasure in previously enjoyed activities.
Q: If we observe any of these behaviours, what should we do?
A: Check-in with your children regarding their feelings; what they are enjoying and what may be worrying/upsetting them. A great way to allow your children the opportunity to express their feelings is through ‘highlight, lowlight, and proud of’ discussions. Here, each family member shares something good, not good, and something they are proud of from their day.
Allow time, without pressure for your child to share their thoughts. Often this works best when you are not face to face with them. Perhaps go for a long walk, head out for a drive or play some basketball in the back yard. Create space for conversations to occur on the child’s terms wherever possible. Another way is to schedule a time to have a family chat or a 1:1 chat, with the virus as a designated theme. For example, “Okay kiddos, after dinner tonight, let’s all have a hot choccie and chat about what’s going on with this virus and how you’re all feeling about it.” If you notice concerning themes or possible mental health concerns, seek professional support from your GP, psychologist or counsellor.
Q: What are the formal mental health support options?
A: Psychology practices are continuing to support their clients through the use of Telehealth (phone/video sessions) during the covid-19 pandemic. Online and phone services, such as those through Beyondblue, Headspace, and Raising Children Network will also continue operating.
Q: What are some tips to keep ourselves as mentally healthy as possible during this time?
A: Maintaining routine and structure will be important to provide a sense of normalcy and reduce anxiety, as well as assist with the transition back to school when the time comes. You can do this by continuing to follow daily routines such as going to bed and waking up, having breakfast/lunch at the same time, completing age-appropriate chores such as making beds, packing up, feedings pets, and trying your best to make time for physical, calming, educational, play-based, and family activities. However, please don’t feel guilty if you are also trying to manage work requirements or other family needs. Just do your best. These are trying times and keeping the peace will also help the family unit.
Q: How can we manage time together when external activities (sports & clubs) aren’t on?
A: While many afterschool and extracurricular activities will be put on hold, there are lots of ways to spend your time and ensure your family are still being active! You could create obstacle courses/treasure hunts in the backyard, play games, create art projects, and do mindfulness activities. You can continue to go for walks around the block and run around in the park to exert energy. If you can’t get out, star jumps, jumping on the trampoline, ‘windmills’, and other ‘heavy work’ activities which engage big muscle groups will assist with regulation. There are a number of great apps and youtube exercise videos that families can follow and are quite fun and engaging. The Nike training app is one such example.
Q: How can we support our family and friends, through this time?
A: Stay connected! Reach out to family members and friends through FaceTime, video/voice calls, sharing photos, setting up video play dates for your children etc. Continue to check-in with others, listen to, and validate their feelings and thoughts. You can also support each other by recognising when family members may require a break, and set ‘quiet time’ where children and adults can engage in independent mindfulness activities such colouring, listening to music, lego etc. While some things are different, many things are staying the same. Emphasise these constants for your children, such as continuing to have love, safety, and support around them.
Please follow this link for more suggestions on managing anxiety regarding Covid-19:
Dear Spectrum House Family,
Is everyone okay? We know it’s tough right now…We are here for you! We are ready and prepared. We still make bad jokes and come up with good ideas! We still have terrible drawing skills and a wonderful calm in this chaos.
Here is the stuff you need to know about Spectrum House right now:
As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation continues to change throughout the world and locally we wanted to reassure you that we are monitoring the changes carefully and reacting mindfully and calmly. We are keeping up to date with the guidelines and best practice from The Australian Department of Health and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. We are making our best effort to continue to offer our services to clients, maintain our business and most importantly protect the mental and physical health, safety and well-being of all our clients, staff and our wider community, the very best way we can.
We want to assure you that we have put into place extra precautions which will be updated in line with The Australian Department of Health’s recommendations.
We are working hard to ensure your safety and to ensure you can access continued psychological support by doing the following:
We are asking you to please:
We are proud that we have the capacity to conduct sessions using Telehealth. There are a number of good reasons why that might be a good strategy to use in the current situation. Research evidence strongly supports the clinical efficacy of Telehealth sessions in a wide variety of circumstances.
Download our Telehealth information form here: Telehealth Information Sheet
Download our Teleheath consent form here: Informed Consent Form Telehealth – Spectrum House
What you will need for your Telehealth session
We remain committed to supporting all clients and their families, our staff and community throughout this time. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to speak with your psychologist or contact our team on 9888 4000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember that this is temporary, stay well and keep your sense of humour the best you can!
Finally, before you go, please check out our frequently asked questions to support our children through this time, thanks. http://spectrumhouse.net/coronavirus-faqs-for-parents/
The Spectrum House Team
We’d highly recommend you listen to this recent talk on understanding and managing depression by Dr. Michael Yapko, as hosted by the Australian Psychological Society.
Link to full article and video can be found here:
Do you teach a learner with a disability?
Do they have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Do they have challenging behaviours in the school setting?
Then we have a great workshop for you! Spectrum House are running professional development workshops to support school staff.
These are practical, based on sound research, and run by experienced psychologists.
This workshop includes the following topics:
– What is challenging behaviour?
– Why do these behaviours occur?
– What are effective proactive teaching strategies (ways to reduce the behaviour from happening to start with).
– What are clear reactive strategies that really target the reasons behind these behaviours? ( How do we react when the behaviour is occurring?)
– How can we use these strategies in a mainstream school environment?
This workshop is a hands-on learning opportunity, with lots of time for case examples and opportunities to work through behaviours that are relevant to your school.
(Please see below for registration details.)
This workshop includes the following topics:
– What is ASD and how do learners with a diagnosis differ from other learners?
– How can we make classrooms more manageable for these learners?
– What strategies can we put in place to support learners with ASD to be independent learners?
– How can we assist learners with ASD to cope in the classroom and with other social interactions?
– Case discussions and examples of strategies that have been used widely in classroom settings.
This workshop is a hands-on learning opportunity, with lots of time for case examples and opportunities to work through situations and learning concerns that are relevant to your school.
These workshops meet important Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), and are run by qualified psychologists with years of experience working with teachers to support learners with a disability and / or challenging behaviour.
Workshops can also be held at your school, at a time that suits your staff. We can also tailor or workshops to meet your needs, including options to have 2 hour, 3 hour or full day options.
Please complete an expression of interest form and return it to us via fax (03 9888 4010) or email email@example.com
Register for a workshop by completing the appropriate form (below) and faxing it to us on (03) 9888 4010, or scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or find out more by contacting our office via phone (03) 9888 4000.
The team at Spectrum House are pleased to announce that they will be at Melbourne’s first ever Autism Health and Wellbeing Expo. Autism services are often discovered by word of mouth, trial and error and by researching on the internet. We want to help you take the guess work and hard work out about what’s available. There will be exhibitors covering the areas of:
We look forward to seeing you there!
A reminder that our workshop: Helping Children Gain Skills for Life is running this Thursday the 14th of May. The workshop is designed for parents, teachers and tertiary students and it covers foundational information regarding Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) which is the most widely researched and evidence-based behavioural intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The workshop runs from 6-8pm and costs $20 per person. Please click here for more detailed information regarding the content of the workshop.
Spectrum House are calling for expressions of interest for a weekly social skills group for kindergarten aged children. If this is something you would be interested in please contact Spectrum House on 9888 4000 or email@example.com
Spectrum House are offering 30 minute one on one meetings with our Psychologists to give you more information about starting an ABA program and to help you understand the research regarding ABA. Once a child has received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, the research regarding intervention can be a very overwhelming process. In the 30 minute information session a Spectrum House Psychologist will go through the following:
This meeting will allow time for you to ask questions about ABA Therapy and the services provided by Spectrum House. If you do decide to commence services with Spectrum House, a formal intake meeting will be arranged in which information specific to your child will be provided to the Psychologist to allow them to obtain a clear history and to start the development of specific goals for your child.
Please call 9888 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to book an appointment
Spectrum House is running intensive holiday social skills programs throughout the April school holidays. Three groups are running including kinder, prep to grade 2 and grade 3-5. Click here for more information.
Spectrum House will be attending the ABA Today Conference, hosted by the Autism Behavioural Intervention Association (ABIA). On Saturday the 18th of April Spectrum House will be holding a stall at the conference for all attendees to view. ABA Today is the only national autism conference focussing specifically on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).
ABA Today brings together the Victorian and Australian ABA communities, and information about the most up-to-date ABA knowledge, research, and clinical practices. Spectrum House is excited to be a part of this wonderful event.