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Adolescent and Child Psychologist Edmonton

ABC Psychological Services


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Are You Raising a Gifted Child?

Posted on October 22, 2015 at 3:08 PM Comments comments (2093)

Each baby born is a unique canvas with a beautiful life to paint ahead. Each present their own strengths and weaknesses. Some need a bit of assistance to meet milestones and thrive, while others overachieve in the most surprising areas. If your child is unusually alert, even as an infant, and has an excellent memory, then he or she may be what is known as a “gifted child.” 

These two traits alone do not define gifted children, but these rapid learners exhibit skills that have adults both astonished and thrilled on a daily basis. Though being highly intelligent certainly has its perks, the world of a gifted child is often seen as too small, leading to frustration when the mind is not nurtured. If you believe that your child is gifted, you may benefit from visiting your local psychologist in Edmonton. 

Signs You May Be Raising a Gifted Child
Since every child is different, no two children are going to behave the same or present the same strengths and weaknesses. Children who are gifted might display a mere handful or all of the characteristics that psychologists have outlined. Most gifted children are rapid learners. They absorb information easily and display an unusually large vocabulary for their small age and are often writing in preschool. 

They find problem solving enjoyable, especially when they involve numbers or puzzles. Gifted children are very insightful and love to engage in conversation that involves modern social issues or politics. They are extremely curious about the world that they are living in. You might notice that your gifted child is a daydreamer and has a very vivid imagination. He or she may even have a few imaginary friends. This is a normal characteristic displayed by gifted children. Of course, this is not a complete list of traits; a psychologist in Edmonton can provide a more thorough assessment.

The World is Too Small, and Failure is Not an Option
Most children who are gifted are also highly emotional. This streams from a developing mind that is frustrated with the size of their world and the inability to figure it all out just yet. They are also very prone to anger or becoming overwhelmed when they do not succeed at a task. 

Gifted children are highly energetic. They need but a little sleep to function well and are commonly known as “chatterboxes.” Your gifted child probably asked 500 questions a day — this is nurturing the mind. Children who are gifted need consistency and emotional support to learn to cope with the parts of their mind that may work against them. 

Being gifted is a dynamic that is represented by all ethnicities, cultures and income levels. Your child’s gifted abilities can be nurtured into talent if the fact that he or she is gifted is caught early. If you believe that your child is gifted, visit our services page or contact a psychologist in Edmonton at ABC Psychological Services today.       

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!

Coping with Your Child’s Learning Disabilities

Posted on June 3, 2015 at 4:37 PM Comments comments (497)

If you have just found out that your child has a learning disability and feel upset, you are not alone. Many parents, when faced with this revelation, go through feelings of anger, guilt, rage and grief. This does not make you a bad person. It is important to understand that your feelings are normal so that you can move forward and get your child the help he or she needs.
It’s Not Your Fault
The first thing you need to understand is that your child’s disability is not your fault. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent or have done something wrong. On the other hand, it is okay to feel guilty. This is natural and normal. Being guilty over your feelings of guilt will not help. By recognizing that learning disabilities have many causes can help you move forward and seek the right education for your child.
Your Child Is Not Unintelligent
A learning disability does not necessarily represent a lack of intelligence. It also does not mean unto itself that your child is incapable of learning or that they cannot someday go on to college and achieve great things. Many famous people and world leaders have learning disabilities. All that a learning disability means is that you may need to seek alternate means of educating your child so that they can have the same opportunities as everyone else.
The Right Diagnosis
Getting the right diagnosis for your child will enable you to seek the correct special education decisions for your child. This is vital to ensuring that your son or daughter has the ability to learn alongside other kids and overcome their disability to achieve success in life.
Types of Learning Disability
There are many types of learning disability, and each one will present differently in your child. Some of the different kinds of learning problems include:
  • Reading: dyslexia and other reading disabilities generally mean that your child has difficulty recognizing or ordering letters, and connecting them with verbal communication. Sight reading and extracurricular reading and comprehension exercises can often be applied to overcome this problem.
  • Math: Some children have difficulty working out the relationships between numbers and the concepts that involve mathematics skills, from basic arithmetic to more advanced disciplines. These issues are addressed by adaptive teaching and multisensory teaching tips, including tactile learning.
  • Writing and Composition: Writing difficulty is often, but not always, tied into reading issues. Writing drills and development of fine motor skills as well as critical thinking and comprehension exercises can sometimes help these problems.
  • Behavioral Problems: If your child is experiencing behavioral problems or conflicts at school, they may have a learning disability. Having them tested and diagnosed can often improve behavioral issues and emotional health. Once you and your child know the root of the problem, addressing it can improve environmental symptoms.

If your child is in need of psychological assessments, Edmonton area help is available. Check out our learning disabilities page and give us a call today for an evaluation to get your son or daughter back on track!


Healthy Food Choices for Your Child

Posted on May 8, 2015 at 3:06 PM Comments comments (383)

You are what you eat.  Truer words have probably never been spoken.  It may be hard to believe, but our diet and our preferences of certain food are all developed in our childhood.  With obesity rates at an all-time high and ADHD and other behaviours all linked to diet, it is never too early to introduce healthy food choices into your child’s diet.  Here are some tips to help get you started.
Limit Sugar
Sugar is being linked to more and more health risks for children and has even been linked to learning disabilities.  In Edmonton and other major city centers, sugar is quite readily available and is hidden in many foods.  If you begin to read the labels on any child snack, you may be shocked to see how much sugar is packed into your child’s favourite snack.
So how do you limit your child’s sugar intake?  Become more aware of the ingredients in the items you are purchasing from the grocery store.  Read the ingredient list and look for words such as high fructose corn syrup or golden syrup. These are both other names for sugar. Begin cutting back on any type of processed foods and try replacing these with more of a whole food alternative.  For instance, try replacing cookies with perhaps an apple or any other type of fruit. 
One of the quickest ways to reduce your child’s sugar intake is to replace sugary drinks, including juice, with more water, or by diluting the juice with water. Juices and other common drinks are full of sugar, and one glass can have three times the daily recommended amount for children. Remember, moderation is key.  Do allow sweets, but limit their amount and frequency.
Limit Salt
Just like sugar, there are guidelines around limiting salt.  Salt can lead to a plethora of health problems and is something that needs to be controlled.  To help regulate your child’s sodium intake, try cutting out or limiting processed and packaged foods.  Canned soups and frozen dinners such as pizza can be loaded with sodium.  Fast food is also high in salt and should be limited as well. 
To replace these dietary choices, opt instead for fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned or cook at home instead of eating out.  Finally, cut back on salty snacks such as chips, pretzels and nuts.  These tips should help get your child into the recommended guidelines for sodium intake for their age.
By reducing both salt and sugar in your child’s diet, you can help your child make healthier food choices.  These healthy food choices can lead to more energy in your child, sharper minds and less moodiness.  A reduction of sugar and salt can allow your child to enjoy a lifelong relationship with healthy food choices and an opportunity to grow and develop into a healthy adolescents and adults. If you are seeing developmental or psychological issues in your child, be sure to contact us 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.


Misbehaviors You Should Not Overlook

Posted on February 2, 2015 at 4:46 PM Comments comments (472)
Every child has “episodes,” periods that make parents want to tear out their hair in frustration. When your child acts out, refuses to listen or throws a temper tantrum, it can be embarrassing and infuriating. It is all you can do to remind yourself that it is normal and they will come out of it.
That being said, there are certain behaviors that you should not ignore. These could be signs of more serious issues, or could be a gateway to bigger problems.
Interruption during Conversation
When you are talking to your child or to someone else and your child interrupts you, it can be tempting to let them go. After all, they have not yet developed adult self-control and may just be excited or feel the need to clarify what you are saying. Allowing them to butt into conversations does not teach them to be considerate of others.
Make sure your child has clear boundaries. Educate them on consideration and social graces. Teach them to wait their turn to speak in a conversation.
Of course you want to watch out for kids fighting. When they are hitting, kicking or otherwise engaging in aggressive actions that could hurt others, this is inappropriate behavior. You should also watch out for smaller signs of aggression. Pinching, poking and shoving can quickly escalate into worse conflicts and bullying problems.
If your child is showing signs of physical aggression towards other kids, step in immediately. Ask them how they would like it if another child did the same thing to them? Educate them that hurting others is wrong and inappropriate. Teach them better ways to handle the situation; again, establish clear boundaries.
Defiance is a major problem among children. While it is natural for kids to push boundaries, this does not mean it is your place to give in. If you have to tell a child something several times before they obey, they get the message that ignoring you is okay. If they are constantly arguing or challenging you or others and get away with it, they learn that this is how to get their way.
When your child is being defiant, you should step in immediately. If they ignore you or argue when you give a command, walk over to them turn them around, and make them look you in the face as you tell them what you want. Then make them acknowledge you and comply, imposing a consequence for their actions if they do not.
These are just a few situations where poor behavior patterns can lead to larger problems. If your child is acting out and you are at your wits’ end, talking to a professional can help. If you need a child psychologist in Edmonton, give us a call today.


Be Nicer to Your Kids

Posted on December 17, 2014 at 10:26 AM Comments comments (601)

Parenthood is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. The first time you look at a new life that you created, your entire world changes.
Parents are only human and they have bad days. The problem is that when your bad day bleeds over to verbal cruelty to your kids, you can negatively affect their health and wellness. Taking time to be nicer to your children can help with many developmental and behavioral problems. Here are some things you should avoid when talking to your kids.
When you address behavioral issues with your kids, avoid words such as “never,” “always,” or “ever.” Asking your child why they always behave a certain way or why they never do what you ask will only put these absolutes in their head.
This can subconsciously encourage the very behavior you are trying to bring to light. Keep things in the moment. Discuss what your child has done now, not what they always do.
Creating Problems
When your child repeatedly does something wrong, you can be tempted to throw your hands up in the air and say, “What is your problem?” or “What is wrong with you?” This is something you should avoid. Just because your child is doing the same thing over and over, does not necessarily mean they have a problem. It could just mean they are kids.
In many situations, children act out in situations where they feel comfortable and safe. Asking what their problem is could potentially create problems where before there were none.
Calling Names
This is potentially the worst thing you can do when your child acts out. Yes, you are enraged and frustrated that your child just will not behave. Insults may spring unbidden to your tongue. It is important to bite them back.
From the moment they can communicate we teach our kids that name calling is bad. Why would we do it to our kids?
When you call your child a jerk, a brat or worse, they may begin to see themselves that way. This will lead to further behavioral problems and can create issues with self-esteem and self-image.
What to Do
As difficult as it sounds, patience is key. When your child pushes you over the edge, take a moment to breathe. Consider the fact that you are not dealing with another grown-up. Try to see the situation from the child’s point of view, and address the behavior accordingly.
If you find that you simply cannot effectively address the issues, a qualified child psychologist in Edmonton may be able to help. Many therapists offer comprehensive Autism, ADHD and behavioral therapy services, and can educate you on how to better handle such problems in your child.
If you think you and your child could benefit from therapy, please give us a call today. We are eager to help.


When to Call a Child Psychologist

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM Comments comments (979)
Children can be a mystery wrapped up in an enigma. Trying to figure out why they are behaving the way they do is a challenge, even for experienced parents.
When children have problems outside of normal childhood acting out, a therapist can be of great help. The real trick is the ability to spot when your child’s behavior is a normal expression of growing up, and when they could benefit from outside aid.
Signs of Development Issues
There are certain signs that indicate the need for professional help. If your child experiences sudden and severe changes in behavior or mood, this can be a first sign. Other things to look for include, but are not limited to:
·      Violent acting out, excessive anger, aggression, bedwetting, mood swings  or other sudden and severe changes in behavior
·      Delayed development in the areas of toilet training, speech, or severe attention issues
·      Significant changes in grades when children who normally do well in school suddenly have issues
·      Isolation or withdrawal from social situations
·      Bullying or difficulty coping with bullies
·      Sleep problems—frequent oversleeping or insomnia
·      Increased physical discomfort such as headaches or stomach aches despite being cleared by a doctor
Developmental Milestones
Even very young children who have not yet begun school may need to see a professional if they miss or have difficulty with important and normal milestones. This includes things like potty training, language development including talking or reading, walking, or difficulty separating abstract from literal concepts.
Keep an open line of communication with the other important figures in your child’s life. Teachers can be an important resource in spotting unusual behaviors in children; so are caregivers and your pediatrician. They may be able to spot physical symptoms you may not immediately notice.
You are not failing as a parent by turning to these resources. Teachers and doctors see many children every day. These professionals have benchmarks for spotting abnormal behavior to which you do not have access. With regular communication, you can spot signs of problems with your child even sooner. This will lead to better and proper treatment.
The Right Therapist
When you have decided to seek help for your child, finding the right therapist is important. You want to find a nearby child psychologist who can specialize in the problems your child is experiencing. Edmonton has expert psychologists who offer comprehensive services for children with many developmental, learning disability and behavioral problems.
If you think your child may benefit from professional mental health care services, give us a call. We are here to help!