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How Child Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Play Therapy Can Help Empower Your Child

Navigating an unfamiliar school environment can be daunting for children, and some may require additional support to work through their daily challenges. Wondering how support services in Singapore, like child counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and play therapy can make a difference to your child? Read on to find out.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & Child Counselling: Nurturing A Child’s Emotional Well-being

Child Counselling & Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: What's The Difference?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps children to modify their thinking patterns and habits in the present. It involves identifying and examining how negative thoughts influence their actions and then replacing them with positive ones. On the other hand, Child Counselling is more focused on the child's past experiences. The effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling varies depending on the child's needs. While cognitive behavioural therapy may work better for some children, counselling may be more effective for others.

Conditions Addressed through Child Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy include:

  • Anger management
  • Anxiety/Panic Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Behavioural Issues
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Chronic Stress
  • Communication Challenges
  • Depression
  • Disruptive behaviour disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Lack of Emotional Regulation
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Self-harm
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Child Counselling

Managing and nurturing the emotional well-being of children is extremely important, but it can be challenging to approach the topic and get a child to open up. Having identified this issue, child counselling services are provided at the Integrated International School to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can express themselves freely with a trained in-house counsellor. 

Through individual or group counselling, children will discuss their thoughts and emotions and are equipped with tools for stress management, self-awareness, mindfulness, and problem-solving. Our professional support staff will encourage students to discuss anything that’s on their mind. These counselling sessions help children identify their emotions and provide them with the tools to handle stress, grow self-awareness, utilise mindfulness techniques, and develop problem-solving skills.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a form of talk therapy that aims to help children identify and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. The method is useful in tackling personal challenges that the child may be facing, fostering resilience, and equipping children with valuable life skills.

For example, a child might say “Reading is so boring and difficult for me. I give up, I am never going to read books again!”. Cognitive behavioural therapy approaches the situation from a more positive and objective standpoint, such as “Reading may be a challenge for me, but I am not going to give up. I am just as smart as the other kids and I will overcome this challenge.”

Cognitive behavioural therapy also focuses on the present and future, which helps children understand that they have little control over what has happened in the past. Children are instead encouraged to reflect on how they can better regulate their emotions and behaviour. Empirical methods used in cognitive behavioural therapy have proven effective in treating various conditions.

At the Integrated International School, our team of experienced teachers work closely alongside our in-house psychologists and therapists to tweak each child's cognitive behavioural therapy approach, in environments where the children feel most at ease. This level of detail ensures that positive relationships are fostered, children are more receptive to therapy sessions, and ultimately leads to more effective intervention outcomes.

Play Therapy: Helping Children Express Themselves Through Play

Play therapy helps children to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It is based on the idea that children naturally use play as a way of communicating, and that by using play in therapy, children can express themselves more easily than through traditional talk therapy. This therapy is generally used with children who are between the ages of 3 and 12.

How can Play Therapy help my child?

Play therapy is a helpful approach for children dealing with emotional or behavioural issues. It provides them with a safe and natural outlet to express themselves through play, allowing them to develop a sense of control and work through difficult situations. Play therapy also helps children to learn important social skills, such as communication, cooperation, and negotiation. By engaging in play, children can acquire new coping mechanisms and learn how to redirect inappropriate behaviours.

Play therapy can be either directive or nondirective. In the directive approach, the therapist specifies the toys or games to be used and guides the play with a specific goal in mind. In the nondirective approach, the child is free to choose their own toys and games and play in their way with minimal instructions or interruptions. The therapist observes closely and participates as appropriate.

Sessions must take place in an environment where the child feels safe and where there are few limitations. The therapist may use techniques that involve creative visualisation, storytelling, role-playing puppets, stuffed animals, dance and creative movement, arts and crafts and more. Through playtime, the therapist can observe and gain insights into a child’s problems. The therapist can then help the child explore emotions and deal with unresolved trauma.

Play Therapy may help in a variety of conditions:

  • Aggressive or angry behaviour
  • Anxiety, depression, grief
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Developmental delay or learning disabilities
  • Domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
  • Eating and toileting disorders
  • Facing medical procedures, chronic illness, or palliative care
  • Family issues, like divorce, separation, or death of a close family member
  • Natural disasters or traumatic events
  • Problem behaviours in school

However, it's important to note that play therapy should not be considered a substitute for medication or any other necessary treatments in case your child has a diagnosed mental or physical illness. Play therapy can be used alone or in combination with other therapies to help your child manage their condition more effectively.

Why Does the Integrated International School Singapore Provide In-House Child Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Play Therapy?

Child counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and play therapy will be pivotal in supporting your child's emotional well-being, fostering resilience, and equipping them with essential life skills. At the Integrated International School, we offer an integrated approach to therapy, combining the expertise of teachers, psychologists, and therapists in a safe and nurturing learning environment.

This collaborative effort ensures that each child receives a tailored intervention plan to address their unique needs. This approach fosters positive relationships between students and support school specialists, leading to effective intervention outcomes, and ensuring every child receives the personalised support they need to thrive academically and emotionally.

Want to find out more on how the Integrated International School can help your child? Contact us today for a school tour. See you soon!

Does My Child have Autism?

As autism awareness becomes more prevalent, parents now have access to a wealth of information regarding the condition, along with the early warning signs that they can look out for when it comes to their own child. All children develop at different rates, parents should not automatically become concerned if their child does not hit certain milestones right away. Every child develops at their own pace, after all. If, however, you find your child consistently missing milestones by more than a few weeks, then parents are encouraged to seek advice from their pediatrician and or a clinical psychologist, who can guide you towards the next steps for a professional assessment and potential diagnosis. Catching the early signs of autism can make a drastic difference to your child’s development; by equipping your child with the best tools and support to help them thrive, as well as improving prognosis.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that develops during early childhood. The condition can typically be characterised through displayed behaviours such as struggles in social interactions, obsessive/repetitive behaviours, and poor emotional regulation.

ASD is an incredibly vast spectrum, and no one person with ASD is the same and can manifest into varying degrees depending on the severity of the child’s symptoms. An individual with autism can be described as ‘high’ or ‘low’ functioning. Those who are higher functioning can generally manage their behaviour but can struggle in areas such as social interaction and sensory processing issues.

Why is early intervention so critical?

The early years of a child’s life are extremely important in setting the foundation for future development. The human brain grows rapidly between the ages of 0-5 and is the period where research shows early intervention to be the most effective. This is due to the brain’s remarkable ability to adapt, which is why early intensive treatment may help rewire and even improve some symptoms. This does not mean that improvement is not possible should intervention be introduced later in childhood, nor does it guarantee success.

How to detect early signs?

No one knows your child more than you do. As a parent, you are in the best position to observe your child, and by knowing the signs to look out for, you can catch them early. If your child is in daycare, you can set a meeting with teachers to check in on their development or discuss any concerns you have at home to see if the same behaviours are happening in environments outside the home. Again, it is important not to compare your child to other kids since they all develop and thrive at different paces, but any learning difficulties or red flags should be brought up as soon as possible.

What are the early signs parents should look out for?

Diagnosing autism before 18 is possible but professionals prefer to assess children after this age as they can ascertain a more accurate prognosis. It can also be trickier to diagnose girls as they are four times less likely than boys to go undiagnosed, however, these numbers are improving as we learn more about the presentation of autism in girls.

Here are some of the early signs that can suggest autism in infants and toddlers:

6 months:

Does not smile or express other joyful emotions

Does not make eye contact (for example during feeding or playtime)

Does not respond to their name or familiar voices

Does not imitate facial expressions such as smiling

12 months:

Does not babble or 'baby talk'

Does not show gestures such as pointing, reaching out, or waving

Rarely shows interest in caregivers

16 - 14 months:

Does not use spoken words

Does not use two-word phrases that aren't repetitive

Displays repetitive movement or behaviours

It is important to remember that a child with autism can thrive with the right help and support, and it's a matter of helping them navigate the world through their amazing eyes. Today there is a range of support services available, that when used efficiently, can allow your child to flourish. As a special needs school in Singapore, IIS provides a safe and nurturing environment for our kids, where we embrace differences while treating all our students with equal respect.

Our team of dedicated staff is here to help your child reach their potential. Find out more about our dedicated support services here.

What is Dyspraxia (or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder)?

Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe is certainly a popular hero on film, but he’s also become a hero to many children with learning disabilities. After speaking out about his difficulty with a simple task such as tying his shoelaces, he went onto share he has a mild form of dyspraxia (or developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD). Those who have this condition tend to find it hard to plan and coordinate physical movement.

Children with dyspraxia may experience difficulty in functioning everyday life skills such as handwriting, typing, struggling to throw and/or catch a ball or cutting with scissors. It may also affect their ability to speak clearly. In adulthood, these difficulties may continue as they learn new skills at home, in education and work (such as driving a car and DIY tasks).

Many people with dyspraxia may also struggle with short-term memory, perception, processing and speech. For example, a person may mix up the steps when completing a task they’ve done before or may not remember what to do first. There are notable signs or symptoms that are commonly associated with dyspraxia:

Poor handwriting and consistently struggling to write

Trouble with visual-spatial tasks

Noticeably stressed or struggling with gross motor skills (e.g. hopping, jumping, skipping)

Appearing disorganised and often forgetful

Sensory processing issues

Difficulty in following instructions

Avoiding physical exercise and games

Slow development of functional skills with dressing, grooming or hygiene

Children may not be diagnosed until they reach primary school age (6-7 years onwards) because there is no simple test for dyspraxia and symptoms can be missed or overlooked as they may overlap with other possible conditions. As children are still developing their muscular strength, this can also affect their motor skills and capabilities. This is where OT can be very effective as it allows therapists to address sensory processing issues by applying appropriate prompts to encourage children to attempt tasks. One of the main approaches applied in OT is ‘self-regulation therapy’, which is conducted by gradually exposing kids to common sensory stimulation in a controlled, structured, and repetitive way, allowing the brain to adapt over time. The gradual approach of this technique helps to ensure that the body is receiving and interpreting the correct messages from the muscles, while training the nervous system to respond to common sensations and movements in a coordinated manner.

This approach is typically branched out into 3 areas:

Sensory Regulation/Self-Regulation

This relates to a child’s capacity to appropriately increase or decrease their level of alertness or arousal to match their situation and surroundings. Children typically begin to display signs of self-regulation by age 2, where they can follow the behaviour guidelines of those around them. By age 3, most children can more-or-less generalise self-regulation strategies from previous prompts and experiences from authority figures. Children with dyspraxia however, may struggle with this, which can result in emotional stress when it comes to dealing with complex situations or social demands. With quality OT however, these children can show significant improvement.

Emotional/Behavioural Regulation

This refers to the ability to manage our emotions. From a neuro-typical stance, toddlers and teenagers can struggle in this area but over time, the connections in their brain will continue to strengthen. Kids with dyspraxia, however, can struggle to make these connections on their own which is where OT is extremely beneficial.

Cognitive Regulation

This helps to encourage a child’s ability to use the mental processes necessary to improve their problem-solving abilities. This is particularly important when it comes to concentrating on school tasks and teaching persistence and perseverance skills.

At the Integrated International School, we provide Occupational Therapy under our Support Services. Our therapists will work one-to-one in our purpose-built OT space and focus on specific skill development for children with learning difficulties, while providing advice and strategies to teachers which they can implement and adapt to the classroom setting. This collaborative approach also ensures that everyone including parents are working together to provide the best outcome for the child.

If you’d like to find out more about our special education Singapore Support Services and learning approach at the Integrated International School, please get in touch with our friendly Admissions team, click here to enquire.

The Benefits of Smaller Class Sizes

In today’s fast-paced society of technological and media advances, children are often portrayed as little adults, and the pressure to succeed can be overwhelming for them. We’re seeing more and more children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Anxiety and behavioural difficulties. These students may be overlooked in bigger schools because of larger class sizes and lower teacher-to-student ratios. If special needs education support services aren’t offered on campus, they can be found outside of school; however, this means more cost, time and effort for both the parents and child.

At the Integrated International School (IIS), as you step into one of our inclusive classrooms, you’ll notice not only the wonderful neurodiversity among students but the teacher-to-student ratio (1:5) and overall class size. With our smaller class settings and tailored educational approach, each student receives the differentiated yet inclusive learning experience they deserve, as well as developing balanced perspectives and a greater understanding of their fellow students.

When IIS was first established over 10 years ago, a key factor that stood out for parents and continues to do so, is our commitment to an individualized education. Here are several important benefits of smaller class sizes and individualization:

A smaller classroom setting can be adapted to fit the needs of all the students.

Teachers can quickly build a relationship with a smaller group of students and tailor their approach according to the learning styles of each person. A student who struggles to comprehend a one-pager may receive a shorter summary of the storyline. This means that the student is receiving the same content and learning experience as his/her peer. Modifications such as this are a daily support our students benefit from because our teachers have the time and resources to identify students and their learning difficulties in our intimate classes.

Lessons and projects are more hands-on.

Students have the opportunity to do the work rather than just learn about it! Smaller classrooms enable students to get more involved with the subjects they are learning about. Rather than just listening to a teacher lecture about a topic, they are given a practical and hands-on learning experience.

Smaller classes encourage participation.

Standing in front of a big class can be scary especially for shy, anxious children and children with language delays. But in a less intimidating environment, students feel more comfortable and confident to pay attention, ask questions and speak up. Since students feel more motivated to participate, they tend to thoroughly enjoy learning. Students can share their ideas and ask questions on subjects they don’t understand without any fear of what others may think.

Students receive more feedback from their teachers.

Communication is critical to ensuring each student understands their strengths and areas of improvement. Therefore, more feedback from teachers results in a better, more effective learning experience. When a teacher has 30 essays to grade, they will tend to spend less time on each one and struggle to provide a more thorough assessment of their students work.

There is more opportunity to learn from classmates.

A smaller school community means that students have a better chance to get to know their classmates and make friends outside of their grade level. In smaller classes, each student’s contribution is acknowledged, especially in discussion settings. Children can learn from one another based on the contributions they make during class.

A smaller class will ultimately make a more cohesive unit than a larger one. A class of 30 students may encourage the formation of cliques, resulting in students not engaging with each other and often only socializing with whom they are most comfortable with. However, in a smaller class setting, students will have the opportunity to interact with and form relationships with all of their classmates, build strong relationships with their teachers, ensuring that the class is more supportive of each other.

For more information on our classes and curriculum, please contact our Admissions team at admissions@iis.edu.sg or call +65 6466-4475.

Famous Achievers who Redefined Success with Learning Disorders

At the Integrated International School one of our core school values is “Redefining Success”. We believe that success spans across a wide spectrum of possibilities. We know that no two students are the same, and that no individual child has the same response to learning in every situation – and that’s a great thing. Our focus is to ensure our students aim to achieve the highest level of their own personal definition of success. Everyone goes through challenges and we’ve decided to compile a list of inspiring famous achievers who have certainly redefined success!

Michael Phelps [ADHD]

Known around the world as the most decorated Olympian of all time and former competitive swimmer, Michael Phelps started swimming shortly after he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “Growing up as a kid with ADHD, I was constantly bouncing off the wall,” Phelps shared in an interview with Benzinga. “I could never sit still. I had teachers telling me I could never amount to anything and that I would never be successful in life.” His confidence was lacking but with the support and encouragement from his parents, he tried swimming. By turning his boundless energy into a strict training regime, the sport helped him become one of the most accomplished athletes in history.

Keira Knightley [Dyslexia]

This Oscar-nominated actress has always risen to a challenge but struggled academically in her early school years. She was diagnosed with Dyslexia at the age of six and remembers never wanting to read books. But with her mother’s support and encouragement that she would be able to read, Knightley became determined to read every single day. In an interview with The Boston Globe, she said, “I drove myself into the ground trying to get over Dyslexia, and when I finished school, I had top grades.”

Stephen Wiltshire [Autism Spectrum Disorder]

One of the most successful and renowned artists in the U.K, Stephen Wiltshire was mute in his early years and at age three was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He felt he was unable to communicate his thoughts, feelings and therefore found drawing as a way of expressing himself. Wiltshire continues to practice self-expression through art and his commissions have an approximate six-to-eight month waiting list. His incredible memory for detail catapulted him into the spotlight after videos emerged of his large-scale cityscape drawings that he drew after a short helicopter ride over a New York City.

Daniel Radcliffe [Dyspraxia]

The famous face behind Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, has had mild dyspraxia for his entire life but used the diagnosis as motivation to help him become the star in one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Radcliffe explained one of the reasons he became an actor was because he struggled in school and acting gave him the self-confidence he needed. He told an interviewer that he does still have trouble tying his shoelaces and jokingly asked why Velcro wasn’t more popular.

Simone Biles [ADHD]

The most successful American gymnast at just 23, Biles was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at a young age and has been on medication ever since. Biles first discovered gymnastics at age 6 and began to pour all her energy into the sport. She has proudly stated, "Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I’m afraid to let people know." With a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, she is the third most decorated gymnast of all time. It is clear that this incredible athlete still has plenty more success ahead of her.

Orlando Bloom [Dyslexia]

This British actor is best known for his leading role in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and at age seven was diagnosed with Dyslexia. Although Bloom’s mother encouraged him to read, his struggles lead him to look for a creative outlet. During this search, he discovered his passion for drama. He learned that reading scripts were a big part of acting and therefore was persuaded to practice reading aloud. Bloom stated at the 2010 Adam Katz Memorial Lecture, “The gift of Dyslexia was that I learned everything forward and backward, inside out, so I was fully prepared. I had to learn everything so that I wouldn’t have stage fright, or the lines wouldn’t fall out of my mind.”

Strengths Of Dyslexia

Did you know that approximately 1 in 6 students (in the United States) is dyslexic? That’s equal to 20% of the population! Dyslexia is one of the most common neuro-cognitive disorders in the world and is characterized by weak phonological processing, word recognition and spelling. Those with dyslexia tend to have typical and above average IQ but may fall behind at school due to learning difficulties in reading, time awareness, rote learning, and writing in a grammatically correct manner. Therefore, it takes a lot of time and energy for them to keep up with the rest of the class. This can become mentally exhausting as the amount of effort put in doesn’t reflect the end result.

It’s important to take away the shame associated with dyslexia and embrace a person’s strengths as a key goal to build-up their self-esteem so that they can reach their potential. Many dyslexics are not “broken” and as mentioned above, are often highly intelligent but are wired differently. When accepting that dyslexia is just a part of who they are, the perspective shifts to reveal valued traits and strengths, such as:

Exceptionally creative thinkers

Great problem-solving skills

High empathy for others

Ability to see the bigger picture

Very observant

MIND strengths:

- Material reasoning - Interconnected reasoning - Narrative reasoning - Dynamic reasoning

Exceptionally Creative

There are numerous famous faces who are dyslexic with many in creative industries (music, film, fashion, TV and radio, literature, computer science and the performing arts). Some of those include, Steven Spielberg (director), Jennifer Anniston (actress), Jamie Oliver (chef), Sir Richard Branson (entrepreneur) and Walt Disney (founder of Disney). A common strength seen in dyslexics is their very creative mindset!

Great problem-solving skills

They are great problem-solvers who excel at seeing multiple perspectives and making cross-linking connections between the things they notice. They have a “do it-build it-fix it-make it” approach and may discover connections that others have missed. Historically, these types of skills were highly valued and it’s only recently in the past century that the majority of people have been expected to be literate especially now that we live in a heavily texted world.

High empathy for others

A study at Yale University observed that a person with dyslexia tends to show more empathy and warmth towards others. They are able to “read the situation” and have a sense of understanding of what is happening for other people in that environment. It’s not clear if this heightened empathy is a result of their brains being wired differently, or because they feel they are defined by their differences so have more empathy to others’ dilemmas.

Ability to see the bigger picture

A key strength for people with dyslexia is that they can see the bigger picture. This ability enables them to focus on what is important, without getting lost in every little detail. They see how things connect to form complex systems, and to identify similarities among multiple things. This skill is seen as an asset in many occupations. For example, architects, designers, inventors, scientists, engineers, and actors.

Very observant

People with dyslexia excel at finding the odd one out from enormous quantities of visual data. While many people with dyslexia struggle with reading or writing, they are often extremely skilled at deciphering facts from patterns or events.

MIND strengths

Dr. Brock Eide and Dr. Fernette Eide co-authored the ground-breaking book, The Dyslexic Advantage, in which they wrote about 4 key areas of strength that people with dyslexia possess. These became known as MIND strengths. Although a person may not have all of these strengths, they may have a combination:

Material reasoning

The ability to form and manipulate 3D images (shape, size, motion, position) to create a constant mental movie of connected images in their mind. When taking on tasks, they perform them in a sequential linear fashion such as reading, spelling, writing and math.

Interconnected reasoning

The ability to form strong connections between things, see relationships, patterns, and view ideas or objects from different perspectives. They are good at using multiple perspectives when problem solving and excel at inferencing and interdisciplinary tasks.

Narrative reasoning

The ability to be a great storyteller, those with narrative strengths tend to think in stories and illustrations to remember and understand concepts. They enjoy history and historical fiction and do well in creative writing (when using a scribe or speech-to-text software). They are able to test ideas by creating imaginary scenarios in their mind.

Dynamic reasoning

The ability to see real world patterns clearly in their mind and can reconstruct, create, simulate, and use this information to predict or mentally preview future outcomes with great accuracy. In class, they may be scolded for not showing their written workings since all their mental reasoning is done in their head.

Dynamic reasoning

The ability to see real world patterns clearly in their mind and can reconstruct, create, simulate, and use this information to predict or mentally preview future outcomes with great accuracy. In class, they may be scolded for not showing their written workings since all their mental reasoning is done in their head.

For a person with dyslexia, the learning journey can be frustrating to begin with, however, there are numerous special needs education programs (Orton-Gillingham approach) and resources available that can support them. One of the most important things to remember is identifying and building their strengths. They may struggle in the early grades but with plenty of guidance, encouragement, and the right approach, they can grow-up to be gifted story tellers, inventors, entrepreneurs, actors and so on.

Take a look at our helpful infographic to better understand this behaviour, you can download it here.

Find out more about our dedicated Support Services by clicking here.

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

In today’s modern world, we are understanding more and more about the human brain and body with learning and behaviour disorders being identified and diagnosed at earlier ages. There are many different learning disorders that affect children. The one we will be shedding some light on is called Oppositional Defiant Disorder, also known as ODD. Although it is typical for young children to be oppositional and defiant some of the time, when does it go beyond ‘just a phase?’

Research has shown that children diagnosed with ODD have a well-established pattern that goes beyond typical temper tantrums.

Some of the associated behaviours and symptoms may include:

  • Easily being annoyed by others
  • Questioning and refusing to follow rules
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Having the tendency to argue with authority figures
  • Often losing their temper
  • Quickly feeling irritated
  • Deliberately annoying others
  • Being vindictive or unkind
  • Doing things to upset others

If you are a parent, you will recognise that all children tend to have these symptoms from time to time. However, what differentiates ODD from typical defiant behaviour is the severity, how long it has been going on for and how it affects relationships. If children only behave a certain way in one environment such as only at home, then their behaviour is caused by an external trigger. If the child is engaging in inappropriate behaviours consistently across all settings (school and home for example), and not able to enjoy a typical functioning life, then it would be recommended to see a qualified mental health expert. ODD is also tough on family members, so having some family rules and parenting strategies in place is a great way to start to help manage quality of life for all.

There are several strategies that can be adopted by parents to help support their child at home such as:

Setting clear expectations and consequences

It’s best to set clear expectations of the house rules and routine by writing them down and displaying them in a space for everyone to see (example, kitchen fridge). Underneath the expectations, the consequences can also be posted up so that it is fair and consistent for everyone to follow. For example, if the child’s actions break a rule then a fair consequence could be losing TV or device privileges that day. Staying consistent with expectations and consequences ensure that the child understands that everyone is held accountable for their actions.

Setting boundaries

If a child is refusing to cooperate in helping with house tasks or chores, it’s important to offer choices as to set boundaries and reshape their behaviour, for example, rather than saying, “You need to clean your room,” replace this with, “Would you like to pick up your clothes or make your bed first?”

Using praise and rewards

There can be a negative stigma towards children with ODD. However, it’s vitally important to use praise and rewards when the child engages in appropriate or desired behaviour (such as completing a task/chore, helping a friend, finishing homework etc.). Parents should always acknowledge positive behaviour, letting their child know they did a great job and offering rewards (extra play time, choosing family activity, etc.) Staying consistent with consequences and rewards further demonstrates to the child that their choices can either create a positive or negative experience.

Validating their feelings

It’s important to understand that children with ODD are easily frustrated and often display temper tantrums as they are struggling to regulate their feelings. While parents may also feel discouraged in that moment, it’s best to ask, “How are you feeling right now?” rather than “What should you be doing right now?” And validate their feeling by sharing that you understand that emotion and feel that way too sometimes. Follow through by linking their feelings to the behaviour, for example by saying, “It’s ok for you to feel angry, but it’s not ok for you to shout at me. Before I ask you to follow my directions again, lets deal with your anger together by practicing our breathing exercises.” By validating their feelings and then calmly addressing them, you can help deescalate the child’s anger before it escalates while still explaining to them that their behaviour was unacceptable.

These parent management strategies should be discussed with teachers and/or therapists to ensure that everyone is using the same strategies consistently. At the Integrated International School, we provide a collaborative learning environment suitable for special needs education that benefits individual students as teachers, support specialists and parents work closely together to achieve their academic and social potential.

Take a look at our helpful infographic to better understand this behaviour, you can download it here.

Find out more about our dedicated Support Services by clicking here.

Hidden Gifts Of Autism

At the Integrated International School, we recognise that every person is different, and each have their own strengths. We embrace individuality and understand that learning is not a one-size fits all approach, and we love that uniqueness! IIS provides a learning environment where out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged and celebrated. For students who are on the autism spectrum (ASD), our special needs education specialists understand that an autistic mind is often complex and reveals the power of neurodiversity. There are so many positive traits often associated with those on the autism spectrum, including but not exclusive of:

Up to 40% faster at problem-solving than a neurotypical person

In 2009, a study by Harvard University and the University of Montreal had two separate groups of participants complete patterns in the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) – a tool that measures hypothesis-testing, problem-solving and learning skills. The group of autistic individuals overall performed much better and used perceptual regions of the brain to quickly solve the problems they were given.

Ability to process complex patterns

Since the early days of autism research, scientist Dr. Leo Kanner, who was credited with identifying autism in the 1940s has stated that while over numerous studies, he often saw children with a “precise recollection of complex patterns and sequences.” He noted their ability to remain focused and notice even the tiniest of details when processing patterns.

Excellent memory when recalling long-ago events and details

Well-known artist and autistic savant, Stephen Wiltshire, enjoyed a helicopter ride over the city of Rome and after just 45 minutes, he went on to draw a large cityscape of Rome from memory and in incredible detail. There have been multiple studies to show how an autistic mind has an average working memory score almost three standard deviations above the average of a neurotypical person. Prominent examples have included twin sisters, Flo and Kay Lyman, who were able to recall every question and answer from their favourite TV quiz show and Daniel Tammet, who could speak 11 languages fluently! When it came to numbers, he achieved the world record for the most digits of PI remembered.

Distinctive imagination for creativity

From art to music and poetry to writing, the career path for an individual with autism shouldn’t be limited to a career that is logically focused (IT, data processing, mathematics). Researchers at the Universities of East Anglia and Stirling found that when a group of individuals with ASD were asked to come up with innovative uses for objects, they formed more unusual and creative ideas. Although they gave less suggestions than the group with no autistic individuals, their ideas were much more original and exhibited divergent thinking.

Unique thought processes

Every person thinks differently and processes things in their own way; this is especially true for those with ASD. A neurotypical person often utilizes a top-down thinking approach when solving problems. This means they look back on prior learning and memories to solve problems whereas an autistic mind is not as constrained and takes a bottom-up approach. They can find inventive solutions and process a greater extent of information.

Honest and loyal

We value honesty here at IIS and often see that our students with ASD are true to their feelings and don’t tend to have ever learned to lie or manipulate. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and are very loyal to those around them, these wonderful qualities are something to admire and emulate.

Take a look at our helpful infographic to better understand this behaviour, you can download it here.

Find out more about our dedicated Support Services by clicking here.

What is Stimming?

Self-stimulatory behavior also known as stimming, is repetitive or unusual body movements and/or noises.

Most people tend to stim, for example, it may be that they play with their hair while talking to a friend or cracking their knuckles before a task. However, when stimming interferes with everyday activities and learning, it is often a symptom of Autism. Many children and teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) stim and may continue to stim throughout their lives.

The amount and type of stimming varies a lot from individual to individual. For example, a child may just have mild hand mannerisms, whereas another may spend a lot of time stimming.

Take a look at our helpful special needs infographic to better understand this behaviour, you can download it here.

Find out more about our dedicated Support Services by clicking here.

What is TIC Behaviour?

A tic is an uncontrolled sudden, repetitive movement or sound that can be difficult to control. It’s a condition that affects many people before the age of 18. Tics that involve movements are called motor tics while tics involving sounds are called vocal tics.

The type of tics a person has may change over time. How often tics happen also may change. Tics often come and go and can get worse when a person is stressed or anxious. Sometimes a person will have one kind of tic — like a shoulder shrug — that lasts for a while and then goes away. But then he or she may develop another type of tic, such as a nose twitch. It’s perfectly normal to worry that a tic may never go away. However, in most cases, tics are temporary.

The amount and type of stimming varies a lot from individual to individual. For example, a child may just have mild hand mannerisms, whereas another may spend a lot of time stimming.

Take a look at our helpful special needs infographic to better understand this condition, you can download it here.

Find out more about our dedicated Support Services by clicking here.