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Adolescent and Child Psychologist Edmonton

ABC Psychological Services


Your Autistic Child and Their Siblings

Posted on September 1, 2015 at 2:08 PM Comments comments (984)
Having a child with autism is not only demanding on the parents, but also a challenge for any siblings. Your extraordinary child certainly needs care and attention, but this often leaves little time for other members in the family. It is important that parents learn to successfully juggle all responsibilities so that each individual feels that their needs are being met. 
Parents with multiple children often struggle with feeling that they are adequately meeting the needs of the entire family. Families can learn to thrive together by utilizing professional autism services in Edmonton. Our local child therapists specialize in helping families cope along the path of having a loved one with autism. 

A Delicate Relationship

There is often a great deal of stress between an autistic child and their siblings. This derives from simple misunderstanding or even jealousy. Parents sacrifice their own individuality to meet the needs of their autistic child, but young children often do not grasp the concept of self-sacrifice — and should not be forced to do so. Though the challenges of having a sibling with autism are very unique and demanding, individuals who have grown up in homes with special needs siblings report that they were able to cope well with the experience.  

Valuable and Unique Skills

Unique life experiences almost always offer a positive takeaway. Children who have a sibling with autism naturally learn coping mechanisms and alternative routes of thinking that others are not familiar with. These skills are tools that they will carry with them throughout their lives. They will endure, overcome and manage tough situations gracefully. Parents are the greatest teachers and role models for siblings of autistic children. When they see mom and dad managing or using mechanisms, they will pick up and retain those same valuable skills. 

Common Issues

Some siblings will manage the situation without issues, while others will be on the opposite end and have a very difficult time coping. Here are some common issues that children with an autistic sibling display:

  • Embarrassment with friends
  • Jealousy towards sibling(s)
  • Frustration towards sibling(s)
  • Concern over caregiving
  • Overly concerned for stressed parents
  • Attempt to compensate for autistic sibling

Foster the Relationship

It is important that you “take the bull by the horns,” so to speak, and talk with your children about autism as early as possible and as often as you are able. Strange behaviors can frighten or confuse a young child, so be sure to explain your autistic child’s activity in a simple, straightforward manner that will be easily grasped by the sibling. 
Relationships are hard to build with a person who has autism, and siblings are no exception. Research has shown that siblings who take a “teaching role” have an easier time fostering a positive relationship. Educate your child on ways to effectively get and maintain the attention of their sibling, and how to praise their sibling for playing well. 

The sooner a child is diagnosed with autism, the better for the entire family. Each member deserves to understand, learn to cope and work together to build one another up. Cognitive assessments, like those performed by the professionals at ABC Psychological Services, are critical to make an early diagnosis. Contact us today to find out more. 

Pattern Monitoring

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (482)
No parent wants their child to have a disability of any kind, but it is important for them to realize that it is a possibility, and in the case that it seems likely, to seek help or guidance from a professional. In any given situation that a child has developed a bad habit or displayed negative behavioral of thought patterns, it is crucial to recognize them and realize that the child may have a disability or condition. No child wants to feel disabled or lesser to everyone else, so it is important to ensure that the child knows that if they have a condition that it is not their fault but is also not the end of the world with the vast array treatments and medicine available today.


Children with ADHD will display extreme hyperactivity with a difficulty in concentrating on tasks at hand. Their thought patterns can be wild and disorderly as compared to those of people without. This can be highly strenuous on parents and teachers and even classmates because there is so little to be done to actually correct the behavioral issues by standard practices and procedures. All children can be wild or disorderly quite often, but children with ADHD act in these ways significantly more consistently. They have less control over these behaviors and tend to suffer socially, academically, and even behaviorally when consistently acting out. It is necessary for parents who notice these patterns to monitor their children’s behavior and recognize that their child is not necessarily odd and definitely is not unintelligent, but has a mental and emotional thought process that is vastly removed from what is standard. Children with ADHD can live completely normal lives with therapy, medication, and early recognition of their disorder.


Children with Autism have a profound inability to communicate in the way that most people communicate, and have all manner of problems ranging from extreme overpowering sensory experience, to processing issues, to severe social inability. The early signs that a child may have Autism are well covered in How Do I Know if My Child Has Autism, and it is very important to use this information to help learn how best to raise your child and aid them in functioning as best they can. With early recognition and monitoring of these signs, a child with Autism can more easily be taught and instructed, and their needs can be more easily met.

Learning Disorders

Learning disorders represent themselves as issues with certain tasks related to academics and generally education, especially in childhood. Children who are often highly intelligent can simply have a problem with one particular facet of education, whether it be in reading, math comprehension, writing, or others and can feel unintelligent or different from others who have no issue. Learning disorders are not always as severe as conditions like ADHD and Autism, but can be very difficult to handle, and discouraging for a child suffering from it. Early recognition and treatment of these disorders can greatly increase the chance of a normal life and an easier educational journey.

All these different forms of disabilities or disorders, while troublesome and often inconvenient, can be handled and overcome to a degree if caught early enough in life. If the patterns present with each are recognized and monitored, then dealing with the problems that come with them can be much easier and less daunting. Education on these disabilities and disorders is key, and early diagnosis can greatly improve the quality of life. If you are in the Edmonton area, our services can provide you with the help you need. Come see us for psychological assessments that can help you help your children.

How Do I Know if My Child Has Autism?

Posted on July 1, 2015 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (1042)

Incidents of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder are on the rise. Statistics indicate that about 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed as falling somewhere in the spectrum. We still don’t fully understand what causes autism, and having your child diagnosed can be scary and confusing. However, understanding of the spectrum itself has improved greatly and there are early warning signs that can help you get your child into treatment. The earlier the treatment begins, the better off your child will be when the time comes to cope with these challenges.
Smiling—or Lack Thereof
Babies generally smile back when someone smiles at them. If your infant has a developmental delay such as ASD, they may not respond with smiles. This is not a definite indicator of a developmental issue; your baby may just be having a bad day. It can, however, be a warning sign of a problem and is something to keep an eye on.
Failure to Imitate
In addition to returning smiles, infants on a regular development track will imitate expressions, movements and sounds that others make. They will attempt to laugh, mimic hand motions, copy facial expressions, and make sounds much like those others make. Failure to engage in mimicry can be a sign of ASD.
Lack of Vocalizations
Most babies engage in “babbling,” “baby talk,” or repetition of syllables. A general lack of vocalization by around six months of age can also be an indicator of developmental delay.
Lack of Gestures
Likewise, children use gestures to communicate by 10 months of age. They will point, beckon or otherwise indicate their needs and desires through body language. If they do not make such gestures, it can be an indicator of problems.
Failure to Respond
By six to twelve months of age, most children know and are able to recognize their name. They respond when addressed, be it by answering a call, looking in your direction or otherwise indicating that they are aware they are being spoken to. Failure to respond to their name can be a sign of a developmental delay such as autism.
If your child is withdrawn, does not seek attention or seems uncomfortable with attention, they may have a developmental delay. Likewise, failure to make eye contact can be an indicator of a desire to be solitary or withdrawn. In the infant and toddler stage, failure to reach for parents when parents pick up the child is another related possible sign.
Motor Development Issues
If your child is not trying to roll over, push themselves up, crawl or walk on schedule, he or she may suffer from developmental delays such as ASD. Motor development usually begins at a few months of age, and if you do not see regular development through their first year, it may be time to seek help.
Seeking Help

Most of these signs, taken alone, may not indicate a problem. If you see multiple delays or unusual developments, however, you should seek the aid of a qualified child psychologist. For those in the Edmonton area, help is available through our services. Take a look at our Autism and ADHD services and give us a call for a consult today!

Signs Your Young Child May Have Autism

Posted on April 7, 2015 at 12:04 PM Comments comments (369)

Catching autism early can save many years of struggle and heartache, both for parents and kids. No parent wants to believe their wonderful child may have difficulties with social development. However, it is important to understand that just because your child is different, this does not mean they are better or worse than other kids.
With the right early intervention, kids on the autism spectrum can be taught to function better within society and even harness their special gifts. This is only possible, though, if parents know what to look for.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that there are a collection of related disorders that have a common core of symptoms. The term “spectrum” is used because autism can manifest in stages of severity — those on the spectrum can have mild, moderate or major symptoms.
These signs and symptoms widely vary, and the effects of autism can vary with them. Some kids who fall on the spectrum have only very minor quirks, while others are unable to effectively function in society. Common symptoms of autism involve difficulty in one or more of three areas:
  1. Verbal and non-verbal communication
  2. Relating to and understanding the world and other people
  3. Flexibility in thought and behavior
What Causes Autism?
We are not currently certain what the exact causes of autism are. There is even some disagreement on how to best treat the condition. Some parents believe that their children do not need to be treated, but rather the world should adapt to their kids’ special qualities.
Most experts, though, believe that early intervention at an intensive level can be of great help to those on the spectrum. The earlier autism is diagnosed, the easier time the child will have learning to interact with the world around them.
Early Detection
Monitor your child’s development to make sure they are hitting normal social, cognitive and emotional milestones. If you are concerned about developmental delays, take action:
  • No warm and happy expressions by 6 months
  • No sharing of sounds, smiles and expressions by 9 months
  • Doesn’t respond to name, babble or make baby talk or communicative gestures by 12 months
  • Is not speaking by 16 months
  • Lack of, at minimum, 2-word original communicative phrases by 24 months
Don’t panic. A delay is not a guarantee of a problem. But don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it. Trust your instincts, and never just wait and see.
Early Signs
Here are some other potential signs of autism in your baby or toddler:
  • Regression — develops normally, then steps backwards
  • Failure to make eye contact
  • Refusal to smile
  • Failure to respond to familiar voices
  • Doesn’t visually track objects
  • Does not use communicative gestures like waving or pointing
  • Doesn’t respond to or desire physical affection
  • Failure to imitate movements and expressions
  • Failure to play or relate to other children
These are only a few of the potential signs of autism. If you think your child may benefit from the services of a child psychologist in Edmonton, give us a call today. We are here to help.


Living with Child with Autism

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (876)

Autism is a spectrum disorder which encompasses a broad range of behavioral and cognitive issues. For parents, having a child with Autism presents unique and sometimes frustrating challenges. It can sometimes take a long time to have a child tested and diagnosed because the parent is in denial about the condition or unaware that associated behaviors are different than a typically developing child.
A diagnosis of autism can be a very difficult thing to cope with. If you have proper help, guidance and support, raising child with Autism can be an experience that can change the way you view the world.
Coping with Feelings
Many parents react to a diagnosis of Autism in their child with fear, anger and deep concern. Such feelings are not directed at their children, but at themselves. What will they do? How can they adjust their parenting? What if they do something wrong?
It is important to acknowledge and process these feelings. This is the first step in moving forward. Know that it is enough that you love your child, and the diagnosis is neither their fault nor yours.
Mission Statement
As you process your feelings, work with your child’s psychologist to develop a plan of action and get going immediately. Stay focused and on task. The sooner you are able to act, the better off you and your child will be. Early diagnosis can help to give direction and point you towards education.
You should also plan for financial challenges ahead. Depending on the severity of the case, there could be significant treatment costs and not all may be covered by insurance.
Talk to your psychologist and seek education about the autism spectrum, with a focus of where on the spectrum your child falls. Every child with Autism is unique and requires a different approach. Some high-functioning chlidren with Autism go on to college and achieve doctorates. Others require assistance with basic social interactions.
There are many books, websites and other resources for parents coping with their child’s Autism diagnosis. Schools may have programs for children with special needs. Your psychologist can assist you with accessing resources. Remember, education is what arms you for the challenges ahead.
Love Is All You Need
As you begin the process of raising a child with Autism, remember that with love and patience you can persevere. Seek help when you need it, and cherish the successes. Adjust your perceptions to view the world through your child’s eyes. You may find that it is a rewarding experience to raise a child with such a unique perspective on life.

If you think your child may fall on the autism spectrum, you will want to find proper care for their needs. If you are looking for a child psychologist in Edmonton, ABC Psychological Services is here to help with advice, assessment and treatment. Give us a call for a consultation today!

Psychological Disorders in Children: Early Diagnosis is Key

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 4:28 PM Comments comments (383)

Experts estimate that roughly 20 percent of all children suffer from some sort of psychological disorder. Diagnosing a mental disorder in a child is important to healthy development. Because the brain of a child is still growing, it can be difficult to diagnose these issues in kids. 
Among those ailments most common among children are anxiety disorders, ADHD, behavior disorders, eating disorders, learning disabilities and mood disorders. A trained child psychologist can help ensure that if one of these or another disorder is present, it is properly addressed and treated.
Early Diagnosis is Vital
Early diagnosis of a childhood disorder is essential to addressing and treating the problem. If a mental health issue goes untreated, severe secondary symptoms can result. This can create a range of problems including:
·      Social awkwardness
·      Academic problems
·      Issues with self-image and self-esteem
·      Self-harming or suicide
·      Addiction
·      Depression and further mood disorders
Early diagnosis can lessen the impact of mental illness and prevent the issue from getting worse over time.
Diagnostic Criteria
Each disorder has its own signs, symptoms and diagnostic criteria. These criteria are contained in a volume called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Psychologists use this manual, currently on its fifth edition, to diagnose and address the underlying causes of most known mental health issues.
Mental health experts know how to best use the DSM to apply symptoms to a diagnosis. Because the process is tricky with children, it can take time to reach a proper conclusion. A psychologist can make adjustments during evaluation until the right treatment for your child is determined.
Know the Signs
There are many symptoms that can be indicative of a mental disorder in a child. These symptoms include:
·      Mood swings and sudden, extreme changes in mood
·      Extreme emotions, particularly overwhelming feelings of fear, worry, anxiety or rage
·      Changes in behavior that are extreme or unusual for your child
·      Severe concentration issues
·      Sudden weight loss or gain
·      Attempts at self-harming
·      Use or abuse of chemical substances
It should be noted that not everything is a sign of mental disorder. For example, all kids throw tantrums from time to time. Many experience mood swings within a normal spectrum. But if these issues are extreme, uncommon or sudden, you should consult a psychiatrist.
If you think your child is experiencing mental illness and you need a child psychologist, Edmonton area services are available. Give our office a call for a consultation and remember, early diagnosis is vital to effective treatment.


Ten Things Your Autistic Child would Want You to Know: Part II

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM Comments comments (384)

A child with autism is just like any other child, but communicates their needs, wants, feelings and desires in different ways. Maybe they can never tell you directly, but there are still things they would want you, the parents, to know. Below is the continuation of a list of things that your child would want you to know.  

5.  Please listen to my own way of communicating: It is difficult for me to tell you my wants and needs because I may not have the verbal capacity to do so. I still have feelings and can be frustrated, scared or confused but I just cannot find the right words. Watch out for my body language, signs of agitation and withdrawal. If I am able to speak, you may find me telling you things in scripts that I have memorized from books, films, TV or the speech of other people. I may not know what I am saying, but at least I am trying.  

6.  I’m visually oriented: Instead of telling me, show me how to do something. Be prepared to repeat yourself and show me many, many times. I’m sorry to try your patience, but it helps me learn. I need to see something in order to learn it. Speaking alone does not help me much. If you give me instructions, make sure to use visual stimuli as support.  

7.  Focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t do: Even if I can’t communicate my feelings and thoughts very well, I still do not like feeling that I’m not good enough and that I need fixing. Focus on my strengths: There are many things I can do and I’m waiting for you to find them.  

8.  Help me with my social interactions: Teach me how to play with others. Encourage others to play with me instead of asking me to initiate – I have difficulties doing so as it’s hard for me to read facial expressions and body language and decipher emotions. I do best in structured play activities so give me a game that has a concrete beginning and ending.  

9.  Identify my triggers: When I have an emotional meltdown, it is very devastating for me because one or more of my senses has gone into overload or I have been pushed too far. Keep an eye on my behavioral patterns and you may see ways to prevent this.  

10.  Love me just the way I am: I am just a child. I need your support and unconditional love. Please do not expect me to fulfill your every expectation, but with your guidance I will do able to do a lot more.

Every child has different abilities and it would help your child to remember this rather than characterizing your child by their disabilities. Look past their limitations and see their strengths. If you are in need of a Edmonton-based psychologist to give your child an assessment, please take a look at my services.

10 things your autistic child would want you to know: Part I

Posted on August 7, 2014 at 2:44 PM Comments comments (812)
Autism is a complex disorder that renders its sufferers with problems in sensory processing, speech/language development, social interaction skills and emotional areas. Many children with autism are incapable of fluent speech, causing difficulties in communication. Each child has his/her unique set of needs, but there are also general things that most children with autism do share. Below is a list of things that every child with autism wishes his/her parents to know:

1. I am still a child: My autism does not define me, rather, it is just a part of me. Would you be happy if people thought of you as just one thing?  Like any other kid, I still have thoughts, feelings, ideas, and talents. Just because I have a disorder does not mean I am useless. I am more than meets the eye. Do not think me any less than other children without the disorder. I am still developing and growing, so do not give up on me.
2. I have sensory problems: Every sensory stimulus may overwhelm me because I am more sensitive than other children. You may not notice things such lights shining, water dripping, or people walking by, but I do. Every sound, smell, touch, taste, sight can be very painful for me. My environment is not a friendly one because I am constantly bombarded by stimuli. Sometimes I may appear withdrawn or belligerent because I cannot handle the stimuli overload.  It is not because I am trying to be mean, but because it’s too much for me to handle.   
3. I can’t, not I won’t: Sometimes I really do want to follow the instructions that you give me, but I simply cannot understand you. If you call me from across the room, everything becomes gibberish to me and I feel frustrated. You will have to come over to me and get my attention before you speak to me. If you can put your instructions in simple, concrete words, I will be better able to do what you want me to do.
4. I have trouble understanding latent messages: I interpret language literally – that means that I have difficulty understanding indirect references and secondary meanings. Therefore, please do not tell me to “take it easy” when you want me to stop running. Tell me everything in concrete terms or else I will not be able to comprehend.

Your child relies on you to support and help them. Although it may be difficult, dealing with a child with autism can be manageable. If you live in the Edmonton area and would like us to facilitate a treatment plan that caters to your child’s specific needs, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

Is Your Child Autistic?

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 1:27 PM Comments comments (9929)
According to the CDC, about 1 out of 68 children has been diagnosed with with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is far more common than people realize, so if you observe any telltale signs in your child, getting a proper assessment is the first step. A psychologist may be able to spot possible underlying causes for your child's behavior that you may not have considered--causes that include the possibility that your child may have some form of autism.
What is Autism?
ASD is a range of complex neurodevelopmental disorders that cause significant behavioral, communication and social impairments. ASD encompasses several conditions which includes autism or autistic disorder), Asperger syndrome, PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) and childhood disintegrative disorder. ASD is more common among boys than girls.
Signs and Symptoms
ASD is difficult to diagnose because symptoms and severity widely vary, and milder symptoms often go unrecognized and/or are misdiagnosed as other health conditions. Doctors can typically can make a diagnosis by observing and monitoring a child's behavior and development for any abnormalities. In some cases ASD can be detected in a child as young as 18 months old, but many children are not diagnosed until they are much older.
Listed below are symptoms of early onset of ASD:
·       Little or no eye contact
·       Lack of social skills
·       Inability to say single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
·       No response to his or her name
·       No pointing or babbling or pointing by age 1
·       No smiling or lacks social responsiveness
·       Unable to communicate
·       Excessively lining up or arranging toys or objects
Symptoms of later onset of ASD:
·       Unable to make friends with peers
·       Unusual and repetitive speech patterns
·       Unable to start or maintain a conversation with others
·       Restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in focus or intensity
·       Preoccupation with certain subjects or objects
·       Absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
·       Inflexible adherence to specific schedules, rituals or routines
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of ASD is not yet known, however, research has shown that there are factors that may increase a child's risk for ASD.  Persons with certain chromosomal or genetic conditions were found to be more likely to develop ASD, as were children with siblings who have ASD. Certain medications taken during pregnancy have also been linked to higher incidence of ASD, including: 
Misoprostol, a commonly prescribed treatment of gastric ulcers and less frequently used to induce medical abortions; Valproic acid, a commonly prescribed anti-epileptic drug (AED); and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) a class of drugs commonly used as antidepressants. Researchers are also studying the link between higher rates of autism to children born of older parents. This parental age/ASD relationship may provide important clues to the factors that lead to autism. For instance, increased age may account for increased cumulative exposure to toxic chemicals. Older moms have greater  risks of pregnancy complications, and as a woman’s eggs age, they are more likely to carry genetic changes that can affect fetal development.  
ASD has no cure, but it can treated. Treatment typically involves behavioral and educational therapy to help autistic children develop their language and social skills, as well as counseling for families of autistic children. Medication may also be prescribed to treat certain autism-related symptoms such as anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If you are looking for a good child psychologist in Edmonton to help you determine whether or not your child has ASD, a qualified and licensed professional is just a phone call or email away. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner your child can get the treatment he or she needs.