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.

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

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

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. 

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

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….

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

Hola, mi nombre es Ansiedad.

Hola, soy yo. He estado viviendo contigo desde hace un tiempo pero aún no me conoces. Después de este tiempo, decidí presentarme, creo que es necesario, tal vez así puedas entender mejor qué es lo que está pasando. A veces te escucho preguntándote por qué estás viviendo estas emociones y puedo ver que no la estás pasando bien. Algunas noches no puedes dormir por mi culpa y durante el día te sientes nervioso, enojado, cansado. Aparezco de diferentes maneras: pensamientos negativos, enojo, tristeza, irritabilidad, preocupación y miedo. Realmente no puedes vivir tu vida como quisieras. En lo único que puedes pensar es “no merezco esto”, y lo sé, te entiendo, mi presencia no es nada cómoda. He estado contigo desde hace mucho tiempo, algunas veces te das cuentas de mi presencia, pero no le das importancia, tal vez es porque no descansaste bien, estás cansado o tienes muchas cosas qué hacer. Siempre hay una respuesta para todo. Tan sólo la idea de que pueda ser yo, te asusta.

Todo empeoró hace dos semanas, ibas caminando por la calle de regreso a casa, fue un día pesado pero nada diferente a otros días en el trabajo, algunas citas, correos para responder, todo estaba normal, andabas por el mismo camino de cada día, de pronto te diste cuenta que algo estaba mal, todo estaba pasando muy rápido. Tu cuerpo se paralizó, tu respiración estaba aumentando y te sentías sin aire para respirar, te dolían los brazos, sentías mareos y ganas de vomitar. Sólo fueron unos segundos pero se sintieron como horas, estabas desesperado. La idea sobre morirte te asustó aún más, estabas seguro que estabas muriendo y no podías hacer nada. Después de esto, te calmaste y empezaste a caminar de nuevo. Estabas tranquilo pero en tu mente el miedo era más grande que antes, el miedo de sentirte así otra vez. Desde ese día no has podido dejar de pensar en eso, no puedes dormir y cuando por fin logras hacerlo, tienes pesadillas o te despiertas en medio de la noche, no has descansado. El miedo va contigo a todos lados, tienes miedo de vivir otra vez lo de hace dos semanas y haces todo lo posible por mantener el control y sentirte seguro, pero en tu interior, sabes que tienes miedo. No, no estás loco, aunque lo creas. Sé que hace dos semanas, cuando todo estaba fuera de control, creíste que te volverías loco, pero créeme, no lo estás. Es por eso que estoy aquí, es momento de que sepas quién soy.

Soy Ansiedad. Lo sé, mi nombre no es bonito, algunas personas se asustan sólo de escucharlo. En los últimos años he aparecido con más frecuencia que antes, tal vez sea por el ritmo de vida de ahora: la gente siempre está haciendo algo, la gente piensa más en hacer que en ser. Aunque cada vez soy más popular, no conocen mucho sobre mí. Me suelen confundir con miedo, angustia o pánico, a veces con sentirse extremadamente nervioso. Pero soy mucho más que esos síntomas. No soy miedo, el miedo aparece ante algo real, es una respuesta natural a algo que está presente, en eso nos diferenciamos el miedo y yo. Yo aparezco antes de que haya un peligro real, respondo ante la percepción de peligro en el futuro.

Entiendo porque mi presencia no es cómoda. Conoces mejor que nadie como se siente vivir conmigo. Pero recuerda, no estás loco, tienes ansiedad. ¿Por qué estoy aquí? No lo sé, puedo aparecer por diferentes razones. Lo que viviste hace dos semanas fue un ataque de pánico y es otro de mis síntomas, es parte de mí. Es una reacción al miedo, pero de una manera muy intensa. Como sabes, los síntomas no son cómodos: temblores, sudoración, dificultad para respirar, opresión en el pecho, despersonalización. ¿Te das cuenta que ninguno de ellos es locura? No soy locura, aunque puedas creer que lo soy. Para mí es muy importante decirte esto, porque sé que es lo que más te asusta.

Por favor respira, quédate aquí, en el presente. Si te vas con tus pensamientos, me puedo hacer más fuerte. La razón más fuerte por la que estoy aquí es por los pensamientos. No digo que sea la única, pero sí de las más importantes. Tal vez con mi presencia trato de decirte algo sobre ti, tal vez eso pueda ayudar a escucharte, de tomar un momento para ver dentro de ti. No quiero que te juzgues, porque no estoy aquí para eso, por favor sé amable contigo, con tus necesidades, con tus sentimientos. No es tu culpa, pero puedes trabajar en eso. No soy un monstruo, aunque a veces parezca uno.

Ahora que ya sabes más de mí y tal vez más sobre ti. ¿Qué opinas?

 

 

Si quieres sabes más sobre la ansiedad o crees que tienes alguno de los síntomas presentados anteriormente, por favor contáctanos.

Hi, my name is Anxiety.

Hello! It is me, I have been living with you for a while, but you do not know me yet. After all this time, I decided to introduce myself, I think it is necessary, so you could understand what is happening in a better way.  Sometimes I hear you asking yourself why you are feeling these emotions, since I can see you aren’t having a good time with me. Some nights you can’t sleep because of me and during the day you feel nervous, angry, tired. I come out in different ways: negative thoughts, anger, sadness, irritability, worries and fears. You can’t really live your life as well as you want. The only thing you can think is “I don’t deserve this”, and I know, I understand you, my presence is not comfortable at all. I have been with you for a long time, sometimes you realize my presence, but you don’t give it importance, maybe it is because you are tired or there are just too many things to do. There is an answer for everything.  The sole idea that it is me, scares you.

Everything was worst two weeks ago, when you were walking on the street, back from the job. It was a hard day but not too different to another normal day at the job: some appointments, emails to respond, everything was normal, you were walking on the same road as every day. Suddenly, you realized that something was wrong, everything was happening very fast. Your body was paralyzed, your heartbeat was increasing, and you felt that you didn’t have enough air to breathe; you felt a pain in your arms, sickness and you wanted to vomit. It was just a few seconds that felt like hours, you were desperate. The thought about death scared you even more, you were sure you were dying and you couldn’t do anything. After this, you stayed calm and then you started to walk again. You were calm, but in your mind the fear was bigger than before, the fear of feeling that again. Since that day you haven’t stopped thinking about it, you can’t sleep and when you finally fall asleep, you have nightmares or you wake up in the middle of the night, you have not slept well. The fear goes with you everywhere, you are afraid of feeling again what you felt two weeks ago and you do everything possible to take control and be able to feel safe, but inside you, you know you are very afraid.  No, you are not crazy, even if you think it. I know two weeks ago, when everything was out of control you thought you would go crazy, but trust me, you are not. That is why I am here, because it’s time you know who I am.

My name is Anxiety. I know, my name isn’t cool, some people get scared just to hear it. In the last years I have appeared more frequently than before, maybe it is because of today’s busy lifestyles, people are doing something all time, people think more in doing than in being. Although each time I am more popular, people don’t know much about me. I used to be confused with fear, anguish or panic, or sometimes with being extremely nervous.

As I told you before, I understand why my presence isn’t comfortable. You know better than anyone else, how it feels living with me. But remember, you are not crazy, you have anxiety. Why am I here? I don’t know, I can appear because of many reasons. What happened to you two weeks ago was a panic attack and it is another of my symptoms, it is part of me. It is a reaction to fear, but amplified.  As you know, the symptoms are very uncomfortable: trembling, sweating, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, depersonalisation. Have you noticed that not one of them is craziness? I am not craziness, even if you think it. For me it is very important to tell you this, because I know the thing that scare you the most is going crazy.  

Please breathe, stay here, in the present. I need you to stay here. If you go away with your thoughts, I can become stronger. Thoughts are the main reason why I am here. I am not saying it is the only one, but I think it is one of the most important. Maybe I am trying to tell you something about you, maybe it could help to listen to yourself, to take a moment to look within you. Please be kind with yourself, with your needs, with your feelings. It isn’t your fault, but you can work on it. I am not a monster, even if I seem like one.

Now you know more about me, and probably more about you.

What do you think about it?

 

If you want to know more about Anxiety or believe that you have any symptoms,  please contact us.

 

 

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.