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

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

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

Do I have an Unhealthy Relationship with My Child? Unhealthy Attachments and How Anxiety and Worry Won’t Help You

If you are someone who is prone to worrying and anxiety, you will understand how stressful it can be to have children. Do I worry about my children? Sometimes. Do I have anxiety when it comes to my children? Sometimes. But when does it become unhealthy? When does having worry and anxiety mess with healthy boundaries between yourself and your child?

Having anxiety is normal. You see, there is good anxiety and then there is bad anxiety. The good anxiety is – how I like to explain it – as a survival skill. If you are a sensitive person and in touch with yourself and other people you will get what I am saying. We as human beings are animals. However, we don’t have the specific form of instinct. We have what is called intuition. And, part of this ‘intuition’ that we as human beings have there lays anxiety. Anxiety can help us stay out of a situation or warn us if there is trouble. Anxiety is part of our make up; everyone has it! However, like anything else there is a spectrum of disorders and a spectrum of personalities that we all endure.

What does anxiety feel like? 

It’s that funny feeling of butterflies in our stomach. It’s that uneasy feeling that something isn’t right. That is how you would describe the good anxiety.

Sometimes when I work with children, I ask them to put a colour on the anxiety that they are feeling. “Where do you feel this funny feeling? What colour is it?” I would ask. This can help children understand what they are actually feeling. And, sometimes…the colour surprises me! I can always relate a colour to a safe feeling or safe object which relieves many children and parents as well.

What is bad anxiety? And, why do I feel bad anxiety?  

The bad anxiety that leads to catastrophic thinking (catastrophising) and unhealthy attachments with our children and our partners, well that is something entirely different. Bad anxiety is an anxiety that gets our knickers in a twist. Bad anxiety stresses us out, makes us shout, increases worry, causes unhealthy attachments with our children and partners, can make us depressed, in some cases make us use drugs and alcohol, can take away concentration in school work and office work and much more.

Bad anxiety or unwanted anxiety (we don’t usually us the word good and bad in a counselling session- it’s usually unhealthy and healthy or desired and undesired behaviour- I am just trying to make a point)- can leave us feeling pretty crappy sometimes. It can leave us feeling isolated and alone. It can also keep you stuck in the house if the anxiety is too overwhelming.

How does anxiety effect unhealthy attachments? 

For those that have anxiety and over-worry it can be quite stressful for the child. Having a parent that over-worries can make the child over think and over-worry, thus not being a risk taker. The child might always question him or herself in everything that they do. They also may manipulate the parent and ‘need’ the parent psychologically when it may not be an age appropriate benchmark. These can then effect future relationships with other people as the child grows and gets older.

You see, attachment starts at the age of 0-2. These years are the most important when it comes to attachment, healthy boundaries and relationships. It’s all connected and quite complex. Loads of psychologists have written and studies about attachment.

The more anxious a parent it the greater risk of having an unhealthy attachment. Do you want to learn more about this fascinating concept? Check out Bowlby’s Attachment Theory!

If you or anyone suffers from anxiety and over-worry and it is effecting your child- The Brighton Wellness Centre in Hove, East Sussex can help. 

This week’s book pick! How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.

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

Do I have an unhealthy relationship with my child: Unhealthy attachments and how anxiety and worry won’t help you

If you are someone who is prone to worrying and anxiety then you will understand how stressful it can be when you have children. Do I worry about my children? Sometimes. Do I have anxiety when it comes to my children? Sometimes. But when does it become unhealthy? When does having worry and anxiety mess with the healthy boundaries of you and your child?

Having anxiety is normal. You see, there is good anxiety and then there is bad anxiety. The good anxiety is- how I like to explain it- as a survival skill. If you are a sensitive person and in touch with yourself and other people you will get what I am saying. We as human beings are animals. However, we don’t have the specific form of instinct. We have what is called intuition. And, part of this ‘intuition’ that we as human beings have there lays anxiety. Anxiety can help us stay out of a situation or warn us if there is trouble. Anxiety is part of our make up; everyone has it! However, like anything else there is a spectrum of disorders and a spectrum of personalities that we all endure.

What does anxiety feel like? 

It’s that funny feeling of butterflies in our stomach. It’s that uneasy feeling that something isn’t right. That is how you would describe the good anxiety.

Sometimes when I work with children, I ask them to put a colour on the anxiety that they are feeling. “Where do you feel this funny feeling? What colour is it?” I would ask. This can help children understand what they are actually feeling. And, sometimes…the colour surprises me! I can always relate a colour to a safe feeling or safe object which relieves many children and parents as well.

What is bad anxiety? And, why do I feel bad anxiety?  

The bad anxiety that leads to catastrophic thinking (catastrophising) and unhealthy attachments with our children and our partners, well that is something entirely different. Bad anxiety is an anxiety that gets our knickers in a twist. Bad anxiety stresses us out, makes us shout, increases worry, causes unhealthy attachments with our children and partners, can make us depressed, in some cases make us use drugs and alcohol, can take away concentration in school work and office work and much more.

Bad anxiety or unwanted anxiety (we don’t usually us the word good and bad in a counselling session- it’s usually unhealthy and healthy or desired and undesired behaviour- I am just trying to make a point)- can leave us feeling pretty crappy sometimes. It can leave us feeling isolated and alone. It can also keep you stuck in the house if the anxiety is too overwhelming.

How does anxiety effect unhealthy attachments? 

For those that have anxiety and over-worry it can be quite stressful for the child. Having a parent that over-worries can make the child over think and over-worry, thus not being a risk taker. The child might always question him or herself in everything that they do. They also may manipulate the parent and ‘need’ the parent psychologically when it may not be an age appropriate benchmark. These can then effect future relationships with other people as the child grows and gets older.

You see, attachment starts at the age of 0-2. These years are the most important when it comes to attachment, healthy boundaries and relationships. It’s all connected and quite complex. Loads of psychologists have written and studies about attachment.

The more anxious a parent it the greater risk of having an unhealthy attachment. Do you want to learn more about this fascinating concept? Check out Bowlby’s Attachment Theory!

If you or anyone suffers from anxiety and over-worry and it is effecting your child- The Brighton Wellness Centre in Hove, East Sussex can help. 

This week’s book pick! How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.

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