If you are considering an autism assessment for your child, you may be concerned about helping them to cope with the assessment itself. The good news is that through careful preparation and consistent encouragement you can greatly enhance your child’s ability to manage the assessment process and ensure that useful insights and recommendations are gained.
If your child has been displaying symptoms that are in line with the autism spectrum, getting a detailed assessment and diagnosis can help you understand the severity of the condition and plan for the next steps in terms of obtaining the right care and support for them and the whole family.
Before beginning the process of autism assessment, it is essential for you to understand the potential difficulties and challenges your child may face when completing required tasks or attending interviews, so that you can support them in having a positive experience.
The autism spectrum is complex and symptoms cannot be determined by your child completing a single, straightforward test. For this reason, child autism assessments typically involve a series of evaluations and tests performed by multidisciplinary teams or specialists during 2-3 appointments.
Most assessments involve direct interactions between the mental health professional and your child, typically structured in the form of play-based assessment procedures referred to as a Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Some assessments may require your child to complete cognitive, or ‘thinking skill’ tests.
A comprehensive developmental evaluation process is performed by a developmental paediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, or an occupational therapist. The process involves observation, structured tests and you will also be required to fill out questionnaires and provide required inputs regarding your child’s behaviour and development.
While different mental health professionals use a variety of assessment tools and techniques, the guidelines laid out by The National Autism Plan for Children specifies that the autism assessment for children should include:
The assessment process can take some time and be quite stressful for your child if they are not fully prepared for the sessions. It could be beneficial to plan ahead with these steps:
We understand that going through this process can be difficult and feel overwhelming. If you would like to speak to our caring staff to get more information or simply clear your doubts, we are happy to help.
Anxiety can be a challenging condition to live with, often having a significant impact on your mental, emotional and even physical wellbeing. If you are suffering from anxiety, and you feel that you are unable to control your fears and worries to an extent that it is preventing you from performing your daily, normal tasks, you could benefit from trying mindfulness techniques such as meditation, which has proven to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is the ability to be completely present, fully aware of where you are, and completely invested in what you are doing. It lets you be free from external distractions and focus your complete undivided attention on the task at hand. By training yourself to be mindful, you will be able to prevent obstructive thoughts and be one hundred percent present in the current moment.
If you are suffering from anxiety, one of the biggest struggles you are facing is your ability to control your emotions. Intense fears caused by certain events or persistent worries that are largely disproportionate to the underlying cause can make you extremely anxious, affecting your ability to regulate your emotions.
Meditation research has shown that following a consistent mindfulness programme over a period of time helps the brain to reprogram its neural pathways, thereby enabling you to be in better control of your emotions. It helps you become more aware of your feelings and thoughts, without being compelled to react to them.
Like most practices, mindfulness requires dedicated, focus, and consistent practice. Specialists recommend mindfulness techniques be practised every day, as the more regularly you train your mind, the more aware you become of the thoughts, emotions, physical reactions and world around you. You can start your journey towards mindfulness by following these steps:
When you start trying to focus your mind, it is very easy to get pulled in multiple directions, with your mind switching from one thought to another constantly. Since you cannot be mindful of multiple thoughts at the same time, start by focusing on just one thing at a time. This could be either a task that you are working on, or a mild body ache, but try to focus and be fully aware of that particular element for a prolonged period of time.
While it can be difficult to find some ‘me time’ when you have a busy schedule, take a few minutes from your day to be by yourself. Pulling away from social interactions and being by yourself can help your mind to slow down the electrical impulses generated by your brainwaves. This will help you to gain more control over your thoughts.
The next step towards achieving mindfulness, and undoubtedly the most important one, is meditation. Start by spending a few minutes every day meditating and gradually increase this to a minimum of 20 minutes, before extending to 40 minutes or more. Ensure you stick to a routine – find a comfortable location that you can use daily, find the best time of the day for you to try and relax, and let your family know that you cannot be disturbed during this time. Find a calming meditation script that helps you to clear the clutter from your mind, and reduce your stress levels.
Here are some useful resources that could help:
By investing time in yourself and achieving mindfulness, you can better manage your anxiety and lead a happy, healthy life free from the constant fear and worry that anxiety can cause.
It is normal for children to often lose interest in the task at hand and jump to something else, or occasionally forget their school work, or to get restless easily. But if your child seems to be repeatedly showing signs of impulsiveness, is hyperactive in a way that is beyond what you would consider acceptable, and is highly inattentive, these may actually be signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that appears in early childhood, often before the age of seven. While as a parent, you may be worried about ADHD limiting your child from exploring their potential at school or leading a happy life when they grow, it is important to understand that ADHD can be treated.
The treatment of ADHD typically involves a professional diagnosis of your child’s developmental and psychosocial history, as well as observation of their symptoms and behavioral patterns. Following the assessment, a treatment plan best suited to your child’s individual needs will be created. This plan will include a variety of treatments and therapies. It may or may not include medication, depending on your child’s age, conditions, and needs. By taking this bespoke approach to ADD treatment, Psymplicity helps your child learn how to manage their symptoms effectively, perform better at school, improve their family and social life, and go on to lead a happy, fulfilling adult life.
As a parent, it can be challenging to differentiate between ADHD symptoms and a normal active child. If you feel that your child is showing signs of ADHD at school, at home, or in social situations, you can observe them closely to see if they are exhibiting a significant number of the below symptoms:
If your child is displaying most of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to speak to a mental health professional who can perform a diagnosis and suggest the appropriate treatment to best help your child cope with their condition. And do remember, ADHD is manageable and your child, with the right care, can grow up to lead a wonderfully healthy and happy life!
It’s not always easy to recognise when your alcohol consumption is becoming excessive, but with the right support and mindset, you can implement healthy drinking habits and enjoy alcohol sensibly. If you are not sure whether you have an alcohol problem, have been spoken to by concerned family friends about changes in your drinking habits, or are curious about what healthy alcohol consumption looks like, this article can help.
In this guide, we discuss the difference between casual drinking, problematic drinking and alcohol addiction, how to know if you do have a problem with excessive alcohol consumption, and what to do if you are concerned.
Occasional drinking, often referred to as social drinking, is a perfectly healthy pastime for the majority of people. Casual drinking typically involves having a few drinks on occasion, when spending time with family and friends, or relaxing at home. The important aspect of casual drinking is that the person always drinks responsibly, never ‘crossing the line’, and does not feel like they need alcohol in order to relax or enjoy themselves.
While moderate consumption of alcohol on occasion is perfectly safe for most people, it is not advised to consume alcohol when taking certain medications or suffering from certain conditions. Alcohol can actually interact with certain medications to cause physical or mental reactions, for instance, it can cause depressive episodes in those on particular antidepressant or anxiety medications. Always read the label on any new medication you are taking before consuming alcohol and ensure that drinking is not likely to exacerbate any ongoing health conditions you have, for instance, if you suffer from epilepsy or asthma.
If at any point your casual drinking tips into problem drinking, it is time to regain control and curb your alcohol consumption.
Regardless of whether you would describe yourself as sensitive to alcohol or as someone who can handle consuming a large quantity of alcohol with little physical effect, if you regularly exceed the NHS recommended weekly alcohol allowance, or if you purposefully binge and cause yourself to become intoxicated to dangerous levels, then you would be considered to have a drinking problem.
From a health and wellbeing perspective, drinking becomes a problem when you regularly consume an excess amount of alcohol, whether or not you experience intoxication or alcohol poisoning. This is because excessive alcohol consumption increases your chances of developing chronic disease and long term health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, liver disease, and cancer.
If you think you have a drinking problem, it’s a good idea to address this immediately and limit the amount of alcohol you drink to recommended levels or even cut it out altogether for a period of time until your body is healed and you feel capable of regulating your intake.
Speaking to a friend or family member, and asking them to support you in regulating your alcohol intake, is a great way to take responsibility for problem drinking and ensure someone is on hand to help you implement healthier habits.
If you find yourself feeling like you need to drink alcohol almost every day in order to relax, calm down, or feel happier, then you are experiencing alcohol dependence, a form of alcohol abuse. It’s quite common for you to also feel unable to control yourself around alcohol during a dependence, especially if others are drinking around you and inviting you to drink. If your alcohol consumption is disrupting your life in any way, and you are regularly exceeding the NHS guidelines on how many units are safe to drink per week, then you may be suffering from alcohol abuse and could be vulnerable to developing alcoholism.
What we as individuals consider to be ‘acceptable’ levels of casual drinking will be influenced by our cultural and societal norms, as well as our experience with family, friends, and peers. For some, social drinking could mean having a couple of beers with their colleagues on Friday. For others, it may be splitting a couple of bottles of Chardonnay with friends over brunch. The most important thing is that you do not exceed the NHS recommendation for weekly alcohol consumption, and that you do not find yourself feeling like you need a drink or experiencing symptoms of discomfort or illness following a drink.
Concerned your casual drinking habit may be turning into alcohol dependence or alcoholism? There are clear signs to watch out for. If you feel like you need a drink rather than want one, are increasing your alcohol consumption significantly or binge drinking then you need to consider whether you should seek treatment for alcohol addiction.
Alcohol dependency and alcoholism often accompany changes in behaviour towards family and friends. You may have found yourself sneaking in a few extra drinks, lying to your family about how much alcohol you have consumed, or feeling guilty about the number of drinks you have had. Your expenditure on alcohol may have increased, and you may be hiding or hoarding bottles and lying to your significant other about the amount you’ve spent. You may also be seeking to hide the physical evidence of drinking by upping your intake of coffee, brushing your teeth more regularly or chewing gum to hide the smell on your breath.
These behaviours can cause damage to your relationships and mental health, driving a wedge in between you and your loved ones due to the dishonesty and secrecy involved. Often, treatment for alcoholism is accompanied by couple’s therapy or relationship counselling, in order to address the damage done during your period of addiction and help the relationship heal over time.
The common belief is that if you find yourself questioning whether you do have a drinking problem, you probably do, or are developing one. It would be a good idea to introspect, record your drinks and analyse the ‘after’ effects after a night of drinking. Remember that help is available and support is accessible – all you need to do is reach out.
This short quiz could help you truly understand whether you have a drinking problem.
Admitting that you need help is the very first step on your journey to recovery. There are many ways to get the help and support that you need – self-help programs, support groups, rehabilitation, or mental health treatment. You can research your options by referring to this useful guide from NHS.
The coronavirus crisis is affecting all aspects of our life. Lockdown restrictions that keep us indoors, away from our loved ones and regular daily activities, have had an impact on the mental health of many people.
This extended period of isolation is particularly difficult for those suffering from depression. It can be tough to deal with the additional stress and feelings of anxiety that being alone and confined to a single space can trigger. It is important not to let yourself get consumed by the uncertainty and negative news that is probably making it harder for you to disengage.
Here are a few coping mechanisms you could try, when dealing with increased anxiety and stress levels or low moods.
While it is true that there are limitations to where you can go and who you can visit during the lockdown, try as much as possible to incorporate regular daily activities in your routine. Start your day at the same time, follow an exercise plan, stick to your work schedule, and follow your daily household routine. It is easy to get lazy and be more lethargic when spending more time at home, but the idler you are, the stronger your negative thoughts will get. By keeping yourself busy, engaged, and following a good routine, you can keep those negative thoughts at bay.
While you are spending extended periods at home, it is important to maintain contact with the people that are important to you. Set up regular video calls with family and remember to call your friends. Speaking to someone regularly and having a face-to-face conversation, although virtual, will help you to focus on positive emotions.
If there is one thing we’ve all got more of during the lockdown, it is time. Use this time productively to learn something new. If there is something that you’ve always wanted to do but were too busy for, now is the time to focus on it. It can be a simple online class, painting, or baking cookies. Channel your energy into developing a new skill will keep you motivated and positive. Here is a great list of hobbies that you can learn at home during the lockdown, ranging from stitching to online yoga classes.
Set aside time every day to clean your house and tidy your work area. Make sure you create clear boundaries between work zones and home zones. Working in a well-organised space will help you to stay focused and better manage your time. Avoid working from the couch or bed, as it will only blur the lines between your personal and professional time, causing you to drag your work time way beyond what is required. Check out these easy tips for keeping your house organized and clutter-free.
Try to squeeze in an outdoor exercise like a run or a jog to get some fresh air as well as mood-boosting Vitamin D to free your mind from any negative thoughts. If you wish to stay indoors, don’t skip out on your workout routine. Try a new at-home workout video or create a fitness competition group on an app with your friends to motivate yourself. Check out this useful list of at-home exercise ideas.
Make sure to include a good mix of nutritious food in your daily diet. Clean eating will keep your body healthy and energised. Try to control your alcohol intake – large quantities of alcohol can further aggravate negative thoughts.
Take a breather from the news. Switch off from social media. Make sure you regularly take a break from the non-stop onslaught of negative news which does nothing but add to further your anxiety levels.
If You Are Struggling With Depression During Lockdown, Reach Out To A Mental Care Professional
If you find yourself dwelling over negative thoughts or experiencing persistent stress and anxiety, reach out to a mental health professional. Psymplicity’s caring and experienced psychiatrists specialise in the assessment and treatment of depression. Take our depression test to see if you could benefit from professional support, or view our Online Therapy and Psychiatry services.
During lockdown, many people are missing their usual outlets for stress, boredom and frustration. It isn’t possible right now to visit the gym, meet friends at the cinema or go on holiday and relieve the tedium of daily life – making addictive outlets like alcohol and junk food much more difficult to resist.
According to new statistics shared by Alcohol Change UK, one in five people (21%) say they are drinking more during the pandemic, suggesting that around 8.6 million UK adults have increased their average alcohol intake in response to the stress of being stuck indoors.
Research shows that people tend to drink more during an economic crisis or major disaster. Alcohol is used as a way to destress and disengage from difficult realities, often without regard for the harmful psychological and physiological impact of drinking too much. In fact, when the lockdown was just setting in, alcohol sales leapt by 22%, topping £1.1bn in just four weeks in the UK.
If you find yourself drinking more often than normal during this period, it is important to understand what is considered an acceptable level of consumption, and what should be a cause for concern.
Drinking To Cope Rather Than For Fun or Relaxation
If you feel your stress levels cannot be managed without alcohol, or if you are increasingly turning to alcohol to relieve feelings of frustration, loneliness, boredom or other negative emotions, you may be developing an unhealthy alcohol dependence that needs addressing.
Needing Alcohol To Help You Go To Sleep
Many heavy drinkers and borderline alcoholics experience a reliance on alcohol in order to help them relax enough to go to sleep. If you find yourself always reaching for a bottle of wine, beer or a bottle of spirits at the end of the evening, and an occasional nightcap has become a nightly occurrence, this is a sign of alcohol dependency.
Lack Of Motivation To Work, Do Chores Or Complete Daily Tasks
Those who suffer from alcohol reliance or alcoholism often experience a lack of motivation when facing chores, work or tasks to complete. If you find that a drink helps you to focus in on the task at hand, this is a sign that your body has become accustomed to associating alcohol with productivity and can lead to excessive consumption of significant quantities on a regular basis.
Are you feeling more anger or are you simply more irritable after consuming alcohol? This could be harmful not just for you but for your family or friends living with you, and you must consider reducing your alcohol consumption drastically or even stop it altogether.
Growing concern from friends and family
While it may be difficult at times for you to recognise that you may have a problem with alcohol if your loved ones are noticing changes in your behaviour due to alcohol or if it is beginning to affect your relationships adversely, it is a clear sign you need to cut down on your drinking.
Track Your Alcohol Consumption Patterns
Start noting down the frequency and quantity of your alcohol intake. There are a number of apps like drinkaware that help you to track your intake, identify patterns, and achieve measurable goals to moderate your drinking.
Try Not To Associate Drinking Alcohol With Lowering Your Stress Levels
Try not to think of alcohol as a method of controlling stress and anxiety levels. It is important that alcohol does not become your default coping mechanism every time you feel your stress levels rising. Try to find more healthful and positive outlets for negative emotions, such as exercising, cooking a healthy meal or spending time with loved ones.
Share Your Worries With Your Loved Ones
If you are beginning to wonder whether there is a reason to worry about your alcohol intake, do not keep your worries bottled up. Speak to friends and family. If you are staying alone, it can be all the more unnerving, so it is important to reach out to someone you feel comfortable with and discuss your worries.
Channel Your Energy Into Positive Action
Rather than turning to alcohol to help you manage stress or blow off steam, try channeling your energy into positive action with exercise, meditation, or other interesting tasks. When you find healthy, positive methods of distraction, your stress levels will reduce and your dependency on alcohol to cope will also reduce.
Speak to a mental health professional
If at any point you feel your alcohol consumption levels are reaching dangerous levels that could be affecting your physical and mental wellbeing, our specialist team of alcohol addiction therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors are here to help. Psymplicity provides affordable and accessible online therapy services that can help you manage your alcohol consumption levels during this difficult lockdown period.
This is a unique situation we are all in, to say the least. Never before have we encountered a crisis of this magnitude. With self-isolation, lockdown, and quarantine becoming the order of the day, reverting to ‘normalcy’ seems like a hopeful dream.
While this has been a rather challenging time for most, for some the crisis has caused immense mental stress and anxiety. It does not help that a non-stop barrage of news and statistics of rising cases and increasing deaths are all around you, all the time. So if you are feeling stressed and losing your peace of mind right now, it is okay. As human beings, our minds are expected to have anxiety in reaction to such distressing situations.
However, it is important to understand that while a reasonable amount of concern is expected, continued stress and growing anxiety can affect your health. We have listed 5 effective steps that can help you cope with your anxiety:
As is any case of anxiety-inducing information or thoughts, it is important to accept them and process them. The more you try to fight the anxiety, the stronger and harder it will hit you. The positive aspect of being anxious is that it helps you remain aware of the dangers of the virus, be cautious and avoid risks to yourself and others, and prepare yourself if the virus does affect you or your family. Try to accept and process it, and move on, but do not get consumed by it.
An effective way to deal with this anxiety is to focus your attention on preparing for worst-case scenarios. In the event you or your family member is experiencing symptoms, refer to these detailed guidelines from NHS on what you need to do. Equip yourself with all the necessary information you need to manage terms of your employment or raise claims by referring to these detailed guidelines from HMRC.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the worrying statistics that we see in the news. But try to focus merely on fatality and death rates, but look for information on recovery rates to gain a holistic perspective. Always look for credible sources of information such as WHO that keeps updating holistic and accurate information in real-time.
Look for stories about survivors who have come out of this to share their experiences, positive stories about the generosity of strangers, and inspiring acts of kindness and selflessness. As much as you are bombarded with negative news, surround yourself with positive stories. BBC has a dedicated section on uplifting stories that are heart-warming and inspiring.
Don’t get overwhelmed by work. Working from home can be tricky if there are no boundaries, so make sure you take time for yourself. Read a book, bake a cake, connect with an old friend, do something that takes your mind off the stress of work, and the negativity of the news.
If you are not sure of where to begin, refer to this fantastic list of 50 free ideas during the lockdown right from painting to writing a novel.
Taking care of yourself is extremely important at this time. Staying indoors, without any physical activity can be challenging, so create a routine that includes dedicated time for exercise or relaxation. It can be tempting to turn to junk food, but while an occasional indulgence is perfectly fine, try and eat healthily.
There are a number of health and wellness experts sharing tips on exercise, clean eating recipes, meditation techniques, etc. Whether you prefer Yoga or pilates or cardio, you can find the right home workout ideas from fitness experts here.
Despite taking initiatives to try and get over your anxiety, it is not always possible to just snap out of it. It is completely normal to be upset, feel helpless, or troubled. It will not get better unless you talk about it. Speak to your friends or family and talk about what worries you. If you are not comfortable sharing these thoughts, consider writing them down. Transferring your worries onto a piece of paper can relieve you of bottled-up stress.
There are also a number of helplines and support groups that are here to help you. You can find an NHS recommended list of support lines to reach out here.
Working from home could be a blessing for some suffering from ADHD as it helps them stay focused, away from all the distractions at work. However, it could also be stressful if you do not segregate work from your personal time and get overwhelmed by it.
Here are a few tips to help you efficiently work from home:
Getting organised sets the tone for working from home.
For many, each day can come with its own surprises and challenges at work. To ensure you don’t get overwhelmed with tasks or deadlines, start planning ahead. Set a weekly schedule to list the top tasks that you wish to accomplish. Keep a daily planner to make a list of tasks and deliverables you plan to work on or complete that day. Make sure you prioritize the tasks and start working on tasks with higher priority first thing each day and work your way through the rest.
Refer to this great list of useful and easy to follow tips and techniques to prioritise your work:
Hyperfocus can be great to produce high-quality work that results from an unwavering focus on the task at hand. However, if left unchecked, you could end up spending hours working on a single task and miss out on all other activities or even essential tasks such as preparing a meal for yourself.
If you have the tendency to get hyper-focused on a particular task and lose track of time, make sure you set an alarm to let you know when you need to switch off from the task at hand and move on to the next. You could also request a friend or colleague to check in on you and help you breaking away from a particular task.
Define clear timelines for each task and try adhering to it as much as possible. Of course, it is understandable that some tasks may stretch beyond your planned timelines, but as far as possible plan and estimate specific time duration for every task to be completed each day. Sticking to a strict schedule can help you stay focused and perform optimally.
This is probably good advice to follow anytime, whether you are working from home or otherwise. However, especially in the case of working from home, it is important to stay aware of the responsibilities that you can take on and deliver. Overcommitting can add too much stress and cause your anxiety levels to go up, affecting your ability to focus and deliver good quality work.
As someone with ADHD, to be a good performer at work it is vital to understand your strengths and weaknesses. If you find yourself struggling with certain tasks, it can cause you to get distressed and affect your overall performance as well as significantly increase your stress levels. Ask your colleague to help you or delegate to your subordinate or speak to your manager if you feel that you need assistance with certain tasks or tasks.
Staying cooped at home and working long hours can take a toll on your body. Follow health habits like regular exercising, eating healthy food, a quick meditation session before you start your work, and a relaxation exercise once you log off. Remember you don’t have to do an hour-long workout session, but it is important to squeeze in a few minutes every day. You can get inspirations on quick and easy to do exercise routine here- https://www.heart.co.uk/lifestyle/exercise-working-from-home-without-gym/
Set clear boundaries between your personal and professional zones and do not let them overlap. Stick to fixed hours of work and get your family to support you by respecting your working time by not disturbing you. Stay away from other distractions such as Netflix or Social media to have a productive workday.