Children are fun to talk to, and heartwarming because they speak through their hearts and minds. They speak the truth and the simplicity of life that is beautiful and full of hope. Some children, however, are experiencing one or several mental illnesses and cannot voice out how they feel. So they curl up and hide their true emotions until they explode. That is only when a parent notices that the child is troubled and might need special medical intervention. It is not too late though as there are doctors who can diagnose how a child is thinking and feeling without hampering anything. These are your trusted child counsellors.
What Is Child Counselling?
Child counselling is a specialized type of therapy wherein a trained professional in this field focuses on children having mental illnesses. Aside from very young children, this therapy can also help teens and adolescents who have experienced a dysfunctional environment or trauma. Mental illness can take a toll on a child’s life, and that is why it is necessary to seek professional intervention at an early stage.
Through child counselling, a child may be able to open up and share his/her feelings, thoughts and certain issues. Once these are out, the specialist may then work with the child side by side to better cope and heal along the process. Child counselling is a form of therapy in which the child and specialist work together in setting goals and learning new skills to have a better life. A child who has had counselling often shows overall life improvement and helps the entire family go back into living a normal life.
Child Counsellors and Experts in Toronto
In Toronto, Ontario, there are a lot of child counsellors and therapists that offer these invaluable services. They focus on giving insights pertaining to a child’s particular socio-emotional development and overall mental health. Child counsellors are very meticulous about such details that not all people cannot distinguish. These specialists are highly trained for this condition and thus the best individuals to seek help from.
Child counsellors, or also called child psychologists or therapists, have special training in this type of field. Their labels depend on the level of licensure they have achieved in their academic lives. They are equipped with knowledge, skills and expertise to be able to identify, distinguish, assess, diagnose and treat children who are suffering from psychological distress, family and peer issues, and other mental health conditions in their lives.
The vulnerable youth is the main target group of child counsellors. Parents often misunderstand their child for bad behaviour because they simply do not know his real mental health situation. Child counsellors come in and help resolve those issues. The aim of all counsellors in the field is to help these children come out of their shell, speak and interpret issues they are experiencing at the moment. This is a very challenging task but it has to be done so that this does not have a negative impact on a child’s developmental milestones as he grows old. Mental illness, if left untreated at an early stage, may cause delays in his development as he matures into an adult in the following years.
When Should You Seek a Counsellor?
Parents often have a hard time knowing when to seek a counsellor for their child. Often mistaken as bad behaviour, it can be very challenging and the cause why most children are not helped out in the early stage. But when you notice a change in your child’s behaviour or if you feel he/she is struggling with something, that is the best time to have a counsellor speak to your child.
Remember that a counsellor technically has the “know-how” in making a child calm down and voice out his thoughts and feelings. So instead of struggling in doing this yourself, let the professional take care of the situation. They are better equipped and can even offer parents the tools needed to deal with any issues your child is having.
How Much Does Child Counselling Cost?
Child counsellors or psychologists have taken enough education to be able to provide families with the help they need. In Ontario and most other provinces, it takes a total of 3000 hours of clinical experience to be able to get a license for child counselling. That’s why most parents trust these professionals and would spend any amount just to help their child cope and make a recovery.
Child counselling fees cost an average of CAD 36 per session in the Toronto area. The number of sessions a child sees a counsellor depends on the severity of his situation. In a week, an average of 2 to 3 sessions is suggested for each child. Most experienced counsellors or psychologists can charge as high as CAD 60 to 250 per one-hour session.
For those who need such services but would want a cost-effective alternative, there are services offered by recent graduates and associates. They offer the same counselling but are under the supervision of experienced professionals. Another option is to go to therapists who offer a “sliding scale” in private practice. Your income is the basis as to how much you will be paying. With this alternative, you won’t be paying the full amount rather only a reduced fee.
There are also private companies in Toronto providing health insurance that covers child counselling. Talking to the human resources department will help you find out the health plan coverage and the amount you can claim every year. Some companies also provide assistance programs to families in need of counselling. These are confidential and you can freely discuss at the HR department for the type of counsellor and hours of sessions.
Child counselling services are very convenient to avail nowadays. Thanks to technology and developed programs which offer financial assistance, parents and families have more options to choose from. Each child is special and as a parent, you need to do everything to make your child feel safe, happy and well at any point in his/her life.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder for children that may not yet have a perfect cure. Nevertheless, these children can have a semblance of what a normal life can be with patience, love, and willingness to undergo some known therapies. Though some symptoms may not be fully treated, it is still a huge deal to see an affected child smile and socially interact with peers and family.
Essential Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
There is really no standard therapy for children with autism even though several methods were developed. One reason for that is because the effectiveness of each therapy differs and the specific need. On the plus side, it also means that one of the six tried and tested therapies will work better or is more appropriate than the others for your child.
1. Occupational Therapy: Adding Filters to Sensory Systems
This method of therapy looks into different ways to work within the child’s needs, interests, and abilities in doing everyday tasks and activities.
Children with autism spectrum disorder cannot differentiate information that is irrelevant. As a result, they take in any information that comes their way. Because there is different information for the respective sensory systems, there is a point that receiving all these may result in information overload. The inability to process new information while still processing old information is the reason why these children could go into a breakdown. In a sense, autism took away the mind’s filtering system (discarding irrelevant information).
Occupational therapy for children with autism aims to help organize and assist the autistic child’s nervous system by placing relevant filters for each sensory system.
2. Speech/Language Therapy: Improving Verbal, Non-verbal, and Social Communication
Children affected by autism find it difficult to communicate with those around them. A way to address this issue was the creation of speech/language therapy.
This therapy helps improve the verbal or spoken communication skills of autistic children, including:
Naming different things and people
Express how they are feeling
Speak words and sentences
Speech/Language Therapy also helps children with non-verbal communication skills:
Make and understand hand gestures and signals
Understanding and using picture symbols to communicate
Matching emotions with respective facial expressions
Social communication is an integral part of this therapy and improvements can be seen in social skills and behaviours. For example, the children learn how to make eye contact and find their preferred distance to stand in front of another person.
3. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): Helping Improve Through Positive Reinforcement
Applied behaviour analysis therapy helps develop and improve personal skills by encouraging positive behaviours and also discouraging negative behaviours. It is generally deemed to be one of the most accepted therapies for young children with autism.
This therapy can be broken into different types depending on the child’s age and other factors such as the area of challenge.
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI). This type has been recommended for very young children, usually those under 5 years old. The intensive structured approach used in this method involves creating a curriculum specific to one child with the goal of promoting positive behaviour while reducing negative behaviour.
Discrete Trial Training. Children are taught skills by implementing a series of trials until a desired behaviour or response has been achieved. All lessons are taught in their simplest and most basic form while implementing a positive reinforcement scheme to reward a child for achieving a positive response. All negative responses are ignored.
Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT). Each child is given a chance to take the lead when doing a learning activity. This is aimed at making the child become motivated in learning and being aware of his/her behaviour.
4. Social Skills Class: Teaching Children How to Interact with Other People
This is aimed at improving the interaction skills of autistic children. It can be done in a one-on-one setting or as a group wherein the children are taught how to form bonds with other people. An effective teaching method implemented here is through role-playing activities. With the correct guidance, a child will be able to improve conversation skills, develop an attitude of good sportsmanship, and will also learn how to handle negativity coming their way like how to react and handle getting teased by others.
5. Therapeutic Horseback Riding: Riding a Horse to Improve Social and Speaking Skills
This is a form of physical therapy wherein children are not only riding a horse but are also taught on taking care of a horse. Besides interacting with horses, the children are also taught to interact with the people helping the children handle the horses.
Therapeutic Horseback Riding therapy helps children improve focus and behaviour. In doing so, they can also have a fun activity.
6. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): Improving Communication Through the Use of Visual Symbols
This is another therapy which can be used for children with autism spectrum disorder who cannot speak or have difficulty with verbal communication.
PECS helps autistic children develop social skills and build relationships. With the use of pictures, the children learn how to indicate what they need or want. In turn, it helps reduce their frustration at not being about to share what they are thinking about. This therapy teaches them to use multiple cards to be able to form sentences and express what is in their mind.
Children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Can Improve
As parents, having an autistic child cannot be easy. Once diagnosed, early intervention can reduce frustration and help your child cope. The symptoms of autism may differ from one child to another. For that reason, there is no such thing as the best therapy. Instead, you have six types of therapies that can help your child, depending on the needs.
Speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioural therapy, enhancing communication and social skills, or improving motor skills – you have a choice. More importantly, your child has a chance to have a better quality of life.