Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Children’s drawings of their family are often cute or funny, but they are also reflective of how things are going at home according to new research. The way children sketch themselves and their families can give psychologists important clues to their home life. Children growing up in a home filled with chaos, instability, and/or disorganization tend to draw themselves at a greater distance from their other family members and draw themselves smaller in size relative to the other people in the picture. They also might have a neutral or sad face in the drawing. The children’s diminished sense of self is influenced by their parents’ lack of attention and brief interactions with them — a result of a chaotic, unstructured home.
The researchers sat over 900 children down with markers and paper and asked them to draw a photo of their family with no additional coaching. They found the optimal age for the children in their study was six. At six, children have developed enough fine motor skills to draw detailed drawings, but haven’t yet internalized ideas about an ideal family that could color the way they draw their own family. Researchers studied the drawings and discovered patterns that appeared in the artwork which had been drawn by children from disorganized homes.
Psychologists sometimes shy away from using children’s drawings to draw conclusions about their home life because these interpretations can be so subjective. Two therapists could look at the same drawing and interpret it in totally different ways. This research is a first step towards developing a system to objectively study children’s family drawings and providing therapists with a new tool to help understand their young patients and provide them with appropriate support.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Monday, April 28th, 2014
A new study has found that family-based cognitive behavioral therapy has measurable effects on children as young as age 5 who are diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), as Reuters reports:
The behavioral treatment, which involved parents heavily and is already known to work for older kids and teens, left almost three quarters of the young children significantly better off, according to objective measurements.
“I really think that the results highlight this family-based cognitive behavior therapy model as the first-line treatment for children with OCD,” Jennifer Freeman, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health.
Freeman is affiliated with the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, the Pediatric Anxiety Research Clinic at Rhode Island Hospital and the Intensive Program for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at Bradley Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
People with OCD have a set of compulsions – feeling compelled to do something – that cause them distress or disrupt their daily lives. For example, a person may have an intense fear that something bad will happen unless they perform a certain action multiple times.
The condition has been found to run in families, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), but its cause is still unclear.
About 2.2 million U.S. adults are affected by OCD, with approximately one-third of those having developed symptoms as children, according to NIH.
Considerable research has shown that CBT alone or in combination with anti-anxiety medicine is effective in treating OCD among older children and adolescents, Freeman and her colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry.
There was little evidence about what worked for younger children with OCD, however.
Image: Young family, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Friday, December 20th, 2013
The family of a 3-year-old Florida boy who has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum has won the right to keep a small group of “therapy chickens” that the family says have helped their son improve his quality of life. More from Today.com:
The City Council of DeBary, Fla., unanimously approved a resolution on Wednesday evening that allows the parents of 3-year-old J.J. Hart to raise the three hens in their backyard as a reasonable accommodation under the Federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts. The resolution notes that “the chickens are primarily utilized for the purpose of enhancing the child’s life.”
“J.J. won… I’m glad,” DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia, who knows the Hart family well and has been a vocal supporter of their quest to keep the hens, told TODAY Moms.
“Maybe this will take the smudge off the city of DeBary that we don’t care about people with disabilities, and we can get back to the norm of how great the city really is.”
The small town near Orlando has been under intense pressure to take action since earlier this month, when the City Council voted to end a one-year “Urban Chicken Pilot Program” that allowed city residents – including J.J.’s family — to keep chickens in their backyard. Like many communities, DeBary limits the kinds of animals that can be kept in residential homes.
The decision devastated his parents, who say the feathered creatures did what physical, occupational and speech therapies couldn’t: Bring J.J. out of his shell. He likes to run after them and hold them, and he smiles when they are around.
Image: Chickens, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Friday, November 2nd, 2012
As autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses among children increase in number and get made earlier in the child’s life, therapies that begin at a young age are under study to see whether they can improve the long-term development of the child, and even change their brain chemistry. New research, according to CNN.com, suggests such therapies may do just that:
Now researchers have been able to show that a particular type of behavioral therapy called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) not only improves autism symptoms, but actually normalizes brain activity and improves social behavior.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that starts to become very apparent around age 3. The main signs and symptoms of autism involve communication, social interactions and repetitive behaviors. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 88 children currently is diagnosed with autism, including one in 54 boys.
“Early intervention alters the trajectory of the brain and social development in children with autism,” says Geraldine Dawson, the lead study author who developed the ESDM therapy along with study co-author Sally Rogers.
Dawson was a researcher at the University of Washington when she helped devise ESDM; she’s now the chief science officer for the advocacy and research group Autism Speaks and a professor at the University of North Carolina. Rogers is a professor and researcher at the University of California Davis MIND Institute.
ESDM therapy uses teaching methods from ABA ,or applied behavioral analysis, the traditional one-on-one interaction between a child and the therapist.
But rather than sitting at a desk next to the child — where a teacher or therapist breaks down complex tasks into small components and gives tangible reinforcements — children receiving ESDM are sitting on the floor, playing with their therapist or parents.It can be done just about anywhere, and Dawson says the play-based method of engaging a child helps him or her develop a social relationship.
Image: Child and adult playing, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Therapy techniques intended to “convert” gay teenagers to heterosexuality could soon become illegal in California, if a new bill passes the state’s Senate. MSNBC.com reports:
Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, says so-called “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy wrongfully treats homosexuality as a disease and can be dangerous to minors. If his bill becomes law, California would become the first state to ban therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian teens straight.
“Some therapists are taking advantage of vulnerable people by pushing dangerous sexual orientation-change efforts,” Lieu said before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the bill on Tuesday. “These non-scientific efforts have led in some cases to patients later committing suicide, as well as severe mental and physical anguish.”
Image: Teen in therapist’s office, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment