Five Ways to Make Your House Accessible for Your Disabled Child

Unfortunately, today’s society is not geared toward making the lives of those with disabilities easier. Ramps are not as common as they should be. Movies aren’t shown with subtitles often enough. Bathrooms, at the best of times, are hazardous. If your child has a disability, they should not have to face such difficulties at home. There are numerous things you can do to transform your home into the sanctuary your child needs, many within a reasonable budget.

Threshold

Let’s start with the beginning, when your child will be entering the home. If your child uses a wheelchair, forearm crutches, a cane, or any implement to help movement, stairs are a nightmare. According to Angie’s List, “A threshold ramp in a doorway could cost as little as $100, but larger ramps, depending on material and size, can cost $1,000 to $15,000.” A hundred dollars is a completely affordable way to help your child navigate in and out of the home while maintaining independence.

The Bathroom

The restroom is possibly the most difficult room of the home to navigate when you have limited mobility. You need to consider access to the sink, the toilet, and the tub/shower, and you need to be sure your child has room to maneuver easily. You may need to expand the doorway so your child can comfortably access the room alone. Depending on what machinery your child uses, you also might need to raise or lower the sink. You can add grab bars and handrails for your child to be able to easily use the toilet and the bathtub, or you can opt for a door-access tub or a wheelchair-friendly shower.

Flooring

You will have to consider every room your child is going to access. If you currently have flooring that is not smooth, that can bunch, has gaps or is porous, moving about the home is going to be difficult, and potentially dangerous, for your child. It needs to be durable and slip resistant to help your child. If your child uses a wheelchair, then it will require extra resilience, as the wheels may cause deterioration or grooves in the surface over time.

The Kitchen

If your child is young, it may seem easier to simply make sure the kitchen is off-limits for their own protection. But, as your child ages, it may become important to them to have access to the kitchen, such as to get a snack, a drink, or make themselves a meal. If you can aid their independence, you should strive to do so. Again, you will need to make sure pathways are wide enough for your child to easily navigate. Like with the bathroom, you might consider adjusting the height of the sink to be at the level your child can best access. It is often easier to use a sliding cabinet door than one that pulls open, simply because the open door may force the user to move to make room for it. Make sure your counter-tops do not have dangerous edges, as they can easily cause injury.

Stairways

If you live in a two-story home, it will be imperative to render the staircase manageable for your child. Depending on mobility, handrails on both sides of the stairs may be beneficial. If there is carpet, ensure that it is properly tucked and stapled down to minimize the risk of trips and falls. Non-slip adhesive can be applied to further aid stability. If your child has a wheelchair, you should consider installing a stair lift, as doing so is much more reasonably priced than installing an elevator.

The world is not made to accommodate disabilities, but that doesn’t mean our homes can’t be fitted to help those with disabilities flourish. Times are changing, but it remains a slow process. You can help your child feel at home, safe and encourage their independence by making your house into the sanctuary it should be.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

If you could plan life exactly how you would want it- would you?

I wish you could plan life, I really do, but it’s simply not possible. If you remember what you wanted to do and how you felt two, five, even ten years ago, I bet it would be very different from how you feel now. That is why it’s not possible. I am talking about the big things though, not things like where you’re going on holiday next summer.

Life happens. You meet people, get given opportunities, and find out things you never knew before. All of these impact on the interests, priorities, and ultimately the choices we make which then influence what happens in our life. And then there’s aspects of life that can be out of our control, such as our health and other people’s actions.

Even the most organised of people can’t predict the future. This is unfortunate, but perhaps also exciting. Wouldn’t it be dull to know exactly what was going to happen? How would people be able to daydream about what their future would be like and hope that things will be a certain way? Being able to plan such things would make life very tedious and unable to be changed. What a boring life that would be.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Changing for the better

I’ve recently been thinking about how much you have to put up with before you say enough is enough. There are so many areas of life this can be applied to; work, friendships, relationships to name a few, but how long can you put up with things you don’t like just to not ‘rock the boat’?

Friendships, for example, can change massively over a life span. Not many people are the same person at the age of 18 as they are at 50. And what if your friends go through life at a different pace? If they’re buying houses, getting married and having children and you are not, how difficult is it to maintain a sense of compatibility when it was once all of you going through driving tests, exams and university together?

Of course, it depends on how a person reacts to this. If someone doesn’t mind seeing their peers go through all these life changes then great, but what about if they start to treat you differently, or think about you in a different way because you can’t understand what it’s like for them? How far down the road does this have to go before there has to be an inevitable crossroads where you look at a relationship and wonder if it is worth the anguish? Do you just find different people that understand you? Probably not…but perhaps.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

How to Prepare for the Joys and Challenges of Raising a Child with Special Needs

How to Prepare for the Joys and Challenges of Raising a Child with Special Needs by Danny Knight

Preparing Your Home

One of the first things to do when you find out that you’re having a child with disabilities is to prepare your home to make it safe and accessible. If preparing for a physical disability, you’ll need to make some modifications, such as interior and exterior ramps, wider doorways, accessible cabinets, etc. If you have thick carpeting or rugs, consider replacing your floor with hardwoods to reduce the risk of falling and injury. It’s important to modify the bathroom so that your child can safely take baths and perform their daily hygiene routines. If you’re concerned about the costs of making such modifications, there are several grants available to help.

Common Insurance Questions

Health insurance is a common concern for parents when they find out their child will require additional needs. While providing top-quality care is a concern, access to resources will provide your child with a good quality of life. Children with special needs can qualify for disability benefits through Medicaid and Social Security, which can provide medical coverage, access to specialists, adaptive equipment, and therapy. If you will be utilizing your private insurance carrier, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with your insurance policy and to not be afraid to challenge your insurance provider on their decisions to provide coverage. Additionally, you can reduce out-of-pocket expenses by utilizing in-network providers and spending time researching medical professions on your insurance provider’s online databases.

 

Planning for Additional Expenses

 

Children with special needs will enrich your life in many ways, but it’s a reality that will also come with additional expenses. Depending on the disability, such expenses can vary. It’s important to plan for things like out-of-pocket care, qualified caregivers, special diets, or adaptive toys. Parents should take the time to financially plan for their special needs child the same way they would plan for college tuition and retirement. It’s beneficial to meet with a financial planner and an estate planning attorney to work jointly in formulating a plan to invest, grow assets, and potentially set up a special needs trust (supplemental needs trust) in order to protect assets from counting against your child in their governmental assistance determination.

 

Taking Care of Yourself

 

Caring for a child with disabilities is physically and emotionally challenging for the caregiver. You can provide your child with better care if you ensure that you are also well taken care of, and one way to do that is to surround yourself with support. You’re not alone in caring for your child. Aside from your family and friends, there are counselors, support groups, and community service organizations that can provide a helping hand. You should also take some time to nurture yourself by finding time to work out, take breaks, find hobbies, and occasionally do something you love that rejuvenates you.

 

If you’ve recently discovered that you’re having a child with special needs, know that parenting brings great joy and benefits, even when it’s difficult. If you do your research and prepare for adjustments, you’ll put yourself in a position to give your child everything they need. Remember to make any necessary preparations and modifications to your home, get ready for insurance questions and negotiations, plan for additional expenses, and take care of yourself. 

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

The World Cup and Managing Great Expectations

I, like many other people in England and around the world, spent a month watching the ups and downs, and the twists and turns, of a brilliant football World Cup. For me, what made it extra special was that the England team actually gave us something that it had lacked for many years – hope.

What was even more special was that it came out of nowhere. Going into the World Cup, nothing was expected from the England team. Getting to the quarter finals would have been a good achievement, but not an expectation.

The momentum that built up around the country was astounding – something which I have never experienced. With each win and positive media coverage, England could really start to dream that maybe their team could win. But did it matter?

Of course, we know now that England got to the semi-finals but were beaten in extra time. A cruel, devastating result, but one which that can be looked at with pride rather than with embarrassment.

Why? Because England exceeded expectations. The nation got caught up with the ride, but it was so much more than the football results. They had a manager who finally seemed to understand the role and what was needed from the players, as well as what the nation wanted from their team. A manager who showed passion, trust…and a very smart waistcoat.

For me, England’s World Cup gave a great example of what happens when expectations are low and they are exceeded; the joy is all the sweeter.

So if a person is seen to always be someone who exceeds in life – the one who does everything in the ‘perfect’ way – that is a lot to live up to. What happens when it goes wrong? Will this person know how to cope? Perhaps the way to deal with this is to stop expecting great things from people who may just not achieve it. Better to aim high and expect middle as life can’t always be predicted.

Better to be like England 2018.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Where do addictions come from and how do they manifest?

What is it about addictions? Where do they come from and how to they manifest?

Many psychologists think that it all stems down to attachment and The Attachment Theory. This is somewhat true I believe. However, there must be some greater reason why people have unhealthy addictions. There are many types of addictions: sex, drugs, exercise, food, gambling, unhealthy relationships and the list goes on. What if addictions are the result of not being able to express how we feel? What if addictions are the result of not being able to express how we feel growing up as children?

To grow up in an era where emotions and feelings were never discussed were quite troublesome for me. As a young person I always wanted to discuss how I felt, what was going on in my head and/or what I was confused about in life in general. That platform was never open for me. It was always like ‘oh, Jessica wants to talk about her feelings…’ and I was ridiculed and made fun of.

I could remember sitting at the dinner table as a child trying to teach my family that ‘why do we have to sit down at the kitchen table if we aren’t going to talk about how we feel?’ My eldest brother would make fun of me and then everyone would laugh. I learned how to suppress my feelings and not ever talk about my needs or my feelings.

As a grown up this has somewhat disabled me. It has disabled me in a way where, now, when I want to tell someone how I feel it can make me nervous, uneasy and somewhat anxious; almost ashamed of me feeling the way that I do.

As a therapist and all through out my training I have learned how to help people with these same issues. However, what about me? How can I help someone if I can’t help myself first? This is a common thing that many psychology students will face when they are starting school and deciding to major in psychology.

Psychologists are not to go into the field of psychology to learn about themselves I have been told. And, being the literal person that I am have taken that on board as it is not a selfless way of supporting and/or helping others.

But, how can we/I find the balance? And, how does this relate to addictions and to unwanted habitual behavior … whatever it is?

What if the theory is this…. people who have difficulty with addictions in their life have never been taught to deal with their emotions properly. People with addictions have never been able to cope with their emotions and therefore use drugs, alcohol. sex, gambling to escape these difficult feelings that must be digested.

No one wants to feel sad or feel sad. Although it is enlightening to be the rabbit hole for a short while I am not sure anyone wants to get stuck in the rabbit hole. But, how can we get out? How can we stop self-sabotaging ourselves? When we feel great and feel confident and alive someone may say something that brings us right back down into that hole. How can we shield ourselves from this or is it the impossible?

What are you thoughts? Why do you think people have addictions? Why do people get stuck in certain ways that can be harmful to others and harmful to oneself?

After all, if we are not growing as individuals… what are we actually doing in life? We are not meant to meander… or are we? I am not happy meandering….

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Jealousy: Can it be a good thing?

When people think about jealousy, it’s natural to assume that it’s only ever a bad thing. After all, we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others and should instead be happy with ourselves. If only this could happen so easily.

Thanks to social media, it has become increasingly difficult not to compare ourselves to others. But it’s easy to forget that people only put on social media what they choose to. It’s therefore not a realistic representation of their lives.

I have been thinking recently about how jealousy has the potential to be used as a positive; as a way of highlighting what you really want in life and in turn enabling someone to make the changes in their life in order to achieve it.

It can be so easy to just carry on with the way life is because it’s easier than trying something different and possibly failing. But what if you see someone else achieve their goals? Can it not make you feel as though you can also achieve yours?

Not all type of jealousy is so easily rectified though. If you’re jealous of the way someone looks or how much money they earn in comparison to you, this can’t always be changed. Therefore the way of combatting this jealousy is learning how to be happy with what you have in life, and unfortunately that’s not always as easy.

But turning jealousy into a positive can help create life goals and positive ways of changing. Jealously can perhaps be the mirror you hold up to your own life and realise what you want to change in order to be truly happy.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

How to create the ultimate backyard oasis for children with Autism

Create the Ultimate Backyard Oasis for Children With Autism

by Danny Knight

For parents of children on the autism spectrum, spending time outdoors over the summer can be a source of both fear and fun. Nature play is calming for children on the autism spectrum, as well as educational and therapeutic. At the same time, your garden space also poses some safety hazards. When the weather starts to warm up and everyone migrates outside, eliminate the worry by making your backyard safe, accessible, and functional for everyone in the family.

Address Safety Concerns

There are some outdoor safety hazards that are a higher risk to children on the autism spectrum. For example, it is common for children on the autism spectrum to be fascinated by water, so they may be more likely to wander too close to a pool or fountain. Keep these general tips to keep in mind for backyard safety:

  • If you have a pool, the entire pool area should be fenced off so that children never have access to it without being supervised. Consider installing a pool alarm that will go off any time someone enters the water without warning. And while pool safety and preventing accidents is your primary goal, Autism Parenting Magazine recommends that children also learn to swim so they know how to manage in water.
  • Any chemicals that are used for pools, lawns, and gardens should be locked away. These include weed killers, fertilizer, pesticides, and gas for lawn mowers. Your best bet is to designate a single spot in your garage where you keep all of these items locked.
  • When spending time outdoors over summer, be aware of heat and sun exposure. If your child has difficulties with sensory processing or limited verbal communication, they may not be able to communicate while becoming overheated.

Maximize Function and Accessibility

As long as you’re aware of safety concerns, being outside in the garden can be incredibly rewarding for you and your child. Many children on the autism spectrum actually learn better and are more open to new experiences when they are outdoors, which has led some schools to create outdoor classrooms. You can create the same rich learning environment in your own backyard by setting up a space tailored to your child.

Children who are on the autism spectrum have unique sensory needs — they thrive when they have access to activities that engage the senses, yet they also need a calm and soothing space where they can disconnect from stimuli. The ideal outdoor space will have two distinct areas so they can go to a certain spot in the garden to meet each of these needs.

Set up your garden with these ideas in mind:

  • Create an outdoor space that feels safe and secure for your child. The American Society of Landscape Architects recommends setting clearly visible boundaries to create this effect. You can do this with a fence, landscaping, or some combination. Give your child their own space separate from activity as well, and make sure it is shaded so they have a calm and comfortable place to retreat.
  • Create an engaging space with outdoor sensory activities. When you set up sensory play outdoors, the options are limitless, and you can use all sorts of materials without worrying about mess. Try water activities, soap foam, sand, ice… even mud!
  • Create spaces for physical activity. Planting a vegetable gardening is an easy way for children to enjoy nature while getting some physical activity too. Be sure to have gardening gloves, shovels, and watering cans for yourself and children so the whole family can be involved. Children who are on the autism spectrum sometimes have challenges with motor skills, so this is a great way to practice those skills in a low-key and relaxing environment.

When the weather warms up and everyone heads outdoors, it can be therapeutic to get back to nature and away from the sights and sounds of “real” life. Don’t let worries about safety keep you and your child from enjoying the outdoors together! Your children will love having an outdoor oasis that provides sensory fun and a calming refuge.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Failure and rejection doesn’t have to mean that you have failed as a person

Failure doesn’t have to mean failure by Sarah Keeping- guest blogger.

Ever failed a driving test? Yep, I have. Twice. But I’m not talking about things you can easily re-take. I’m talking about things you invest a lot of time and effort in for it to come to nothing.

I started at university the first year tuition loans came in – so for anyone who went to university before this, my degree cost a lot of money. For any current students, my degree cost peanuts. But I was told in my second year that now ‘everyone’ has a degree, you should do a Masters to make sure you get a job over other candidates. I believed this to be the case and so in my final year I applied to do a Masters course and was accepted. I remember someone on my course saying how they were done with studying and couldn’t believe that I wanted to do more. But I did. I didn’t know what else to do so studying more would surely be the best thing?

I really enjoyed my Masters year, but when it came to doing my dissertation, I had lost all motivation for it. Maybe it was the topic, maybe it was because I still didn’t know what I was going to do after graduating.

One October morning, I was just about to leave for work (a retail job near my home) and my friend text me to say our grades had been released and were on the university system. I had a few minutes before I really had to leave so I thought I’d quickly check. Under the ‘dissertation’ column it said ‘F’. I thought, what does ‘F’ mean? It meant FAIL. I walked to work in a daze.

I’d never failed a subject in my life. I was so disappointed. I had the option to re-submit but I couldn’t face the prospect of re-doing a dissertation and not graduating with my friends. I decided to take the lower grade award and reassess.

For three years, I stayed in my retail job just wondering what I should do. At 18, I had naively thought that Psychology was all about the brain and therefore very science focused (I hated science at school) so I didn’t choose to study that at university. I got to 25 and thought, what have I got to lose? I applied to do a Psychology conversion course and was accepted. Two years later I was receiving my certificate at my graduation. Brilliant. What’s next? A Masters?

I applied to do a Masters course again and was accepted. For one year, if I wasn’t working I was reading for or writing an assignment. Then came the dissertation. I chose a subject that I was passionate about and really cared about. That was the difference. I was also extremely focused on history not repeating itself. In many ways, this course was also a righting a wrong. I don’t give up, I never fail (in the long run, anyway).

It’s easy to say this now, but I do think that it’s good to experience failure. Whatever you fail at, it spurs you on to try and never go through that feeling again. It definitely helped me – I was very happy walking across the stage as my name was read out at my graduation, having passed my Masters. With Distinction.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology.

Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton

Bullying in the British Culture: Learn to stand up for yourself and your friends

I believe there is an underlying manner of bullying within the United Kingdom.  Through my experience, many Brits do not express themselves- they can either be quite passive-aggressive or just repress many emotions. I think many of them especially within the school systems are too scared to stand up and teach that bullying is not acceptable. In America, even though bullying does happen everywhere around the world we have a zero tolerance to bullying and ill-behavior.  Let’s see what Georgia Farrugia The Brighton Mental Health and Wellness Centre’s April’s Guest Blogger has to say about bulling. It’s always great to get new perspectives on things. After all, we only know what we experience in our lives.
LIKEABILITY
So here is the thing, we all want to be liked right. We compare ourselves to our neighbour in class, our friend or colleague – and most of all, the person we wish we could be like. See God made us unique. Every single one of us has a purpose, and every single one of us has a passion. I will start this with, it is OK TO BE YOU – You are perfect as you are. 
BULLYING
I know what this is like, to be left out, to not fit in. I went through it, with a total of five school moves and hating who I was and questioning why I was going through it.
However, look back at what I just said– that every single one of us has a purpose, and every single one of us has a passion. Even when I was going through some of my HARDEST times imaginable, I knew there must have been a reason. To help people possibly? And the passion – it is the very reason I have written this blog for you. To tell you that with your own inner strength you WILL get through the tournament. And so it is ok to not fit in the box of those who are doing the bullying – because you were put on this earth to create your own box. 
 
School bullying (or can be applied to any one aspect of life): SCHOOL IS NOT YOUR LIFE. The same way that your gender, religion, hair style or family background does not entirely define you, school is not your life (or your job/bullying in work). It may be what you know up to now or take up the majority of your time, but the same as when you were 7 you didn’t know what you’d achieve or how great you’d be at 17, great times will come and there will be triumphs that you just don’t know yet. 
 
You are going to reach milestones and your experience of life is going to evolve and once this period in your life has passed, you will have memories, but school itself, or the adversity you are facing, will not define you and eventually those memories will become the distant past. You are free to choose how to live your life and WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Make that decision count, not what the tormentors say. 
 
One day, life will revolve around new relationships and jobs, college or university, there may be friends, holidays or religion or a faith that may come into your life – what I am showing you is that your life will have other meaning and the nugget in this is, do not let your current or past experiences define who you are, how you believe in yourself or who you will become. 
 

It is that the hardest times in our lives that will make us the strongest people and enable us to achieve our best. I wish you the best. 

Would you like to get in touch with Georgia? Tweet her here: @mcrgeorgia https://twitter.com/mcrgeorgia

Have you ever been bullied? Do you need help establishing stronger boundaries within your own relationships? Please get in touch with the centre today! www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk.

Jessica Valentine is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist who supports people within the local community and worldwide online. She offers online Skype therapy and face-to-face counselling in East Sussex, Brighton-Hove.

skype: JessValentine
follow her on Twitter, FB and IG: @getwellbrighton